Sometimes “perfectly good” is the best outcome that can come from negotiations, instead of either side getting its ideal solution, Andrew Card recently told students at Mays Business School.
“I believe very, very strongly that perfection is never the result of a democracy, except by accident,” says Card, acting dean of The Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M. “I want it to be perfectly good — for both sides. That’s what I think we need more of.”
Card speaks from experience drawn from a lengthy career as a Republican politician and business leader. He was White House Chief of Staff under President George W. Bush, U.S. Secretary of Transportation under President George H.W. Bush and a former U.S. Cabinet member.
He also served in the Massachusetts Legislature for eight years and sought the governor’s seat in 1982.
A report Card co-chaired with former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, “U.S. Trade and Investment Policy: Independent Task Force Report,” was the central topic of Card’s discussion with students of management professors Lorraine Eden and Michael Pustay.
Card calls the report released in September “a roadmap for rational thinking in trade. It’s pro-American, and says the federal government should step up and be the enforcer once in awhile and defend fair trade.”
International trade policy has been on hold “for quite awhile, for 10 years,” due to political divisions. He said the task force urged the creation and sustenance of a trade policy that yields greater benefits for Americans in job and wage growth. “I think America should have a very, very strong trade policy because I want America to be loved and respected and feared,” he said. “And the U.S. Patent Office and International Patent Convention should enforce it, not individuals.”
At the Bush School, Card works with students pursuing master’s degrees in public administration and international affairs. He says politics and economics are intertwined. “We focus on economics and how to keep our engine churning so we can continue to grow as a nation. In the world of economics, you need political scientists to help with that.”
A masterful storyteller, Gregg Sherrill ’75 says history is his “first love.” He effortlessly recalls pivotal moments in the business world and the experiences that have led him to his current position as chairman and CEO of Tenneco. In a recent visit to Mays Business School, Sherrill recounted the stories of his leadership journey to groups of undergraduate and MBA students.
Sherrill grew up in a ranching family from West Columbia, Texas. His Aggie roots run deep, starting with a grandfather who graduated from Texas A&M University in 1919. His love for the school has never diminished, and his time as a mechanical engineering major was “some of the best years of his life.”
Tenneco CEO Gregg Sherrill ’75 stressed the importance of continuous learning to MBA students. “Know what you know and more importantly, know what you don’t know.” (view more photos)
Sherrill’s business background is packed with another one of his loves: the automotive industry. He worked with Ford for 22 years, starting in the engineering department and moving to manufacturing later in his career. “I remember when I decided to leave the “elite’ group of engineers and take the manufacturing jobâ€” people told me I was destroying my career,” Sherrill recalls with a laugh. He claims that mastering the mass complexity of automotive manufacturing paved the way for his current position at Tenneco.
While at Ford, Sherrill earned his MBA from Indiana Universityâ€”a feat he describes as “purely a personal goal.” He left Ford in 1998, at the peak of their success, for Johnson Controls, another decision his colleagues questioned him about. But Sherrill says he knew what he was doing. “In every career move, I made sure I wasn’t leaving something, I was headed towards something.”
Joining Tenneco as CEO in 2007, Sherrill says he’s lucky to work for a company that’s “positioned for growth.” Tenneco is an automotive supplier with 22,000 employees working in 82 facilities around the world. When asked how the company managed to survive through the “Great Recession of 2008-2009,” Sherrill says Tenneco substantially cut costs and persevered without sacrificing investment in growth.
Sherrill lives in Lake Forest, Ill., but is out of the office at least half the time due to travelling. He visits China four times a year and encourages students to broaden their knowledge of different cultures. “You may not understand, but you can at least appreciate it,” he says of the diverse global workplace.
Sherrill also spoke on what it takes to climb the ladder of success. “There are three simple factors in every promotion,” he says. “There has to be an opening, you have to be qualified and you have to be competitiveâ€¦ But for heaven’s sake, be competitive with integrity.”
Besides competitiveness, the automotive maven emphasized that perseverance, calmness in the face of adversity and balance are important components in building yourself into an effective leader. Continuous learning is also key. “Know what you know and more importantly, know what you don’t know.”
People ask him all the time what exactly he does as CEO. “I inspire,” he says, then adds, “always be cognizant of your influence.”
The fan mail just keeps coming in for Marketing Professor Paul Busch, who recently was given a Regents Professor Award.
“Since the award has been announced, I have received numerous notes, emails and visits from family, friends, neighbors and colleagues, which has been an especially heart-warming experience,” Busch says.
(L to R) Texas A&M University System Board of Regents Chairman Richard A. Box ’61, Paul Busch, Ann Busch, Regent Phil Adams ’71
In a career that spans four decades, Busch is in his 25th year at Texas A&M, including 10 years in administrative and academic leadership as department head.
Busch was one of two faculty members from the College Station campus of the Texas A&M University System selected for the award. It recognizes Busch’s outstanding contributions in the areas of scholarly research, teaching, service to the institution and the marketing profession as well as administrative contributions.
Busch describes his teaching philosophy and approach as revolving around three core concepts: caring, student engagement in the learning process and the students’ career and personal development.
Distinguished Professor of Marketing Rajan Varadarajan, head of the marketing department, nominated Busch for the award. He says Busch has excelled in scholarly research, teaching, service to the university and the marketing profession, and administration. “Dr. Busch belongs to an exclusive group of faculty members at Mays Business School who consistently excel in teaching at multiple levels and is sought after to teach in multiple programs (e.g. BBA, MS, EMBA, Center for Executive Development Programs, Center for Entrepreneurship and New Ventures Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for Veterans with Disabilities),” Varadarajan wrote. “His record of distinguished teaching and service is complemented by important contributions to marketing scholarship (as evidenced by his publications in the flagship journals for dissemination of scholarly research in marketing such as the Journal of Marketing and Journal of Marketing Research) and supervision of doctoral dissertations as chair and member of doctoral dissertation committees.”
He cited several of Busch’s accomplishments and contributions in the areas of teaching and service:
2008: Texas A&M University Association of Former Students University Level Faculty Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching
2007: Texas A&M University Association of Former Students College Level Faculty Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching
2008: Mays Business School Faculty Fellowship for Teaching Innovation
2002: Texas A&M University Fish Camp namesake
He teaches and helps coordinate the marketing component of the Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for Veterans with Disabilities sponsored by the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship.
Dean Jerry Strawser praised Busch in a message about a report Busch submitted on the Center for Executive Development Review Committee, saying he felt compelled to single Busch out rather than praise the entire committee. “I believe that such a note would not justify your extraordinary effort. This was one of the most thorough and conscientious efforts that I have seen on a center review in my nine years at Mays.” Strawser went on to say Busch’s work on the project “set a very high mark for other committees to follow.”
Busch said he was “extremely pleased and honored” to have Varadajan’s support for the award, and that he was impressed with the thorough and rigorous process for the selection.
“On a personal level, it provided an opportunity for me to reflect on my 25 years at Texas A&M, regarding my teaching, research, and administrative and other service roles that I’ve played,” he says. “It was a powerful reminder of what a developmental and supportive culture we enjoy as faculty members here at Texas A&M.”
Busch calls the Nov. 3 reception and dinner at the Hagler Center for the honorees “truly a night to remember â€¦ I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the other Regents Professor Awardees, members of the Board of Regents and the top executive team from the university. It was extra special because my wife, Ann, and I were accompanied by my daughter, Jennifer Busch Walzel ’93 and my son John ’97.”
Two years ago, Lauren Joy Ray ’13 recognized a need as she walked down the dusty streets of Uganda’s Acholi ghetto. Rows upon rows of handmade paper jewelry filled the streets, but there were no customers to sell it to. With a heart as big as her smile, Ray bought a suitcase full of jewelry she knew she could sell at home. Little did she know that suitcase marked the beginning of her current nonprofit, Be the Joy.
Ray says she has grown up with a heart for missions. In the summer of 2009, the Austin native and her family visited Uganda on a church mission trip. While there, she was overwhelmed with the lack of hope present in the Ugandan ghettos. Empathy bloomed within Ray and sent her mind swirling with ideas on how she could help.
Mays Business Honors and marketing student Lauren Ray ’13 was inspired to start a nonprofit selling handmade paper jewelry after visiting Uganda in 2009.
That’s when she met Filda, 13 years old and living in the Ugandan orphanage where Ray and her family were volunteering. The two girls quickly bonded. “She had so much joy and I never thought anything bad could be in her life,” Ray recalls. “But she couldn’t afford an education, so I looked at her and told her I would send her to school.”
According to Ray, only 14 percent of girls in Uganda go from free primary school to secondary school due to the expense of education. “That’s the equivalent of girls having to drop out of school after the 6th grade in the U.S.,” she says.
She quotes the “The Girl Effect” movement: “When you educate an impoverished girl, they’re less likely to get married at age 14. They stay healthy and HIV negative, and can raise a family when they’re ready.”
The door for Ray’s involvement opened right in front of her. Starting with that suitcase full of jewelry, she realized she could help two different groups of Ugandan women: the ones making the jewelry and the ones she’s sending to school with the money raised.
Shortly after returning from Africa, Ray created Be the Joy, inspired by her own middle name and her favorite Bible verse, Psalms 126:3 (“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.”).
Be the Joy is designed to purchase handmade jewelry from Acholi women, increasing their wages and allowing them to provide for their families. The profits made from selling the “heartbeads” go to fund the education of young Ugandan women.
“No secondary education is free in Uganda,” Ray emphasizes. It costs approximately $125 per semester for a secondary student and $750 per semester for a college student, not including books, uniforms, and school supplies.
She launched the Be the Joy website in October 2009 and sells jewelry, T-shirts, notecards and other merchandise on the site. In spring 2010, Ray won a StartChurch contest, achieving nonprofit 501(c)(3) status for free. Several College Station and Austin boutiques and salons carry Be the Joy jewelry, and Ray hopes to one day have her products picked up by larger retailers.
A year after her initial visit to Africa, she returned with her family and continued to meet girls in need of school fees. Currently, Be the Joy is sponsoring 33 girls attending secondary school and college.
Ray’s involvement is helping two different groups of Ugandan women: the ones making the jewelry and the ones she’s sending to school with the money raised.
No matter the growth her nonprofit experiences, Ray says the philosophy behind it remains the same: “One girl at a time.” Be the Joy makes a commitment to each girl and follows her throughout her schooling.
Ray is quick to say she can’t do it alone. “My friends, my sorority and the Aggie family in general have been so supportive of the cause.” The business honors and marketing major also mentions that her time at Mays has taught her the value of professionalism and diligence in the business world.
In September 2010, Ray’s family adopted two Ugandan girls, Patricia and Rose, from the orphanage they worked with in 2009. Ray says her new sisters love to help with Be the Joy and “think it’s neat that they’re sending their friends to school.”
Her advice to students interested in starting their own nonprofit is simple: “Keep your passions alive and your main goal in mind. Don’t let the details dilute what your purpose is. Also,” she adds, “enlist help.”
Ray considers herself lucky to have found her calling so early. She has big plans for her nonprofitâ€”sponsoring more girls, getting merchandise in retail stores and eventually, she wants to open her own secondary school in Uganda.
“I love investing in these girls’ futures,” she says. “I have relationships with each one of them. I know exactly where the money is going, because they’re my friends.”
The Mays team made history at the Wall Street Journal Quiz Competition with its first trip to the final competition round for the top three teams.
(L to R) Andrew Haraway ’14, Ali Abdulla ’12, Grace Davis ’12 and advisor Risa Meyer
In the school’s fourth trip to the competition, team members Ali Abdulla (senior BHNR/FINC), Grace Davis (senior ACCT-PPA) and Andrew Haraway (sophomore BHNR/FINC) placed third behind Ohio State (1st) and Michigan (2nd), but were far ahead of the other 15 teams. Carnegie Mellon, Emory, SMU, North Carolina, Notre Dame, among others. The Mays team beat Michigan State twice, preventing them from making the finals for the first time in their six years at the competition.
Besides placing third in the overall competition, the team also tied for third with Michigan State on the team written competition, and Ali Abdulla placed 2nd out of the 54 students in the individual written competition.
“The students were wonderful representatives of Mays and Texas A&M,” says Risa Meyer, academic advisor for the Business Honors program. “And the director told me Texas A&M will always be one of the top schools they invite because of our enthusiasm and great competition we bring to the program each year.”
The competition was Nov. 11-13 at Ohio State’s Fisher College of Business and Nationwide’s corporate headquarters. Krishnan Anantharaman, managing editor of the WSJ Classroom Edition, moderated the final round.
Mary Lea McAnally, Van Houten Professor of Accounting and Mays faculty member since 2002, is eager to take on the position of associate dean for graduate programs. She already has been working on transitioning to her new leadership role with predecessor David Blackwell, who has accepted the deanship at the University of Kentucky’s Gatton College of Business and Economics.
“He leaves the programs in a fabulous strategic position,” McAnally explains. “Our brand is strong due in no small part to his building and leading a dedicated team over the past few years.”
McAnally looks forward to making her own mark on the graduate programs. “My chief priority is to continue to improve our suite of MBA programs: to innovate, expand, and respond to opportunities. We will launch the Professional MBA program in the fall of 2012, and much of my efforts in the coming months will focus on attracting top-notch students.”
McAnally teaches financial accounting in the Full-Time MBA, Executive MBA and Executive Education programs at Mays. She has taught at business schools in Canada, Austria and India. She has received numerous faculty-determined and student-initiated teaching awards at both Texas A&M and UT.
Dean Jerry Strawser says, “Mary Lea will be a dynamic addition to our school’s leadership team. She works closely with our Full-Time MBA and Executive MBA students and is one of the few faculty who have received teaching awards from both groups. She will build on the outstanding work of Dave Blackwell and move our already strong programs to the next level.”
McAnally is the Carol and David Van Houten Professor of Accounting at Mays and a former Chartered Accountant (Canada) and Certified Internal Auditor with experience in public practice and industry. Prior to arriving at Texas A&M, McAnally held positions at University of Texas at Austin, Canadian National Railways, and Dunwoody and Company.
Her research interests include accounting and disclosure in regulated environments, and accounting for risk. She has published articles in the leading academic journals including Journal of Accounting and Economics, Journal of Accounting Research, The Accounting Review and Contemporary Accounting Research. She has coauthored three textbooks and a casebook, all published by Cambridge Business Publishers.
She received her doctorate from Stanford University in 1994 and a bachelor’s in commerce from University of Alberta in 1982.
Steve Solcher ’83 says he’s a believer in the philosophy “hard work pays off.” As CFO of BMC Software for seven years, his experience and knowledge attest to his work ethic.
Solcher shared his business insight to Mays Business School students in a recent visit to campus.
“If you have the opportunity to do something multinationalâ€”do it,” BMC Software CFO Steve Solcher ’83 advised students. “You can’t be sitting in an office in Houston thinking about how to compete globally if you’ve never seen the world.” (view more photos)
“Thirty years ago, I was sitting in a classroom just like this without a job,” Solcher says. An accounting major, he utilized Mays’ career fair and got a job with Arthur Andersen, where he worked for eight years after graduating.
In 1991, Solcher joined BMC as an assistant treasurer. “When I visited BMC, I looked around and realized that everyone wants to be at work,” he says about the decision to change jobs and work for one of the world’s largest software companies.
More than 20 years later, Solcher climbed the ranks at BMC and now holds the title of chief financial officer. BMC employs about 6,400 people worldwide, and Solcher says the company stands out in the tech industry. “We want to serve IT professionals well and deliver value easily,” he says. “We’re more narrowly focused, while our competition is trying to fight too many fronts.”
Solcher has travelled the world visiting BMC’s numerous international offices (including Amsterdam, Israel, Singapore and India), and can’t help but be amazed at how the competition overseas is “exploding.” “If you have the opportunity to do something multinationalâ€”do it,” Solcher advises. “You can’t be sitting in an office in Houston thinking about how to compete globally if you’ve never seen the world.”
Similar to the rapidly shifting global workplace, Solcher noted that the industries themselves are also continually changing. Adaptability, he says, is what sets the successful apart from the unsuccessful in business.
“Fields change all the time,” he says. “No set of education will last you throughout your career.” Solcher further emphasized that if students can see that change and capitalize on it, “That’s where people are making good money.”
Aside from his notable corporate career, Solcher has also been involved in several community organizations. He currently sits on the board of the Boys & Girls Club of Houston, as well as the Houston Museum of Natural Science. “I’m passionate about giving everyone an opportunity to succeed,” he says.
Omitting the email subject line, long-winded paragraphs, use of “Internet speak”-employers of recent college graduates often complain about the relaxed style in their new employees’ business correspondence. The problem is, most college students never realize what they’re doing wrong while communicating in the business arena.
The Mays Communication Lab recently reopened its doors with one goal in mind: combat the unprofessionalism that has seeped into students’ business communication.
“The way we write and speak influences how we’re perceived,” says Jeana Simpson, Communication Lab administrator. Simpson holds a degree in cognitive studies from Vanderbilt University, and the Bryan native has moved back to Texas eager to help business students with their written and oral communication skills.
The lab in 339 Wehner was originally established as part of the Transitions program, which included the lower-level communication intensive course, BUSN 205. The communication lab’s primary function was to support the written and speech components of this course, but in May 2011, the Transitions program was discontinued due to budget cuts and the lab was closed. Mays faculty and staff continued to recognize the need for communication feedback, and in October 2011, the lab was reinstated. It now offers its services to all Mays students, regardless of their enrollment in communication intensive courses.
“My vision is for students to strengthen their professional voice,” says Simpson.
To accomplish this, the lab offers:
Individual computer workstations
Individual and team consultations for presentations and written reports
Audio/ video recording equipment for team and individual speaking practice
Workshops to address common communication errors and issues
Intentional feedback from hired business communication consultants
Simpson says the communication lab’s focus is on “how to get skills from the ground up.” “We don’t want students to realize their senior year that they don’t know how to write, edit, and speak on reports,” she says.
She says she feels confident that students will see a difference in their written and oral communication abilities as a result of the lab’s programs. “Our hope is that students can go into their first job with confidence in their communication skills.”
“You bet your nuggets we’re open”â€”This phrase, accompanied by a cartoon beaver sporting a red baseball cap, decorates interstates across Texas on the characteristic billboards Buc-ee’s is well known for. Arch “Beaver” Aplin ’80, founder and CEO of Buc-ee’s, has blazed the trail in the modern convenience store experience, and Mays students were fortunate to hear from him in a recent lecture and small group discussion.
“I was 22 years old and dreaming big,” Aplin says about founding his first Buc-ee’s. He graduated in 1980 with a construction science degree from Texas A&M. After a few months of working in his family’s construction business, he meshed his love for building and his entrepreneurial talents and “on a whim,” opened Buc-ee’s in Lake Jackson, Texas. He was fresh out of college with big ideasâ€”but no plan at all.
Buc-ee’s founder and CEO Arch Aplin ’80 advised students, “Step back and look at your business from the customer’s standpoint.” (view more photos)
Aplin recounts the now-humorous story of buying the property to build Buc-ee’s by writing a $52,800 hot check (which he doesn’t recommend to students) and quickly sorting things out. Before he knew it, he was in the business of Buc-ee’s, which has now expanded to 30 Texas locations.
Aplin offered advice to the budding entrepreneurs: “Building a successful business is a lot of small ball,” he says. “There’s no grand slam, it’s all consistency.”
He emphasizes that focus is one of the more crucial professional traits to possess. “Entrepreneurs want to do everything. They can’t say “no,'” Aplin says. “But it’s dangerous if you try to be everything to everybody”â€”which he admits he’s done.
“Nobody is worse at getting distracted than me,” he jokes of his entrepreneurial tangents. A few years ago, Aplin read a book about the founding of Starbucks and asked himself, “Why can’t I get into this $4 coffee business?” He spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on equipment, training of baristas, and making space in stores, but the sales were dismal because Starbucks and Buc-ee’s have differing atmospheres. The moral of the story? “Don’t run down every rabbit trail that’s out there. Find your niche and stick with your momentum.”
Aplin also spoke on branding. “Create a product or experience that expands your radius of influence by exceeding expectations,” he says.
When Aplin started Buc-ee’s, he wanted his company to go above and beyond by being clean, friendly and in stock. He says that Buc-ee’s targets the female customer with the “fabulous restrooms,” well-lit parking lots, spacious aisles and clutter-free front windows. Paying attention to these details is key, Aplin says. “Step back and look at your business from the customer’s standpoint.”
These details have set Buc-ee’s far apart from competitors. From “beaver nuggets” and wasabi peas to candied jalapenos and beef jerky, the Buc-ee’s brand has exploded with a cult-like following around Texas.
Aplin is constantly looking for new ways to retain these customers and expand his business. “Having an exceptional product and exceptional people is what matters,” Aplin says. “And, of course, a few funny billboards don’t hurt.”
After graduating from Texas A&M with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in marketing, David C. Tucker ’77 wanted to give back to something that has given so much to him.
“My time at A&M provided me the tools to succeed when I graduated,” says the Dallas native. “It was the right combination of education, friendship, mentoring and sense of responsibility.”
David C. Tucker ’77, seen here visiting with Business Honors students last year, said, “I’m proud to be an Aggie and to continue to have the opportunity to grow in that role.”
For this reason, Tucker and his wife recently established the Colleen and David C. Tucker ’77 Business Honors Scholarship, a $100,000 endowment that will provide full-time business honors/marketing students with four-year scholarships.
Tucker, now vice president and general manager of small business at Cisco Systems, says his diploma holds a lot more meaning than the strong academics he received at A&M. “I learned the importance of hard work, what it means to be a leader, to be part of a team, and the attributes of loyalty and appreciation that forms my core value system.”
Kris Morley, director of the Mays Business Honors Program, highlights the importance of the Tuckers’ scholarship. “These scholarships, especially ones of this size, are major factors in prospective students’ college decisions,” she says. She explains that Mays is seeing more bright, promising students with financial need, and that offering them a substantial scholarship draws their attention to the rich education they can receive at Mays.
David and Colleen Tucker recognized this need and wanted to help. “I’m proud to be an Aggie and to continue to have the opportunity to grow in that role,” he says, adding, “Giving back so others have the same opportunity as I did is why Colleen and I chose to invest in the Mays Business School.”