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

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

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

The winners for this year’s case challenge were:

First place – The Blockchain Smokers:

Robin Herrington ’18 – Business Honors

Joshua Anderson ’18 – Business Honors

Blake Harvey ’18 – Business Honors

Maggie Talbot ’18 – Business Honors

Second place – The 12th Case:

Joseph Scott ’19 – Finance

Hayley Eckert ’18 – Computer engineering

Cameron Dawley ’18 – Industrial distribution

Chris Bettiol ’18 – Finance

Third place – Team 18:

Arijon Horvat ’18 – Management information systems

William McCanless ’19 – Mechanical engineering

Mutaharah Wani ’19 – Industrial engineering

Karisa Coe ’20 – Business Honors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Business Honors, Faculty, Featured Stories, Management, Mays Business, News, Ph.D., Research, Spotlights, Staff, Students, Texas A&M

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex CabanasFinding passion in leading and growing a company that makes a profound difference in the lives of employees, guests, owners, industry partners, and the community, Alex Cabanas ’98 exemplifies what it means to be a Mays Transformational Leader.

Cabanas graduated from Texas A&M University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in finance, and went on to pursue an MBA at Harvard Business School. He currently serves as the CEO of global hospitality company Benchmark. To Cabanas, speaking to business honors students at Mays Business School was “a huge privilege.”

Cabanas kicked his session off by emphasizing the main theme he was discussing, that “it all starts with culture.” Cabanas said that “everything we do is about culture. Culture eats strategy for breakfast; culture is a lot of things to a lot of people.” Culture drives how his company behaves and what motivates them.

…Read more

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

Every year, the Mays Business Honors program takes a corporate trip to a U.S. city in an effort to learn from corporate businesses as well as learn about the culture of the city. This year, they traveled to Portland, Ore. to visit the Nike Headquarters and Nossa Familia Coffee on Oct. 18-22.

While in Portland, the students learned about the business strategies for both companies, and also had free time to explore the city however they pleased.

During the trip, students learned about not only the companies, but also about business as a whole. Frazer Mulugeta, Business Honors student class of 2019, said the trip “showed [him] that creating team buy-in is possible, and that communicating goals and motives can help foster a culture of excellence.” He also said being on the same page with others in order to serve a higher purpose can benefit not only the individuals, but also the group. Mulugeta plans on incorporating what he learned on the trip both in his professional career and his relationships with others.

According to Allison Riffe, Business Honors ’20, Delaney Elliot at Nike revealed to her the emotional power of marketing. “I cried when she showed the video of the shoes made for individuals with disabilities,” Riffe said. “Nike was the first time that I have ever felt passionate about the power of marketing in a corporate setting.”

Augusto, the owner of Nossa Familia Coffee, enhanced George Smith’s perspective on implementing a value throughout an entire company. Smith, Business Honors ’19, said Augusto “truly embraced the essence of family” and “inspired [him] to dream big but never forget about [his] terminal values.” Swift said he will create a similar, value-centered atmosphere within his own teams, community, and family.

“The people I encountered in Portland were an example of how powerful a positive and purposeful mindset can be in achieving your goals, related to business or not,” said Chelsea Rios, Business Honors ’18. Rios mentioned that the people behind the organizations they visited took steps that aligned with their company’s values before anything else, despite any financial obstacles or competition, which was important to her.

Everett Francis, Business Honors ’19, captured the special moments, learnings, and fun of the trip in the following video. See for yourself the kind of impact this trip had on the Business Honors students who embarked on this journey.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Attributing his current success to what he learned during his time at Texas A&M University, Tim Meyer was ready to share some of that knowledge when he recently visited with Mays Business Honors students as part of the Mays 2017 Transformational Leader Speaker Series.

“Stay disciplined in this field” seemed to be the common theme Meyer conveyed throughout the duration of the session. Meyer is a co-founder and managing partner at Angeles Equity Partners, and is responsible for overseeing all aspects for the firm’s investment activities. He received his Bachelor’s degree in finance from Texas A&M and an MBA with a concentration in entrepreneurial finance from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Meyer knew the value in sharing his decision to return to school to pursue his MBA, enlightening the students on how he went back to school without being sponsored by the firm he had been working for at the time. He then gave students a rule of thumb for planning when he said, “if you get into a top 5 school for your MBA, go, regardless of money. If it’s not a top 5 B-school, try to see if you get sponsored by your company/firm first.”

…Read more

Categories: Alumni, Business Honors, Finance, Former Students, Mays Business, MBA, News, Students, Texas A&M

By Jeffrey Quinn ’20

Business Honors and finance

On May 10th, I embarked on my journey to Mbale, Uganda, where I volunteered with an organization called HELP International. HELP International is a non-governmental organization (NGO) that has volunteer programs in multiple locations across the world, but has had volunteers on the ground in Uganda for the last seven years. My volunteer experience lasted for six weeks from May 12th to June 23rd. I had a lot of individuals try to discourage me from traveling to Uganda because of the danger they associated with living in Africa, but I was determined to empower Ugandans in their fight against poverty.

I will never forget the six weeks I spent working in Mbale and the lessons that the truly amazing local men and women taught me.

A problem to solve

One of HELP’s most important partnerships was with an orphanage in the Sibwala Village that is home to 300 orphans. The most immediate problem that faced the orphanage was its failure to be sustainable if HELP International no longer provided funding. One of the most vital lessons I learned during this internship is the importance of sustainability when doing developmental work. The most effective form of developmental work is providing individuals with knowledge and the ability to be sustainable without any outside intervention. This is why I felt it was important to immediately tackle the failure of the Sibwala Orphanage to be sustainable.

…Read more

Categories: Business Honors, Center for Business International Studies, Centers, Featured Stories, Finance, Mays Business, News, Spotlights, Students, Texas A&M

In a conversation with Business Honors students at Texas A&M’s Mays Business School, Curtis Hite ’91, CEO and chairman of Improving Holdings, talked about his career and explained why his company has been hailed by The Dallas Morning News, Dallas Business Journal and Texas Monthly as one of the best places to work in Texas.

Hite studied computer science at Texas A&M as an undergraduate and graduate student, receiving his master’s degree in 1994. He started his career as a software engineer in the intelligence sector, working first for Rockwell International and then at E-Systems. Later, he cofounded Expede, a software development company, before cofounding Blue Ocean Group in 2007, later renamed Improving Holdings, or better known simply as Improving.

Improving, an informational technology service firm, is centered on restoring trust in the IT profession across several industries, and offers training, consulting, recruiting and project services.

Restoring trust in an entire profession is no easy feat, but Hite believes the best way to do so is to model a culture of integrity. “At Improving, we stick to our core values of excellence, dedication and involvement,” he said. “These are our identity as a company.”

…Read more

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