Jeff Smith ’85 counts Jerry S. Cox ’72 as one of his mentors, and he urged business honors students he spoke with at Mays Business School to seek out business leaders who are often willing to mentor individuals before and during their careers.
Anyone who is familiar with the Wehner building knows about Jerry and Kay Cox Hall, which added classroom and office space, the trading center and the Cocanougher Special Events Center in 2003. Cox also founded and serves as chairman of the board and president of Cox & Perkins Exploration, and he has leadership roles at Mays and with the 12th Man Foundation.
“I was watching his every move,” Smith said of the man he met when Smith was a junior in high school. “There was something about him I wanted to learn about and emulate. Mentors are important. Sometimes you find them, and sometimes they find you. Just be open to receiving advice and guidance from those you come in contact with.”
Smith is the first Aggie in his family. Â He obtained an accounting degree from Texas A&M while serving a leadership role in the Corps of Cadets. His career began with one of the top accounting firms and later moved into the oilfield services industry, serving various positions including director of financial planning, director of business development, treasurer and chief financial officers. He now works as a private investor and provides independent consulting to the oilfield services industry.
Ian Wood ’17 considers himself fortunate to be able to hear Smith talk about his career and how he has come about his success. “He taught us the importance of an accounting background and how it teaches us what is behind each number on a balance sheet,” Wood said. “He also stressed the importance of character and integrity in the business world, and pushed us to expand our knowledge of business and the world’s markets.”
Smith told the students that character and integrity matter, and that both will be challenged sometime during their careers. “My advice to you is don’t compromise your character, hold your ground and you will come out ahead. Define your values and stick to them.”
Joshua Caleb Scott ’14 said the talk prompted him to reflect upon an even deeper understanding of the importance of ethics. “A topic Mays Business School sews into every course, ethics will remain a common thread throughout our careers,” he said. “Mr. Smith cautioned us that other people will challenge our ethics, but a seamless dedication to the Aggie Honor Code will not lead us astray.”
Smith provided useful insight into the world of accounting and finance, Bridget Bauman ’17 said, and emphasized the two most important things in a finance or accounting career: (1) character and integrity, and (2) understanding the nuts and bolts of your business’s operations. “He really emphasized the importance of exercising sound business ethics no matter the consequences, and he also gave us many pointers about how to act in situations that create an ethical dilemma.”
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