Each fall semester, Mays students have the opportunity to apply to attend the SUMMIT conference. SUMMIT’s mission is “to empower students as developing leaders through purposeful reflection and honest self-awareness.” This weekend-long overnight conference includes dynamic speakers, small group activities, team building, and time dedicated to personal reflection. The conference took place this year from Feb. 1-3 at Stoney Creek Ranch, and on the final day the students were given the chance to anonymously share their key takeaways.

One student delegate expressed the importance of reflecting this way:

“You always have the power to endure, the ability to go on, and the strength to be greater than your situation when you reflect on your story.”

Students who attend the SUMMIT conference return to Mays Business School with a new sense of clarity, purpose, and capacity to reflect. This conference has a lifelong impact on each delegate selected to attend, as they learn to honestly appreciate and embrace their individual differences and share their stories with one another.

…Read more

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

Many people believe an entrepreneur is someone who starts a business, but at their core entrepreneurs are simply problem solvers.

While studying to receive a degree in International Studies, Bryce Watson ’16 was invited to travel to China to aid a local non-profit. During his time there, Watson heard countless stories of the harsh working conditions that factory employees faced every day. Employees worked 80-hour weeks in dangerous environments for little pay, and many had been seriously injured on the job. By the end of his trip Watson had heard enough. He returned to Texas A&M University determined to find a way to improve workers’ rights in developing nations. “I wanted to do something about this,” Watson said. “I didn’t just want to learn about it, I wanted to solve the problem.”

Watson quickly realized he was attacking a complex issue. “We started to discover that these multi-national corporations have hundreds of sub-contractor manufacturing facilities that are only audited once or twice a year,” he said. “They have very little incentive to make sure their operating procedures are safe for their employees.”

Watson decided it would be much more effective to empower the local workforce rather than wrestle with giant corporations. “I wanted to attack this problem from the bottom-up rather than the top-down.”

Vize provides a two-fold solution. First, they connect top-rated factories with qualified individuals looking for jobs. In addition, Vize provides a platform for workers to anonymously rate and review factories without fear of repercussion. “Factories are in desperate need of employees due to the global labor crisis,” Watson said. “There’s an abundance of jobs but not enough workers to fill them all. Now workers have power over their lives.”

Watson explained that workers will leave jobs that treat them poorly, but often move from factory to factory until they find a fair employer. Vize helps to educate the local workforce on which factories to avoid with the hope that poorly-rated facilities will be forced to improve working conditions in order to recruit employees.

“Glassdoor has the most similar business model to Vize, but we’re in a completely different market,” Watson said. “No one is focusing on emerging markets.” When asked why this is Watson simply responded “because Startups come from Silicon Valley and these issues aren’t in Silicon Valley. If you aren’t aware that these problems exist you’re not trying to solve them.”

If you have an idea, go do it

Vize isn’t Watson’s first adventure in entrepreneurship. During his time at Texas A&M he co-founded both a non-profit and a student organization, and was always interested in solving big problems. Eventually these ventures fizzled-out but he learned from every failure. “If you have an idea, go do it. Like, right now! You’re almost certainly going to fail, but that’s OK. It’s worth at least trying, especially if you believe in it.”

Watson knew Vize could make a real impact and was determined to make his startup a success. He leveraged student resources such as Startup Aggieland and Blackstone Launchpad to connect with fellow student entrepreneurs and mentors. “Being an entrepreneur is hard. Build a team of people who make up for your weaknesses.”

Watson also began taking classes focused on entrepreneurship. That’s how he met Richard Lester, Executive Director of the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship. During his time as a graduate student, Watson enrolled in Lester’s “Foundations of Entrepreneurship” course and developed Vize’s business model as a part of the course’s final project.

“Bryce was always really creative,” Lester recalled. “He found a student organization on campus, a type of coding club, who would help develop his prototype.” When asked about Watson’s progress throughout the course Lester said that “he pivoted a lot.”  But that he was always focused on the workers he was helping. “He’s trying to do the right thing. [Vize] maintains the anonymity of workers so they can freely discuss issues that can be taken to the factories and hopefully be addressed. He wants to improve working conditions for people who are powerless.” Dr. Lester currently serves on the Vize Advisory Board.

Being an entrepreneur is hard work, especially when you’re a student, but Watson insists this shouldn’t deter one from going after an idea. “Use the resources you have while you’re in school,” said Watson. “Take classes to help your idea grow. Tailor your courses to work with professors whose expertise aligns with your project. There will never be another time in your life like this.” Many entrepreneurs hesitate to launch their venture because they don’t believe it’s the right time, but not Watson. “I realized I don’t have to wait until XYZ happens, I should start right now.”

Watson graduated with a Master’s of International Affairs in May of 2018 and serves as the CEO of Vize. Several of the other founding members of the company are current students. Vize just completed a successful crowd-sourcing campaign on IndieGoGo. They officially launched their mobile app in October; available for download in the Google Play store. They’ve already received positive feedback from communities in Mexico and have several factories who are major advocates for Vize.

Categories: Centers, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Former Students, Mays Business, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, News, Students, Texas A&M

The Memorial Student Center at Texas A&M University was bustling on Feb. 18 with business and community leaders serving as judges for the 2019 MBA Venture Challenge. Fourteen teams of Full-Time MBA students eagerly awaited their time to shine in front of the judging panels with the hope that they would take home 1st place at this year’s competition.

The MBA Venture Challenge is an annual competition held in partnership between the Mays MBA Program and the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship. The 2019 MBA Venture Challenge wrapped up its 18th year with three winning teams going home with a total of $10,000.

The winning teams – announced at a networking and awards reception immediately after the Venture Challenge – are:

  • First Place: Hasan Ahmed, Ahad Azimuddin, Hang Quan, Shelley Ruohonen, Jordan Williams; Medicinbox LLC
    • $5,000 sponsored by the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship
  • Second Place: Mark Dearden, Ahmed Ibrahim, Korbin King, Michael Reasor; VoCo
    • $3,000 sponsored by the Aggie Angel Network
  • Third Place: John Buancore, Cole Dietz, Clyde Fomunung, Chris Raman, Koki Tobita; Krueger Labs, Inc.
    • $2,000 sponsored by Fibertown
  • Elevator Pitch: Mark Dearden, Ahmed Ibrahim, Korbin King, Michael Reasor; VoCo
    • $500 sponsored by Mays Business School

…Read more

Categories: Entrepreneurship, Faculty, Featured Stories, Mays Business, MBA, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, News, Students, Texas A&M

Poonam Tare’s former classmates united together to purchase her Aggie ring when she returned to Texas A&M University from abroad. Tare is a Master of Science in Management Information Systems student who began the program in Fall 2016. Unfortunately, after the Fall 2017 semester, she was unable to continue her education and took a medical leave of absence to return home to India. This semester, Texas A&M welcomes back Tare to campus as she has returned to complete her degree by December of this year.

Many of Tare’s classmates graduated in May 2018, and they wanted to do something special for her by purchasing her Aggie ring. A group of former classmates reached out to Veronica Stilley, the director of the MS-MIS program, to verify that Tare was eligible to order her Aggie ring. A student must have 90 completed undergraduate or professional hours, 45 completed institution undergraduate or professional hours, and a 2.0 minimum cumulative GPR to be eligible to order an Aggie ring – a coveted symbol of the Aggie network.

…Read more

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

By Kiera Merritt ’19

The United States Department of Labor predicts, “Today’s learners will have eight to10 jobs by the age of 38.” A majority of these future jobs do not even exist yet. For instance, people interested in both robotics and law could become robotics ethicists to mitigate issues such as ownership of and culpability for decisions made by machines. Because of modern technological innovation, once unimaginable opportunities are becoming new careers.

On Jan. 25, Christopher Bishop – a nonlinear, multimodal careerist – provided students at Texas A&M University with insight into succeeding in these fields of the future. Throughout his life, Bishop continuously redeveloped his skills and created new jobs for himself.

He toured internationally as a musician with artists such as Robert Palmer and Chuck Berry; wrote advertising jingles, including the original “Gimme a Break” Kit Kat jingle; turned a conversation on a commuter train into a 12-year career at IBM; and now delivers presentations on the future of work around the world.

Each time Bishop switched careers, he focused on three fundamental tools for success:

  • Voice. Identify your own brand. Invest in what makes you stand out. Frame your persona on your own uniqueness.
  • Antenna. Connect your interests to events in the world. Seek sources based on your values and interests that help you stay informed. These sources include magazines, newspapers, blogs, YouTube videos, podcasts, or other forms of media.
  • Mesh. Share yourself with those who value your skills. LinkedIn is a valuable tool. Expand your network by adding at least five people each week. Reach out to others who share your interests and goals, and join groups to expand your connections. This puts you on the radar of people you would otherwise miss.

While creating new jobs can be a daunting process, the trepidation behind progress is nothing new. In fact, in 1589, Queen Elizabeth I refused to issue a patent for a mechanized knitting machine, “for fear it [would] put [her] poor subjects out of work.” However, the new workforce should look to the future without hesitation because, as Bishop stated, “As long as there are problems, there will be jobs.”

The Mays Innovation Research Center hosted this event.

Categories: Centers, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Jobs, Mays Business, Mays Innovation Research Center, News, Research, Spotlights, Students, Texas A&M

The Mays MasterCast is the flagship podcast of Mays Business School at Texas A&M University. We share insights into how business and business school works, while sharing our culture and lives with listeners. Guests include current students, professors, alumni, and friends of the university who have distinguished themselves in the business world. In every episode, the hope is to find counterintuitive insight, vulnerability, and humor. Our goal is to be the world’s premier business school podcast.

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

By Anton Cordes ’20, Business honors

“Never say no.”

This was one of the key takeaways from a meeting with MIS graduate Jamie Duke McClain ’97. Jamie is currently a Senior Security Manager at Samsung Electronics America — but she never planned on working in security. Jamie started her career as a consultant and worked for companies including Accenture, EDS, and McKesson Pharmaceuticals with a focus on process innovation.

…Read more

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

Originally published in Texas A&M Foundation

Over the last few decades, a familiar scene has emerged: A dozen or so undergraduates from the Mays Business Honors program sitting around a conference table, listening with rapt attention as Wayne Roberts ’85 shares some of the life lessons he’s gained over his 30-plus-year career in the technology industry.

A recognized leader in his field, Wayne has spoken to business honors students at Texas A&M on numerous occasions. “If there’s one nugget I can leave with students, one lesson learned or one insight that helps them, then it’s worth it,” he said. “I just want to make a difference in the lives of others.”

Coming back to campus to speak with current students is just one way Wayne and his wife Shannon ’86 give back to their alma mater. Recently, the Roberts served as lead donors for the men’s basketball team’s new student athlete center, now named in their honor. In 2014, the couple also established an endowed business honors scholarship for Mays undergrads. They’ve also contributed to the renovation of Kyle Field, the Bright Football Complex and the R.C. Slocum Nutrition Center. …Read more

Categories: Donors Corner, Featured Stories, Former Students, Mays Business, MBA, Selfless service, Students, Texas A&M

Originally published in Texas A&M Foundation

Inspired by his mother’s journey from a share-cropping farm in Georgia to running a business in Houston, Barnett “Barney” Gershen ’69 knew he could go anywhere in life if he put forth the effort. “When my mom Margie was 17, she took every penny she had and bought a one-way bus ticket to Houston for $18.50,” Barney said. “She wanted to escape the poor life she had lived in Georgia, and when she left, she knew she was never going back.”

Once she arrived in Houston, Margie found a job, rented a garage apartment and began building a better life for herself and her future family. She eventually met and married Louis Gershen, and the two started a family. Louis worked full-time selling cleaning chemicals while developing his business, XGI Janitor Services, named for his service in the United States Army.

…Read more

Categories: Alumni, Donors Corner, Featured Stories, Former Students, Mays Business, News, Spotlights, Students, Texas A&M

We’re counting down the Top 12 Mays Impacts stories of the year. It was a year of interesting and remarkable stories about students, faculty, and staff. 

  1. Jennifer Glenn received the 2018 Unsung Hero Award for her triumph over adversity during her time at Texas A&M.
  2. Students had the opportunity to explore a global mindset during trips to Africa and Swaziland.

3. Mays Professional MBA program exceeds the national average in enrolling women. 

4. Bruce D. Broussard ’84 receives the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights award.

5. Mays’ Women’s Leadership Initiative Conference offer insights about transformational leadership.

6. Mays students and faculty provide hurricane relief in Vidor. 

7. McFerrin Center recognized in Princeton Review

8. Graduating seniors credit support of Mays Business School. 

9. Mays Executive MBA Program ranked #11 U.S. public school in Financial Times ranking. 

10. Buc-ee’s president says exceeding customers’ expectations is key to business success. 

11. Scholarship banquet brings donors and recipients together. 

12. 74-72

 

Categories: Faculty, Featured Stories, Former Students, Mays Business, News, Staff, Students, Texas A&M