By Dorian Martin ‘06
Three distinguished Texas A&M University graduates—Shara Briggs McClure ’90, Gary J. Brauchle ’95, and Raja Jawad Akram ’97—were awarded Mays Business School’s top honor, the 2023 Outstanding Alumni Award. The trio were recognized during a celebratory dinner at Texas A&M’s Thomas G. Hildebrand, DVM ’56 Equine Complex on April 27, 2023.
This award spotlights former students who exemplify transformational leadership in their profession and community, as well as their service to Mays. “The reason I am so optimistic about our bright future at Mays is because of the great commitment of these individuals and the Mays community as a whole to the shared vision that our school can become the preeminent public business school in America,” said Mays Dean Nate Sharp. “This year’s recipients underscore the quality of Mays’ former students, who are a critical part of our past and our future. Their success elevates the stature of our school’s reputation. They challenge us to raise our standards, reach new heights, improve our offerings, and increase access to Mays for students across Texas.”
Shara Briggs McClure ’90
McClure’s father, a high school counselor, played an influential role in her decision to attend Texas A&M. “Part of his job was to get students scholarships and help match students,” she said. “He had relationships with several universities, but he fell in love with A&M.”
The Dallas area resident, who earned a bachelor’s degree in business analysis, believes she benefited so much from her college experience—and she’s watched as her children and their spouses (Melinda ’15 and Ryan Haughey ’13, and Michael ’18 and Katie Morey ’18 McClure) reaped similar gains from becoming Aggies. “From student life to my role as an Aggie mom to volunteering for Mays and the Aggie Network—I cherish it all!” she said.
McClure’s extensive career in the healthcare industry and master’s degree in public health from The George Washington University positioned her as a thought leader who advocates for accessibility and affordability. She has held numerous leadership roles in healthcare organizations, including serving as Divisional Senior Vice President for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX), the largest health insurer in the state. She has also worked with Texas Network Management, Houston Health Care Operations, and Humana’s Provider Contracting. Now the principal of McClure Consulting, Inc., she’s using her extensive knowledge and skills built during her 25-year career to assist healthcare clients. “There is no bigger business than healthcare and no greater economic challenge to our country,” she said. “Kudos to Mays Business School for identifying healthcare as a Grand Challenge.”
The award recipient remains actively involved at Texas A&M, including serving on the Mays Advisory Board. “I love staying engaged with Mays because who wouldn’t want to hang out with Aggies all the time?” she said, adding that she enjoys connecting Mays to her extensive business network.
Additionally, McClure is an active contributor across Texas A&M’s campus. She was at the forefront of BCBSTX’s $10 million investment in the Texas A&M Health Science Center’s work to address rural health issues. She also serves on The Association of Former Students’ Board of Directors and chairs that organization’s Fundraising Committee. The Dallas area resident is an Endowed Century Club member, a lifetime member of the Dallas A&M Club, and a member of the Chancellor’s Century Council.
She also remains passionate about inspiring young professionals. McClure is the current board chair for the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce, serves on the board for CareerSpring, and was previously on the board for Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Dallas. She also is an alumnus of the Dallas Regional Chamber’s Leadership Class of 2017, a Senior Fellow of Houston’s American Leadership Forum, and a graduate of the Leading Women Executives Program, developed by the Corporate Leadership Center of Chicago. McClure was named one of the Top 30 Influential Women of Houston in 2013.
Gary J. Brauchle ’95
Brauchle did his homework before making his college decision. “I chose Texas A&M after having visited a number of other colleges and universities,” said the honoree, who graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1995, followed by a master’s degree in accounting in 1996. “I couldn’t think of a better place for me than Mays and Texas A&M, and how they prepared me for my career.”
His career started with a bang—being selected as one of four graduates nationally to participate in the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s internship program in Norwalk, Connecticut.
He went on to work in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ energy audit practice in Houston from 1997-2003. Then he continued being promoted to roles of increasing responsibility, including Director of Internal Audit, and Vice President and Chief Accounting Officer at Houston-based McDermott International, a NYSE-listed global engineering and construction company. He served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Tallgrass Energy, a Kansas-based NYSE-listed multi-billion-dollar midstream energy infrastructure partnership from its inception in 2012 until 2020, when he and his family returned to Texas. Brauchle currently is President and member of the Board of Directors of PERENfra, a private water infrastructure company.
Professionally, he believes in empowering others. “Thinking back on my career, I’d say there are a few highlights that I look back on with gratitude and pride,” he said. “All of those opportunities involved the ability to assemble and work with high-performing teams. I gave deserving team members opportunities to succeed—and that was more rewarding than any individual title of mine.”
He maintains strong ties with Texas A&M. Brauchle is one of the longest serving members of the Advisory Council to the James Benjamin Department of Accounting and was a frequent guest speaker in accounting classes after graduation. He was recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the James Benjamin Department of Accounting in 2016 and was a Hall of Honor inductee in 2020.
Brauchle and his wife, Maren ’01,–who have two young sons–also support Mays financially. They established the Brauchle Family Scholarship in 2012 and then in 2019 they endowed a named full scholarship benefiting Professional Program in Accounting students who demonstrate academic excellence and financial need. “Giving back to Mays and Texas A&M is a true pleasure for my wife and me. We have a very passionate view that education is a life-changing experience and in many cases, can be a cycle-breaking opportunity,” he said. “The college and the university have a keen ability to develop students into high character individuals and educate students to be successful business professionals. We are happy to support those transformational changes for people in any way possible.”
Raja Jawad Akram ’97
Akram credits his guidance counselor in Pakistan for influencing his decision to come to Texas A&M. “He told me ‘It’s the MIT of the Southwest,’” Akram remembered. “At Texas A&M, I wasn’t the smartest guy in the room ever. What I learned was that I couldn’t outsmart everyone, but I could outlearn everyone. I also made the deepest friendships here and had the best faculty.”
That tenacity has served him well. After earning his bachelor’s degrees in accounting and finance and a master’s degree in accounting, Akram joined KPMG where he served clients in the financial services industry and in the national office. In 2006, he joined Citigroup and spent 14 years in a variety of senior roles, including CFO of Treasury and Trade Solutions, CFO for Brazil, and Global Controller and Chief Accounting Officer. He currently is the Deputy Chief Financial Officer and Chief Accounting Officer at Morgan Stanley and sits on the firm’s management committee and Morgan Stanley Europe’s board. He also is very involved in the firm’s environmental social and governance (ESG) efforts and co-chairs Morgan Stanley’s Emissions Oversight Committee and ESG Disclosure Committee. “I’ve been working since 1997 so it’s been a long career,” he said. “My time at Texas A&M really prepared me for my career in multiple ways.”
Akram has actively supported Texas A&M with both his time and treasure. He currently serves on the James Benjamin Department of Accounting Advisory Council and recently joined the Dean’s Advisory Board. He also is a visiting professor at Mays, teaching a class called “CFOs and Financial Leadership.” Additionally, the 2019 recipient of the James Benjamin Department of Accounting’s Lifetime Achievement Award is a strong advocate for creating a pipeline to help Mays students join Wall Street banks. Explaining his commitment to his alma mater, Akram said, “My motivation to stay involved in Texas A&M is to make sure that Texas A&M becomes the destination of choice for Wall Street, just like it is for employers in the Southwest.”
To that end, he established the Raja Akram ’97 Department of Accounting Excellence Endowment in 2018 and the Begum Akhtar Akram Endowed Scholarship for Pakistani Students at Mays Business School to honor his grandmother in 2022. He is also a member of the Texas A&M Legacy Society.
Akram also contributes to causes and charities related to children’s education both in the United States and Pakistan. He and his family live in New York City. Additionally, Akram’s two brothers—Fawad Akram ’01 and Faraz Akram ’08—are also Mays alumni, and his eight-year-old daughter aspires of playing Aggie soccer and his son wants to be an Aggie as well. “What I’ve found at Texas A&M is an unparalleled network of Aggies,” he said. “People in my office may not know where I’m from, but they will always know that I went to Texas A&M.”