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

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 Audrey Adkins ’18, Business Honors

The pursuit of challenging experiences and an unwillingness to condone complacency are key factors contributing to Raja Akram’s success in life. His professional experience in the financial services industry provided a powerful message on the significance of seeking challenge and maintaining focus on long-term ambitions. These factors are important to consider throughout the lifetime of a career.

Akram ’95 (finance) and ’97 (PPA), Controller and Chief Accounting Officer of Citigroup, spoke Nov. 9 with a group of Business Honors students. He shared a number of stories and formative experiences from his career.

He encouraged students to pursue opportunities that promote growth and learning. In his career, growth was often the product of his willingness to work through challenging circumstances. When faced with challenging circumstances, Akram advised students to “focus on being solution providers.” He stated that value creation often comes in the form of solution creation, rather than problem analysis. …Read more

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

Sometimes brilliance in marketing and merchandising takes the shape of a beaver. Texas travelers know when they see billboards with quirky slogans telling them to “Buc-ee’s or Bust!” that clean restrooms, beef jerky, 79-cent fountain drinks, and beaver nuggets soon await them.

Arch “Beaver” Aplin ‘80, the co-founder and current president of Buc-ee’s spoke to almost 400 students, faculty, staff and local business leaders as part of the 20th annual M.B. Zale Visionary Merchant Lecture Series hosted by the Center for Retailing Studies. To excel in this industry, Aplin said, “I must exceed the customer’s expectations.” Buc-ee’s differentiates itself from the general convenience store category by building enormous “travel centers.”

The recently opened Katy store boasts 53,000 square feet of retail space stocked with interesting one-of-a-kind items, like pickled jalapenos. Typical convenience locations are about 3,000 square feet.

Aplin says Buc-ee’s is “always looking for products that get customers exclaiming ‘whoa, who would have thought they carried that!’” …Read more

Categories: Alumni, Entrepreneurship, Executive Speakers, Featured Stories, Former Students, Mays Business, Texas A&M

By Jacob Billings ’19, accounting and MIS

Grant Thornton LLP’s CEO Mike McGuire is looking for three things in today’s professional services leaders – curiosity, career focus, and courage.

McGuire noted the accounting industry is rapidly changing, thanks to digitization. Clients are beginning to expect substantive contributions immediately even from entry-level staff.

McGuire was invited to speak at Mays by Dean Eli Jones as part of the school’s Transformational Leader Speaker Series. He was the focus of a roundtable discussion with students that was led by Professional Program in Accounting Director Mike Shaub. He also met with key leaders at Mays. …Read more

Categories: Accounting, Executive Speakers, Featured Stories, Mays Business, News, PPA, 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 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

After working together for 23 years, Ben Guill and Joseph “Joe Bob” Edwards know how to use their passions and healthy relationships to build a successful private equity firm. Although neither graduated from Texas A&M University, they both feel they share a unique bond with the school that has led them to speak on behalf of the Mays Transformational Leader Speaker Series, which recognizes business leaders in today’s society and gives them the opportunity to share their professional advice and expertise with the Mays community.

Guill holds an MBA in finance from Wharton School of Business and a bachelor’s degree in English from Princeton University. After receiving a bachelor’s degree with a focus in finance from the University of Texas at Austin, Edwards moved to Houston to start working for Simmons & Company International, where he met Guill. Three years later they both moved on to work for First Reserve Corporation, where they opened the firm’s Houston office and led First Reserve’s investment efforts in the oilfield services sector. The pair eventually left to start White Deer Energy, where Guill serves as managing partner.

Guill started out the session at Mays by giving one key piece of advice before jumping into discussions of White Deer Energy and opening up the floor for students to ask questions. “If you are lucky enough to get a job before business graduate school, do not think you have to go back,” he said. “Business school is not for everyone, so do not go to grad school just because you don’t know what to do.” …Read more

Categories: Executive Speakers, Featured Stories, Mays Business, Mays Transformational Leader speakers, News, 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