The student team of Edward Cho, Lianne Ho, and David Sung from the University of Southern California has won the $20,000 First Place prize in the Humana-Mays Health Care Analytics 2018 Case Competition sponsored by health and well-being company Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) and Mays Business School at Texas A&M University.

Nearly 700 master’s-level students representing 246 teams from 42 major universities in the U.S. registered for the national competition to compete for $35,000 in prizes. Students enrolled full-time in accredited Master of Science, Master of Arts, Master of Information Systems, Master of Public Health, or Master of Business Administration programs at an educational institution based in the United States were eligible to enter.

Cho, Ho, and Sung received the top prize following a presentation on Nov. 14 to an executive panel of judges at Texas A&M’s Mays Business School’s CityCentre Houston location.

The Second Place prize of $10,000 was awarded to Hanyin Nifrom, Uyanga (Melody) Sumiya, and Qi Xu from Bentley University, while the Third Place prize of $5,000 was presented to Kyle Cross, Ming-Hsin Li, and Efrat Mordechay from the University of California, Los Angeles.

“Mays Business School is pleased to partner with Humana to bring together the brightest graduate students in the country to innovate using data analytics to solve a real-world business problem in health care, one of the three Grand Challenge areas of Mays Business School,” says Arvind Mahajan, Associate Dean for Graduate Programs at Mays Business School.

The analytics case received by the students was designed to be multi-faceted and complex, similar to a real-world business problem. The students were asked to predict the likelihood of a patient having a heart attack within the next three months using data collected from the previous year. Students had to evaluate more than 400 variables, including age of the patient, sex, geography, and other medical conditions.

“Being new to the health care industry myself, I was impressed with the expertise and professionalism of the students during the competition. We hope that our scenario encourages them to continue learning and growing their analytical skills. It is through creative, passionate people that we will be able to deliver high-quality care for generations to come,” said Heather Cox, Chief Digital Health and Analytics Officer for Humana.

The teams were judged based on the following criteria:

  • Ability to establish key performance indicators aligned to business needs
  • Quantitative analysis identifying key business insights
  • Ability to provide unique insights for business improvements
  • Professionalism and visualization skills

Participation in the Humana-Mays Health Care Analytics 2018 Case Competition represents a 132 percent growth over the inaugural 2017 competition, where more than 300 master’s degree candidates representing 109 teams from 19 major universities in the U.S. registered for the competition. Students Hongxia Shi, Shenyang Yang, and Xiangyi Che from Purdue University received the top prize.

About Texas A&M’s Mays Business School

Mays is a full-service business school that steps up to advance the world’s prosperity. Our mission is to be a vibrant learning organization that creates impactful knowledge and develops transformational leaders. Mays Business School educates more than 6,404 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 programs and for faculty research

About Humana

Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) is committed to helping our millions of medical and specialty members achieve their best health. Our successful history in care delivery and health plan administration is helping us create a new kind of integrated care with the power to improve health and well-being and lower costs. Our efforts are leading to a better quality of life for people with Medicare, families, individuals, military service personnel, and communities at large.

To accomplish that, we support physicians and other health care professionals as they work to deliver the right care in the right place for their patients, our members. Our range of clinical capabilities, resources and tools – such as in-home care, behavioral health, pharmacy services, data analytics and wellness solutions – combine to produce a simplified experience that makes health care easier to navigate and more effective.

More information regarding Humana is available to investors via the Investor Relations page of the company’s web site at www.humana.com, including copies of:

  • Annual reports to stockholders
  • Securities and Exchange Commission filings
  • Most recent investor conference presentations
  • Quarterly earnings news releases and conference calls
  • Calendar of events
  • Corporate Governance information

Categories: Featured Stories, Health Care, Mays Business, News, Spotlights, Students, Texas A&M

In a nationwide search, Texas A&M University has been ranked as a top university for graduate and undergraduate students interested in entrepreneurship. It was part of the Princeton Review Top Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Programs 2019.

Coming in at #22, Texas A&M boasts a dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem that includes the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, Startup Aggieland, Blackstone Launchpad, and the Texas A&M I-School.

More than 300 schools reported data about their entrepreneurship offerings and rankings are based on entrepreneurial curriculum, student, faculty and staff entrepreneurial ventures, extracurricular offerings, and scholarships and aid provided to students pursuing entrepreneurship.

Categories: Centers, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Mays Business, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, News, Students, Texas A&M

By Audrey Adkins ’18, Business Honors

The pursuit of challenging experiences and an unwillingness to condone complacency are key factors contributing to Raja Akram’s success in life. His professional experience in the financial services industry provided a powerful message on the significance of seeking challenge and maintaining focus on long-term ambitions. These factors are important to consider throughout the lifetime of a career.

Akram ’95 (finance) and ’97 (PPA), Controller and Chief Accounting Officer of Citigroup, spoke Nov. 9 with a group of Business Honors students. He shared a number of stories and formative experiences from his career.

He encouraged students to pursue opportunities that promote growth and learning. In his career, growth was often the product of his willingness to work through challenging circumstances. When faced with challenging circumstances, Akram advised students to “focus on being solution providers.” He stated that value creation often comes in the form of solution creation, rather than problem analysis. …Read more

Categories: Executive Speakers, Featured Stories, Mays Business, Students, Texas A&M

Sometimes brilliance in marketing and merchandising takes the shape of a beaver. Texas travelers know when they see billboards with quirky slogans telling them to “Buc-ee’s or Bust!” that clean restrooms, beef jerky, 79-cent fountain drinks, and beaver nuggets soon await them.

Arch “Beaver” Aplin ‘80, the co-founder and current president of Buc-ee’s spoke to almost 400 students, faculty, staff and local business leaders as part of the 20th annual M.B. Zale Visionary Merchant Lecture Series hosted by the Center for Retailing Studies. To excel in this industry, Aplin said, “I must exceed the customer’s expectations.” Buc-ee’s differentiates itself from the general convenience store category by building enormous “travel centers.”

The recently opened Katy store boasts 53,000 square feet of retail space stocked with interesting one-of-a-kind items, like pickled jalapenos. Typical convenience locations are about 3,000 square feet.

Aplin says Buc-ee’s is “always looking for products that get customers exclaiming ‘whoa, who would have thought they carried that!’” …Read more

Categories: Alumni, Entrepreneurship, Executive Speakers, Featured Stories, Former Students, Mays Business, Texas A&M

Returns are typically viewed as costly and problematic for retailers, particularly with shoppers who abuse return policies. But can legitimate returns be used as a way to build stronger relationships with customers and increase profits?

Professor James Abbey, in conjunction with Michael Ketzenberg and Rich Metters in the Department of Information and Operations Management at Mays Business School, highlight this concept in their recent MIT Sloan Management Review Article, “A More Profitable Approach to Product Returns.”

According to Abbey and colleagues, retailers are missing out on a large group of consumers who never make a return when they find a product unsatisfactory. These, often, one-time purchasers simply never return in every sense: no future purchases and no returned products. Using recent advancements in data analytics, the research team discovered that retailers can use legitimate returns as a profitable marketing tool to better meet the needs of these unsatisfied shoppers.

“Roughly 50 percent of customers never make a return. We refer to them as ‘non-returners.’ They make a couple of transactions, then poof – they’re gone. It’s as if they never existed, but you don’t want to lose these customers,” explained Abbey. “What we’re learning is they’re finding a flaw with the product or they don’t like something about it. Yet, these customers never give the retailer a chance to provide a better option.”

The researchers pose the question: What if companies took these dissatisfied non-returners who walk out the door, and convinced them to become occasional returners who continually come back as regular customers?

“A customer is someone who makes repeated purchases. They are the lifeblood of any business. Retailers incur substantial acquisition costs to attract new purchasers. One-time buyers may often cost the retailer more than they make from the sale,” added Kelli Hollinger, director of the Center for Retailing Studies at Texas A&M University.

Abbey’s team suggests that retailers look at non-returners as an opportunity to upsell or cross-sell a product to better meet the customer’s needs, which can lead to an increase in customer satisfaction and retailer profitability. In effect, focus on building a long-term relationship using returns as a selling tool.

“The people who never make the returns provide only a small fraction of the profit compared to customers making frequent returns. If you could find a way to create more loyalty and build a stronger relationship to get them to try more products, you can train these customers to be occasional returners,” Abbey noted.

“The question we’re really posing is not that continual abusive returners aren’t a problem. On the contrary, such abuse can cost millions of dollars per year. Rather, we’re thinking of how to re-engage with customers who don’t make returns. Retailers need to entice them to come back,” Abbey explained.

In order to convince these shoppers to come back, retailers need to understand their consumers. Abbey’s team advocates that data collection and analysis of transaction patterns of shoppers can be valuable tools in figuring out a path to draw these customers back. These factors could include more competitive pricing, targeted incentives, easier return options, or availability of complementary products.

“It’s really gotten easier to understand a customer, to understand their patterns, and understand what it means to get them back in the store,” said Abbey. “If a person truly does not return products and you see this in their pattern, and you can say hey, look if you waive your right to return, we’ll go ahead and give you an extra 10 percent off. This technique is already in action at WalMart’s online portal Jet.com.”

For some non-returners, such a discount could build loyalty because it rewards their preference to avoid returning items.

“In the end, the vast majority of customers who make returns are significantly profitable. In fact, the data shows that customers making sizable returns generate the greatest profit,” Abbey concluded. “Instead of considering all returns as a failure or undesirable outcome, there’s an opportunity to tailor your return options for customer’s needs as a means to form a long-term, profitable relationship.”

ABOUT MAYS BUSINESS SCHOOL

At Mays Business School, we step up to advance the world’s prosperity. Our mission is to be a vibrant learning organization that creates impactful knowledge and develops transformational leaders. Mays Business School educates more than 6,400 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 programs and for faculty research.

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Centers, Featured Stories, Mays Business, News, Research, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

Ten students in the Aggie Advertising Club competed in the 2018 American Advertising Federation-Houston student conference and competition Nov. 2-3.

Nearly 100 students from four different states gathered to compete in a day-long advertising campaign competition for Mattress Firm. In addition to creating an integrated multi-media advertising campaign, students were assigned to teams with participants from different schools, rather than just working within the institution they came with. Team pairings were based on each student’s respective backgrounds and strengths. Within just 6 hours, teams had to complete their project and deliver their results.

Out of the 11 teams, Aggie Advertising Club members Christina Maunder, Skyler Watrous, and Krystalyn Geiser led their teams to first, second and third place respectively.

The following day of the conference consisted of resume reviews and panel discussions from industry professionals. Lisa Troy, campaign advisor to the students, attended these presentations and a faculty tour of Deuster and Black Sheep Agency.

Categories: Faculty, Featured Stories, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Students, Texas A&M

COLLEGE STATION, Nov. 5, 2018 – Full-Time MBA student Stephen Haworth helped lead his team to first place at the PepsiCo case competition at TCU from Oct. 26-27.

Haworth was randomly placed into a team of MBA students from other schools and programs. The teams had Friday night to meet one another and had the first half of Saturday to prepare the case given to them by PepsiCo. The second half of Saturday was devoted to presenting the results each team came up with. These presentations were given to PepsiCo executives.

On Saturday evening, results were announced. Stephen Haworth and his colleagues from Columbia, Vanderbilt, and TCU were given first prize for their efforts on the case. Haworth and his teammates were awarded $7,000 for their work on the case.

About the competition

This is the fourth MBA case competition held at TCU through a partnership with the Neely School of Business and PepsiCo. PepsiCo judges included vice president of finance Ralph Goedderz, senior vice president and CFO Stefano Sartoretti, vice president of financial planning Jim Hathaway, senior director of eCommerce Kyle Gore, and senior marketing manager Hana Golden.

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Media contact: Kelli Reynolds, Communications Specialist, Mays Business School,

(979) 845-3167, kreynolds@mays.tamu.edu

Categories: Featured Stories, Mays Business, MBA, News, Students, Texas A&M

By Jacob Billings ’19, accounting and MIS

Grant Thornton LLP’s CEO Mike McGuire is looking for three things in today’s professional services leaders – curiosity, career focus, and courage.

McGuire noted the accounting industry is rapidly changing, thanks to digitization. Clients are beginning to expect substantive contributions immediately even from entry-level staff.

McGuire was invited to speak at Mays by Dean Eli Jones as part of the school’s Transformational Leader Speaker Series. He was the focus of a roundtable discussion with students that was led by Professional Program in Accounting Director Mike Shaub. He also met with key leaders at Mays. …Read more

Categories: Accounting, Executive Speakers, Featured Stories, Mays Business, News, PPA, Texas A&M

The Center for Retailing Studies at Texas A&M University will host the 20th annual M.B. Zale Visionary Merchant Lecture Series at 12:40 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 9.

The lecture will follow a presentation of the M.B. Zale Visionary Merchant Award to 2018 honoree Arch “Beaver” Aplin III ’80, president and founder of Lake Jackson-based Buc-ee’s stores.

After earning his degree from Texas A&M in 1980, Aplin opened his first Buc-ee’s in 1982. His intention was to build the Buc-ee’s brand methodically, with a goal to become the best convenience store available for service and selection. Today, Buc-ee’s enjoys a cult-like following of enthusiastic customers who make stopping for Beaver Nuggets and clean restrooms part of the family vacation.

In an era when many retailers are closing stores, Buc-ee’s is expanding beyond its Texas footprint into Alabama and Florida. Its enormous “travel centers” near 70,000 square feet, dwarfing typical 3,000-square-foot convenience stores.

The M.B. Zale Visionary Merchant Lecture Series, held at Mays Business School, highlights the role of innovation in the success of retail businesses.

Established in 1998, this annual lecture series honors creative merchandising in today’s marketplace. The series also serves to recognize the late M.B. Zale as a legendary retailer, a visionary businessman and esteemed philanthropist.

The speaker chosen to present this lecture epitomizes the leadership, service philosophy and creativity demonstrated by M.B. Zale.

Past honorees include Maxine Clark, founder of Build-A-Bear; Blake Nordstrom, president of Nordstrom; Karen Katz, former president and CEO of Neiman Marcus Group; and Rodney Faldyn ’88, former CEO and president of Academy Sports + Outdoors.

The event is open to the public.
RSVP: crs@mays.tamu.edu

For media inquiries, contact avernon@mays.tamu.edu.

Categories: Alumni, Center for Retailing Studies, Featured Stories, Former Students, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Texas A&M, Uncategorized