November, 2021 | Mays Impacts

A $20 million gift from Adam C. Sinn ’00 will support students and programs in Mays Business School’s Department of Finance.

A $10 million gift—and a pledge for an additional $10 million—from Adam C. Sinn ’00, a commodities trader and owner of Aspire Commodities, will help Mays Business School’s Department of Finance enhance the quality of education it provides and offer financial support to undergraduate and graduate students.

“I applaud Mr. Sinn’s willingness to invest in our university,” said Dr. M. Katherine Banks, president of Texas A&M University. “Contributions such as these not only help elevate the department but provide a brighter future to our students for generations to come. We appreciate his support of our mission.”

In recognition of Sinn’s $10 million gift through the Texas A&M Foundation, the department has been renamed the Adam C. Sinn ’00 Department of Finance. This is the second named department at Mays, following the naming of the James Benjamin Department of Accounting in 2017.

“On behalf of Mays Business School, I want to extend a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to Mr. Sinn for his extremely generous support,” said Dr. Duane Ireland, interim dean. “Through Mr. Sinn’s gift, we will have opportunities to continuously increase the value of our students’ educational experiences. The type of support we are receiving from Mr. Sinn reflects the unique relationship between Mays Business School and Texas A&M University with former students.”

Sinn’s gift includes $7.5 million for undergraduate and graduate scholarships to assist finance students whose financial challenges might prevent them from attending college. The gift will support students from Sinn’s hometown in Hoopeston, Illinois, and nearby Cissna Park, Illinois, as well as those from Dorado, Puerto Rico, where he maintains a residence today.

If there is an insufficient number of eligible finance students from those regions, a portion of Sinn’s gift will benefit Aggies enrolled in Mays’ Trading, Risk and Investments Program (TRIP), which prepares participants in the fields of energy trading, investments and risk management by combining exceptional class instruction with hands-on, internship-based experience. Sinn’s gift will cover part of participants’ graduate fees as well as a portion of their undergraduate tuition.

“Considering that the cost of education is increasing for most graduate programs, this gift will allow us to provide a significant level of financial support to TRIP students across the program annually,” said Mays Reliant Trading Center Director Detlef Hallermann ’89, who serves as the TRIP director. “This is a monumental achievement.”

In addition to the current gift, Sinn pledged an additional $10 million gift to be funded over the next five years in support of student and faculty success initiatives in the department.

Continuing Success

Sinn’s gift offers the department’s latest indicator of success. “In our world of higher education, philanthropy is more than a fundraising tool; it is actually a metric of performance,” said Mays Executive Associate Dean Sorin Sorescu. “Named departments can be seen as a seal of approval from influential, successful individuals like Mr. Sinn, who has had tremendous career success and is encouraged by what he sees in our programs at Mays. We are so honored to have his support.”

The department’s undergraduate program ranked 34th nationally in 2021 by U.S. News and World Report. In 2021, Eduniversal Best Masters rated the department’s Master’s in Real Estate Management 3rd globally and the graduate portion of TRIP 15th globally. Also in 2021, the department’s Master of Science in Finance Program was ranked 10th among U.S. public programs by TFE Times.

Prospective student interest in the department’s programs is also increasing. More than 1,000 Aggies are enrolled in finance programs for the 2021-22 academic year, a 30% increase over the past five years.

The department prides itself on cross-campus interdisciplinary partnerships and high-impact programs that provide students with cutting-edge academic knowledge and industry best practices. Additionally, innovative opportunities such as Aggies on Wall Street and the Reveille Fund, a student-run investment fund, require students to apply their learning.

The remaining portion of Sinn’s gift will support the department’s efforts to recruit top faculty and create and expand these types of innovative programs. Funds may also support the Master of Science in Finance, career development offerings, educational travel opportunities, etiquette dinners, and training in personal skills. These offerings are designed to create well-rounded graduates who can make an immediate impact when they start their careers.

“When we can do more as a finance department, it’s not only our department and the students in Mays who win. Texas A&M also wins,” said Interim Department Head Christa Bouwman. “These interdisciplinary programs and partnerships are very valuable.”

Luck and Hard Work

 

Sinn grew up in Hoopeston, Illinois, which like many Midwestern small towns, particularly those not proximate to an interstate, had its share of successes and struggles in the 1980s and 1990s. The area’s economy primarily revolved around agriculture and particularly growing and canning corn and other products; Hoopeston is the Sweetcorn Capital of the World.

Minimum-wage jobs like one Sinn held at a hog farm during high school and good-paying blue-collar jobs in the local industries remained to a degree but became less available over time. However, Hoopeston maintained a strong Midwestern work ethic that influenced Sinn. That work ethic was bolstered greatly by his parents and grandparents, who he described as being part of “hard-working Middle America,” and his role models for hard work. Sinn’s father started a small business as an electrician and his mother performed office functions for the business. His parents saved ardently so they could provide some assistance to their sons if they chose to pursue college degrees.

Sinn was also fortunate that his local Rotary Club was a strong supporter of the Rotary Youth Exchange program. He studied abroad in Japan for a year through that program, which was instrumental in him learning to be open to new experiences and places.

After consideration, Sinn set his sights on Southern Methodist University, which offered degrees in international business and Japanese, and qualified for numerous scholarships, which paid for his entire education there.

However, he soon realized that he didn’t feel at home at SMU. Several of his college friends transferred, including one who enrolled in Texas A&M—and Sinn quickly followed. “Texas A&M was exactly what I was looking for. I liked the culture and the camaraderie,” he said. “It was an easy place to flourish, and I liked the college town environment.”

But he also discovered Texas A&M was harder academically, and he found himself in the mid-tier of students scholastically. He said, “I decided that if I couldn’t get the grades, I would beef up my resume. I had three internships, was involved in several organizations, and held jobs while I was a student.”

His penchant for hard work paid off. After initially being declined for an internship with Dell, Sinn offered to work for free. Impressed, the company representative invited him to reapply. He did when another opportunity arose—and was quickly offered a job when the interviewers realized that the Aggie knew more about the company than they did.

After graduating with his bachelor’s degree in finance in 2001, Sinn wanted to pursue a career in trading, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, who bought and sold livestock in the small livestock business founded by his great-grandfather and sons. However, it took him a while to find his niche. He briefly worked in accounting and finance jobs before he was in the right place at the right time—without a job when Lehman Brothers folded—to step into energy trading. “People sometimes end up in a spot due to sudden life circumstances,” said Sinn, who now operates one of the largest speculative trading firms in the commodity market. “It’s what you do with that situation that can determine the course of your future and whether you reach the next level.”

Sinn has embraced Texas A&M’s core values during his career. Now, his selfless service through creating this endowment will help middle-tier students avoid taking on student loan debt. “I want others to not have a financial burden so they can attend the best university on the planet,” he said, adding that these scholarships will also help position finance students to be successful in their lives after college. “I hope to lay the foundation so that at some point in time, these students can bet on themselves like I was able to do when they need to. The person who is financially burdened by rising educational costs may be unable to take that shot.”

Mays faculty, staff and students appreciate Sinn’s commitment to selfless service as he opens doors for the next generation of Aggies. “He wants to give people an opportunity,” Hallermann said. “He’s got an unbelievable talent for trading power and electricity, but when he looks around, his focus is always, ‘How do I help people get to where they need to be?’”

About Mays Business School

At Mays Business School, our vision is 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, 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 for its programs and faculty research.

About the Texas A&M Foundation

The Texas A&M Foundation is a nonprofit organization that aspires to be among the most trusted philanthropies in higher education. It builds a brighter future for Texas A&M University, one relationship at a time. To learn more, visit txamfoundation.com.

Categories: Alumni, Departments, Donors Corner, Energy, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Finance, Former Students, Mays Business, News, Selfless service, Spotlights, Texas A&M

Mays Business School at Texas A&M University and leading health and well-being company Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) have announced the winners of the 2021 Humana-Mays Healthcare Analytics Case Competition, a competition during which students use their analytical abilities to solve a real-world business problem. The student team of Siyan Cai, Jia Shi, Manqiu Liu, and Tsz Fung Pang from Georgia Tech received the First-Place prize of $50,000 following a virtual presentation on Nov. 11 to an executive panel of judges.

This is the fifth year of the competition, which has grown to be one of the top healthcare analytics case competitions in the country. Over 750 master’s level students, representing 75 major universities in the U.S., registered for the national competition to compete for $80,000 in total prizes. The Second-Place prize of $20,000 was awarded to Alejandro Sáez Coma and Ignacio Aguilar Ramos from New York University (NYU), while the Third-Place prize of $10,000 was presented to Eunjin Jeong, Yuxuan Mei, Ji Qi, and Linh To from Boston University.

The student teams examined a multifaceted and complex real-world business problem.  This year’s competition focused on providing vaccination opportunities for vulnerable and underserved populations, as existing disparities in health equity have become more evident during the vaccination response to COVID-19.

Students were asked to create a model to predict vaccine hesitance among a specific population. The students’ challenge was to propose solutions so that Humana can design a targeted outreach that prioritizes the most vulnerable and underserved populations to receive health solutions.

“By materializing our commitment to minimizing health inequities and mitigating bias, we are leveraging prescriptive analytics and predictive modeling to reach our most at-risk and hesitant member populations,” said Heather Cox, Chief Digital Health and Analytics Officer for Humana.  “This year’s participants have shown great dedication to identifying populations and creating elegant solutions that drive forth positive change. This is just one glimpse into the transformative power of quality data.”

“I am pleased that the students’ analyses will help Humana shape the way the industry delivers healthcare,” says Arvind Mahajan, Associate Dean for Graduate Programs at Mays Business School. “This case study is an example of how students learn to apply their analytical skills to solve complex business problems which can have a social impact, and in this case, improve the lives of patients and their families.”

The fifth annual competition was held virtually and was open to all accredited educational institutions based in the United States. Full-time and part-time master’s students from accredited Master of Science, Master of Arts, Master of Information Systems, Master of Public Health, Master of Business Administration programs, or other similar master’s programs in business, healthcare, or analytics, were eligible to enter.

The teams were judged based on the following criteria:

  • Quantitative analysis identifying key business insights
  • Professionalism, data visualization, and presentation skills
  • Ability to provide meaningful implications and recommendations based on results/insights

Prior top winners include the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (2020); University of California, Los Angeles (2018 & 2019); and Purdue University (2017).

For more information, visit HumanaTAMUAnalytics.com.

 

About Mays Business School

At Mays Business School, we strive 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 nearly 6,300 undergraduate, masters, and doctoral students in accounting, finance, information systems and operations management, management, and marketing. Mays ranks consistently 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: Health Care, Mays Business, MBA, News, Students, Texas A&M

McFerrin Center has received the Nasdaq Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence Award celebrating the unique achievements and outstanding efforts of top entrepreneurship centers around the world.

The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship at Texas A&M University is pleased to announce it is joining an elite group of academic entrepreneurship centers as the newest recipient of the Nasdaq Center of Entrepreneurial Excellence Award. Bestowed upon McFerrin Center leadership at the 2021 Global Consortium for Entrepreneurship Centers (GCEC) annual conference in Baltimore, MD, this award recognizes the dedication and impact the McFerrin Center has made in serving the entrepreneurial community at Texas A&M, across the State of Texas, and beyond.

NASDAQ Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence - 2021 Award Winner

Founded in 1999 and housed in the Mays Business School, the McFerrin Center serves as the campus-wide hub for entrepreneurship at Texas A&M and is at the core of a flourishing entrepreneurial ecosystem. Central to their mission is the belief that anyone can be an entrepreneur and that successful entrepreneurial skills are best developed through cross-disciplinary and experiential learning. Embodied in the variety of experiences and programs offered, the McFerrin Center has become established as a leader in co-curricular education, applied research, and community engagement in entrepreneurship. Specific accomplishments recognized by the Nasdaq award include:

  • McFerrin Center’s annual offering of 30 unique programs and engagement of 14,000+ students from across 13 different Texas A&M colleges and A&M System campuses, along with countless other Former Student, non-student, and veteran entrepreneurs.
  • Leading innovations in entrepreneurial curriculum through the launch of the Master of Science in Entrepreneurial Leadership (MS-ENLD), an online Graduate Entrepreneurship Certificate (pending approval), as well as many other individual courses and modules taught across campus by the McFerrin Center team.
  • Support of world-class research initiatives that have resulted in over 20 research publications and recognition of research faculty with multiple prestigious awards within the last 5 years.
  • Engagement of multiple corporate and community partners, such as the Brazos Valley Economic Development Corporation, along with a robust Mentor Network of over 220 individuals from a variety of fields and professional backgrounds.
  • Achieving long-term financial support, including a $10M naming gift from the McFerrin family, a $2M endowment by Reynolds & Reynolds Corporation for the Texas A&M Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans program, and numerous other grants, sponsorships, and charitable donations.

Created in 2000 by Nasdaq in association with GCEC, this Excellence Award honors select centers that have made and will continue to make enormous contributions in advancing entrepreneurship as the force in economic growth throughout the world. It also represents the highest honor that a university entrepreneurship center can receive.

Spencer, Petty, and Hughes accept the GCEC award for Texas A&M's McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship

When asked what this award means to the Center, Executive Director Blake Petty responded, “No one performs great work simply for the recognition they may receive. However, there are certain honors reflecting such a high standard of excellence, that acknowledgment reinforces the value and importance of that work. The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship has a small but fierce team doing amazing and impactful things across the entire university, and beyond. We are both humbled and proud to receive this recognition of excellence in our efforts.”

The Nasdaq Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence Award adds to a number of other recognitions that the McFerrin Center has earned in recent years, including GCEC’s 2020 Award for Exceptional Contributions in Entrepreneurship Research, and consistent rankings in the top 30 institutions for both undergraduate and graduate entrepreneurship programs by Princeton Review.

About the McFerrin Center

The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship’s goal is to enhance entrepreneurial education by providing training, networking, and assistance to enterprising students, faculty, and Former Students. The McFerrin Center defines entrepreneurship as an attitude that acts upon opportunity. In this spirit, the McFerrin Center strives to deliver programs and events that are inspiring, engaging, motivating, and life-changing. This philosophy has resulted in the McFerrin Center offering over 30 unique programs each year that positively impact the lives of thousands of students, veterans, and other professionals seeking to blaze their own trail as an entrepreneur.

The McFerrin Center enables the startup and growth of countless businesses and provides competitive opportunities, professional development, and financial support to aspiring entrepreneurs in the Aggie community through the support of a robust volunteer mentor network, corporate supporters, faculty, and staff.

For more information on the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, visit mcferrin.tamu.edu.

 

About the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers

The GCEC is the premier academic organization addressing the emerging topics of importance to the nation’s university-based entrepreneurship programs. It has become the vehicle by which the top, established entrepreneurship programs, as well as emerging programs, can work together to share best practices, develop programs and initiatives, and collaborate and assist each other in advancing, strengthening, and celebrating the role of universities in teaching the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. The GCEC membership includes 250 of the top university-based entrepreneurship programs from across the globe, and each year their conference is held on the campus of a GCEC member school. For more information on the GCEC, including its awards, visit their website.

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

This fall the James Benjamin Department of Accounting at Mays Business School held its annual Outstanding Professional Program in Accounting (PPA) Alumni and Accounting Hall of Honor Awards Dinner honoring the 2020 and 2021 recipients of the Lifetime Achievement and Rising Star awards as well as the 2020 and 2021 inductees to the Accounting Hall of Honor.

Honored with the 2020 and 2021 Rising Star Award respectively, Rachel Bentley ’08 and Kyle Koehler ’09 each founded successful companies that uphold the Aggie Core Values. Bentley is the Co-Founder, COO, and President of The Citizenry, a direct-to-consumer furnishings retailer that has pioneered the ethical and transparent sourcing of home goods. Koehler is the Co-Founder and CEO of Wildway, a food production company that supports a, “natural, sustainable, and connected future,” by creating granolas using natural, real-food ingredients. He was also recently featured on Episode 127 of Mays Mastercast (Listen here or watch on Inside Mays).

Receiving the 2020 Lifetime Achievement award was Devina Rankin ’98 the Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Waste Management (WM), a Fortune 250 environmental services company with ∼$15B in annual revenue and $22B in assets. She is joined by Brent Smith ’97, the 2021 recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, who served as the CFO and Treasurer of Main Street Capital Corporation and has continued to show his generosity by establishing a scholarship for PPA students at Mays Business School. Read more on his journey from a rural Texas farm to CFO in a recent profile.

Along with the presentation of the Rising Star and Lifetime Achievement Awards, Former Students Gary Brauchle ’95 and Shawn Lafferty ’90 were inducted into the Accounting Hall of Honor for their continued support and contributions to the accounting department at Mays Business School.

Categories: Accounting, Alumni, Departments, Featured Stories, Former Students, Mays Business, PPA, Programs, Texas A&M

Duane Ireland was born and raised in Lima, Ohio as part of a family of “railroaders.” He has found memories of hearing stories from his great-grandfather about making certain that trains reached their destinations in a timely manner regardless of the challenges encountered, including those of inclement winter weather conditions. For a young boy, these stories conjured images of brave people trying their best to serve others through their work. For Ireland, following in the footsteps of his great grandfather and grandfather to pursue jobs with the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad company was the logical path for him to take as a career choice.

Unexpected circumstances created different possibilities for Ireland, though. Raised by his mother and grandmother, the three of them left Ohio and moved to Amarillo, TX where his mother and grandmother began working at the Amarillo Air Force base. Ireland entered the seventh grade at this time. He continued with music, playing the clarinet, saxophone, and piano. He started playing these instruments at a young age as a result of influences from his grandmother and great grandmother, both of whom thought that being a musician would be a wonderful life for their grandson and great grandson.

Being a First-Generation Student

Ireland’s family encouraged him strongly to become the first among them to attend college. This strong support was instrumental in his decision to pursue a college-level education. Although involved deeply with music through his high school days, he did not desire to pursue music as a college major, concluding that he lacked the passion (and the talent!) to become a professional musician. Because of his developing interest in understanding how some organizations are able to serve stockholders and societies effectively, he decided to major in management at Texas Tech University as an undergraduate student. “I really enjoyed studying management and its role in organizations’ success. Because of this, I decided to remain at Tech to pursue my MBA degree,” Ireland said.

With a master’s degree in hand, Ireland accepted a position as a strategic planner for a regional government agency serving the Lubbock, TX area. He enjoyed this work, both from the perspective of helping people as well as from trying to understand why some agencies were more successful than others.

Wanting to learn more about factors leading to organizational success caused Ireland to return to Texas Tech to pursue his PhD. Focusing on strategic management and entrepreneurship, he accepted a position as an assistant professor at Oklahoma State University (OSU) following completion of the terminal degree.  Ireland noted that “my time at OSU was wonderful in that I worked with terrific colleagues, one of whom—Mike Hitt–became a career-long collaborator.” While their paths diverged for a while, Ireland and Hitt found themselves both working in Mays Business School beginning in 2004. In addition to spending six years at OSU, Ireland held appointments at Baylor University (17 years) and the University of Richmond (four years) prior to becoming an Aggie.

Scholarship as a Critical Part of His Career

An active researcher, Ireland’s scholarship finds him examining questions related to strategic entrepreneurship, merger and acquisition success, and organizational learning routines, among other topics. Over the years, he served in many editorial positions including a three-year term as editor of the Academy of Management Journal. He also served as the 69th president of the Academy of Management. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Management and the Strategic Management Society and is a university distinguished professor at Texas A&M University. He is a recipient of an Association of Former Students’ Distinguished Achievement Award for research.

Throughout his career, Ireland has held numerous leadership positions, beginning with an initial term as head of the department of management at Baylor. At Mays Business School, his leadership positions are those of Head of the Department of Management, Executive Associate Dean, Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship, Acting Dean, and now Interim Dean. “I am honored by the opportunities I have had to serve students, staff, faculty, and other stakeholders in various leadership roles. In each instance, my commitment has been and is to work as hard and as effectively as possible to be a good steward of the trust that others place in me,” Ireland said.

Service as Interim Dean

Ireland says the following to describe his leadership philosophy: “I believe very strongly that collaborating to integrate our efforts allows us to rely on synergy as a means of creating value for those we seek to serve.” In his view, synergistic collaborations are the foundation through which Mays can create value for its students and for the entire university community. As Interim Dean, Ireland recognizes the abundance of talent among Mays Business School’s students, staff, faculty, and supporters. By relying on this talent, he is confident that Mays Business School’s best days are to come. “I am very proud to be an Aggie and to be a part of Mays Business School and Texas A&M University. Truly, the possibilities in front of us are endless and incredibly exciting. I look forward to what I know will be a fascinating and highly-productive time for us in the years to come,” he said.

Categories: Deanspeak, Diversity and Inclusion, Featured Stories, Mays Business, News, Perspectives, Texas A&M