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 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.

He also 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: Alumni, Business Honors, Featured Stories, Former Students, 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

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

The Center for Retailing Studies at Texas A&M University will host the 20th annual M.B. Zale Visionary Merchant Lecture Series at 12:40 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 9.

The lecture will follow a presentation of the M.B. Zale Visionary Merchant Award to 2018 honoree Arch “Beaver” Aplin III ’80, president and founder of Lake Jackson-based Buc-ee’s stores.

After earning his degree from Texas A&M in 1980, Aplin opened his first Buc-ee’s in 1982. His intention was to build the Buc-ee’s brand methodically, with a goal to become the best convenience store available for service and selection. Today, Buc-ee’s enjoys a cult-like following of enthusiastic customers who make stopping for Beaver Nuggets and clean restrooms part of the family vacation.

In an era when many retailers are closing stores, Buc-ee’s is expanding beyond its Texas footprint into Alabama and Florida. Its enormous “travel centers” near 70,000 square feet, dwarfing typical 3,000-square-foot convenience stores.

The M.B. Zale Visionary Merchant Lecture Series, held at Mays Business School, highlights the role of innovation in the success of retail businesses.

Established in 1998, this annual lecture series honors creative merchandising in today’s marketplace. The series also serves to recognize the late M.B. Zale as a legendary retailer, a visionary businessman and esteemed philanthropist.

The speaker chosen to present this lecture epitomizes the leadership, service philosophy and creativity demonstrated by M.B. Zale.

Past honorees include Maxine Clark, founder of Build-A-Bear; Blake Nordstrom, president of Nordstrom; Karen Katz, former president and CEO of Neiman Marcus Group; and Rodney Faldyn ’88, former CEO and president of Academy Sports + Outdoors.

The event is open to the public.
RSVP: crs@mays.tamu.edu

For media inquiries, contact avernon@mays.tamu.edu.

Categories: Alumni, Center for Retailing Studies, Featured Stories, Former Students, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

(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

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

(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

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

The Center for Retailing Studies of Mays Business School hosted its annual Retailing Summit on Oct. 11-12 at the Westin Galleria in Dallas.

The conference featured keynotes from Blue Bell, Dunkin’ Brands, Walmart, Sephora, JCPenney, REI, YETI, Orangetheory, Citi, Mattress Firm, Root Inc., and Brierley+Partners.

Key themes for the 2018 Retailing Summit included:

  • Inspiring retail stories
    Creating meaningful customer experiences
  • Brand authenticity
  • Adapting to meet the needs of consumers
  • Dealing with change

…Read more

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Centers, Featured Stories, Former Students, Marketing, Mays Business, News, 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