February, 2015 | Mays Impacts

Leonard Berry 2015

Marketing Professor Leonard Berry has been selected for the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award for Research and Scholarship – the highest award given to a faculty member at Mays Business School. The selection process consisted of faculty nominations, reviews and recommendations by the Mays Research Council, the Mays Executive Committee and a final decision by Interim Dean Ricky Griffin.

The Mays Executive Committee instituted the award in 2014 to recognize “sustained and outstanding scholarly contributions by Mays faculty who are considered pioneers in their field.” It is awarded only when one or more nominees possess credentials that meet the highest standards of achievement in innovation and achievement in scholarship.

“By helping found the research domains of services marketing and service quality, by pioneering scholarly inquiry into the now-foundational concept of relationship marketing, and by making important contributions to the study of healthcare service, Dr. Berry has demonstrated his rich scholarly credentials for the honor of the Mays Business School Lifetime Achievement Award for Research and Scholarship,” Berry’s colleagues, fellow Mays marketing Professors P. Rajan Varadarajan, Venkatesh Shankar and Mark B. Houston, wrote in their faculty recommendation.

Currently, Berry holds the titles of University Distinguished Professor, Distinguished Professor of Marketing, Regents Professor and a Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence. He is also the original holder of the M.B. Zale Chair in Retailing and Marketing Leadership and Founding Director of the Center for Retailing Studies at Texas A&M University. Additionally, he is a Senior Fellow with the Institute of Healthcare Improvement, Cambridge, Mass.

He has been the author of more than 185 articles and book chapters. His books have been, “commercially successful and consistently praised,” over his 45-year career. They have also been translated into multiple languages.

“Readers of his articles and books remark about how they are inspired by his discussions of the need for humane organizational values, social profit, generosity and volunteerism,” his colleagues said.

His contributions were honored at Mays on April 24, with a breakfast reception followed by a presentation of his accomplishments and further remarks. Those who know him assert that, despite earning the Lifetime Achievement Award, Berry’s work is far from finished.

“Len Berry is a visionary scholar whose research in marketing, services marketing, service quality, relationship marketing, and healthcare service continues to positively impact scholarly research, business education and practice, as well as the quality of life of many,” said Houston, the marketing department head.

 

Categories: Faculty

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Eighteen-year-old Arden Robertson is unclassifiable. According to her age she is a freshman, at football games for ticket pull she is a senior, and her transcript confirms that she is a master’s degree candidate. Though she may be hard to define on paper, there is no questioning her belonging at Texas A&M University.

Robertson, a Florida native, skipped ninth grade, completed her high school and associate degrees, was accepted to the Texas A&M Business Honors program and earned the funds to cover out-of-state tuition, all before the age of 18.

“I came to Texas A&M because when I visited the campus it became apparent that the core values and traditions are practiced every day, and it was not just a nice sentiment,” she said. “I saw the core values of excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect and selfless service listed on banners throughout campus and how people carried themselves. Their actions matched their words.”

In the spring of 2014, with only one semester completed, Robertson participated in the Mays Business School career fair. Unlike most freshmen, she did not attend to practice her interviewing skills or to be offered an internship. Instead she went in hopes of finding a job. On the list of participating companies, none looked more appealing than NASA.

“I have always loved space and they would give me the opportunity to incorporate space, mathematics and accounting into my work,” she said.
The next day she was called and asked to apply for co-op at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston. The program would accept 40 students from around the world, and out of those 40, only eight business majors would be selected. Of the eight chosen, she and Jess Sepe, a Marine veteran and a junior management major, were the only two from Texas A&M.

“Having an accounting degree and getting my master’s in MIS really set me apart from the rest of the applicants,” she said. “I am very grateful to A&M for giving me that opportunity.”

Robertson was required to participate in a two-day orientation. Upon arrival, she knew she was in the right place. “Driving in there is a long row of palm trees that remind me of my home in Florida, and the model planes above your head at the entrance is like Disney World for space lovers,” she said.
Once there, she was assigned to the International Space Station Branch in the resource management office. She was given a mentor and was immediately welcomed into the NASA community. One reason for her quick acceptance was the strong Aggie presence at the Johnson Space Center.

“There were so many Aggies with a real connection and bond. You could walk down the hall and ‘Whoop!” Robertson said. “I knew this was where I wanted to work.”
Though her acceptance came easily, the workload did not. She was responsible for the entire space station’s travel reports and budget, which accounted for more than a quarter of a million dollars. Her daily tasks included collecting variances, detecting and resolving anomalies to reduce spending.
“I was given the same workload as my mentor from the beginning,” she said. “They treated me like I already worked there. It was nice that they value you to that degree.”

Her main project was reviewing the Internal Task Agreements (ITAs). She helped with $82 million of ITA’s from multiple NASA centers and variety of International Space Station projects. When she was not working, she was volunteering with Pathways Interns Professional Events (PIPE), Pathways Across Centers (PAXC), and Habitat for Humanity Aerospace Games. She was apart of organizing and conducting lectures, participating in NASA tours, joint ventures spreading NASA lectures, and worked the Orion Launch Party event at Space Center Houston. On the weekends she would return to College Station for football games with her peers from NASA. “Everyone was interested in the spirit of Aggieland,” Robertson said.

At the end of her first tour she was required to demonstrate her findings and contributions in a presentation to upper management NASA and the Chief Financial Officer. She will return for her following two terms in the summers of 2015 and 2016.

She credits her freshman Business Honors classes for a lot of her success. “My classes offered real-world examples in enriching and engaging ways, and taught us that if we follow our passions, we will be able to succeed,” she said.

In between NASA tours, Robertson is involved in the Aggie Investment Club, Texas Runners Against Cancer, PPA Business and Texas Republicans. She also recently joined the Business Honors recruiting team, where she will help spread her knowledge to other prospective honors students.

“I think it is important to be a goal-oriented, proficient and multifaceted person, but do not be afraid to seek out advice from others,” Robertson advices.
She plans to graduate from Texas A&M in December 2016 with a bachelor’s in accounting and a master’s in MIS, then join NASA as a full-time employee.

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, Students

MBA Venture Challenge 2015

Online-shopping team ropers, buckets of water and a burst of light greeted more than 100 judges, faculty and staff gathered in the Wehner Building for the 13th annual MBA Venture Challenge.

The buckets illustrated a hydro-electric power generating device and the light represented a bioenergy. The challenge, hosted by the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship (CNVE), highlights the business aptitudes Texas A&M University’s Full-Time MBA program strives to teach: strategic thinking, diligent research, effective communication skills and professional networking.

In the week-long competition, 12 MBA teams analyze early-stage startup firms by providing a clear, unbiased and business-oriented evaluation of the businesses’ market and financial viability. This year’s companies were chosen from a pool of more than 20. They came from a variety of industries including life sciences, IT, retail, oil and gas, gaming and child safety.

The efforts of the MBA students culminated in an all-day event one week after they first met with their companies. Competition day is full of presentations, starting with two-minute elevator pitches. Next the 12 teams presented in four judging rooms, where they were given 15 minutes for their presentations and Q&A. Each judging panel selected one finalist to proceed to the afternoon finals presentations, and the remaining two teams moved to Round 2. Of the eight teams in Round 2, two additional teams moved on to finals.

The MBA teams are judged on their identification of their company’s issues, primary market opportunities, financial projections and the conclusions they drew from their research. Their research quality was also considered.

The judges – who are volunteers from the community – include investors, financiers, entrepreneurs and academics.

Taking first place in the competition were Prithviraj Chougule, Ali Arif, Zachary Friske, Daniel Gaona, and Lolina Pena, with “Ebio, LLC.” Their prize was sponsored by AT&T.

The second-place winners were Pei Lin Mei, Luis Matus, Mark McCord, Brad Myers, and Rachael McPhail, with “Ropesforless.com.” Their prize was sponsored by BB&T.

The third-place winners were Clayton Watson, Shanaly Daya, Spencer Dearinger, Ashwini Kalia, and Virgina Koran, with “SynShark, LLC.” Their prize was sponsored by JBKnowledge.

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: Programs

Mark Alfieri

Mark Alfieri’s early roots as a bar owner taught him about more than how to keep the inventory stocked. Serving a varied audience and having a flat management style based on transparency are habits that have served him well.

He bought a bar on Harvey Road in College Station after his sophomore year at Texas A&M University when he was 19 and the drinking age was 18. “I hired a lot of students and the bar was highly successful,” he said. “It was the bar, and it was fun, but I had no business owning my own company. I was too young and inexperienced. It taught me a lot – including the fact that I didn’t want to do that for a career.”

Alfieri, a 1983 marketing graduate from Texas A&M, recounted his career to a group of Mays Business Honors students recently. “You’ve got to set your goals and make your plan, then follow that plan all the way through,” he advised them. “You need hard work, patience and most importantly, dedication.”

Alfieri started working for ALMI, a Dallas-based company that bought and sold upscale apartment complexes. That move set the tone for more than 20 years in the apartment industry, including eight years of building his company since its inception.

Prior to joining Behringer as chief operating officer, Alfieri operated as senior VP for AMLI Residential from 1998 to May 2006. During that time he served on the board of directors for the National Multi Housing Council and was recognized as “Executive of the Year” in the 2011 edition of Multifamily Executive magazine.

In 2014, Behringer Harvard Residential became Monogram Residential Trust, and Alfieri was appointed CEO and a member of the Board of Directors.

The company is a $4 billion Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) that was listed on the New York Stock Exchange this year after being a publicly registered non-traded REIT for most of its life cycle. He described to the students some of the advantages of taking a company public, such as creating access to capital and liquidity for the company’s 49,000 shareholders. “Stock is a currency that can be used to acquire other companies,” he said. “And when you’re a public company, everything is public. You tell people what your strategy is, what your plan is and become fully transparent for the benefit of shareholders.”

Alfieri became animated as he described the “road show” he went on to tell potential investors about his company. “It was a wild and woolly two weeks, and an experience I’ll never forget,” he said. He then recalled getting to ring the bell at the New York Stock Exchange on his company’s listing date – what he called “the epitome of capitalism” and “the coolest thing ever.”

Alfieri is a licensed Real Estate Broker in Texas and served on the board of directors of the National Multi Housing Council from 2002 to 2015. In 2011, he was honored as Executive of the Year by Multifamily Executive magazine.

The students who met with Alfieri said they learned a lot from him.
“Having the opportunity to meet and interact with Mr. Alfieri was incredible,” said Nicholas Davis, a business honors and finance major. “He was extremely personable and made it into a relaxed environment. It is not every day to be able to listen firsthand how a CEO processes different events and executes taking a company public.”
Business Honors sophomore Margaret Hartman said she enjoyed hearing about Alfieri’s career path. “His success story of how he set the goal for himself to run a publicly traded company and achieved that goal is inspiring,” she said.

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