(Read a comprehensive story about the conference)

By Bill Peel, Executive Director of Innovation & Strategic Planning

It’s impossible to anticipate the dynamic of being one of five men in a room filled with 400 enthusiastic,  energetic women eagerly anticipating the lessons to be gleaned from a conference titled “From Bossy to Transformational.” That’s exactly the situation I found myself in as I attended the second annual Mays Business School “Women’s Leadership Initiative” conference.

To say that I came with preconceptions about this forum would be a gross understatement. Yet, as I peered through the “looking glass” into the world of women in leadership, I was enveloped by the challenges women face in leadership roles – challenges that are unique and uncommon to their male counterparts. I left with an enlightened respect for a woman’s leadership journey and the manner in which I could better interface with women in the workplace. I also left with leadership lessons applicable to my own career.

Julie Lenzer ’88 challenged the conference participants to get out of their comfort zones, go someplace they’ve never imagined, and follow the thread that will weave their career path. She reminded us that we never know who’s following our careers and the impressions we will make with our actions. I smiled as she noted to “beware of saying something out loud, as it might just prompt your next career move.” It was disappointing, yet realistic, to be reminded that “men can make women feel uncomfortable” in the workplace, vowing to increase my sensitivity to this tendency in myself. The point that resonated the loudest was not to “spend our lives ‘shoulding’ on ourselves.” That one hit home!

Janeen Judah ’81 focused her comments on the three E’s that frame our journey from tactical to transformational leadership – excellence, endurance, and empowerment. She reminded participants to “have a specialty people know us for, finding something we like and becoming good at it.” Be open to new experiences and don’t become rigid in our career plan. Her emphasis on the power of people was vividly displayed as conference participants exchanged contact information and broadened their network. She challenged us to “keep the ladder down, helping those behind us,” reminding me of the importance of being a coach and mentoring someone else along the way, possibly even someone we met that day. Judah cautioned women not to say “yes” to everything, as it causes them to burn out.  She also challenged women to brag about themselves and learn how to tell their own story, noting that “if you don’t know it, no one else will.” That one got a star in my meeting notes!

The lunch panel was a rapid-fire exchange of tips on issues and opportunities facing women as transformational leaders. Men are simply unaware of the “cycle of weariness” that women face as they are not only leaders, but also wives and mothers. It’s true that “a woman’s work is never done.”

Communication and presentation skills were common themes as the panelists implored women to “learn to brag on themselves” and “be ready to present at a moment’s notice.” It was interesting to learn that women often lead with “I think” or “I feel” when men seek direct communication. Authenticity and confidence were tips offered to elevate the perception of women’s leadership acumen.

The power-packed day ended with Shantera Chatman ’98’s presentation and role playing on negotiation. She stressed the power of self-worth and the ability to “quiet the inner voices” that distract us. “Every time you have a crucial conversation, it gets easier,” Chatman noted, as she blended hints with humor to engage the audience. A member of my table thrust her hand high in the air when there was a call for volunteers. The young professional, a mere six months into her career, was hungry for the tips that would empower her to be a better negotiator and self-advocate. It was so rewarding to feel the energy and see the impact the day had made on her and the other women leaders in the room.

The view through the “looking glass” was both convicting and compelling. It revealed a day filled with energy, engagement, enthusiasm, and excitement. And this appreciative male participant left with a new perspective of the challenges women face and the value women leaders bring to our organizations.

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

It has been more than a year since Hurricane Harvey, the Category 4 storm that made landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast with winds up to 130 miles per hour, led to the destruction of many houses and buildings in the Houston and Gulf Coast areas.

In late October, 15 students and two staff members representing Mays and the Office of Diversity & Inclusion traveled to Vidor, Texas, near Beaumont, to aid in the continued relief efforts. Most of the students were members of the Regents’ Ambassador Program for first-generation scholars. This is the group’s second service trip to Southeast Texas. Last fall, students and staff worked to “muck out” a home that had been completely submerged during the storm.

The students painted with primer two homes that were damaged by Hurricane Harvey. The project followed another group that had prepared the drywall. The next teams that work on the homes will continue to process by applying the paint finish, allowing the rebuilders to begin the floor restoration process. It will take continual, collective efforts to finish these homes.

At one home, the water was waist-deep when the resident’s neighbors rescued her in their boat. Both homes’ residents – older females – are still residing in FEMA trailers. One resident was out of town when the students worked, but her daughter hosted the group and worked alongside them, swapping stories about SEC schools and football. The other resident, challenged with mobility issues, was incredibly appreciative for the group’s efforts, as she is not able to work on the home herself.

The team partnered with non-profit group Nehemiah’s Vision, which still has about 140 homes in line to be repaired. The organization is calling on all able school, religious, and community groups to partner as they work to rebuild the area. Many residents still reside in FEMA trailers, and some have departed their homes without expectation of a return, due to the associated costs of rebuilding.

…Read more

Categories: Diversity and Inclusion, Faculty, Mays Business, Selfless service, Spotlights, Staff, Students, Texas A&M

(Read a man’s perspective of the conference).

Fifty-five years after Texas A&M University first began admitting female students, Mays Business School is encouraging women to step into top leadership roles in their organizations and communities. Mays’ Women’s Leadership Initiative Conference, held Oct. 19, offered tips on becoming a transformational leader, overcoming issues that women face in the work world, and negotiations. The conference was attended by approximately 400 current students, former students, Mays faculty and staff, and key stakeholders.

The conference opened with a welcome by Mays Dean Eli Jones ’82, who pointed out that the first strategic initiative in Mays strategic plan calls for increasing diversity and inclusion. This conference encourages women – who are often missing from corporate executive offices — to start stepping into leadership roles. …Read more

Categories: Alumni, Dean Eli Jones, Diversity and Inclusion, Faculty, Featured Stories, Former Students, Mays Business, News, Perspectives, Spotlights, Staff, Texas A&M, Women's Leadership Initiative

The percentage of women enrolling in Mays Business School’s Professional MBA Program continues to grow in a sustained effort to increase the number of women leaders in the business world. Over the first five years of the program, female students made up on average 22 percent of each cohort, with a high of 31 percent and a low of 14 percent. The enrollments of the two most recent cohorts (Classes of 2019 and 2020) average 40 percent women, exceeding the national average of 36.8 percent.

This increase is part of the Professional MBA Program’s effort to fulfill Mays Business School’s mission to advance the world’s prosperity. A Morgan Stanley analysis points out that having more gender diversity in businesses results in increased productivity and innovation, better products and decision-making, and higher employee retention and satisfaction. However, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, women – who make up almost half of the U.S. workforce – comprise only 27 percent of chief executives and 27 percent of computer and information systems managers. Furthermore, 24/7 Wall Street found that only 14 of the top 234 companies that own many of the world’s top brands had a female CEO; nine of these companies did not have a woman serving in an executive position or on the board. …Read more

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

The ventures at this year’s Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Disabled Veterans (EBV), hosted by Mays Business School’s McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, ranged from network solutions for small businesses to artisan products to novel applications of artificial intelligence. The 21 veterans in this year’s class came from across the United States and represented nearly every branch of the military.

Since 2008, the McFerrin Center has hosted the intensive training program developed to help disabled veterans develop the competencies and skills necessary to create and sustain an entrepreneurial or small business venture. …Read more

Categories: Dean Eli Jones, Diversity and Inclusion, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Mays Business, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, News, Programs, Texas A&M

The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship welcomed 22 veterans to Aggieland for the 11th annual Reynolds and Reynolds Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV) on the evening of Saturday, July 14.

EBV at Texas A&M University is an exceptional initiative that leverages the resources and infrastructure of higher education to provide entrepreneurial skills and small business management training to post-9/11 veterans with service-connected disabilities. Part of a nationwide consortia of nine universities offering EBV to disabled veteran entrepreneurs, the overall goal of Texas A&M’s program is to open the door to economic opportunity for our veterans and their families by developing their competencies in creating and sustaining a commercial venture.

The opening ceremonies were held at the Association of Former Students with a welcome address made by Kathryn Greenwade ’88 of the Association of Former Students and opening remarks made by David Shimek ’86 of the program’s underwriter, The Reynolds and Reynolds Company.

Honoring the past, encouraging the future

Ron Poynter, retired Army helicopter pilot and EBV Class of 2012 graduate, was recognized with the Robin ’76 & Robert Starnes ’72 EBV Outstanding Alumni Award and delivered an encouraging and thoughtful speech to this year’s participants. Poynter encouraged the 2018 class to stay focused and engaged in their industry’s trends and to be prepared for a lot of hard work.

The program consists of a 21-day online course followed by a nine-day residency at Texas A&M. During the in-residence portion of EBV, participants will spend the week attending lectures and workshops at Mays Business School’s Center for Executive Development, where they will learn about enterprise basics, lean startup methodologies and small business growth strategies. The bootcamp extends well into the evening hours with individual breakout meetings between participants and volunteer mentors from the local community. Thanks to the generosity of the program’s individual and private-sector sponsors, EBV is offered at no cost to the participants.

This year’s class includes business ventures ranging from an eco-friendly flower alternative to healthcare to drone-imaging services, with nearly every venture focused on employing and giving back to fellow veterans.

Categories: Centers, Diversity and Inclusion, Entrepreneurship, Mays Business, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, News, Selfless service, Spotlights, Texas A&M

With bright eyes and smiling faces, 38 rising high school seniors enjoyed the first annual Mays Transformational Leadership Academy. It gives participants the opportunity to experience college life at Mays Business School including taking classes led by Texas A&M University professors on subjects such as public speaking, leadership, business model development, as well as the majors that are offered at Mays. The participants heard from corporate panels ranging from JP Morgan, Deloitte Consulting, and KPMG.

The objectives of this program are to:

  • Cultivate the leadership and academic potential of rising high school seniors
  • Allow students to experience on a first-hand basis a microcosm of the collegiate and professional lives of business students
  • Introduce talented students to career opportunities in business disciplines
  • Provide information about admission, scholarship funding, and high-impact programs available at Mays

“It is not about starting the company, it is about what you do today with an entrepreneurial mindset,” said Clinical Professor Kris Muir.

 

In addition to these objectives, participants learned from many people who could have a profound effect on not only their decision of where they will be attending university next year but on their lives. “Start to find your 12,” Mays Dean Eli Jones said the opening day. “I made a list of 12 influential people in my life and kept in touch with them throughout my professional career.”

 

Throughout the week, the participants stayed in Texas A&M dormitories and were led by seven small group leaders who were there for them as support. Every night, the small group leaders lead a reflection on the days’ events as well as assisted them with their week-long project, which the participants presented on the last day. When they presented, they also be received feedback from a panel of Mays professors and executives.

 

The event was hosted by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Mays Business School and coordinated by numerous faculty, staff members, and students. Ricky Dillard Jr. ’19 served as the Chief Logistics Officer of the program and Kate Wellmann ’18 was the Chief of Staff. “Our team is dedicated to being a voice and not an echo for the future world leaders,” Dillard said. “Seeing the enthusiastic parents and participants at the MTLA opening has jump-started and re-energized our purpose to enable a diverse set of Transformational Leaders to begin their leadership journey.”

Several participants said interactions at the Student Recreational Center on campus helped strengthen their relationships. “We think this will help us in our group project by being able to trust each other on a deeper level,” one said.

The 80/20 Foundation and KPMG have demonstrated their support for our efforts to create a culture of diversity, inclusion, and engagement at Mays by sponsoring the Mays Transformational Leadership Academy. Organizers are hopeful this will lead to some of the students becoming members of the Texas A&M Class of 2023.

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

A group of high school juniors spent the past weekend attending “A Day at Mays” to learn more about their options as not only potential Mays Business School students, but also as prospective Texas A&M University students. Of a select group of students invited, 35 visited campus.

The overriding goal of the “A Day at Mays” program was to increase the number of students from under-represented groups who pursue degrees at Mays Business School. By doing so, Mays hopes to make a major contribution to the larger objective of ensuring a workplace that is not only diversified, but also staffed by highly skilled employees who are prepared to work in a global and multicultural environment.

Photo credit: Corey D. Stone ’13

The activities began on Friday, April 20, and extended through Saturday, April 21. A dinner on Friday provided the high school students to converse with other prospective students, family members, current students, and Mays faculty at the George Hotel in College Station. After dinner, prospective students paired up with current students in Business Student Council (BSC) and Multicultural Association of Business Students (MABS) and participated in a fun evening at Grand Central Station, where prospective students were able to build connections and ask questions about real “college” life at Texas A&M.

The next day, the students were able to take a walking tour of the Texas A&M campus and then moved to the Cocanougher Center to learn from Mays faculty and staff. Undergraduate recruiter Corey Stone shared with the students the application process for entrance into Texas A&M. He offered honest advice on earning college credit in high school and the requirements for the students to work for. “When in doubt, email me,” Stone said.

After Stone’s presentation, a panel of current PPA students shared their knowledge of their different track decisions and experiences on their internships. They described the opportunities given in public accounting and explained why they chose to do the PPA program, followed by a question-and-answer session for both parents and prospective students. Students were then given a brief overview of the PPA program by Casey Kyllonen, followed by brief overviews of the rest of the departments in Mays.

At the end of the day, prospective students attended an Opportunity Fair where students could ask questions about opportunities at Mays. This provided a convenient way for participants to learn one-on-one about their specific interests and options, after a packed weekend of group discussions and panels. 

The program was sponsored by the PPA program at Mays in conjunction with
PricewaterhouseCoopers. The Profession Program at Mays is an integrated program that allows participants to complete a bachelor’s of business administration in accounting and a master’s of science in one of five business disciplines in just five years.

– By Erin Cullers, PPA student

Categories: Accounting, Diversity and Inclusion, Donors Corner, Featured Stories, Mays Business, News, PPA, Students, Texas A&M

Third-year accounting doctoral student Jennifer Glenn has faced several obstacles in her life that have not only taught her how to be resilient, but have also shown her the power of perseverance.

Her inspiring fight against adversity led to her selection for the 2018 Community of Scholars Unsung Hero Award, an award created by the Texas A&M University Office of Graduate and Professional Studies (OGAPS) to recognize current graduate students who have faced and overcome difficult life experiences during their time at Texas A&M.

Glenn’s fight against adversity began in elementary school, when she developed a severe stutter. She was told by many of her teachers that she would never find a good job due to her inability to speak without stuttering. This did not set her back, however, because she still earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting and her CPA license, despite her speech impediment. “I refuse to let anything stand in my way when it comes to accomplishing my goals,” Glenn said.

Years later, during her second year in the Ph.D. program at Texas A&M, Glenn learned that she needed brain surgery to remove a brain tumor that had been growing at an alarmingly fast rate and was feared to be cancer. Glenn had brain surgery six months before her comprehensive exam, which is required before a Ph.D. student can begin working on their dissertation. …Read more

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

With around 200 attendees coming “together with technology,” The 19th annual Women in Information Technology Conference brought together women to network and learn from others currently building their careers in information technology. It was hosted by the Center for the Management of Information Systems (CMIS) on March 2 in the Memorial Student Center at Texas A&M University.

Female students with an interest in information technology participated in roundtable discussions on topics such as lessons learned from senior executives, managers, professionals and new graduates in the workforce. They also discussed advice such as finding a job, career building, finding a mentor and new technology trends.

After a welcome speech by Executive Professor and CMIS Director Robin Starnes, the conference attendees heard from three keynote speakers:

  • Amy Suhl, CIO, Shell Oil – #Makethefuture & ‘Aha’ Moments in Leadership
  • Diane Schwarz, VP and CIO, Textron – Tech Trends From My Career to Yours
  • Tammy Hermann, Director of IT, H-E-B – Mind-Blowing Tech – at the grocery store?

In her presentation, Suhl advised the women to “get clear on what you will be measured on.” This is done through credibility, reliability, and intimacy, which all culminates into trust. Key components of leadership Suhl spoke on were performance, image, and exposure.

When sharing “Tech Trends,” Schwarz shed light on self-healing, shared insights from security in the past, explained the concept of how technology constantly changes, and highlighted the benefits of mentoring and listening.

Hermann’s presentation on “Mind-Blowing Tech – at the grocery store?” outlined Gig economies, the desire for conversation, short attention spans, and how tech

The conference ended with the announcement of door prize winners including two iPads provided by the Texas A&M IT department, a Katie Decker pendant donated by David Gardner’s Jewelers, $500 in scholarship funds, and many more. All guests received gift bags as well.

Feedback on the event was positive, with guests commenting that “the ratio of company representatives to students ratio at the tables was perfect this year,” and that the “speakers were great, but the best part was interacting with the students and being able to trade advice.”

CMIS will celebrate its 20th annual Women in IT Conference on March 1, 2019, at the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center.

 

 

 

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