AUTHOR’S NOTE

From September 15 to October 15, we celebrate people and traditions of Hispanic Heritage – those who have come before us, and the leaders of tomorrow. We recognize their achievement, honor their cultures, and commemorate the heritage and history of Hispanic Americans who have helped shape the face of America. Mays Business school recognizes the remarkable contributions of its Hispanic American students, faculty, staff, and former students who continue to advance the world’s prosperity.

Steve Arizpe ’79, President and COO of premier professional employer organization (PEO), Insperity, credits much of the work ethic and relationship savvy that have shaped his success to his Hispanic heritage. Arizpe connects with Mays about Hispanic Heritage Month, coming of age in San Antonio, Texas, and what it takes to translate “good bull” into good business.

Early life

Steve Arizpe was born the third of five kids to parents of Hispanic descent in San Antonio, Texas. His father’s ancestors came from Spain and his mother’s from Mexico, but both grew up working alongside their siblings on family farms just outside of San Antonio. “My mom was one of 10 and my dad was one of 12; in that era as my great-grandparents built a family, they were really growing a workforce.” To this day he marvels that his parents paid for all five of him and his siblings to attend college, and at his father’s astuteness to invest in a home in Bryan as his oldest brother set off for Texas A&M.

Arizpe’s father worked full time for the US Department of Defense by day, and moonlighted as an entrepreneur, steadily building a technology repair business. His mother was a self-taught math whiz with a fourth grade education, who worked to ensure the fledgling business was on budget and account balanced. Arizpe spent summers apprenticing in the family business and saw firsthand the hard work and dedication required to provide more for a family than preceding generations could offer. His dad helped him carry forward a tireless, generational work ethic and prudent financial management skills, while his mother cultivated a penchant for relationship and engaging others. This combination served Arizpe well as he embarked on his time in business school at Texas A&M – and, of course, beyond – as he began to shape his career.

Striving for more

Growing up in schools in the Alamo Heights area of San Antonio, Arizpe never felt deprived but was acutely aware of his distinct upbringing compared to peers. “We always had plenty to eat and plenty to do,” but he was exposed to another world that opened his eyes to new possibilities. Unsurprisingly, he never saw lack of privilege as a deterrent, but a motivator. He felt proud of where he came from, blessed by family and provision but still eager for more –  saw the lifestyle of peers and instead of feeling more was unattainable, was struck with an immovable sense of self determination. He looked at the world around him and – with remarkable self-assuredness for a teenager – thought, “I can take one of two divergent paths here, either ‘that will never be me’ or ‘why can’t that be me?’ And I chose the latter.”

He never felt like a racial minority, but as a socioeconomic minority in his district, he also never felt like an outsider. He observed, and subsequently emulated, the idea that we treat all people with respect and dignity, socially and professionally. “Whether you are interacting with the CEO or the lowest level employee.” He understood that success isn’t yielded without sacrifices and set out ready to do the work that would be required to achieve big things.

Relationships and cultural influence

Coming from a generation where assimilation was paramount, parents didn’t pass the Spanish language onto their children. Despite growing up in San Antonio with a roughly 70% Hispanic population, the goal of most Hispanic families was still absolute acculturation into established U.S. cultural norms. “We didn’t grow up speaking Spanish at home, but with 60-80 aunts, uncles and cousins attending your average Sunday back-yard BBQ, we absorbed a lot – not just the language but core tenants of the Hispanic culture.” Among those are an instinct to prioritize family, and a natural inclusivity in the definition of who ‘family’ covers. “For us family first looks like, when someone is in need, we’re all in need,” notes Arizpe. “You step up to fill the gap.”

His family first, and inclusive outlook translates into the way he runs his business. Insperity is a missionally minded company, always grounded in their rallying cry of “helping businesses succeed so communities can prosper.” During the economic downturn of 2008, Arizpe and his colleagues saw the significant impacts of layoffs on a city and community, “that’s why we need businesses to succeed, because the economic and cultural impact on the community is tangible.” He and the 4,000 Insperity employees set about creating opportunities for that success. That community-centric perspective comes naturally to Arizpe in one of many ways he reflects his Hispanic heritage in everything he does.

Breaking down barriers

“The Hispanic culture is embracing, in both the broadest figurative sense – and, of course – literally.” The emphasis on community, hospitality and common ground Arizpe credits to his Hispanic culture, are mirrored in the culture of Texas A&M and find a natural commonality in Arizpe as he brings these values to bear in the workplace. As a Latino and an Aggie, Arizpe is heavy on the importance of culture in forging teams, breaking down barriers and bridging gaps.

“The ability to interact with others in a productive and healthy way is something we can’t take for granted,” shares Arizpe, who is known for bridge-building between areas of an organization with competing interests. “We all have differences and they are real, but communicating comfortably with common respect and a goal of mutual understanding breaks down barriers.”

One place he’s applied these skills at Insperity is in navigating the tensions between divisions of Sales and Operations. When Arizpe moved from Vice President of Sales to Executive Vice President of Client Services (or Operations) at Insperity he insightfully notes, “I went from making the promises to the customer in sales, to having to fulfill those promises in operations.” With his sales background, Arizpe had unique insights (for an operations lead) into the organically occurring frictions that often arise between Sales and Ops. He leveraged these insights to build more collaborative teams and relationships, requiring that operations personnel spent some time in the shoes of the sales team, and vice versa. To this day these teams boast an uncommon mutual respect and appreciation, linking these areas of the company in a unique and unprecedented way.

Know your audience – don’t settle

Insperity is a premier PEO that provides premium services to premium clients. For the company, the ‘premier’ label is more than a branding tactic. It’s a concept they take seriously from the quality of services they provide to the prerequisite expectations for potential and active clients. “We take pride in working with business owners who have a ‘getting better agenda.’” Arizpe expands, “the psychographic profile of our ideal client is specific; we work with folks who want to pay people more and provide the best benefits, not those looking to do the bare minimum in compensating their employees.” 

Practically speaking, Arizpe and the team at Insperity help empower these like-minded organizations to achieve an employee-centric outlook. Working with business from 5-5,000 employees, they provide administrative relief and comprehensive HR Resources. And by pooling the 300,000 employees represented under their umbrella, Insperity can pursue better benefits and reduced operational costs they pass on to their clients. The results are significant, “by working as a part of our network, a 30-person company is empowered to compete with big businesses for talent; and companies are encouraged to offer better benefit and compensation packages to their teams.” With 90 offices across the country, Arizpe’s shared excitement with his employees is still so high – “there is still tremendous opportunity for growth, to better the companies and communities we serve.”

Full circle

Arizpe was a Mays Business School student before Mays was Mays, but got to see the tradition carried forward in his own family as his daughter went on to be a Mays student. His ability to cultivate meaningful relationships and prioritize family are evidenced in his 40+ year marriage; closeness with his four children (three of whom work at Insperity); and the joy he takes in his nine grandchildren. 

Asked about retirement he was quick to note he doesn’t have a set date, and that steady work ethic holds strong. While he knows the moment will come to step aside to give others the opportunity to lead, he’s not rushing it. “I’ll retire when it’s not fun anymore,” he pauses. “As long as it’s fun and I still feel like I’m making a difference, I want to be here.”

TAKE THE NEXT STEP

Categories: Diversity and Inclusion, Executive Speakers, Featured Stories, Former Students, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Perspectives, Spotlights, Texas A&M

Author’s Note

From September 15 to October 15, we celebrate people and traditions of Hispanic Heritage – those who have come before us, and the leaders of tomorrow. We recognize their achievement, honor their cultures, and commemorate the heritage and history of Hispanic Americans who have helped shape the face of America. Mays Business school recognizes the remarkable contributions of its Hispanic American students, faculty, staff, and former students who continue to advance the world’s prosperity.

In the Beginning

With roots in Argentina, Mexico, and the United States, Celeste Nava ’23, Business Honors student, embodies the hard work and determination underwriting the Hispanic American experience. Nava, who graduated Valedictorian from her high school, set a high bar and clear goals. A first-generation college student, given the opportunity to attend virtually any university, she only had eyes for Texas A&M.

“Call it tunnel vision, I only applied to Texas A&M,” shared Nava. “The school, the network, the students – from the moment I first stepped foot on campus, I knew this was the place I needed to be.” One college application and acceptance letter later, Nava began her journey as a Mays freshman eager to achieve academic success but also ambitious to show her leadership chops beyond the classroom. She knew Mays could offer her the resources, direction, educational value, and opportunities to prove herself that every college student longs for. Now, stepping into her senior year, Nava reflects on all she’s accomplished and experienced in her time at Texas A&M – the good, the great, and the struggle.

Excelling in Aggieland

With a vision for her future that included lofty goals and bigger dreams, Nava quickly found herself in the Aggie community, immediately buying into the tradition and culture, connecting with the people around her. As a freshman, the next step in her plan included academic exceptionalism at Mays, as she applied to the Business Honors Program.

Although excited and determined, when it came time for her to interview for the Honors program, Nava felt overwhelmed by anxiety and fear. Describing the emotions that accompanied her application process, Nava was transparent about the challenges.  Even as a student excelling academically, she stated, “I didn’t know how competitive the program was, I just wanted to apply even if it was a long shot.” Despite her trepidation, Celeste wowed the committee. “I was so vulnerable with them! I cried during my interview,” sharing that, “despite being unsure of what to say, I knew I wanted to be a part of this program!” Her passion, personality, and intelligence made up for any uncertainty, Nava’s authenticity during her interview left the Mays representatives uniquely in awe.

Self-doubt and anxiety lingered in the weeks that followed. “There was no way I was getting in after my interview… I mean I just cried!” explained Nava. “I thought, it’s not going to happen for me.” But the Business Honors team was as excited to accept Celeste as she was to join the group. Nava’s ability to be vulnerable, honest, and open has underscored her successes at Texas A&M. In concert with those traits, her dynamic energy and penchant for encouragement leave an indelible imprint on everyone she meets. Part of what makes her so relatable is her imperfect path to success.

Turning Struggle to Success

Like many other students, Nava is no stranger to trial and tribulation. Spanish is her first language, and learning English afforded her empathy and a fresh perspective toward others facing obstacles. “I felt that I was a part of two different worlds,” she shared. Growing up, Nava struggled to communicate with teachers and had difficulty making friends because of the language barrier. “It’s great now, being bilingual, but it took 21 years of perseverance.” Nava participated in multiple ESL (English as a Second Language) programs as she worked to master English and to overcome the challenges of communicating simultaneously in two different languages. Simultaneously, she navigated the complexity of two distinct cultural perspectives — her interactions with her family and her connections with her school community. Instead of derailing her efforts, Nava’s struggles nurtured her high-achieving work ethic and determination.

Now, she’s leveraging those experiences to make a difference in the Aggie community. This year as a senior, Nava is the Minority Outreach Director of Howdy Crew (Texas A&M’s welcoming committee for prospective students) where she has been a powerful advocate for students for whom English is not their first language. Wanting to create a sense of belonging for students like herself, Celeste’s ears perked when students reached out to Howdy Crew to request Spanish Speaking interpreters for campus tours.  To her dismay, none were available –  an opportunity for the impact she couldn’t ignore. In her role, Nava was able to establish a program for (and to train) Spanish-speaking tour guides to hold campus tours in Spanish. “Now Spanish-speaking students and families can be just as engaged as their English-speaking counterparts in getting to know Texas A&M,” shared Nava, “and hopefully they can experience that same sense of belonging that defined my introduction to Aggieland.”

Continuing to Grow

Nava is bold and determined, steadfast in her desire to make an impact both on and off campus. When asked about a prospective career path, her answer has been consistent since early high school: a lawyer, with a specific interest in criminal defense. Like many students, she sought an internship in her field of interest and found one, through a client of her parents.  When the time came to tap into the Aggie network, her father knew just who to ask. So, for the past two summers, Nava has interned with Criminal Defense Attorney, Mark Lassiter ’02 (also a Mays former student). Nava experienced Aggies helping Aggies firsthand, and Lassiter is just as grateful to work alongside her, “Celeste has become an invaluable member of my office since she began as an intern,” shared Lassiter. “She is loyal to a fault and her integrity is unparalleled.” Nava has gained real-world experience and learned a lot from this Aggie-led team. With her dedication to the law office, her studies, and her leadership in multiple organizations at Mays, Nava inspires those in her university community to strive for more, those who share her Hispanic heritage, and those who don’t.

Mays’ vision is to advance the world’s prosperity. In keeping with that focus, the school prioritizes leveraging the strengths of its diverse student population, as part of its efforts to equip the next generation of leaders. With students like Celeste Nava, Mays will further its mission, all while equipping its students to make a valuable impact in their communities. Nava’s story is unique, and she strives to leverage her experiences and education to change the world, one step at a time. But the advantages that come with being a part of the Mays family are not lost on her. “Mays is like a tunnel; the way you go in is not the same way you come out,” she shared. Certainly, Nava has laid the foundation for students like herself to drive forward progress, walking out of the tunnel with more heart and determination than when they started. Nava may have roots in multiple worlds, but she is right at home in her Aggie community and is committed to helping others feel that same sense of belonging.

Take the next step

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

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.


Professor Trevor HaleTrevor Hale is a clinical full professor of business analytics at the Mays Business School at Texas A&M University. He teaches in the MS Finance and MS Management of Information Systems programs, among others.

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.

Categories: Departments, Faculty, Mays Business, News, Perspectives, Research, Spotlights, Texas A&M

Berrys Donate $1MM

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.”

>>> Add your response to the announcement on LinkedIn!

Categories: Departments, Donors Corner, Faculty, Health Care, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Selfless service, Spotlights, Texas A&M

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.

Continuing Success

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.

Categories: Alumni, Departments, Donors Corner, Energy, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Finance, Former Students, Mays Business, News, Selfless service, Spotlights, Texas A&M

#aMAYSing former student, Stephanie Murphy, Owner and Chairman at MEI Technologies, Inc. and Alpha Space Test and Research Alliance, LLC, recently shared some news with the EMBA Class of 2020 during their celebration ceremony…

First, get to know her:

I received my undergrad in AgriBusiness from Texas A&M and then went on to work at MEI Technologies (then is was Muniz Engineering).  My father founded MEIT in 1992, I began working there in 2001.  Over the next ten years, I worked in various corporate departments and had taken on leadership roles within the company.  We began succession planning for MEIT and I was interested in additional formal education (MBA) to help prepare me for my next roles within the company as an executive and an owner.  I attended an Aggie 100 lunch with my father who was receiving an award, and Ricky Griffin happened to be a guest at our table.  He was talking about the Executive MBA (EMBA) program and the new location at City Centre.  I applied to the program and found it to be competitive with other programs and very convenient in terms of location and my work schedule.

After graduating in 2014, I had an opportunity to take an idea developed at MEIT and launch a new business providing testing in the harsh environment of space as a service.  In 2015 I founded Alpha Space Test and Research Alliance, and in 2018 we launched a testing platform that is permanently attached to the International Space Station.  We privately own the facility, known as MISSE, and offer government agencies, academia, private companies, and now individuals access to the low earth orbit space environment.  We are part of a small group of companies offering commercial services in space and at the forefront of developing a new space economy.

My EMBA prepared me for the launch (literally) of this new company not only through the academics, but also set a cadence of hard work and efficiency for me.  I made great relationships and connections, and have gone on to participate and serve in other organizations as a direct result of the network I built during my time in the EMBA program.

 

Mays: How did the idea about sending the EMBA Class XX Coin come to gain traction?

Aggie Ring in front of a Space CertificateSM: I was meeting with Julie [Orzabal, Director, Texas A&M Executive MBA Program] and had expressed an interest in staying engaged with the EMBA program. We were chatting about the Class XX graduating and their program coming to an end. I shared with her that I sent my husband’s Aggie ring into space, and I commented to her how cool it would be to send their class coin, which typically travels around the world with students, on the ultimate trip into space.  I committed to sponsor that trip for the Class XX coin, and Julie let me announce it to the class via Zoom on their last program day.

 

Mays: Can you detail exactly what will happen, as planned, for the EMBA Class XX Coin?

SM: The EMBA Class XX coin was delivered to our headquarters in Houston.  It will be put into our vacuum chamber and the pressure will reduced to 10-6 torr (0.000000001 atmosphere) and the temperature will be raised to 60oC (140oF).  This removes contaminants and particulates from the coin and prepares it for space flight. It is then moved into our 10K clean room, where our engineers integrate the coin into a MISSE carrier along with other experiments bound for the space station.  Our carrier is packed and delivered to NASA Johnson Space Center, then shipped along with all the other cargo manifested on our flight to the International Space Station.  NASA will ship the cargo to the launch site, either Florida for a SpaceX launch, or Virginia for a Northrup Grumman launch, and it will be packed for launch.

It will launch in spring 2021, where the coin will experience acceleration forces of about 3X to 4X gravity.  Once docked to the ISS, the astronaut crew will unpack our carrier from the cargo.  An astronaut attaches our carrier, containing the Class XX coin, to the MISSE transfer tray and send them through the airlock into space attached to the ISS robotic arm.  The robotic arm and other robotic tools plug our carrier into the MISSE facility, which we will then control from our operations center here in Houston.  The Class XX coin will be exposed to the harsh environment of space, including extreme temperature changes that can range from -40oC to 60oC (-40oF to 140oF), while it orbits the Earth approximately 16 times per day.  At this point, the coin is traveling almost 5 miles per second and is about 240 miles above the Earth.  We expect it to stay for about 6 months totaling over 75,000,000 miles on its trip in space.

At the end of this mission, the carrier is returned into the habitable portion of the space station by the robotic arm and the transfer tray.  The astronauts load it, along with other cargo, for a ride back to Earth on the SpaceX Dragon capsule.  Once retrieved by NASA, the carrier is returned to our office in Houston, where our engineers de-integrate and unpack the carriers.  At that time, the coin will be returned to Class XX and happy hour to follow!

 

Mays: What’s next after the EMBA Class XX Coin?

SM: In 2019, we were the first company to sign a reimbursable Space Act Agreement with NASA to allow us to purchase resources from NASA (launch, astronaut time, etc) to send commercial items to the International Space Station.  This allows us to open space access to private individuals, not just researchers, for personal use.  In 2021, we will be selling space for Aggie Rings and other personal mementos to fly in one of our carriers just like the Class XX coin.  For about the price of an airline ticket for international travel, an Aggie ring can complete a mission to the space station and return to its owner.

 

Mays: Why is this special and important to you – and why you think it’ll be special for others?

SM: Sending an item into the space environment and having it returned is such a unique experience that has been limited to very select scientists.  We have the opportunity to enable that experience for private companies, organizations, and individuals on a limited basis for the first time in the history of space exploration.  I think it’s amazing that one could send their Aggie Ring, which connects Aggies instantly and represents Aggie values, on a unique mission into space.  The eagle on the ring symbolizes agility, power, and the ability to reach great heights, and what better way to celebrate that than by sending it beyond the sky?

Explore Stephanie Murphy and Texas A&M’s MBA Programs

Stephanie Murphy  TAMU EMBA

Categories: Alumni, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Former Students, Mays Business, MBA, News, Perspectives, Programs, Spotlights, Students, Texas A&M

Over the past few weeks, our world was upended by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and communities of every size began to grapple with a “new normal”. Businesses, governments, and families are scrambling to find creative ways to interact with their customers, constituents, and peers. Along with the health crisis, we’ve seen our retirement accounts plummet, friends lose jobs, and experienced an unprecedented level of uncertainty. While many of us are asking questions about how we can help others in our communities, there have been beacons of hope in the form of a global philanthropic response. The spectrum has ranged from billionaires stepping up with massive financial commitments to people singing from their balconies. Across this entire spectrum, the heart of generosity and philanthropy is shining through.

Philanthropy, at its core, is about the love of mankind. It’s looking out for the person next to you in times of trouble. It’s caring for the vulnerable when others disregard their wellbeing. It’s moving towards those that are on the margins. It’s loving people. As we grapple with the reality of a global pandemic, I am confident we’ll continue to see boundless and sacrificial generosity. If you are sitting there thinking that philanthropy is bound to the ultra-wealthy, you are wrong. Philanthropy right now is as simple as walking next door to check on your neighbor (standing 6 feet apart of course!). So, here are some tips for you to be philanthropic and generous with your time, treasure, and talent amidst the uncertainty of -19.

  1. Be honest about your own needs. Asking for help is one of the hardest things to do because it requires a significant level of vulnerability. There is no shame in needing help or requiring assistance though. Before looking outward, take a moment to assess your, or your family’s, situation. Do not hesitate to reach out to friends, family, or your local nonprofit sector for assistance.
  2. Be honest about your capacity for financial generosity. Maybe you are someone that has been consistently generous with what you have. Maybe you are just now getting started in your journey towards generosity. Either way, now is the time to act. Consider making a financial gift to your local community foundation or relief fund. If you can’t find anything similar to that, then giving to your local food bank or health clinic will go a long way in helping alleviate some of the immediate burden our communities are facing.
  3. Be purposeful with the “small things”. Share stories of others that are uplifting people in their communities. Write encouraging notes to nursing home residents. Call friends that work in healthcare and are risking their lives every day. Check on your neighbors. There are numerous “small acts” that make a difference.
  4. Be hopeful. There is no doubt that this is going to hurt for a period of time, but we will get through this. I am hopeful that through trial and tragedy, our relationships, families, and communities will emerge stronger.

Generosity and compassion are critical to a thriving and healthy society. Our response will resonate through generations as people look back and see that in the middle of uncertainty, we were active in how we loved the people in our communities.

Categories: Donors Corner, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Mays Business, Programs, Selfless service, Spotlights, Staff, Strategic Philanthropy, Texas A&M

Officials from North Dallas Bank & Trust Co. and the Mays Business School celebrate the bank’s $1 million gift to the school.

In support of the Mays Business School’s Commercial Banking Program, the funds will be used to establish an endowment and annual awards program.

Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School has received a $1 million gift from North Dallas Bank & Trust Co. (NDBT) in support of its Commercial Banking Program.

Categories: Alumni, Dean Eli Jones, Donors Corner, Featured Stories, Finance, Mays Business, News, Spotlights, Students, Texas A&M

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Professional MBA Program at Mays, Class of 2020, is visiting Jakarta, Indonesia and Singapore on the annual International Field Trip, a part of the program’s International Business Policy course. The itinerary runs Friday, July 25 to Saturday, August 3 with 47 students, Arvind Mahajan, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, and Mike Alexander, Director of the Professional MBA program, attending. Stay tuned for additional segments to their journey, told from the perspective of a student.


As a Texas A&M Professional MBA (PMBA) student who has completed their first year of the program, the time has come to tackle the infamous international field trip. The PMBA class of 2020 is going to Indonesia and Singapore to see how business, culture, and people work and live in Southeast Asia. Our class is stepping into the unknown – an international trip with 47 PMBAs from Mays Business School.

The time leading up to the trip has been hectic for me. I have never been out of the country before – I have just lived vicariously through other people’s pictures and videos of their experiences. The stunning photos of foreign countries have always guided my interest in traveling abroad. As an engineer, I am always researching everything I plan to do to the fullest, and this trip has been no exception. I have consulted many people about their experiences and sought advice and tips. Surprisingly, everyone has a different point of view, which is both helpful and problematic. Helpful in that their stories and advice continue to grow my anticipation for the trip. Problematic in the sense that when I’m trying to make decisions, it doesn’t help that everyone’s perspective is different. As with any analysis, I take all the inputs and average them to make a good prediction or decision on the matter. I find that if I keep an open mind and put my mind to it, I can accomplish anything, which includes this trip.

Some of my academic expectations for this trip are…

  • to expand my understanding of the world
  • to experience different cultures
  • to find out how business is conducted in other parts of the world

I can’t wait to put everything that I have heard or read about these locations to the test and see it for myself. This trip may only be one week, but looking at the itinerary, it will definitely be jam-packed. One of the things that I am most looking forward to is hosting Microsoft. Our team was selected to host them, which is truly a treat for me. I am a huge tech nerd, and I have known Microsoft since the first computer I ever used with MS-DOS. To be able to meet some of the folks that work there, even if it isn’t from their Redmond Washington office, will still be a truly remarkable experience.

My nonacademic expectations are…

  • to get to know my classmates better
  • to create better bonds
  • to expand my comfort zone

I feel like I know everyone in the class, though some are just on a, “Hey I am here with you” level. The PMBA program is not only about classroom study, but it’s also about learning from my peers and creating lasting friendships.

I look forward to seeing our cohort out of our element. I suppose that when you take us all out of our element, Houston, that’s when everyone will open up more. It’ll be even easier to get to know everyone. I suppose that being in our comfort zone lets us sneak away too easily, missing the opportunity to truly know one another. On this trip, we won’t have conflicting plans, or work stopping us from getting to campus early – we’ll have a shared agenda and purpose. That shared purpose and agenda, I hope, will create a shared sense of growth and adventure – for me, each of my classmates, and our cohort as a whole. I believe this trip has the potential for us to grow individually and together. A shared purpose and a sense of dependence will lead to deeper knowledge and deeper relationships. I know it will for me. I have no clue what I am doing outside of the U.S., so I will be relying on the collective mindset of the group to find my way through the unknown.

Categories: Center for Business International Studies, Featured Stories, Mays Business, MBA, Programs, Spotlights, Students, Texas A&M, Unknown in Asia

Written by Steven Mancillas ’21:

The Business & BBQ Professional Development Wisdom Workshop united two very different parts of campus – the Business Honors program and the Meat Science department. The event highlighted three unique elements that characterize the Mays Business School experience: passion, culture, and community.

To begin, in the Business Honors program, a Professional Development event serves to foster the growth of students both personally and professionally. A majority of the events consist of meeting with industry leaders (Mays Leadership Forum), hearing from policy experts and government leaders at the Bush School (Lecture Series), or participating in a Wisdom Workshop. A Wisdom Workshop is a presentation given by a current student on a unique topic that is uncharacteristic, yet beneficial for other Business Honors students. So, naturally, the topic of barbecue fit these criteria.

My background in the barbecue realm consists of serving as a Texas BBQ 101 (ANSC 117) teaching assistant and pursuing a minor in Meat Science under the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences. As a freshman in ANSC 117, I was the only business student in a room full of agriculture majors. While this was daunting at first, Dr. Savell, the ANSC 117 professor, offered an adage that served to contextualize my experience: “Barbecue is about fellowship first, and food second.Since that class, I have discovered a passion for Meat Science, ultimately adding it as a minor to my Business Honors & Finance degree.

The presentation consisted of three segments: “What is Meat Science?”, “What is BBQ?”, and lunch. During this time, I spoke about how the barbecue elective sparked my interest in the origins of this university – agriculture. This interest quickly became a passion after my first animal science class – a passion rooted in a genuine interest in the livestock industry and its impact on society. A large component of the Wisdom Workshop was demonstrating the nature of all possibilities at Texas A&M to connect one’s passion with their education – I hope that my story stands as an example of this.

…Read more

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