Chelsea Anderson recently traveled with 42 other members of the Professional MBA Class of 2019. Stops included Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa.

July 30, 2018:

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

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

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

Aug. 3, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aug. 10, 2018

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two Mays Business School MBA graduates, Thomas Dowlearn and Willie Dennis, were included in Poets & Quants’ 2018 list of “MBAs To Watch.” The criteria for inclusion on the list MBAs who possess unique backgrounds, innate talent, and long-term goals that make them transformational leaders to watch in the coming years.


Thomas Dowlearn

Dowlearn is working toward an MBA while pursuing an MD. The co-op is designed to prepare students to tackle the managerial, financial, and leadership aspects of the medical field.

He said he chose Mays Business School because of how welcomed he felt throughout the admissions process. He felt he was surrounded by a group of people who believed in him, and he sensed the deep sense of pride that people associated with Texas A&M tend to have. The advice he would give to students looking to pursue an MBA is asking yourself “why” every day because it will help you discover yourself and find purpose in your decisions.

Since being at Mays, Dowlearn competed in and placed second at the Venture Challenge as well as earning the Best Presenter Award in 2017.

Willie Dennis
Dennis earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and a bachelor’s in business management at the University of Texas at Arlington. He worked for Exxon Mobil as a revenue accountant and then Multiview Inc. as a financial reporting associate. When deciding which MBA program to pursue, Dennis said was intrigued with the worldwide recognition of Mays Business School. What sealed the deal was that Mays has one of the best ROI’s of a top-ranked business program.

His advice for students looking to get their MBAs: Be yourself and be able to tell your story in a unique way. Be able to understand what you want to accomplish by going to business school, particularly Mays, and be able to deliver that message to the admissions committee as well.

While at Mays, the faculty and staff nominated Dennis to be recognized as one of the “Best and Brightest” business school students in Texas, which led to him being honored as a Texas Business Hall of Fame Scholar in 2017.

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

With bright eyes and smiling faces, 38 rising high school seniors enjoyed the first annual Mays Transformational Leadership Academy. It gives participants the opportunity to experience college life at Mays Business School including taking classes led by Texas A&M University professors on subjects such as public speaking, leadership, business model development, as well as the majors that are offered at Mays. The participants heard from corporate panels ranging from JP Morgan, Deloitte Consulting, and KPMG.

The objectives of this program are to:

  • Cultivate the leadership and academic potential of rising high school seniors
  • Allow students to experience on a first-hand basis a microcosm of the collegiate and professional lives of business students
  • Introduce talented students to career opportunities in business disciplines
  • Provide information about admission, scholarship funding, and high-impact programs available at Mays

“It is not about starting the company, it is about what you do today with an entrepreneurial mindset,” said Clinical Professor Kris Muir.

 

In addition to these objectives, participants learned from many people who could have a profound effect on not only their decision of where they will be attending university next year but on their lives. “Start to find your 12,” Mays Dean Eli Jones said the opening day. “I made a list of 12 influential people in my life and kept in touch with them throughout my professional career.”

 

Throughout the week, the participants stayed in Texas A&M dormitories and were led by seven small group leaders who were there for them as support. Every night, the small group leaders lead a reflection on the days’ events as well as assisted them with their week-long project, which the participants presented on the last day. When they presented, they also be received feedback from a panel of Mays professors and executives.

 

The event was hosted by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Mays Business School and coordinated by numerous faculty, staff members, and students. Ricky Dillard Jr. ’19 served as the Chief Logistics Officer of the program and Kate Wellmann ’18 was the Chief of Staff. “Our team is dedicated to being a voice and not an echo for the future world leaders,” Dillard said. “Seeing the enthusiastic parents and participants at the MTLA opening has jump-started and re-energized our purpose to enable a diverse set of Transformational Leaders to begin their leadership journey.”

Several participants said interactions at the Student Recreational Center on campus helped strengthen their relationships. “We think this will help us in our group project by being able to trust each other on a deeper level,” one said.

The 80/20 Foundation and KPMG have demonstrated their support for our efforts to create a culture of diversity, inclusion, and engagement at Mays by sponsoring the Mays Transformational Leadership Academy. Organizers are hopeful this will lead to some of the students becoming members of the Texas A&M Class of 2023.

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

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

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

…Read more

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

Mays Business School students have traveled for the past five years across the Atlantic to take part in a faculty-led winter trip to South Africa and Swaziland. Led by Clinical Professor of Management David Flint and Clinical Assistant Professor of Information and Operations Management Matthew Manley, students spend part of their winter break in South Africa visiting local businesses and national parks. Then they travel to the neighboring country of Swaziland to learn about the non-profit orphanage Bulembu, the businesses that support it, and the challenges of Swaziland’s market environment.

“I thought it was a really interesting combination of not-for-profit work, developing market conditions, and entrepreneurship, so they encouraged me to go visit,” Flint said as he recalled the suggestion from some of his church friends to visit Bulembu.

After visiting the orphanage in the summer of 2013, he came back with a vision of guiding a group of Mays students through South Africa and Swaziland to enhance their cultural understanding and global mindset. 

“The purpose of the trip is to discover how business education and skills can be brought to bear in solving very real and pressing social issues,” Manley said in describing the business aspect of the trip. “There are problems to solve, there is a real urgency, and there are people who are committed to working out the solutions.” …Read more

Categories: Center for Business International Studies, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Former Students, Management, Mays Business, Selfless service, Students, Texas A&M

Put the phone down, earn prizes.

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

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

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

…Read more

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

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

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

…Read more

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

Mental and physical challenges in an unfamiliar environment with a brand-new team taught the second-year students in the Professional MBA Class of 2019 at Mays Business School about leading. The experience was part of their “Leadership and Professional Development Course” on May 5 at the Corps of Cadets Leader Reaction Course (LRC) at Texas A&M University.

The goal for the Mays group’s LRC event was for students to experience leadership, make quick decisions, communicate thoroughly, express adaptability and use teamwork – all in a new environment under time pressure with limited resources. Through the obstacles and experiences the students were able to build their leadership skills and confidence and team.

Zach Majzun, Professional MBA Class of 2018, wrote the curriculum and led much of the day using his knowledge of LRCs in both military and civilian training job to best fit the Mays Professional MBAs learning objectives. The objectives included: experiencing a high-pressure leadership situation, using and learning a straightforward task leadership framework, and exposing students to teamwork within a new environment. …Read more

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

Rachel Keathley ’18 has been selected as a Gates-Muller awardee and a Fulbright Scholar. She graduated as a Business Honors and management major with minors in economics and Spanish and a certificate in international business.

The Robert Gates-Muller Family Outstanding Student Award, which also includes a $5,000 gift, was presented to Keathley at commencement. It is one of the highest student awards on the Texas A&M University campus. It was established through a gift from the Muller family of Galveston to provide public recognition to the outstanding seniors graduating from Texas A&M who have demonstrated those qualities of leadership, patriotism, and courage exemplified by Robert M. Gates. He served as president of the university from 2002 until 2006, when he was named U.S. Secretary of Defense.

Keathley also will be participating in the Fulbright student program as a Fulbright-Garcia Robles grantee for the Binational Internship program in Mexico City, Mexico. The Fulbright Program aims to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The 12-member J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board selects the recipients each year.

A path of leadership

While a student, Keathley has served as events coordinator for the Business Honors program. She was selected as a Public Policy Intern for the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C., and was awarded the Sophomore Gathright and Outstanding Junior award for her college. She has served on multiple committees, including University Disciplinary Appeals, the Student Health Services Advisory Committee, and Wiley Lecture Marketing committee.

She is heavily involved in local ministry services such as the Philadelphia Sisters, Save Our Streets Ministries, and the Grace Bible Church Street Team. Her references extoll her commitment to “being a true friend,” someone who cares for “the frequently overlooked,” and who has the ability to “stay true to what she believes in, even in the face of challenges.” This fortitude was demonstrated during her term as elections commissioner through which her “conduct was above reproach”—showing “initiative, integrity, and leadership” while handling challenges “with grace.”

 

 

 

 

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