Chef Tai’s Mobile Bistro, the brainchild of Tai Lee ’02, is the first gourmet food truck in the Bryan-College Station area. Recently voted America’s Favorite Food Truck on the Food Network, Chef Tai’s Mobile Bistro has grown to be a local favorite. Despite having no previous food truck experience, Lee set an impressive precedent for any and all future food trucks in Bryan-College Station.

Tai Lee '02
Lee ’02

Lee graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in finance, and despite the differences between finance and the culinary field, Lee credits his success partially to his Mays Business School pedigree. “Before I could start my dream of owning a restaurant, I had to come up with a business plan to show my financier,” he explains. “Even working now, I can analyze our statements and finances a little better than if I was just a chef. Being a finance major definitely helps me analyze our numbers to see what we need to do to survive as a restaurant.”

In 2007, before becoming part owner of Chef Tai’s Mobile Bistro, Lee helped create Veritas Wine & Bistro in College Station. He is currently still the executive chef at Veritas in addition to his work at the food truck. Lee’s success with his food truck must have been no surprise to those who are familiar with his work at Veritas.

While Lee was honing his craft at Veritas, his parents became familiar with the food truck business that was blossoming in Southern California. In 2009, they suggested to Lee that he join in with his own food truck. At that point in his life, Lee felt like he didn’t have the time to do a food truck. “I told my parents, “I am doing high-end food. Why would I want to do low-end?'” Lee said. After visiting his parents and experiencing some food trucks that served gourmet food, though, Lee changed his mind. In 2010, Lee opened Chef Tai’s Mobile Bistro to serve both some renditions of favorites from the Veritas menu and some dishes created specifically for the food truck.

“I saw it as a business opportunity: since we are serving the top 10 percent of Bryan-College Station [at Veritas], we wanted to hit the other 90 percent. So the food truck became a great vehicle for us to have lower-priced items to hit a greater variety of people. It made our food more accessible for more people,” Lee said.

Taste and price have helped the mobile bistro win not only in the national arena, but also to remain a local favorite. Lee has managed to survive and flourish when other restaurants that have tried gourmet food trucks have failed.

Categories: Former Students

Medical errors account for 98,000 deaths each year in the U.S., according to a 1999 report published by The Institute of Medicine (IOM). In a more recent report, the IOM claims medical errors harm 1.5 million people and cost $3.5 billion every year. Interestingly, the report claims that medical errors are not due to incompetent people, but to bad systems that include the processes and methods used to carry out various functions.

Ramkumar Janakiraman

These staggering numbers and facts have caught the attention of many researchers, including Ram Janakiraman, assistant professor of marketing at Mays Business School, Shelley and Joe Tortorice ’70 Faculty Research Fellow and Mays Teaching Fellow.

Janakiraman says he has always been interested in several aspects of healthcare. “As a marketing researcher, the context of doctor and patient relationships greatly interests me,” he says.

This interest led him and a group of other researchers from around the nation to explore and analyze the impact of system automation on medical errors.

Janakiraman explains that medical errors are most commonly traced back to the manual transmission of information across different functional units of the hospital, manual calculations of doses and unmonitored clinical interventions. The big question surrounding the research, he says, was, “Can automation really reduce the rate of errors in various hospital wards?”

Janakiraman’s co-researchers on the article in Information Systems Research were Ravi Aron, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School; Shantanu Dutta, vice dean for graduate programs and professor of marketing at USC Marshall School of Business; and Praveen Pathak, American economics institutions professor at University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business Administration.

The researchers hypothesized that the “Automation of information capture and transmission between agents and across the different functional units of the hospital can reduce the rate of medical errors, because they enable the automation of the checks and procedures, thereby removing the “human touch.'”

Janakiraman drew insight from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organization (JCAHO), as well as the Joint Commission International (JCI). The Joint Commission recommends that hospitals adopt three procedural norms:

  1. Observe and record actions of agents (Sensing Function)
  2. Recommend context-specific procedural controls (Control Function)
  3. Undertake periodic managerial review of the extent to which agents are in compliance with norms (Monitoring Function)

The researchers recognized these three functions as having potential for automation. One example that could be automated is logging the time an item is removed from storage. Rather than recording it in a logbook, a technician could swipe a digital card to record the time.

Janakiraman says this research is important for a number of reasons: No study has empirically analyzed the relationship between automation and medical errors using actual hospital data and no study has looked at the differential impact of automating these three functions on the incidence of two types of medical errors (procedural and interpretative errors) in hospitals. Also, no other study has examined the effect of quality training programs and their complementary effect on automation of error prevention functions using actual data.

“Collecting this data was a humongous feat,” Janakiraman says. The researchers used panel data of incremental automation over time of the error prevention functions and actual rates of medical errors at several wards of two large, top-notch hospitals.

With this data, Janakiraman describes the two categories of medical errors the researchers found: procedural errors (deviations from norms irrespective of what the context and circumstances are) and interpretative errors (deviations from norms that are classified as errors based on the underlying circumstances and the context).

Results from the study confirmed Janakiraman’s hypothesis: automation of the three core error prevention functions (sensing, control and monitoring) helps reduce both kinds of medical errors (procedural and interpretative).

In addition, the researchers found evidence of a significant complimentarity between automation of certain functions and the training of clinical and nonclinical workers in quality management.

“The research demonstrates that there are hidden benefits to the automation of manual functions that are often not captured in a cost benefit analysis,” he says.

Janakiraman plans to continue with his research on healthcare — this time focusing on hospitals’ decision to adopt various technologies, rather than just the impact of technology.

Categories: Research Notes

Chuck ’62 and Beverly Moreland say they hope to help Mays Business School attract the best-qualified students by providing monetary assistance when needed. To do so, they have established the Chuck ’62 and Beverly Moreland Scholarship in Business.

Chuck '62 and Beverly Moreland
Chuck ’62 and Beverly Moreland

The scholarship was initiated by a $50,000 gift, and the donors say their preferred recipients would be Corps of Cadets members in financial need.

Mays Business School did not exist when Chuck Moreland attended Texas A&M, but he says a business degree in marketing was very important in his preparation for a career. “It provided a sound basis for my entry into the world of business,” he recalls. “Texas A&M completed that education by providing the skills necessary to live in that world.”

The Morelands say they have been inspired by many others who have helped them pursue their lifelong goals. “It is only reasonable that we should give back to help others in the pursuit of theirs,” he says. “We felt Mays Business School was the best way to help those individuals and at the same time help Texas A&M.”

Mays Dean Jerry Strawser expressed his appreciation for the gift. “The Morelands’ generosity will make a significant impact on the lives of the students who will receive and benefit from their scholarship,” Strawser says. “People such as the Morelands are truly providing our students with an opportunity that will benefit them for the remainder of their lives. We cannot thank them enough.”

About Mays Business School

Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,000 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students in accounting, finance, management, management information systems, marketing and supply chain management. Mays consistently ranks among the top public business schools in the country for its undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. Its mission is to create knowledge and develop ethical leaders for a global society.

Categories: Donors Corner, Former Students

The competition to create the “next big thing” is over, and the participants in the Ideas Challenge have finished presenting their innovative business ideas to about 80 judges.

The Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship (CNVE) at Mays Business School hosted the May 2 event, which was open to Texas A&M students of all majors and undergraduate and graduate classifications.

(L to R) CNVE director Richard Lester, first-place winner Patrick Daniels '13 and Ideas Challenge sponsor Frank Raymond
(L to R) CNVE director Richard Lester, first-place winner Patrick Daniels ’13 and Ideas Challenge sponsor Frank Raymond (view more photos)

Construction science major Patrick Daniels ’13 received $3,000 for his first-place project, “I.Q. Stat: Intelligent Climate Control.”

The second-place project, “PolyFilm Absorbable Adhesion Barrier,” was entered by biomedical engineering major Qun Liu ’12. She received $2,000.

Three projects tied for third place:

  • “House of Geekdom” by university studies/business major Shelly Brenckman ’79,
  • “Garment Drying Tags” by accounting/Professional Program—MGMT major Ben Bates ’12 and accounting/Professional Program—MIS majors Allison DeHaven ’12, Erin Evetts ’12, Kelsey Hermanson ’12 and Valerie Hernandez ’12, and
  • “Kinectic People Power LLC ” by university studies/business major Shelly Brenckman ’79.

The Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) Product Development Center provided a sponsorship to help get ideas to market, and TEEX representatives approached the creators of two of the projects about taking them further.

The annual challenge at Mays cultivates Texas A&M’s collective entrepreneurial spirit, challenging Aggies of all majors and classifications to contribute their ideas. According to the CNVE website, the Ideas Challenge “helps students think in an entrepreneurial way and develop the competencies needed to identify and successfully implement new business ideas throughout their careers.”

Students were encouraged to participate in the competition individually or in groups. Idea submissions and competition entry are free, but require creative and careful planning to persuasively express original ideas.

For more information on the Ideas Challenge, visit

Categories: Centers, Students

The John A. ’92 and Kimberly Kerner Endowed Study Abroad Scholarship was created by a $25,000 gift to Mays Business School. The scholarship recipients will be full-time business students who plan to study abroad.

The Kerners said they wanted to give back to the school that has had “a lasting impression on my character and life,” and to promote the importance of experiencing other cultures and learning to conduct business elsewhere. The Kerners also wanted the gift to be used to level the playing field for study abroad. “Aggieland has always been a school where anyone could work hard and succeed regardless of income level,” said John Kerner, who is a district manager for Expeditors International.

“The need for our students to graduate with an international perspective is part of our school’s mission,” said Mays Dean Jerry Strawser. “Because of the Kerners’ generosity, our students will have that opportunity. We are so appreciative of their support of this most important part of our students’ education.”

About Mays Business School

Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,000 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students in accounting, finance, management, management information systems, marketing and supply chain management. Mays consistently ranks among the top public business schools in the country for its undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. Its mission is to create knowledge and develop ethical leaders for a global society.

Categories: Donors Corner, Former Students

When Tom Jenkins ’92 recently spoke to Mays Business School undergraduate students, he came prepared with the honest, practical career advice students long to hear from experts in the business field.

Jenkins, a senior vice president at UBS, graduated from Texas A&M University with a marketing degree, but found himself working in finance quickly after graduation. Highly recruited out of college, Jenkins went to work for NationsBank, but was laid off after only 10 months of working at the company. Jenkins shared with the students the tough reality of working three jobs (individual financial planner, pizza delivery man and suit salesman at Macy’s on the weekends) to pay bills. However, Jenkins says getting laid off enabled him to discover what he was passionate about: helping people manage their wealth.

“I love the people side of business,” Tom Jenkins ’92 told Mays students, “even more than the financial side.” (view more photos)

After successfully growing his own financial planning business, Jenkins went to work for Merrill Lynch, where he stayed for 13 years. He left Merrill Lynch in 2010 to go to work for UBS.

On paper, Jenkins says his job is to advise clients whose wealth ranges from $2 million to $50 million. He meets with the individuals, determines their most pressing financial concern, devises a strategy, executes the strategy and follows up with the client on a regular basis.

Jenkins says the role of a wealth advisor goes far beyond the job description on paper and that financial advising requires a well-rounded, personable individual. Jenkins says his duties include marketing, finance, sales, psychology, business management and studying.

The financial expert offered the students advice in the professional and personal finance realms. In a career setting, Jenkins told students:

  • Establish a value proposition
  • Take time to learn what excites you
  • Be passionate and aggressive
  • Internships are key
  • Don’t ask for money, ask for advice
  • Don’t burn bridges
  • Be a person of integrity

He also gave students personal financial advice:

  • Become a saver
  • Be a good steward (be a cheerful giver)
  • Become cash rich
  • Don’t rush into buying a house; don’t get into debt
  • Invest money and learn as you go
  • Have fun with the money you’ve saved

A proud Aggie, Jenkins says he learned his “good bedside manners” while dealing with clients from his time at Texas A&M and his involvement with the university after graduation. “I love the people side of business – even more than the financial side.”

Categories: Executive Speakers, Former Students

The terms “incubation” and “acceleration” took on new meanings for Mays Business School students enrolled this semester in Management 489: Incubator Development. Nearly all of the undergraduates in this one-time course had never visited a business incubator or accelerator prior to registering for this unique experiential-learning class. MGMT 489 students overcame a steep learning curve by visiting incubation programs in Austin and San Antonio during the spring semester.

Texas A&M University System officials, CNVE advisory board members and other stakeholders toured the program's office space in Research Park.
Texas A&M University System officials, CNVE advisory board members and other stakeholders toured the program’s office space in Research Park. (view more photos)

During their out-of-town and local visits to incubators, MGMT 489 students interviewed incubator managers and community leaders with experience in economic development. As students learned more about the business incubation industry, the incubator research project evolved—making for quite a challenge near the end of the semester as MGMT 489 students became more involved with their sister class in the College of Architecture. ARCH 485 students produced space plans and custom furniture designs for a proposed “student startup space” at Texas A&M University’s Research Park, based on end-user needs articulated by MGMT 489 students.

Both teams of students revised their course deliverables several times to incorporate new data as it was developed and shared. For MGMT 489 students, this meant working to rewrite their business plan for a campus incubation program to assist student entrepreneurs. In response, ARCH 485 students had to “redesign the redesign of their redesigned architectural design plans,” as one senior noted. Students in both classes agreed that the process was like launching a startup business because collaboration between students was required to produce a cohesive, feasible product.

At the end of the semester, both classes presented their proposals to Jeffrey Seemann, vice president of research at Texas A&M University and chief research officer for the Texas A&M University System, during a stakeholders presentation that included Jorge Vanegas, dean of the College of Architecture, and other university and Texas A&M University System officials. An estimated 70 guests, including Richard Lester, executive director of the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship, and CNVE advisory board members, convened to hear students’ presentations and participate in tours of the student business incubation program facility.

This 4,704-square-foot office space, dubbed “The Startup Space” by students, served as the campus classroom for MGMT 489 students. A Phase II course, “MGMT 489: Incubator Implementation,” will be offered to a small group of undergraduate at Mays in the same space during the first summer 2012 semester.

Categories: Departments

Project Mays 2012 recently put books into the hands of 450 prekindergartners in Bryan.

Mays students read books donated through the Business Student Council's Project Mays to children at the Carver Early Childhood Center in Bryan.
Mays students read books donated through the Business Student Council’s Project Mays to children at the Carver Early Childhood Center in Bryan. (view more photos)

Project Mays is the service committee of the Business Student Council, responsible for the largest community service project at Mays each year. This year’s theme was “One Book, Two Books, Old Books, New Books.” On the annual Revelation Day on May 2, about 75 Mays students read to Carver Early Childhood Center students and gave them books and school supplies.

Project Mays supplemented the Bryan school district’s Be The One Reading Literacy Campaign effort to give books to all 8,500 elementary students and encourage them to read during the summer. Project Mays delivered more than 8,000 books to Bryan ISD children and raised more than $40,000 toward the effort.

Project Mays collected monetary donations and more than 550 new and gently-used children’s books.

“The support Project Mays has received from Mays students, faculty and staff has been incredible, and we are so thankful we are able to work with Mays to make a difference in these students’ lives,” says Leigh Anne Castles, vice president of Project Mays. “The students at Carver were so excited to have college students in their classrooms, and this project would not have been possible without the support of Mays and Bryan ISD.”

Categories: Students

The Container Store is honoring the late Mona Williams by establishing an endowed annual scholarship for students of the Center for Retailing Studies, part of Mays Business School at Texas A&M University. The company contributed $25,000 to endow The Container Store — Mona Williams — Women Making a Difference in Retail Scholarship.

Williams was a 30-year employee, former vice president of buying at The Container Store and a trailblazer in the retail industry. To honor the company’s employee base of 64 percent female, the scholarship will be awarded to one young woman each year.

The Container Store Vice President of Visual Merchandising Peggy Doughty (left) and scholarship recipient Allison Miller '14
The Container Store Vice President of Visual Merchandising Peggy Doughty (left) and scholarship recipient Allison Miller ’14

“Words can’t describe the tribute that Mona deserves as a result of contributions and work. She was an incredible friend and colleague,” says Chief Merchandising Officer Sharon Tindell. “We know Mona’s spirit and legacy will live with us forever, as she made such an indelible mark on our business, our brand, the retail industry and all of us who worked with her over the past 30 years.”

Additional funds for the scholarship endowment have been donated by employees and friends of Williams, as well as vendors with whom she dealt at work.

“The Container Store has been a strong supporter of our education in retailing,” said Mays Dean Jerry Strawser. “This tribute to Ms. Williams is one that will honor her achievements by supporting the next generation of female leaders in the industry.”

The first recipient of the scholarship is Texas A&M marketing student Allison Miller ’14, who is involved with the Center for Retailing Studies at Mays as an M.B. Zale Leadership Scholar and a member of the Student Retailing Association. She is also involved in the business mentorship organization P.R.E.P (Progressively Reaching Excellence in Professionalism) and was honored with the Young Women in Excellence Award for completing 80 hours of personal progress and community service. Peggy Doughty, a 25-year employee of The Container Store, vice president of visual merchandising and longtime colleague and a friend of Williams, presented the scholarship at Department of Marketing Awards Ceremony on May 3.

About The Container Store

Founded in 1978, Dallas-based The Container Store offers more than 10,000 innovative solutions designed to save space and time. The retailer couples its one-of-a-kind product collection with expert customer service delivered by its highly trained organization experts. The Container Store is a sponsor of the Center for Retailing Studies at Mays.

About Mays Business School

Mays Business School educates more than 5,000 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students in accounting, finance, management, management information systems, marketing and supply chain management. Mays consistently ranks among the top public business schools in the country for its undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. Its mission is to create knowledge and develop ethical leaders for a global society.

Categories: Donors Corner

The Center for Executive Development (CED) at Mays Business School has teamed up with Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) to offer a new capstone program for fire service leaders. The Fire Service Chief Executive Officer (FSCEO) certificate program is designed to provide executive level professional development for company and chief officers within the fire service. It is geared toward those who have already completed NFPA 1021 Fire Officer I-IV and are looking for advanced training.

The class is a natural progression for the program that provides customized management training for organizations in a variety of industries. Each program is created in partnership with the client.

The inaugural Fire Service CEO class will be June 4-8 at the CED on the Texas A&M University campus. Topics covered will include the challenges of leadership, ethics, creativity and innovation, strategic management and planning, managing change and transition, media relations and stress management.

“It is a tremendous opportunity for officers in the fire service,” said Brandi Plunkett, program director for Leadership Development at TEEX’s Emergency Services Training Institute. “We are very proud to offer a program that is of exceptional quality, yet is accessible for volunteer and municipal fire officers in terms of time and expense. This new certificate program will provide fire service leaders an opportunity to gain a broader perspective of executive level issues as they interact with business professors, corporate leaders and fellow fire chiefs from around the state and nation.”

The four-day program will be presented by professors from Mays who deliver classes for the Executive MBA Program as well as corporate clients of the CED.

For more information about the CED at Mays Business School, go to

Categories: Centers