Texas A&M’s Business School honors the firm for advancing their mission
Texas A&M’s Mays Business School is pleased to announce Deloitte as its 2022 Partner of the Year. Mays Business School presented the award at a ceremony on Friday, September 16, which included roundtable discussions featuring Deloitte leaders and students.
Ahead of the ceremony, Deloitte representatives met with Texas A&M Vice President and Associate Provost for Diversity Dr. Annie McGowan and Professional Program in Accounting interns. Interim Dean Ricky W. Griffin presented the 2022 Partner of the Year Award to Deloitte.
RECOGNIZING A LEADING MAYS PARTNER
Since 2016, the Partner of the Year honor has been given to organizations that have achieved excellence in advancing Mays’ vision – providing career opportunities, developing quality professionals, and investing intellectual and financial capital toward the realization of Mays’ mission.
“Mays is fortunate to have so many stellar partnerships with a wide array of organizations,” said Interim Dean Ricky W. Griffin. “Our vision to advance the world’s prosperity is made possible by these organizations. Those who have received the Partner of the Year recognition from Mays have taken the responsibility of partnership to a new level.”
Deloitte provides industry-leading audit, consulting, tax, and advisory services to many of the world’s most admired brands, including nearly 90% of the Fortune 500®, more than 7,000 private companies, numerous government agencies, and higher education institutions.
Building on more than 175 years of service, Deloitte’s network of member firms spans more than 150 countries and territories. At Texas A&M, Deloitte has developed deep ties with Mays, as well as with the broader university community.
“Deloitte offers a wide variety of internships and employment opportunities to our students and their professionals have consistently visited us in Aggieland to speak in our classrooms and events,” Griffin said. “Deloitte goes above and beyond in their selfless service of Mays and Texas A&M through their time and talent. They are phenomenal partners, on campus and off, and we are delighted to honor them.”
“Deloitte is proud to be able to make an impact at Texas A&M and is honored to be recognized with this award. Our team — including 983 Aggies who are Deloitte professionals — wants to see Texas A&M, Mays, the students, faculty and administration be successful,” said Amy Chronis, Houston managing partner, Deloitte LLP. “We are thrilled to continue to deepen our work with Texas A&M and Mays through faculty development, curriculum support, enhanced student experiences, and strategy development.”
Initiated in 2016, Mays’ Partner of the Year has previously been awarded to Phillips 66, KPMG, EY, and Reynolds and Reynolds.
In late July, Michelle Fraire ’22, Mays Marketing Communications Student Assistant, asked Trevor Hale ’97, Clinical Professor of Business Analytics at Mays Business School, about his experience as a Senior Faculty Fellow in the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Summer Faculty Research Program (SFRP).
Enjoy the interaction:
Fraire: 1. In your words, what is this program and why does it matter?
Hale: The Office of Naval Research (ONR) Summer Faculty Research Program (SFRP) is run by the ONR and supports about 75 faculty members and their research efforts at various US Navy research labs and bases across the country. The goal is to unite Naval facilities that have some research needs with university faculty that have relevant research skills. The result is a nice win-win. (Visit the official Navy website for program information.)
Fraire: 2. What has been the highlight of your experience so far?
San Nicolas Island. Credit: Flickr: twiga_swala
Hale: There are a bunch. If I had to pick one, I’d have to say that one was today. This summer was my (unprecedented) fifth ONR SFRP. I’ve spent the summers of 2009, 2011, 2013, 2017, and (now) 2022 in Port Hueneme, California. And today (July 25, 2022) I went out and back (a 16-minute flight each way from and to US Naval Air Station Point Mugu) to San Nicolas Island …a completely US military island that the US Navy acquired in 1933. It was awesome to see.
Fraire: 3. What of this experience has had the greatest impact on what you want for your career going forward, if at all?
Hale: The joke is I now have California residency as I’ve now spent 52 weeks there…albeit spread over five summers at 10 weeks and change each time. As for impact, they have varied. One of those summers has resulted in a journal article in energy management. One summer resulted in a white paper that was snail-mailed to 535 particular offices in Washington, DC. One summer I’m not allowed to talk about as it was a classified project. This summer was about reaching out to potential academic partners to be part of the new Microgrid Academy that my supervisor, Dr. Bill Anderson, started about a year ago. Among about a hundred others, this included inviting, of course, Dr. Stratos Pistikopoulos, the Director of the Texas A&M Energy Institute.
Fraire: 4. What is something you’ve learned about yourself that you didn’t know before you started this program?
Hale: I learned that I am more resilient than I thought I was. I am able to immerse myself in someone else’s research. As an academic and as an American, I am proud that I can support the US Navy…if only in a small way.
Fraire: 5. What do you find the most rewarding about participating in this program?
Hale: The most rewarding part of participating in the ONR Summer Faculty Research Program is being part of team US Navy. This may sound a little hyper-patriotic but it is so true. Like Mays, we…the United States Navy…really are a family. Mission-driven but family at heart. My brother (a 6’4”, West Point alum, US Army Lieutenant Colonel version of me) might disagree but he’d be wrong.
Fraire: 6. How is this program related to your interests and field of research?
Hale: My Ph.D. student, Aaron Heinrich, has started and will be writing a dissertation in the energy management arena. Aaron is a Navy veteran. The synergy therein is downright palpable.
Fraire: 7. When you’re not conducting research, how do you spend your time off?
Hale: In the ‘year’ of my life that I’ve been out here, I have surfed at Rincon Point, I have had brunch at Geoffrey’s two tables down from Tom Hanks, I have ridden my bicycle from Ventura up to Ojai and back on a 15 mile bike-only bike path (probably 5 or 6 times), I have played sand volleyball at my office on Naval Base Ventura County during my lunch hour as well as at the infamous East Beach in Santa Barbara. I have visited Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo, UCSB, UCLA, UCSD, USC, Claremont McKenna, Cal State – Northridge, and nearby Cal State – Channel Islands…which was founded just 20 years ago in 2002. I rode my beach cruiser up and down the Venice Beach boardwalk. I have visited a friend in Goleta, a cousin in La Jolla, and a best friend in Ventura. I have hiked the nearby mountains and I have strolled across the base. I have stayed off base at the Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Resort and I have stayed on base in ‘BEQs’ (Bachelor Enlisted Quarters). I have played golf on the base at the Seabee Golf Course as well as off base at private Riviera Country Club with a member. In both 2009 and 2011 when my daughter, Lauren, was younger (she just celebrated her 21st birthday the other day) I spent three-day weekends at Disneyland and had tea and crumpets with the Princesses….IYKYK.
He received a Ph.D. in operations research Texas A&M University, a M.S. in engineering management from Northeastern University, and a B.S. in industrial and management systems engineering from Penn State University. Previously, he was a faculty member at University of Houston-Downtown, Ohio University, and Colorado State University-Pueblo.
Dr. Hale is a third generation professor and a fifth generation Texan. His father, the late Dr. Leslie C. Hale, Jr., was the A. Robert Noll Professor of Electrical Engineering at Penn State while his father’s father was a professor of economics at then Texas College of Mines, now UTEP.
His research interests are in the areas of location science, warehouse science, data analytics, and grid-scale energy management. Dr. Hale spends about a third of his summers as an Office of Naval Research Senior Faculty Fellow at Naval Base Ventura County in Port Hueneme, California. He is the managing co-author of Pearson’s number one textbook in business analytics, Quantitative Analysis for Management, now in its 13th edition. His research has been published in the Annals of Operations Research, the European Journal of Operational Research, the International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, and the International Journal of Production Research among other outlets. He is a senior member of both INFORMS and DSI.
Letchuman co-authored this article with his mentor, Dr. Leonard L. Berry, Mays Business School’s University Distinguished Professor of Marketing, along with Dr. Michael K. Hole, executive director of The Impact Factory and assistant professor at The University of Texas, and Dr. Ge Bai, professor of accounting at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School.
Letchuman now has had four published articles and a fifth under review while an undergraduate student at Texas A&M. “It is unusual for an undergrad to publish an article regardless of where he or she is placed in the byline. To be the lead author for an article in which the other authors are MDs or Ph.Ds. means that Sunjay earned the placement by leading the way throughout,” Berry said. “Dr. Hole, Dr. Bai, and I have plenty of experience researching and writing articles and we pitched in during the cycle of multiple drafts, but Sunjay earned the lead author spot on his own merits.”
The article’s publication in Forefront offers the co-authors an important opportunity to inform and influence healthcare policymakers and industry leaders. “Appearing in the leading health policy journal, this article may actually lead to revision of the Community Benefit Standard, which, in turn, will enhance nonprofit hospitals’ involvement and investment in improving community health,” Berry said.
This paper analyzed the Community Benefit Standard, which is used by the Internal Revenue Service to determine whether a hospital qualifies as a nonprofit. “Over half of U.S. hospitals are organized as nonprofits, meaning they do not pay taxes in exchange for benefiting community health,” Letchuman said. “Unfortunately, however, most nonprofit hospitals do not provide more community benefit than their for-profit counterparts. A recent study showed that, for every $100 of total expenses, nonprofit hospitals spend just $2.30 on charity care (a key component of community benefit)—substantially less than the $3.80 of every $100 spent by for-profit hospitals.”
The co-authors suggest changes to the Community Benefit Standard in order to make nonprofit hospitals more accountable for enhancing the community’s health and welfare. “The federal, state, and local tax exemptions that nonprofit hospitals receive amount to over $25 billion annually. Local property tax dollars that nonprofit hospitals would have paid could have been used to build parks, improve schools, fix roads, and offer other services that bolster public health,” Letchuman said. “Our article describes which of the Community Benefit Standard’s 10 current standards should be kept, modified, or removed, and we include 3 new standards to add. Policymakers can use our article as a guide to strengthen current policy to ensure nonprofit hospitals fulfill their stated mission of promoting the health and well-being of the communities they serve.”
The article also reinforces the role that nonprofit hospitals can play in community wellbeing. “One of the biggest takeaways from this article is that nonprofit hospitals should focus on promoting and achieving community health equity, which means everyone has a fair opportunity to be as healthy as possible. This requires the dismantling of barriers to good health, including poverty, discrimination, and their consequences, such as access to stable housing and education,” Letchuman said. “As anchors in their communities, nonprofit hospitals can and should dedicate at least some of their surplus funds to address the social determinants of health, and they should make the value of their tax exemptions transparent to allow the public to evaluate the adequacy of community benefits provided.”
These publishing opportunities give Letchuman, who will enroll in the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in the fall and plans to devote a part of his career to influencing healthcare policy, the chance to work with and learn from some of the world’s leading researchers. “I am humbled and constantly inspired by the researchers I get to work with,” the Mays student said. “These professors and researchers are doing the work I want to do one day—making high-quality healthcare more accessible to every American. It’s a privilege for me to learn from and work with my role models.”
His co-authors have been equally impressed with the Aggie’s work. “I am certain Sunjay will change the world for good, and I’m grateful I’ve had the chance to watch his rocket-ship career take off,” Hole said. “How fun, too, collaborating across “rival” institutions; we are certainly stronger together.”
Twenty Aggie-led startups competed in the only university-wide business plan pitch competition.
By Lara Robertson, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship at Texas A&M University
COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS March 8, 2022 – The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship hosted its fifth annual Aggie PITCH at the Doug Pitcock ’49 Texas A&M Hotel and Conference Center Monday evening. Now open to both current and former students, Aggie PITCH is the only university-wide business plan pitch competition at Texas A&M and seeks to identify the best Aggie business pitches from across industries and sectors.
For the 2022 event, a total of 20 startups were selected as finalists to compete for the coveted McFerrin Cup and a share of more than $35,000 in prize money. Split into three divisions —Full Pitch for both current and former students and Elevator Pitch open to both — the competition gives startup founders the opportunity to pitch their business in a fast-paced, high-energy format to a panel of anonymous judges and an audience of students, professionals, mentors, possible investors and fellow Aggie entrepreneurs.
In the Full Pitch divisions, 10 teams were each given 10 minutes for their pitch. In contrast, the Elevator Pitch competitors were only given a 1-minute allotment for their pitch. Although the anonymous panel of judges was tasked with ranking and selecting the winners of the Full Pitch division, audience members were invited to take part and cast their vote to select for the winners of the Elevator Pitch division.
Finalists’ ventures at this year’s Aggie PITCH represent a variety of industries including agriculture, information technology, consumer products and energy technology, among others, and are now automatically admitted into an exclusive group of startup founders who are eligible to represent Texas A&M University at national and global entrepreneurial competitions.
Flux Works LLC took home first place in the Full Pitch division for current students and was awarded $7,500. Bryton Praslicka ’24, startup lead, reacted with, “Winning to us means that people are excited about our technology. People believe in our technology. And winning this demonstrates that, and that’s really incredible.” Flux Works LLC, a developer and manufacturer of magnetic gears, has now met their fundraising goal and plans to use the prize money to buy back their intellectual property from Texas A&M and move into product development.
Taking home top honors and also $7,500 in the Full Pitch division for former students was Wide Afternoon, LLC (Ovie). Ovie aims to solve the problem of food waste in homes with a digital smart tracking system and plans to use their winnings to purchase prototype samples to get their product into user homes for testing. “Winning Aggie PITCH is so amazing because it validates our idea, where we’re at. And to have our peers and industry professionals that we respect acknowledge that our company is on to something, and believe in us, it means the world. It’s fuel,” stated Ovie lead Stacie Thompson ’02.
“Aggie PITCH continues to be a highlight of our year at McFerrin. The energy in the room is palpable, from both the pitch teams and the audience members getting to experience an event like this,” stated Blake Petty ’98, executive director of the McFerrin Center. “In only our fifth year of Aggie PITCH, we’ve continued to see growth in both the quantity and quality of pitch competitors. Seeing entrepreneurs, specifically Aggie entrepreneurs, pitch their startup businesses to such a diverse, engaging crowd is something I’ll never grow tired of.”
2022 Aggie PITCH Winners
Full Pitch Division | Current Students
1st Place ($7,500): Flux Works LLC [Bryton Praslicka ’24, Daniel Zamarron ‘22]
2nd Place ($5,000): Teale [Narendra Vishnumolakala ’22, Connor Ust ’22]
3rd Place ($3,500): Flow-Pax [Haley Clark ‘23]
Full Pitch Division | Former Students
1st Place ($7,500): Wide Afternoon, LLC (Ovie) [Stacie Thompson ‘02]
2nd Place ($5,000): ClaraTech [Clara Orlean ‘20]
3rd Place ($3,500): SageSpectra [Madi Heck ’21, Mark Golla ‘22]
Elevator Pitch Division
1st Place ($1,500): South Texas Security Gates [Carson Neal ‘22]
2nd Place ($1,000): Imperium [Donald Bowen ‘25]
3rd Place ($750): Unravl Hair [Zanbria Asante ‘18]
The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship serves as the hub for entrepreneurship at Texas A&M University. The McFerrin Center’s goal is to enhance entrepreneurial education by providing training, networking and assistance to enterprising students, faculty and former students.
The McFerrin Center enables the startup and growth of countless businesses and provides competitive opportunities, professional development and financial support to aspiring entrepreneurs in the Aggie community through the support of a robust volunteer mentor network, corporate supporters, faculty and staff.
The McFerrin Center defines entrepreneurship as an attitude that acts upon opportunity. In this spirit, the McFerrin Center strives to deliver programs and events that are inspiring, engaging, motivating and life-changing. This philosophy has resulted in the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship offering more than 30 unique programs each year that positively impact the lives of thousands of students, veterans and other professionals seeking to blaze their own trail as an entrepreneur.
Media Contact: Lara Robertson, communications manager, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, 979- 845-1724, firstname.lastname@example.org
11 faculty members at Mays Business School rank in the top 2% of scholars worldwide. A broad-scale effort analyzing citations of almost 7 million scholars was conducted by Stanford University and Elsevier BV, resulting in a publicly available standardized database containing the top 2% of cited scientists in the world.
We are so fortunate to have such a vibrant group of faculty at Mays Business School who are invested in providing lasting impact at the college and beyond. They include Michael A. Hitt, Leonard L. Berry, R. Duane Ireland, Venkatesh Shankar, David A. Griffith, Rajan Varadarajan, Albert Cannella, Lorraine Eden, Murray R. Barrick, Xenophon Koufteros, and Chelliah Sriskandarajah.
According to Fortune magazine, Mays Business School at Texas A&M University has the top online business analytics program in the country. Factors highlighting the success of the MS Analytics program include selectivity, demand, and brand, per Fortune’s methodology.
One component to the ranking outcome emphasizes the MS Analytics program enrolling its most recent class with an average of over 12 years of full-time work experience and an average incoming undergraduate GPA of 3.42. With a mix of computer science, business acumen, business math, and statistics, this online/face-to-face, flexible format degree allows students to select from many diverse paths in data science while incorporating business and leadership skills.
“We are so pleased to see our program recognized at the national level,” said Jerry Strawser, associate dean for graduate programs. “This ranking reflects the outstanding efforts of our program leadership – Myra Gonzales and Javier Aldape – as well as the faculty and staff who create a valuable learning experience for our students.”
MS Analytics program director Myra Gonzalez shared, “As a young, quickly-growing industry, we are committed to the mission of Mays Business School: to be a vibrant learning organization that creates impactful knowledge and develops transformational leaders. We designed our program to be an inclusive learning environment, while also focusing on an excellent customer experience (CX) through our cohort model. Those efforts, in addition to our quality faculty and curriculum, have enabled a strong graduation rate launching excellent data leaders into the marketplace.”
With over 300+ data science/analytics programs in the nation, students have many options. Texas A&M’s MS Analytics offers a formal education led by prestigious faculty with terminal degrees or strong ties to industry. Each year, the program enrolls 65 students from all backgrounds. Faculty and students create synergy in the program. “Our faculty members’ capability, paired with our students’ persistence and thirst for excellence, enable the quality and the success of the MS Analytics program,” added Gonzalez.
“In today’s challenging and rapidly changing global markets, firms gain significant benefits by using sophisticated tools and techniques to analyze, interpret, and use data in competitively relevant ways,” shared interim dean, R. Duane Ireland. “Our MS Analytics program presents learners with opportunities to develop skills through which they can help their firms succeed by working with data effectively. We are thrilled for our MS Analytics program to receive Fortune’s number 1 ranking! Congratulations to our outstanding students and to our faculty and staff who collaborate with them.”
Texas A&M’s MS Analytics program is currently accepting applications for the fall 2022 cohort. Visit the MS Analytics site for an overview. To request more information, contact Javier Aldape, Program Manager at 979-845-2149 or email@example.com.
On November 12th, the theme “Reinvent Your Narrative; Leading with Strength and Resilience” echoed throughout The Zone Club at Kyle Field. Mays Business School’s Women’s Leadership Initiative Conference program offered a wealth of inspirational ideas and a chance for women leaders to network, while several sessions touched their hearts with stories of overcoming great life challenges. The conference was made possible thanks to the financial support of corporate sponsors BP, PwC, Reynolds & Reynolds Sales Leadership Institute, EY, Randstad, and Lockheed Martin.
Approximately 350 women professionals and Texas A&M University students filled the room, while another 150 attended virtually. “If I’m being honest, it was so cool to be at Kyle Field, on Ring Day and celebrating women,” said Morgan Young ’02, vice president at Lockton Dunning Benefits in Plano, TX. “To know that each and every person there has a crazy busy life, yet they took the whole day to invest in themselves and grow personally and professionally – it made me feel so proud to be a part of a university that gave us this opportunity. And the chocolate cake was insanely good!”
The focus and energy of the conference resonated with everyone in the audience—including those who attended this conference in the past. “Previous years’ conferences were amazing in their own right but were more or less good reminders for me,” said Jaime Ledford ’06, a senior business program manager for Amegy Bank in Houston, TX. “I appreciated the applicable learning this year, specifically the ‘Leading with Strengths’ where we were able to see how strengths have a strong side and a shadow side.”
Women enjoyed being back together in person. Review the full #MaysWLI ’21 photo album.
The first-time attendees also applauded the conference’s presentations. “The quality of speakers stood out to me; they showed humility, leadership, strength, courage, and transparency,” said Tracy Foster ’96, associate agency director and chief financial officer at the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service in College Station, TX. “In this day and age, it’s so refreshing to see women leaders who can speak about their challenges and obstacles with a focus on reaching a hand to lift other women leaders in growth personally and professionally.”
Attendees learned new ideas and received the motivation to put them into action. They also left with plans to attend the 2022 conference, which is scheduled for Friday, October 14, 2022 with Chevron as the title sponsor. “I’ve already gone back and bragged to the women leaders in my office and encouraged them to come next year,” Young said. “The thoughtfulness that went into planning the day, the order of the speakers and variety of information was terrific.”
Rewriting Life’s Narrative
The conference focused on helping women become proactive in their lives through questioning society’s social constructs. “We can go through life accepting constructs just as they are presented to us, but there is a great deal to be gained from examining their meaning and the manner which they are applied,” Texas A&M’s Interim Vice President and Associate Vice President for Diversity Annie McGowan told the audience. “Cues that suggest marginality or a lack of a critical mass in a particular setting can impact the way that we feel about being in that space.”
The day’s program focused on learning how to view these cues and then interrupt the impact on lives. “The better equipped we are to process the impact of these cues on our own narrative and those of others, the more we can dedicate our important resources to blazing a trail into the domains of our choices,” McGowan said.
Strong, Resilient Leadership
The conference didn’t shy away from addressing the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, which created significant stress for women in trying to learn to combine work and home. BP Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Dawn Constantin shared her journey to find balance, even as she struggled with depression caused by the pandemic as well as BP’s reorganization. She found that she had to learn how to come from a place of strength by being true to herself. “To me, that means showing up and being your genuine, authentic, real self, no matter what situation you’re in,” she said. “To be yourself, you have to know yourself and spend time with yourself. What gets you excited? What gets you out of bed in the morning?”
This analysis allows women to determine how they want to show up in every area of life and then choose aligned behaviors. “The more authentic you are and the more genuine you are in everything you do, the more engaging you are,” she said. “People want to listen to you and be with you. People want to work with you—and that’s powerful. That’s walking into the room with strength.”
Constantin also pointed to the importance of resilience. “Everyone has goals, and you have to work for them,” she said. “You have to grit your teeth, put in the hours, ask the questions, be curious, get smarter.”
Resilience also is important in relation to working with other people. Constantin described how she used her knowledge of sports to help build connections with male colleagues. “You have to learn to relate to people, because the people you work with will help you get to where you want to be,” she said. “You have to be able to find that connection point, build that trust, and build that kind of relationship.”
She stressed self-care’s role in creating resilience. “Pay attention to you. Nobody can give 150% seven days a week, 365 days a year. You will drop, so take a break. Pay attention to your physical and mental health,” she said. “This became such an important issue, living through the pandemic.”
Reinventing one’s narrative is critical. “Nobody is perfect,” Constantin said. “It’s really important to seek advice and get feedback because nobody has this all figured out. Everyone makes mistakes; everyone has distractions along the way.”
She encouraged listeners to seek a mentor, coach, pastor, leader, teacher, or friend. “It’s really important to seek criticism and constructive feedback from people you trust,” she said. “It will make you better, so whatever rooms we show up in or want to influence, we can be better over time.”
Two sessions by Dr. Sarah Jaks, associate director of Mays Full-Time MBA Program, helped the audience identify their strengths and then begin to figure out how to utilize them. She encouraged the audience to identify their strengths through determining what they enjoy doing, when they felt their best, and the words that describe their strengths. “Shift your story and tell the story that you want to tell,” she said.
Using the Strength Finders analysis as a basis, Jaks pointed out that every person has all 34 strengths, but some strengths are more prevalent. She encouraged the audience to focus on their top strengths, as opposed to trying to hone what they consider “weaknesses.” Combining strengths also can be advantageous because together they cause an amplifier effect.
Teams also benefit from understanding members’ strengths. Jaks pointed out that this approach allows teams to use everyone’s strengths, understand different perspectives, and operate effectively as a team.
The conference also addressed the importance of helping women who have faced significant life challenges. Mays Interim Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs Shannon Deer and Quantum Circles Consulting Owner Cheryl Miller described “women overcomers” who have rewritten their narratives from an earlier life chapter spent in poverty, addiction, incarceration, and/or engagement in the sex trade. “These were stories that at one time were about darkness and destruction that become stories about hope and new life,” Miller said. “We have found that women who have overcome challenging pasts become some of the most productive and loyal employees.”
Citing several examples—including Miller’s own story of overcoming addiction and poverty to raise premature twins—the pair said it’s important to realize that society often unfairly puts middle-class expectations on these women. Additionally, this expectation leads to the creation of assumptions that these women are not able to or willing to do the work to succeed.
Inviting the audience to think back to their early days in leadership, the speakers asked them to consider how they felt—and how those feelings can help turn around the lives of women overcomers. “We advocate for immediate leadership opportunities for women overcomers,” Deer said. “That’s early opportunities to lead, whether that’s in big or small ways.”
Additionally, the co-authors of “Business Doing Good: Engaging Women and Elevating Communities” noted that many of the skills that women learn when they are struggling are useful and valuable skills in business. For example, previous attributes such as being bossy, pushy, and manipulative can be reframed and then used in productive ways.
This session resonated with many attendees—but perhaps none more than Stephanie Davis ’00, the director of educational development of the non-profit, Together for Haiti, which seeks to encourage, equip and empower vulnerable women. “One of the most powerful points the speakers made is that these vulnerable women have been told they have character flaws, but those flaws are just strengths that haven’t been harnessed for good yet,” the resident of Salado, TX said.
The importance of personal resilience also is critical in the face of tragedy. Tara Storch shared her journey after her teenage daughter, Taylor, died in a skiing accident. The family decided to donate Taylor’s organs, which resulted in saving five lives.
Storch described her quest after her daughter’s death. “I had a longing to hear her heartbeat again,” she told the audience.” She did just that, meeting the nurse who benefitted from Taylor’s heart as television cameras captured the moment.
Storch and her husband used this tragedy to make a difference for society through creating Taylor’s Gift Foundation, which emotionally supports organ donor families and shares the importance of outliving yourself through organ donation. “We had to make the best out of the worst situation, so we decided to focus on the good,” Storch said. “The good was that Taylor saved lives and so we decided to create something to honor her legacy and keep her spirit alive. Our sweet girl is still impacting lives to this day.”
Attendees were moved by Storch’s ability to pick herself up and move forward in such a meaningful way after the death of a child. “Tara took one of the most awful situations a mom/parent can experience and turned it into a battle cry of how to outlive yourself,” Young said.
Avoiding the Red Zone
The day’s final session encouraged the audience to consider how they lead when facing pressure and triggers that mark the red zone. “We are not on our firm footing when we are in fight or flight,” said co-presenter Cindy Billington, interim director of Mays Graduate Career Management Center. “It means something has caused us to freeze, but freeze in a way so that our brain, our head, our heart, and our soul are not talking to one another.”
For women to keep their feet planted so they can be at their best requires incorporating their head and their heart, which creates soulful leadership. This type of leadership involves strategic thinking as well as character.
Billington also tied soulful leadership to self-care, noting that regularly taking specific actions—whether meditation, laughter, running, aromatherapy or chocolate–boosts dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins in the brain. “These help you access your soul, and your soul is what is going to bring you back into perspective, so the fight or flight comes back into center,” she said.
Soulful leadership also requires changing one’s internal dialogue. “Reinventing your narrative really starts with what you tell yourself,” Mays Director of Diversity Nancy Hutchins said. “Seventy-seven percent of our thoughts are negative. It’s important to think about the things you say to yourself on a daily basis and focus more on positive self-talk. Your thoughts and words influence your actions and decisions.”
Participants left with a better understanding of how to proactively navigate their careers and their lives—and how to empower others to do the same to help advance the world’s prosperity. “You need to be able to identify and use your strengths. What is the use of a strength if you don’t use it?” one participant said. “Use it for yourself and use it for others—and remind others to use it.”
Dr. Leonard L. Berry and The Honorable Nancy Berry have established the Dr. Leonard L. Berry Chair in Services Marketing at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School through a $1 million gift to the Texas A&M Foundation. This endowed faculty chair will enhance Mays’ Department of Marketing’s efforts to attract and retain a leading senior faculty member who can help the school move forward to reach its vision to advance the world’s prosperity by creating a better future though improved service.
Creating the endowed chair is a milestone in Dr. Berry’s nearly 40-year tenure at Texas A&M. “I have loved being a faculty member at Texas A&M. It’s an outstanding university and I’ve had a wonderful career here,” he said. “I was raised to always give back and this is a way that I wanted to give back to my university, to my department, to my colleagues and to tangibly say thank you for the opportunity that I’ve had to build a career here at Mays Business School.”
The Berry’s said their decision to create the chair was made during a short conversation that spanned only a few minutes. “When you live in a place, you want it to be the best place possible. My philosophy is if I want it to be better, I need to work to make it better,” said Nancy Berry, who noted that service is an integral part of the couple’s lives. “Len’s research is focused on what services can do to help humanity and improve the quality of life. That’s what I’ve tried to do as well.”
The Berry’s’ gift is the first Mays endowed chair established by a current Mays faculty member. “We have many Mays faculty and staff who support our school by gifting some of their treasured resources to us. The Berry gift is unique, though, in that it is the first endowed chair established by a faculty member and in this instance, his spouse,” said Mays Interim Dean R. Duane Ireland. “Faculty and staff committing their resources in any form, but perhaps especially in the form of an endowed position, demonstrates to all who are committed to Mays’ success that those of us working within Mays Business School are willing to join others to provide gifts that support our work in terms of research, teaching, and service.”
The creation of the endowed chair extends Dr. Berry’s marketing legacy. “This endowed position recognizes and honors the long-term contributions of Dr. Berry to the field of services marketing,” said Dr. Manjit Yadav, head of Mays’ Department of Marketing. “His groundbreaking work in the area of service quality has impacted scholarship and practice worldwide. As the service-based economy continues to expand in the 21st century, this endowed position will ensure that the Department of Marketing at Mays Business School continues to be an academic leader in the area of services marketing.”
A Services Marketing Pioneer
Dr. Berry was recruited from the University of Virginia in 1982 to serve as the founding director of Mays’ Center for Retailing Studies. When he joined Mays, services marketing and service quality improvement had yet to develop as areas of research. At that time, marketing faculty did not recognize the different challenges in marketing a tangible product, such as an automobile or a food product, versus an intangible service, such as transportation, healthcare, and telecommunications. The fields of services marketing and service quality did not exist. Berry’s work, along with two Mays marketing colleagues, A. Parasuraman and Valarie Zeithaml, in concert with a small group of other researchers around the world, began to change this perspective.
A development leave in 2001-2002 at the prestigious Mayo Clinic proved to be a watershed moment in Dr. Berry’s career. Afterwards, the respected professor decided to shift his focus to pioneer the study of service quality improvement in healthcare. His healthcare research has been published in numerous prestigious medical journals, including Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Annals of Internal Medicine, Journal of Clinical Oncology, and Journal of Oncology Practice He also serves as a Senior Fellow of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, where he studies service improvement in cancer care for patients and their families.
Dr. Berry continues to have a very productive research career. He currently is the most cited Texas A&M University faculty member on Google Scholar, with 231,414 citations as of December 7, 2021. He also has co-authored 10 books, including the best-selling book, “Management Lessons from Mayo Clinic.”
Over the years, both Texas A&M and Mays have recognized Dr. Berry for his professional contributions. He holds the M.B. Zale Chair in Retailing and Marketing Leadership and has been named a University Distinguished Professor of Marketing, a Regents Professor, and a Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence.
Dr. Berry also has received significant external accolades from the American Marketing Association (AMA) and other entities during his career, including being the second individual ever to receive each of the “Big 4 Marketing Awards”: The Sheth Foundation Medal in 2018, the AMA William L. Wilkie “Marketing for a Better World” Award in 2018, the AMA Paul D. Converse Award in 2008, and the AMA/McGraw-Hill/Irwin Distinguished Marketing Educator Award in 2007.
Dr. Berry’s work has not only influenced scholars, students, and the industry, but also his wife in her current work as a Brazos County Commissioner and member of numerous Brazos Valley non-profit boards, as well as in her previous role as Mayor of the City of College Station. “I’ve read most of Len’s work and it’s been significant and meaningful,” she said. “His contribution is irrefutable.”
The endowed chair will help Mays continue Dr. Berry’s groundbreaking work in the field of services marketing. “I want there always to be a senior scholar in the marketing department that specializes in services marketing,” Dr. Berry said. “In a sense, I am making the gift to help create a succession plan for myself because I won’t be here forever. I want our work and our reputation in services to continue.”
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Cheers and applause erupted in the Cocanougher Center Friday, November 5th as the Business Honors program held its annual “Signing Day,” allowing Business Honors students to celebrate selecting – and announcing to the world – their second major while surrounded by friends and family. All students in the program pursue a primary major in Business Honors and are able to add a second business major to their curriculum if they choose. The event also allowed students unable to celebrate last year because of the pandemic a second chance to celebrate this milestone in the program.
“After a year and a half of college not being what they expected, having fun with friends at an in-person event is important for these students,” said Jeff Glenn, Program Coordinator for the Business Honors Program. “These students are great people and we want to help them make great memories here.”
The support of advisors, staff, and peer leaders is what makes the Business Honors program invaluable to students. “The community in Business Honors has been so special to me and getting to have so many people here cheering me on makes me feel amazing,” said Bailey Rogers ’23, who “signed” to a second major in Management at the event. This sense of community was at the heart of the event as students cheered each other on and celebrated each other’s success.
“The one thing that stands out to me about Mays is events like this. It’s a very collaborative nature that we have here,” said Travis Cantwell ’22, Academic Coordinator for the Program. “We’re not competing against each other here, we are trying to Advance the World’s Prosperity together.”
To apply for Business Honors at Mays Business School, visit the Business Honors website.
A $20 million gift from Adam C. Sinn ’00 will support students and programs in Mays Business School’s Department of Finance.
A $10 million gift—and a pledge for an additional $10 million—from Adam C. Sinn ’00, a commodities trader and owner of Aspire Commodities, will help Mays Business School’s Department of Finance enhance the quality of education it provides and offer financial support to undergraduate and graduate students.
“I applaud Mr. Sinn’s willingness to invest in our university,” said Dr. M. Katherine Banks, president of Texas A&M University. “Contributions such as these not only help elevate the department but provide a brighter future to our students for generations to come. We appreciate his support of our mission.”
In recognition of Sinn’s $10 million gift through the Texas A&M Foundation, the department has been renamed the Adam C. Sinn ’00 Department of Finance. This is the second named department at Mays, following the naming of the James Benjamin Department of Accounting in 2017.
“On behalf of Mays Business School, I want to extend a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to Mr. Sinn for his extremely generous support,” said Dr. Duane Ireland, interim dean. “Through Mr. Sinn’s gift, we will have opportunities to continuously increase the value of our students’ educational experiences. The type of support we are receiving from Mr. Sinn reflects the unique relationship between Mays Business School and Texas A&M University with former students.”
Sinn’s gift includes $7.5 million for undergraduate and graduate scholarships to assist finance students whose financial challenges might prevent them from attending college. The gift will support students from Sinn’s hometown in Hoopeston, Illinois, and nearby Cissna Park, Illinois, as well as those from Dorado, Puerto Rico, where he maintains a residence today.
If there is an insufficient number of eligible finance students from those regions, a portion of Sinn’s gift will benefit Aggies enrolled in Mays’ Trading, Risk and Investments Program (TRIP), which prepares participants in the fields of energy trading, investments and risk management by combining exceptional class instruction with hands-on, internship-based experience. Sinn’s gift will cover part of participants’ graduate fees as well as a portion of their undergraduate tuition.
“Considering that the cost of education is increasing for most graduate programs, this gift will allow us to provide a significant level of financial support to TRIP students across the program annually,” said Mays Reliant Trading Center Director Detlef Hallermann ’89, who serves as the TRIP director. “This is a monumental achievement.”
In addition to the current gift, Sinn pledged an additional $10 million gift to be funded over the next five years in support of student and faculty success initiatives in the department.
Sinn’s gift offers the department’s latest indicator of success. “In our world of higher education, philanthropy is more than a fundraising tool; it is actually a metric of performance,” said Mays Executive Associate Dean Sorin Sorescu. “Named departments can be seen as a seal of approval from influential, successful individuals like Mr. Sinn, who has had tremendous career success and is encouraged by what he sees in our programs at Mays. We are so honored to have his support.”
The department’s undergraduate program ranked 34th nationally in 2021 by U.S. News and World Report. In 2021, Eduniversal Best Masters rated the department’s Master’s in Real Estate Management 3rd globally and the graduate portion of TRIP 15th globally. Also in 2021, the department’s Master of Science in Finance Program was ranked 10th among U.S. public programs by TFE Times.
Prospective student interest in the department’s programs is also increasing. More than 1,000 Aggies are enrolled in finance programs for the 2021-22 academic year, a 30% increase over the past five years.
The department prides itself on cross-campus interdisciplinary partnerships and high-impact programs that provide students with cutting-edge academic knowledge and industry best practices. Additionally, innovative opportunities such as Aggies on Wall Street and the Reveille Fund, a student-run investment fund, require students to apply their learning.
The remaining portion of Sinn’s gift will support the department’s efforts to recruit top faculty and create and expand these types of innovative programs. Funds may also support the Master of Science in Finance, career development offerings, educational travel opportunities, etiquette dinners, and training in personal skills. These offerings are designed to create well-rounded graduates who can make an immediate impact when they start their careers.
“When we can do more as a finance department, it’s not only our department and the students in Mays who win. Texas A&M also wins,” said Interim Department Head Christa Bouwman. “These interdisciplinary programs and partnerships are very valuable.”
Luck and Hard Work
Sinn grew up in Hoopeston, Illinois, which like many Midwestern small towns, particularly those not proximate to an interstate, had its share of successes and struggles in the 1980s and 1990s. The area’s economy primarily revolved around agriculture and particularly growing and canning corn and other products; Hoopeston is the Sweetcorn Capital of the World.
Minimum-wage jobs like one Sinn held at a hog farm during high school and good-paying blue-collar jobs in the local industries remained to a degree but became less available over time. However, Hoopeston maintained a strong Midwestern work ethic that influenced Sinn. That work ethic was bolstered greatly by his parents and grandparents, who he described as being part of “hard-working Middle America,” and his role models for hard work. Sinn’s father started a small business as an electrician and his mother performed office functions for the business. His parents saved ardently so they could provide some assistance to their sons if they chose to pursue college degrees.
Sinn was also fortunate that his local Rotary Club was a strong supporter of the Rotary Youth Exchange program. He studied abroad in Japan for a year through that program, which was instrumental in him learning to be open to new experiences and places.
After consideration, Sinn set his sights on Southern Methodist University, which offered degrees in international business and Japanese, and qualified for numerous scholarships, which paid for his entire education there.
However, he soon realized that he didn’t feel at home at SMU. Several of his college friends transferred, including one who enrolled in Texas A&M—and Sinn quickly followed. “Texas A&M was exactly what I was looking for. I liked the culture and the camaraderie,” he said. “It was an easy place to flourish, and I liked the college town environment.”
But he also discovered Texas A&M was harder academically, and he found himself in the mid-tier of students scholastically. He said, “I decided that if I couldn’t get the grades, I would beef up my resume. I had three internships, was involved in several organizations, and held jobs while I was a student.”
His penchant for hard work paid off. After initially being declined for an internship with Dell, Sinn offered to work for free. Impressed, the company representative invited him to reapply. He did when another opportunity arose—and was quickly offered a job when the interviewers realized that the Aggie knew more about the company than they did.
After graduating with his bachelor’s degree in finance in 2001, Sinn wanted to pursue a career in trading, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, who bought and sold livestock in the small livestock business founded by his great-grandfather and sons. However, it took him a while to find his niche. He briefly worked in accounting and finance jobs before he was in the right place at the right time—without a job when Lehman Brothers folded—to step into energy trading. “People sometimes end up in a spot due to sudden life circumstances,” said Sinn, who now operates one of the largest speculative trading firms in the commodity market. “It’s what you do with that situation that can determine the course of your future and whether you reach the next level.”
Sinn has embraced Texas A&M’s core values during his career. Now, his selfless service through creating this endowment will help middle-tier students avoid taking on student loan debt. “I want others to not have a financial burden so they can attend the best university on the planet,” he said, adding that these scholarships will also help position finance students to be successful in their lives after college. “I hope to lay the foundation so that at some point in time, these students can bet on themselves like I was able to do when they need to. The person who is financially burdened by rising educational costs may be unable to take that shot.”
Mays faculty, staff and students appreciate Sinn’s commitment to selfless service as he opens doors for the next generation of Aggies. “He wants to give people an opportunity,” Hallermann said. “He’s got an unbelievable talent for trading power and electricity, but when he looks around, his focus is always, ‘How do I help people get to where they need to be?’”
About Mays Business School
At Mays Business School, our vision is to advance the world’s prosperity. Our mission is to be a vibrant learning organization that creates impactful knowledge and develops transformational leaders. Mays Business School educates more than 6,400 undergraduate, masters, and doctoral students in accounting, finance, management, management information systems, marketing, and supply chain management. Mays consistently ranks among the top public business schools for its programs and faculty research.
About the Texas A&M Foundation
The Texas A&M Foundation is a nonprofit organization that aspires to be among the most trusted philanthropies in higher education. It builds a brighter future for Texas A&M University, one relationship at a time. To learn more, visit txamfoundation.com.