“The cold call is dying, and it should be,” announces Cindy Billington, associate director of Graduate Business Career Services (GBCS) at Mays.

To help the MBA students she advises advance from cold call to warm, Billington and the other GBCS team members use all the available tools to share what they know and what they glean from others about business etiquette, job openings and communication tips. Throughout her 20 years of career advising, Billington has sought the most effective ways to communicate with her charges.

Cindy Billington '87
Billington

“Being involved in the latest tools brings credibility to any professional,” Billington says. “And in my field, any time you can bring validity to your product, it changes the way your students perceive what you are presenting.”

One of those tools, a blog Billington co-authors, recently gained noteworthy recognition from J.T. O’Donnell, CEO of CareerHMO.com and Founder of CAREEREALISM.com. O’Donnell mentioned Billington’s blog on her own top-10 blog that focuses on career and personal branding, and the site has attracted more than 60,000 visitors.

Typically, guest bloggers on this website pay a monthly fee and are subjected to a rigorous application process before being featured; however, Billington’s blog surpassed these steps. In a recent post entitled “8 Career Blogs I Read Regularly and Why,” O’Donnell applauds Billington’s page, “The career-experts Daily,” commending her for performing “an exceptional job of taking the best of what career experts are saying and sharing it in an online newspaper format.”

In the 9-month-old endeavor, Billington not only collates articles and information from the top names in career management into one concise format, she also co-authors with GBCS colleague Stacey Cole a blog, “Career Management: Keepin’ It Real.” Her posts offer a wide range of advice from personal marketing to professional online profiling.

Billington is no stranger to the technological field. Since the spring of 2009, she has worked with MBA students, coaching them on developing their own professional profiles online. She stresses the importance of personal accounts on websites like LinkedIn, which operates the world’s largest professional network on the Internet. Boasting more than 90 million members, this site has become an integral part of the students’ education.

“We communicate with students on LinkedIn rather than email,” Billington says. Over the summer, students of the graduate and MBA programs enroll in a career prep course where they create their own LinkedIn profiles, with which Billington interacts and monitors the Aggies as they advance through their graduate education.

This helps to “keep a pulse on the students,” she says. In a recent post, Billington elaborates: “The value of group activity on LinkedIn has become one of the most powerful networking tools in business today, and that value translates to job seekers.”

This, she says, is the main reason for the death of the cold call. Employers and employees alike can research each other on this online network and discover common groups and contacts. So, rather than engaging in an introductory phone conversation, employers can place a “warm call” instead, drawing on their common interests and connections.

LinkedIn is only one of the many frontiers that Billington interacts with her students. She frequently uses Twitter to promote useful articles on personal management alongside her prospering blog. During the summer months, she creates iTunes podcasts as a means of communicating with members of the MBA programs.

“Students hear my actual voice,” she says. “We try to do a lot of innovative things here.”

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Categories: Programs, Staff

Jim Stolarski ’83, managing director of Accenture, is to public policy what a puppet master is to a puppet. He works behind the scenes to make the performance go off smoothly — and he is rewarded well for it.

“A lot of people think the role of consultant is to be the smartest person in the room, and 90 percent of the time, they’re right,” Stolarski explained to a class of undergraduate students during a recent visit. “But sometimes our role is just to get the problems out on the table. ”


“It’s amazing to me how often people are unwilling or ill-prepared to talk about difficult things,” Accenture’s Jim Stolarski ’83 told students. “If you’re good at that, you will always have a job.” (view more photos)

Stolaski earned a finance degree from Mays and, then, started his career in banking. He credits much of his career success to his ability to perform two rather simple tasks for his clients: “listening and asking stupid questions.”

When top market executives seek Stolarski’s expert advice, he identifies and solves critical problems within their corporations by helping them discover the solution for themselves. “When people arrive at a conclusion on their own, they own it,” he attests. “Sometimes our role is simply getting the problem on the table.”

In fact, he cited one example of when a company paid him $1.5 million to help its employees conduct a difficult conversation. “It’s amazing to me how often people are unwilling or ill-prepared to talk about difficult things,” Stolarski observes. “If you’re good at that, you will always have a job.”

Stolarski spent 10 years in Washington, D.C., and has put the knowledge earned there to good use in his work with the departments of State and Homeland Security.

Moving into his 27th year at Accenture, Stolarski has seen the company soar to unprecedented heights. After becoming a publicly traded company in 2001, Accenture has consecutively landed on the Fortune 500 list ever since. He says the company generates close to $300 million in business annually.

Accenture has pioneered the technological industry as well, installing both the world’s first computer and the largest fingerprinting biometric database in the world at every point of entry in the U.S. Spending more than $300 million on research and development, the company has been named one of the best employers for promoting a healthy lifestyle amongst its employees. And, as Stolarski states, Accenture actively seeks to “make the world a better place.”

This is of great import to Stolarski, who stresses his desire to give back as one of the fundamental features of his success. “Stewardship is one of the main tenets of my firm. It’s important for leaders in our community to lead,” he says, adding that his deep concern for environmental sustainability and our dependence upon fossil fuel resonate within his company, as well.

During a recent campus visit, Stolarski shared another key aspect of his journey to success. “Plan to have a lot of fun in life,” he advises, “but know that there’s no substitute for really working your tail off. Texas A&M taught me how to work, and how to be focused.”

Categories: Executive Speakers, Former Students

Two Mays management majors have been nominated for the highly competitive national Harry S. Truman Scholarship, and one of them — Omar El-Halwagi — was selected as a finalist. The scholarship provides up to $30,000 for students who are pursuing careers in public service.

El-Halwagi is a management and business honors major with a minor in communications. Also nominated from Mays was Valecia Battle, a graduate of Skyline Center High School in Dallas, is a management major with minors in Africana studies and philosophy.

El-Halwagi is the president of the Texas A&M Speech and Debate Team and was the 2009 national champion in extemporaneous speaking. He is a graduate of A&M Consolidated High School in College Station. He served as administrative coordinator the Mays Freshman Business Initiative and has proposed and led his own special topics course for the business school. A participant in the 2009 China-US Relations Conference, El-Halwagi also interned with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Washington, D.C. After graduation, he will pursue a joint degree in law and social policy at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. In the long term, he hopes to build a career as an employment discrimination lawyer and, later, a public official.

Battle is a University Scholar, Century Scholar and Mays Business Fellow; chair and director of speakers for the MSC Cater G. Woodson Black Awareness Committee; and a founder of the Matthew Gaines Initiative. After graduation, she plans to participate in Teach For America and then pursue an M.S. in education at Johns Hopkins University before continuing on to Harvard Law School. In the long term, she hopes to open a number of magnet schools in Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

The pair are among four outstanding Texas A&M students selected as institutional nominees for the Harry S. Truman Scholarship, which provides up to $30,000 for students pursuing careers in public service. Between 60 and 75 Truman Scholars are selected from a pool of national pool of nearly 1,000 applicants.

Finalists were announced Feb. 25. Students selected as finalists will be invited to interview with one of several regional committees comprised of Truman alumni and leaders from industry and the public sector. In the last 10 years, nine Aggies have progressed to finalist, the most recent being international studies major Karthik Venkatraj ’10.

Categories: Students