The airline industry is a volatile marketplace, where bankruptcies and mergers are costly and common. In that environment, a businessperson must have an understanding of many areas of the industryâ€”from management issues involving pilots, to financial considerations involving oil prices and political unrest in oil-rich nationsâ€”to make informed decisions about the future of a company.
That breadth of information is the same dynamic that is involved in the business honors major at Mays, where top performing students are exposed to the most experienced faculty in each of the five departments to generate a broad-based, superior business education.
Michael Cox ’77, senior managing director of aviation consulting firm Seabury Group, graduated magna cum laude from A&M with a degree in management before the Business Honors program was launched. However, he understands the value of the program and the well-rounded students it graduates. Cox recently committed to a gift of $100,000 for scholarships for business honors students at Mays. The endowed fund will provide support for students of any major that participate in the honors program, as well as students who declare an honors major.
“Our Business Honors program is attracting the very best young people,” said Mays Dean Jerry Strawser. “These students have opportunities at some of the best universities in the United States. Donors like Michael Cox are allowing us to compete for these students and provide them with support to recognize their hard work in high school. Scholarships for this program are one of our very highest priorities.”
“I firmly believe that people who graduate from any school should give back. It’s the right thing to do,” says Cox, as a college education “is the initial foundation for anyone’s career.” Former students have a responsibility to make giving a priority when they are successful. Cox takes that responsibility seriously.
Cox joined the Seabury Group as a partner in April 1998. He also wears the title of Global Head of Restructuring Advisory. Before joining the firm, he learned the business working for Continental Airlines, where he started as an analyst and made his way up to vice president and treasurer positions. During his time at Continental, the company went through two bankruptcies, so Cox knows whereof he speaks when he consults with airlines in financial distress.
Cox is a self-described “propeller head.” “I’ve always been fascinated by airlines and airplanes,” says the executive with over 25 years of airline and aviation-related experience. At Seabury, Cox has advised numerous airline clients on a variety of projects, including airline treasury, corporate finance, and business restructuring. Recent engagements have included leading the Seabury team in managing the aircraft debt/lease restructuring efforts for the successful reorganization of US Airways, Air Canada and Northwest Airlines. He also led the successful out-of-court restructuring of South African Airways resulting in a profitable fiscal years ending 2008 and 2009 after losing over 1 billion ZAR repeatedly over the years before. “It became my baby,” he said of that success. “The career and cultural experience working in South Africa was invaluable and we are very proud of what was accomplished.”
Earlier in his career, Cox was a director at Price Waterhouse LLP, where he led the aviation consulting/restructuring group. In addition to his degree from A&M, Cox also earned an MBA in finance and accounting from the University of Texas, Austin. He is currently a registered FINRA representative.