Mays Impacts | Mays Business School | Texas A&M University - Part 2

Lead Story

Texas A&M Executive MBA program named No. 1 in Texas by Financial Times

Blake Parrish, October 18th, 2021

#1 Texas Program - Texas A&M EMBA - Financial Times '21

Mays Business School’s EMBA program lands No. 15 in the U.S. in 2021 rankings

Texas A&M’s Executive MBA (EMBA) program, offered by Mays Business School, has been named the No. 1 program in Texas and the No. 5 program offered by a public university in the U.S. according to Financial Times. The rankings are based on surveys of 2018 graduates concerning salary, career progress, and overall satisfaction post-graduation.

“This ranking highlights Mays Business School’s commitment to delivering a rigorous program to the contemporary student during the pandemic and beyond in an effort to advance the world’s prosperity, which is our school’s vision,” says R. Duane Ireland, Ph.D., Interim Dean for Mays Business School.

The EMBA program lasts 21 months with an interdisciplinary curriculum that emphasizes experiential learning and intellectually stimulating activities and features a flexible format for busy leaders.

“The students’ personal and professional transformations in the Mays Executive MBA are real. Whether they are heading to the c-suite, leading an organization, or pursuing an entrepreneurial career, the expertise of our faculty provides the foundation for students to develop their executive skillset. Having one of the more experienced cohorts in the nation adds to the rich learning environment and increases the value of the Aggie network,” says Julie Orzabal, director of the program.

“The aim of the faculty in our graduate programs is not only to impart business acumen and technical skills for our students but to also engage them in wider conversations about leadership and inclusivity,” said Arvind Mahajan, Ph.D., associate dean for graduate programs for Mays Business School. “This holistic and innovative curriculum is what has the most significant effect on our students.”

Applications for entering the program in the fall of 2022 are open now for Texas A&M’s MBA programs – including Full-Time, Professional, and Executive MBA Programs. For more information, visit mba.tamu.edu. Or, learn more specifically about the EMBA program by visiting: learn.mays.tamu.edu/emba

R. Duane Ireland, the new interim dean of Mays Business School, has a proven track record for stepping up to serve his beloved university. Since joining the faculty at Texas A&M University as a Professor of Management nearly 20 years ago, Ireland has served in several other leadership roles at Mays Business School – including department head, interim department head, interim executive associate dean, executive associate dean, associate dean of research and scholarship, and acting dean.

With his trademark quick wit, Ireland humbly quips that “I’m still trying to decide what to be when I grow up.” Like most entrepreneurs and CEOs, he is accustomed to wearing many different hats to serve Mays, which educates nearly 6,300 students in accounting, finance, information systems and operations management, management, and marketing. Ireland is also a University Distinguished Professor of Management and holds the Benton Cocanougher Chair in Business.

Ireland exemplifies an important aspect of the school’s mission, which is to “Create Impactful Knowledge.” Ireland’s research focuses on the intersection between entrepreneurship and innovation, strategic entrepreneurship, and effective strategic leadership practices. He has authored or co-authored more than 20 books, has multiple publications in major journals, and is recognized among the most frequently cited economics and business researchers. In 2017, Ireland received the Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest award given to a Mays faculty member for sustained and outstanding scholarly contributions. He is also a recipient of The Association of Former Students’ Award for Research, and is a Fellow of the Academy of Management and of the Strategic Management Society.

“We are grateful to Dr. Ireland for his willingness to serve Mays Business School as interim dean,” said Mark H. Weichold, interim provost and executive vice president, in this recent announcement. “He is well-positioned to help transition Mays Business School to its next chapter of success.”

Ireland considers it “an honor” to help build on the achievements of several former Mays Business School deans including Eli Jones who, after six years of service as dean, returned to the faculty in the Department of Marketing as a full professor and as a holder of an endowed chair. Under Jones’ leadership, the school worked together to create and implement a strategic plan that is elevating the school across multiple dimensions. As part of this plan, Mays Business School’s vision became “Advancing the World’s Prosperity,” which means providing a better future for generations who follow, including quality of life, the environment, and economic systems.

An avid runner in his free time (with over 65,000 miles logged so far), Ireland knows that adapting to new situations is an important skill for going the distance. “This is a very exciting time at Mays Business School,” Ireland said. “One of the reasons for a high level of excitement is that we are launching the design and construction phase of the Business Education Complex (BEC), a proposed 75,000 square-foot expansion with expected occupancy in the Summer of 2024 or the Spring of 2025.”

With an eye to the future, Ireland identifies ‘synergy’ as the word that captures what he aims to accomplish in his new role. “In this sense, we seek to achieve a greater combined impact through our collaborations compared to the sum of what we would derive from individual actions,” said Ireland. “These efforts include fostering collaborative partnerships among faculty, staff, students, our alumni network of over 64,000 former students, and the broader university to create communities in which all members feel a sense of belonging and support.”

A native of Lima, Ohio, Ireland is the first in his family to earn a college degree and wholeheartedly supports first-generation students at Texas A&M, which make up close to 25 percent of the undergraduate population. He earned his Ph.D. and MBA from Texas Tech University, where he is a Distinguished Alumnus of the Rawls College of Business.

Ireland and his wife Mary Ann have two adult children. “Texas A&M University means a lot to us,” Ireland said. “We feel very blessed to be here. It’s a university with a great vision and mission, and Mays Business School is such a positive community of which to be a part.”

Categories: Deanspeak, Faculty, Featured Stories, Management, Mays Business, News, Research, Texas A&M

Texas A&M University’s MS Finance program was ranked #2 in the nation in a new analysis of student debt and median earnings by The Wall Street Journal. This ranking was published July 15, 2021.

This recognition highlights the program’s track record of providing an exceptional and affordable education that prepares students for high-earning jobs. “Debt-to-median earnings combines two things that students care about – program quality and program cost. An important assessment of program quality is earnings upon graduation. If the program is expensive, a student may have to borrow a lot,” said Dr. Christa Bouwman, acting head of Mays Business School’s Department of Finance. “A program with a low debt-to-earnings ratio is one that is inexpensive relative to what the student will earn upon graduation.”

To develop these rankings, The Wall Street Journal used 2015-16 data about student debt and graduate median earnings from 40 universities that offer master’s degree programs in finance and financial management.

Texas A&M’s MS-Finance program had a debt-to-median earnings ratio of 0.28, which was lower than every institution except for the University of Pennsylvania (0.2). “Graduate programs are costly in terms of both money and foregone earnings,” said Professor Kevin Moore, director of Mays’ MS Finance program. “The debt-to-median earnings gives a quick way for students to assess which programs are delivering on their optimum investment of time and money.”

The median debt for Texas A&M’s MS-Finance graduates was $20,500, which tied with Goldey-Beacom College as the third lowest. Only two institutions had lower debt: Florida State University ($19,250) and the Universidad Ana G. Mendez-Cupey Campus ($19,086). In comparison,

Texas A&M’s MS-Finance graduates have median earnings of $72,448.

The Wall Street Journal ranking underscores the sound investment that students make by enrolling in Texas A&M’s MS-Finance program. Moore noted, “Our focus on return on investment permeates everything from the curriculum to the culture of the program. We only admit the best and brightest students, who are also committed to getting their money’s worth from the program.”

 

 

 

Categories: Finance

Mays Business School FTMBA #25 in nation, per Fortune '22

#9 U.S. Public program ranking highlights Mays Business School’s former student’s success

Texas A&M’s Full-Time MBA (FTMBA) program has been named the #25 program in the nation and #9 U.S. public program, according to the inaugural 2022 rankings released by Fortune. The methodology used includes a heavily weighted outcome score (65%; including median base salary, mean base salary, and job placement rate), brand score (25%; based on Fortune/Ipsos brand survey to hiring managers, March ’21), and Fortune 1000 score (10%; number of MBA alumni in C-suite and MBA graduates in Fortune 1000 organizations).

“Our whole team is extremely excited about this ranking outcome because our main focus is getting the right faculty and the right students engaged in the MBA program at Texas A&M University,” said Arvind Mahajan, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Graduate Programs for Mays Business School. “The rankings are another data point that show we are making progress to ‘Advance the World’s Prosperity,’ which is Mays Business School’s vision. We are fortunate to have the incredible Aggie Network that actively recruits our graduates, bringing them into world-class organizations, altering their careers and lives.”

Mays Business School FTMBA #9 U.S. Public program, per Fortune '22

Texas A&M’s FTMBA excels at providing each student with individualized experiences that emphasize effective leadership practices. Faculty and staff are committed to knowing all degree candidates personally and to understanding their previous experiences as well as their professional and personal goals. Program leaders mentor MBA students so they can confidently assume leadership roles in all areas of life.

The intensive 18-month FTMBA program offers hands-on experiences in managing challenges, time, and resources. The program’s cohort format allows MBA students to establish meaningful connections with peers, faculty, career coaches, and program leadership. Outcomes of doing so include developing cutting-edge professional knowledge and skills including critical thinking. These skills are foundational to the ability of FTMBA graduates to assume leadership roles immediately upon completing their degree.

“We at Mays Business School take pride in the ability of our students, faculty, and staff to contribute positively to companies and the broader society through their dedicated efforts. This top 10 U.S. public program ranking from Fortune provides evidence of the quality of our program and certainly the talent of our students,” shared Duane Ireland, Ph.D., Interim Dean for Mays Business School. “Important to the accomplishments of our FTMBA program is our decision to center the activities of our graduate programs’ office around student success. Our staff and faculty collaborate to identify ways to support our students in their drive to learn and grow as a means of enhancing their professional and personal lives.”

Applications for Texas A&M’s MBA programs – including Full-Time, Professional, and Executive – are being accepted now for the class of 2024. For more information, visit: mba.tamu.edu

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

 

Brent Smith ’97 ’98 learned to appreciate family, integrity, and a strong work ethic growing up in rural Central Texas. His understanding of these values deepened during his undergraduate and graduate experience at Texas A&M University, creating a strong foundation for Smith’s successful professional success and personal life.

Now Mays Business School is honoring Main Street Capital’s CFO and treasurer with the Mays 2021 Professional Program in Accounting (PPA) Lifetime Achievement Award. “Brent Smith embodies the Aggie core values and has earned the respect of leaders across the financial industry through his personal integrity,” said Dr. Nate Sharp, head of Mays’ James Benjamin Department of Accounting. “Brent has risen to the CFO position at two different companies thus far, and his career achievements reflect positively on Texas A&M University, Mays Business School, and the PPA program in the James Benjamin Department of Accounting. We are so pleased to honor Brent with the PPA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2021.”

Committed to Hard Work

Smith spent his early life growing up and working on the family’s century-old farm in Round Top, Texas. The importance of family and community was underscored when his father died of cancer when Smith was 12. “My brother and I were raised by my mom, who was incredible—and still is an incredible woman,” he said, adding that the small community’s commitment to hard work also influenced his approach to life.

As Smith and his brother, Brad ‘91 ‘92 grew up, education remained a top priority. Both became the first generation in their family to attend college and earn a degree. “In general, most of the people in our community were Aggies,” Smith said. “Certainly, the culture of A&M—that historically supported blue collar students from a rural environment–led to having more Aggies in the area where I grew up.”

A Stable Career

As a freshman, Smith still was unclear about his career direction. Eventually, he decided to major in accounting because of his family’s financial struggles. “I was always told that if you wanted a safe and consistent job and you wanted to go into business, you couldn’t go wrong with accounting,” he said. “People are always going to need accountants.”

Soon, he realized that he had an affinity for the accounting coursework. “I had a general interest in business. I was very detail-oriented by nature and very analytical,” he said. “It seemed like a good fit.”

The university’s culture also supported the future executive’s development as a leader. “Texas A&M fosters teamwork, and a sense of community and togetherness. We can work together to figure things out,” said the member of PPA’s Group 5. “Texas A&M also offers a humble, hard-working environment and a down-to-earth mentality where, in general, Aggies don’t think they’re above you. We’re a roll-up-our-sleeves-and-get-to-work kind of people.”

Rapid Success

That work ethic, along with the technical accounting skills that Texas A&M provided, were instrumental in Smith’s rapid success in his first job at Arthur Andersen’s Houston office. “When you go into an organization like Arthur Andersen, you try to distinguish yourself,” Smith said. “The way to do that is through hard work, a can-do attitude, and being a team player.”

After working in public accounting for a few years, Smith joined FTI Consulting to concentrate on financial investigative work. He worked with FTI for three years before deciding to switch jobs to prioritize his young family.

Smith’s reputation for hard work and willingness to learn, combined with his deep network, led to a position at Cal Dive, a multinational marine construction company serving the offshore oil and gas industry. “Like most opportunities, this one came out of something that was broken,” he said. “They were having issues with their operational accounting, which they wanted me to come in and improve.”

While he knew that he ultimately did not want to do operational accounting long-term, this position was a way to get his foot in the door at Cal Dive. “That started a 10-year run that led to a lot of opportunities for me to move through the organization very quickly,” he said.

Smith followed a circuitous professional route—including working for one of Cal Dive’s spin-off companies that ultimately went public–that broadened his experience. “I jumped at the chance because it was a way for me to pivot a little bit away from accounting and do more on the finance side, which I hadn’t done a lot of,” he explained, adding that he advanced to become the company’s vice president.

These varied experiences prepared him to become the CFO at Cal Dive at the age of 35. “This was a great experience in a very tough industry,” he said. “There were lots of ups and downs. I went from record-level financial performance to worrying about meeting payroll. There were extreme circumstances that I had to manage through. Looking back, you learn invaluable lessons about how to manage things.”

Investing in People

Eventually, the oil and gas industry’s ups and downs took a toll, causing Smith to be receptive to other opportunities. Several of his former Arthur Andersen colleagues approached Smith about the Main Street CFO position. “This was completely different from my previous experience,” he said. “It’s a publicly-traded investment firm. It was such a great opportunity that I decided to make that change.”

The Houston resident has continued to hone his leadership skills during his seven-year tenure at Main Street. “I’m a big believer in effective communication,” he said. “To be a successful leader you have to have effective communication—to be direct and have tough conversations when needed.”

Smith also has embraced mentoring to invest in the company’s employees. “When you take someone under your wing and bring them along in their career, you’re making a big investment in people,” he said. “If you can do that consistently, it’s going to pay off through less turnover.”

Giving Back

While career and family have occupied much of his time, Smith has found ways to give back to Mays. Smith and his wife, Kristi, established a scholarship for PPA students. This fund already provided financial support to two Mays students during the 2020-21 academic year.

He enjoys meeting with PPA students and MBA students and has participated in roundtable discussions. The senior executive also regularly participates in Mays Alumni Forum, where he shares the critical lessons from throughout his career. “I always tell people that it is very difficult to be patient. If you have some idea of how your career path will line out, that’s great; it’s good to have long-term goals,” he said. “But don’t get too caught up in specific titles, because I can guarantee it won’t work out exactly the way you planned. The key is putting yourself in a position to be prepared to take advantage of opportunities when they come.”

A Foundation of Family

While career is important, Smith always puts his family—his wife of nearly two decades and their two children, Hunter and Jenna—first. “Nothing is more important than spending time with them,” he said. “The big buzzword that I’ve learned throughout my career is perspective. Especially early in your career, a problem or challenge might seem like it’s overwhelming and the end of the world. But at the end of the day, nothing is more important than your family. Having that balance and keeping in mind what you think is most important is critical.”

Unsurprisingly, Smith’s family and roots are at the center of his reaction to receiving the PPA Lifetime Achievement Award. “I was very humbled. This award is something my family can be proud of,” Smith said. “I came from humble beginnings, and I still consider myself very humble, but I have had some success in the corporate world. This just shows that you don’t have to be raised in a wealthy family or in a large city to achieve a very high level of success in the corporate world.”

Mays’ leaders feel that Smith personifies the type of transformational leader that the school is trying to develop. “Brent Smith is the kind of person who gives capitalism a good name. He has demonstrated excellence throughout his career while maintaining his perspective on what is important. Around Aggieland, we call it selfless service, but for Brent it has just meant being who he is, a deeply skilled professional who leverages his abilities to make others successful,” said Dr. Mike Shaub, Mays clinical professor and Deloitte Professional Program Director Professor. “He is generous in giving back in time and resources to those who are following behind him in Mays and PPA, because his legacy is not centered on accomplishments, but on changed lives. He is patiently building a legacy not just in the business world or in Mays Business School, but in life.”

Explore more: Professional Program in Accounting

Categories: Accounting, Alumni, Former Students, Mays Business, PPA, Texas A&M

College Station, TX — On June 26, 2021 members of Mays Business School attended a Bryan/College Station Habitat for Humanity Wall Raising ceremony to honor the Espinoza family – the future owners of the home. 

Held at the building site of the in-progress home, Mike Alexander, Assistant Dean for Graduate Programs at Mays Business School, and member of the Mays Builds program was the emcee for the Wall Raising event. 

“Watching the walls go up on a new Habitat home is one of the most rewarding and meaningful experiences for all of us who are involved in B/CS Habitat,” said Mike Alexander. “To see the family, who’ve already been through months of sweat equity and financial and homeownership education, watch the community come together to raise the walls, to give of their time, to sweat and celebrate together, is inspiring and reminds me of why I got involved in Habitat and reminds me of the positive power of a group of people, like Mays Builds, coming together to serve other and our community.”

This particular home, of which Mays Builds faculty, staff, and students donated nearly $7,000 towards, will be going to the Espinoza family. Enrique and his wife, Luz Maria, are originally from San Diego, California, before making Bryan, Texas, their home over five years ago. They are the proud parents of five beautiful children. The oldest is Kayla (12), followed by Kevin (9), Andrew (7), Anthony (4), and Kamila (2). 

After a prayer, a welcome from Mike, and some words of gratitude from the Espinoza family, the ceremony closed with a call to attendees to leave messages with sharpies on the support beams of the home. Although these messages will be covered by sheetrock and paint, the sentiments will remain a part of the home for as long as it stands.

The Texas A&M Core Value of Selfless Service is what inspired Mays Business School to begin the Mays continuing contribution to Bryan/College Station Habitat for Humanity through the Mays Builds program, a collegewide project that involves undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty and staff in all departments and programs at Mays. Aimed at serving the greater Bryan / College Station community, Mays Builds allows students, faculty, and staff to enhance the climate of the business school specifically by sharing a goal to serve the surrounding community. 

The Mays Habitat for Humanity project was started in 2017 and so far has raised over $27,000 for the local Bryan/College Station Habitat for Humanity. In 2020, Mays Builds was a partial sponsor for the first Mays Builds home for the Salas/Mendez family. The recent sponsorship of the Espinoza home continues Mays Builds impact on our community.

There are upcoming ways to get involved with Mays Builds’ Habitat for Humanity project:

  • On the evening of July 16 is “Bowl To Build,” a fun fundraiser for Habitat. 
  • There’s also a raffle to take part in online.
    • Contact Mike Alexander for a few remaining ‘buy 4 get 1 free” raffle tickets.
  • Or, just donate, using “MaysBuilds” in the “In honor of” line at: https://habitatbcs.org/donate/

For more information about Bowl to Build, the raffle, or other questions, contact Mike Alexander at malexander@mays.tamu.edu or visit the Mays Builds website.

Categories: Mays Business, MBA

The American Accounting Association (AAA) recently announced the recipients of the 2021 Distinguished Contribution Award, including Dr. Nate Y. Sharp, Head of the James Benjamin Department of Accounting at Mays Business School

COLLEGE STATION, TX — On June 15, 2021, the American Accounting Association (AAA) announced Dr. Nate Y. Sharp as a recipient of the 2021 Distinguished Contributions to Accounting Literature Award. This award is among the most prestigious research awards granted by the AAA.

The Distinguished Contributions to Accounting Literature Award is presented annually to that work or related works published more than 5 years but not more than 15 years prior to the year of the award. The award recognizes accounting research based on uniqueness and magnitude of contribution to accounting education, practice, and/or future accounting research; originality and innovative content; clarity and organization of exposition; and soundness and appropriateness of methodology. Sharp and his co-authors, Lawrence D. Brown, Andrew C. Call, and Michael B. Clement, were given this award for their work entitled, “Inside the ‘Black Box’ of Sell-Side Financial Analysts,” published in the March 2015 issue of the Journal of Accounting Research.

“This is a highly significant award for Nate and his co-authors to receive to recognize the quality of their scholarship,” shared Mays Business School’s interim dean, R. Duane Ireland. “We at Mays Business School are proud of Nate’s research projects and the questions he addresses through his studies—questions that when answered through his work, inform the academic literature as well as managerial practice. Nate’s research is quite descriptive of the Mays mission to ‘create impactful knowledge.’ On behalf of Mays Business School and Texas A&M University, I am truly pleased to highlight the importance of the award Nate is receiving.”

This AAA award will be presented to Professors Brown, Call, Clement, and Sharp in the form of unique glass art pieces and a monetary prize at the 2021 AAA Annual Meeting during the awards presentation on Tuesday, August 3rd from 11:30 am-12:00 pm Eastern.

More information about the 2021 AAA Awards can be found here.

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About the James Benjamin Department of Accounting 

The James Benjamin Department of Accounting aims to provide notable contributions to the university, public, and accounting profession. The James Benjamin Department of Accounting designs environments that engender creativity and innovation while close relationships among students and faculty foster ingenuity through a sharing of interests and aspirations.

Learn more: https://mays.tamu.edu/department-of-accounting/

 

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.

Visit Mays: mays.tamu.edu

 

Media contact: Kiri Stanford, kstanford@mays.tamu.edu

Media contact: Blake Parrish, bparrish@mays.tamu.edu

Categories: Accounting, Departments, Faculty, Mays Business, PPA, Research, Texas A&M

The two-hour digital event hosted by the Center for Retailing Studies at Mays Business School will take a look at retail education and the skills needed by the Class of 2025 and beyond.

Engaging leaders from across the retail ecosystem, the Center for Retailing Studies (CRS) at Mays Business School will host a short-form discussion focused on the skills needed from future retail graduates to support the evolving needs of the industry. The virtual event will highlight the expertise and opinions of retail business function leaders, college recruiters, and trade press while informing participants of the plans for the future of the CRS program at Texas A&M.

“The pace of change has accelerated within the retailing industry, and many retailers and consumer brands are moving to integrate their physical and digital teams into a single, integrated business structure.  It’s important that we stay out in front of that change by continuing to update and refine our program,” said Scott Benedict, Executive Professor and Director of CRS and a 35-year omnichannel retail veteran.

The highly engaging, quick-format, agenda includes a roundtable discussion, breakout sessions, and recap discussion at the end of the session.

The roundtable discussion will focus on the evergreen retail skills that remain relevant, new expertise needed to run an omnichannel business, and ways to accelerate into the future, including high impact learning opportunities, featuring:

  • Whitney Cooper, Director, Omnichannel Transformation and Acceleration at Walmart
  • Jody Hall ’87 & ‘89, Vice President of Global Sourcing, H-E-B
  • Lauren Hill ‘07, Director of Merchandising – Home, Target

Breakout sessions will focus on relevant topics and experiences from speaker’s perspectives that will culminate with an alignment on 3-5 key findings and recommendations for the focus of retail education.

The report back from the breakout session leaders will recap the 3-5 key takeaways with layering comments by the roundtable members.

“It’s sure to be an exciting and informative time together,” shares Benedict. “From this input from our constituents and industry partners, we will gain another piece of the puzzle to how to best equip students for the future needs in the retail industry.”

Attendance is free. The Retail Innovators Roundtable – A look at retail education & the skills needed by the Class of 2025 and beyond will take place on Friday, July 16, 202,1 from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. CDT.

More information can be found at http://tx.ag/RetailInnovators

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About the Center for Retailing Studies at Mays Business School

The Center for Retailing Studies at Texas A&M University serves the retail industry by educating the next generation of industry leaders, developing retail-related research, and by providing industry executive outreach & thought leadership. Founded in 1983 in response to an unmet industry need for college educated leaders, CRS has become a renowned source of industry knowledge and a pipeline for developing future retail leaders.: mays.tamu.edu/retail

Media contact: Andrew Vernon, Center for Retailing Studies, avernon@mays.tamu.edu

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.

Visit Mays: mays.tamu.edu

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Executive Speakers, Former Students, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Programs, Texas A&M

By Meredith White, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship

COLLEGE STATION, JUNE 14, 2021 – The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship hosted its fourth annual Aggie PITCH on the evening of June 13, 2021. Aggie PITCH is open to all current and former students of the Texas A&M University System and seeks to identify the best Aggie business pitch. 20 startups were selected as finalists to compete for $35,000 in prize money across three divisions: current student full pitch, Former student full pitch, and elevator pitch. This is the first year that Former students were eligible to compete at Aggie PITCH. Each founder competing in a full-pitch division was allotted 10 minutes to give a pitch and answer questions on their business. A panel of anonymous judges made up of investors, successful entrepreneurs, and professionals was hidden among the crowd and selected the winners of the current and Former student pitch divisions. In addition, 9 current and Former student teams gave a 1-minute elevator pitch. Elevator pitch winners were selected by audience vote. The 2021 finalists boasted impressive entrepreneurial endeavors that included medical devices, novel SaaS ventures, and innovative consumer products. At the end of the night, the top startup pitches were announced and awarded significant cash prizes.

Lila Ross ’21, co-founder of Phage Biosciences, won 1st place and $7,500 in the current student full-pitch division. Phage Biosciences provides custom engineered solutions for fighting and controlling disease-causing bacteria. Due to the overuse of antibiotics, many bacteria have become resistant. Phage Biosciences wants to solve this massive public health crisis with their custom tailocins, which are antimicrobial proteins that punch a hole in a bacteria cell, effectively killing it. Ross, who traveled back to campus from out of state to participate in Aggie PITCH, said “Hearing all of the ideas and stuff I would have never thought of was a really unique experience, and so was getting to connect with people who share the same passions as you.”

Blake Petty ’98, Executive Director of the McFerrin Center commented, “The world doesn’t need more great ideas, it needs problem solvers. With Aggie PITCH returning in person, and now including Former students, the selfless service of fellow Aggies is able to thrive in the community that founded it and once again provide the community-based system that leads to the success of many entrepreneurs.”

2021 Aggie PITCH Winners

Current Student Division

1st Place ($7,500): Phage Biosciences| Lila Ross ’20, ’21

2nd Place ($5,000): Al-Ris| Uthej Vattipalli ’22

3rd Place ($3,500): Olera, Inc. | Logan DuBose ’22 

 

Former Student Division

1st Place ($7,500): Datalogz | Logan Havern ’19

2nd Place ($5,000): HelioWave Technologies LLC | Adrian Guzman ’08, ’12, ’19

3rd Place ($3,500): Divergene | Paola Correa, PhD ’15

 

Elevator Pitch Division

1st Place ($1,500): Real Rejuvenations LLC | R’riel Smith ’20

2nd Place ($1,000): Lazarus | Benjamin Omonira ’20

3rd Place ($750): Exosphere Fitness | Connor Pogue ’16, ’18

A full listing of the 2021 Aggie PITCH winners can be found at aggiepitch.com

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Media contact: Shanna Spencer, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, (979) 458-8631, shannaspencer@tamu.edu.

Categories: McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship

Kyle Koehler ’09 is an unlikely founder of a food manufacturing company. Yet Wildway –the company he co-founded in 2012–has benefitted from his financial acumen, commitment to health, and desire to live a values-based life that supports the creation of a better world. Koehler’s unconventional but highly successful path led to his selection as Mays Business School’s Professional Program in Account (PPA) 2021 Rising Star Award.

This honor recognizes a recent PPA graduate who is making a substantial impact on society through business acumen, exceptional leadership, or entrepreneurial success. “Kyle represents exactly what the PPA Rising Star Award is intended to recognize: he is a young, successful entrepreneur who co-founded Wildway just three years after graduating from Texas A&M University,” said Dr. Nate Sharp, head of the James Benjamin Department of Accounting in Mays Business School and the Nelson D. Durst Endowed Chair in Accounting. “As a PPA Rising Star, Kyle’s success demonstrates that ‘advancing the world’s prosperity’ often goes hand-in-hand with improving people’s lives. We are incredibly proud of what Kyle has accomplished with Wildway.”

An Adventure in Entrepreneurship

Koehler, who was born and raised an Aggie, took a circuitous route to being an entrepreneur. After graduating from Mays PPA Group 17, the native of LaGrange, Texas lived briefly in Austin before moving to New York City, where he worked for Ernst & Young. However, the big-city lifestyle eventually took its toll. “The corporate life got draining and exhausting, especially in New York City,” he said. “The hours and days were long and living there wasn’t fulfilling in my personal life. I wanted to pursue something that spoke to the values that I had personally and the lifestyle that I wanted to live.”

Kyle and his wife at the time, Kelli, decided to return to Texas, selecting San Antonio as their new home. “The main reason we chose to move back to San Antonio was to be closer to family,” Koehler said. “Family has always taken precedence for us and the importance of family is also built into our company culture. I always tell our people that family comes before your job and to never sacrifice family for work.”

The city also has proven to be a good fit in other ways. The proximity to the Hill Country offers ready accessibility to outdoor activities. Additionally, San Antonio’s business-friendly environment has been instrumental in the Koehlers’ rapid success as food entrepreneurs. “San Antonio is a very business-friendly city with a strong entrepreneurial culture and a great workforce,” Koehler said. “We would not be where we are today if we had to deal with the cost of building a manufacturing business in a more expensive city or state.”

Clean Eating

The idea to create Wildway was sparked by the Koehlers’ decision to clean up their diet. “We took out a lot of added sugars from our diet and started eating really healthy. We felt really good with it,” he said. “We made snack items for ourselves that were gluten-free, didn’t have any sugars, and were made with really clean ingredients. At one point, we wondered whether we could turn this into a business and make something of this.”

After founding the company in 2012, Kyle and Kelli spent the next year testing products and formulations for clean and tasty cereals, granolas, and snacks at the city’s small farmer’s markets. Feedback and sales proved promising. “The first time we attended a farmers market in San Antonio, we made enough granola for the entire weekend,” Koehler said. “When we sold out of everything in a little over an hour, that’s when we thought that we might have something worth building on a larger scale.”

Healthy Growth

Now, the company’s products can be found on the shelves of over 2,000 grocery and health-food stores across the nation. Wildway is sold in a variety of leading national and regional supermarkets, including H-E-B, Whole Foods Market, Sprouts, Kroger, and Wegmans.

The business, which currently has 12 employees, differs from many other food manufacturing companies. “We do all of our manufacturing in-house, which is a little different from a lot of food manufacturers that outsource their manufacturing to a firm that specializes in food manufacturing,” Koehler said. “We built our manufacturing plant from the ground up and there’s a lot of learning experiences there.”

This business model works, and the company’s rapid growth has caught the industry’s attention. Wildway was selected from 700 applicants to be among the nine companies to participate in the Chobani Food Incubator. The Aggie-owned small business was also one of 10 chosen for the PepsiCo Incubator. Both incubators mentor entrepreneurs as they grow their business to the next level.

Feeding Success

The Mays graduate’s role continues to evolve as the company grows. Originally tasked with handling the accounting as well as a broad range of jobs necessitated in a small business, Koehler now primarily oversees the business’s finances and operations. Kelli, who was recognized by the Association of Former Students in the 2021 “12 Under 12 Young Alumni Spotlight,” focuses on marketing.

Koehler credits much of the company’s success to what he learned at Mays and Texas A&M. “There are a lot of people who go into business without a business background because they are passionate about a product, a particular service or particular thing they can make,” he said. “The business background for me was very important in starting and growing the business. Knowing how to read a financial statement and how to balance a budget when we were first starting out was incredibly helpful. I think a lot of extracurricular activities that I was involved in at the university also helped with my leadership ability and ability to manage people.”

As the company continues to grow, Koehler remains dedicated to bringing positive change to the world through manufacturing clean food. “Kyle epitomizes the Aggie core values, especially excellence, integrity, and selfless service. Wildway, the company Kyle and Kelli have created, provides a high-quality product intended to make people’s lives better and healthier,” said Dr. Mike Shaub, the Deloitte Professional Program Director Professor. “Kyle shows his integrity in being uncompromising about being fully himself, and his focus is on others, whether that is the customer or his employees. He wants a healthy work environment, a healthy community, and a healthy world. He did not go into this venture to get rich, but to make the world a better place by what he saw as a genuine need. What better way to advance the world’s prosperity?”

Categories: Alumni, Former Students, Mays Business, News, PPA, Programs, Texas A&M

Texas A&M University junior Sunjay Letchuman ’22 is the first Mays Business School undergraduate to have a manuscript published in a major medical journal.  He co-authored the article, “Trust-Based Partnerships Are Essential—and Achievable—in Healthcare Service,” with Dr. Leonard L. Berry, who holds the M.B. Zale Chair in Retailing and Marketing Leadership, and two leading clinicians. The article will appear in the June 2 issue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Letchuman, who is enrolled in Mays’ Business Honors program, appreciated the support and guidance he received from Berry. “Publishing in a journal like Mayo Clinic Proceedings is essentially an unattainable achievement for an undergraduate student, so this has been an enormous privilege for me. Texas A&M professors perform top-tier research all across campus, and it is rewarding for Texas A&M students to perform any kind of research here,” said the Texas A&M’s University Scholar and Undergraduate Research Scholar. “But working with Dr. Berry is a distinct honor. Dr. Berry is a leader in improving healthcare service, and his work has been cited more times than any other Texas A&M professor. For a student like me who is committed to learning how to improve our healthcare industry, working with Dr. Berry is a dream come true.”

The article also marks the first time that Berry, a University Distinguished Professor and Regents Professor, has published an article with an undergraduate. “Sunjay is one of the finest students I have taught in my career—extremely smart but also intellectually curious, intuitive, and a hard worker,” said Berry, who also serves as a senior fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in Boston, MA. “Following the end of the healthcare course he took from me he asked if he could collaborate on a future article; I had never collaborated with an undergraduate student before on research. But if I was ever going to do it, he was the student.”

Creating the manuscript also gave Letchuman, who is accepted to the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, the opportunity to work with two leading clinicians:

  • Rana L.A. Awdish, the director of the Pulmonary Hypertension Program for the Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine of Henry Ford Health System. She also serves as the medical director for Care Experience at Henry Ford Health System.
  • Karina Dahl Steffensen, a medical oncologist, and professor, and director of the Center for Shared Decision Making in the Department of Clinical Oncology at Vejle Hospital in Vejle, Denmark.

The co-authors’ article suggests that creating trust-based partnerships between patients and the clinicians who care for them have never been more important as the world’s healthcare systems continue to be challenged by the coronavirus pandemic. Offering a vision for healthcare’s role as a service provider, the paper’s core argument is that patients’ trust of their doctors is about more than the science.  The co-authors write, “…excellent healthcare requires more than mere trust in clinicians’ professional ability; it centers on both competence and partnership. This multidimensional trust involves patients’ confidence that a clinician is interested in them as a person, not just as a patient; will be a reliable, caring partner in preventing, diagnosing, and treating disease; and will offer support when curative treatment is not possible.”

This renewed focus on trust between clinicians and patients was underscored during the COVID-19 pandemic when clinicians were placed in a role of providing extraordinary support and clear communication when families were unable to enter intensive care units. The co-authors argued that the role of trust is a central issue in the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines since many members of racial and ethnic minority groups have long-standing—and well-founded—concerns about healthcare.

The co-authors believe that creating and nourishing this deeper level of partnership between clinicians and patients will require the implementation of four, interrelated service-quality concepts: empathetic creativity, discretionary effort, seamless service, and mitigation of fear.

Health organizations that prioritize these concepts proactively adopt key institutional policies and procedures, including investing in organizational culture; hiring health professionals based on their values as well as their skills; promoting continuous learning; honoring the importance of language in all care interactions; offering patients “go-to” sources that provide timely assistance; and creating systems and structures that are designed to encourage trust.

Letchuman, who will have a health policy internship with the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions in summer 2021, plans to use what he is learning at Mays to support his medical career and to influence healthcare policy. “The paper we wrote really boils down to how we can practice better medicine by improving trust between patients and clinicians. As a future clinician, it will be my duty to implement the service concepts and practices outlined in our paper,” he said. “In a broader sense, working on this paper has taught me the value of bringing a humanistic, empathy-driven approach to improving patient care. These are lessons that I will carry forward in my own career. By designating healthcare as one of its three Grand Challenges, the Mays Business School has cultivated an environment where business students are driven to make a difference in healthcare.”

 

 

Categories: Health Care