For Andy York ’03, this year will bring together his past and his future – his alma mater is building a house in partnership with B/CS Habitat for Humanity, where he is executive director.

Thanks to his passion for both organizations, York has the opportunity to play a part in the collaboration of Mays Business School and B/CS Habitat for Humanity. The MaysBuilds project will unify undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty and staff throughout all departments and programs in Mays.

York has always had a passion for giving back. “While in high school, I donated land that my grandmother had given me to Habitat for Humanity in Bryan,” York said. Three houses were built on the land he donated, and York started volunteering on the property. Eventually, this land turned into a subdivision called Miracle Place. In addition, while in college, York volunteered with his church on Habitat houses, and this really pushed his passion for the organization. That church – Christ United Methodist Church in College Station – is now building its ninth house.

York began at Texas A&M as a finance major, but was convinced by a professor to do the Professional Program for Accounting with a master’s in finance. He learned early on, however, that accounting was not what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. “I started thinking about what sort of job would really give me fulfillment, and I decided that I should put my talents to use to serve people rather than make money for investors,” York said. It was this mindset that led York to join the staff at B/CS Habitat as director of finance in 2013. He became executive director in 2016.

The partnership between Mays and B/CS Habitat for Humanity began when Marketing Professor Janet Parish joined the Habitat Board of Directors. York said that Parish, “said the right words at the right time to the right people,” which led to the creation of the partnership. Along with serving on the board, Parish also serves as the chair of the Community Outreach subcommittee. “Bringing those two roles together created an opportunity for Mays faculty, staff, and students to work together to serve the local community,” she said. “We are planning several events this spring that we hope will help us continue to spread our message and get others involved.” These events include the annual Habitat breakfast on Feb. 28, which numerous Mays faculty and staff members plan to attend, and the recent Business Student Council Mays Exchange, which donated a portion proceeds toward MaysBuilds for the first time.

Not only will this partnership positively affect York and the Habitat team, but it will also impact current Mays students as well. Working alongside Mays instructors and staff while raising funds and building homes will allow students to see their instructors outside of the classroom and share in a passion for serving others. This interaction will carry back into the classroom, creating an environment in which students are more likely to collaborate on other projects and shared interests.

“Mays provided a really well-rounded education to prepare me for leadership roles, such as the role I hold now,” York said. Now that Mays students can get involved with Habitat, many others will hopefully feel this same sense of preparation for their future.

Andy York (left) with Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat International, and Charles Coats, director of Homebuyer Services (also a Texas A&M University graduate).

Categories: Accounting, Alumni, Featured Stories, Mays Business, News, Selfless service, Texas A&M

Having learned what it means to find good culture during her time at Texas A&M University, Jana Ahlfinger Bell ’86 wanted to share with current students the insights she has gained in her career on her way to becoming the Executive Vice President and CFO of RMG Networks.

Bell, who received her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Texas A&M, also worked as the CFO of EF Johnson Technologies, Inc., as president and CEO of Simple Products Inc., and as the CEO, president, and director of @TRACK Communications, Inc. Bell recently visited with Mays business honors students as part of the Mays Transformational Leader Speaker series, which recognizes business leaders in today’s society and gives them the opportunity to share their expertise with the Mays Community.

“Interviewing is important for both the employer and the potential employee,” Bell said, when she explained her wish for the students in the session – that when they go to their first job, they find a place that is interesting and get to work with great people.

“But how can one decipher what a company’s culture is like just based on the first initial interview?” one of the students asked. Bell responded: “You have to interview as if you’re already there, inside the company. See yourself there, and then you will ask more in-depth questions.”

Bell continued to highlight other ways to discover a company’s culture:

  • Think about yourself actually working there and what that would be like. Delve into their daily happenings to gain that understanding.
  • Pay attention to the tone at the top of the company, what is important to the leadership of the company, because it really matters.
  • Do your homework on the company and the industry to gain insight into the culture. A defense contractor, for example, has a different culture as compared with a media company, or a technology company, or a professional firm, or an oil & gas company.

Bell closed the discussion by telling the students, “I love what I am doing, and I have found that ethical center in what I do. I love being a mentor.”

Bell advised the students to “make the most of the opportunities presented to you during your time at Texas A&M like these speaker sessions.” Bell told the students she wishes she had the opportunities that the students have now to network with speakers like herself, and she encouraged them to take advantage of all of the networking opportunities provided to them during their time here.

Categories: Accounting, Alumni, Former Students, Mays Business, News, Students, Texas A&M

Annie McGowan has been named the next Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs, effective June 1.  She has been a Mays faculty member for 24 years, and has led the Professional Program in Accounting and served as Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion.

Accounting Professor Martha Loudder has served as Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs for 13 years. She will continue teaching at Mays, as she has done for 29 years.

Categories: Accounting, Diversity and Inclusion, Faculty, Mays Business, News, Texas A&M

Philip Mann and fellow interns dressed for scavenger hunt.

Philip Mann, left, dressed in traditional African clothing in an immersion exercise for an internship. The scavenger hunt around Disney World gave them insight into how they would look and feel wearing their American clothes while traveling overseas.

The light at the end of the tunnel is finally within sight for the Dec. 15 graduates of Mays Business School. 

Each student’s experience at Mays has been unique, each path afterward just as varied.

Shawn Mays

Shawn Mays

Some students are already immersed in the real world, and have been for awhile. For example, Shawn Mays is a 44-year-old husband and father who has commuted from Houston since fall 2012, working full-time as an automotive instructor at Universal Technical Institute while working to obtain his degree.

The daily drive is 201 miles from his house to College Station, back to his job, then back home after work. “I did that every day I had class and over the five years I only missed four days of class – and they were all serious events, that’s why I remember. One was a funeral, my wife had surgery, I was seriously ill one time, and the last was due to Hurricane Harvey.”

Mays said he had always admired Texas A&M and regretted not attending directly after high school. “I decided one day I wanted to further my education, and the only option I would accept was attending A&M,” he explained. “My best friend growing up and his wife both are both graduates of A&M. There are countless reasons as to what influenced me to attend A&M.  My favorite color is maroon (imagine that).”

Mays finished every class he started, and he currently has a 3.704 GPA. As far as his motivation is concerned, he relates it back to high school, when he was a long-distance runner. “I am a very determined person and don’t give up easily,” he said. “I will see things through to the end and won’t quit till the job is done. I am the type of person that if you tell me something can’t be done, I will do it to just prove to myself it could be done. 

He added: “I am proud of everything I have accomplished and of having had the honor to attend Texas A&M. If I can be an inspiration to one person, to motivate them to do half the things I have done, it would be heart-warming.” …Read more

Categories: Accounting, Featured Stories, Management, Mays Business, News, Spotlights, Students, Texas A&M

Recalling her career of achievements and offering inspiring industry advice, Cathy Works Helmbrecht ’85, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, recently visited with Mays Business Honors students as part of the Mays 2017 Transformational Leader Speaker Series. Helmbrecht received her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Texas A&M University and has affiliations with the Aggie Real Estate Network, Texas A&M Greek Former Student’s Network, and the Women Former Student’s Network.

Helmbrecht started with PwC right after her graduation from Texas A&M and has been with them since, serving in various roles throughout her career. She realized pretty quickly into her first job that she was using skills from all of her classes, not just what she learned specifically from her major. She told the students, “the skills you learn as a business major branch across degrees. You won’t just stick to one thing, like accounting.”

She shared her personal struggles in finding a work/family balance and dealing with feelings of burning out on certain things. One student asked whether Helmbrecht had experienced critics in being a woman in her role. She explained the pressure she experienced in the industry stemmed mostly from herself. The toughest time of her career was when she had kids. She experienced an internal struggle of wanting to continue her success in her career, but also knowing she needed to step back to be a good mother to her children. “You don’t always have to be the top at what you’re doing,” she said. “You need to be satisfied, and doing well for the sake of your kids and family. You have to take things one step at a time and truly find that balance.”

Helmbrecht went further into detail about the key things that have brought her success in life and in her career:

  • Communication is key in all aspects of your career
  • Learn how to keep people around you motivated
  • Keep an organized schedule
  • Have a strong team/support network behind you
  • Take vacation time when you have the opportunity

Business Honors major Taylor Wiest ’19 said Helmbrecht’s talk encouraged her “to find my own support network and not be afraid to rely on others when the time calls for it.”

When the conversation turned to internships and entry-level positions, Helbrecht advised the students to “intern somewhere that you would want to eventually work, as those companies are investing in you as a potential hire.” She also urged the students to “explore a lot of opportunities out there, ask a lot of questions, and understand what you are doing and why you are doing it. Have a roadmap for the big picture and a purpose of what you are doing.”

Helmbrecht’s story was an inspiring one, and clearly had an impact on the students attending. Business Honors major Bridget Davies ’20 said Helmbrecht’s story “encouraged me to try new things and continue to challenge myself so that I am always learning.” Business Honors major Asad Engineer ’20 said Helmbrecht’s story “inspired me to find a company that I can trust and stay with.”

Categories: Accounting, Alumni, Business Honors, Executive Speakers, Featured Stories, Mays Business, News, Spotlights, Texas A&M

The new Mays Innovation Research Center has an inaugural director: Mays Business School professor Korok Ray, who conceptualized the center as a place to discover how and when innovation occurs, then transfer that knowledge to Texas A&M University students.

Ray, an associate professor of accounting, will lead the center to provide research support to existing and new faculty members across the Texas A&M campus. It will bridge the research at Mays with that occurring in engineering, business, liberal arts, and other academic disciplines. The center will also fund Ph.D. fellowships and undergraduate research opportunities, and award prizes for outstanding research that advances the center’s mission.

Ray’s research interests are performance measurement, compensation, corporate governance, and cost allocation. He has taught accounting at Texas A&M University, the University of Chicago and Georgetown University, and earned his Ph.D. from Stanford University. He also served as the senior economist on the Council of Economic Advisers in the White House from 2007 to 2009.

Ray said he has experienced strong support for the concept. “Dean (Eli) Jones, The Texas A&M Foundation, and our donors have been outstanding in their support of this vision from the beginning,” he said. “I’m thrilled and honored to lead this center into new and uncharted territory, as the conversation on innovation unfolds both on our campus and nationally.  The center will engage students in research, support faculty, and pursue opportunities unique to Texas A&M, with its special combination of first-tier research and first-class values.”

…Read more

Categories: Accounting, Centers, Dean Eli Jones, Entrepreneurship, Faculty, Featured Stories, Mays Business, Mays Innovation Research Center, News, Research, Texas A&M

A firm believer in giving back, Alan Mitchell ’85 recently visited with Mays Business Honors students as part of the Mays 2017 Transformational Leader Speaker Series to provide them with not only career advice, but also advice on school and life.

“Be comfortable hearing your own voice in a room of people,” is guidance he would offer to junior members of his team. “If you don’t speak up early in a discussion, people will think of you as being irrelevant,” he added.

Additionally, while recalling how he evaluated opportunities presented during his first job out of college with KPMG, he said “If there is opportunity out there, take it, even if it presents challenges. You will always grow and expand and it will generally make you a more important part of your company and make you make you worldlier.”

Mitchell retired from investment banking in 2017 after a 23-year career at Wells Fargo Securities and Citigroup. He left Wells Fargo as the head of the telecom investment banking within the Technology, Media, and Telecom group. Mitchell earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Texas A&M and his MBA in finance and international business from Columbia Business School, where he graduated with honors.

The students found value in Mitchell sharing his story of advancing himself by going back to business school to pursue his MBA after being in the workforce for seven years. For him, his MBA was a game changer because of the influence it carried. It also taught him that “you need to like what you’re doing in your specific career.”

Mitchell’s talk then turned to the topic of “building the resume of your life,” which starts with college and continues with everything a person does thereafter. He emphasized that students need to “make sure every subsequent step on one’s resume is additive to their prior experiences and makes them more interesting and unique.”

Business Honors student Payton Fanning ’20 said Mitchell cautioned that the ability to have relevant experiences diminishes with each passing day. “He encouraged us to make every one of our actions meaningful, and to make sure every job/opportunity we seize is something we will be proud to see on our resume,” Fanning said.

As the students continued to ask questions about resumes, Mitchell said their resumes should “demonstrate a desire for experience,” and showcase a level of commitment to their undertakings. Mitchell advised the students to set goals for pursuing their next opportunities. He said a good rule of thumb is three to five years at a job before you re-evaluate where you are with each job.

Mitchell closed with his last piece of advice when he stated, “Remember, first choices in life won’t be your last choices in life. Identify and reach for every opportunity presented to you, as it can be life-changing.”

The impact of his words was felt by all of the students attending. “I left with a gratitude for Aggies like Alan Mitchell who seek to provide opportunities to younger Aggies in high-profile fields,” said Adam Warnke ’17, a Business Honors & Accounting-PPA student.

 

Categories: Accounting, Alumni, Business Honors, Mays Business, News, Spotlights, Students, Texas A&M

By Texas A&M Foundation

The Texas A&M Foundation has received two lead gifts totaling $4 million in a $10 million fundraising campaign to name the Department of Accounting in honor of James J. Benjamin in Mays Business School at Texas A&M University. David Baggett, a 1981 graduate of the university with a degree in accounting, and his wife Denise have committed $2 million to the campaign. Ernst & Young has also committed a gift of the same amount. Both gifts will be endowed to support the needs of the department and to ensure its future growth.

The idea to name the Department of Accounting resulted after discussions between Mays Business School, David Baggett and Ernst & Young partner, T. Randall “Randy” Cain, a 1982 graduate from the accounting program and a Texas A&M Foundation trustee. James Benjamin was presented as a worthwhile namesake for the department because of his decades-long commitment to students. The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents recently approved the naming of the James J. Benjamin Department of Accounting.

“The Department of Accounting at Texas A&M is one of the leading accounting programs in the United States, largely due to Dr. Jim Benjamin’s leadership over 35 years as department head,” said Eli Jones, dean of Mays Business School. “In recognition of his extraordinary leadership and selfless service, former students David Baggett ’81 and Randy Cain ’82 have co-led the fundraising effort to name the department in honor of Dr. Benjamin. This funding will help sustain efforts in the department to maintain its national prominence in accounting research and teaching.”

The campaign to name the Department of Accounting is intended to enhance the visibility of the department and provide young people in the field additional opportunities to explore the accounting profession. In addition, the endowment will allow the department to recruit outstanding faculty, develop international opportunities for students to learn global accounting practices, and support high-impact educational programs, such as the Professional Program and the Energy Accounting Program.

Benjamin is the Deloitte Foundation Leadership Professor and head of the accounting department. He joined the faculty at Texas A&M in 1974 and has served as department head since 1982. After attaining his undergraduate degree and CPA license, he received his M.B.A. and DBA degrees from Indiana University. He previously served as the Ph.D. coordinator for Mays Business School and director of the school’s honors program.

“Over the past almost four decades, Jim Benjamin has been a driving force in the transformation of our business school,” said David Baggett. “When I came to Texas A&M in 1979, we were known largely as an engineering and agricultural school.” Today, some 38 years later, the Mays Business School undergraduate accounting program is consistently recognized in the top 10 among public universities, while the bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. programs made Public Accounting Report’s top 10 list for 2017.

“With Jim’s personality, business savvy and leadership skills, he would have been very successful in the corporate world,” added Baggett. “Fortunately for me and thousands of other accounting and business graduates, Jim dedicated himself to our success.”

“We are excited to be part of this effort to name the accounting department after Dr. Jim Benjamin and know the resulting endowment will serve future students for decades to come,” said Denise Baggett.

Half of the Baggetts’ contribution to the accounting program campaign will create a matching gift fund to encourage other donors to contribute to the cause.

“At Ernst & Young we are a purpose-driven organization focused on building a better working world,” said Cain. “When I think of Texas A&M, I can’t think of a better place to invest when we’re trying to live our purpose. Students come out with a set of instilled values, and this marries up with the EY purpose. You have to give credit to Jim Benjamin, who has been an extraordinary visionary in the world of accounting education.”

In addition to the two lead gifts to the campaign, Mays Business School has also received commitments from KPMG LLP, Deloitte, Karen Pape ’80, Karen and Rodney Faldyn ’88, Becky ’76 and Monty Davis ’77, Lina and Kenny Lawson, Marian ’82 and Willie Langston ’81, Wanda and Lou Paletta ’78, and Kay ’02 and Jerry Cox ’72, Tracy and Randy Hale ’85, and Mark Kelly ’79. Combined, these pledges, along with other commitments, total nearly $7.5 million.

“I was humbled and honored when I learned of the initiative to name the Department of Accounting,” said Benjamin. “While I have been gratified to be a part of the growth and success of the accounting program, I have always recognized that our growing reputation was a product of exceptional students and talented and dedicated faculty. I have been truly blessed to be surrounded by such great students, faculty and former students throughout my career.”

All gifts toward the James J. Benjamin Department of Accounting naming also count toward the Texas A&M “Lead by Example” campaign, which aims to raise $4 billion by the year 2020. If you wish to make an endowed gift of $25,000 or more to support the naming initiative, contact Brian Bishop at (979) 862-3615 or bbishop@txamfoundation.com. You can also contribute non-endowed gifts online at give.am/JamesBenjamin.

Mays Business School

Mays Business School’s vision is to advance the world’s prosperity. Their mission is to provide a vibrant learning organization that creates impactful knowledge and develops transformational leaders. Mays Business School educates more than 6,200 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 faculty research.

Texas A&M Foundation 

The Texas A&M Foundation is a nonprofit organization that unites generosity and vision to raise and manage major endowed gifts that support the future of Texas A&M University. For additional information and for photographs, please contact Dunae Crenwelge at dcrenwelge@txamfoundation.com or (979) 845-7461.

“Lead by Example” Campaign

Launched in 2015, Texas A&M University’s third comprehensive fundraising campaign, “Lead by Example,” is a joint effort between Texas A&M and its affiliate organizations: the Texas A&M Foundation, The Association of Former Students, the 12th Man Foundation and the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation. With a goal of reaching $4 billion by 2020, it is the largest higher education campaign in Texas history and the third largest conducted nationally by a public university. The campaign will generate gifts in three major areas: Transformational Education; Discovery and Innovation; and Impact on the State, Nation and World.

For more information about the campaign, visit leadbyexample.tamu.edu.

 

Categories: Accounting, Alumni, Departments, Donors Corner, Faculty, Featured Stories, Former Students, Mays Business, News, Texas A&M

The accounting program at Texas A&M University was recently ranked in the top 10 across all degrees by the Public Accounting Report. The undergraduate and doctoral accounting programs both ranked 9th, while the master’s program was cited as the 10th best in America.

“I was delighted that our programs were all ranked in the top 10 nationally by the Public Accounting Report,” commented James Benjamin, Deloitte Foundation Leadership Professor and Department Head of the Accounting Department at Mays. “Texas A&M was one of only five schools to rank in the top 10 for bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. programs. I believe that our ranking reflects the combination of high-quality students, a unique culture, dedicated faculty, and innovative programs.”

The Public Accounting Report rankings are the most commonly cited ranking of accounting programs, Benjamin said. The annual ranking is the only survey that allows well-respected accounting faculty to determine which accounting programs are most successful out of 200 universities.

Categories: Accounting, Departments, Mays Business, News, Rankings, Texas A&M

Louis “Lou” Paletta, a founding partner and the chief operating officer of Kildare Partners, joined the Texas A&M Foundation Board of Trustees on July 1.

Paletta, originally from San Antonio, earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Texas A&M University in 1978. Prior to joining Kildare—a $4 billion private equity firm organized in 2013 to target distressed European commercial real estate-related opportunities—Paletta spent 20 years with Lone Star Funds, holding a variety of leadership positions. Paletta’s career has taken him to Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.

During his tenure at Lone Star, he was responsible for coordinating the formation of 10 private equity funds, representing $34 billion in capital commitments from a variety of global institutional investors including public pension funds, corporate pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, endowments, and foundations.

Before Lone Star, he served as director of internal audit for Brazos Asset Management Inc. and senior audit manager of American Savings Bank. He spent the first 12 years of his career with Deloitte specializing in attestation, business reorganization and litigation support.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to continue to serve Texas A&M University and am privileged to be working with an outstanding group of proven professionals that ‘lead by example’ in distinguishing Texas A&M from its peers,” Paletta said.

He has remained active in the Texas A&M community, serving in volunteer leadership roles for Mays Business School and the 12th Man Foundation. He and his wife, Wanda, are longtime benefactors to Texas A&M and are members of The Association of Former Students’ Century Club, the A&M Legacy Society and the 12th Man Foundation’s Diamond Champions Council. Paletta also serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board at Mays Business School and was honored as an Outstanding Alumnus in 2017.

Paletta also serves as chairman of the Board of Managers of Cerebrum Health Centers, a nationally recognized brain rehabilitation center. He has previously served on the Board of Directors for the Aggie Golf Association and the Vaquero Club in Westlake, as well as captain of the Dallas Area Champions Council. He has regularly visited campus to speak to business honors students about his experience in the finance and investment worlds. In 2016, he was recognized with an Outstanding Alumni Award from Mays Business School.

“Lou and Wanda are action-oriented volunteers who live by our Aggie core values,” said Tyson Voelkel ’96, president of the Texas A&M Foundation. “They embody the Aggie spirit and consistently support athletics and academics. I am proud to welcome Lou to our exceptional Board of Trustees and look forward to his influence on our endowment performance and impact on the university’s ‘Lead by Example’ campaign.”

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This story is posted on Texas A&M Today

Texas A&M Foundation 
The Texas A&M Foundation is a nonprofit organization that solicits and manages investments in academics and leadership programs to enhance Texas A&M’s capability to be among the best universities.

For additional information or for photographs, please contact Dunae Crenwelge at dcrenwelge@txamfoundation.com or (979) 845-7461.

Media contact: Dunae Crenwelge, Texas A&M Foundation (txamfoundation.com) at (979) 845-7461 or dcrenwelge@txamfoundation.com

  • by Texas A&M Foundation staff

Categories: Accounting, Alumni, Former Students, Mays Business, News, Texas A&M