Chelsea Anderson is traveling with 42 other members of the Professional MBA Class of 2019. Stops include  Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa.

Aug. 10, 2018

Businesses exist all around the world, however, the manner of conducting business depends on each country and culture. As I continue my reflection, I again ask: Why am I here? In the simplest sense, I’m here to learn about international business. 

It feels like I just barely returned and in some ways never left. Now that I’m home I know I need to be the ambassador of this experience. Thursday and Friday were truly special days. On Thursday we visited Khayelitsha Cookies, a company that employs women from the townships. Its purpose is to provide social change and break the cycle of unemployment in the townships. Every 1,000 cookies sold employs one woman, and in turn helps her feed her family. After we met the owner we went out on the floor and helped the employees make cookies. I worked with Vuyokozi Ntantani. She has three children, two boys and one girl. She’s worked at Khayelitsha Cookies for seven years and it has changed her life, giving her access to opportunities that aren’t normally available to unskilled workers, especially women in a country with a high unemployment rate like South Africa.

That night about 30 students participated in Dine with Khayelitsha, a program that gives people the opportunity to go into the township and eat dinner prepared by a host family. In addition to the generous meal, we took part in a candid conversation about people and culture, and listened firsthand to the challenges of coming from a township. 

Friday found us volunteering at iThemba Labantu, an educational and after-school program for children in the township. We broke into groups and played sports, danced, played music, or made crafts with the children. They are so talented, and I feel fortunate that they were willing to share their talents and voices with us. 

 

As in my first two posts I return to the question: why am I here? Writing this in hindsight I ask: why was I there? The Mays Business School mission statement is to advance the world’s prosperity. Prosperity doesn’t have to be relegated to a few; the world can benefit from it. Considering the case of Khayelitsha Cookies, both the company and the female employees benefit from a mutual prosperity.

As our trip came to an end I made the rounds and asked the fellow members of the cohort to share their favorite experiences. Time and again, each person I asked had similar replies. Being able to volunteer with the children and see a glimpse into their life for a brief moment affected our lives forever. The other common refrain was that the highlight was all the wonderful people we met. Offering service is not a one-time thing. As Aggies we should live our lives in service, being good Aggies to all those we meet. After speaking to my classmates I feel confident that each and every one of us will move forward in service following this trip. 

For the final time I’ll ask: why were we there? Was it to learn about international business? Most certainly. But on a much bigger scale, we were there to learn about ourselves. And as Dr. Mahajan stated at the beginning of our trip, we were there to learn our truth and then challenge it. Over the course of eight days we were stretched and challenged, molded and reformed. Moving forward, it is incumbent on us to take this new truth and share it with everyone who asks about our trip. That responsibility means that we don’t take these experiences like souvenirs and place them on a shelf. For it to be truly transformative we need to take it into our hearts and lives and be better people, better Aggies. 

Aug. 3, 2018

Businesses exist all around the world, however, the manner of conducting business depends on each country and culture. As I continue my reflection, I again ask: Why am I here? In the most simple sense, I’m here to learn about international business. 

 Of course, it’s more complicated than that. We need to understand a culture before we try to do business in a culture. This is part of the reason we first toured the Apartheid museum and visited a township. That helped prepare our understanding before meeting with business leaders in Johannesburg. 

 On Monday and Tuesday, we met with business owners, entrepreneurs, and private equity firms. All the entrepreneurs had different ideas and products and the shared thread between them was passion. We visited the WIBC (Wouldn’t it Be Cool) Start-up Incubator. The WIBC gives support to young entrepreneurs and helps shepherd them through the process of starting a business. 

 During our roundtable sessions with the seven young entrepreneurs, I heard the word ‘journey’ many times. That is a perfect fit for both our visit that day and for business in general. It’s a journey. Rather than continue describing my visit, I think one of the entrepreneurs put it best when she said it was about “changing communities one day at a time.”

This was never more evident than with one of the start-ups, which seeks to provide fresh, quality produce to local restaurants. It seeks to reduce the food desert that exists in the neighborhood. In their rooftop garden, they have a greenhouse of about 3,000 spinach plants. From these plants, they can harvest 10 leaves per plant and earn 1.5 South African Rand per leaf. Not only is it a profitable business, it also uplifts the local community. 

 I can certainly say that I met my goal of learning about international business. Fortunately for me, I learned more than that. I was able to witness first hand the power of passion, and the ways that caring for your community benefits not just the company but the entire community as well. 

July 30, 2018:

Every so often in life, an opportunity arises that cannot be missed. For me, that opportunity is the international trip with my Professional MBA program at Texas A&M University. Each cohort is able to select their trip destination and my class picked South Africa. I’ve only been here three days and I can already say that we couldn’t have come to a better place.

As I begin my trip, a recurring thought has been: why am I here? Arvind Mahajan, associate dean of graduate programs, put it best when he asked us to reexamine our own biases and integrate this information to determine: What is my truth? Sunday provided our first chance to determine our truth when we attended the Apartheid Museum and afterward visited the Kliptown township in Soweto. We spent time at the Kliptown Youth Program which provides much-needed education and computer training for the youth of the township. We even got to play a quick soccer game with the KYP students.

As we toured the museum and visited Kliptown, it caused me to consider the narrative of history. Whose voices are we hearing? Whose voices do we not hear? Part of reexamining my biases is considering these voices, both in South Africa and at home in America. The purpose of this trip is to learn and grow, to move beyond my comfort zone and seek out shared values and common ground with those that I meet. It is not enough to stand on the outside and rely on my own assumptions. If I hadn’t actually gone into Kliptown and met some of the people, I never would have had the same understanding. I feel fortunate to have started this week in such a powerful way.

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

Accounting senior Juan Ortiz received a national award this week from the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting (ALPFA) – the first recipient from Texas A&M University in five years.

Ortiz received the Daniel Zamora Student of the Year Award at ALPFA’s national conference, where hundreds of students attended and sessions covering topics like leadership development, networking, and professional development.

This award is given to an individual who has shown an excellent balance between academics, community involvement, and the student ALPFA chapter. They are also looking for candidates who have demonstrated the leadership qualities that are essential to a promising future career. Candidates are individuals who have devoted countless hours in their chapter of ALPFA and has promoted the organization amongst their peers. …Read more

Categories: Accounting, Featured Stories, Mays Business, News, RAP, Spotlights, Students, Texas A&M

Fifty years into his career of studying marketing, Leonard Berry continues to garner accolades. The Mays Business School leader is only the second person in history to receive the “Big 4” national marketing awards – a grand slam of sorts.

Berry is a University Distinguished Professor of Marketing, Regents Professor, Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence, and holder of the M.B. Zale Chair in Retailing and Marketing Leadership at Mays Business School,

He received the fourth prestigious award, The Sheth Foundation Medal for Exceptional Contribution to Marketing and Practice, during the American Marketing Association (AMA) Summer Academic Conference on Aug. 10. …Read more

Categories: Faculty, Featured Stories, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Research, Spotlights, 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

Management and pre-med student Kathryn Anderson ’19 and biomedical engineering student Sarah Swift ’20 both have a heart for philanthropy and a mind for business. After attending the Philanthropy Lab Ambassador’s Conference with students and nonprofit organizations from all over the nation, Anderson and Swift brought back a $25,000 grant and a promising future for Save Our Streets (SOS) Ministries in Bryan.

“I was one of six professors to serve as facilitators and mentors for the weekend as we led discussions and conversations related to philanthropic topics all weekend,” said Kyle Gammenthaler, a lecturer at Mays Business School. “It is important that we recognize our students for this well-deserved accomplishment.”

…Read more

Categories: Featured Stories, Mays Business, News, Selfless service, Spotlights, Students, Texas A&M

The master’s in accounting program at Mays Business School ranked #1 in North America for the first time in the Eduniversal Best Masters Ranking Financial Markets – a ranking of the best master’s and MBA programs.

Eduniversal classifies and highlights masters and MBA programs which prepare and graduate the most competent students into the global workforce by surveying current graduating students and recruiters. Their methodology takes into account the reputation of the program, the salary of the employed graduates, and the graduates’ satisfaction with the program. …Read more

Categories: Accounting, Departments, Featured Stories, Finance, Management, Marketing, Mays Business, MBA, MS Business, News, Programs, Rankings, Spotlights, Texas A&M

Ronnie Hale Sr. didn’t attend Texas A&M, but he was always an Aggie to the core. He put his four children through Texas A&M. Five of his grandchildren so far – with another on the way – are also Aggies.

Hundreds attended Hale’s funeral in March 2017, where Ronnie Hale Jr. recalled many memories and spoke of his father’s love for his wife of 58 years – Kay – and their children Ronnie Jr. ’82, Randy ’85, Richie ’88, and Kerri ’92.

To honor Ronnie Sr. after his death, his son and daughter-in-law Randall B. “Randy” and Tracy Hale are donating $250,000 toward renaming the Department of Accounting
for longtime department head Jim Benjamin.

The Benjamin campaign recently reached its goal of $10 million in commitments, and the Hale family wanted to help it come to fruition. …Read more

Categories: Accounting, Alumni, Donors Corner, Mays Business, News, Selfless service, Spotlights, Texas A&M

Put the phone down, earn prizes.

That’s the premise of SAFE 2 SAVE, a mobile app that rewards users for staying off their phones while driving. Since its launch in Fall 2016, it has grown to attract more than 70,000 users. And its founder Mays former student Marci Corry ’01 is continually working to improve it and increase its reach.

While having a conversation with a Texas A&M University student, Corry noticed everyone around them was on their phone. “As I reflected on that and the dangers of texting, especially while driving, it hit me that I should start a positive app that targets adults as well as teens that would encourage people to be hands-free,” said Corry.

The tipping point came when she heard the news of a 19-year-old student who lost his life after he was struck by a driver who was texting. “That’s when I knew I needed to start this company to help grow the awareness and prevent distracted driving as much as we could in Aggieland,” said Corry.

…Read more

Categories: Alumni, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Former Students, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Spotlights, Startup Aggieland, Students, Texas A&M

Every year Mays Business School nominates five students to attend the Wakonse Undergraduate Leadership Conference in Shelby, Mich. Surrounded by the natural beauty of Lake Michigan and the leadership of students from across the country, participants become Wakonse Fellows – people committed to supporting, promoting, and sharing the excitement and satisfaction of teaching.

The students spent a week enhancing their self-knowledge, leadership, and learning skills to bring back to their organizations at Mays.

…Read more

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