October, 2016 | Mays Impacts - Part 2

Bret Kidd ’90 is guided by a firm commitment to his priorities: first faith, then family, friends and finally, fortune. In his recent conversation with Business Honors students at Texas A&M’s Mays Business School, he shared how maintaining this order has ensured balance and purpose in everything he undertakes.

Kidd is president of Travelport Americas. His role encompasses strategic direction, financial results and operations of Travelport’s travel agency, travel management company (TMC) and regional online travel agency (OTA) customers throughout North America, the Caribbean and South America.

“I love travel and the travel industry,” Kidd said. “At Travelport, I get to travel a lot – I’ve already been to 13 countries in 2016. But I am also in the business of simplifying the travel process for the industry. Travelport centralizes key data and make it accessible to travel agencies big and small, both online or brick-and-mortar shops.”

Business Honors major Isabel Gonzalez ’18 was engaged by the discussion about global distribution systems like Travelport.  “I never knew that there are intermediaries between airlines and travel sites like Expedia,” she said.  

Several students asked how Kidd maintains a work-life balance.

“I’ve never missed a day of vacation,” Kidd admitted. “Taking time to unplug mentally and spend time with family is invaluable. Your company can continue to run without you.”

Kidd said he also builds walls around his weekends and disconnects from technology during time with people he cares about. He encouraged students: “Get involved in your church or your community and hold leadership positions. This gives you something else purposeful outside of your job and keeps you from the temptation to overwork.”

While an undergraduate at Texas A&M University, Kidd studied management and was a member of the Business Fellows program. He was also involved in the Wiley Lecture Series, which sparked his interest in politics and opened doors to begin his career working on Capitol Hill.

After graduating from Texas A&M, Kidd served as special assistant to U.S. Senator Phil Gramm, supporting Gramm in a variety of areas, including health care and fiscal/economic matters. His work brought him in touch with dignitaries like Margaret Thatcher, who once was visiting for a fund-raiser. “I even had a conversation in Russian with Mikhail Gorbachev,” Kidd joked of his one-word exchange with the former leader of USSR.
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Categories: Alumni, Former Students, Mays Business, News, Texas A&M

The Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship (CNVE) has recently been restructured. Don Lewis has been appointed as director of the Blackstone LaunchPad Initiative at Texas A&M University.

Chuck Hinton, who works with the NSF I-Corps program at Startup Aggieland, will assume many of the responsibilities of the assistant director of Startup Aggieland. He will also continue to serve the National Science Foundation’s Innovative Corps (I-Corps) program.

Earlier this year, the Blackstone Charitable Foundation expanded its campus entrepreneurship program to include Texas A&M University along with the University of Texas at Austin and The University of Texas at Dallas. Established by the foundation’s three-year, $3 million grant, the partnership between the three institutions will introduce entrepreneurship as a viable career option and offer opportunities to the universities’ 130,000 students, regardless of major, with a network of venture coaches and an entrepreneurial support system. The CNVE was tasked with leading the initiative across campus.

The goals of the initiative are to identify 10 percent of the student body and engage them in a meaningful way in the entrepreneurial ecosystem on campus, from one-on-one mentoring to entrepreneurial-oriented events and more.

Categories: Centers, Departments, Management, Mays Business, News, Staff, Startup Aggieland, Texas A&M


Ben Welch

To strengthen ties with its corporate partners in the Dallas/Fort Worth market, Texas A&M’s Mays Business School hosted more than 60 companies at AT&T Stadium – home of the Dallas Cowboys – on Sept. 23.

The focus of the reception and networking event was to explore opportunities with the Center for Executive Development (CED) at Mays.

Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young, Mays Dean Eli Jones and Mays Assistant Dean for Executive Education Ben Welch spoke of the importance of lifelong learning and how Mays Business School is stepping up to provide it.

The CED offers executive certificates in business essentials, energy, health care, construction and cyber data in programs at the College Station campus and on the sites of the clients around the world. The programs are geared toward individuals who are serving in managerial/leadership roles who would like to refine their higher-level business skills and those who are preparing to enter a management-level position.

Young said the high caliber and strong work ethic of Texas A&M students and faculty have affirmed his decision to come here 18 months ago. He called it a “unique and extraordinary institution,” where the work the faculty is doing is of global import. “They are going to teach you how to use the knowledge and how to work with others. The students come to this university wanting to be citizens of substance, and they’re working with faculty members who feel the same way.”

The event was part of an expanded outreach to Mays alumni and corporate partners. The guests were corporate leaders from the Dallas area, and Jones said the business school partners with corporate leaders. “You’re here because you’re curious and you want to take your organization to the next level,” he said. “We at Mays can help you do that.”

Mays recently set a vision to  “advance the world’s prosperity,” building on three Grand Challenges: Entrepreneurship, energy and healthcare. Faculty members with expertise in those areas were available at the Dallas event to visit with the guests about how Mays is addressing them.

In his keynote speech, Welch – who has led the CED since 1990 – described five things that will guarantee return on investment: Priorities, respect, integrity, determination and enthusiasm. He said it is essential that each person express his priorities to those around him.

He targeted his message to the executives in the room who are developing their employees. “We want you to come away with what is integral at Texas A&M, and that is these five characteristics,” he said. “We want you to look at partnering with Mays Business School for one day, five days or a series of classes.”

Welch described the Leading Champions Program, a new experiential learning program that will launch in April. Mays and the Texas A&M Athletics Department are partnering to give participants exclusive access to athletic staff, facilities and social events. Enrollment will be limited to 30 people, and a highlight of the event was a drawing in which Debbie Hinson from Accenture received a free enrollment to the program.

Nancy Cramer, who received a bachelor’s degree in marketing in 1984 and is now president of Dallas-based Correct Course Consulting, said she enjoyed meeting with Mays leaders and learning about the school’s programs. “I look forward to renewing my relationships with the school and connecting with the students and faculty there,” she said.


Categories: Centers, Departments, Faculty, Mays Business, News, Staff, Students, Texas A&M