December, 2014 | Mays Impacts

Jordan Bob and Kelly

Kelly P. ’86 and Robert E. Jordan ’85 of Flower Mound, Texas, wanted to honor Kelly’s father, a military veteran. In December 2013, they created a President’s Endowed Scholarship in his name, designated for business.

The Major Soren Alfred Potz-Nielsen II President’s Endowed Scholarship pays tribute to the memory of the Air Force fighter pilot, who was a veteran of both the Korean and Vietnam wars. “It was important to honor him and the rich association between our military and Texas A&M,” Bob Jordan explained of their $100,000 gift to create the endowment. The $12,000 scholarships are awarded to freshmen, and financial need is not a criteria.

In addition, the Jordans have created an Endowed Business Honors Scholarship fund with a gift of $125,000. The first scholarship is scheduled to be awarded in fall of 2015 to a full-time undergraduate student – preferably a freshman.

Bob is executive vice president and chief commercial officer of Southwest Airlines and president of AirTran Airways. He received a bachelor’s degree in computer science in 1985 and an MBA in 1986. Kelly received a bachelor’s degree in history in 1986.

Bob said financial aid kept him in school. “It was only because I received a Lechner Fellowship from the business school that I was able to stay and obtain my MBA,” he said. “Endowing the Business Honors Scholarship is a small way of paying that back.”

Mays Interim Dean Ricky Griffin expressed appreciation for the scholarships. “The generosity of Kelly and Bob Jordan provides a great example of how Aggies give back,’” he said. “As Bob notes, financial assistance helped him complete his education, and now he and Kelly will provide the same kind of support for future students.”

The Jordans continue to enjoy their affiliation with Texas A&M. In October 2014, Bob was given a Mays Outstanding Alumni Award and in November he spoke with MBA and undergraduate students. “We have been so blessed by our association with Texas A&M, starting with Kelly and I meeting here on campus as students,” he said. “We are an Aggie family through and through, with over a dozen in the family graduating from A&M, including our two children. We will always be involved with the school.”

ABOUT MAYS BUSINESS SCHOOL
Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,600 undergraduate, masters 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: Donors Corner, Mays Business

Varadarajan-Rajan

The American Marketing Association (AMA) has announced Mays Business School Professor Rajan Varadarajan as the recipient of the 2015 AMA/Irwin/McGraw-Hill Distinguished Marketing Educator Award. He is a University Distinguished Professor and Distinguished Professor of Marketing, Regents Professor, holder of the Ford Chair in Marketing and E-Commerce at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School. He is also a self-proclaimed “student for life.”

He will be presented with the award at the 2015 Winter Marketing Educators’ Conference in February.

With an exceptional record of service to the AMA, Varadarajan served as editor of the Journal of Marketing, has chaired multiple AMA conferences and currently is the AMA Vice President for Publications. He serves on the editorial review board of numerous journals, including the Journal of MarketingJournal of the Academy of Marketing Science and Journal of International Marketing. Varadarajan refers to these roles as a way to provide service to the marketing profession as well as “an opportunity to be tutored by hundreds of leading scholars from all over the world on leading edge substantive issues in marketing, philosophy of science related issues and the research process.” He cites the volunteer roles that he has held over the years as “greatly beneficial” to him, “an opportunity for learning, and in turn, [to] become a better teacher and researcher.”

Varadarajan’s primary interests are in marketing strategy, innovation, international marketing and environmental sustainability. He has published more than 100 journal articles and book chapters, and made more than 200 presentations at international conferences, doctoral and faculty consortia, universities and other forums.

Mark Houston, head of the Department of Marketing at Mays, called the award “the highest honor in our field.” He said the selection, based on career contributions, is based upon “the total package – not just a high count of top-tier publications and citations.” He added:
“In short, the winners are scholars whose contributions have helped shape the field, through research, as well as through mentoring and service to the discipline and to the public. Rajan, a true scholar and gentleman, is a wonderful exemplar of the kind of scholar this award was created to celebrate.”

Varadarajan has received nine industry honors and awards, including the AMA Paul D. Converse Award for contributions to the field of marketing (2008) and the AMA Marketing Strategy Special Interest Group’s Vijay Mahajan Award for Lifetime Contributions to Marketing Strategy (2003). He said he is eager to add The AMA/Irwin/McGraw-Hill Distinguished Marketing Educator Award to the list, referring to it as “the pinnacle of awards” and commenting that he is “honored and humbled to have been selected for this prestigious award.”

The award honors living marketing educators for distinguished service and outstanding contributions in marketing education. Recipients must have notable careers with accomplishments across research, teaching and mentoring, public service, creativity and innovation, service to the marketing profession and administration. Honorees must be universally acknowledged as a long-standing leader in marketing education, and must have made extensive contributions to marketing education and the marketing discipline in general.

Upon receiving the award, Varadarajan will join such marketing luminaries as fellow Mays professor Leonard Berry and George Day, Paul Green, Philip Kotler, Don Lehmann, Leigh McAlister, Louis Stern and Valarie Zeithaml.

ABOUT MAYS BUSINESS SCHOOL

Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,600 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: Faculty

15746800769_6a8aa1522d_zIn a series of presentations to Mays undergraduate and graduate students on Nov. 24, General Josue “Joe” Robles captivated his audiences by advising them to “never graduate.” Robles elaborated on this message by emphasizing the importance of lifelong learning in building a successful career and cultivating an engaged workforce.

As president and CEO of USAA and a retired U.S. Army officer who served on numerous active duty posts as well as director of the Army budget and commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division (the Big Red One), Robles knows a thing or two about professional development and leadership. He shared a number of insights gleaned from his 28-year military career and his experience leading one of the world’s most successful diversified financial services firms.

In an intimate roundtable discussion over lunch, Robles offered advice to Business Honors students as they prepare to graduate, apply for jobs and begin their professional careers. “You need to know yourself, your preferences and tendencies,” he said. “How are you different from other job candidates? What do you bring to the table that is truly unique?”

Robles also stressed to the students the importance of following their passion, citing the example of one of his sons, who has recently embarked upon a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences in hopes of discovering a natural, non-chemical cure for cancer. He noted that internships provide students with a great opportunity to “test the waters” to see if the organization—namely its mission and core values—along with the work itself will hold their interest over the long haul.

Even as students graduate and begin a new chapter in their lives, Robles stated that “never graduating” is the most important factor in building a successful career. “You have to be committed to learning new skills and acquiring more knowledge throughout your life,” he said. “That will be the key to enjoying a satisfying career and continuously delivering value to your employer.”

When asked about the differences between leading in the military and leading in the civilian world, Robles commented on some of the changing generational attitudes today. “When I was coming up through the military ranks, leaders gave orders and expected them to be followed,” he said. Commanders, he noted, didn’t have to focus as much on their “softer” communications skills or provide explanations about why an order was being given. “The workplace today has become more collaborative and more team-oriented. The younger employees want to know the ‘why’ behind leaders’ decisions. So to cultivate an engaged workforce—where employees understand, accept and embody your mission and core values through their customer interactions—leaders must commit much more of their time to communicating with employees.”

Robles delved into his leadership philosophy during his afternoon presentation to a group of Full-Time MBA students. As a backdrop for this discussion, he noted the three mandates given to him by the USAA Board of Directors when he took over as president and CEO of the company in December 2007. “The great recession had just begun,” he said, “so the Board made it clear that I could not let the company sink like so many other companies in the U.S. and abroad. But just as important, they wanted me to improve the morale of the troops and reconnect the company with the communities in which we operated.”

One of his first initiatives was to implement a formal leadership development program ultimately focused on improving overall employee engagement. “I knew from experience that if you take care of your employees, they will take care of you,” he said. USAA’s enviable 16-percent attrition rate for its contact center employees (compared to an industry average of about 35 percent) speaks to the success of the company’s efforts in this area.

Robles also knew he needed to create a safe and open environment in which employees felt comfortable sharing bad news as well as good news with their managers and the USAA leadership team. To engender that kind of trust, he increased his communications with employees through casual “walk around” conversations as well as small group meetings.

Robles also noted that most big mistakes in companies are the result of breakdowns in character, so he redoubled USAA’s efforts to inculcate its core values in all employees. “We emphasized that taking care of our members (USAA’s customers) was more important than focusing on our profitability,” he said. “Acting in the best interest of our members has always served as a guiding principle for everything we do.”

When asked by a student about the greatest hurdle facing USAA and other companies in the coming years, Robles stated unequivocally that leaders’ ability to manage the people equation represents the biggest challenge. “In a global marketplace where your workforce is becoming increasingly diverse along gender, racial, cultural and generational lines, the ability to attract, train and retain talent will spell the difference between success and failure,” he said.

“General Robles stated that in order to build a successful company or become a successful leader in the business world, you must have strong core values and professional ethics,” said Business Honors student Michael Formella ’18. “But even after you attain success, he made it clear that you must never be satisfied. The company, along with its leaders, must always challenge themselves and their employees to learn more every day.” 

ABOUT MAYS BUSINESS SCHOOL

Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,600 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

taylorsgift

Todd Storch ’91 shared more than a typical business success story when he spoke recently to a nonprofit business class and to students from the Freshman Business Initiative.

BUSN 302, which teaches students about the nonprofit sector, is a required component of Mays Business School’s Certificate in Not-for-Profit Business, which allows students to tailor their education toward a career of service.

“We know our graduates will inevitably work with, for or alongside a nonprofit at some point in their careers,” said Academic Advisor Kyle Gammenthaler ’11. “The Certificate in Not-for-Profit Business prepares students to engage in productive interactions with members of their communities.”

Storch holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Texas A&M and was also part of the Fellows Program at Mays. His family’s life took a drastic turn in 2010 when his 13-year-old daughter Taylor passed away after a tragic skiing accident. Today, Storch is president and founder of Taylor’s Gift Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded in honor of his daughter.

Taylor’s Gift is a multi-faceted organization. In addition to seeking to increase the number of official organ donor registries, the organization provides financial gifts to those touched by organ donations; encourages a positive view of organ donation; awards scholarships to graduating seniors; and sponsors lodging for pre-transplant and post-transplant patients and their families at Nora’s Home in Houston.

Nail polish company OPI has even created a color of nail polish named “Taylor Blue,” which is for sale on the Taylor’s Gift website. Proceeds from the sales go toward the organization.

Storch’s message had a profound impact on the students. “It was inspiring to hear the positive impact that has come through Taylor’s gift, and it made me consider the legacy and value of my own life,” said Emily Anderson ’17.

Some students even became organ donors after hearing Taylor’s story, including Lauren Lockemeyer ’16. “Because of everything I had heard, I went to the website and looked into organ donation further,” she said. “I am now a registered organ donor!”

Anderson and Kate Rohrbough ’17 even took action by leading a group of students to participate in MaysFest on behalf of Taylor’s Gift. MaysFest is a semiannual event held outside Mays Business School that includes food, games and entertainment.

The students hosted a table at MaysFest with the goal of raising awareness for the work that Taylor’s Gift does. Following the organization’s tagline “Outlive Yourself,” students were encouraged to write down a way in which they plan to outlive themselves and then take a picture with their statement. They also were invited to try out the Taylor Blue nail polish on one fingernail.

Storch said he hopes, through the Taylor’s Gift Foundation, to ultimately transform a tragedy into a message of hope. Some of the students he spoke with said he is well on his way. “Taylor’s Gift sends a message that even in the dark times of life, light can shine through,” said Jacob Renfro ’15.

ABOUT MAYS BUSINESS SCHOOL

Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,600 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: Mays Business