As Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Westlake Chemical, Steve Bender ’78 has been instrumental in many of the company’s financial decisions. Bender recently visited with Mays business honors students as part of the Mays Transformational Leader Speaker Series, which recognizes business leaders in today’s society and gives them the chance to share their expertise with Mays students.

Bender graduated from Texas A&M University with a finance degree, then went on to receive an MBA from Southern Methodist University. Bender was assistant treasurer at Halliburton and served as vice president and treasurer of KBR prior to joining the Westlake Chemical team as vice president and treasurer in 2005 and later made EVP and CFO. Bender wanted to share with current students the wisdom he has gained at Westlake Chemical after being involved in multiple company acquisitions during his time there.

The most significant company Westlake acquired was Axiall in 2016. “We believed this acquisition would enhance margin stability along with providing additional growth expansion opportunities,” Bender said. The acquisition gave Westlake a global presence with facilities in North America, Europe, and Asia.

However, the acquisition process was not an easy one. Axiall’s CEO and board of directors were not fans of the idea, and it took months of meetings and increasing the initial offer to finalize the acquisition. Even after signing the deal, there were many long days of tirelessly working to make sure the transition ran smoothly.

Through the entire acquisition process, the main lesson Bender learned was to be open to a diversity of views. “Challenge others without being challenging,” he said. “Recognize that not everyone has the same perspective, so coming to a consensus may not always be easy.”

Bender continued to provide other pieces of advice regarding students’ futures in the working world:

  • A broad skill set is important. Use your skills and apply them as broadly as you can, and try to leverage those of your co-workers in the process.
  • Always be truthful, even if it is not always pleasant.
  • Be careful about burning out your own team. “Make sure your team sees the benefits and rewards that come out of working long days and nights so that they’ll continue returning every morning,” he said.

Bender closed the discussion by telling the students that what they are learning today has plenty of real-world applications. “Be opportunistic, don’t underestimate your relationships with others, and most importantly, use what you are learning today in the real world,” he said.

John Frederick ’18 said he found Bender’s “insights and experience worth paying attention to and listening to for years to come.” James Warman ’21 said these insights helped him “peer into the world of business and made me even more excited to enter the business world after graduation.”

Categories: Business Honors, Featured Stories, Mays Business, Mays Transformational Leader speakers, News, Students, Texas A&M

The Aggie Advertising Club recently received a donation of $3,200 from the Association of Former Students to help its advertising competition team attend the American Advertising Federation’s National Student Advertising Competition.

The advertising team operates each year as part of Lisa Troy’s MKTG 447 course. Functioning much like an advertising agency, students in the class spend two semesters conducting research, building a multi-million-dollar budgeted, fully integrated marketing campaign for the client brand, developing a professional 22-page campaign plan book, and presenting the campaign to industry judges.

This year’s team will present their campaign for Ocean Spray at the AAF District 10 Convention in Corpus Christi next week. Winners at the district level will advance to nationals in Chicago in June.

AFS Donation Check

Categories: Donors Corner, Featured Stories, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Students, Texas A&M

Rachel Welch ’17, a student assistant in Mays Business School’s Office of the Dean for nearly five years, was chosen as the Texas A&M Student Employee of the Year.

Rachel Welch, center, was named Student Employee of the Year. She attended the ceremony with fellow Mays students who were nominated, Kennedy Porter and Olivia Lesar.

Welch graduated in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in Business Honors along with a minor in tourism management and a certificate in not-for-profit management. She is pursuing a master’s in human resource management at Mays and has an internship lined up this summer with ConocoPhillips in Houston with their Leadership Development team.

As a student assistant in the Office of the Dean, Welch often serves as the first point of contact for visitors. She manages the phones and general office email account, as well as greets and assists walk-in visitors.

…Read more

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

Venky Shankar at Research Camp

Mays Business School hosted the 2018 Mays Marketing Research Camp on April 6, hosted by the Center of Retailing Studies Research Director and Coleman Professor of Marketing Venkatesh “Venky” Shankar. The event presents faculty and Ph.D. students the opportunity to share, hear, and collaborate with some of the top scholars in marketing on the latest empirical, analytical, and behavioral research. …Read more

Categories: Faculty, Featured Stories, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Ph.D., Staff, Students, Texas A&M

The public is invited to watch the finals on April 20 for Aggie Pitch, the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship’s inaugural pitch competition in which students from Texas A&M System schools and branch campuses pitch their business concepts.

 

Registration will start at 9 a.m., and the program will begin at 9:30 a.m. The awards luncheon will begin at noon. RSVP here: www.AggiePITCH.com

In recent weeks, the participants have gotten a chance to showcase their ideas. In addition to a cash prize pool of $50,000, the winners potentially will be considered for nomination to additional business plan/pitch competitions across the nation.

Finalists invited to the April 20 event will be evaluated and scored by a panel of prestigious entrepreneur/investor judges who volunteer with the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship. The judging panel includes Blake Teipel, Ph.D., a local entrepreneur and former student collaborated with the McFerrin Center in 2015 to win a number of business plan competitions around his company concept, including the Rice Business Plan Competition. The Aggie Pitch award winners will be announced at the luncheon shortly after noon.

The goal of Aggie Pitch is to encourage all Texas A&M students to explore entrepreneurship and learn how to deliver their business concepts in the most compelling fashion.

…Read more

Categories: Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship, Centers, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Mays Business, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, News, Research, Students, Texas A&M

Third-year accounting doctoral student Jennifer Glenn has faced several obstacles in her life that have not only taught her how to be resilient, but have also shown her the power of perseverance.

Her inspiring fight against adversity led to her selection for the 2018 Community of Scholars Unsung Hero Award, an award created by the Texas A&M University Office of Graduate and Professional Studies (OGAPS) to recognize current graduate students who have faced and overcome difficult life experiences during their time at Texas A&M.

Glenn’s fight against adversity began in elementary school, when she developed a severe stutter. She was told by many of her teachers that she would never find a good job due to her inability to speak without stuttering. This did not set her back, however, because she still earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting and her CPA license, despite her speech impediment. “I refuse to let anything stand in my way when it comes to accomplishing my goals,” Glenn said.

Years later, during her second year in the Ph.D. program at Texas A&M, Glenn learned that she needed brain surgery to remove a brain tumor that had been growing at an alarmingly fast rate and was feared to be cancer. Glenn had brain surgery six months before her comprehensive exam, which is required before a Ph.D. student can begin working on their dissertation. …Read more

Categories: Accounting, Diversity and Inclusion, Featured Stories, Mays Business, News, Ph.D., Spotlights, Students, Texas A&M

Jerry and Kay Cox

Longtime Mays Business School supporters Jerry ’72 and Kay Cox ’02 have been given the Peggy and Lowry Mays Impact Award.

Jerry Cox spoke at the Outstanding Alumni Dinner Thursday (April 5), and said he and his wife were “deeply honored and humbled” to receive the award and a crystal vase at the Outstanding Alumni Dinner on April 5. “We have been directly involved in this place for 23 years. It is now a part of us,” he said.

The award was created in 2017 to honor those who have had a distinguished impact on Mays while showcasing a mindset of giving and exuding strong leadership capabilities. The initial Impact Award honorees were the namesakes, Peggy and Lowry Mays.

Mays Dean Eli Jones said this year’s choice was an easy one. “This award is for people who have really put their imprint on Mays Business School, and these two set the bar for us,” he said. “They think of the kids first. They want them to have all the tools they need to succeed.”

This year’s recipients are Jerry ’72 and Kay Cox ’02, who have long supported Mays Business School with their resources and devotion of their time. One of the buildings within Mays Business School bears their name, in recognition of the donations they have made totaling more than $2 million. The pair has helped in other ways as well, with the creation of the Jerry and Kay Cox Endowed Chair at Mays and a scholarship fund set up for the Business Honors Program. They have been major donors behind several other enhancements at Texas A&M University, including the Cox-McFerrin Center for Aggie Basketball.

Jerry Cox equated their role at the business school to that of the equipment managers for the Houston Astros. “They take care of the bats, balls, gloves, shoes, and uniforms. They get to see these elite athletes up close night after night, and they get to know them better than just about anyone,” he said.  He said the Astros support team finally got a victory after 55 years. At Mays, he said he and his wife have gotten to see the school’s evolution to excellence “from the front-row seats.”

“We have so many rock stars on faculty and so many amazing students, it is a joy to be a part of it,” he said. “Between the leadership of the faculty and the quality of the students, we now have become world champions.”

Giving back to Texas A&M

Jerry Cox graduated from Texas A&M in 1971 with a bachelor’s degree in finance. He then went on to receive a master’s degree in theological studies from Houston Baptist University and an honorary doctorate of laws from Pepperdine University. Kay Cox received her master’s degree in educational psychology from Texas A&M in 2002.

Serving as the president and chairman of independent oil and gas exploration and production company Cox & Perkins Exploration, Inc., Cox’s peers have nothing but praise for Cox as an adroit investor and businessman who operates with high integrity and honesty.

Cox is a member of the Hydril Company Board of Directors and the Pepperdine University Board of Regents. He has also served on boards and committees at Texas A&M, including the Texas A&M Foundation, the Dean’s Advisory Board at Mays Business School, and the Corps Development Council. He is a former director and president of the 12th Man Foundation and was the presiding chairman of the One Spirit One Vision campaign. He was inducted into the Corps Hall of Honor in 2009 and has been honored as a Distinguished Alumnus by both Mays Business School and The Association of Former Students.

 

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

Providing 14 promising junior faculty members and advanced Ph.D. students from around the country the chance to showcase their academic work and receive constructive feedback from their peers as well as an elite group of 15 senior scholars brought in for the event, the Department of Finance at Mays Business School hosted the third annual Young Scholars Finance Consortium March 22-24. The first two consortiums were hosted at Mays’ CityCentre facility in Houston.

Best Paper Winner

The consortium’s topic alternates each year among corporate finance / financial intermediation and asset pricing/investments. The 2018 Consortium focused on corporate finance and financial intermediation.

Activities at the three-day event at the George Hotel and Mays included a cocktail party, 1.5 days of presentation, a keynote address, and a networking dinner. Mays Executive Associate Dean Duane Ireland kicked off the event Friday morning. The keynote speaker was Peter M. DeMarzo, a chaired professor from Stanford University. From all of the Ph.D. student submissions, MIT student Daniel Green was the winner of the Best Ph.D. Student Paper Award.

Participants – many of whom had never been to College Station – said they were “impressed with our facilities, our faculty, the quality of the program, and how well it was organized,” said one of the organizers, Mays Associate Professor of Finance Christa Bouwman.

“Our event is truly unique,” Bouwman said of the rich opportunity for the Ph.D. students and junior faculty members to present and hear feedback from such renowned scholars in the audience.

Categories: Finance, Mays Business, News, Ph.D., Research, Students, Texas A&M

As part of the celebrations honoring EY as Mays Business School’s 2018 Corporate Partner of the Year, business honors students met with a roundtable of professionals in various roles and offices around the country.

The professionals in the conversation included:

  • Randy Cain ’82, Vice Chair, Region Managing Partner
  • Christy Baumann ’95, Partner
  • Andy Beakey ’84, Tax Partner
  • Bill Guess ’88, Dallas Audit Partner
  • Anneliese Schumacher, Regional Leader, Southwest Campus
  • Dana Lane, America’s Tax Campus Recruiting Leader
  • Ellen Glazerman, Executive Director, EY Foundation

Students quickly discovered, however, that this was to be a very interactive discussion, with the professionals from EY turning the tables – seeking advice and opinions from the students on their knowledge of changing technology and what they see and hear in the business world today. The team members remarked that they hold the opinions and mindsets of the young in high regard.

Cain put it best when he stated, “young people are driving the experiences the corporate world is talking about. It doesn’t matter the service line, they are all being disrupted.” This disruption comes from changing technology and a future that is going to be “fascinating” to watch, Cain continued. The team believes wholeheartedly that Texas A&M University and Mays Business School is making the right investments in learning experiences to prepare their students for that future.

Baumann commented that “change is often and forward,” and wanted to know what things the students were going to focus on and stretch themselves to do in preparation for that change. She added that “culture is the reason behind the longevity” at EY, and that a good company culture is key in adapting to change.

Schumacher affirmed the rest of her team members’ sentiments when she stated “it almost doesn’t matter which technologies you learn,” adding that students need to “get more comfortable with technology in general, because technology is a big enabler” in today’s society.

The team ended the roundtable discussion by providing the students with a vote of confidence and showcasing exactly why the partnership with Mays Business School is such a big deal for EY. They love to hire Aggies. “All of the skills and responsibilities you learn in organizations during your time in college are beyond valuable,” Glazerman said. The team agreed that the organizational experience at A&M is something that sets Aggie students apart from other universities.

Categories: Accounting, Dean Eli Jones, Mays Business, News, Spotlights, Students, Texas A&M

Roger Montemeyor headshot

Having grown up in Galveston, Texas, post Hurricane Alicia and during the 1980’s oil crisis, Roger Montemayor ’99 understands what it is like to live without. Montemayor, who received his bachelor’s degree in management from Texas A&M University, shared his path to success with current students and presented them with tips on how to be successful post-graduation.

Montemayor currently serves as Area President for Arthur J. Gallagher (AJG) and has served on the leadership team for AJG since his merger with them in 2016. During this time, Montemayor has led his team to exponential growth by innovating property and casualty insurance programs for a number of different industries that include public entities, energy, construction, manufacturing, and real estate. Montemayor recently visited with business honors students as part of the Mays Transformational Leader Speaker series, which recognizes leaders in today’s society and gives them an opportunity to share their knowledge with Mays students.

In the beginning of the session, Montemayor explained that his purpose, his drive, and his faith are the three main components of his success. “The most important piece of advice I can give to each and every one of you is to know your purpose,” he said. “Very few things in life will impact everything you do, but your purpose is one of them.”

Along with knowing your purpose, Montemayor used his life experiences to come up with three other pieces of advice for the students:

  • Your “go” has to be greater than your “know.” Knowledge is important, but a good education will mean nothing if you are lazy and have no sense of hustle.
  • Surround yourself with mentors and people you love. You lose your edge the moment you start thinking you have everything figured out. This is when mentors can come into play by helping you stay grounded.  Also, success means so much more when you share it with people you love, both at work and at home.
  • Paranoia is complacency’s greatest defense. “My company continues to grow because my competition stays complacent. Do not ever let yourself reach that point. Stay paranoid,” Montemayor said.

Although Montemayor is successful now, this was not always the case. When he was young, his dad was laid off, which led to some very tough times. His dad picked himself up and went all in on himself.  He went on to build one of the largest independently owned insurance agencies in his area.  He knew the risk, but he also knew what he had to do for his family.  Montemayor vowed to do the same.

“My dad is my biggest inspiration,” he said. Between the years of 2004 and 2016, Montemayor faced many challenges and tribulations, but his faith, motivation, and reminder of his father’s success kept him going.

As the session came to a close, Montemayor gave the students one last piece of advice: If you are ever doubting yourself, just remember his story. “I was rejected from Texas A&M twice before I was accepted, and I am probably not the smartest guy in this room,” he said. “I am where I am today because of my hustle, my drive, my faith, and this little piece of gold on my finger. The Aggie network is real, and I encourage each and every one of you to take advantage of it for the rest of your lives.”

Roger Montemeyor group photo

Categories: Alumni, Business Honors, Featured Stories, Former Students, Management, Mays Business, News, Students, Texas A&M