Mays Business | Mays Impacts

Out of 42 finalists, ten teams were given top honors and awarded cash prizes for their innovative and entrepreneurial ideasr

COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS May 7, 2022 – The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship hosted its second annual and first in-person Texas High School Ideas Challenge today, with competitive presentations held at Texas A&M University’s Memorial Student Center and The Crowd Fund Showcase and Awards Reception (sponsored by Education Advanced) held at the McFerrin Center. Open to high school students across the state of Texas, the challenge, designed to encourage students to explore entrepreneurship and foster development of an entrepreneurial mindset, awarded more than $10,000 in cash prizes to the top ideas.

Launched in 2021 by the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, the Texas High School Ideas Challenge is modeled after the Raymond Ideas Challenge, one of the McFerrin Center’s longest standing programs open each fall to current Texas A&M students. Due to restrictions in place, the inaugural event in 2021 was held exclusively in a virtual format, but the 2022 event was held in person at Texas A&M, giving high school students from across the state the opportunity to visit campus and be introduced to Texas A&M, the McFerrin Center and the Aggie entrepreneurial ecosystem.

In addition to prize money for the top idea winners, this year’s challenge also awarded $3,750 in prizes based on “investments” from “The Crowd Fund,” with showcase guests having the opportunity to visit each of the ideas to meet the student teams and learn about their service or product concept and “invest” in their favorites via “McFerrin Money.”

For the 2022 event, Texas high school students aged 14-18 were invited to apply beginning in late 2021, submitting their idea as a team or individual, via a compelling application demonstrating creative, careful and methodical planning. Following a screening process, a total of 42 finalist teams, comprised of more than 100 students from 18 Texas cities, were selected as finalists and invited to compete in person on the campus of Texas A&M.

Throughout the day, each team presented their idea twice, each time to a different panel of judges. The presentations consisted of a 5-minute pitch of the idea, followed by a 5-minute “Q&A” with the panel. Judges, selected from the McFerrin Center’s network of mentors, successful entrepreneurs and Texas A&M faculty, were looking for competitors who have an outstanding idea and clearly indicate that their idea creates values, can defend their idea against other ideas in the competition, and demonstrate to the judges that the idea is viable in the marketplace with clear evidence that the idea is attractive to a customer. Ideas were scored based on idea uniqueness, target market, competitive advantage, resources, goals and presentation content.

Rudy A., a junior from Centennial High School in Frisco, walked away with top honors and $2,500 for his pitch of WorkBee, a business concept developed with his partner Sarthak D., also a junior, who was unable to attend the competition. WorkBee solves the problem of low inventory of quality holiday decorations and the hassle of installing decorations by enabling customers to purchase customized holiday decorations and labor from local, reliable, responsive, fair-priced contractors.

“A friend who applied for this challenge knew I had this idea, and he suggested I apply as well. I did, and then suggested a different friend also apply with his idea,” Rudy said. “I feel like that sums up entrepreneurship. Healthy competition, but always looking to help and assist others who are also trying to pursue and build their own ideas.”

Following high school graduation in 2023, Rudy plans to attend college, pursuing a degree related to technology and business. “The best takeaway from today was the feedback I received from the judges following my pitches,” he said. “One judge suggested I consider a subscription option, and one even told me it was probably the best pitch he’d ever heard, including from college students. That really made me feel like not only do I have a great idea, but the time, effort and energy I put into preparing for this challenge really paid off. I’m already thinking of a new idea to apply again and come back to Aggieland next year.”

“In only its second year, this is quickly becoming one of our Signature Programs, and one that brings so much positive energy and excitement to the Center and our partners. As a competition focused solely on inspiring, encouraging and celebrating our next great generation of entrepreneurs, the ideas this year did not disappoint, nor did the students themselves, who have been nothing short amazing,” said Blake Petty ’98, executive director of the McFerrin Center. “While we realize not all of these students will choose Texas A&M as a destination after high school, our ultimate goal and purpose is to pour into them at this earliest stage of their entrepreneurial journey and help fan the flame of their entrepreneurial spirit. If we can create a few new Aggie entrepreneurs along the way, we’ll consider that icing on the cake!”

The McFerrin Center is already planning the third annual event, scheduled for May 5, 2023. Updates and more information will be made available at tx.ag/TexasHSIdeasChallenge.

2022 Texas High School Ideas Challenge Winners

Top Idea Winners
1st Place ($2,500): WorkBee | Centennial HS | Frisco
sponsored by Active Industrial Fire Protection
Student receiving a big check
2nd Place ($2,000): FYDER, LLC | Alamo Heights HS | San Antonio
sponsored by CareerPhysician, LLC
3rd Place ($1,750): Com.Post | Round Rock HS | Round Rock
sponsored by Education Advanced
Honorable Mention ($750): Stoozies: The Heated Shoetree | Canyon HS | New Braunfels
sponsored by Critical Environments Group
Honorable Mention ($750): iPath American English | Centennial HS | Frisco
sponsored by Education Advanced
Honorable Mention ($750): sMile | Centennial HS | Frisco, TX
sponsored by Startup LLC
Honorable Mention ($750): Traverse Marketplace | Vista Ridge HS | Cedar Park
sponsored by Mays Family Foundation

The Crowd Fund Winners
1st Place ($1,500): M.T. Equipment Backpacking Table | Westlake HS | Austin
sponsored by Nexersys (XFit Inc.)
Students receiving a b
2nd Place ($1,250): FYDER, LLC | Alamo Heights HS | San Antonio
sponsored by Startup LLC
3rd Place ($1,000): Let’s Keep Talking | Elkins HS | Missouri City
sponsored by Mays Family Foundation

2022 Texas High School Ideas Challenge Sponsors

Education Advanced, The Crowd Fund Showcase & Awards Reception sponsor
Active Industrial Fire Protection
CareerPhysician
Critical Environments Group
Mays Family Foundation
Nexersys
Startup LLC (Living Learning Community)

 

About McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship

The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship serves as the hub for entrepreneurship at Texas A&M University. The McFerrin Center’s goal is to enhance entrepreneurial education by providing training, networking and assistance to enterprising students, faculty and former students.

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

The McFerrin Center defines entrepreneurship as an attitude that acts upon opportunity. In this spirit, the McFerrin Center strives to deliver programs and events that are inspiring, engaging, motivating and life-changing. This philosophy has resulted in the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship offering more than 30 unique programs each year that positively impact the lives of thousands of students, veterans and other professionals seeking to blaze their own trail as an entrepreneur.

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Media Contact: Lara Robertson, communications manager, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, 979- 845-1724, lrobertson@tamu.edu

Categories: Entrepreneurship, Mays Business, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, Students, Texas A&M

The James Benjamin Department of Accounting’s Internal Audit Program (IAP), which is part of Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School, has been recognized as a Center of Excellence by The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), an international organization of internal audit professionals.

Only 12 university programs across the globe have completed the stringent requirements to be named an IIA Center of Excellence. “This recognition from the IIA is a tremendous honor for Mays Business School and for the James Benjamin Department of Accounting. It is also a tribute to the hard work of Professors Tara Blasor and Mike Head, and it will provide additional high-impact opportunities for our students,” said Department Head Nate Sharp, who holds the Nelson D. Durst Endowed Chair in Accounting. “Our vision is to be the preeminent Accounting program in the nation, and the IIA Center of Excellence recognition is an important step toward fulfilling that vision.”

Mays leaders and faculty decided to seek the highest recognition because of the growing interest in internal audit among both students and employers. “We’d seen a lot of growth in the number of students in our program,” said Tara Blasor, co-director of Mays Internal Audit Program and assistant department head. “More and more companies are looking to engage with and hire our students, so we felt it was a good time to apply to be recognized by the IIA as top tier, which is the Center of Excellence.”

Stringent Accreditation

The IIA’s tiered accreditation process incorporates a specific framework of standards. Overall, 56 universities in 15 nations have completed the necessary qualifications to be recognized at some level as an IIA-accredited Internal Audit Education Program.

The IIA’s highest tier is Center of Excellence, which builds on the requirements for the Foundation and Comprehensive levels. Currently, 12 higher education institutions internationally—seven of which are in the United States—have received this recognition. Texas A&M joins two other Texas schools—the University of Houston and the University of Texas at Dallas—and one Southeastern Conference School—Louisiana State University—in holding this distinction.

Building on Quality

The IIA accreditation process uses a scaffolded approach that is designed to continually increase an academic program’s level of excellence as it progresses through the tiers. This approach focuses on ensuring that the institution is providing a strong educational foundation for students who want to enter an internal audit career.

Being named a center extends Mays’ long commitment to ensuring that Aggies are well-prepared to make an immediate impact in their career. “The program being recognized as a center is a commendable step in its future – especially for those students who complete the certificate,” said Bethany Miller ’20, a recent graduate of the program who is an internal audit associate with KPMG. “The program’s level of excellence encourages students to understand the critical thinking, diversity, flexibility, and rigor that someone can bring to the table—and adds value to our teams and our clients. It is attractive to recruiting and exemplifies the unique skillset that students will have upon graduation.”

Internal Audit Advisory Board meeting

To reach and maintain IIA’s top level of accreditation, Mays has committed to numerous on-going efforts. These include:

  • The Internal Audit Program offers a 15-credit-hour Certificate in Internal Auditing, which is awarded by Texas A&M’s Office of Registrar.
  • Every faculty member who teaches the Internal Auditing course (ACCT 408/608) in the Internal Audit program is a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), which ensures that Mays’ instructional program is firmly grounded in practice.
  • Mays is committed to growing the program’s enrollment. With over 120 students currently enrolled, program leaders estimate that 35-40 students will graduate annually in the future.
  • The program provides exceptional support for students. A formal mentoring program links students with internal auditor professionals. Additionally, internships give students an opportunity to work in the field prior to graduation.
  • The program has an active Internal Audit Program – Student Association (IAPSA), which is affiliated with the Brazos Valley IIA chapter. The student organization offers leadership opportunities, professional networking, community service, and a social outlet for like-minded students who are interested in an internal audit career.
  • The Internal Audit Program has an active Internal Audit Advisory Board, which started in 2016. Representatives from more than 25 organizations and several Texas IIA Chapters are engaged in the advisory board and provide support through strategic direction, scholarship funding, internships, and full-time employment recruitment of graduates.

Mays Internal Audit Program’s rapid growth can be tied to Blasor’s hiring in 2012. “Since then, the program has seen incredible growth, and was further strengthened when Mike Head joined in 2016, bringing a career of experience as an Internal Audit leader to the table,” said Protiviti Managing Director Jordan Reed ’95, who has been recruiting at Texas A&M since 1996 and serves as a member of the program’s advisory board. “The Advisory Board has provided guidance and support over the past six years, and I could not be more proud to follow the program’s progression from a Foundation Program to a Center of Excellence in a fairly short time span.”

Continued Forward Movement

As the program grows, Mays’ leaders are committed to maintaining a strong student-centered focus—which Aggies appreciate. “The classes that we take in the program are valuable to our education,” said Ellyse Hahn ’22, an accounting major who is completing the Management Information Systems track in Mays Professional Program in Accounting (PPA). “When I went on my internship, I had a leg up from the interns from other schools due to my education here.”

Elise Hahn ’22, pictured (right)

Aggies also appreciate the opportunity to step into student leadership roles that help them hone their skills. “When I first joined IAPSA, I never dreamed that I would become the president,” said Hahn. “Now, it’s exciting talking to freshmen and sophomores that are joining and telling them about the opportunities that they can have here. If a student comes in and is driven to succeed, they will get to make a difference in the Internal Audit Program.”

Ultimately, Mays is committed to doing its part in preparing more graduates for this growing career field. “There is a high demand for students to go into the internal audit career. Additionally, there is far more demand than qualified students available,” said Head, who is a Mays executive assistant professor. “Mays’ Internal Audit Program gives another avenue where businesses can find students who have been exposed to this specific career and curriculum and are positioned to be successful in these risk-based services. This accreditation is telling potential employers that Mays is a source of very high-quality students because it’s been recognized as a Center of Excellence.”

 

 

Categories: Accounting, Mays Business

Sunjay Letchuman ’22, a senior at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School, is the lead author on the article, “Revise the IRS’s Nonprofit Hospital Community Benefit Reporting Standard,” published April 15, 2022 in Health Affairs Forefront, a preeminent journal for healthcare policy.

Letchuman co-authored this article with his mentor, Dr. Leonard L. Berry, Mays Business School’s University Distinguished Professor of Marketing, along with Dr. Michael K. Hole, executive director of The Impact Factory and assistant professor at The University of Texas, and Dr. Ge Bai, professor of accounting at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School.

Letchuman now has had four published articles and a fifth under review while an undergraduate student at Texas A&M. “It is unusual for an undergrad to publish an article regardless of where he or she is placed in the byline. To be the lead author for an article in which the other authors are MDs or Ph.Ds. means that Sunjay earned the placement by leading the way throughout,” Berry said. “Dr. Hole, Dr. Bai, and I have plenty of experience researching and writing articles and we pitched in during the cycle of multiple drafts, but Sunjay earned the lead author spot on his own merits.”

The article’s publication in Forefront offers the co-authors an important opportunity to inform and influence healthcare policymakers and industry leaders.  “Appearing in the leading health policy journal, this article may actually lead to revision of the Community Benefit Standard, which, in turn, will enhance nonprofit hospitals’ involvement and investment in improving community health,” Berry said.

This paper analyzed the Community Benefit Standard, which is used by the Internal Revenue Service to determine whether a hospital qualifies as a nonprofit. “Over half of U.S. hospitals are organized as nonprofits, meaning they do not pay taxes in exchange for benefiting community health,” Letchuman said. “Unfortunately, however, most nonprofit hospitals do not provide more community benefit than their for-profit counterparts. A recent study showed that, for every $100 of total expenses, nonprofit hospitals spend just $2.30 on charity care (a key component of community benefit)—substantially less than the $3.80 of every $100 spent by for-profit hospitals.”

The co-authors suggest changes to the Community Benefit Standard in order to make nonprofit hospitals more accountable for enhancing the community’s health and welfare.  “The federal, state, and local tax exemptions that nonprofit hospitals receive amount to over $25 billion annually. Local property tax dollars that nonprofit hospitals would have paid could have been used to build parks, improve schools, fix roads, and offer other services that bolster public health,” Letchuman said. “Our article describes which of the Community Benefit Standard’s 10 current standards should be kept, modified, or removed, and we include 3 new standards to add. Policymakers can use our article as a guide to strengthen current policy to ensure nonprofit hospitals fulfill their stated mission of promoting the health and well-being of the communities they serve.”

The article also reinforces the role that nonprofit hospitals can play in community wellbeing. “One of the biggest takeaways from this article is that nonprofit hospitals should focus on promoting and achieving community health equity, which means everyone has a fair opportunity to be as healthy as possible. This requires the dismantling of barriers to good health, including poverty, discrimination, and their consequences, such as access to stable housing and education,” Letchuman said. “As anchors in their communities, nonprofit hospitals can and should dedicate at least some of their surplus funds to address the social determinants of health, and they should make the value of their tax exemptions transparent to allow the public to evaluate the adequacy of community benefits provided.”

These publishing opportunities give Letchuman, who will enroll in the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in the fall and plans to devote a part of his career to influencing healthcare policy, the chance to work with and learn from some of the world’s leading researchers. “I am humbled and constantly inspired by the researchers I get to work with,” the Mays student said. “These professors and researchers are doing the work I want to do one day—making high-quality healthcare more accessible to every American. It’s a privilege for me to learn from and work with my role models.”

His co-authors have been equally impressed with the Aggie’s work. “I am certain Sunjay will change the world for good, and I’m grateful I’ve had the chance to watch his rocket-ship career take off,” Hole said. “How fun, too, collaborating across “rival” institutions; we are certainly stronger together.”

 

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Explore more on Sunjay:

Categories: Business Honors, Health Care, Mays Business, News, Research, Texas A&M

Dr. Murray Barrick is the 2022 recipient of Mays Business School’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Research and Scholarship. The award will be presented April 20, 2022 during a special presentation.

The honor, which is one of Mays’ most prestigious awards, recognizes a faculty member who has made a substantial contribution to academic and industry knowledge. “Dr. Barrick is a prolific scholar who is recognized as one of the world’s leading experts with respect to employee selection processes used in organizations. His research has had a significant influence on helping companies use more evidence-based selection processes,” said Mays Interim Dean R. Duane Ireland. “Dr. Barrick is also an excellent mentor for his students. There is a large group of masters and doctoral students who can attest to the value of the guidance and counsel they received from him.”

Barrick considers this honor to be one of the highlights of his career. “Being nominated for this award is amazing. While I’ve won two lifetime achievement awards in two academic societies, this is the most meaningful to me,” said the Department of Management faculty member, who will be retiring at the end of the 2022 Spring semester. “It’s a great way to reflect back on what I’ve accomplished throughout my career and what it’s meant.”

Barrick holds a bachelor’s degree in business management and psychology from the University of Northern Iowa. He enrolled at the University of Akron, earning both his master’s and doctoral degrees in industrial/organizational psychology.

His faculty career started at the University of Iowa, where he had a decade-long appointment before joining Michigan State University’s Broad Graduate School of Management for two years. Barrick returned to the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business as the Stanley M. Howe Professor of Leadership in 2001.

In 2006, Barrick was recruited to Mays Business School and named the Paul M. and Rosalie Robertson Chair in Business. Within the first two years, he found himself becoming more impressed with Mays’ academic quality and influence. “I was astonished at the number of scholars in the field who had started their careers at Texas A&M and earned their PhDs here or had started as assistant professors here,” he said. “We have a long history of excellent selection. It just reinforced that I hadn’t made a mistake.”

In 2007, he was named head of the Department of Management and served in that role until 2011. “The Department of Management has a long history of excellent scholarship and has been a vibrant learning community for years,” he said. “We have had among the most influential scholars in the field working here.”

The department continued to flourish through Barrick’s leadership. Four months after his term as department head ended, Texas A&M leaders evaluated the university’s academic performance.  That analysis found that the Department of Management was the university’s top-ranked department (out of 93) and was in the top 5 for research productivity of management faculty based on a comparison of peer and aspirant universities.

Barrick’s substantial body of work continues to contribute to the department’s prestige. His teaching and research have focused on the strategic utilization of human resources, the development of effective selection systems, the impact of behavior and personality on job performance, motivation to effectively manage work, and executive teams. Barrick’s work—which, according to Google Scholar, has been cited over 49,000 times as of March 2022–has been published in the Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Journal of Applied Psychology, Personnel Psychology, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, and other journals or as chapters in Handbooks.

In 2011, Barrick assumed the role of director and then executive director of the Center for Human Resource Management (CHRM). In those roles, he helped the center expand its well-respected offerings and services through hiring exceptional staff members. This set the stage for CHRM to better serve its clients, many of which are Fortune 100 companies and five of which are Fortune 10 companies.

Barrick also has offered significant contributions to the field. He served on the Editorial Boards of the Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Applied Psychology and Personnel Psychology. Additionally, he was Chair of the HR Division for the Academy of Management Program, Volume Editor for “Personality and Work: Reconsidering the role of personality in organizations,” and Associate Editor of Personnel Psychology.

The current James R. Whatley Chair also has received numerous honors, including the 1997 Fellow of the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychologists in the American Psychological Association, the 2001 Owens Scholarly Achievement Award, the 2009 Distinguished Scientific Contributions Award from the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP), and the 2010 Fellow of the Academy of Management.

In 2010, Barrick was named a Texas A&M University Distinguished Professor. This honor recognizes his seminal contribution to and global authority in the field of management as well as his record of teaching and mentoring students.

As the sixth recipient of the Mays Lifetime Achievement Award, Barrick joins a distinguished and elite group of faculty members that includes Ireland, Dr. Leonard Barry, Dr. Ricky Griffin, Dr. Michael A. Hitt, and Dr. Rajan Varadarajan. “The level of scholarship that they have been able to achieve underscores the value of this award. It is only given for outstanding scholarship,” he said. “What also impresses me is the level of service prior recipients have exhibited, including multiple stints as Department Heads, Associate Deans, and service as Interim Deans multiple times. I’m not sure that I live up to that, but receiving this award is quite impactful.”

Categories: Mays Business, Research

Twenty Aggie-led startups competed in the only university-wide business plan pitch competition.

By Lara Robertson, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship at Texas A&M University

COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS March 8, 2022 – The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship hosted its fifth annual Aggie PITCH at the Doug Pitcock ’49 Texas A&M Hotel and Conference Center Monday evening. Now open to both current and former students, Aggie PITCH is the only university-wide business plan pitch competition at Texas A&M and seeks to identify the best Aggie business pitches from across industries and sectors.

For the 2022 event, a total of 20 startups were selected as finalists to compete for the coveted McFerrin Cup and a share of more than $35,000 in prize money. Split into three divisions —Full Pitch for both current and former students and Elevator Pitch open to both — the competition gives startup founders the opportunity to pitch their business in a fast-paced, high-energy format to a panel of anonymous judges and an audience of students, professionals, mentors, possible investors and fellow Aggie entrepreneurs.

In the Full Pitch divisions, 10 teams were each given 10 minutes for their pitch. In contrast, the Elevator Pitch competitors were only given a 1-minute allotment for their pitch. Although the anonymous panel of judges was tasked with ranking and selecting the winners of the Full Pitch division, audience members were invited to take part and cast their vote to select for the winners of the Elevator Pitch division.

Finalists’ ventures at this year’s Aggie PITCH represent a variety of industries including agriculture, information technology, consumer products and energy technology, among others, and are now automatically admitted into an exclusive group of startup founders who are eligible to represent Texas A&M University at national and global entrepreneurial competitions.

Flux Works LLC took home first place in the Full Pitch division for current students and was awarded $7,500. Bryton Praslicka ’24, startup lead, reacted with, “Winning to us means that people are excited about our technology. People believe in our technology. And winning this demonstrates that, and that’s really incredible.” Flux Works LLC, a developer and manufacturer of magnetic gears, has now met their fundraising goal and plans to use the prize money to buy back their intellectual property from Texas A&M and move into product development.

Taking home top honors and also $7,500 in the Full Pitch division for former students was Wide Afternoon, LLC (Ovie). Ovie aims to solve the problem of food waste in homes with a digital smart tracking system and plans to use their winnings to purchase prototype samples to get their product into user homes for testing. “Winning Aggie PITCH is so amazing because it validates our idea, where we’re at. And to have our peers and industry professionals that we respect acknowledge that our company is on to something, and believe in us, it means the world. It’s fuel,” stated Ovie lead Stacie Thompson ’02.

“Aggie PITCH continues to be a highlight of our year at McFerrin. The energy in the room is palpable, from both the pitch teams and the audience members getting to experience an event like this,” stated Blake Petty ’98, executive director of the McFerrin Center. “In only our fifth year of Aggie PITCH, we’ve continued to see growth in both the quantity and quality of pitch competitors. Seeing entrepreneurs, specifically Aggie entrepreneurs, pitch their startup businesses to such a diverse, engaging crowd is something I’ll never grow tired of.”

2022 Aggie PITCH Winners

Full Pitch Division | Current Students
1st Place ($7,500): Flux Works LLC [Bryton Praslicka ’24, Daniel Zamarron ‘22]
2nd Place ($5,000): Teale [Narendra Vishnumolakala ’22, Connor Ust ’22]
3rd Place ($3,500): Flow-Pax [Haley Clark ‘23]

Full Pitch Division | Former Students
1st Place ($7,500): Wide Afternoon, LLC (Ovie) [Stacie Thompson ‘02]
2nd Place ($5,000): ClaraTech [Clara Orlean ‘20]
3rd Place ($3,500): SageSpectra [Madi Heck ’21, Mark Golla ‘22]

Elevator Pitch Division
1st Place ($1,500): South Texas Security Gates [Carson Neal ‘22]
2nd Place ($1,000): Imperium [Donald Bowen ‘25]
3rd Place ($750): Unravl Hair [Zanbria Asante ‘18]

A list of past Aggie PITCH winners can be found at aggiepitch.com.

About McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship

The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship serves as the hub for entrepreneurship at Texas A&M University. The McFerrin Center’s goal is to enhance entrepreneurial education by providing training, networking and assistance to enterprising students, faculty and former students.

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

The McFerrin Center defines entrepreneurship as an attitude that acts upon opportunity. In this spirit, the McFerrin Center strives to deliver programs and events that are inspiring, engaging, motivating and life-changing. This philosophy has resulted in the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship offering more than 30 unique programs each year that positively impact the lives of thousands of students, veterans and other professionals seeking to blaze their own trail as an entrepreneur.

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Media Contact: Lara Robertson, communications manager, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, 979- 845-1724, lrobertson@tamu.edu

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

11 faculty members at Mays Business School rank in the top 2% of scholars worldwide. A broad-scale effort analyzing citations of almost 7 million scholars was conducted by Stanford University and Elsevier BV, resulting in a publicly available standardized database containing the top 2% of cited scientists in the world.

We are so fortunate to have such a vibrant group of faculty at Mays Business School who are invested in providing lasting impact at the college and beyond. They include Michael A. Hitt, Leonard L. Berry, R. Duane Ireland, Venkatesh Shankar, David A. Griffith, Rajan Varadarajan, Albert Cannella, Lorraine Eden, Murray R. Barrick, Xenophon Koufteros, and Chelliah Sriskandarajah.

2021 Top 2% Researchers worldwide include Mays faculty members

Categories: Faculty, Featured Stories, Mays Business, News, Rankings, Research, Texas A&M

According to Fortune magazine, Mays Business School at Texas A&M University has the top online business analytics program in the country. Factors highlighting the success of the MS Analytics program include selectivity, demand, and brand, per Fortune’s methodology.

One component to the ranking outcome emphasizes the MS Analytics program enrolling its most recent class with an average of over 12 years of full-time work experience and an average incoming undergraduate GPA of 3.42. With a mix of computer science, business acumen, business math, and statistics, this online/face-to-face, flexible format degree allows students to select from many diverse paths in data science while incorporating business and leadership skills.

“We are so pleased to see our program recognized at the national level,” said Jerry Strawser, associate dean for graduate programs. “This ranking reflects the outstanding efforts of our program leadership – Myra Gonzales and Javier Aldape – as well as the faculty and staff who create a valuable learning experience for our students.”

MS Analytics program director Myra Gonzalez shared, “As a young, quickly-growing industry, we are committed to the mission of Mays Business School: to be a vibrant learning organization that creates impactful knowledge and develops transformational leaders. We designed our program to be an inclusive learning environment, while also focusing on an excellent customer experience (CX) through our cohort model. Those efforts, in addition to our quality faculty and curriculum, have enabled a strong graduation rate launching excellent data leaders into the marketplace.”

With over 300+ data science/analytics programs in the nation, students have many options. Texas A&M’s MS Analytics offers a formal education led by prestigious faculty with terminal degrees or strong ties to industry. Each year, the program enrolls 65 students from all backgrounds. Faculty and students create synergy in the program. “Our faculty members’ capability, paired with our students’ persistence and thirst for excellence, enable the quality and the success of the MS Analytics program,” added Gonzalez.

“In today’s challenging and rapidly changing global markets, firms gain significant benefits by using sophisticated tools and techniques to analyze, interpret, and use data in competitively relevant ways,” shared interim dean, R. Duane Ireland. “Our MS Analytics program presents learners with opportunities to develop skills through which they can help their firms succeed by working with data effectively. We are thrilled for our MS Analytics program to receive Fortune’s number 1 ranking! Congratulations to our outstanding students and to our faculty and staff who collaborate with them.”

Texas A&M’s MS Analytics program is currently accepting applications for the fall 2022 cohort. Visit the MS Analytics site for an overview. To request more information, contact Javier Aldape, Program Manager at 979-845-2149 or jaldape@mays.tamu.edu.

Categories: Analytics, Featured Stories, Mays Business, News, Programs, Rankings, Texas A&M

By Amy Dahmann, Texas A&M University Mays Business School

COLLEGE STATION, Jan. 14, 2022 – The Mays Business School Center for Executive Development (CED) at Texas A&M University was recently awarded Full Membership status in UNICON — The International University Consortium for Executive Education. UNICON’s members comprise the most relevant, successful, and sought-after learning partners for leaders and organizations who want to improve performance. The consortium is a vital resource for executive education providers worldwide.

The Mays Business School CED at Texas A&M University was awarded Full Membership status during the November UNICON board call. Having demonstrated their commitment and engagement, the board approved Full Membership status for four Associate members. The EDHEC Business School, the Irish Management Institute (IMI), and The Carey Executive Education program at John Hopkins University’s Carey Business School were also awarded Full Membership status.

“We are honored to be awarded Full Membership status in UNICON and join their global network of executive education colleagues,” said Dr. Ben Welch, Assistant Dean for Executive Education for the Mays Business School CED. “The past two years have shown us that executive education must continue to evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of organizations, their leaders, and their people. Being part of UNICON allows us to both learn from and share with our peers. Together, we’ll shape the future of our industry,” Welch said.

For more information, go to www.uniconexed.org.

A leading global consortium of business‐school‐based executive education organizations, UNICON is committed to improving and advancing the Executive Education industry. Founded in 1972, UNICON is comprised of more than 100 of the world’s top university-based executive education providers. UNICON’s primary activities include conferences, research, benchmarking, sharing of best practices, staff development, recruitment/job postings, information‐sharing, and extensive networking among members, all centered around the business and practice of executive education.

The Center for Executive Development (CED) at Mays Business School provides fully custom executive education programs for companies that aim to cultivate ethical leaders. It is the CED’s mission to educate and empower transformational leaders for a global society.

Categories: Center for Executive Development, Mays Business, Programs, Texas A&M

On November 12th, the theme “Reinvent Your Narrative; Leading with Strength and Resilience” echoed throughout The Zone Club at Kyle Field. Mays Business School’s Women’s Leadership Initiative Conference program offered a wealth of inspirational ideas and a chance for women leaders to network, while several sessions touched their hearts with stories of overcoming great life challenges. The conference was made possible thanks to the financial support of corporate sponsors BP, PwC, Reynolds & Reynolds Sales Leadership Institute, EY, Randstad, and Lockheed Martin.

Approximately 350 women professionals and Texas A&M University students filled the room, while another 150 attended virtually. “If I’m being honest, it was so cool to be at Kyle Field, on Ring Day and celebrating women,” said Morgan Young ’02, vice president at Lockton Dunning Benefits in Plano, TX. “To know that each and every person there has a crazy busy life, yet they took the whole day to invest in themselves and grow personally and professionally – it made me feel so proud to be a part of a university that gave us this opportunity. And the chocolate cake was insanely good!”

The focus and energy of the conference resonated with everyone in the audience—including those who attended this conference in the past. “Previous years’ conferences were amazing in their own right but were more or less good reminders for me,” said Jaime Ledford ’06, a senior business program manager for Amegy Bank in Houston, TX. “I appreciated the applicable learning this year, specifically the ‘Leading with Strengths’ where we were able to see how strengths have a strong side and a shadow side.”

Woman smiling at a table surrounded by other women

Women enjoyed being back together in person. Review the full #MaysWLI ’21 photo album.

The first-time attendees also applauded the conference’s presentations. “The quality of speakers stood out to me; they showed humility, leadership, strength, courage, and transparency,” said Tracy Foster ’96, associate agency director and chief financial officer at the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service in College Station, TX. “In this day and age, it’s so refreshing to see women leaders who can speak about their challenges and obstacles with a focus on reaching a hand to lift other women leaders in growth personally and professionally.”

Attendees learned new ideas and received the motivation to put them into action. They also left with plans to attend the 2022 conference, which is scheduled for Friday, October 14, 2022 with Chevron as the title sponsor. “I’ve already gone back and bragged to the women leaders in my office and encouraged them to come next year,” Young said. “The thoughtfulness that went into planning the day, the order of the speakers and variety of information was terrific.”

Rewriting Life’s Narrative

The conference focused on helping women become proactive in their lives through questioning society’s social constructs. “We can go through life accepting constructs just as they are presented to us, but there is a great deal to be gained from examining their meaning and the manner which they are applied,” Texas A&M’s Interim Vice President and Associate Vice President for Diversity Annie McGowan told the audience. “Cues that suggest marginality or a lack of a critical mass in a particular setting can impact the way that we feel about being in that space.”

The day’s program focused on learning how to view these cues and then interrupt the impact on lives. “The better equipped we are to process the impact of these cues on our own narrative and those of others, the more we can dedicate our important resources to blazing a trail into the domains of our choices,” McGowan said.

Strong, Resilient Leadership

The conference didn’t shy away from addressing the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, which created significant stress for women in trying to learn to combine work and home. BP Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Dawn Constantin shared her journey to find balance, even as she struggled with depression caused by the pandemic as well as BP’s reorganization. She found that she had to learn how to come from a place of strength by being true to herself. “To me, that means showing up and being your genuine, authentic, real self, no matter what situation you’re in,” she said. “To be yourself, you have to know yourself and spend time with yourself. What gets you excited? What gets you out of bed in the morning?”

This analysis allows women to determine how they want to show up in every area of life and then choose aligned behaviors. “The more authentic you are and the more genuine you are in everything you do, the more engaging you are,” she said. “People want to listen to you and be with you. People want to work with you—and that’s powerful. That’s walking into the room with strength.”

Constantin also pointed to the importance of resilience. “Everyone has goals, and you have to work for them,” she said. “You have to grit your teeth, put in the hours, ask the questions, be curious, get smarter.”

Resilience also is important in relation to working with other people. Constantin described how she used her knowledge of sports to help build connections with male colleagues. “You have to learn to relate to people, because the people you work with will help you get to where you want to be,” she said. “You have to be able to find that connection point, build that trust, and build that kind of relationship.”

She stressed self-care’s role in creating resilience. “Pay attention to you. Nobody can give 150% seven days a week, 365 days a year. You will drop, so take a break. Pay attention to your physical and mental health,” she said. “This became such an important issue, living through the pandemic.”

Reinventing one’s narrative is critical. “Nobody is perfect,” Constantin said. “It’s really important to seek advice and get feedback because nobody has this all figured out. Everyone makes mistakes; everyone has distractions along the way.”

She encouraged listeners to seek a mentor, coach, pastor, leader, teacher, or friend. “It’s really important to seek criticism and constructive feedback from people you trust,” she said. “It will make you better, so whatever rooms we show up in or want to influence, we can be better over time.”

Finding Strengths

Two sessions by Dr. Sarah Jaks, associate director of Mays Full-Time MBA Program, helped the audience identify their strengths and then begin to figure out how to utilize them. She encouraged the audience to identify their strengths through determining what they enjoy doing, when they felt their best, and the words that describe their strengths. “Shift your story and tell the story that you want to tell,” she said.

Using the Strength Finders analysis as a basis, Jaks pointed out that every person has all 34 strengths, but some strengths are more prevalent. She encouraged the audience to focus on their top strengths, as opposed to trying to hone what they consider “weaknesses.” Combining strengths also can be advantageous because together they cause an amplifier effect.

Teams also benefit from understanding members’ strengths. Jaks pointed out that this approach allows teams to use everyone’s strengths, understand different perspectives, and operate effectively as a team.

Elevating Communities

The conference also addressed the importance of helping women who have faced significant life challenges. Mays Interim Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs Shannon Deer and Quantum Circles Consulting Owner Cheryl Miller described “women overcomers” who have rewritten their narratives from an earlier life chapter spent in poverty, addiction, incarceration, and/or engagement in the sex trade. “These were stories that at one time were about darkness and destruction that become stories about hope and new life,” Miller said. “We have found that women who have overcome challenging pasts become some of the most productive and loyal employees.”

Citing several examples—including Miller’s own story of overcoming addiction and poverty to raise premature twins—the pair said it’s important to realize that society often unfairly puts middle-class expectations on these women. Additionally, this expectation leads to the creation of assumptions that these women are not able to or willing to do the work to succeed.

Inviting the audience to think back to their early days in leadership, the speakers asked them to consider how they felt—and how those feelings can help turn around the lives of women overcomers. “We advocate for immediate leadership opportunities for women overcomers,” Deer said. “That’s early opportunities to lead, whether that’s in big or small ways.”

Additionally, the co-authors of “Business Doing Good: Engaging Women and Elevating Communities” noted that many of the skills that women learn when they are struggling are useful and valuable skills in business. For example, previous attributes such as being bossy, pushy, and manipulative can be reframed and then used in productive ways.

This session resonated with many attendees—but perhaps none more than Stephanie Davis ’00, the director of educational development of the non-profit, Together for Haiti, which seeks to encourage, equip and empower vulnerable women. “One of the most powerful points the speakers made is that these vulnerable women have been told they have character flaws, but those flaws are just strengths that haven’t been harnessed for good yet,” the resident of Salado, TX said.

Finding Resilience

The importance of personal resilience also is critical in the face of tragedy. Tara Storch shared her journey after her teenage daughter, Taylor, died in a skiing accident. The family decided to donate Taylor’s organs, which resulted in saving five lives.

Storch described her quest after her daughter’s death. “I had a longing to hear her heartbeat again,” she told the audience.” She did just that, meeting the nurse who benefitted from Taylor’s heart as television cameras captured the moment.

Storch and her husband used this tragedy to make a difference for society through creating Taylor’s Gift Foundation, which emotionally supports organ donor families and shares the importance of outliving yourself through organ donation. “We had to make the best out of the worst situation, so we decided to focus on the good,” Storch said. “The good was that Taylor saved lives and so we decided to create something to honor her legacy and keep her spirit alive. Our sweet girl is still impacting lives to this day.”

Attendees were moved by Storch’s ability to pick herself up and move forward in such a meaningful way after the death of a child. “Tara took one of the most awful situations a mom/parent can experience and turned it into a battle cry of how to outlive yourself,” Young said.

Avoiding the Red Zone

The day’s final session encouraged the audience to consider how they lead when facing pressure and triggers that mark the red zone. “We are not on our firm footing when we are in fight or flight,” said co-presenter Cindy Billington, interim director of Mays Graduate Career Management Center. “It means something has caused us to freeze, but freeze in a way so that our brain, our head, our heart, and our soul are not talking to one another.”

For women to keep their feet planted so they can be at their best requires incorporating their head and their heart, which creates soulful leadership. This type of leadership involves strategic thinking as well as character.

Billington also tied soulful leadership to self-care, noting that regularly taking specific actions—whether meditation, laughter, running, aromatherapy or chocolate–boosts dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins in the brain. “These help you access your soul, and your soul is what is going to bring you back into perspective, so the fight or flight comes back into center,” she said.

Soulful leadership also requires changing one’s internal dialogue. “Reinventing your narrative really starts with what you tell yourself,” Mays Director of Diversity Nancy Hutchins said. “Seventy-seven percent of our thoughts are negative. It’s important to think about the things you say to yourself on a daily basis and focus more on positive self-talk. Your thoughts and words influence your actions and decisions.”

Participants left with a better understanding of how to proactively navigate their careers and their lives—and how to empower others to do the same to help advance the world’s prosperity. “You need to be able to identify and use your strengths. What is the use of a strength if you don’t use it?” one participant said. “Use it for yourself and use it for others—and remind others to use it.”

Next Steps

 

Categories: Diversity and Inclusion, Featured Stories, Former Students, Mays Business, News, Students, Texas A&M, Women's Leadership Initiative

Berrys Donate $1MM

Dr. Leonard L. Berry and The Honorable Nancy Berry have established the Dr. Leonard L. Berry Chair in Services Marketing at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School through a $1 million gift to the Texas A&M Foundation. This endowed faculty chair will enhance Mays’ Department of Marketing’s efforts to attract and retain a leading senior faculty member who can help the school move forward to reach its vision to advance the world’s prosperity by creating a better future though improved service.

Creating the endowed chair is a milestone in Dr. Berry’s nearly 40-year tenure at Texas A&M. “I have loved being a faculty member at Texas A&M. It’s an outstanding university and I’ve had a wonderful career here,” he said. “I was raised to always give back and this is a way that I wanted to give back to my university, to my department, to my colleagues and to tangibly say thank you for the opportunity that I’ve had to build a career here at Mays Business School.”

The Berry’s said their decision to create the chair was made during a short conversation that spanned only a few minutes. “When you live in a place, you want it to be the best place possible. My philosophy is if I want it to be better, I need to work to make it better,” said Nancy Berry, who noted that service is an integral part of the couple’s lives. “Len’s research is focused on what services can do to help humanity and improve the quality of life. That’s what I’ve tried to do as well.”

The Berry’s’ gift is the first Mays endowed chair established by a current Mays faculty member. “We have many Mays faculty and staff who support our school by gifting some of their treasured resources to us. The Berry gift is unique, though, in that it is the first endowed chair established by a faculty member and in this instance, his spouse,” said Mays Interim Dean R. Duane Ireland. “Faculty and staff committing their resources in any form, but perhaps especially in the form of an endowed position, demonstrates to all who are committed to Mays’ success that those of us working within Mays Business School are willing to join others to provide gifts that support our work in terms of research, teaching, and service.”

The creation of the endowed chair extends Dr. Berry’s marketing legacy. “This endowed position recognizes and honors the long-term contributions of Dr. Berry to the field of services marketing,” said Dr. Manjit Yadav, head of Mays’ Department of Marketing. “His groundbreaking work in the area of service quality has impacted scholarship and practice worldwide. As the service-based economy continues to expand in the 21st century, this endowed position will ensure that the Department of Marketing at Mays Business School continues to be an academic leader in the area of services marketing.”

A Services Marketing Pioneer

Dr. Berry was recruited from the University of Virginia in 1982 to serve as the founding director of Mays’ Center for Retailing Studies. When he joined Mays, services marketing and service quality improvement had yet to develop as areas of research. At that time, marketing faculty did not recognize the different challenges in marketing a tangible product, such as an automobile or a food product, versus an intangible service, such as transportation, healthcare, and telecommunications. The fields of services marketing and service quality did not exist. Berry’s work, along with two Mays marketing colleagues, A. Parasuraman and Valarie Zeithaml, in concert with a small group of other researchers around the world, began to change this perspective.

A development leave in 2001-2002 at the prestigious Mayo Clinic proved to be a watershed moment in Dr. Berry’s career. Afterwards, the respected professor decided to shift his focus to pioneer the study of service quality improvement in healthcare. His healthcare research has been published in numerous prestigious medical journals, including Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Annals of Internal Medicine, Journal of Clinical Oncology, and Journal of Oncology Practice He also serves as a Senior Fellow of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, where he studies service improvement in cancer care for patients and their families.

Dr. Berry continues to have a very productive research career. He currently is the most cited Texas A&M University faculty member on Google Scholar, with 231,414 citations as of December 7, 2021. He also has co-authored 10 books, including the best-selling book, “Management Lessons from Mayo Clinic.”

Over the years, both Texas A&M and Mays have recognized Dr. Berry for his professional contributions. He holds the M.B. Zale Chair in Retailing and Marketing Leadership and has been named a University Distinguished Professor of Marketing, a Regents Professor, and a Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence.

Dr. Berry also has received significant external accolades from the American Marketing Association (AMA) and other entities during his career, including being the second individual ever to receive each of the “Big 4 Marketing Awards”: The Sheth Foundation Medal in 2018, the AMA William L. Wilkie “Marketing for a Better World” Award in 2018, the AMA Paul D. Converse Award in 2008, and the AMA/McGraw-Hill/Irwin Distinguished Marketing Educator Award in 2007.

Dr. Berry’s work has not only influenced scholars, students, and the industry, but also his wife in her current work as a Brazos County Commissioner and member of numerous Brazos Valley non-profit boards, as well as in her previous role as Mayor of the City of College Station. “I’ve read most of Len’s work and it’s been significant and meaningful,” she said. “His contribution is irrefutable.”

The endowed chair will help Mays continue Dr. Berry’s groundbreaking work in the field of services marketing. “I want there always to be a senior scholar in the marketing department that specializes in services marketing,” Dr. Berry said. “In a sense, I am making the gift to help create a succession plan for myself because I won’t be here forever. I want our work and our reputation in services to continue.”

>>> Add your response to the announcement on LinkedIn!

Categories: Departments, Donors Corner, Faculty, Health Care, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Selfless service, Spotlights, Texas A&M