Upon arrival at Mays Business School and Texas A&M University, then-freshman Daniel Jefferson ’18 quickly noticed an opportunity for establishing community among African American students. It was this opportunity that led to the vision of creating an organization that strived to establish a community amongst his fellow young black collegians at Mays. Bringing his vision into action this past September, Jefferson began the new student organization process to create Black Wall Street.

Daniel Jefferson

“During my time here, I’ve realized the importance of surrounding yourself with those who are both similar to you but also challenge your ideas,” Jefferson, a management major, described his motivation. “By creating Black Wall Street my hope is that I give a platform for those who may be new to the business school or those who feel as though they haven’t found their place to find those people.”

Black Wall Street is a space to celebrate the contribution of black Americans to the broader business community,” said Mays recruiter Corey Stone, who also serves as the student organization advisor for Black Wall Street. “It is a place of fellowship and shared learning for students at Mays Business School who want to engage further with the black community at Mays.

In its first year, Jefferson can already attest to how close-knit of an organization it is. “Not only is the organization one of a kind, but the idea is that even if you are not an executive board member you still have the ability to have just as much say in the direction that the organization goes,” said Jefferson. “As a new organization, the things that we do now will set the tone for the future so this is their chance to be a part of history.”

As the organization advisor, Stone has been impressed with the growth in Black Wall Street in its first year as well. “There has been a great turnout for Black Wall Street informationals, as many business majors and minors have interest in celebrating the spirit and future of businesses historically and presently tied to the black community,” Stone said.

Throughout February – Black History month – several activities and events hosted by different organizations. Jefferson and Black Wall Street will be participating, in hopes of the “A&M student body understanding the essence of Black History month and to observe the culture that will be showcased without,” said Jefferson. “We are firm believers that it is important to try your best to understand other cultures, you never know what you may learn while doing so.

Black Wall Street hosted a lecture on Feb. 20, “The Importance of Supporting Black Business,” in the Memorial Student Center featuring Shawn A. Taylor, president of Zaxby’s Houston and Special Advisor to the Chairman of the Houston Astros. The program showcased the importance of supporting African American business, which helps support families and communities that otherwise may not have much support.

Going forward, Jefferson hopes to see Black Wall Street thrive as an organization, and grow in the next few years to become one of the premiere organizations of Mays Business School, all while building representation on campus. Black Wall Street will continue to seek to provide tools of personal and professional development to its members, through professional development, academic achievement, and community involvement, and to promote a positive social environment amongst members to build a network they can thrive in.

Stone’s hopes for Black Wall Street is that the organization can continue to collaborate and create dialogue in ways that “promote cross-cultural conversations, shared learning, and ultimately lasting friendships between both people with shared experiences and those who may have little in common.”

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

Mays business honors junior Taylor Welch eagerly awaits the opportunity to leave her mark on Texas A&M University as the 69th president of the Memorial Student Center.

Welch came to Texas A&M from Houston, where she attended St. John’s School all the way through high school. She began her long history of service within the MSC as soon as she transitioned from high school to college.

Welch currently serves as the chair of the MSC L.T. Jordan Institute for International Awareness, one of the 19 subcommittees she will oversee as president. The Jordan Institute aims to promote international awareness at Texas A&M through both on-campus programming and travel-abroad opportunities. “It has been so refreshing to serve my community with an incredible group of individuals so dedicated to learning more about the world,” Welch said.

Along with her role as chair of the MSC L.T. Jordan Institute, Welch was also a member of MSC Freshmen in Service and Hosting (MSC FISH), MSC Wiley Lecture Series, and MSC Business Associates. She has also participated in MSC conferences and trips, such as the MSC Fall Leadership Conference, Stark Northeast Trip, and Champe Fitzhugh International Honors Leadership Seminar.

In addition to her intense involvement with the MSC, Welch is also actively involved within Mays. She is an enthusiastic member of the Business Fellows Group XXXVI, which has given her extensive knowledge about effectively leading and contributing to something she is passionate about. She is also a part of the Business Honors Program, which has allowed her to gain bits of wisdom through various professional development events.

“I am so thankful to be a student within Mays Business School. The knowledge I have been able to gain from incredibly intelligent professors invested in my success is invaluable,” Welch said. “I often find myself thinking about connections to the Memorial Student Center when we discuss certain topics in class, and I cannot wait to apply the insights I am gaining to serve a department that does so much for this student body and this community.”

After shadowing current MSC president Annie Carnegie for a couple of months to learn the ins and outs of being president, Welch will step up on April 23. “Having always been a huge advocate of involvement both inside and outside of the classroom, I am incredibly excited to see how what Mays has taught me about leadership, teamwork, and organizational knowledge will aid me in serving the Memorial Student Center,” Welch said. 

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

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

Eighteen teams of Texas A&M University students competed Feb. 9 in the Mays 2018 TAMU Case Challenge competition, hosted by Mays Business School. As part of the competition, the teams presented in front of nine management consulting judges and three sponsoring consulting companies.

Judges included professionals from Deloitte, Accenture, Trenegy, PwC, a former McKinsey partner, and Texas A&M faculty.  Undergraduates of all majors and disciplines were welcome, and a total of 18 teams with 72 participants registered to compete.

The teams were competing for a cash prize and a chance to travel and represent Texas A&M against other accredited universities. The teams also had the opportunity to network with industry professionals, gain insight into working in the consulting industry, and develop their practical case skills.

The winners for this year’s case challenge were:

First place – The Blockchain Smokers:

Robin Herrington ’18 – Business Honors

Joshua Anderson ’18 – Business Honors

Blake Harvey ’18 – Business Honors

Maggie Talbot ’18 – Business Honors

Second place – The 12th Case:

Joseph Scott ’19 – Finance

Hayley Eckert ’18 – Computer engineering

Cameron Dawley ’18 – Industrial distribution

Chris Bettiol ’18 – Finance

Third place – Team 18:

Arijon Horvat ’18 – Management information systems

William McCanless ’19 – Mechanical engineering

Mutaharah Wani ’19 – Industrial engineering

Karisa Coe ’20 – Business Honors

Kathryn King-Metters, an executive professor of management, coordinated the competition.

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

The Mays Office of Diversity and Inclusion hosted Chuck Saia, CEO of Deloitte Risk, Consulting, and Financial Advisory Services, as part of the “Mays Speaks” series. The critical dialogue series seeks to educate students on ways to respond to acts of bias in a manner that invites dialogue rather than anger. Saia led an open discussion with participants on the role of a courageous leader on a global scale.

From the start of the session, however, one could tell that it wouldn’t be difficult for Saia to get his message across, as he was impressed by Texas A&M University and acknowledged that he could see the courageous leadership that is embedded here deep in the history of the campus. “As students attending, you see it and are reminded of it each and every day,” said Saia.

But what is the definition of being a courageous leader, and what does a culture of courageous leadership look like? Saia broke it down into five unique steps:

• Speak openly and be an authentic leader
• Never stop learning
• Build teams that are smarter than you
• Focus on action more than words
• Invite diversity of thought

Saia came to the realization of this concept first-hand after enduring the national tragedy our country experienced on 9/11. Saia opened up to the students when he talked about being on the scene that day, and being one of the last two people to leave the World Financial Center, which is connected to the World Trade Center.

Experiencing that disrupted his perspective and kick-started the implementation of courageous leadership within his company. This was done through, what is now a company tradition, called Impact Day, where the entire firm spends a day making an impact on society and the surrounding community – much like Texas A&M’s Big Event – to create a culture of courage among employees.

Saia then explained to students the steps it takes to embrace the concept of being a courageous leader. One must:

• Walk with swagger and confidence in everything you do
• Elevate your profile, disrupt, and execute
• Learn not to rely on the relationships you currently have

Elaborating on what he meant by being able to disrupt, Saia said that one had to “step outside of yourself and discuss solutions. Even clients don’t know what they truly need.” Continuing with what it means to execute, Saia said “that it is the obligation to leave a firm better tomorrow than it is today. better firm tomorrow than it is today.

Closing the discussion, Saia left participants with some key words of advice on building great relationships:

• Bring breadth and depth to every capability
• Explore new opportunities and step out of your comfort zone
• Be present. Don’t be afraid to have a candid conversation

Saia concluded by asking the students what differentiates them as an individual. “You can’t stay in your own silo, you have to grow as an individual,” he said.  “You have to round yourself out in different ways.”

Categories: Diversity and Inclusion, Featured Stories, Mays Business, News, Spotlights, Students, Texas A&M

In a journey that has taken Bill Sims ’89 from studying engineering and receiving both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree to becoming president and CEO of The Accent Family of Companies, Sims says that continuous learning and having a drive to understand everything is what led to his success in the business world.

Sims spent his time with Business Honors students during the Mays Transformational Leader Speaker Series – a series that recognizes business leaders in industry and gives them an opportunity to share their knowledge with the communities of Mays – walking through his achievement of finding that drive and success.

Accent Family of Companies was started 30 years ago by Sims’ father, and the company continues to be family-owned. The company has experienced great success as it is the world’s largest supplier of packaging and packaging equipment for the recycling and waste industry, and is a major supplier of building materials for the residential and commercial construction industry.

During Sims’ time as president, the company has gone through great strategic and cultural change. He created a robust team and infrastructure that embraces an entrepreneurial approach and supports the change that accompanies fast-paced growth. Essentially, Sims wanted to incorporate a culture of analytics within his company, and that started with company strategy.

“Mr. Sims himself leads with an entrepreneurial attitude despite not being the founder of the company,” said Emma Gaas ’18, a business honors and marketing major. “He educated himself in business by reading books and by receiving coaching from successful business people.”

One of Sims’ strategic inspirations came from Jim Collins, author of the book “Good to Great,” which discusses why some companies make the leap and some don’t. Collins looks in detail at the strategies of the 11 breakthrough companies and how they have found the success they experience today. From this book’s findings, Sims implemented a number of strategic approaches into Accent.

One of these strategies is based off of a “first who, then what” approach. In this approach, companies seek out and add the right people for the company first, building a superior team, then determine the best path to greatness with said team. Instead, many companies today do the opposite – a “first what, then who,” approach.

Accent’s strategy has evolved through three stages over the life of the company:

  • The lean startup stage, where you have to be very entrepreneurial and take great risks
  • The growth stage, where Accent expanded to new markets, developed new products, and leveraged its supply chain to enter new businesses
  • 200 X 20, Accent’s current stage, a six-year plan concentrating of revenue growth to $200 million by 2020 and improving shareholder return

Wrapping up the session, Sims left the students with a few works of key advice to finding success and happiness. When fielding questions from the students about work/life balance and the pursuit of an MBA, Sims advised, “Make time for what you want to do.”

Klaire Hetmaniak ’21, a business honors major, summarized the session: “Bill Sims’ work and development with his company taught me the importance of continuing to learn new things even after I graduate because one never knows what his or her future holds.”

 

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

Mays Business School takes great pride in its commitment to being on the leading edge of business, education, and research. The latest evidence is the hiring of corporate management and marketing executive Bill Peel ’74 as the school’s executive director of innovation and strategic planning, a role that is unique in higher education.

Peel’s diverse professional background and knowledge of design thinking will be a tremendous asset to Mays. “Bill comes to us with an extensive business background and is someone who is very creative and has a high level of integrity,” said Mays Dean Eli Jones. “Plus, Bill’s an Aggie so he understands and embraces Texas A&M’s unique culture and inherent values.”

In his new position, Peel – who holds degrees in environmental design and architecture from Texas A&M – will facilitate the implementation of the school’s strategic plan. He also will oversee Mays’ marketing, communications, public relations, corporate relations and alumni relations. …Read more

Categories: Dean Eli Jones, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Mays Business, Mays Innovation Research Center, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, News, Staff, Texas A&M

Mays Distinguished Professor Emeritus Michael Hitt will receive an honorary doctoral degree from Jonkoping University in Sweden in May. He will also deliver a research presentation to the broader university community the day before the award ceremony.

This is a very prestigious honor – particularly given that Jonkoping has a strong worldwide reputation for excellence in entrepreneurship research.

Hitt was told he was selected for the award because of his “academic quality and his contributions to the success of Jonkoping University” as well as “research contributions to entrepreneurship and family business research.” Following is information about his relationship with Jonkoping University:

  • Visited the university, as a visiting scholar, for a period of time to work with Ph.D. students and faculty on their research projects
  • Served as an outside advisor and reader for a Ph.D. student’s dissertation
  • Served as an advisory editor and helped Jonkoping faculty develop a special issue of a journal called Organization Studies. Family business topics were the focus of the special issue. Family business is a core research topic for Jonkoping faculty.
  • Served as an advisory editor and wrote a forward for an edited book on family business research that includes chapters written by Jonkoping faculty.

“I am highly honored to be offered an honorary doctorate by Jonkoping University,” he said. Honorary doctorates are rare, and are almost always awarded to people who have made distinguished contributions in their field of endeavor. Hitt said it is also not unusual to award to people whom they consider to be or wish to be “friends” of the university.

Hitt is a big supporter for the academic quality of Jonkoping’s work. His connection to the university is through the Jonkoping International Business School. According to Hitt, the university’s world-renowned program in family business complements the entrepreneurship program at Texas A&M.

“Through our previous cooperation and exchanges, faculty there have conducted joint research with faculty here, and in addition, we have jointly co-authored articles which also include several of our Ph.D. students,” Hitt said. He believes that this type of cooperation could continue and perhaps be enhanced if desired. “I am certain that we can learn from their programs and successes in entrepreneurship and family business, and they can learn from our outstanding and encompassing entrepreneurship programs, as well.”

Executive Associate Dean Duane Ireland, a long-time colleague of Hitt’s, said Hitt has positively touched thousands of students’ lives while teaching at all levels – undergraduates, master’s, doctorate, and executive. “Mike has truly ‘done so much for so many,’” Ireland said.

While at Mays, Hitt served as a University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Management. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado and has co-authored or co-edited 26 books and many journal articles. The Times Higher Education in 2010 listed him among the top scholars in economics, finance and management based on the number of highly cited articles he has authored. Hitt received awards for the best article published in the Academy of Management Executive (1999), Academy of Management Journal (2000), the Journal of Management (2006), and the Family Business Review (2012).

Categories: Business Honors, Faculty, Featured Stories, Management, Mays Business, News, Ph.D., Research, Spotlights, Staff, 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