September, 2011 | Mays Impacts

Canoeing, campfires, ropes courses, S’mores — words that aren’t immediately associated with the Mays Business School Center for the Management of Information Systems (CMIS). However, for the eighth year in a row, the CMIS program has proven that technology and the outdoors go hand in hand through its annual leadership retreat held at Camp Allen in Navasota.

This year, 30 undergraduate Department of Information and Operations Management (INFO) students attended the retreat, where they participated in a variety of activities ranging from business etiquette workshops to ice cream socials.

Students who attend the CMIS Leadership Retreat participated in outdoor activities designed to build their teamwork skills, such as scavenger hunts, canoe games and races, and ropes course challenges.
Students who attend the CMIS Leadership Retreat participated in outdoor activities designed to build their teamwork skills, such as scavenger hunts, canoe games and races, and ropes course challenges.

The purpose of the retreat centers on the importance of leadership techniques and how they translate in the professional world. Students participate in conflict resolution and personal managing sessions, where they are able to assess their own leadership style and learn how to effectively apply it to the workplace. Numerous guest speakers share on topics including real-world finances and crossing cultural boundaries.

Additionally, corporate representatives from around Texas come and meet with the students, offering career advice and real-world insight.

“It’s a relaxed way for companies to meet with some of the students over dinner,” says Randy Blaschke ’84, senior IT manager with HP. “Students ask questions about the career opportunities that are out there and we have casual conversation about which opportunities align with their capabilities.”

This is Blaschke’s second year at the retreat, although he’s been involved with CMIS for eight. He is consistently impressed with the students who attend, adding, “I like the ambition that I see in these kids.”

Jennifer Smith ’07, ITS analyst for Anadarko Petroleum, attended the 2011 retreat as a corporate representative. She attended the first four retreats (2004-2007) as a student.

“The setting is very casual, so it gives students an opportunity to ask for career advice, about the transition from college to corporate life, and for information about the companies at which we work,” says Smith.

This year, 30 undergraduate INFO department students attended the retreat at Camp Allen in Navasota.
This year, 30 undergraduate INFO department students attended the retreat at Camp Allen in Navasota.

MIS student Kaleigh Morgan ’12 also appreciated the casual environment, saying it was a great way to meet and talk with the corporate reps “without the pressure of trying to score a job or interview.”

But the retreat isn’t all leadership workshops and career-centered talk.

Students who attend the retreat also participate in outdoor activities such as scavenger hunts, canoe games and races, and ropes course challenges. The activities are designed to build teamwork amongst the students, many of whom will work together on group projects throughout their time at Mays.

The CMIS leadership retreat has a long-standing history of preparing students for leadership roles in the information technology field. Not only do the students gain invaluable knowledge regarding their personal strengths and career options, they also establish friendships amongst peers who share common interests.

Morgan sums it up this way: “I think it was a great experience to not only get to know other people within my major and recruiters, but also to spend some time figuring out where my strengths lie as a member of the group, which is definitely something I’ll be discussing in my upcoming interviews this year.”

Categories: Centers, Students

Savannah Smith ’09, a Mays MS marketing student, won first place in the Mitchell A. Wilder Publication Design Award Competition at the Annual Meeting of the Texas Association of Museums. Smith designed a “sticket” — a combination of the admission ticket and a promotional sticker — for the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum’s The Heart Truth exhibit.


Savannah Smith ’09 combined admission tickets with stickers to create “stickets” for an exhibit at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

The exhibit is part of a national awareness campaign for heart disease in women. It highlighted a collection of 25 red dresses —12 worn by celebrities and 13 worn by past U.S. First Ladies. Smith’s illustration of the red dress mirrors the timeless dresses at the museum.

“The goal was to keep the design simple and classic to promote the Bush Library and Museum as well as the featured exhibit — and stick with the general visual identity I created for the exhibit promotions,” says Smith, who is creative manager at the library.

The Wilder Awards design competition exists to promote the importance of graphic identity in museums’ overall image. Smith’s “sticket” design beat out many museums from around the state and was used in the Bush Library and Museum’s promotions until the exhibit closed in August.

Categories: Students

Duke University’s Katherine Schipper illuminated the importance of company intent in accounting when she visited Mays Business School as a part of the 2011 Dean’s Distinguished Scholar Lecture Series.

The purpose of the lecture series, as Dean Jerry Strawser puts it, is to bring someone from around the U.S. and recognize them not for being published, not for serving on prestigious boards and not for teaching at esteemed institutions (although the scholars have done all three), but to recognize them for changing their fields of business.

2011 Dean's Distinguished Scholar Katherine Schipper met with a select group of Mays students following her public lecture.
2011 Dean’s Distinguished Scholar Katherine Schipper met with a select group of Mays students following her public lecture.

And when it comes to accounting, calling Schipper an “expert” would be an understatement.

She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Dayton, MBA, MA and PhD degrees from the University of Chicago, and an honorary degree from Notre Dame. She is the past president of the American Accounting Association, as well as the former editor of the Journal of Accounting Research, a position she held for 15 years. She has published research papers on topics such as financial reporting, corporation finance and corporate governance, and frequently speaks on matters regarding international accounting convergence. She served a five-year tenure on the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), tackling some of the most complex accounting issues and bringing research to bear on accounting policy issues. As if that wasn’t enough, Schipper is the 81st member of the Accounting Hall of Fame—the first woman to be inducted.

Schipper is currently the Thomas F. Keller Professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. A gifted instructor, she consistently inspires her students to demand accuracy, ethical behavior, and an endless pursuit of financial knowledge in their future accounting careers.

“More than her accolades, Dr. Katherine Schipper changes the way we think about accounting and the way we think about the economy,” Strawser says.

Schipper’s presentation to Mays students confirmed her accounting expertise. She spoke on the topic of “intent-based accounting,” focusing on the impact of management’s intent in a company’s operation of their business strategy. Accounting elements such as the timing of recognition, asset classification, disaggregated disclosures, and short-term debt classification are determined by the intent of management, and accountants must be keenly aware of how this intent correlates with IFRS/US GAAP standards before they tie their signatures to any financial statements.

For example, if management decides to purchase a competitor’s brand and didn’t intend to use or sell it, the brand would not be considered an asset, according to IFRS 3, says Schipper.

Schipper delved deep into the issue of intent-based accounting, bringing to light questions and situations that are often overlooked. She concluded by reemphasizing the importance of understanding management’s intent in reporting entries.

She says those in her field are unique. “Accountants wake up in the morning and we say to ourselves, “What if there’s an unrecognized liability out there? I better get down there and find out,'” Schipper says. “We don’t ask, “What if there’s an unrecognized asset?'”

Categories: Executive Speakers

Draw from your strengths and give your best to those around you — those are the recommendations of Graham Weston ’86, a founder and chairman of Rackspace Hosting. He says he fought against those philosophies the first few years of his career, and now uses them to direct the 3,000-plus employees of the world leader in hosted computing, including cloud computing.

Weston serves as a mentor and advisor to numerous entrepreneurs, and has a penchant for tweaking workplace culture. He expresses his business philosophy in two words: “People matter.”


Rackspace Hosting chairman and 2011 Conn Family Entrepreneurial Leadership Award honoree Graham Weston expresses his business philosophy in two words: “People matter.” (view more photos)

He says everyone who works wants to be a valued member of a winning team on an inspiring mission. “Asking people to bring their best work to work every day really makes a difference,” he says. “We must create a workplace culture where our people want to volunteer to do their best every day.”

Weston was honored at Mays Business School with the 2011 Conn Family Entrepreneurial Leadership Award, which was established nine years ago by the Conn family to recognize outstanding business leaders who have achieved extraordinary success. It is made possible through the generosity of C.W. and Dorothy Conn; C.W. Conn is the previous owner and former president of Conn Appliances and chairman of Conn Development Corporation.

The Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship at Mays hosted Weston, who spent a day presenting a lecture, attending a luncheon in his honor and meeting with MBA students.

Weston was born to a ranching family in the San Antonio area, and says his father is still disappointed he didn’t come home to run the operation. Weston launched his first business venture as a seventh-grader, marketing organic pork in newspaper ads that read “Go Hog Wild!” In high school, he built a business to take photos at livestock show and sell them to the contestants.

He was selling commercial real estate when a trio of Trinity University students approached him in late 1998 about a business idea they had. They met all day at Chester’s Hamburgers, and sealed the deal within days. “They wanted to rent servers to people. I had been in the commercial real estate business so I understood renting things to people,” he says. “But our business quickly went from the being a rental company to a service company. Everything changed.”

“I knew about renting real estate, so that made sense to me,” he says. He invested $500,000 in the start-up company and helped with corporate strategy, marketing and business development. He was CEO until 2006, when he became chairman.

While CEO, Weston was named a 2006 “Best Boss” by Fortune Small Business magazine and was recognized as regional Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young.

In 2005, the city of San Antonio honored him for converting one of his vacant properties into a temporary shelter for victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The shelter, nicknamed the “Hilton of Shelters” by the Denver Post, housed more than 2,500 refugees.

“Every time there is a natural disaster around the world, I think about that day,” he says, describing the 180,000-square-foot Montgomery Ward store-turned-shelter, which was equipped with free telephones and Wi-Fi. His employees even wrote a computer program that helped the refugees track down their relatives. “I really think entrepreneurship is jumping in and doing what is needed when it is needed. That is all we did back then. We were fortunate to be in a position to do so.”

(L to R) CNVE director Richard Lester, 2011 Conn Family Entrepreneurial Leadership Award honoree Graham Weston, and Mays Business School dean Jerry Strawser
(L to R) CNVE director Richard Lester, 2011 Conn Family Entrepreneurial Leadership Award honoree Graham Weston, and Mays Business School dean Jerry Strawser (view more photos)

In introducing Weston, Dean Jerry Strawser said he was honored to host him. He says he considers Weston’s act of hosting the Katrina and Rita refugees a true testament to his character. “Entrepreneurs do things for other people, entrepreneurs share what they have and entrepreneurs make the work a better place,” he says. “Graham Weston is a great example of that. He is not only a successful businessman, but also a successful man.”

Weston says Rackspace, which went public about three years ago, generated about $1 billion in revenue last quarter — surpassing Amazon, AT&T and Verizon. “We were the last company to go public before the recession started, and now we’re back, growing about 30 percent a year,” he says, adding the company manages about 2.2 million email accounts. He expects to add about 1,000 employees over the next 12 months, bringing the total near 5,000.

Rackspace serves more than 100,000 customers, but Weston says the company doesn’t cater to consumers — instead it caters to IT, marketing and human resource departments.

“Rackers” — Rackspace employees — average 31 years old and compete to provide “fanatical support” to each customer. Every phone call to the company is answered by a person — usually by the second ring — as Weston illustrated during his lecture in Ray Auditorium. The call is then transferred to a problem solver. “I think most of our competitors think answering the phone is kind of quaint. I think it shows accountability,” he says. “We want to keep the attitude of a start-up, where we earn every single customer. You get that by providing even more than you have promised, by figuring out what the essence of the problem is and solving it.”

At Rackspace, awards are given to the “Fanatical Racker” of each quarter — an honor Weston even received once, in honor of the shelter project. “We celebrate our heroes within the company,” he explains. “That communicates to every single person in the company what greatness looks like.”

The company’s awards and inclusion in the top 10 fastest-growing on the New York Stock Exchange help keep the quality high, he says. “It means we get the pick of the litter; we get to be more selective,” he says. “It means we don’t have to work so hard to recruit people. We seek to be a people magnet, and once you get that started it gains its own momentum.”

Categories: Centers, Executive Speakers, Former Students

Mays Business School’s 2011 Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting (ALPFA) placed second in a national Case Study competition – the first time a Texas A&M team advanced to the finals in this competition. The competition was a part of ALPFA’s annual convention held at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif., on Aug. 6-7.

ALPFA, with over 15,000 members nationwide, is dedicated to increasing opportunities for Latino leadership in the business world. The organization prides itself on its fundamental values, including professional growth, integrity, culture, relationship building, service, inclusiveness and teamwork.

At the convention, the Mays’ ALPFA team participated in the National Case Study Competition sponsored by KPMG. After two days of competing, the Aggies placed second in the nation, beating out 28 reputable schools from around the nation, including Baylor and UT.

Members of the Texas A&M team were Arjun Mojan, Daniel Macias, Franklin Alvarez, Hannah Abalos and Henry Silvas. The faculty advisor is Matthew Josefy.

To prepare for the competition, the team of Aggies spent a semester thoroughly researching and analyzing McDonald’s accounting and business procedures. The case focused on the risks and challenges McDonald’s faces from diversification and share-based competition accounting effects. After first presenting their case on a regional level, Texas A&M advanced to the national level, where they successfully presented to a national partners from KPMG and a financial officer from Goldman Sachs.

“The entire team left California with an immense appreciation for the experience gained both at the competition and convention, as well as a larger sense of pride in representing the quality of education Aggies receive at Texas A&M University,” says Alvarez, a senior PPA student.

Categories: Students

The clothing industry is a terrible business—unless you’re No. 1, like George Zimmer, founder and executive chairman of The Men’s Wearhouse. “Unlike the computer business, where some smart person can come in over the weekend and take the market with a new invention, the clothing industry doesn’t change very quickly,” he explains.

Since founding the company in 1973, Zimmer has weathered its many storms and revised his strategies to maintain the values and corporate climate he prefers. His company has generated more than $2 billion in sales and a listing on the New York Stock Exchange, while Zimmer has grown as a company co-founder, entrepreneur and TV icon.

He created his Fortune 1000 company with a corporate culture that has been recognized as one of FORTUNE Magazine‘s 100 Best Companies to Work For in America in eight of the last nine years.

George Zimmer, executive chairman and founder of The Men's Wearhouse, accepts the Kupfer Distinguished Executive Award. Founded with a single location in 1973, the company has expanded to become the largest retailer of men's tailored suits, dress casual clothing and tuxedo rentals in the U.S. and Canada.
George Zimmer, executive chairman and founder of The Men’s Wearhouse, accepts the Kupfer Distinguished Executive Award. Founded with a single location in 1973, the company has expanded to become the largest retailer of men’s tailored suits, dress casual clothing and tuxedo rentals in the U.S. and Canada. (view more photos)

To recognize the way Zimmer does business, Mays Business School honored him with the Kupfer Distinguished Executive Award. After receiving the award, Zimmer gave a lecture in Ray Auditorium, then had breakfast and meetings with students and faculty members.

The award was created as a lasting tribute to Harold L. Kupfer ’54’s professionalism, enthusiasm and dedication to service. Kupfer’s friends Gerald Ray ’54 and Donald Zale ’55 created the award to honor Kupfer’s outstanding career and contributions to the Texas business community.

After graduating from Texas A&M University, Kupfer was an officer in the U.S. Army, then began an investment career with Dallas-based Sanders and Co. His last professional association was with Jefferies & Co., where he earned a place in the Jefferies “Hall of Fame” and was recognized as a sales professional with an award in his name.

The Kupfer award is special, says Mays Dean Jerry Strawser, because “it recognizes a business leader who has changed the way the world works.” He says the award recognizes friendship, loyalty and the three men’s strong ties to Texas A&M and to each other.

Zimmer says he was honored to receive the award, and that he has long admired business success stories that stem from Texas.

His is one of them.

Zimmer opened his first store in Houston in 1973, stretching a $7,000 investment to buy simple cash registers and portable racks to hold his inventory of sport coats and slacks. On the opening day, a Saturday, sales totaled $3,000—which Zimmer quickly calculated could generate nearly $1 million a year. The next Monday, sales barely hit $60. “I got a quick lesson in the ups and downs of retail,” he says. “I learned to plan for the slow days.”

During a tough economic slump in Texas, Zimmer and his brother borrowed from their mother to stave off a $2 million loan that was being called. “We promised our mother we would base our business on values rather than wishful thinking,” he says.


“The Golden Rule is still a good way to live,” Zimmer told students. (view more photos)

Under his leadership, the company has become the largest retailer of men’s tailored suits, dress casual clothing and tuxedo rentals in the U.S. and Canada. The employee base expanded from that single store to a force of 17,000 in more than 1,200 stores.

The company had no mission statement, just what Zimmer calls “the cultural values of the “60s—what some would call “hippie values ” of doing the right thing and treating one another well.” He adds, “The Golden Rule is still a good way to live.”

Strawser says Zimmer embodies the Aggie Core Values, though he is not an Aggie.

Zimmer values trust, fairness and compassion in his company. Trust extends to operating in what Zimmer calls “full transparency,” which excludes secret shoppers or other surprises for his store managers. Fairness means considering the most qualified candidates from inside the stores for promotions and Zimmer’s self-imposed income limit to 10 times the average store manager’s salary. Compassion is reflected in infant care centers at corporate buildings, funds to cover employees’ financial emergencies and a self-insurance plan.

Additional core values of respect, integrity, authenticity, celebration, good will and caring for each other complement the company’s essential principles of hard work, accountability, loyalty and commitment to customer service. The resulting high-quality work environment inspires employees to deliver a shopping experience that enables Zimmer, the company’s spokesman, to confidently say “I guarantee it” in all its television and radio advertisements.

“The reason that campaign has been successful is because we’ve repeated it a million times,” he says. “That’s the key to advertising—repetition and consistency.”

Categories: Featured Stories, Texas A&M

Twelve students were recently honored for being the first to complete the Trading, Risk and Investments Program.
Twelve students were recently honored for being the first to complete the Trading, Risk and Investments Program.

Twelve students were honored for being the first to complete the Trading, Risk and Investments Program (TRIP). They were recognized at the TRIP board meeting, held at Traditions Golf Course. Representatives from over 30 member companies enjoyed two days of student internship presentation and golf, capped off by a celebratory banquet.

Texas A&M Women’s Basketball Coach Gary Blair gave the keynote address.

The students recognized were Colin Schickedanz, Collin Coale, Corey Walter, Danielle Barski, Douglass Brown, Elizabeth Brumbaugh, Josh Groner, Kathryn Hoeffner, Kerr Friedman, Neil Azzam, Patrick Meyer and William Armstrong. The program director is Detlef Hallermann.

Categories: Programs, Students

Categories: Bottom Line Ethics

The Texas A&M University’s Center for Retailing Studies at Mays Business School will host its semi-annual Retailing Career Fair on Wednesday, September 14, from 9:30 a.m. — 3:00 p.m. The event invites students to meet over 30 companies to learn about career positions and internships in merchandising, store management, professional sales, marketing, and buying. All majors welcome.

The Retailing Career Fair serves to connect retailers with students interested in careers in store management, sales, merchandising, planning, and other related services.
The Retailing Career Fair serves to connect retailers with students interested in careers in store management, sales, merchandising, planning, and other related services.

While more companies are participating — a sign of a recovering economy — many are making hiring selections earlier. Students looking for summer 2012 internships are encouraged to seriously search now, as job offers may be extended in November, rather than spring. Cheryl Holland Bridges, director of Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School Center for Retailing Studies, says, “Retailers want to hire the best talent. They are eager to meet candidates now. This event connects them with students passionate about building a career retailing.”

Participating companies include many top 10 retailers, like Walmart, Walgreens, Home Depot, and Target, as well as fashion leaders like Neiman Marcus and Dillard’s. New among the recruiters is Island Companies, a chain of 30 high-end jewelry stores serving cruise ships and Caribbean vacation travelers in Grand Cayman. The retailer is traveling over 1,100 miles to hire Aggies for its professional sales team. Other first-time recruiting companies include AutoNation, Nestle Waters, and Reynolds & Reynolds.

View a complete list of participating companies at crstamu.org/career_fair.php.

The revamped website links to each company’s careers page. Students can easily research which retailers offer executive training programs, corporate positions, internships, and roles in store leadership. This research enables them to effectively plan for a successful career fair experience and positively impress recruiters with their company knowledge.

About the Retailing Career Fair

The Retailing Career Fair serves to connect retailers with students interested in careers in store management, sales, merchandising, planning, and other related services. It is held each semester and is hosted by the Center for Retailing Studies at Mays Business School, Texas A&M university.

For more information, contact Regina Gomez, event coordinator, at rgomez@tamu.edu.

About the Center for Retailing Studies

A retailer’s challenge in 1980 was the catalyst for the creation of the Center for Retailing Studies at Texas A&M University. Donald Zale, son of Morris B. Zale who founded the well-known jewelry corporation, challenged three business schools: “Do something for retailing.” Texas A&M responded and Mays Business School became the first business school in the nation to make a formal commitment to retailing education. Since being founded in 1983, the Center for Retailing Studies has helped more than 2,500 students prepare for professional careers in retailing by teaching diverse business skills, practical experience and the ethical values needed by today’s business community.

Categories: Centers

At the end of 2012, many investors received an unexpected gift…special dividends paid by companies in anticipation of changes in the income tax laws. Because of the so-called “dividend cliff”, 483 companies paid a new or increased dividend on a “one-time” basis or paid their 2013 dividends earlier than planned (prior to December 31, 2012). This is the highest number of special dividends paid since 1955 and almost four times the number paid in 2011.

Categories: Deanspeak