September, 2013 | Mays Impacts

Kathleen M. Eisenhardt
Kathleen M. Eisenhardt

Kathleen M. Eisenhardt’s biggest advice to Mays faculty and students is to push the limits on what you know. “You need to get outside your comfort zone and read something else,” said Eisenhardt. She stressed that by looking in new places, relying on different methods and reading different literature, researchers can see even well-studied research phenomena in a new light.

Eisenhardt spoke to a nearly packed room of faculty and students at Ray Auditorium as part of the 2013 Dean’s Distinguished Scholar Lecture Series, a forum that presents distinguished scholars from an array of business disciplines.

She is currently Stanford W. Ascherman M.D. Professor and Co-Director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program at Stanford University. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Brown University and a PhD from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.

Eisenhardt has published extensive research in top academic and management journals on corporate and entrepreneurial strategy and organization. She is co-author of the award-winning book Competing on the Edge: Strategy as Structured Chaos, which was named a top business and investing book by Amazon.com. Throughout her career, Eisenhardt has partnered with firms in a wide variety of industries, including software, biotech, semiconductor and computing.

The lecture highlighted several of Eisenhardt’s research studies and illustrated key concepts of corporate and entrepreneurial managerial decision-making. An important theme behind her discussion was the idea of “acquisition as courtship, not dominance.” She challenges the traditional view of the acquisition process, which assumes that buyers are the decision makers and sellers are no more than weak participants.

Instead, Eisenhardt offered evidence suggesting that sellers are actually important forces behind acquisitions because of their power of choice. She explained that buyer selection is a complex process because it is typically based on more than selecting the bidder with the highest offer. Sellers are often more motivated to choose a buyer on the basis of organizational fit and combination potential.

Eisenhardt also discussed alliance portfolios and introduced several entrepreneurial do-s and don’t-s for building effective portfolios. She emphasized that high-growth entrepreneurs focus on strategic processes, such as product innovation, sales, and internationalization, and learn to develop useful heuristics, or simple rules, over time to make more effective business decisions.

One student who attended the lecture praised the program for providing students with a unique perspective on relevant managerial research concepts. “Dr. Eisenhardt’s lecture provided innovative glimpses into different aspects of entrepreneurship and corporations,” said Business Honors freshman Logan McDivitt. “Her research expertise exposed neglected sections of commonly researched topics, which provided thought-provoking conclusions in areas such as mergers and acquisitions, leadership structures, and enhancing your research through expanded reading research.”

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. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.

Categories: Texas A&M

Michael Bolner '73
Michael Bolner ’73

Bolner’s Fiesta Spices is trying to balance culinary ventures with the proven formulas that have sustained it for almost six decades, says Michael Bolner ’73, vice president of sales and marketing.

The family-run business that started in 1955 in San Antonio focuses on a specific flavor profile — a targeted range of tastes. Fiesta’s products encompass authentic Mexican, Cajun and barbecue. “In general, you don’t want to taste the spice, you just want to enhance the product,” Bolner explained to a group of Business Honors students.

Bolner, one of seven children, works day-to-day with two brothers and their 85-year-old father. The next generation is also emerging, with two mechanical engineers keeping the equipment operating and a daughter managing the retail sales in Houston. Each weekday, all the family members who are available eat a working lunch together.

Until 1980, the company’s cash flow was seasonal — catering to cool-weather dishes such as chili and tamales. “The first product was a menudo mix. Recognizing that convenience sells, Fiesta’s first blend formulation back in 1955 was decided on by four employees making their own versions of menudo and the group picked the one that tasted the best.” The company added barbecue seasonings, spices for wild game and an array of rubs. Now, tailgating is a top trend through the fall, followed by rodeos — with their cook-offs — in late winter. “We don’t add products or packaging just for fun,” he says. “If I don’t see a clear path to money, I don’t do it.”

Bolner said his challenges include keeping the prices low, keeping the labor force staffed and bidding against other companies for a finite amount of commodities. “We are at the mercy of agriculture, the weather, hurricanes and civil unrest,” he said. “All we can do is plan ahead and keep our lines of communication open with our suppliers. There are only so many places that grow particular spices.”

Matthew Korioth ’17, a Business Honors major, said the most important thing he learned from Bolner was how items are chosen for the shelves of the stores. “As the typical consumer, the most important thing to me was always what was on the shelf at Walmart. Never did I think about the story behind the product, the buying of commodities for the production of the product, shipping the product to the store, or the marketing of the product in the store. Through this interaction, I was able to see the inner workings of a successful business and how much time and effort really goes into selling a product. This experience was extremely interesting and enlightening.”

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. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.

Categories: Executive Speakers, Former Students, Texas A&M

Mays Outstanding Alumni Dan Allen Hughes, Jr. '80, Tony R. Weber '84 and Randy Cain '82
Mays Outstanding Alumni Dan Allen Hughes, Jr. ’80, Tony R. Weber ’84 and Randy Cain ’82
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Dan Allen Hughes, Jr. ’80, Randy Cain ’82 and Tony R. Weber ’84 were recognized for their contributions to Mays in particular and to Texas A&M University in general. “As I thought of these three, one word kept coming to mind: integrity,” observed Mays Dean Jerry Strawser. “They did business well and they did business right. They are fine examples to us all.”

Kathryn Sykes ’13, a Business Honors and accounting major, said what stood out to her was how each honoree mentioned Texas A&M’s core values during his speech. “The Outstanding Alumni each mentioned how these values shaped them while in school in striving for excellence and also in their working life, through demonstrating leadership, loyalty and integrity in their careers and family lives,” she said. “I learned how Mays Business School has improved its reputation greatly within the last 30 years through the quality of its graduates, and it was motivating for me to realize how we continue to mold that reputation as we graduate and begin our careers.  I look forward to being able to give back to the school that has given me so much.”

Hughes said the Aggie Core Values and his dad’s advice still guide his choices. “I called my dad one time during my freshman year and said, “I need to drop out, get an apartment and quit messing with this Corps stuff.’ He was silent a long time, then he said, “Son, you’re an adult. You have to make decisions. If you decide to quit now, it will be easier the next time, then easier the time after that.’ So basically he told me if I quit the Corps I may be a quitter all my life. I have always thought of that when making decisions in my life.”

Cain helped blaze a trail for Texas A&M students when he started his first job at Ernst & Whinney. Now his company, renamed Ernst & Young, has a long record of recruiting and promoting Aggies. Cain credits the impact of former Dean Benton Cocanougher (dean from 1987 to 2001), accounting Department Head James Benjamin and current Dean Jerry Strawser. He said he believes in doing the right thing, no matter what everyone else is doing. “Keep doing what you’re doing and that will benefit the business world, and the world in general.”

Weber was in the inaugural class of the Fellows professional development program for A&M business students. Now he and his wife host recruiting and welcoming receptions at their home for promising students. Weber credits his father for teaching him core values from a young age, and his mother – a cheerleader in high school and college — for supporting her two boys their whole lives. “I see that kind of excitement here at the business school. We all love this school and it works because we give back to help others succeed. That brings the value of our brand up.”

Meg Maedgen ’13, a Business Honors and accounting major, said it was inspiring to be able to talk with and learn from numerous outstanding former students at the banquet. “I left with lots of hope for my future and a strong desire to continue finding my own journey, which I hope will one day lead to being able to give back to the university as these alumni do,” she said.

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. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.

Categories: Former Students, Texas A&M

Regents' Scholars' in Ghana
Regents’ Scholars’ in Ghana
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Dr. Henry Musoma, lecturer in the Undergraduate Programs Office, and 15 Mays Business School Regents’ Scholars boarded a plane on Aug. 3 and traveled over 6,000 miles across the world to spend nearly two weeks in Ghana.

The Ghana study abroad program to the nation on the west coast of Africa aimed to introduce the Mays Regents’ Scholars to the rich cultural heritage and socioeconomic development of post-colonial Ghana through a series of seminars, field trips and cultural activities.

The Regents’ Scholars program at Texas A&M is designed to assist first-generation college students. A monetary award of $5,000 and the Regents’ Scholar distinction is offered to 600 incoming college freshmen each year campus-wide.

For 12 days, these students were able to catch a glimpse of a world entirely different from their own and emerge with a new understanding of and respect for Ghanaian life.

The program fostered a sense of immersion into the Ghanaian culture and left a significant personal imprint on Musoma and the students.

“I was reminded of how hard the African people work and how prevalent socioeconomic problems really are in Africa,” reflects Musoma, who is originally from Zambia. “People work all day just to make enough money to eat that night.”

However, although poverty is rampant and the country’s infrastructure is inadequate, “joy” was the key word that students used to describe the attitudes of the locals they encountered. The students say they were awestruck by the happiness and hospitality of the Ghanaians.

“The most beautiful thing I saw was the joy of the children,” says Anthony Guzman, a sophomore management major. “I saw children in mud brick shacks, pumping water from the wells or rivers, carrying buckets on their heads or younger siblings on their backs, and yet they were happy. There was hope.”

The experience struck a similar chord with sophomore management major Shelbi Foerster. “There was trash everywhere. Little kids were going to the bathroom in the streets. I had never seen such poverty before in my life,” she says. “But in that poverty I saw joy. They taught me to be thankful for what I have and not to let my circumstances affect my joy.”

Accounting sophomore Rayshanda Massey says she was deeply impacted by her interactions with Ghanaian children at the Christ Faith Foster Home in Ghana.  “I saw so much joy in the kids’ eyes as we played simple games like soccer and volleyball and a hand clapping game we learned during our childhood,” says Massey.

She describes a young teenage girl whose dream was to have enough money to buy books and supplies, such as pens and pencils, for school. “That just shows you the value of an education and a mindset that we take for granted in the United States,” she says.

The students took several field trips and participated in cultural activities that granted them an inside look at Ghanaian culture. They participated in a drum and dance workshop hosted by the Ghana National Dance Ensemble, where they learned traditional African dances such as the “Gota.” Massey says that, for her, this was “the most exciting and exhilarating day of all.”

The group also took a day to visit several open-air city markets, which are very common in Ghana and are always bustling with people. “It was exciting, but it was also a definite moment of culture shock for the students,” says Musoma. “The streets are packed, everyone is in such close proximity to one another, and all your senses are alert.” Musoma says in Ghana, street vendors are everywhere.

Initially, the students were taken aback by the aggressiveness with which the sellers approached them. “We were very frightened, and we didn’t understand,” says Massey. “But Ghana taught me not to be quick to judge. They do this to be able to support their families.”

Other adventures included a visit to the U.S. Embassy, the W.E.B. Du Bois Memorial Center, the Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary, the weaving town of Kpetoe, Kakum National Park and the Wli waterfalls. Students toured Elmina Castle, once a trading post and one of the most prominent stops on the Atlantic slave trade. They also took an excursion to the remote Lake Bosumtwi, the only natural fresh water lake in Ghana. The Ghanaian people consider the lake sacred and do not allow traditional boats on the water, with the exception of simple wood plank rafts.

The University of Ghana in Accra hosted the students during the study abroad program. Students attended academic seminars at the university to complement their real-world experiences. Notable seminars included “Slavery in Ghana and the Trans-Atlantic,” “The Role of Religion in West African Life,” “Business in Ghana” and “Pan-Africanism and the African Diaspora.” As a supplement to the seminars, a visit to the Ernst & Young Ghana office allowed students to see the global reach and influence of multinational firms.

The group was even able to spend a night in Dubai between connecting flights on the journey into Ghana. The students took a tour of the city in which they visited the world’s largest shopping mall and took in breathtaking views of the city’s rich architecture. The lavishness of Dubai served as a sharp contrast to the extreme poverty that the students encountered in Ghana.

The students expressed one key takeaway from their experiences and observations: Be thankful for what you have, and don’t take anything for granted. Foerster explained: “Until I actually experienced what it was like to live in a different country, I don’t think I had a true grasp on how good we have it here in the States.”

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. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.

Categories: Staff, Students, Texas A&M

Michael Tedder '91, CFO and founding partner of Red Gap Communications
Michael Tedder ’91, CFO and founding partner of
Red Gap Communications

An Aggie ring can open a lot of doors, but a firm handshake and good eye contact can make sure they stay open, explains Michael Tedder ’91, CFO and founding partner of Red Gap Communications. Once inside a company, an employee should be prepared to invest time in getting to know as much as possible about the company and its culture. “The ability to develop things and build relations count,” he told a group of Business Honors students recently. “On my first job, I was promoted in two years – and I haven’t really slowed down since. The key, I think, is that I am always open to learning new things.”

Tedder’s nontraditional career path has taken him from small companies to large, from privately held to public, and from improving existing processes to developing new products. He warns that accounting in the real world is not as simple as the classroom assignments given in college might indicate. “There is a big difference from doing a project in school and facing a deadline for a big transaction at work,” he says. In school, I wish I had learned more about the legal side of things, the contracts. I took a couple of legal classes, but I didn’t learn to cross-reference that with accounting. I learned that by doing it.”

Tedder says his confidence has sometimes shocked his employers. He interviewed for a position, then found out the company had hired someone from Princeton. “I told them when their Ivy League guy couldn’t do the job, they could call me. A couple of months later, they called me because that “Ivy League guy’ couldn’t do the basics, the fundamentals to bring the company from Square Zero to success. I let my work speak for itself.”

In his spare time, he is mayor of Dalworthington Gardens and plays adult-league baseball in the Arlington, Texas, area. He was elected as an alderman in 2003, then in 2006 he unseated a 20-year incumbent for the mayor’s spot after figuring out a solution to high water bills. “I figured we could raise taxes and lower water bills, and not have any impact on the residents. Then I pulled my old governmental account book off the shelf, and I kept it handy for a while.” He negotiated oil and gas contracts so the residents could get the same contacts as the city got.

Alison Savage ’17 said she learned from Tedder that interactions are key in the business world. “Though grades matter a lot on scoring a job, it is ultimately your personality and how you connect to that person that will score you a job,” she recalled. “I also learned that you have to ask questions. The more questions you ask about the job you are doing or even just about the company in general, the better businessperson you will become.”

Tedder advised the students to be assertive when they are seeking a job — to go visit companies they are interested in and to seek internships. “If companies have opportunities to check them out, or if you can make those opportunities, do it. Site visits are great. Talk to the people. Interact with them to get a real feel for the environment.”

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. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.

Categories: Executive Speakers, Former Students

Mays Business School held its position among the nation’s top 30 undergraduate business programs accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, U.S. News & World Report announced in advance of publication of its “Best Colleges” guidebook for 2014.

Mays is tied at 16th place for undergraduate business programs with five other public universities, and with those public universities and Brigham Young at 27th overall. The public universities with which the Texas A&M program is tied are Arizona State, Georgia Tech, University of Florida, University of Georgia, and Michigan State.

Last year, Mays moved up significantly both overall and among public universities in the publication’s undergraduate program rankings, moving up to 14th from 22nd among public schools and to 24th from 36th overall. This 12-place jump represented the largest move of any school included in both years of rankings.

“We are pleased but certainly not surprised we were among the top undergraduate programs in the U.S. News rankings, and remain as one of the top institutions in the United States,” Martha L. Loudder, associate dean of undergraduate studies and professor at Mays, said of this year’s results.

The undergraduate business program rankings are based on a survey of deans and senior faculty at each business school accredited by the AACSB.

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. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.

Categories: Departments, Staff, Students, Texas A&M

Texas A&M ranked in the top 10 in all areas – undergraduate, master’s and PhD programs – in the 2013 Public Accounting Report 32nd annual survey of accounting professors. This was the first year that A&M has ranked in the top 10 for PhD programs, increasing from 14th in 2012 to 10th. The undergraduate program improved to 7th in 2013 and the master’s program moved up to 8th. The Public Accounting Report has been an independent newsletter of the accounting profession since 1978. Several hundred professors from more than 200 U.S. colleges participated in the survey.

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. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.

Categories: Departments, Staff, Students, Texas A&M