Students | Mays Impacts

Out of 42 finalists, ten teams were given top honors and awarded cash prizes for their innovative and entrepreneurial ideasr

COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS May 7, 2022 – The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship hosted its second annual and first in-person Texas High School Ideas Challenge today, with competitive presentations held at Texas A&M University’s Memorial Student Center and The Crowd Fund Showcase and Awards Reception (sponsored by Education Advanced) held at the McFerrin Center. Open to high school students across the state of Texas, the challenge, designed to encourage students to explore entrepreneurship and foster development of an entrepreneurial mindset, awarded more than $10,000 in cash prizes to the top ideas.

Launched in 2021 by the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, the Texas High School Ideas Challenge is modeled after the Raymond Ideas Challenge, one of the McFerrin Center’s longest standing programs open each fall to current Texas A&M students. Due to restrictions in place, the inaugural event in 2021 was held exclusively in a virtual format, but the 2022 event was held in person at Texas A&M, giving high school students from across the state the opportunity to visit campus and be introduced to Texas A&M, the McFerrin Center and the Aggie entrepreneurial ecosystem.

In addition to prize money for the top idea winners, this year’s challenge also awarded $3,750 in prizes based on “investments” from “The Crowd Fund,” with showcase guests having the opportunity to visit each of the ideas to meet the student teams and learn about their service or product concept and “invest” in their favorites via “McFerrin Money.”

For the 2022 event, Texas high school students aged 14-18 were invited to apply beginning in late 2021, submitting their idea as a team or individual, via a compelling application demonstrating creative, careful and methodical planning. Following a screening process, a total of 42 finalist teams, comprised of more than 100 students from 18 Texas cities, were selected as finalists and invited to compete in person on the campus of Texas A&M.

Throughout the day, each team presented their idea twice, each time to a different panel of judges. The presentations consisted of a 5-minute pitch of the idea, followed by a 5-minute “Q&A” with the panel. Judges, selected from the McFerrin Center’s network of mentors, successful entrepreneurs and Texas A&M faculty, were looking for competitors who have an outstanding idea and clearly indicate that their idea creates values, can defend their idea against other ideas in the competition, and demonstrate to the judges that the idea is viable in the marketplace with clear evidence that the idea is attractive to a customer. Ideas were scored based on idea uniqueness, target market, competitive advantage, resources, goals and presentation content.

Rudy A., a junior from Centennial High School in Frisco, walked away with top honors and $2,500 for his pitch of WorkBee, a business concept developed with his partner Sarthak D., also a junior, who was unable to attend the competition. WorkBee solves the problem of low inventory of quality holiday decorations and the hassle of installing decorations by enabling customers to purchase customized holiday decorations and labor from local, reliable, responsive, fair-priced contractors.

“A friend who applied for this challenge knew I had this idea, and he suggested I apply as well. I did, and then suggested a different friend also apply with his idea,” Rudy said. “I feel like that sums up entrepreneurship. Healthy competition, but always looking to help and assist others who are also trying to pursue and build their own ideas.”

Following high school graduation in 2023, Rudy plans to attend college, pursuing a degree related to technology and business. “The best takeaway from today was the feedback I received from the judges following my pitches,” he said. “One judge suggested I consider a subscription option, and one even told me it was probably the best pitch he’d ever heard, including from college students. That really made me feel like not only do I have a great idea, but the time, effort and energy I put into preparing for this challenge really paid off. I’m already thinking of a new idea to apply again and come back to Aggieland next year.”

“In only its second year, this is quickly becoming one of our Signature Programs, and one that brings so much positive energy and excitement to the Center and our partners. As a competition focused solely on inspiring, encouraging and celebrating our next great generation of entrepreneurs, the ideas this year did not disappoint, nor did the students themselves, who have been nothing short amazing,” said Blake Petty ’98, executive director of the McFerrin Center. “While we realize not all of these students will choose Texas A&M as a destination after high school, our ultimate goal and purpose is to pour into them at this earliest stage of their entrepreneurial journey and help fan the flame of their entrepreneurial spirit. If we can create a few new Aggie entrepreneurs along the way, we’ll consider that icing on the cake!”

The McFerrin Center is already planning the third annual event, scheduled for May 5, 2023. Updates and more information will be made available at tx.ag/TexasHSIdeasChallenge.

2022 Texas High School Ideas Challenge Winners

Top Idea Winners
1st Place ($2,500): WorkBee | Centennial HS | Frisco
sponsored by Active Industrial Fire Protection
Student receiving a big check
2nd Place ($2,000): FYDER, LLC | Alamo Heights HS | San Antonio
sponsored by CareerPhysician, LLC
3rd Place ($1,750): Com.Post | Round Rock HS | Round Rock
sponsored by Education Advanced
Honorable Mention ($750): Stoozies: The Heated Shoetree | Canyon HS | New Braunfels
sponsored by Critical Environments Group
Honorable Mention ($750): iPath American English | Centennial HS | Frisco
sponsored by Education Advanced
Honorable Mention ($750): sMile | Centennial HS | Frisco, TX
sponsored by Startup LLC
Honorable Mention ($750): Traverse Marketplace | Vista Ridge HS | Cedar Park
sponsored by Mays Family Foundation

The Crowd Fund Winners
1st Place ($1,500): M.T. Equipment Backpacking Table | Westlake HS | Austin
sponsored by Nexersys (XFit Inc.)
Students receiving a b
2nd Place ($1,250): FYDER, LLC | Alamo Heights HS | San Antonio
sponsored by Startup LLC
3rd Place ($1,000): Let’s Keep Talking | Elkins HS | Missouri City
sponsored by Mays Family Foundation

2022 Texas High School Ideas Challenge Sponsors

Education Advanced, The Crowd Fund Showcase & Awards Reception sponsor
Active Industrial Fire Protection
CareerPhysician
Critical Environments Group
Mays Family Foundation
Nexersys
Startup LLC (Living Learning Community)

 

About McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship

The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship serves as the hub for entrepreneurship at Texas A&M University. The McFerrin Center’s goal is to enhance entrepreneurial education by providing training, networking and assistance to enterprising students, faculty and former students.

The McFerrin Center enables the startup and growth of countless businesses and provides competitive opportunities, professional development and financial support to aspiring entrepreneurs in the Aggie community through the support of a robust volunteer mentor network, corporate supporters, faculty and staff.

The McFerrin Center defines entrepreneurship as an attitude that acts upon opportunity. In this spirit, the McFerrin Center strives to deliver programs and events that are inspiring, engaging, motivating and life-changing. This philosophy has resulted in the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship offering more than 30 unique programs each year that positively impact the lives of thousands of students, veterans and other professionals seeking to blaze their own trail as an entrepreneur.

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Media Contact: Lara Robertson, communications manager, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, 979- 845-1724, lrobertson@tamu.edu

Categories: Entrepreneurship, Mays Business, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, Students, Texas A&M

Twenty Aggie-led startups competed in the only university-wide business plan pitch competition.

By Lara Robertson, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship at Texas A&M University

COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS March 8, 2022 – The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship hosted its fifth annual Aggie PITCH at the Doug Pitcock ’49 Texas A&M Hotel and Conference Center Monday evening. Now open to both current and former students, Aggie PITCH is the only university-wide business plan pitch competition at Texas A&M and seeks to identify the best Aggie business pitches from across industries and sectors.

For the 2022 event, a total of 20 startups were selected as finalists to compete for the coveted McFerrin Cup and a share of more than $35,000 in prize money. Split into three divisions —Full Pitch for both current and former students and Elevator Pitch open to both — the competition gives startup founders the opportunity to pitch their business in a fast-paced, high-energy format to a panel of anonymous judges and an audience of students, professionals, mentors, possible investors and fellow Aggie entrepreneurs.

In the Full Pitch divisions, 10 teams were each given 10 minutes for their pitch. In contrast, the Elevator Pitch competitors were only given a 1-minute allotment for their pitch. Although the anonymous panel of judges was tasked with ranking and selecting the winners of the Full Pitch division, audience members were invited to take part and cast their vote to select for the winners of the Elevator Pitch division.

Finalists’ ventures at this year’s Aggie PITCH represent a variety of industries including agriculture, information technology, consumer products and energy technology, among others, and are now automatically admitted into an exclusive group of startup founders who are eligible to represent Texas A&M University at national and global entrepreneurial competitions.

Flux Works LLC took home first place in the Full Pitch division for current students and was awarded $7,500. Bryton Praslicka ’24, startup lead, reacted with, “Winning to us means that people are excited about our technology. People believe in our technology. And winning this demonstrates that, and that’s really incredible.” Flux Works LLC, a developer and manufacturer of magnetic gears, has now met their fundraising goal and plans to use the prize money to buy back their intellectual property from Texas A&M and move into product development.

Taking home top honors and also $7,500 in the Full Pitch division for former students was Wide Afternoon, LLC (Ovie). Ovie aims to solve the problem of food waste in homes with a digital smart tracking system and plans to use their winnings to purchase prototype samples to get their product into user homes for testing. “Winning Aggie PITCH is so amazing because it validates our idea, where we’re at. And to have our peers and industry professionals that we respect acknowledge that our company is on to something, and believe in us, it means the world. It’s fuel,” stated Ovie lead Stacie Thompson ’02.

“Aggie PITCH continues to be a highlight of our year at McFerrin. The energy in the room is palpable, from both the pitch teams and the audience members getting to experience an event like this,” stated Blake Petty ’98, executive director of the McFerrin Center. “In only our fifth year of Aggie PITCH, we’ve continued to see growth in both the quantity and quality of pitch competitors. Seeing entrepreneurs, specifically Aggie entrepreneurs, pitch their startup businesses to such a diverse, engaging crowd is something I’ll never grow tired of.”

2022 Aggie PITCH Winners

Full Pitch Division | Current Students
1st Place ($7,500): Flux Works LLC [Bryton Praslicka ’24, Daniel Zamarron ‘22]
2nd Place ($5,000): Teale [Narendra Vishnumolakala ’22, Connor Ust ’22]
3rd Place ($3,500): Flow-Pax [Haley Clark ‘23]

Full Pitch Division | Former Students
1st Place ($7,500): Wide Afternoon, LLC (Ovie) [Stacie Thompson ‘02]
2nd Place ($5,000): ClaraTech [Clara Orlean ‘20]
3rd Place ($3,500): SageSpectra [Madi Heck ’21, Mark Golla ‘22]

Elevator Pitch Division
1st Place ($1,500): South Texas Security Gates [Carson Neal ‘22]
2nd Place ($1,000): Imperium [Donald Bowen ‘25]
3rd Place ($750): Unravl Hair [Zanbria Asante ‘18]

A list of past Aggie PITCH winners can be found at aggiepitch.com.

About McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship

The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship serves as the hub for entrepreneurship at Texas A&M University. The McFerrin Center’s goal is to enhance entrepreneurial education by providing training, networking and assistance to enterprising students, faculty and former students.

The McFerrin Center enables the startup and growth of countless businesses and provides competitive opportunities, professional development and financial support to aspiring entrepreneurs in the Aggie community through the support of a robust volunteer mentor network, corporate supporters, faculty and staff.

The McFerrin Center defines entrepreneurship as an attitude that acts upon opportunity. In this spirit, the McFerrin Center strives to deliver programs and events that are inspiring, engaging, motivating and life-changing. This philosophy has resulted in the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship offering more than 30 unique programs each year that positively impact the lives of thousands of students, veterans and other professionals seeking to blaze their own trail as an entrepreneur.

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Media Contact: Lara Robertson, communications manager, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, 979- 845-1724, lrobertson@tamu.edu

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

On November 12th, the theme “Reinvent Your Narrative; Leading with Strength and Resilience” echoed throughout The Zone Club at Kyle Field. Mays Business School’s Women’s Leadership Initiative Conference program offered a wealth of inspirational ideas and a chance for women leaders to network, while several sessions touched their hearts with stories of overcoming great life challenges. The conference was made possible thanks to the financial support of corporate sponsors BP, PwC, Reynolds & Reynolds Sales Leadership Institute, EY, Randstad, and Lockheed Martin.

Approximately 350 women professionals and Texas A&M University students filled the room, while another 150 attended virtually. “If I’m being honest, it was so cool to be at Kyle Field, on Ring Day and celebrating women,” said Morgan Young ’02, vice president at Lockton Dunning Benefits in Plano, TX. “To know that each and every person there has a crazy busy life, yet they took the whole day to invest in themselves and grow personally and professionally – it made me feel so proud to be a part of a university that gave us this opportunity. And the chocolate cake was insanely good!”

The focus and energy of the conference resonated with everyone in the audience—including those who attended this conference in the past. “Previous years’ conferences were amazing in their own right but were more or less good reminders for me,” said Jaime Ledford ’06, a senior business program manager for Amegy Bank in Houston, TX. “I appreciated the applicable learning this year, specifically the ‘Leading with Strengths’ where we were able to see how strengths have a strong side and a shadow side.”

Woman smiling at a table surrounded by other women

Women enjoyed being back together in person. Review the full #MaysWLI ’21 photo album.

The first-time attendees also applauded the conference’s presentations. “The quality of speakers stood out to me; they showed humility, leadership, strength, courage, and transparency,” said Tracy Foster ’96, associate agency director and chief financial officer at the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service in College Station, TX. “In this day and age, it’s so refreshing to see women leaders who can speak about their challenges and obstacles with a focus on reaching a hand to lift other women leaders in growth personally and professionally.”

Attendees learned new ideas and received the motivation to put them into action. They also left with plans to attend the 2022 conference, which is scheduled for Friday, October 14, 2022 with Chevron as the title sponsor. “I’ve already gone back and bragged to the women leaders in my office and encouraged them to come next year,” Young said. “The thoughtfulness that went into planning the day, the order of the speakers and variety of information was terrific.”

Rewriting Life’s Narrative

The conference focused on helping women become proactive in their lives through questioning society’s social constructs. “We can go through life accepting constructs just as they are presented to us, but there is a great deal to be gained from examining their meaning and the manner which they are applied,” Texas A&M’s Interim Vice President and Associate Vice President for Diversity Annie McGowan told the audience. “Cues that suggest marginality or a lack of a critical mass in a particular setting can impact the way that we feel about being in that space.”

The day’s program focused on learning how to view these cues and then interrupt the impact on lives. “The better equipped we are to process the impact of these cues on our own narrative and those of others, the more we can dedicate our important resources to blazing a trail into the domains of our choices,” McGowan said.

Strong, Resilient Leadership

The conference didn’t shy away from addressing the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, which created significant stress for women in trying to learn to combine work and home. BP Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Dawn Constantin shared her journey to find balance, even as she struggled with depression caused by the pandemic as well as BP’s reorganization. She found that she had to learn how to come from a place of strength by being true to herself. “To me, that means showing up and being your genuine, authentic, real self, no matter what situation you’re in,” she said. “To be yourself, you have to know yourself and spend time with yourself. What gets you excited? What gets you out of bed in the morning?”

This analysis allows women to determine how they want to show up in every area of life and then choose aligned behaviors. “The more authentic you are and the more genuine you are in everything you do, the more engaging you are,” she said. “People want to listen to you and be with you. People want to work with you—and that’s powerful. That’s walking into the room with strength.”

Constantin also pointed to the importance of resilience. “Everyone has goals, and you have to work for them,” she said. “You have to grit your teeth, put in the hours, ask the questions, be curious, get smarter.”

Resilience also is important in relation to working with other people. Constantin described how she used her knowledge of sports to help build connections with male colleagues. “You have to learn to relate to people, because the people you work with will help you get to where you want to be,” she said. “You have to be able to find that connection point, build that trust, and build that kind of relationship.”

She stressed self-care’s role in creating resilience. “Pay attention to you. Nobody can give 150% seven days a week, 365 days a year. You will drop, so take a break. Pay attention to your physical and mental health,” she said. “This became such an important issue, living through the pandemic.”

Reinventing one’s narrative is critical. “Nobody is perfect,” Constantin said. “It’s really important to seek advice and get feedback because nobody has this all figured out. Everyone makes mistakes; everyone has distractions along the way.”

She encouraged listeners to seek a mentor, coach, pastor, leader, teacher, or friend. “It’s really important to seek criticism and constructive feedback from people you trust,” she said. “It will make you better, so whatever rooms we show up in or want to influence, we can be better over time.”

Finding Strengths

Two sessions by Dr. Sarah Jaks, associate director of Mays Full-Time MBA Program, helped the audience identify their strengths and then begin to figure out how to utilize them. She encouraged the audience to identify their strengths through determining what they enjoy doing, when they felt their best, and the words that describe their strengths. “Shift your story and tell the story that you want to tell,” she said.

Using the Strength Finders analysis as a basis, Jaks pointed out that every person has all 34 strengths, but some strengths are more prevalent. She encouraged the audience to focus on their top strengths, as opposed to trying to hone what they consider “weaknesses.” Combining strengths also can be advantageous because together they cause an amplifier effect.

Teams also benefit from understanding members’ strengths. Jaks pointed out that this approach allows teams to use everyone’s strengths, understand different perspectives, and operate effectively as a team.

Elevating Communities

The conference also addressed the importance of helping women who have faced significant life challenges. Mays Interim Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs Shannon Deer and Quantum Circles Consulting Owner Cheryl Miller described “women overcomers” who have rewritten their narratives from an earlier life chapter spent in poverty, addiction, incarceration, and/or engagement in the sex trade. “These were stories that at one time were about darkness and destruction that become stories about hope and new life,” Miller said. “We have found that women who have overcome challenging pasts become some of the most productive and loyal employees.”

Citing several examples—including Miller’s own story of overcoming addiction and poverty to raise premature twins—the pair said it’s important to realize that society often unfairly puts middle-class expectations on these women. Additionally, this expectation leads to the creation of assumptions that these women are not able to or willing to do the work to succeed.

Inviting the audience to think back to their early days in leadership, the speakers asked them to consider how they felt—and how those feelings can help turn around the lives of women overcomers. “We advocate for immediate leadership opportunities for women overcomers,” Deer said. “That’s early opportunities to lead, whether that’s in big or small ways.”

Additionally, the co-authors of “Business Doing Good: Engaging Women and Elevating Communities” noted that many of the skills that women learn when they are struggling are useful and valuable skills in business. For example, previous attributes such as being bossy, pushy, and manipulative can be reframed and then used in productive ways.

This session resonated with many attendees—but perhaps none more than Stephanie Davis ’00, the director of educational development of the non-profit, Together for Haiti, which seeks to encourage, equip and empower vulnerable women. “One of the most powerful points the speakers made is that these vulnerable women have been told they have character flaws, but those flaws are just strengths that haven’t been harnessed for good yet,” the resident of Salado, TX said.

Finding Resilience

The importance of personal resilience also is critical in the face of tragedy. Tara Storch shared her journey after her teenage daughter, Taylor, died in a skiing accident. The family decided to donate Taylor’s organs, which resulted in saving five lives.

Storch described her quest after her daughter’s death. “I had a longing to hear her heartbeat again,” she told the audience.” She did just that, meeting the nurse who benefitted from Taylor’s heart as television cameras captured the moment.

Storch and her husband used this tragedy to make a difference for society through creating Taylor’s Gift Foundation, which emotionally supports organ donor families and shares the importance of outliving yourself through organ donation. “We had to make the best out of the worst situation, so we decided to focus on the good,” Storch said. “The good was that Taylor saved lives and so we decided to create something to honor her legacy and keep her spirit alive. Our sweet girl is still impacting lives to this day.”

Attendees were moved by Storch’s ability to pick herself up and move forward in such a meaningful way after the death of a child. “Tara took one of the most awful situations a mom/parent can experience and turned it into a battle cry of how to outlive yourself,” Young said.

Avoiding the Red Zone

The day’s final session encouraged the audience to consider how they lead when facing pressure and triggers that mark the red zone. “We are not on our firm footing when we are in fight or flight,” said co-presenter Cindy Billington, interim director of Mays Graduate Career Management Center. “It means something has caused us to freeze, but freeze in a way so that our brain, our head, our heart, and our soul are not talking to one another.”

For women to keep their feet planted so they can be at their best requires incorporating their head and their heart, which creates soulful leadership. This type of leadership involves strategic thinking as well as character.

Billington also tied soulful leadership to self-care, noting that regularly taking specific actions—whether meditation, laughter, running, aromatherapy or chocolate–boosts dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins in the brain. “These help you access your soul, and your soul is what is going to bring you back into perspective, so the fight or flight comes back into center,” she said.

Soulful leadership also requires changing one’s internal dialogue. “Reinventing your narrative really starts with what you tell yourself,” Mays Director of Diversity Nancy Hutchins said. “Seventy-seven percent of our thoughts are negative. It’s important to think about the things you say to yourself on a daily basis and focus more on positive self-talk. Your thoughts and words influence your actions and decisions.”

Participants left with a better understanding of how to proactively navigate their careers and their lives—and how to empower others to do the same to help advance the world’s prosperity. “You need to be able to identify and use your strengths. What is the use of a strength if you don’t use it?” one participant said. “Use it for yourself and use it for others—and remind others to use it.”

Next Steps

 

Categories: Diversity and Inclusion, Featured Stories, Former Students, Mays Business, News, Students, Texas A&M, Women's Leadership Initiative

two female students in caps celebrating their major choicesCheers and applause erupted in the Cocanougher Center Friday, November 5th as the Business Honors program held its annual “Signing Day,” allowing Business Honors students to celebrate selecting – and announcing to the world – their second major while surrounded by friends and family. All students in the program pursue a primary major in Business Honors and are able to add a second business major to their curriculum if they choose. The event also allowed students unable to celebrate last year because of the pandemic a second chance to celebrate this milestone in the program.

“After a year and a half of college not being what they expected, having fun with friends at an in-person event is important for these students,” said Jeff Glenn, Program Coordinator for the Business Honors Program. “These students are great people and we want to help them make great memories here.”

Female student wearing a cap with "MGMT" on itThe support of advisors, staff, and peer leaders is what makes the Business Honors program invaluable to students. “The community in Business Honors has been so special to me and getting to have so many people here cheering me on makes me feel amazing,” said Bailey Rogers ’23, who “signed” to a second major in Management at the event. This sense of community was at the heart of the event as students cheered each other on and celebrated each other’s success.

“The one thing that stands out to me about Mays is events like this. It’s a very collaborative nature that we have here,” said Travis Cantwell ’22, Academic Coordinator for the Program. “We’re not competing against each other here, we are trying to Advance the World’s Prosperity together.”

To apply for Business Honors at Mays Business School, visit the Business Honors website.

Female student wearing a cap with "SCMT" on it

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

Mays Business School at Texas A&M University and leading health and well-being company Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) have announced the winners of the 2021 Humana-Mays Healthcare Analytics Case Competition, a competition during which students use their analytical abilities to solve a real-world business problem. The student team of Siyan Cai, Jia Shi, Manqiu Liu, and Tsz Fung Pang from Georgia Tech received the First-Place prize of $50,000 following a virtual presentation on Nov. 11 to an executive panel of judges.

This is the fifth year of the competition, which has grown to be one of the top healthcare analytics case competitions in the country. Over 750 master’s level students, representing 75 major universities in the U.S., registered for the national competition to compete for $80,000 in total prizes. The Second-Place prize of $20,000 was awarded to Alejandro Sáez Coma and Ignacio Aguilar Ramos from New York University (NYU), while the Third-Place prize of $10,000 was presented to Eunjin Jeong, Yuxuan Mei, Ji Qi, and Linh To from Boston University.

The student teams examined a multifaceted and complex real-world business problem.  This year’s competition focused on providing vaccination opportunities for vulnerable and underserved populations, as existing disparities in health equity have become more evident during the vaccination response to COVID-19.

Students were asked to create a model to predict vaccine hesitance among a specific population. The students’ challenge was to propose solutions so that Humana can design a targeted outreach that prioritizes the most vulnerable and underserved populations to receive health solutions.

“By materializing our commitment to minimizing health inequities and mitigating bias, we are leveraging prescriptive analytics and predictive modeling to reach our most at-risk and hesitant member populations,” said Heather Cox, Chief Digital Health and Analytics Officer for Humana.  “This year’s participants have shown great dedication to identifying populations and creating elegant solutions that drive forth positive change. This is just one glimpse into the transformative power of quality data.”

“I am pleased that the students’ analyses will help Humana shape the way the industry delivers healthcare,” says Arvind Mahajan, Associate Dean for Graduate Programs at Mays Business School. “This case study is an example of how students learn to apply their analytical skills to solve complex business problems which can have a social impact, and in this case, improve the lives of patients and their families.”

The fifth annual competition was held virtually and was open to all accredited educational institutions based in the United States. Full-time and part-time master’s students from accredited Master of Science, Master of Arts, Master of Information Systems, Master of Public Health, Master of Business Administration programs, or other similar master’s programs in business, healthcare, or analytics, were eligible to enter.

The teams were judged based on the following criteria:

  • Quantitative analysis identifying key business insights
  • Professionalism, data visualization, and presentation skills
  • Ability to provide meaningful implications and recommendations based on results/insights

Prior top winners include the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (2020); University of California, Los Angeles (2018 & 2019); and Purdue University (2017).

For more information, visit HumanaTAMUAnalytics.com.

 

About Mays Business School

At Mays Business School, we strive 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 nearly 6,300 undergraduate, masters, and doctoral students in accounting, finance, information systems and operations management, management, and marketing. Mays ranks consistently among the top public business schools in the country for its programs and for faculty research.

About Humana

Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) is committed to helping our millions of medical and specialty members achieve their best health. Our successful history in care delivery and health plan administration is helping us create a new kind of integrated care with the power to improve health and well-being and lower costs. Our efforts are leading to a better quality of life for people with Medicare, families, individuals, military service personnel, and communities at large.

To accomplish that, we support physicians and other health care professionals as they work to deliver the right care in the right place for their patients, our members. Our range of clinical capabilities, resources and tools – such as in-home care, behavioral health, pharmacy services, data analytics and wellness solutions – combine to produce a simplified experience that makes health care easier to navigate and more effective.

More information regarding Humana is available to investors via the Investor Relations page of the company’s web site at www.humana.com, including copies of:

  • Annual reports to stockholders
  • Securities and Exchange Commission filings
  • Most recent investor conference presentations
  • Quarterly earnings news releases and conference calls
  • Calendar of events
  • Corporate Governance information

Categories: Health Care, Mays Business, MBA, News, Students, Texas A&M

Mays Business School’s Master of Science in Analytics (MS Analytics) program welcomed one of its most diverse and talented classes of working professionals in August 2021. This cohort–the program’s ninth–will spend five semesters learning to apply statistical modeling methods to big data to solve business problems.

39% of the students are female, 35% are Hispanic, and 9% are Black. One-third of this cohort holds advanced degrees. Additionally, these students average 14 years of full-time work experience in over 20 industries. “Analytics programs globally seek to become more diverse to best meet the industry needs and contribute to the diversity of ideas as technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning continue to develop,” said MS Analytics program director Myra Gonzalez.

To further Mays’ vision of advancing the world’s prosperity and improving quality of life, the MS Analytics program awards two scholarships to students who work in the non-profit sector. The ninth cohort’s scholarship recipients are Kimberly Hernandez ’23 and William Jinkins ’23.

Analyzing Success

The MS Analytics program has a strong history of preparing students to continue to succeed in their careers. Approximately 80% of the Class of 2021 received one raise during the program while 29% reported earning several raises during the five-semester period. Additionally, almost 70% of this cohort reported a new job title while enrolled in the program.

The students’ organizations also benefit. The Class of 2021 created an estimated $18.2 million in average annual value, demonstrating a true return on investment for their companies. “We’re excited when our students apply what they learned in class to their job,” said Javier Aldape, MS Analytics program manager. “That is what our program is intended to do!”

This return on investment makes Mays MS Analytics a top choice for students who want a critical edge professionally. “I’m analytical and can work in teams, but I needed an extra push to give me a competitive edge. This program will provide me with it,” said Victor Frausto ’23, who lives in El Paso, TX and works for a federal agency. “My boss tells me that we need to look at the data. It’s telling a story and we need to understand it to work smarter.”

Creating Applied Knowledge

Texas A&M’s MS Analytics is a part-time master’s degree program designed for busy working professionals who are interested in learning more about this rapidly growing area of study. “Given our current uncertain times, many students pursued admission in order to future proof their careers.” said Aldape.

Classes include regression analysis, time series, financial analytics, machine learning, marketing engineering, and data warehousing. The curriculum incorporates real-world case studies and the most current analytics tools. Students also develop business, technical and leadership skills.

Additionally, students’ coursework supports their capstone project. Partnering with a project coach, students use organizational data to build a predictive model that solves an important business question.

The program uses a hybrid instructional model that allows students to attend class in-person or virtually. A record 60% of the new cohort–including 21% who live outside of Texas—plan to virtually attend classes, which meet at Mays’ campus at CityCentre Houston. “I had the pleasure of visiting a class via stream this summer before I enrolled,” said Chelsea Horne ’23, who lives in Pennsylvania. “I liked the dynamics of it. The professor was explaining, and both sets of students had an equal participation. I didn’t feel there was a disconnect between in-person and video stream students. That solidified my commitment in the program and I’m looking forward to a wonderful five semesters.”

Applications for entry in the fall of 2022 are open now for Texas A&M’s MS Analytics program. For more information, visit mays.tamu.edu/ms-analytics.

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

Business Honors Students utilize Mays Transformational Leadership Mindsets in High-Impact Learning event

Mays Business School students Mia Barone ’21, Steven Gooch ’22 and Laura Key ’22 won top divisional honors at the Loyola Marymount University’s International Business Ethics and Sustainability Case Competition. This high-impact learning event, which was held virtually April 8-9, challenged participants to create a solution based on one of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The Aggie team proposed that Amazon could protect the ocean’s viability by changing its maritime shipping approach.

Case competitions offer an opportunity for Mays students to further develop their transformational leadership mindset. “Participating in an international case study provides Mays students an opportunity to exhibit the culmination of business competency and experience gained in the classroom and through high-impact activities on a global scale,” said Katy Lane ’02, the director of Mays’ Center for International Business Studies, which sponsored the team in the case competition. “Working as a cohesive team to analyze and clearly communicate their solution is essential to succeeding in the high-pressure environment. In many cases, judges are from companies or organizations seeking to implement the winning solutions to make a positive social impact.  These teams clearly display the Mays Transformational Leadership mindset in action.”

Changing Course

Advised by Dr. Daria Panina of Mays Department of Management, the student team focused on the UN goal of conserving and sustainably using the oceans, sea, and marine resources for sustainable development. Their full presentation had to address the legal, financial, and ethical dimensions, and their recommendation had to be a solution that was viable on all counts. As part of this session, the Aggies, who are part of Mays Business Honors program, were questioned by a panel of judges who have executive experience in corporate ethics, compliance, corporate social responsibility, executive leadership, and sustainability. This panel did not include representatives from Amazon, which was the focus of the Mays’ team’s case.

The Aggies recommended integrating the practice of slow steaming into Amazon’s maritime cargo operations. “Right now, there’s a lot of sustainability work being done on the company’s consumer-facing, warehouse-to-door operations–electric delivery vehicles, sustainable mailers, shipment zero goal, etc.–but no responsibility is being taken for the impact of Amazon’s inbound logistics process through their shipping subsidiary,” said Barone, who is majoring in marketing and analytics.

The team’s presentation pointed out that a large proportion of the merchant fleet relies on bunker fuel, which contains a high amount of sulfur. The fleet’s fuel combustion releases large amounts of sulfur and nitrogen oxides, which acidify the marine environment and contribute to reduced calcification, erosion of coral reefs, and adverse effects on human health, especially in coastal communities. One cargo ship creates the same amount of pollution as 50 million cars[1].

Amazon ships approximately 3.2 million inbound shipping containers per year to warehouses globally; these containers hold $127.6 billion in products. The Mays team recommended that these ships adopt slow steaming. This approach, which reduces the ship’s speed from 20-24 knots to 12-19 knots, reduces the use of fuel and the resultant cargo emissions.

Wide Sustainability Implications

The Aggies also pointed out that slower travel does not result in lower profits. They cited University of Hamburg researchers, who found that profits for many container vessels decline when speeds surpass 20 knots.

The Mays team also believed that their proposal was feasible and environmentally beneficial. “Ultimately, the solution that we proposed is one that is easy to implement within a couple of months,” said Key, who is majoring in supply chain management. “It’s not a large-scale transformation. As they push forward with net-zero goals, making this small change can be very beneficial to the environment long-term. Using slow-steaming and slowing boats down reduces overall fuel consumption.”

The team advocated for more frequent, small shipments of each product to warehouses. Through using freight forwarding, Amazon would be able to combine small batches of multiple SKUs in containers, which would eliminate the need for holding additional safety stocks.

The Aggies believe these recommendations could have wider sustainability implications. “Amazon is a key player in the global shipping industry. Because of the economy of scale, they have the opportunity to set the standard for the industry,” said Gooch, who is majoring in marketing and analytics. “Adopting this practice would make it more acceptable for others to take on some more sustainable practices. Overall, this would have a greater impact on preserving our oceans and supporting those people in the coastal communities who depend on those resources.”

View the student’s winning presentation:

2021 Mays Business School IBESCC Presentation

Categories: Business Honors, Center for Business International Studies, Mays Business, News, Programs, Students, Texas A&M

Established in 1983, the Center for Retailing Studies at Mays Business School has developed future retail leaders to advance the world’s prosperity.

 

Texas A&M’s Center for Retailing Studies (CRS) launched a fundraising campaign today titled, “Supporting the Future of Retail,” to engage strategic partners from across the retailing community in support of the Center’s critical mission of Inspiring the Future of Retail. From its founding in 1983 as the first university center of excellence in retail through today, the mission of the Center remains focused on developing retail leaders and business knowledge for tomorrow.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated change in the retail industry, including the growth of eCommerce, the integration of digital and physical retail operating models, and opportunities to engage the industry in a dialog about the talent needs of retailers and consumer brands for a more integrated and omnichannel approach to the business moving forward. The campaign will feature a breadth of content developed to educate, engage, and energize the retail industry. The desired outcome of the campaign includes to bringing more organizations along with the mission of the Center by investing time, talent, and financial support critical to student success and developing future leaders of the retail industry.

Join CRS in your preferred channel to gain a well-rounded view of opportunities from now through the end of July 2021:

Highlights of partnership with CRS include:

  • Access to talent and future organization leaders from a recognized and valued business school
  • Access to research faculty and the ability to collaborate on relevant retail research that advances knowledge of a rapidly evolving business and consumer from a recognized and acclaimed Tier One research institution
  • Engagement in industry networking and thought leadership, providing access to the collective wisdom of leaders from across the retail ecosystem as well as the brand recognition
  • Influence on the future of retailing education, by playing a role in identifying the skills needed for future leaders of their organization, the industry at large, and investing in capabilities they view as critical to their future success.
  • Industry updates on recovery from the pandemic, and the impact of retail on serving the American consumer early into, during, and after the crisis

For information on becoming a corporate partner of the Center for Retailing Studies or to request a sponsorship proposal, please contact Lauren Osborne at 979.845.0325 or email losborne@mays.tamu.edu. We gratefully acknowledge and thank our current partner companies for investing in retailing education at Texas A&M University.

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About the Texas A&M Center for Retailing Studies (CRS)

Since opening in 1983, the Center for Retailing Studies has been respected throughout the world as a leading source of industry knowledge and a pipeline for developing future retail leaders.

In collaboration with the outstanding performance of the faculty at Mays Business School and excellence in student education programs, each year, more than 150 students complete coursework, internships, and leadership programs that prepare them for professional careers within the industry in store management, buying, merchandising, planning, business analytics, and supply chain.

Explore more on CRS: https://mays.tamu.edu/center-for-retailing-studies/

 

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.

Say Howdy to Mays: https://mays.tamu.edu

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Centers, Donors Corner, Executive Speakers, Featured Stories, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Programs, Research, Staff, Students, Texas A&M

Company Makes Joint Investment to Texas McCombs and Texas A&M’s Mays Business School

The University of Texas/Texas A&M Investment Management Company (UTIMCO) has agreed to invest $7.5 million to the Texas McCombs Longhorn Fund, now called Texas McCombs Investment Advisers LLC, and $7.5 million to The Reveille Fund at Texas A&M Mays Business School. The funds are actively managed domestic equity funds benchmarked to the S&P 500. Operated by business students, the funds enable the business schools to provide unique experiential learning opportunities, continued investment education, financial research, and practice for their students.

Created in 1996, UTIMCO is the first external investment corporation formed by a public university system and manages investments for The University of Texas and Texas A&M Systems.

“UTIMCO is excited to support the student investment funds at the McCombs and Mays business schools and help give top students the opportunity to learn in a controlled and mentor-led setting and to receive exposure to real-world investment management processes,” says Britt Harris, UTIMCO president and CEO.

In addition to the financial investment, UTIMCO plans to strengthen its active involvement with both schools. Its leadership team will meet regularly with students to review portfolios, discuss performance, and comment on market conditions. UTIMCO will also facilitate meetings with the top external investment managers in the country.

“It is exciting that the discussions that President Jay Hartzell initiated more than one year ago have been fruitful,” says Clemens Siam, professor of finance and director of the AIM Investment Center at McCombs. “This collaboration with UTIMCO will ensure that this path-breaking program that was founded by Keith Brown and George Gau more than 25 years ago will continue to enhance the educational experience of our MBA students.”

“I am thrilled that UTIMCO offered this opportunity to Mays Business School last year, and I am really grateful to Sorin Sorescu, our Interim Executive Associate Dean, for working tirelessly (with input and help from many people) to make this a reality,” says Christa Bouwman, associate professor and acting head of the Department of Finance at Mays Business School. “We already offer a high-impact Aggies on Wall Street program focusing on investment banking. We can now give our students a top-notch Reveille Investment Management Program as well. The Reveille Fund is currently run by my colleagues Hagen Kim and Jene Tebeaux, and we’re delighted to have Brent (B.R.) Adams join as Program Director, bringing over 30 years of hedge fund experience to guide our students.”

Texas McCombs Investment Advisers LLC will initially manage $7.5 million in its Longhorn Portfolio and $7.0 million in its Endowment Portfolio. The Endowment Portfolio manages assets for the AIM Investment Center, the Business School Foundation, and several scholarships.

The Reveille Fund at Texas A&M University will complement The Tanner Fund, which started in 2000 with a $250,000 gift from Jamey and Richard Tanner, ’53. The fund has grown over the past two decades and currently has around $920,000 in portfolio. It has been a student-run portfolio under Jene Tebeaux’ leadership for the entire duration.

About the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin

Texas McCombs is a premier business school at a world-class public research university. We are a community that fosters lifelong engagement with our students and alumni. We cultivate principled leaders and develop ideas that will advance our economy, improve lives, strengthen our communities, and create new knowledge for future generations. Through high-quality instruction, experiential learning, and the pursuit of relevant, groundbreaking research, we are shaping those who will shape tomorrow and solve our most challenging problems.

About Mays Business School at Texas A&M University

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.

Categories: Departments, Donors Corner, Finance, Former Students, Mays Business, News, Students, Texas A&M

Mays MBA Student Leads Aggie Team That Earns 3rd Place in International Case Competition Focused on Addressing International Food Production Problems

Ryan StaplesA Texas A&M University interdisciplinary team led by Mays Business School Full-Time MBA student Ryan Staples ’22 earned third place in the 2021 Norwegian Business School Global Case Competition. The Aggie team–which included Danette Philpot, Garrett Brogan, and Meikah Dado, who are graduate students from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Department of Agriculture Leadership, Education and Communications—earned this international recognition by proposing an innovative use of technology to improve food production in Uganda by empowering women.

The Mays-sponsored group competed against 85 teams from 60 top-tier universities to generate game-changing solutions to food production issues involving obesity, malnutrition, and climate change. These topics will be discussed at the United Nations Food Systems Summit in Fall 2021.

Uganda

Once the case problem was released, Texas A&M’s team decided to focus on Uganda, which Brogan had visited through his studies. That focus was important because more than one of every three Ugandans suffer from chronic malnutrition.

This issue is compounded because the nation has a significant gender inequality issue in its food production system. Eighty percent of the food consumed by the nation’s residents is produced by women. However, for every one pound of food produced by a woman in Uganda, a man can produce three. “Our whole idea is how can we bridge this knowledge and gender gap between men and women so that the country of Uganda can produce more food,” Staples said. “With 80% of the food producers only one-third as productive as their counterparts, there is a huge area of opportunity. “

Tech Solution

The team proposed providing the women farmers with electronic tablets filled with agricultural knowledge so they can become empowered. Using technology allows the nation’s women farmers–who often do not attend extension programs because they are doing the farm work and caring for the children and elderly—to have ready access to extension resources, such as videos. “This is supplying them with knowledge so they can help themselves,” Dado said. “It is a bottom-up approach.”

The team projects that if this initiative is implemented over a 10-year period, 3 million women would be empowered. This would lead to a 30% increase in overall agriculture productivity and a $450 million boost to Uganda’s GDP.

Interdisciplinary Aggies

The Aggie team, which was the top-performing team among North American and South American colleges and universities, benefitted from the support by Mays Business School faculty members Dr. Daniel Usera and Dr. Mary Lea McAnally and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Dr. Jack Elliott, a professor and senior scientist at the university’s renowned Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture. These faculty members were able to provide feedback before the team moved into the semifinal round of the case competition.

Staples believes that the team’s interdisciplinary representation was critical to the Aggies’ third place finish. “Our success was truly a testament to the power of synergistic team effort,” he said. “The true kudos go to my three new friends in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences who shared this case competition journey with me.”

His counterparts agreed and appreciated Staples’ openness to learning about agriculture and his facilitation and leadership skills. “Ryan had knowledge in so many different ways that we didn’t have, but we had that knowledge of the agriculture aspect,” Dado said. “We were able to come together, and I do not think we would have been as successful if we hadn’t been interdisciplinary.”

Go to Market Plans

The Aggies are now seeking ways to bring their idea to the marketplace. They have presented to the Borlaug Institute’s director and senior faculty, who have offered positive feedback and are considering including the project in future grant proposals. In addition, Staples is using Mays’ contacts to pitch to Fortune 500 companies about corporate funding. The team also may receive an invitation to present at the United Nations Food Systems Summit.

These types of high-impact learning experiences that challenge Mays students to solve real-world problems are aligned with Mays’ vision to advance the world’s prosperity. “Case competitions offer students the opportunity to practice being transformational leaders through combining theory, research, and practical application while working in a team,” said Mays Associate Dean for Graduate Programs Arvind Mahajan. “We feel so strongly about the power of these learning experiences that Mays collaborates annually with Humana Inc. to host the Humana-Mays Healthcare Analytics Case Competition, which challenges 1,300 U.S. masters-level students to analyze the company’s data to identify innovative healthcare solutions.”

Ultimately, Staples credits Mays Full-Time MBA program for helping to polish his leadership skills to be able to successfully focus the team’s efforts. “The program helped me first to identify my leadership strengths, and then taught me how to leverage them. Apart from that, I have had the opportunity to lead team projects among my peers since last July,” Staples said. “The combination of understanding the unique skills I possess and the practical opportunity to practice those skills has been invaluable to my development as a leader.”

Categories: Entrepreneurship, Faculty, Featured Stories, Health Care, Mays Business, MBA, News, Perspectives, Selfless service, Students, Texas A&M