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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Written by Steven Mancillas ’21:

The Business & BBQ Professional Development Wisdom Workshop united two very different parts of campus – the Business Honors program and the Meat Science department. The event highlighted three unique elements that characterize the Mays Business School experience: passion, culture, and community.

To begin, in the Business Honors program, a Professional Development event serves to foster the growth of students both personally and professionally. A majority of the events consist of meeting with industry leaders (Mays Leadership Forum), hearing from policy experts and government leaders at the Bush School (Lecture Series), or participating in a Wisdom Workshop. A Wisdom Workshop is a presentation given by a current student on a unique topic that is uncharacteristic, yet beneficial for other Business Honors students. So, naturally, the topic of barbecue fit these criteria.

My background in the barbecue realm consists of serving as a Texas BBQ 101 (ANSC 117) teaching assistant and pursuing a minor in Meat Science under the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences. As a freshman in ANSC 117, I was the only business student in a room full of agriculture majors. While this was daunting at first, Dr. Savell, the ANSC 117 professor, offered an adage that served to contextualize my experience: “Barbecue is about fellowship first, and food second.Since that class, I have discovered a passion for Meat Science, ultimately adding it as a minor to my Business Honors & Finance degree.

The presentation consisted of three segments: “What is Meat Science?”, “What is BBQ?”, and lunch. During this time, I spoke about how the barbecue elective sparked my interest in the origins of this university – agriculture. This interest quickly became a passion after my first animal science class – a passion rooted in a genuine interest in the livestock industry and its impact on society. A large component of the Wisdom Workshop was demonstrating the nature of all possibilities at Texas A&M to connect one’s passion with their education – I hope that my story stands as an example of this.

…Read more

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

By Anton Cordes ’20, Business honors

“Never say no.”

This was one of the key takeaways from a meeting with MIS graduate Jamie Duke McClain ’97. Jamie is currently a Senior Security Manager at Samsung Electronics America — but she never planned on working in security. Jamie started her career as a consultant and worked for companies including Accenture, EDS, and McKesson Pharmaceuticals with a focus on process innovation.

…Read more

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

By Travis Cantwell, business honors ’22

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” – Peter Drucker

Priding himself in building cultures that breed success, Wayne Roberts ’85 (BANA) and ’86 (MBA) has built a career as a “fixer” and “grower” of teams and companies. From his early days as a consultant at Arthur Andersen through stints at Trammell Crow Company and back at Accenture, he learned the value of getting results “through people, not in spite of them.”

Roberts spoke to Business Honors students on Nov. 29 as part of the Mays Leadership Forum series. He provided invaluable advice to students on establishing extraordinary cultures, finding value in people, and understanding your passion and professional mission.

Roberts serves Mays in an ongoing capacity as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board and co-chairs the Student Recruitment and Development Committee. …Read more

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

Five students from the Center for Retailing Studies (CRS) traveled to Montreal, Québec on Nov. 15-17 to participate in the inaugural (R)Tech Global Retail Challenge.

It was hosted by the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and Bensadoun School of Retail Management at McGill University.

The Aggie team finished in first place.

The event marked CRS’s first international student trip.

The international event exposed students to the retail challenges of sustainability and the circular economy, equipping students to find innovative solutions. The competition showcased new ideas for the future of retail for the next generation of industry leaders.

…Read more

Categories: Business Honors, Center for Retailing Studies, Centers, Faculty, Featured Stories, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Spotlights, Students, Texas A&M

By Kathryn Oefinger ’19, Business Honors

Scott Steffler ’74 began his Mays Leader Forum with a surprising statistic: “Current college students are projected to have an average of five careers in their lifetime. Not five jobs, but five careers,” he explained to the Business Honors students. Steffler laughed that he was ahead of his time, because that is the exact number of careers he has had.

…Read more

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

By Steven Mancillas Jr. ’21

Crediting her loyalty to her company as a reason for success, Mary Benson ’85 was eager to share her wisdom with Mays Business Honors students as a part of the 2018 Mays Leader Forum.

“Mentorships are a great thing… they don’t even need to be formal,” was a central point of her lesson throughout the lunch. Benson is the head of Global Pricing for Invesco Asset Management. She is responsible for corresponding with numerous offices both domestically and internationally about global pricing strategies. She joined Invesco in 1985 after she received her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Texas A&M University.

…Read more

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

By Virginia Krog, Business Honors ’22

FedEx is a globally recognized company, delivering millions of packages a day. Yet in FedEx’s own words, the company does more than just deliver packages. It delivers “happiness, growth, hope or simply, peace of mind.”

So how does a company that prides itself on providing solutions to connect people with possibilities remain relevant in an increasingly competitive world? For FedEx, the answer comes through its global perspective, embracing change (technology), its people, and its brand.

Trampas Gunter ’94, who graduated with an accounting degree from Mays Business School at Texas A&M University, member of Business Fellows Group 11, and current Staff Vice President of Corporate Development & Integration Planning at FedEx spoke on Oct. 9 to Business Honors students as part of the Mays Leadership Form series.

Gunter shared that FedEx stands out through what it means to communities. The Delivering for Good program, FedEx’s initiative to lend its global network and unparalleled logistics expertise to organizations with mission-critical needs in times of disaster and to help communities heal, learn and thrive, was highlighted. …Read more

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

By William Eigenbrodt ’20, Business Honors

Of the many lessons Zach Lee ’00 imparted to Business Honors students during his Mays Leadership Forum, foremost was the importance of being a lifelong learner. In the constantly changing landscape of energy markets, Lee shared he still learns new things every day. It keeps his work fresh and challenging.

The finance graduate from Mays shared his experiences of constantly inviting people to coffee or lunch to show the importance of persistence and curiosity. He also mentioned the following habits that set him up for success.

  • Collect mentors and learn from them. Find people to invest in your success because they exist.
  • Nothing is just a number. Oftentimes the story behind a situation is just as, if not more important.
  • Stay five years in front. Do things today that will get you to where you want to be in five years.

In regards to his position as CEO of ARM Energy, Lee focused on a few key points.

  • Transparency is incredibly important, do not be afraid to admit you don’t know something. See it as a learning opportunity.
  • Focus on the customers: everybody should win from the business doing well.
  • A family-oriented and entrepreneurial culture is paramount to a successful business.
  • Every employee of his owns equity in the business, and they think like owners.
  • Hire really great talent and let them loose.

Students were impressed by the success Lee has had and his willingness to come to speak with them and answer questions. He inspired them to invest further in themselves and do things today that will get them to where they want to be in five years.

“Mr. Lee had a number of interesting insights on many topics to share,” said business honors major Virginia Krog ’22. “He shared that exports are the new normal. Lee also believes in win-win negotiations and admits that part of why he chose to co-found ARM was because he was ‘not really a very good employee.’”

PPA major Frazer Mulugeta ’19 said he appreciated the advice from Lee because it was relevant to his career aspirations. “Mr. Lee spoke on his experience since graduation in the energy sector,” said Mulugeta. “The advice he gave is directly applicable to my own career trajectory. Being proactive and intellectually curious will benefit me for years to come.”

PPA major Michael Walther ’19 also enjoyed hearing about Lee’s experiences at Mays and his career in energy. “As a future business owner, I will take his advice over failure and how to overcome it for success,” said Walther. “This concept is crucial in entrepreneurship as there are many setbacks on the road to the success of a business.”

Categories: Business Honors, Energy, Featured Stories, Former Students, Mays Business, Spotlights, Students, Texas A&M

By Richard Gay ’22, Business Honors

A company can set itself apart with strong and intentional relationships with clients and employees. Main Street Capital Corporation has developed its entire business around this idea. Their primary service is providing capital solutions to lower middle market companies – hence the name Main Street and not Wall Street. Main Street strives to build relationships and customize transactions to meet the unique needs of each of their portfolio companies.

Mays former student Brent Smith ’97 (accounting) and ’98 (PPA), Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of Main Street Capital Corporation, spoke on Sept. 27 to Business Honors students. He said Main Street’s unique business model involves more than just a financial investment as it truly “takes an investment in people.” Main Street does this by working closely beside the ownership and management of all the companies in their portfolio and committing to the long haul. Building these relationships drives Main Street’s success. Smith also discussed Main Street’s culture in the office feels like a family where everyone is fully invested in the success of the company. “Even the receptionist owns our stock,” Smith said.

…Read more

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