@Mays Magazine 2014 Issue
Mays Business School, June 11th, 2014
Categories: Mays Business
Mays Business School, June 11th, 2014
Mays Business School, March 16th, 2014
Employees who fear their jobs are at risk are more likely to stay engaged with their work colleagues than those who feel more secure, according to research from a team led by Mays Business School Management Professor Wendy Boswell.
The fallout from working virtually around the clock varies, from stress to burnout to work interfering with the home life.
In a recent study, Boswell and her colleagues on the project, Julie Olson-Buchanan of California State University, Fresno, and Brad Harris of University of Illinois (a former PhD student at Mays), focused on the role of the context in shaping how employees manage their work and family boundaries. Boswell described the cycle in a simple illustration: Job insecurity leads to lower use of family support program and more willingness to integrate work into an employee’s personal life (i.e., blur boundaries). These behaviors in turn lead to higher burnout as well as more work-family conflict.
The study has been accepted for publication by the journal Personnel Psychology.
“Drawing on an adaptation perspective, we expect employees feeling greater job insecurity to engage in adaptive work behaviors, including less use of work-nonwork support programs and greater willingness to let work permeate into one’s personal life, which in turn will associate with greater work-nonwork conflict and emotional exhaustion,” Boswell explains.
Data were collected from employees within a large energy company at two points in time. Results support the model, offering important insight on employee behavioral responses to job insecurity and key mechanisms through which insecurity may foster diminished employee well-being. It also offers firms with important practical insight on how, when faced with job insecurity, employees may engage in behaviors that are ultimately detrimental to their well-being and long-term effectiveness. Boswell emphasizes: “It is during such unstable and stressful times when employees need to utilize organizational support resources the most and strike a balance among their multiple work and personal demands; yet our results suggest that employees may be hesitant to do so, likely out of fear of further risk to their job and a desire to be seen as a valuable – perhaps even indispensable – contributor.”
Boswell’s latest study is related to earlier research that focused directly on the role of communication technology in blurring the boundaries between work and family. Published in January 2012 in Journal of Vocational Behavior, “Communication technology: Pros and cons of constant connection to work” was one of the first studies to specifically examine the predictors and consequences of using communication technologies (e.g., email, cell phones) for work purposes “after hours.” The findings revealed how employees who strongly identified with the job and/or were ambitious were particularly likely to stay connected after hours and that doing so associated with greater work-nonwork conflict.
Boswell’s research targets managers and organizations by examining how to best manage and develop policies around the work-nonwork interface, although the topics of work-family boundaries, burnout and work-family balance are definitely interesting to individuals.
She says her interest in work-family issues began when she started a family a decade ago. “I know first-hand the challenges of balancing demands, but I also know there are tradeoffs and choices we all must make. Understanding how people make these choices, how they can be more effective in balancing demands, and the various outcomes (personally and for a firm) has real practical importance,” she explains.
“I’m fascinated with how people manage multiple demands (and we have many in our lives!), and how individuals vary in managing these demands (e.g., different needs, preferences, goals). Certainly, technology has changed how and when we work, and I always like to ground my research in fairly practical and timely issues. “The stress of job insecurity and balancing one’s life and work demands is a very practical, timely and important one for our society.”
She says she is interested in observing “somewhat counterintuitive things” and wanted to explore an area that the literature so far has not offered a clear answer for: Why would people who are stressed by their employment situation (e.g., feel insecure) work harder/more?
“Much of the literature suggests insecurity should make you ticked off at your company, yet anecdotally, we were seeing employees put their heads down and dive in to work in the face of a poor economy,” she explains. “And, then, what would be the longer-term outcomes of this – that is, isn’t it likely that this behavioral adaptation to insecurity could actually have long-term deleterious effects for the individual?”
Boswell teaches courses on human resource management at the undergraduate, graduate (master’s and doctoral) and executive levels. She is the holder of the Jerry and Kay Cox Endowed Chair in Business and she received the 2004 Center for Teaching Excellence Montague Scholar Award.
Her research focuses on employee attraction and retention, job search behavior, workplace conflict and the work-nonwork interface. Her work has appeared in such journals as Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Journal of Applied Psychology, Personnel Psychology, Human Resource Management, Journal of Vocational Behavior, and Journal of Management. She serves on the editorial boards of the Academy of Management Review, Journal of Applied Psychology, International Journal of HRM, and Journal of Management, and is an incoming Associate Editor for Personnel Psychology. She served as the 2012-13 Chair of the HR Division, Academy of Management.
Mays Business School, March 16th, 2014
Many research studies have analyzed customer-based brand equity and how it relates to consumers’ willingness to pay for a branded product, but researchers have not yet questioned whether the same brand equity can impact executive pay. Alina Sorescu, associate professor of marketing at Mays Business School, saw a correlation between brand equity and top management of well-known brands’ willingness to work for less compensation.
Sorescu first saw patterns forming within academia when PhD candidates chose to study at more prestigious schools who offered them less scholarship money over lower-tier schools offering a much larger amount of scholarship money. She theorized the PhD candidates’ decisions were based on the opportunities created by attending a more prestigious school. In the long run, the benefits of taking the option that provided less funding would pay off because of the brand equity that accompanies a prestigious degree. As she repeatedly observed this pattern in academia, she began applying this theory to other scenarios.
Sorescu and her colleagues, Nader Tavassoli and Rajesh Chandy – both from the London Business School – began looking for connections between brand equity and the salary of top five executives across a large sample of firms. Sorescu wanted to know if top executives of companies with well-known brands received lower compensation.
She began her data collection with U.S. Young & Rubicam BAV metrics survey to obtain brand strength, executive level compensation data from ExecuComp, a Standard & Poor’s database and firm level data which yielded a sample of 10,107 observations for all top executives and 1,869 observations for CEOs, across 393 firms.
Her findings were in line with the proposed theory. Moving from a brand with average brand equity to one whose equity is in the 80th percentile yields a 12.13 percent decrease in CEO pay, or $1,268,130 in savings for the average CEO compensation, and a 2.42 percent decrease in pay, or $89,978 in savings for the average non-CEO executive
In an effort to explain why strong brands should attract executives at lower levels of pay, Sorescu explains the definition of employee-based brand equity as “the value that a brand provides to a firm through its effects on the attitudes and behaviors of its employees.” This concept offers a new look at the returns on branding, by highlighting a brand’s ability to cut costs instead of increasing revenue. “The payoff to brand investments largely exists in the revenue gains that they can yield. Our approach flips this notion by looking at the cost side of profits, an area rarely examined in marketing,” she explains. “We suggest that a significant part of the returns to marketing investments in brands may be in reducing payroll costs.”
Taking a look at the psychological effects strong brands have on executive pay Alina offers an identity-based framework. “The overarching theme underlying this effect is self-enhancement,” says Sorescu. “Strong brands offer greater possibilities for self-enhancement to the executives associated with them than do weak brands.” People choose to work for companies with strong brands because brands build reputation and those connections create future opportunities, “Self enhancement is seen as a substitute for pay.” Brands are seen as a signaling tool, being associated with a strong brand says something about you; the long-term benefits outweigh the immediate salary cut one may be willing to take.
“Our results imply that researchers should take a broader view of the contributions that brands make to firms and the effect they have on the balance sheet,” Sorescu says of employee-based brand equity. “Moreover, they should make use of strong brands in executive pay negotiations that are typically viewed as being outside the realm of marketing.”
– “Employee-Based Brand Equity: The Impact of Customer Perceptions on Executive Pay” by Sorescu, Nader Tavassoli and Rajesh Chandy (both of the London Business School) is forthcoming in the Journal of Marketing Research. Sorescu is holder of the Rebecca U. ’74 and William S. Nichols III ’74 Professorship at Mays.
Mays Business School, March 16th, 2014
The bottom line is that engaged employees improve a company’s bottom line, and an organization possessing an entire workforce that is collectively engaged will exhibit higher levels of motivation. That’s according to research by a team of professors and graduate students from Mays Business School’s Department of Management, who determined that higher levels of collective engagement in an organization lead to higher level of motivation.
In a study of 83 small to mid-sized U.S. credit unions, the researchers concluded that engagement—defined as investing one’s cognitive, emotional and physical self into work performances, i.e., putting one’s head, heart and hands into work—leads to improved return on assets, a common financial indicator of organizational success.
“The word ‘engagement’ is sometimes used as a pop term,” said Stephen Courtright, an assistant professor of management who participated as a researcher in the project. “There is a lot of discussion anecdotally that engagement impacts organizational effectiveness, but we set out to test in an objective, scientific way whether an organization full of employees who see themselves and other organizational members as engaged improves the bottom line,” he said. “We concluded that yes, employee engagement impacts an organization and helps drive its competitive advantage. That means collective engagement matters for organizational effectiveness in a real and measurable way.”
However, beyond just showing the bottom-line impact of collective employee engagement, the researchers also sought to answer a question naturally brought up by organizational leaders and stakeholders: “What can organizations do to get their workforce engaged?” While some research has analyzed what immediate bosses can do to help a small group of employees become more engaged, what organizations can do from a strategic standpoint to influence their workforce to be collectively engaged as a whole is a deeper question.
Management Professor Murray Barrick, Courtright and graduate students Gary Thurgood and Troy Smith tested this question on the same sample of credit unions. Using this sample of similarly-sized organizations from the same industry helped to produce purer results.
To get a collective workforce engaged, “it starts at the top,” Courtright said. Specifically, the researchers found that the strongest predictor of collective employee engagement was the CEO’s “transformational leadership,” a leadership style in which the CEO (1) articulates a compelling vision that challenges the status quo, (2) serves as an inspirational and charismatic role model and (3) shows care and concern for members of the organization.
Next, the team found that company leaders need to establish and implement performance management systems that serve to identify and track high performers, reward high performers and then make high performers feel secure in their job.
Finally, companies can better facilitate collective employee engagement by designing jobs within the organization to be more motivating for their employees. This includes giving employees greater autonomy and ownership over tasks, allowing them to use a variety of skills on the job and helping them to see how their jobs make a significant difference to the company’s overall success.
According to the researchers, these three organizational-level factors, in combination, maximize the three underlying psychological conditions for full engagement from employees—psychological availability, safety and meaningfulness. “CEO transformational leadership helps employees be more willing to be engaged at work; effective performance management helps employees feel that they are rewarded for being engaged; and motivating job design helps employees sense that impact of their engagement on the organization,” said Courtright.
—— “Collective Organizational Engagement: Linking Motivational Antecedents, Strategic Implementation, and Firm Level Performance” was accepted for publication in the Academy of Management Journal” February 2014. Researchers are Murray R. Barrick, Stephen H. Courtright, Gary R. Thurgood and Troy A. Smith.
Mays Business School, March 16th, 2014
In an economy that values financial success and high revenues, organizations of all types continually struggle to balance efficiency with production-constraining regulations.
“Organizations have two motivations: production and compliance,” explained Rogelio Oliva, associate professor of information and operations management at Mays and Ford Faculty Fellow. “They are trying to grow their businesses while, at the same time, knowing they must follow the rules.”
Oliva and his colleagues – Ignacio Martinez-Moyano from the University of Chicago and David McCaffrey from the University at Albany – have been conducting ongoing studies that model rule development and compliance in organizations. Their most recent study examines United States financial markets as a case area and suggests that recurring regulatory problems over the past 60 years are structurally similar.
“There are some structural reasons why we have a financial crisis every so often,” said Oliva. “The crises change in specifics, but they all have the same origin. The system is rigged so that the actors in a system become lax in compliance due to an enormous pressure to produce.”
Oliva and his colleagues propose a model of drift and adjustment in rule compliance. This model centers on the tension between production goals that focus on short-term benefits and required adherence to production-constraining rules that attempt to mitigate long-term risks.
“The pressure for companies to produce leads to one of two outcomes: working hard or cutting corners,” said Oliva. As organizations face high volume and time pressures, they may adopt a “Will we get caught?” decision-making mindset. In an attempt to evade controls and avoid delays, they will often commit a number of small infractions that will, for a while, remain undetected or tolerated.
However, adopting this mentality can lead to a decrease in service quality and an accumulation of regulatory and criminal violations.
“Eventually the violations pile up so that people can see the evidence,” explained Oliva. “This leads to strong backlash from regulators and an increase in the number of regulations. After a while, there are too many regulations and they start to back off, leading to the same cycle all over again.” This “regulatory pendulum” can be applied to settings beyond financial markets as well, since this phenomenon occurs in virtually every industry.
One surprising discovery uncovered by the research is how fast-paced the evolution of new products and regulations is. “It reminded us of the evolutionary race between predators and prey,” said Oliva. “New products are designed to address customer needs and soon someone starts abusing the system with these new products.” Eventually, however, these new products lead to even more regulations, which causes the pendulum to swing again.
This study is one of the first attempts to bring all plausible explanations together to form an aggregated picture of what is occurring in the market. Oliva and his colleagues have received support and validation from industry partners for their research and are presently working to validate their theory by creating a detailed model capable of replicating these dynamics.
“Ultimately, we have analyzed the micro decisions that are made in the industry in order to identify a structure that is responsible for the behavior,” said Oliva.
For the box at the bottom of the page in BRIA:
“Drift and Adjustment in Organizational Rule Compliance: Explaining the ‘Regulatory Pendulum’ in Financial Markets” was published in Organization Science and is authored by Rogelio Oliva of Mays, Ignacio J. Martinez-Moyano of the University of Chicago and David P. McCaffrey of the University at Albany, State University of New York.
Mays Business School, March 16th, 2014
Venkatesh “Venky” Shankar is on a Top 10 list every academician dreams of – he has been recognized as one of the Top 10 experts worldwide on innovation management. He didn’t start out being an advocate of marketing, but now he has found his niche in the worlds of marketing and academics.
At Mays Business School, he is the Coleman Chair Professor in Marketing and director of research for the Center for Retailing Studies. He was director of the marketing PhD Program from 2006 to 2012.
He received his PhD in marketing from Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University. However, his undergraduate studies focused on engineering. “Originally, I saw marketing as a way to advertise things. I thought of Superbowl commercials, glitzy and glamorous campaigns selling insurance and whatnot, and used car salespeople,” he says. “Once I got in an MBA program to get into management, I realized the two main reasons companies exist are innovations and reaching customers. Then I came to know what marketing really is: It’s about how we treat customers and create brands and channels of communication. Then it came to mean something to me.”
Shankar’s areas of specialization include digital business, marketing strategy, innovation, retailing, international marketing, pricing, branding and mobile marketing. Shankar has corporate experience in the areas of marketing and international business development in diverse countries.
He spent two years in Hong Kong working with a bank, then he worked in the corporate environment. He quickly learned he preferred the marketing world. “In the corporate world, you can’t answer your own questions, you answer your boss’ questions,” he explained. “In marketing, you ask the questions, answer them and have fun with them.”
Shankar discovered his niche in the academic world, which his brother, a finance professor, encouraged him to join. “I had no idea what research would look like, but my eyes got opened to research,” he said. “I got to learn about methodologies. I found I really enjoyed it.”
He said he asked questions of everyone he encountered. “I was working on 10 to 12 projects at a time. That’s how my passion got kindled,” he recalls. “I was surrounded by good researchers who enrich your thinking and motivate you to look at things in a different way, a more rigorous way. They keep kicking it back, demanding it be real, relevant and bankable. It was a time of great learning.”
Shankar has supervised 11 doctoral students, something he enjoys immensely. “My first got a job at UNC Chapel Hill, and the most gratifying day for me was when he got tenure last year.” He said he feels fortunate to blend research and teaching, and that he roots all of his research in real problems. He often hears from former students, even students who he meets during one-day sessions. “I wake up every morning eager to work, to make a difference,” he said. “It’s a noble profession. Not only am I teaching that one person, but it will also help the people they encounter.”
Mark B. Houston, the marketing department head and Blue Bell Creameries Chair in Business, said he admires Shankar’s passion for helping his PhD students get jobs at their target universities. “You can see that passion in how hard he works with them during the years of the PhD program on real research projects that are publishable in top-tier journals,” Houston said. “This is critical, because PhD candidates will not even get interviews with Doctoral Research Universities without papers that are published, or at least at advanced rounds of review, at top journals.”
Beyond helping his students prepare academically, Houston says Shankar pours enormous effort into personally reaching out to his extensive professional network at universities around the country to lobby for his students. “When a target school publicizes an opening, Venky is constantly on the phone, sending e-mails, talking to people at conferences, etc., convincing them of the wisdom of interviewing his students,” Houston describes. “His persistence almost always pays off – it is kind of like the old science fiction line, ‘Resistance is futile!’ I know a lot of really dedicated PhD advisors at a lot of universities, but I know no one who works harder at this than Venky Shankar.”
Shankar is also “a star in the classroom at all levels of programs,” Houston says, but particularly with the Executive MBAs. “He is smart, well-prepared, incredibly energetic, and thinks well on his feet – all attributes that lead to an engaging EMBA professor. His formal ratings and the informal feedback that I see from these students speak to his effectiveness. He changes the way that executives think about marketing.”
With that, Shankar’s path comes full circle from the days when his own opinion of marketing was changed.
Shankar has consulting or executive training experience with organizations such as Allstate, Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, Colgate Palmolive, GlaxoSmithKline, Hewlett Packard, HSBC, IBM, Intel, Lockheed Martin, Lucent Technologies, Marriott International, Medtronic, Northrop Grumman, PepsiCo, Philips, and Volvo. He has made several appearances on CNN, C-SPAN, and Voice of America. He has been on many advisory boards and has served as an expert witness in legal cases.
– 2013-2014 Retailing Lifetime Achievement Award
– 2013 Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta (IIMC) Distinguished Alumnus Award
– 2012 Vijay Mahajan Award for Lifetime Contributions to Marketing Strategy Research
– 2006 Robert Clarke Award for the Outstanding Direct and Interactive Marketing Educator
– 2001 IBM Faculty Partnership Award
– 1999 Paul Green Award for the Best Article in Journal of Marketing Research
– 2000 Don Lehmann Award for the Best Dissertation-based Article in an AMA journal
– Sheth Award for the best paper in the Journal of Academy of Marketing Science.
Shankar has won awards from such sources as the American Marketing Association (AMA) and the Marketing Science Institute (MSI). He has published in academic journals such as the Journal of Marketing Research, Management Science, Marketing Science, Strategic Management Journal, Journal of Marketing, Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, Journal of Retailing, Harvard Business Review, and Sloan Management Review, and in business periodicals such as Wall Street Journal and Financial Times. The Shankar-Spiegel Award from the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation is named in his honor. He is ex-President of the Marketing Strategy SIG, AMA and serves on the Chief Marketing Officers (CMO) council and Business-to-Business (B2B) Leadership Board. He was a Faculty Fellow of the 1999, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2013 Doctoral Consortia, and the 2001 e-Commerce Consortium of the AMA. He is Editor Emeritus of the Journal of Interactive Marketing and is an Academic Trustee of the MSI. He is also an ex-associate editor of Management Science and is on the editorial boards of Journal of Marketing, Journal of Marketing Research, Marketing Science, the International Journal of Research in Marketing, and Journal of Retailing. He has been a keynote speaker in several conferences and has delivered over 230 presentations in diverse countries. He is a three-time winner of the Krowe Award for Teaching and has taught Marketing Management, Digital Business Strategy, Competitive Marketing Strategy, and International Marketing. He was a visiting scholar at the Sloan School of Management, MIT. He has also been a visiting faculty at INSEAD, Singapore Management University, SDA Bocconi, the Chinese European International Business School at Shanghai, and the Indian School of Business. He is co-editor of the Handbook of Marketing Strategy and the author of Shopper Marketing.
Mays Business School, March 16th, 2014
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, passed in 2002, was the most impactful regulation in terms of accounting and financial reporting since the 1930s. The act, often referred to as SOX, was passed in an effort to diminish the widespread fraud that had gripped the nation for the first part of the decade.
“It was a monumental piece of legislation,” says Nate Sharp, accounting professor and Mays Research Fellow.
SOX tightened the reins on accounting firms that had begun to provide multiple services to their clients beyond auditing, and left them with the ability to perform few services beyond external audits. Although the public was generally pleased with the move toward greater auditor independence, some in the profession argued the additional services offered by auditing firms had led to more thorough and effective audits.
“We tend to call that ‘knowledge spillover,’” says Sharp. “If the audit firm is there doing other services, the argument is that they learn things about the client that then ‘spill over’ and can benefit the audit team when they perform the audit.”
Others argue in favor of the strict regulations put into place by SOX, saying the many services offered by auditing firms had compromised the independence of the auditors; otherwise put, they believe there was enough money at stake to tempt auditors to overlook financial misreporting. In their paper “Internal Audit Outsourcing and the Risk of Misleading or Fraudulent Financial Reporting: Did Sarbanes-Oxley Get It Wrong?” Sharp and his colleagues – Douglas Prawitt and David Wood of Brigham Young University – looked into the effects, if there were any, of restricting audit firms from doing internal auditing for their clients, one of the services auditing firms had offered before SOX.
“We said, let’s go back a few years prior to SOX before all of this came into effect to see whether companies that were outsourcing part of their internal audit function to their external auditor had financial statements that were either riskier or less risky,” Sharp says of the idea behind the research. “In other words, if it’s true that allowing the external auditor to participate in the internal audit compromises independence, then companies doing that should have riskier financial statements that appear to be aggressive.”
Gathering information from the Institute of Internal Auditors, the researchers looked at financial statements from 159 firms in the three years leading up to SOX. The firms fit into one of four categories:
– The firm outsourced some of its internal audit function to the same Big Four accounting firm that conducted its external audit
– The firm outsourced some of its internal audit function to a Big Four firm that did not conduct its external audit
– The firm outsourced some of its internal audit function to a non-Big Four firm that did not conduct its external audit
– The firm kept the internal audit function completely in-house
Running the data through a sophisticated model, Sharp and his colleagues were able to determine which firms had riskier financial statements.
“What we found was financial statement risk was lowest when the company outsourced some of its internal audit function to its own external auditor, which is contrary to the assumptions behind the prohibition in SOX,” Sharp says of the results. “Overall financial reporting quality was higher when the external auditor was also providing internal audit services.”
The research was generally well received by both the academic and professional communities. Numerous conferences accepted the paper, and articles in CFO Magazine and Compliance Week cited its findings. Prior to its publication, this paper received the University of Oklahoma Price College of Business 2010 Glen McLaughlin Award for the best, unpublished research paper on accounting and ethics. The paper was later published in Contemporary Accounting Research, a highly respected journal in the field.
“By no means do we think lawmakers should change the law just because we found this,” says Sharp, addressing those who did not receive the research well. “We’re just trying to inform the debate.”
Sharp says he enjoyed working on research that contributed to a debate both within and outside of academics. For Sharp, it is his goal to do relevant research that informs many groups, including experts in the field, practitioners, and students.
“I look for research projects that even people outside of accounting academics can appreciate and understand the importance of the question and the value of what the findings are,” says Sharp of his research philosophy. “I think no matter what field we’re in, we have the opportunity if we look for it to do research with implications that reach far beyond the ivory towers of academics.”
“Internal Audit Outsourcing and the Risk of Misleading or Fraudulent Financial Reporting: Did Sarbanes-Oxley Get it Wrong?” was published in Contemporary Accounting Research and is authored by Nate Sharp of Mays, and Douglas F. Prawitt and David A. Wood of Brigham Young University.
Mays Business School, March 16th, 2014
As the capital projects cost estimating manager for Chevron Phillips Chemical Company, Troy Porter, EMBA ’12 is responsible for evaluating and endorsing the capital requests for projects worldwide for the organization. A native Houstonian who graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with an engineering degree, Porter worked 25 years in the oil and gas industry.
At an early age, Porter understood the value of volunteering in the community. He has spent many hours volunteering for organizations such as MD Anderson Cancer Center, the Food Bank and the Museum of Fine Arts (MFAH). After receiving his EMBA, Porter decided he wanted to serve his community by leading a nonprofit organization, not just being one of the volunteers.
Porter currently serves as board chair for the Fifth Ward Enrichment Program (FWEP), a 501 3(C) non-profit organization whose mission is “to empower boys to become responsible men and productive members of their families and communities.” FWEP serves more than 100 boys between ages 11 and 18 years living in the Fifth Ward neighborhood of Houston. Fifth Ward is one of six wards and the most underserved community in Houston. FWEP has been offering after-school and summer programs to its members for 30 years.
Porter says “execution” is the biggest challenge to his leadership abilities. Unlike a for-profit company, serving on the FWEP board of directors is not a paid position. “As the board chair, it is my responsibility to not let apathy become our culture,” Porter said. He believes if he allows this level of disengagement to take hold, it is likely the board’s goals and vision will not be achieved. Porter has made it a point to reach out to board members one-on-one, communicate and monitor our progress, and continually say “thank you.”
Porter believes his MBA education at Mays has contributed immensely to his leadership abilities. “In the Executive MBA program, I learned that leadership is situational,” he said. “You cannot be the same type of leader in every situation and be successful.”
When Porter took over as FWEP’s board chair in 2014, the organization was still reeling from the Great Recession. Porter understood that FWEP needed to be better prepared for the long term than it had been in its past. “FWEP needed a leader who could inspire board members, govern with a long-term perspective, and mold a team of like-minded professionals,” he noted. Porter reset the organization’s tone for the next five years by working with FWEP’s executive director to fill organizational gaps, respectfully asking disengaged board members to resign, and rebuilding the board with the best candidates to help execute the vision. FWEP currently has five other Aggies volunteering on the board. “The Mays MBA education gave me the confidence to not only accept this role, but understand the gravity of its importance,” he said.
Mays Business School, March 16th, 2014
We’ve all heard the saying: “You’re only as good as the company you keep.” If Marcos Mendez is any indication of the caliber of person drawn to the Professional MBA program, then the program’s future is on solid footing.
In June of 2013, just prior to starting his Professional MBA program at Mays Business School, Mendez learned that his close friend and former Seton Hall college roommate Kevin Losch was extremely ill. Kevin had been recently diagnosed with IgA nephropathy or Berger’s Disease. According to Mayoclinic.org, Berger’s “occurs when an antibody called immunoglobulin A (IgA) lodges in your kidneys.” Over time, Berger’s interferes with the kidneys’ ability to perform their basic necessary function. As Kevin sought a viable long-term solution to his illness, he learned that none of his family members were suitable matches for a kidney transplant.
Marcos received word of Kevin’s dire situation in August, one month into his MBA program. He immediately volunteered to be tested as a donor and soon learned he was a match. After his Saturday class on October 19th, Marcos flew to New York for an operation the next Tuesday. Not wanting to fall behind in his studies, Mendez was back in Houston with his fellow PMBAs the following class weekend. In hindsight, Mendez said, “It probably was a rush, but I just wanted to get back to some normalcy.”
Without question, Mendez demonstrates the character qualities the Professional MBA program looks for: selflessness, dedication and optimism. When asked why he was willing to go to such incredible lengths to help his friend, Marcos said, “You mold your life after core values not often tested.” For him, “it was a clear decision.”
It is these shared traits of character that played an important role in his selection of the Mays Professional MBA program. One of the key differentiators of the program is that it helps students recognize and enhance characteristics they can’t yet see in themselves. When Mendez donated a kidney, it was to him, simply “living and doing the type of thing you say you stand for.”
Mendez also values “culture, spirit of family, community and doing the right thing,” and it is important to surround himself with people who share similar values. In the Professional MBA Program at Mays, Mendez says, “I’ve met people who have challenged, inspired and motivated me, and it feels good to be a part of that community. I have lifelong friends [as a result.]”
“My big takeaway from the program so far is that I’m constantly forced to reflect on my own skills, limits and blind spots,” he said. “The big difference from the start of the program to the present is knowing what I’m good at and not good at, which makes me a self-aware leader.”
Mays Business School, March 16th, 2014
As a former member of the Texas National Guard serving in the U.S. Army Reserves and the recipient of numerous American Business Awards, including Executive of the Year, Maverick of the Year, and Turnaround Executive of the Year, Bridgette Chambers, EMBA ’08 knows a thing or two about leadership and results.
Despite her considerable success, Bridgette sensed at one point that there were additional tools available that would help propel her career to the next level.
“Everyone gets traction in some component of the business they’re working in, but you need to really understand how all of the moving parts come together in order to form a healthy, thriving company,” Chambers said. “I had reached a point in my career where I knew that the success I had achieved would not be repeatable—nor would the failures I avoided be consistently avoidable—if I did not improve my comprehensive understanding of business and finance. I recognized that the MBA was the right path to acquire that insight and knowledge.”
As Chambers began to research different Executive MBA programs, she evaluated Rice, University of Texas, Northwestern and Notre Dame along with Texas A&M. She ultimately selected Mays Business School because of the respect for tradition and the work ethic that envelops the school’s curriculum and study. “I would be proud of my own accomplishment if I had obtained my MBA from another university,” she said, “but with A&M, I am proud of myself and my Aggie affiliation.”
In the Mays Executive MBA program, three things stood out to Chambers as being most impactful. First, the program emphasized utilizing a team approach—whether solving individual problems or working on complex projects. Second, the Capstone project required students to apply numerous competencies in a comprehensive manner. Third, the “executive nature” of the course structure allowed her to test her new knowledge and skills in the marketplace as well as at her place of employment. “The net effect of these three elements was a rigorous educational experience that was thoroughly grounded in the real world; one in which I learned as much from my classmates as I did from my professors,” she said.
After graduating from the program, Chambers transitioned her career from serving as an entrepreneurial CEO of several small start-ups to taking the helm of larger, more complex organizations, including Americas’ SAP Users’ Group (ASUG), the world’s largest independent community of professionals using SAP solutions, and Constellation Research, a research and advisory firm focused on disruptive technologies. Today, as the president and COO of Nite Group, she works with clients as diverse as Novus International and Perdue Farms to help them achieve significant operational, financial, and programmatic transformations.
She attributes the possibilities for career transformation to the business tools that can be acquired in the Executive MBA program. “In my field of turnaround work, the ability to prioritize and value activity is critical to moving the client company back to a stable position,” she said. “I was fortunate to have had quite a bit of company transformation experience by the time I enrolled in Mays, but for those who are just starting out or who are still early in your career, the takeaways will be invaluable. You will learn how to measure not just monetary worth but also intangible value in order to determine which investments to green light or to stall, as well as how to hold the stakeholders charged with those specific initiatives accountable for delivering planned value.”
Chambers is also quick to point out the importance of the “softer” leadership skills she developed at Mays. “I gained the ability and confidence to guide a team to success—rather than just managing the team’s tasks,” she said. “This powerful insight has helped me build strong teams of experts capable of solving complex problems, creating a culture of innovation, aligning operations to a corporate vision and growing a company’s bottom line. I have also learned that a leader’s ability to truly lead sometimes means getting out of the way….and this insight was validated numerous times during my
As for professionals who are considering an MBA to elevate their career, Chambers offered some emphatic advice: “Do not put off the decision to apply for another year, quarter or even month! Every day you are faced with challenges and opportunities that beckon you to optimize, remediate, grow, cut or innovate. With an MBA, you will have the academic platform to better understand your past experiences and more effectively guide your future. You will also be able to communicate risk, value and return in a language that differentiates you from those who did not arm themselves with the right knowledge or education. Bottom line, you will do more and you will go further.”