On October 4, 2019, Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School students and faculty learned about non-clinical career opportunities in healthcare from industry leaders during the 2019 Healthcare Forum.

The day-long event featured presentations by top executives from different healthcare enterprises, including a hospital system, an insurance company, a health information technology company, and an occupational health company.

The forum underscored the business school’s commitment to preparing students to work on the business side of healthcare. “Mays realizes how important healthcare is to our nation’s and the world’s future prosperity,” said Dean Eli Jones ’82. “To that point, we have designated healthcare as one of three Grand Challenges in our Strategic Plan. This challenge was selected because of our faculty’s expertise, our focus on developing transformational leaders in this area, and the significant support provided by Mays partners.”

The Healthcare Forum gives students a chance to interact with and learn from top industry executives. “This annual event exposes business school students to the many non-clinical career paths available in healthcare and offers career advice as well,” said Dr. Leonard L. Berry, who is a University Distinguished Professor of Marketing at Mays and a senior fellow of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. “Most students don’t come to business school thinking about a healthcare career even though healthcare organizations have personnel needs in all of the functional areas studied in business school such as finance, marketing, human resources, and, of course, general management.”

The forum helped to expose Mays students to the possibilities of working in the healthcare industry. “Healthcare is such a broad field in general, and there’s so much you can do with it,” said Christopher Jabbour, ’21, a public health major. Jabbour attended the forum as part of a Mays course focused on healthcare.

 

A major industry

The forum’s speakers stressed that healthcare is an integral part of the U.S. landscape, both in terms of personal well-being and economic viability. “Healthcare is a crucial service that every person needs at various times in life,” Berry said. “It represents nearly one-fifth of the U.S. economy and is our fastest-growing labor market. Business school students can play a much bigger role in helping improve the quality and lower the cost of healthcare.”

The healthcare sector is a larger part of the nation’s economy than the oil and gas, banking and finance, and real estate industries. In her presentation, Shara McClure ’90, the divisional senior vice president of Texas Healthcare Delivery at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, noted that in 2018, the healthcare sector was a $3.65 trillion industry; by 2025, this sector is projected to break $5 trillion.

 

Healthcare’s cost to society and to many households is unsustainably high with five percent of insured individuals driving 50 percent of the costs. The average cost of health insurance for a family of four is $22,000 annually.

The speakers stressed that they see tremendous opportunities for innovation ahead. “I don’t know where the future of healthcare leads, but I think there’s going to be tremendous opportunities,” said Heath Rushing ‘99, senior vice president and CEO of Memorial Hermann hospitals in Katy and Cypress. “The opportunities will just look different tomorrow than they do today as health systems work to deliver value to the consumer. I feel fortunate to work for a system that’s willing to challenge the status quo and create a structure that drives value to our patients. Having that consumer focus will help improve the health of the communities we serve.”

The healthcare executives who participated in the Mays forum were pleased with participants’ interest in this growing industry. “The students’ enthusiasm around opportunities in healthcare was incredible,” said Ben Melson ’82, senior vice president and chief financial officer at The University of Texas MD Anderson Center. “When I was attending Texas A&M in the 70s and 80s, there was no healthcare discussion. In today’s healthcare, we need young talent in all business fields – accounting, finance, marketing, industrial distribution, supply chain. Healthcare is ripe for this young talent, so it’s great to be here to show students what is available out there.”

The Mays students also expressed their interest in applying their knowledge of innovation and transformational leadership to help the healthcare sector evolve. “I think that the healthcare industry is currently faced with some major challenges that affect the overall success of this country. Our generation has the opportunity to do something about it,” said Eva Paalma ’18, who is earning a master’s degree in marketing and will graduate in December. “The vision of Mays has always been about building a better future, and it just seems like a very logical step for our business school to be part of the transformation in healthcare.”

Categories: Health Care, News, Texas A&M

As the fashion world converged in New York for the Fall 2019 Fashion Week, marketing majors Addison Holcomb ’20 and Shannon Perkins ’20 from Mays Business School were treated to a one-of-a-kind educational experience thanks to a collaboration between Texas A&M University, Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC), the university’s exclusive trademark licensing agency, and IMG’s fashion events division. Holcomb and Perkins were two of 21 students from 12 universities that participated in the program designed to support innovation and the development of future leaders in the fashion industry.

Marketing students at New York Fashion Week

This program provided a behind-the-scenes look at the fashion industry, including entry into select runway shows, panel discussions and networking opportunities with industry leaders, as well as on-the-job shadowing with collegiate licensees.

The students experienced two New York Fashion Week (NYFW) runway shows, as well as backstage tours to observe the production and execution of a fashion show. The group also participated in the screening of the film “THE REMIX: Hip Hop x Fashion” and participated in a panel discussion with director/producer Lisa Cortés and director Farah X.

“This unique collaboration with IMG’s fashion division allows us to offer a once-in-a-lifetime experience and insight into the fashion industry to some of the best and brightest students from our partner institutions,” said Cory Moss, SVP and Managing Director of IMG College Licensing. “In providing resources and opportunities beyond what a traditional licensing partner can provide, we deliver greater value to their campuses and communities while promoting innovation and learning.”

In addition to the experiences at New York Fashion Week: The Shows, the students also spent time with key staff at sports fashion brand Champion and College Vault licensee Original Retro Brand. The students also had an opportunity to visit collegiate jewelry licensee KYLE CAVAN where they interacted with designers and marketers from the company, as well as online fashion outlet Storr and licensee Hillflint.

The program delivered unique academic enrichment opportunities for the students with costs covered by the universities. Institutions that participated in this collegiate enrichment program at NYFW: The Shows included University of Arizona, Arizona State University, University of Arkansas, University of Delaware, Northern Arizona University, University of Pittsburgh, University of South Carolina, Syracuse University, TCU, Texas A&M University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and West Virginia University.

“We are committed to delivering opportunities for future leaders in the industry to engage and learn from others that know what it takes to be successful,” said Leslie Russo, Executive Vice President, IMG Fashion Events. “This unique experience aligns perfectly with our mission, and we are happy to partner with our colleagues at CLC to welcome these great students to NYFW: The Shows.”

Participating students were asked to chronicle their experiences through social media using #UofNYFW and share their learnings with other students upon their return to campus.

“It was so fun interacting with other aspiring professionals who value similar things and are pursuing a career in the same industry,” Holcomb explained. “Their stories and backgrounds were inspiring, and I cannot wait to witness the amazing things they accomplish. Who knows, their designs may be featured on a NYFW runway someday!”

“To say this was the experience of a lifetime is an understatement,” said Perkins. “I have never felt more affirmed in my passion for retail and fashion, and I left this weekend motivated to go after my dreams.”

“At Texas A&M, we are committed to providing our students with transformational learning experiences that prepare them for successful careers in a number of areas within retailing,” added Scott Benedict, Director of the Center for Retailing Studies. “We’re so excited that Addison and Shannon had the opportunity to participate in this event, and gain an understanding of the fashion world first hand.”


About the Center for Retailing Studies
Since opening in 1983, the Center for Retailing Studies has been respected throughout the world as a leading source of industry knowledge and a pipeline for developing future retail leaders. In collaboration with the outstanding performance of the faculty at Mays Business School and excellence in student education programs, each year, more than 150 students complete coursework, internships, and leadership programs that prepare them for a professional career within the industry in store management, buying, merchandising, planning, business analytics, and supply chain.

About CLC
CLC is part of Learfield IMG College, which unlocks the value of college sports for brands and fans through an omnichannel platform. The company’s extensive commerce, experiential and media solutions create ultimate opportunities for fan engagement. The Learfield IMG College suite of services includes licensing and multimedia sponsorship management; publishing, broadcasting, digital and social media; ticket sales and professional concessions expertise; branding; campus-wide business and sponsorship development; and venue technology systems. Headquartered in Plano, Texas, the company has long had the privilege of being an advocate for intercollegiate athletics and the student-athlete experience. Since 2008, it has served as title sponsor for the acclaimed Learfield IMG College Directors’ Cup, supporting athletic departments across all divisions.

About IMG
IMG is a global leader in sports, fashion, events, and media. The company manages some of the world’s greatest athletes and fashion icons; owns and operates hundreds of live events annually, and is a leading independent producer and distributor of sports and entertainment media. IMG also specializes in licensing, sports training and league development. IMG is a subsidiary of Endeavor, a global entertainment, sports, and content company.


For more information, please contact:
Andrew Vernon, Center for Retailing Studies
avernon@mays.tamu.edu

Tammy Purves, CLC
(404) 932-3266 or tammy.purves@clc.com

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

(COLLEGE STATION, Texas / August 16, 2019)  Mays Business School’s Strategic Philanthropy course, in partnership with the George and Barbara Bush Foundation, is currently accepting applications from local area nonprofit organizations for the Community Grant Program. To be eligible, an organization must be a nonprofit entity based in the Brazos Valley and have at least one full year of operation. Applicants must submit a completed application detailing their proposal for funds to be used the following year. Applications can be submitted through the Strategic Philanthropy website at mays.tamu.edu/strategic-philanthropy. The deadline to submit applications is 5:00 PM on Friday, September 13, 2019. The 2019-2020 Community Grant recipients will be announced in December.

Kyle Gammenthaler, Lecturer and Coordinator of Social Impact Programs at Mays Business School stated, “We are excited to continue our partnership with the George and Barbara Bush Foundation as they help provide resources for a dynamic educational experience while impacting the local community. We encourage all eligible organizations based in the Brazos Valley to apply.”

ABOUT THE STRATEGIC PHILANTHROPY COURSE AT MAYS BUSINESS SCHOOL

The Strategic Philanthropy course began in the 2015-2016 school year as a unique educational experience for undergraduate business students. Since then, we have distributed almost $500,000 in funding to local community and international nonprofit organizations thanks to partnerships with various foundations and individuals. We will continue this tradition by partnering with the George and Barbara Bush Foundation in the upcoming fall semester to manage the Community Grant Program.

Some of the past recipients of the Strategic Philanthropy course have been Aggieland Pregnancy Outreach, BEE Community, Northway Farms, Health for All, Elder Aid, Boys and Girls Club, Down Syndrome Association of the Brazos Valley, Arts Council of the Brazos Valley, Mercy Project, SOS Ministries, Family Promise, K9S4COPS, Mobility Worldwide, Rebuilding BCS, Children’s Miracle Network, BCS Marathon, and Voices for Children.

 

# # #

Grant and Media Contact:

Kyle Gammenthaler

Lecturer

Mays Business School

kyleg@tamu.edu

979.845.1037

 

Categories: Mays Business, News, Selfless service, Strategic Philanthropy

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Professional MBA Program at Mays, Class of 2020, is visiting Jakarta, Indonesia, and Singapore on the annual International Field Trip, a part of the program’s International Business Policy course. The itinerary runs Friday, July 25 to Saturday, August 3 with 47 students, Arvind Mahajan, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, and Mike Alexander, Director of the Professional MBA program, attending. Stay tuned for additional segments to their journey, told from the perspective of a student.

Read Part 2 of Unknown in Asia here.


Singapore…the island city-state. The land of heavy regulation, gorgeous views and home of the ~1.5% unemployment rate. This place is amazing, and I don’t want to leave. Just getting off the plane, the ride to the hotel and the hotel have been 180-degree realities of the place we just left. I didn’t know you could take a 2-hour flight and be in an entirely different world. Though Singapore and Indonesia have some similarities: They both have flourishing business districts, tons of people from all over, and everyone is nice.

Everything about Singapore has been great, except for the heat/humidity. I thought I was prepared for it because I’m from Houston, but this is definitely worse. Besides that, Singapore is a melting pot of diversity. Just walking around during my free time, I have seen many different cultures and people. You can be walking in a high-end mall, pop out the other side and be in China Town that fast.

The first night we got to go on a tour of the town with a boat ride on the marina, top deck access at the Marina Bay Sands (the premier hotel, convention center, casino, and mall), and finally the light show at the garden by the bay. Definitely spectacular and memorable. Great way to kick off part 2 of the trip.

On Thursday, we got to meet with Halliburton and M-Daq. Two different companies, a multinational based in Texas and a fin-tech startup about to go IPO. Halliburton took us on a tour of their facility, which was fantastic since I grew up in a machine shop, just not one on this scale. The fact that they do the complete process of CNCing a part to final packaging all in-house is awesome to see. Not only did we see the machine shop, but we also got to see their material testing lab (which is the first time I’ve seen a company with a complete lab since most clients I’ve worked with send their stuff out to be analyzed.) David was a great host and he is so passionate about Halliburton.

After Halliburton, we had a brief detour to a mall and hawker center before heading to M-Daq. M-Daq has to be the smallest company we visited and truly a startup. It was interesting to hear about a foreign exchange problem that I never knew existed. Supposedly retailers and consumers are getting played by banks and credit cards when you buy things in foreign countries because of the exchange rates. M-Daq wants to tackle this by making a platform that overlays on other companies software to provide live data feed of exchange rates so that consumers can purchase things in foreign countries, see the price in their countries currency and fake the transaction as a domestic transaction on both ends so that neither party has to pay the foreign transaction fees. Interesting topic that seems easy to fix but no one is doing it. At the end of the day, we got to network with a few executives in the Singapore area at Level 33. Some we have met before; some we saw again on Friday and some new faces. Everyone was nice and fun to talk to. It’s fascinating to listen to their stories and how they got to Singapore.

On the last day of the trip, we had a non-stop day of activities. My day started out with getting to the venue early with some of my team to get an early start on what is going on to know how to host Microsoft’s very own Richard Koh.

I am a big fan of Microsoft, so it was great to be able to meet him and ask questions about the products and software I use every day. After Richard’s presentation, we got another presentation about PR in Asia by Bill Adams. It was interesting to hear about how public relations works in Southeast Asia and PR stories of various companies. The main thing to remember is to be authentic in your company statements. In the afternoon, we participated in a trash hero cleanup event as our volunteer project.

Trash hero is a non-profit organization that has many outfits around the world. It focuses on cleaning up the environment through trash clean up events in cities. We cleaned up the trash on the beach on the eastern side of Singapore. Volunteering is something that is near and dear to my heart, not just because I am an Aggie, so this was a great event to be a part of and I am glad we did it. We wrapped up the week with a meal at Forlino, an Italian restaurant that overlooks the marina.  This was a great way to finish things off. We got to hang out, talk about the trip and reflect on what we learned. Mike [Alexander] and Dr. Mahajan had great closing speeches for us, as did some of us. My classmate, Kenny, wrapped it up nicely with the fact that there are small ships, big ships…but the best ships of them all are friendships.

We definitely bonded on this trip, more than we have before. These types of trips don’t happen very often, but they seemed to always happen at Texas A&M. Between Fish Camp, Transfer Camp and now the professional MBA international trip, I can truly say that this school is definitely a top tier school. This only happens when you have professors and faculty that truly love what they do and are vested in seeing their students grow. I thank Nyetta Meaux-Drysdale, Mike Alexander, Deb Mann, Dr. Mahajan and anyone else in the decision-making process for giving me this opportunity to be a part of a wonderful program.

Categories: Mays Business, MBA, Students, Unknown in Asia

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Professional MBA Program at Mays, Class of 2020, is visiting Jakarta, Indonesia and Singapore on the annual International Field Trip, a part of the program’s International Business Policy course. The itinerary runs Friday, July 25 to Saturday, August 3 with 47 students, Arvind Mahajan, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, and Mike Alexander, Director of the Professional MBA program, attending. Stay tuned for additional segments to their journey, told from the perspective of a student.

Read Part I of Unknown in Asia, here


Heading into the unknown of Asia, I think one thing that was also largely unknown was just how long our flight would be – it is the longest flight that I have ever been on and it felt that long, too. One redeeming part of it, though, was the time it allowed me to get up and talk to fellow classmates. On the first leg of the flight I got to spend some time with Mike [Alexander] talking about traveling and I got to hear some of his stories from his time with the Professional MBA program.

We landed in Jakarta and it was an eye-opening experience. There are so many people in this city, traffic is crazy, and there was a blatant disparity in the nice buildings and the poor areas. There was seemingly no in-between. It made me grateful for my life and the opportunities I have at home. We made our way to a welcome dinner where they eased us into local cuisine, and we all fought off jetlag.

Our first full day was spent on a “1000 Islands Tour” where we got to learn a bit about the history of where we were and see some cool, old relics of the colonization of the area. It ended with some beach time, dinner and camaraderie.

Monday, our second day in Jakarta and our first working day, was amazing. We had a chance to grasp the full spectrum of the economy where we were in Jakarta – we learned about everything from the government and business to the slums. It was a very diverse day. We heard from fantastic speakers that addressed startup culture in Indonesia, intangibles as an imperative for success in today’s business world, and how society is going cashless. We were taken on a tour of the slums and it is something that I will never forget. Seeing how the people in the slums live and then meeting all of the kids was really moving. It seems like the only way out of the Indonesian slums is to catch a lucky break, while back home, if you work hard and “demonstrate capabilities,” you can go somewhere. It really makes you think of all those times you complain about something not going right and how insignificant that really is.

Tuesday we visited Javara and Go-Jek while participating in Batik Tuesdays – a new PMBA tradition. A Batik is the button-up shirt of Indonesia that is similar to Hawaiian shirts and can be worn to work. Some of our PMBA group had picked one up after Monday’s festivities and decided to wear them. Javara, the first company that we visited, is all about agriculture and social entrepreneurship. We were able to meet Helianti, the incredibly ambitious backbone of Javara. She showed us a presentation about how Javara is trying to revive the farming culture in Indonesia by creating pride and a sense of ownership in the industry. The way she empowers the farmers to be their own entrepreneurs is amazing. Afterward, we were able to shop all of the organic products that the farmers produce in her store and she treated us to a sustainable/organic meal that was absolutely delicious. The purple bungus tea was the star of the show, which is strange coming from a non-tea drinker. Go-Jek is a for-profit startup that revolves around utilizing technology to make society better. Go-Jek’s offices definitely put out some Silicon Valley feelings. It seemed like organized chaos with how everyone was working, and stuff was thrown on the desks. I would hate to be late to work, since the limited desk space means you are working in one of the many lounge areas. They shared a presentation that gave us insight into the company and how they got started by trying to help out the traffic with a ride share app. Now, they are giving back through Go-Life by training people in different skill sets to help them provide a better life for their families. This is a company that keeps trying to find new challenges to tackle through their services.

Tuesday culminated with an interesting and fantastic “foodie tour.” Our tour guides were patient, understanding and very knowledgeable.  We were taken to 6 food stalls around the Chinatown area of Jakarta.  Each of them had a signature dish or snack that we tried.  Supposedly it is normal for people to come to the area and hop around to get a complete meal.  My favorite was the first stop with the chicken rice dish, though it felt like that was our entire meal because they kept bringing out more and more food.

It was a fascinating few days leaning into the culture and business of Indonesia. There is a rich history, vibrant culture and great people there that I won’t soon forget. Now, onto Singapore!

Read Part I of Unknown in Asia, here

Categories: MBA, Programs, Texas A&M, Unknown in Asia

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Professional MBA Program at Mays, Class of 2020, is visiting Jakarta, Indonesia and Singapore on the annual International Field Trip, a part of the program’s International Business Policy course. The itinerary runs Friday, July 25 to Saturday, August 3 with 47 students, Arvind Mahajan, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, and Mike Alexander, Director of the Professional MBA program, attending. Stay tuned for additional segments to their journey, told from the perspective of a student.


As a Texas A&M Professional MBA (PMBA) student who has completed their first year of the program, the time has come to tackle the infamous international field trip. The PMBA class of 2020 is going to Indonesia and Singapore to see how business, culture, and people work and live in Southeast Asia. Our class is stepping into the unknown – an international trip with 47 PMBAs from Mays Business School.

The time leading up to the trip has been hectic for me. I have never been out of the country before – I have just lived vicariously through other people’s pictures and videos of their experiences. The stunning photos of foreign countries have always guided my interest in traveling abroad. As an engineer, I am always researching everything I plan to do to the fullest, and this trip has been no exception. I have consulted many people about their experiences and sought advice and tips. Surprisingly, everyone has a different point of view, which is both helpful and problematic. Helpful in that their stories and advice continue to grow my anticipation for the trip. Problematic in the sense that when I’m trying to make decisions, it doesn’t help that everyone’s perspective is different. As with any analysis, I take all the inputs and average them to make a good prediction or decision on the matter. I find that if I keep an open mind and put my mind to it, I can accomplish anything, which includes this trip.

Some of my academic expectations for this trip are…

  • to expand my understanding of the world
  • to experience different cultures
  • to find out how business is conducted in other parts of the world

I can’t wait to put everything that I have heard or read about these locations to the test and see it for myself. This trip may only be one week, but looking at the itinerary, it will definitely be jam-packed. One of the things that I am most looking forward to is hosting Microsoft. Our team was selected to host them, which is truly a treat for me. I am a huge tech nerd, and I have known Microsoft since the first computer I ever used with MS-DOS. To be able to meet some of the folks that work there, even if it isn’t from their Redmond Washington office, will still be a truly remarkable experience.

My nonacademic expectations are…

  • to get to know my classmates better
  • to create better bonds
  • to expand my comfort zone

I feel like I know everyone in the class, though some are just on a, “Hey I am here with you” level. The PMBA program is not only about classroom study, but it’s also about learning from my peers and creating lasting friendships.

I look forward to seeing our cohort out of our element. I suppose that when you take us all out of our element, Houston, that’s when everyone will open up more. It’ll be even easier to get to know everyone. I suppose that being in our comfort zone lets us sneak away too easily, missing the opportunity to truly know one another. On this trip, we won’t have conflicting plans, or work stopping us from getting to campus early – we’ll have a shared agenda and purpose. That shared purpose and agenda, I hope, will create a shared sense of growth and adventure – for me, each of my classmates, and our cohort as a whole. I believe this trip has the potential for us to grow individually and together. A shared purpose and a sense of dependence will lead to deeper knowledge and deeper relationships. I know it will for me. I have no clue what I am doing outside of the U.S., so I will be relying on the collective mindset of the group to find my way through the unknown.

Categories: Center for Business International Studies, Featured Stories, Mays Business, MBA, Programs, Spotlights, Students, Texas A&M, Unknown in Asia

The Center for Retailing Studies (CRS) at Mays Business School is pleased to welcome Scott Benedict as its new director. An accomplished retail executive, he comes to Texas A&M University with more than 35 years of experience spanning traditional brick-and-mortar, eCommerce and international retailing.

Scott Benedict

Benedict most recently served as the Divisional Merchandise Manager for Health, Beauty & Grocery at eCommerce leader Groupon in Chicago. He has also held positions at Walmart, Sam’s Club, Best Buy, Service Merchandise and Montgomery Ward.

Leveraging extensive experience in retail business strategy, process refinement, and multichannel eCommerce, Benedict brings a track record of helping companies seize opportunities to increase operational efficiencies, control operating costs, and optimize profits while serving customers across multiple business channels.

“We are pleased to have Scott joining us as the Director of the Center for Retailing Studies, and he comes to us with significant executive experience and an impressive record of accomplishment across retail formats,” said David Griffith, Marketing Department Head. “We are happy to welcome Scott into the Mays Business School family and look forward to his leadership of the Center for Retailing Studies.”

With a desire to help influence the next generation of retail leaders, Benedict spent time keeping an eye on various retailing programs across the country on social media, including CRS. When the opportunity came along to join one of the top retailing programs in the nation at a Tier 1 institution, he didn’t hesitate.

“I have a strong passion for retailing, developing future leaders, and working with retailing professionals to share challenges and best practices,” Benedict explained. “CRS gives me the opportunity to do all of those things. We have a wonderful foundation in place.”

At Walmart, Benedict particularly appreciated the company’s core basic beliefs of respect for the individual, service to the customer, striving for excellence, and operating with integrity. His affinity for organizations with strong cultural beliefs is something that makes the transition from the corporate world to the academic world in Aggieland a seamless one.

“I have really enjoyed being a part of organizations with strong values and cultural beliefs,” said Benedict. “Texas A&M’s Aggie Core Values align strongly with what I feel strongly about, and have been taught to believe in my entire professional career.”

Some of Benedict’s areas of expertise include the development of category strategies, supplier performance management, retail merchandising, product marketing, inventory management, omnichannel strategy, and competitive price strategy. In an ever-changing era of retail, he seeks to bring that industry experience and perspective to Mays, and to the Center for Retailing Studies.

“I was taught as a buyer the concept of ‘divine discontent’,” he explained. “In other words, never be satisfied with the status quo and always seek to improve the business and your people.”

Benedict sees the opportunity to deepen the relationships already formed between CRS and its industry partners while examining how the program can grow and change to better equip the retail leaders of the future. “We need to continuously evolve and change in order to serve the dynamic needs of the retailing community now, and in the future” he added.

For more information, please visit crs.mays.tamu.edu

Follow us on social media: @crstamu

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Staff, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

The first step is the hardest

If you have ever asked a 6-year-old what they want to be when they grow up, you know that there are few things that dissuade them from their dreams. In their mind, the possibilities are endless. However, at some point in their journey of becoming, they’re told there’s a step that has to be made, a benchmark to be accomplished, a kink in the plan. Often, higher education can feel like that. When I finish all my research, then I can genuinely make a difference… If I could get one more certification, then I can prove I’m a world-changer… Once I have my degree, I can really do something… Jim Kolari’s Finance 462 “Live Bank Case” students are already changing the world for a bank in Hondo, Texas.

Humble beginnings

Community National Bank (CNB) has found itself between a rock and a hard place. A mostly rural town, Hondo has been watching the Texas giant, San Antonio, slowly encroach on their city limits. CNB board member, Bill Freed said, “Our community is changing, and if there is anything I’m interested in seeing in the overall growth product, it’s what can help us define our community and what happens when a community changes so rapidly.” Freed likened the Hondo/San Antonio growth to that of Sugarland to Houston and McKinney to Dallas. “They were their own well-defined communities for years, then the sprawl of the metropolis comes in and not only encroaches but actually acts like a tsunami and washes over the area,” Freed explained.

For a once small-town bank like CNB, the imminent danger of large-city encroachment with big bank players like Frost and Wells Fargo could be detrimental to the local bank. CNB was started with a group of businessmen who formed a small-town community financial institution and obtained their charter in 1980. CNB Chairman of the Board, Tom Rothe, said, “The bank opened in 1981 with $1.6 million. That sounds like nothing now: you can’t get a bank off the ground without $10 or $15 million capitalization, but then that was a lot of money.”

Banking in the real world

And Kolari’s students know that. The 41 commercial banking students who took the field trip to the bank are either graduating seniors or graduate students and have taken multiple banking classes, completed internships, and are all about to enter into the real world of banking. Kolari said, “This (live bank case) is ideal for us. This portion of the program is focused on community banking. They get to get in here and find out real problems that community banks are having in the U.S. and Texas, and they’re happening all over, with small, community banks being challenged by the growth that they have in their communities, and also the survival, against bigger banks.”

This Live Bank Case is the first that Kolari has executed in his 40 years at Texas A&M, and Kolari could not have predicted the outcome. For the study, the students were broken into small groups to come up with solutions to maintaining business, while creating new customers and establishing a sustainable strategy. “I was flabbergasted,” Kolari said. “I had a front-row seat to the Aggie Spirit at work. [The students] took this project to heart – it wasn’t just a grade to them. They sought counsel from industry professionals, drew on experience from past internships and jobs, and even looked into the fine details (like finding the coordinates of the busiest intersection and calculating the cost of a billboard installation) to create actionable plans.”

Kolari mentioned, “I can tell you that 99% of schools don’t have a banking class in their college of business. We’re a very rare program; we have a little over 100 students, graduate and undergraduate.”

CNB executives saw the effort and knew that the Commercial Banking Program students would deliver, so they traveled from Hondo to College Station to hear the students’ presentations.

“We had not been able to share the presentations with all of our board members before the May board meeting, but now we have all seen the presentations and it is on our agenda to discuss at the June meeting,” Rothe explained when talking about the solutions they were presented. “[Other board members] and I have been discussing many of the ideas presented and have been scouting locations and opportunities for growing our brand using the input received.”

High impact learning yields high impact results

At Mays, it is common to hear that we are committed to providing high-impact learning experiences. That means we commit to educational experiences that deepen learning and foster student engagement. Rather than simply listening to a lecture, learning by rote, and taking an exam, Mays students are given the opportunity to actively pose and solve problems, work collaboratively in a community of peers, experience real-world applications of knowledge, and reflect on their learning processes. Through these high-impact learning experiences, Mays students change the world, a degree in hand or not.

Categories: Finance, Mays Business, News, Students, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

The feeling never gets old, Kyle Gammenthaler says.

Helping Mays Business School students understand the nuts and bolts of philanthropy by giving away up to $75,000 themselves is always thrilling.

Kyle, who teaches the Strategic Philanthropy class as coordinator of the Certificate in Nonprofit and Social Innovation at Mays, told a crowd of about eighty who gathered for the semester’s check presentations on April 29 that it all started in 2015, when he had “a brilliant idea—that it would be great if students gave away money in a class.”

And this spring, the course’s students, funding recipients, and donors celebrated a huge milestone—passing the $500,000 mark in total giving to organizations in Bryan-College Station.

From $0 to $500,000 in Three Years

With support from Mays administration and generous donors—notably The Philanthropy Lab, a Fort-Worth-area organization that supports about twenty such classes around the country—students provided the first round of funding in spring 2016.

Now, thanks to additional donors, notably the VanLoh family and Cheryl Mellenthin, the class is one of the most successful of its kind in the country.

The VanLohs began donating after seeing the transformational experience their daughter, business honors graduate Grace VanLoh ’19, had as a student in the very first class.

For Cheryl Mellenthin, visiting with Mays students on a Philanthropy Friday was all it took.

“She texted me that night and asked, ‘Where do I send the check?’” Kyle says.

John Sharp ’72, Chancellor of The Texas A&M University System, attended the April 29 celebration and later said, “The Mays Business School’s philanthropy program is a great example of putting the Aggie values to work.”

Former Student Body President Amy Sharp ’19, a business honors graduate who took the class previously, announced at the event that the two representatives present from The Philanthropy Lab—both Aggies—had decided to give an additional $10,000 in honor of Chancellor Sharp’s visit.

“This has to be the easiest $10,000 Chancellor Sharp ever gave!” she said.

Student-Driven Impact in the Brazos Valley

The eighteen students in the May 2019 class funded eight organizations.

Marketing major and class member Shelby Edwards ’19 says a Charles Dickens quote inspired her to sign up: “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”

But for Shelby, the class proved to be life-changing.

“I know that what I learned about working with others to make decisions and about how I can make a real impact, even as a younger person, will influence me not only in my profession, but in my personal life, as well,” she says.

The class started the semester by learning about philanthropy and how nonprofits work in general, with a focus on strategic giving and the “why” behind charitable giving.

They crafted their own mission statement as the “why” to guide their decisions: “to thoughtfully invest in nonprofits in the Brazos Valley to move toward their visions and build better communities.”

Next, they chose ten nonprofits for closer review and broke into smaller groups to visit two organizations each. They then shared what they learned with the others and used their strategic approach to make the final decisions on which organizations to fund.

“Giving the money away was an absolute joy,” Shelby says. “The nonprofits showed us gaps in our community that we had not seen before. We were amazed at what they do to make life better for people here.

“My takeaway is that we all have the ability to give money, or time, or effort, not ‘one day,’ but right now, even if we are young and just starting out. We are a generation that can make a difference!”

A Simple but Life-Changing Idea

Business honors Jimmie Fields ’21 explained the powerful concept that inspired the class to fund OnRamp.

“Entrepreneurship is about finding the main pressure point and exploiting it,” he says. “The Jennings family has done just this in the Bryan-College Station area by giving reliable, pre-owned cars to people in need.”

The class gave $11,000 to cover the cost of two cars. OnRamp has provided 23 cars since the organization was founded about eighteen months ago. Other local charities refer clients to the Jennings family for consideration.

“As a pastor at a local church, I meet a lot of single moms who are near poverty and who cannot afford reliable transportation,” Blake Jennings says. “As a result, they find it hard to hold down a job, hard to get their kids to school, and hard to get to doctors’ appointments. My wife and I wanted to do something about it—to serve others just as we encourage our congregation to serve others.”

The Transformational Effect of Mays Philanthropy

Students are transformed by the class in many ways.

For example, Mays graduate Zach Marbach ’17, who took the inaugural class in spring 2016, is now an Associate Program Director with The Philanthropy Lab, as is fellow Aggie Megan Mader ’12. In addition, other students have joined the boards of the nonprofits represented or otherwise made charitable giving a priority in their lives.

“We are incredibly grateful to all who entrust our students to make life-changing decisions with their money,” Kyle Gammenthaler says. “Our next goal: to pass the one-million-dollar mark.”

In addition to OnRamp, the following local charities received funding this semester:

  • Big Brothers Big Sisters
  • Brazos Interfaith Immigration Network
  • Health For All
  • Scotty’s House
  • Sexual Assault Resource Center
  • United Way of the Brazos Valley
  • VOOM Foundation

Categories: Entrepreneurship, Mays Business, News, Programs, Selfless service, Staff, Strategic Philanthropy, Students, Texas A&M

On April 24, hundreds of students, faculty, staff, and former students packed Wehner lobby for James Benjamin Day. Energy and excitement pulsed through the room, as attendees wearing t-shirts and stickers that showed “I heart James Benjamin” filed into the lobby.

The event was standing room only as participants waited eagerly from the balcony, lined the stairs, and filled the elevator banks for the celebration to begin.

Dean Jones began the celebration by welcoming students, faculty and staff, and the accounting advisory board to the special event. Among his numerous high praises for Benjamin, Dean Jones declared that Benjamin epitomized the Aggie core values of excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect, and selfless service. Dean Jones also shared that at the beginning of the naming campaign, naysayers told them, “Crowdsourcing won’t work.” However, the campaign ultimately proved otherwise and raised over $10 million for the department. Dean Jones added that Benjamin has served Texas A&M and Mays Business School for 45 years as faculty, and 37 years as the accounting department head. Benjamin positively impacted countless students’ lives and set an example of excellence during his time at the university.

Brian Bishop, the Assistant Vice President of Development at Mays Business School, delivered some words of affirmation and praise for Benjamin. Bishop stated that to have a department named after an individual, “40 years of service and $10 million raised” would be a fantastic place to start. Bishop continued in his praise for Benjamin, describing him as an “excellent human being and an educator.” Bishop encouraged the current students attending the celebration to look around the room and appreciate the accomplishments of those before them. He then instructed each student to ask themselves, “How can I give back, and how can I make my degree more valuable?”

Christy Bauman ’95 took the stage to share her thoughts, insights, and appreciation for Benjamin. Bauman was a member of the third group of PPA students and explained that raising money for the department was, “One of the easiest things to ask for because of Jim and who he is as an individual.”

Professor Mary Lea McAnally then joined the excitement by kicking off a round-robin share out about the magnitude during Benjamin’s tenure in a segment titled, “James Benjamin by the Numbers.”

  • $35,700,000 raised
  • 4,617,600 minutes worked, $8 per minute of funds raised
  • 17,102 students graduated
  • 5,008 PPA graduates
  • 15 former students now serving as professors at Mays
  • 2,113 Business Honors graduates during his tenure
  • 1998 – Outstanding Professor of the Year from Texas A&M
  • 1992 – Benjamin began the PPA program
  • 1968 – Benjamin earned his CPA, in Maryland, with the second highest score in the state
  • 1600 companies employ his graduates
  • 960 business honors students in his Accounting 229 course
  • 314 publications by Ph.D. graduates
  • 258 graduates who are partners at CPA firms
  • Accounting 229 – countless students have taken Benjamin’s course
  • 199 – the average number of words in a paragraph in an email from Benjamin
  • 158 Ph.D. graduates since Benjamin
  • 61 computers in KPMG lab on cutting edge of technology
  • 42 years in the Department of Accounting
  • 37 years as department head
    • Budgeting
    • Hiring
    • Year-end reviews
  • 8 accounting faculty have become administrators at Mays
  • 5 deans Benjamin has served under
  • 40 years ago – James Benjamin was Strawser’s professor
  • 3 PPA Directors reported to Benjamin during his tenure

Finally, Benjamin took the opportunity to share his thoughts and appreciation for the celebration. He said that one of the most rewarding aspects of his career has been watching students he once taught reach retirement. In humility, he added that though he may be the face of the accounting department, there are four necessary ingredients to his success:

  1. Exceptional students
  2. Deeply caring faculty built to mirror students
  3. Leaders – he has been at the business school under five deans, and never had a bad boss in his life
  4. Incredibly supportive former students

In a nod to his engaging demeanor, Benjamin expressed that he thinks it is fitting that the accounting department will now share the nickname for 100 dollar bills.

 

Categories: Accounting, Alumni, Business Honors, Departments, Faculty, Former Students, Mays Business, News, Ph.D., Texas A&M