The Mays accounting and management programs were ranked highly in the U.S. News & World Report 2012 “Best Colleges” guidebook.
The management program moved up from 16th to tied for 9th overall, while the management undergraduate program tied at 8th among programs at public institutions and tied for 11th overall.
The accounting undergraduate program tied for 15th public and tied for 26th overall. The accounting graduate program (ranked earlier this year) tied for 12th public and tied for 28th overall.
Accounting department head Jim Benjamin says he is gratified with the department’s improvement in the rankings over an extended period. “Given the different methodologies used in the various rankings, I am also pleased with the consistency of our rankings including our top ten status in both the Public Accounting Report and Financial Times,” he says. ” While we have always had excellent students with great personal characteristics, I believe that the rankings now also reflect the quality of our faculty and our contemporary, innovative programs. I am pleased that our rankings are now commensurate with the demand by leading accounting firms and other organizations for our graduates.”
Twelve teams of Mays students created online marketing solutions for Big Skinny as part of the Center for the Management of Information Systems’ (CMIS) 17th annual case competition.
The competition offers future information technology professionals an opportunity to sharpen their analytical, presentation and teamwork skills. It challenges the student teams to solve an IT-related business problem.
The students had one week to prepare solutions to online marketing challenges faced by the company that makes and sells “skinny” wallets. They presented their solutions Oct. 20-21 to business professionals, who judged the proposals based on their originality, creativity and feasibility.
Of the 10 undergraduate teams and 18 graduate teams that participated in the competition, four teams of undergraduates and four teams of graduate students were the winners, while four teams (two undergraduate and two graduate) were named finalists.
4th place:JAR – Roger Bynum, Jonathan Harris, Artem Neretin
Finalist:JJK – Kelsey Brawner, John Reavis, Jakob Rosenberg
Finalist:Pay Us Money – Neil Amsberry, Kyle Shaffer, Benjamin Suchy
1st place:The Info Incredibles – Shalabh Jain, John Morrison, Ronak Tali
2nd place:Fortius Consulting – Suyesh Chaudhari, Jason Earles, Vasu Pandey
3rd place:Team SNT – Siddharth Basu, Trishka Fernandes, Nimmy Jose
4th place:Blue Orchid – Benjamin Finn, Udayan Sathe, Aparna Vishwanathan
Finalist:Synergia Inc. – Chandan Jethani, Viraj Mehta, Rishit Mishra
Finalist:Team OSM – Alejandro Fautsch, Thomas Walther, Eric Wivagg
All participants received tote bags filled with items such as T-shirts, pens, notepads, USB hubs and other items donated by CMIS advisory board member companies. Such participation by corporation makes the event one of the center’s most impactful, says director ‘Jon (Sean) Jasperson.
Members of the winning teams received scholarships ranging from $100 to $350 and gas cards for $100 to $200, along with laptop carry cases from HP and a Big Skinny wallet. Each member of the finalist teams received a $50 scholarship.
A college football weekend likely comes to mind when a mid-autumn competition is associated with beer and the likes of UCLA, Texas A&M and the University of Virginia.
Teams from these schools and others recently concluded a pressure-packed competition. But it involved neither athletics nor tailgating fans. Instead, MBA students matched their skills as the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business staged its 5th annual Mergers and Acquisitions Competition.
G. “Anand” Anandalingam, dean of UMD’s Robert H. Smith School of Business (at right), presents the Mays team with their third-place award.
Texas A&M’s Mays Business School finished third and received $1,000 in the Oct. 20-21 event. Corporate executives, Wall Street bankers and business professors judged merger and acquisition pitches hypothetically based on the international beer/brewing industry.
UVA’s Darden School of Business received the $5,000 first-place prize and the UCLA Anderson School of Management received the second-place $2,500 prize.
“This one-of-a-kind competition really prepares MBA students for the fast-paced world of mergers and acquisitions,” said G. “Anand” Anandalingam, dean of the Robert H. Smith School of Business. “We challenge the students to excel under deadline pressure in a sophisticated, cross-disciplinary exercise under the scrutiny of investment bankers, strategic consultants and high-level corporate financiers who work M&A transactions on a regular basis.”
The teams, with up to four members, received their case assignment on the competition’s first day and worked through the night to create a persuasive argument for strategic merger and acquisition alternatives for a large international brewer. Students used event co-sponsor Capital IQ’s tools and real-time databases for the brewing industry in preparing their analyses. Teams pitched their final presentations to the judges, representing such companies as JPMorgan Chase, ATK and Accenture. Teams were judged on their qualitative arguments and the quantitative models used to support their arguments.
Michael Schenk, account executive for the competition’s other sponsor, Morningstar Inc., said the Smith School has established a niche among academic business competitions. “This [competition] is on par with the best of the many competitions I’ve observed, plus it’s uniquely focused on one segment of the market – mergers and acquisitions.”
Howard Bernheim, director of business development for Standard and Poor’s Capital IQ-Compustat, said he was impressed by “the highest levels of professionalism and poise by MBA students. The students were capable and knowledgeable as they presented and responded to an onslaught of hard questions,” he said. “They will be assets to their employers and to the U.S. economy.”
In addition to a Smith School team and the prizewinning teams, competitors represented Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management and the George Washington University School of Business.
The Smith School’s MBA Finance Association presents the Mergers and Acquisitions Competition as its premier fall event.
Activities also included a networking reception and opportunities for students to meet industry professionals and recruiters. For more information, go to www.smith.umd.edu/macompetition.
Gina Luna ’95, chairwoman of Chase bank’s Houston regional banking office and CEO of middle-market banking, packs power and decisiveness within her calm, confident demeanor. She exudes optimism, and she drives her employees with the strategic leadership style she’s developed throughout her career with Chase.
In a recent lecture to Mays Business School students, Luna offered guidance on effective business leadership tactics, as well as practical advice regarding students entering the workforce.
“Good leaders should work themselves out of a job,” Gina Luna ’95 told Mays students. “I want to be able to walk away knowing that the people under me are fully capable of handling things without me.”
(view more photos)
Luna graduated from Texas A&M with a double major in management and finance. She began her career with JPMorgan Chase directly following her graduation, and has worked her way up to the position she holds currently. As CEO of middle market banking, Luna works with hundreds of companies that have revenues between $20 million and $500 million.
Working with so many clients, Luna has developed shrewd management skills. She says she approaches each day with the same mindset: “I work for my team, rather than have my team work for me.”
Working for the team means empowering her employees to do the job well, she says. “Good leaders should work themselves out of a job. I want to be able to walk away knowing that the people under me are fully capable of handling things without me.”
Luna’s leadership style is heavily influenced by Chase CEO Jamie Dimon’s popular “11 attributes for a successful leader.” She shared her perspective of these attributes with Mays students.
DisciplineÂ -Â Be systematic and predictable in your decision making process.
FortitudeÂ -Â Be willing to do the hard stuff. Own the problem at hand and find a way to solve it. “You have to get in the weeds,” Luna says. “No leader will be able to solve the problem flying at 60,000 feet.”
StandardsÂ -Â Recruit people who have already set high standards for themselves.
Face the factsÂ -Â Be honest. “We want to engender trust,” Luna emphasizes, adding, “The banking industry has gotten a black eye in that area recently.”
Openness -Â Share the information and make sure everyone is on the same page.
Set things up for successÂ -Â Success starts with how you structure your company and design business processes.
Loyalty, meritocracy and teamworkÂ -Â You’re not going to last at a company if you can’t work well with people.
MoraleÂ -Â Be a morale builder. Remove obstacles in your team’s way and gain their trust.
RespectÂ -Â Treat people right. Employees deserve honest feedback. Tell them why they’re getting certain results and equip them with the knowledge they need to succeed.
Reward people fairlyÂ -Â Recognize people for their efforts as well as their performance. “Understand that some employees want their name displayed in lights at a meeting, and others just want a phone call saying that you noticed their hard work,” Luna adds.
Show real humanity – Have a heart for people. In every case, Luna says that her role is to “help that person preserve their dignity.”
Aside from these attributes, Luna says the greatest skill to have in any leadership position is emotional intelligence, particularly self-awareness. “You have to have a realistic perception of your abilities,” she says. “You always know when someone isn’t self-aware when they’re not empowering those around or under them. They’re doing it all themselves.”
When asked how she juggles a demanding job, two active boys (ages five and nine), regular marathon training and community involvement, Luna says it’s important to remind herself that she chooses and wants to do all these things. “I can’t victimize myself and live with the “I have to do this and I have to do that’ mindset.” She also emphasizes that it’s important to prioritize well. “I never miss a little league game,” Luna says.
Gina Luna’s notable career is a testament to the positive drive, leadership and personality she brings to the job. She credits A&M for equipping her with beneficial knowledge and experience, as well as the network she needs to flourish. “I didn’t appreciate or understand what the Aggie relationship meant as a student,” Luna says. “That relationship spans years and career roles, so leverage those connections in a productive way.”
In new rankings released by Financial Times, the Executive MBA Program from Mays Business School at Texas A&M University is now among the top 10 programs offered by public universities in the U.S.
This year, the program is ranked 10th among public programs in the nation, rising one spot from its 11th rank in 2010. Among all U.S. programs, the A&M Executive MBA rose two places to tie for 27th. Globally, the program climbed eight spots to tie for 54th in the world, up from last year’s rank of 62nd.
The program continues to improve as it enters its 13th year, says David Blackwell, associate dean for graduate programs at Mays Business School. “Our strong rise in the global rankings and breaking into the top 10 EMBA programs at U.S. public universities reflects the great work of our faculty in delivering cutting-edge content, our staff in providing top notch service and a seamless experience, and the strong accomplishments of our graduates,” he says.
To determine its rankings, London-based Financial Times surveyed thousands of Executive MBA alumni from more than 100 of the top programs in the world. Blackwell says the feedback from alumni is an authentic source of information, and that at Mays, the graduates help keep the program relevant and progressive. “The program teaches our students how to create value in their organizations. The many contributions of our EMBA graduates to the Houston business community ensures that we will continue to be able to attract a strong group of executives to the program.”
In Fall 2012, the Executive MBA program will move from its location in The Woodlands north of Houston to a new, private facility at CityCentre, a mixed-use urban development in west Houston. The custom-finished facility will also be the home of A&M’s new Professional MBA program, which targets professionals with two to 10 years of work experience.
Mays Business School at Texas A&M University recently honored three outstanding alumni to recognize their contributions to the college and to their community.
This year, David Baggett ’81, Cindy Taylor ’84 and Gregg Matte ’92 — all from the Houston area — were given the Mays Outstanding Alumni Award.
(L to R) 2011 Mays Business School Outstanding Alumni Gregg Matte ’92, Cindy Taylor ’84 and David Baggett ’81 (view more photos)
Each year, Mays Business School honors graduates who have led lives exemplifying traits they learned at Texas A&M, such as loyalty, integrity, excellence, leadership, selfless service and respect. Aggies are introduced to these values upon their arrival as freshmen, they are reminded of their meaning upon receipt of their Aggie Rings and they are shown their enduring power with connections after they graduate.
Recipients of the award come from different backgrounds, industries, generations and career paths, but they all have one thing in commonâ€”they live a life of distinction and service to their jobs, families, community and alma mater.
Gregg Matte’s imprint on the university he loves lives on in the hearts and souls of thousands. He started a Bible study in 1989 with just a few students gathered in his apartment. Fifteen years later, the small group became Breakaway Ministries — a weekly gathering of thousands of students in Reed Arena. Matte has moved on to lead Houston’s First Baptist Church, which has 25,000 members. Matte also is an author, writing Finding God’s Will: Seek Him, Know Him, Take the Next Step and another book due out in spring 2012.
David Baggett’s time at Texas A&M was short — he graduated in only two years — but not any less meaningful. He graduated in 1981 with a BBA in accounting, and started with Deloitte & Touche, becoming the youngest partner in the history of the firm when he was promoted to partner at the age of 29. In 2005 he founded Opportune, an energy consulting firm that was ranked fourth in 2010 in the Aggie 100, which recognizes the fastest-growing Aggie-owned or Aggie-led businesses in the world.
Cindy Taylor graduated from the business school in December 1983 and moved to Houston to start a career in public accounting, quickly gaining exposure to the energy industry. She is now the president, chief executive officer and a director of Oil States International, Inc., a diversified oilfield services company that trades on the NYSE. She is one of only 26 female CEOs in the Fortune 1000 and is director of Tidewater Inc., a global provider of vessels servicing the oil and gas industry.
The recipients were honored at a banquet at the Zone Club at Texas A&M.
Saying she’s not quite sure how she got there, Laurie Lawhorne credits her endless curiosity about the business world with propelling her successful career.
After receiving an accounting degree from Texas A&M University in 1986, Lawhorne went on to hold a number of assorted positions. She was the director of field finance at Yum! Brands, Inc. and also worked for their international division as the director of financial planning & analysis. She has jumped from public accounting to private equity and from taxes to finance, and most recently held the title of vice president of asset management at Hudson Advisors/Lone Star Funds. She recently accepted a position as CFO of a restaurant chain based out of Nashville, Tenn.
“No job is worth sacrificing your integrity,” accounting grad Laurie Lawhorne ’87 told Mays students. “You have to ask yourself, “Would I want this published on the front page of the Wall Street Journal?'” (view more photos)
Lawhorne’s shifting career moves have achieved her invaluable experience and wisdom in the business arena. In a recent lecture to Mays Business School graduate students and in a small-group discussion with business honors students, she imparted the tips for success she’s picked up throughout her career.
“Play well with others”
Lawhorne emphasizes the diverse workplace. Students will be working with bosses and coworkers of various generations, backgrounds and morals. Learning to adapt is key to a successful career, she says.
“Recognize others’ work”
Lawhorne stresses that quick, verbal recognition doesn’t cost anything, but makes all the difference in coworkers’ motivation. “A simple, “Thanks for staying so late last night and finishing those reports’ works wonders,” she says.
“Integrity first â€” and always”
Especially in the finance industry, maintaining integrity keeps you grounded, Lawhorne says. “No job is worth sacrificing your integrity. You have to ask yourself, “Would I want this published on the front page of the Wall Street Journal?'”
“There is no balance”
According to Lawhorne, the “40-hour work week” is a myth. She says there’s no true balancing act with a job, family and hobbiesâ€”it’s a juggling routine. “There will be good days when you get lots accomplished and bad days when you don’t,” Lawhorne says.
“Play on the corporate jungle gym”
Lawhorne says one of the most applicable statements she’s read regarding the business world is to “forget about climbing the corporate ladder, play on the “corporate jungle gym.'” In other words, focus on moving laterally, rather than vertically, throughout the company. She argues that employees bring more value to the company when they have a broader exposure of different aspects within the business.
For example, when Lawhorne started at Yum! Brands, the company had her working in a Pizza Hut restaurant for the first month. She took orders, made a “mean supreme pizza,” and even delivered it to the customer. This exposure greatly aided her when she was later making financial decisions such as, “Is additional insulation in the pizza delivery bags worth the money?”
“Stay true to yourself”
Follow your passions, says Lawhorne. “You spend most of your waking hours at work, so you want to enjoy what you’re doing.” She says each person is his own brand, and that brand is his biggest asset. “Always assume someone is watching you,” Lawhorne says, adding, “What do you want to say and show about yourself?”
Just as each person has his own brand, Texas A&M has a brand of its own. “I’ve had human resource departments tell me how humble, hard-working, smart and ethical Aggie employees are,” Lawhorne says. “It’s an extremely well-perceived university in the business world.”
Lawhorne’s tips for a fulfilling career are evidence of her dedication to break the monotony that entangles so many in the workforce. She says the end goal before retirement isn’t to achieve the highest title out thereâ€”it’s to continually gain new perspectives of a company you’re passionate for.
David W. Williams ’79 would be the first to tell you that he didn’t get to his current position as chairman, president and CEO of Noble Corporation based on his college GPA. “A solid C student,” as he calls himself, Williams channeled his efforts into work instead of school.
He learned the value of hard work at a young age, and shared his experiences and advice in a recent lecture and small discussion with Mays Business School students.
Noble Corporation CEO David Williams ’79 stressed the importance of motivating people during a recent lecture to Mays management students: “If they don’t trust you, they won’t trust your plan.” (view more photos)
The Houston native graduated from Texas A&M University in 1979 with a degree in marketing. He paid his way through college working as a form carpenter, and worked in a shipyard for two years after graduating from A&M. Before coming to Noble Corp five years ago, Williams served as executive vice president at Diamond Offshore Drilling, a company he was with for more than 20 years.
“I’ve worked my whole life,” Williams says. “I never aspired to be a CEO, but I was always up for the next challenge.”
Williams knows diligence, which is key to running the world’s second largest offshore drilling company. Noble Corporation has 79 rigs around the world and employs more than 7,000 people of 64 nationalities. The Switzerland-based company is celebrating its 90th birthday this year and, according to Williams, it will celebrate many more. “The world runs on oil and gas, and that’s not going to change,” he says.
The drilling business has allowed Williams to travel all over the worldâ€”South America, Canada, Africa, China, Indonesia, the Middle East, to name a few, and the place he and his wife currently call home, Geneva, Switzerland. His extensive exposure abroad has made for several unique experiences. Williams says he “thrives in this business, and if I’m not travelling, I get restless.”
“The bottom line,” says Williams, “is that we are in business to make money for our shareholders.” To accomplish this goal, his management style is “all about motivating people. If they don’t trust you, they won’t trust your plan.” Williams has gained this trust by relating to and respecting all levels of employeesâ€”from the rig workers to the board members.
Of course, he runs into many challenges along the way to delivering value to Noble’s shareholders. For example, he spends more time on safety management than on just about anything else. “Statistically speaking, you’re now safer on a Noble rig than you are at home,” he says.
Williams’ unconventional leadership style has brought him to the success he stands on today. He offered his unique outlook and honest advice to the Mays students and shared his opinions on how to succeed in the current job market.
“The good news is, you’re at a great university,” he says. “The bad news is you still have to earn respect and earn your stripes. No one makes it without help. Williams explained that half a dozen people took a chance on him throughout his career, and their risks paid off.
“Be willing and open-minded,” Williams also says. “If a company wants you to move to Egypt, move to Egypt. If you don’t want to go, it might not be the right company for you.”
He says a sense of entitlement is the biggest risk in searching for jobs, and recent college graduates must be willing to take on any task, “even the crummy ones,” thrown their way. “You have to start at the bottom,” he says.
Finally, Williams advises students to become an expert at some aspect of their company for the impact it will have on their career. He illustrated the importance of this idea by sharing that early in his career, he became the “go-to guy” for information on rig competitors, and that gave him an opportunity to shine.
Williams is familiar with each rung on the ladder of success. Starting at the bottom, he pushed his way through the ranks until he hit the top. He has learned the drilling industry inside and out and now claims, “I want this company to be the best. I want people to recognize that we have the right strategy, and I want shareholders to get the credit for what this company has become.”
Mays Business School is a place where outstanding business faculty and outstanding business students meet to create outstanding business education. On Sept. 9, over a Friday afternoon lunch, faculty and students met with the goal of understanding each of their roles in the education process from the perspective of the other through an exercise called Mutual Expectations.
The session was hosted by the Mays Academy of Learning and Teaching (MALT), a newly formed coalition of faculty, staff and students of Mays Business School committed to excellence in the learning process. MALT was born through the collaboration of faculty across departments, specifically fellows of the Wakonse and Wakonse South conferences for college teaching.
The Wakonse Fellowship brings together faculty, teaching and learning professionals from postsecondary institutions who recognize and are devoted to the inspirational aspect of the teaching and learning process. Participants at Wakonse Conferences on College Teaching return to their campuses to share and promote the excitement of teaching — particularly in higher education.
Mutual Expectations, an exercise brought home to Wehner from Wakonse, was the centerpiece of the inaugural MALT event. The session began with students and professors talking over lunch to become acquainted (or to catch up from the summer) before being broken into groups. Small groups of faculty were asked to answer three questions: First, what are students’ expectations of their professors? Second, what are professors’ expectations of their students? And third, which of these expectations are held by both parties? The MALT team provided Venn diagrams to be filled in with the answers to these three questions. After the diagrams were full, the results were shared to establish a group consensus among the faculty.
The panel of students participating in the exercise then presented their results. As they did, the discussion began.
From the professors:
“What does is mean for us to be “transparent?'”
“What should we do about the use of cell phones or laptops in the classroom?”
“Feedback on student evaluations affects us personally and professionally.”
From the students:
“Fairness in grading is better than giving an easy “A.'”
“Where is the line between participating in class and monopolizing class time?”
“We expect teaching to be the top priority when you are in the classroom.”
The beauty of the exercise is that it happens in a safe setting where students and faculty alike can speak freely and honestly. This environment draws out issues, promotes the development of solutions, and gives each side the opportunity to understand the other.
Feedback from the session reflects this better understanding. Students’ eyes were opened to the sheer scope of responsibilities that come with being faculty at a university like Texas A&M. Faculty were able to grasp the pressures, opportunities, and challenges of being a student in the Millennial generation. Both sides were reminded of the reality that their counterparts in the classroom are humans with strengths and flaws, successes and failures, professional and personal lives, needs and expectations.
One of the transcendent themes learned in this session is that optimal teaching practices promote optimal learning, and at the same time, optimal learning practices promote optimal teaching. Governed by a cycle like this, the quality of the education that occurs in our building never stays the same; it is constantly increasing or decreasing. Through sessions like Mutual Expectations, MALT is ensuring that the quality of our learning and teaching remains on the rise.
Two short years ago, Texas A&M graduate Katie Decker ’10 was sitting in finance classes, listening to friends discuss career options and wondering what job the future had in store for her. She never dreamed that someday, the title “jewelry designer” would precede her name. Even more so, she never dreamed that someone like First Lady Michelle Obama would wear the jewelry pieces she would come to create.
Having a lifelong fascination with jewelry, Decker interned at Judith Ann Jewelers in Houston the summer before her senior year, and it was there she discovered her talent for designing. An artist at heart, Decker says that she would doodle jewelry designs on slow business days, specifically designing a pendant to hold one of her mother’s pearls. The storeowner was so impressed with Decker’s sketches that she offered her space in the store. The design for her mother’s pendant, now called the “Ivy pearl pendant” is still one of Decker’s bestsellers.
Thanks to her fresh, intricate designs and strong Aggie roots, finance grad Katie Decker ’10 has become a rising star in the jewelry industry.
The thought of designing jewelry for a living was just beginning to sprout in Decker’s mind the fall semester of her senior year at Mays. Decker decided to apply for the JCK and Couture jewelry tradeshows, some of the top in the nation, sending in her mere 10 designs. “I was accepted, but I knew I needed to expand my collection fast, so I spent the whole winter break of my senior year designing new pieces,” Decker says.
Her namesake jewelry line took off from there. Decker’s line now includes more than 100 pieces, selling in stores all over the U.S. Her whimsical, delicate designs mirror the vibrant imagination she’s always possessed.
Decker’s name is becoming increasingly prominent in the jewelry industry. She secured her spot as one of the top up-and-coming designers in fall 2011 when First Lady Michelle Obama adorned herself in three of Decker’s diamond-encrusted bangles at the Democratic National Convention fundraiser in New York City. Michelle Obama wore Decker’s Lotus cuff (priced at $15,000), her Gothic cuff ($15,350) and the Quatrefoil bracelet ($11,800). The Internet has been buzzing about the bracelets ever since the event.
Decker is quick to attribute much of her success to her ties with Texas A&M. “When you’re an Aggie,” says Decker, “people want to help and support you.” She says that the Aggie network has opened doors to many important opportunities, such as meeting and working with David ’78 and Julia Gardner, owners of David Gardner’s Jewelers.
“It also helps to have a business degree from here,” she adds, saying that the knowledge she gained as a finance major has aided her tremendously in dealing with jewelry businesses interested in carrying her pieces.
Inspired by her time here at A&M, Decker’s newest line is dedicated to Aggies.
“The A&M line was actually the Gardners’ idea,” she says. “They approached me about a year ago and discussed the possibility of creating a more unique and feminine line of Aggie jewelry. We wanted to incorporate the delicate feel of my 18kt gold line into the designs.”
The line includes earrings, necklaces, pendants and ringsâ€”some pieces displaying A&M’s letters entwined in swirls of silver, and others devoted to A&M traditions, such as the Century Tree.
You wouldn’t guess it now, but Decker claims that she “did not know the jewelry business” just two years ago. She says that in a way, her career as a jewelry designer stemmed from boredom at work. She doodled, and those doodles cleared a path for her future as a successful designer.
With her fresh, intricate designs, increasing popularity and strong Aggie roots, Katie Decker’s name is quickly becoming a mainstay in the jewelry industry.