Taking technology projects to the masses starts with a group of corporate leaders — CEOs who have volunteered to judge their presentations and supporting materials in the MBA Technology Transfer Challenge at Mays.

Twelve teams of MBA students recently completed the annual process of gathering data, then presenting their findings to the group of judges. The top three teams left with cash prizes and bragging rights for the next year.

The annual MBA Technology Transfer Challenge tasks teams of MBA students to gather data about cutting edge technology projects, then present their findings to a group of experienced judges.
The annual MBA Technology Transfer Challenge tasks teams of MBA students to gather data about cutting edge technology projects, then present their findings to a group of experienced judges. (view more photos)

Participation in the challenge is part of the first-year MBA curriculum. The technology is assigned randomly, but the event represents the first time the students are allowed to choose their teammates — a lesson in itself, according to Richard Lester, executive director of the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship, which sponsors the event.

“This is a huge experiential exercise for the students,” Lester explains. “They not only work with real CEOs, they also work with their classmates to pitch the investment and the technology.”

Presentations are judged not on the merits of the technology, but on the students’ effectiveness at demonstrating its marketability. The winners are determined by the depth of their research, which includes market analysis, potential barriers to market entry and competition, their presentation skills and evidence of product knowledge during the Q&A session with the judges.

The exercise introduces viable technology projects and provides insight into those projects to the judges, many of whom are MBA graduates who have participated in the program previously. Diana Doughty ’10, whose team won in 2009, said it is an honor to be asked to judge the contest.

“It’s neat to see what they come up with, especially when you’ve been through it and you know what all they have to go through to get there,” she said. “It’s exciting to be on this side of it, and it’s an honor to serve the school in this way.”

Taking first place this year was team CorInnova, with MBA students John Brown, Luke Carlton, Cody Slape, Kelly Taylor Alfredo Volio and Peter Eskander. Their technology project is an early-stage cardiovascular device company developing an innovative implantable device to treat congestive heart failure.

This year's first-place team studied an innovative implantable device developed by CorInnova to treat congestive heart failure.
This year’s first-place team studied an innovative implantable device developed by CorInnova to treat congestive heart failure. (view more photos)

The second-place team members were Brandon Boatcallie, Derek Colvin, Nishita Roy and Jasen Smith. Their technology project, Shape Memory Therapeutics, is a neurovascular device company founded to commercialize innovative medical devices to treat stroke and cerebral aneurysm.

The third-place team members were Jeff Cope, Larry Jackson, Dawn Lin, Justin Martin and Nityasha Wadalkar. Their project, Preclinical PET, centered on the development of completely new silicon-based photon detectors by Hammumatsu, will enable groundbreaking positron emission tomography (PET) detection hardware with the ability to operate in a magnetic field enabling the combination of PET and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). The Texas A&M System employs one of the world’s premiere software writers for PET imaging, Dr. Mark Lennox. The combination of these two capabilities (hardware/software) and a focus on preclinical applications of the technology is the basis for the company.

The prizes were $3,000 for first place, $2,000 for second place and $1,000 for third place, which was sponsored by JBKnowledge. The title sponsor was the Texas A&M Division of Research and Graduate Studies, and other sponsors were AXYS and ConocoPhillips.

Categories: Programs, Students

For the fourth year, Mays Business School at Texas A&M University has been recognized by Mexico’s leading business magazine Expansión in its “Best MBAs for Mexicans” category. The ranking of 43rd globally is an increase from the program’s 45th rank in 2010. Mays also ranked 24th out of programs in the United States and 7th among programs at U.S. public universities.

Kelli Kilpatrick, director of Mays Business School’s Full- Time MBA program, says the ranking reflects the program’s impact on a global level.

Complete results from the 2011 Expansión magazine “Best MBAs for Mexicans” ranking are available at cnnexpansion.com/rankings.

About Mays Business School

Mays Business School is consistently ranked as one of the top public business schools in the country — with undergraduate, full-time and executive MBA, and PhD programs all ranked in the top 20 out of US public schools. Currently enrolling more than 4,000 undergraduate students and 875 graduate students, Mays’ mission is to create knowledge and develop future ethical business leaders for a global society.

Categories: Programs

Houston businessman John Vanderhider ’81 is helping future generations of Aggies come to Texas A&M. Vanderhider credits his education at A&M — a bachelor’s in accounting — with proactively influencing the start of his career, and he wants others to enjoy a similar experience.

He is a partner at Opportune, an energy consulting firm founded in 2005 by classmate David Baggett ’81 and named the fourth fastest-growing Aggie-owned or -operated business last year in the Aggie 100 program.

John Vanderhider '81
Vanderhider ’81

Vanderhider said the reputation of Texas A&M and of Mays Business School in particular, prompted him to donate $70,000 toward an endowed scholarship fund for full-time students enrolled in the Business Honors Program at Mays. He also provided $12,500 toward the Mays MBA Advisory Board Fellowship.

“I really have always admired the moral integrity and values of Texas A&M,” he said. “I think it’s an outstanding institution, and my loyalties run deep. ”

“Vanderhider’s commitment will enhance the Mays experience for many,” said Dean Jerry Strawser. “John’s generous support of both our Business Honors Program and MBA program will provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our students. His generosity will have a significant impact as we continue to move our programs forward among the very best.”

Vanderhider, a CPA, is in charge of the corporate finance group for Opportune, a Houston-based energy consulting firm with satellite offices in Denver and London, employing about 150 consultants.

He brings to the table 26 years of experience managing mergers and acquisitions, including nine years as a senior executive in industry. Prior to joining Opportune, he was CEO of The Dorato Group, a transactional service firm focused on providing M&A-related due diligence and strategic consulting to assist in capital sourcing.

Vanderhider frequently visits Bryan and College Station to attend business functions but he expects another lure to attract him – he is ramping up his campaign to introduce his 16-year-old son to the virtues of his alma mater. He expects to bring him to several baseball games this spring.

“But even if my son doesn’t go to A&M, I admire the school and will always stay connected,” he said.

Categories: Donors Corner, Former Students

A recent agreement between Facebook and Goldman Sachs to create a special investment vehicle has raised questions as to whether Facebook is attempting to receive the benefits of broad investment without the downsides of being a publicly traded company. With all such discussions, it does not take long for both sides to bring up Sarbanes-Oxley and the costs of being a public company.

What is the answer? As an accounting professor, it is difficult not to say that more accounting and disclosure will result in better functioning capital markets! The Securities and Exchange Commission was created with the idea that, if investors have more complete information that is audited by an independent third party, they can make better decisions. Providing this information and having it audited costs money. Some are concerned these costs keep the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world on the sidelines, limiting their incentive to create new technologies, companies and jobs.

The difficulty is measuring the benefits of increased regulated disclosure. In an academic study, Jefferson Duarte, Stephan Siegel and Lance Young conclude that the increased quality of information and higher audit standards has increased the market cap of U.S. companies by 2 percent; for a company such as ExxonMobil, that translates to $7.6 billion of value. As valuable, but equally difficult to measure, is the cost of another Enron or WorldCom bankruptcy, whose combined market value was more than $260 billion at their peaks Ask those shareholders if they would have like to have had better accounting information and more rigorous audits, despite the cost.

As additional private companies like Facebook seek capital through sources other than the U.S. public capital markets, the issues of Sarbanes-Oxley, regulation and incentives will continue to be raised. Yes, our capital market system imposes regulation and costs on companies. And yes, at least some of those costs are necessary to protect investors and provide them with more reliable information.

Categories: Deanspeak

There are not many experiences that I’ve had in life that compare with taking the calloused and dirty foot of a 5-year-old girl in Argentina, and seeing her joy as I placed a new pair of bright red shoes on her feet. This moment, and over a million more like it, have all been made possible because of a for-profit business that built social good into their bottom line from day one.

TOMS Shoes is a company that gives away one pair of shoes to kids in need for every pair that they sell: “One for One.” It was founded by Blake Mycoskie on a trip to Argentina in 2006 when he made the simple promise to 250 barefoot kids that he would find a way to get them shoes. Now, four years and over one million pairs of shoes later, TOMS Shoes is just getting started.

Howdy, my name is Andy Ellwood, the proudest member of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Class of 2004 and a finance graduate of Mays Business School. I live in New York City and I am the director of business development for Gowalla, a company that inspires people to go out and discover the world, share it with their friends, and record the experiences they have around the places that go. (To join, go to www.gowalla.com or download the app for your smart phone.)

My trip to Argentina was the culmination of a fantastic business campaign that I helped pull together between AT&T, TOMS Shoes, and Gowalla. AT&T, who has been a part of the TOMS Shoes story for years, wanted to help celebrate the huge milestone that TOMS Shoes reached in the fall of 2010: one million pairs of shoes given away. We crafted a two-week campaign that highlighted both TOMS Shoes and AT&T creatively within Gowalla with tremendous results, some of the best that we’d ever seen. The grand prize for one lucky winner was a trip for two to Argentina to be a part of the one millionth Shoe Drop.

So, in addition to our winners, the team from AT&T, and TOMS Shoes, I and the CEO of Gowalla, Josh Williams, headed down to Argentina to help out and see the positive impact of our work up close.

I wish I had the words to describe what it is like to get down on your knees in front of a an eight-year-old girl named Clarissa and take off her hand-me-down hole-filled shoes and place a pair of TOMS Shoes on her feet. I wish there were words for her smile as she admired her new shoes for the next hour knowing that they were hers only and that they were beautiful.

I wish I could show the highlight reel from a soccer game that I organized with 20 boys and a new soccer ball. I would love to show the pride that I felt when I, in broken Spanish, and with the help of a great kid named Andoline, convinced them to all line up, shoulder to shoulder, from “grande” to “pequeno,” and then split them into two teams, “unos” and “doses.” The pure raw talent that came out on the field, the joy that something as simple as a new soccer ball brought, the images of all these boys running faster because of new shoes on their feet: how can I show that?

I wish I had the words to capture the pride in Juan Carlos senior’s eyes as I placed a brand new pair of TOMS on 5-year-old Juan Carlos junior’s feet. I wish I could capture the pure joy on Juan Carlos junior’s feet as he took his first steps EVER with shoes on. There aren’t words for that kind of joy or the feeling I had when he started to run like he’d probably never run before, feet protected from the rough earth below.

As I talked with family and friends about the trip in the weeks and months since returning back to New York, I have resorted to words like “amazing,” “awesome,” and “incredible” to capture the sentiments of my memories and in place of the ability to truly convey the life-changing experience that took place. It is a strange place for me to be, without words. It is a humbling place to be, to know that I experienced something that, naively, I had hoped I’d be able to capture in 140 characters or a succinct summary for a blog post. And it is a refreshing feeling to know that the story we began in Argentina has only begun.

I struggle to recount the images, stories, and people who impacted me in Argentina. I am fighting even more with the responsibility to live up to the knowledge that I now carry with me. The knowledge that one simple idea can change the world. That one passionate attempt to help 250 kids years ago has led to an adventure that has now helped over a million. To see firsthand a model of sustainable giving in action, and have an ever-evolving belief that business can and should be a force for change validated. To know that the bar for potential impact on this world has been set that much higher.

To know that I am now a part of that story has forever changed my perspective.

Categories: Perspectives

While still a student at A&M, Gregg Matte ’92 created a start-up with his three roommates. Initially, they operated out of their apartment. Demand for their service quickly outgrew the facility as their number of clients on-campus climbed from 12 to 800 in the span of three years. He learned on his feet – how to manage a team of volunteers, how to advertise, how to maintain mission and identity in the face of rapid expansion.

Matte graduated but remained involved with the organization, eventually serving on the board of directors. Today, 20 years later, his start-up, Breakaway Ministries, touches approximately 10,000 Aggies each year. The multidenominational Tuesday night Bible study meets in Reed Arena, and sometimes Kyle Field, for an hour of student-led worship and study.

“It has bloomed into something of a spiritual tradition at A&M,” says Matte.

“My business degree was tremendously helpful to me in starting Breakaway and even today as pastor, because it gave me the principles upon which to build a foundation for a lasting ministry to stand on,” says Gregg Matte ’92.

Matte had come to A&M to study marketing, but he says it didn’t take him long to figure out ministry was his calling. While it wasn’t seminary, he discovered that the things he was learning in the classroom at A&M were vital to ministry. “My business degree was tremendously helpful to me in starting Breakaway and even today as pastor, because it gave me the principles upon which to build a foundation for a lasting ministry to stand on.” Staff, budgets, facilities, contracts—these are things that church leaders and business leaders alike must manage well. “The education I received at A&M prepared me to do ministry and to lead.”

After graduating from A&M, Matte attended Southwestern Baptist Seminary in Fort Worth, where he earned a master’s degree in religious education.

Today, Matte is the senior pastor of Houston’s First Baptist Church, where he shepherds a congregation of 25,000 members. To lead a church of that size requires a high degree of organization, especially since much of the work is accomplished by volunteers, he says. That’s the biggest challenge of his occupation. “There’s never enough time in the day. With a church of this size…I just wish I had more time in the day to connect with people even more.”

Technology makes his ministry have an even larger impact. His church’s website is full of digital resources, such as podcasts of his sermons. He also blogs occasionally for the Houston Chronicle website, Chron.com.

“Doing ministry in this digital age is wonderful,” he says. “For a very low cost, you can go worldwide…Also, it’s a communication tool people readily receive. We enjoy being on our computers, listening to podcasts. We want to surf the Internet and read blogs and emails on our phones.” In previous generations you might have had to wait for Billy Graham to come to your city, then buy a ticket and fight traffic and crowds to get to the stadium to hear him preach. Now, you can hear the same message at home, and that means so many more people are able to be touched.

Matte says that the 2,000 people that watch Houston First Baptist live webcast each Sunday morning make up the second largest service offered by the church. “We call it the pajama church, because you can sit in your pajamas and watch the service at your computer.”

There are limitations to e-church, though. “The great things in ministry are personal interactions, when you’re there with the people of God and you’re able to connect with them and be encouraged. That doesn’t happen typically in a digital venue.”

It’s impossible for him to have the close connection that he’d like to have with each of his congregants. Still, it’s the people that make his job in ministry worthwhile. “There’s nothing that can beat the greatness of seeing a changed life, when you see somebody really connect with Christ, when Jesus makes a difference in their life.” Seeing families restored, marriages saved, teens walking in the light—that’s why he does this work.

Matte’s recently published first book, Finding God’s Will, focuses on the life of Moses, and seeks to answer the question that Matte says he is asked more than any other as a minister: “What is God’s will for my life?” It is on sale in bookstores and on Amazon.com.

Categories: Former Students

Dorothy and Robert J. Anderson ’70 recently established the Peter Glen Anderson ’84 Endowed Scholarship “to honor our son, because he is a dedicated and enthusiastic Aggie and has derived great pleasure from his involvement with Mays Business School and its MBA program.” The scholarship will help students pursuing an MBA at Mays.

(L to R) DeeAnn '87, Stephanie '13 and Peter Anderson '84
(L to R) DeeAnn ’87, Stephanie ’13 and Peter Anderson ’84

Peter, a senior management consultant at KPMG in Houston, graduated from A&M with a degree in building construction and earned his MBA from the University of Houston. He currently serves on the Mays MBA Advisory Board and previously served on the Mays Department of Finance Advisory Board.

Each semester, Peter mentors Mays MBA students, advising them in business situations such as world customs, rules, and communication skills. Peter will be involved in the scholarship selection process, an element of the gift that is important to his parents.

“Peter richly deserves this recognition. His efforts as a board member and a mentor have helped move our MBA program to the next level. He has been very generous with his time and our students really appreciate him,” says David Blackwell, associate dean for graduate programs at Mays.

Robert and Dorothy are proud of their family’s rich Aggie tradition: daughter Jane ’82 and her husband Richard ’81; grandson Matthew ’06 and his wife Amanda ’08; granddaughter Kate ’08 and her husband Gavin ’08; Peter’s wife DeeAnn ’87 and daughter Stephanie ’13.

Categories: Donors Corner, Former Students, Programs