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

Lead Story

Texas A&M’s MS Analytics program earns No. 1 in Fortune’s Online Analytics Programs Ranking

Blake Parrish, January 28th, 2022

According to Fortune magazine, Mays Business School at Texas A&M University has the top online business analytics program in the country. Factors highlighting the success of the MS Analytics program include selectivity, demand, and brand, per Fortune’s methodology.

One component to the ranking outcome emphasizes the MS Analytics program enrolling its most recent class with an average of over 12 years of full-time work experience and an average incoming undergraduate GPA of 3.42. With a mix of computer science, business acumen, business math, and statistics, this online/face-to-face, flexible format degree allows students to select from many diverse paths in data science while incorporating business and leadership skills.

“We are so pleased to see our program recognized at the national level,” said Jerry Strawser, associate dean for graduate programs. “This ranking reflects the outstanding efforts of our program leadership – Myra Gonzales and Javier Aldape – as well as the faculty and staff who create a valuable learning experience for our students.”

MS Analytics program director Myra Gonzalez shared, “As a young, quickly-growing industry, we are committed to the mission of Mays Business School: to be a vibrant learning organization that creates impactful knowledge and develops transformational leaders. We designed our program to be an inclusive learning environment, while also focusing on an excellent customer experience (CX) through our cohort model. Those efforts, in addition to our quality faculty and curriculum, have enabled a strong graduation rate launching excellent data leaders into the marketplace.”

With over 300+ data science/analytics programs in the nation, students have many options. Texas A&M’s MS Analytics offers a formal education led by prestigious faculty with terminal degrees or strong ties to industry. Each year, the program enrolls 65 students from all backgrounds. Faculty and students create synergy in the program. “Our faculty members’ capability, paired with our students’ persistence and thirst for excellence, enable the quality and the success of the MS Analytics program,” added Gonzalez.

“In today’s challenging and rapidly changing global markets, firms gain significant benefits by using sophisticated tools and techniques to analyze, interpret, and use data in competitively relevant ways,” shared interim dean, R. Duane Ireland. “Our MS Analytics program presents learners with opportunities to develop skills through which they can help their firms succeed by working with data effectively. We are thrilled for our MS Analytics program to receive Fortune’s number 1 ranking! Congratulations to our outstanding students and to our faculty and staff who collaborate with them.”

Texas A&M’s MS Analytics program is currently accepting applications for the fall 2022 cohort. Visit the MS Analytics site for an overview. To request more information, contact Javier Aldape, Program Manager at 979-845-2149 or jaldape@mays.tamu.edu.

Clara Orlean ’20 sees her family’s influence emerging strongly in her life’s professional path. Her father opened her eyes to entrepreneurism and both of her parents encouraged her to pursue a graduate degree. Now the recent graduate of Mays Business School’s Full-Time MBA Program has created ClaraTech, which assists older adults with their growing need for technology support. The idea for this start-up business was based on her mother-in-law’s experiences during the pandemic.

Orlean’s efforts thus far in building her business have proven successful. The increasing demand prompted Orlean to leave her full-time job at ExxonMobil to devote herself to ClaraTech in February 2021. Nine months later, Orlean had the winning pitch in the services category of the Lift-Off Houston Business Plan Competition, hosted by The City of Houston and Capital One Bank.

Getting Her Bearings

However, her entrepreneurial path took some unexpected turns. After studying Global Supply Chain and Operations Management as well as Business Management at the University of South Carolina, the sixth-generation Texan joined Gexpro, an electrical distribution company formerly owned by GE. She participated in the leadership program, rotating to work in a different division every 6-8 months. “In every rotation, I had a different focus, including warehousing, operations, inside sales, outside sales, and pricing,” she said. “I received a really holistic view of how a company is run from a lot of different roles and management perspectives.”

Eventually, Orlean decided to pursue an MBA, a dream sparked by her father’s experiences. “My father has always been very entrepreneurial. He started his own law practice and is a real estate investor in his free time in Fort Worth. He’s always looking for new ways to fill an unserved need,” she said. “I knew that my undergraduate degree only would get me so far in the corporate arena—or it would just take a long time to rise up the ranks and get promoted the natural way. An MBA helps you fast track.”

Orlean’s plans for graduate school were almost derailed when she didn’t score as well as she initially hoped on the GMAT. While contemplating what to do next, she found herself checking out the website of her mother’s alma mater, Texas A&M University, and noticed the admissions deadline for Mays FTMBA program. She reached out the next day and was encouraged by Assistant Director Katie Stober to retake the GMAT. After earning a much higher score, Orlean soon found herself moving to College Station.

Starting a New Chapter

The young professional decided to fully commit to the full-time 18-month program at Mays Business School in College Station, instead of combining graduate school and work. “I knew myself and that wasn’t going to work for me after trying to work and study for the GMAT,” Orlean explained. “I knew I was going to be able to make a good jump in my career because I pressed the pause button and attended the FTMBA program. That allowed me the opportunity to interact with the myriad of companies who were coming to interview Texas A&M students and attending the career fairs.”

She quickly found that the program was preparing her to take her business knowledge and skills to the next level. “I took basic business courses in my undergraduate degree, but the FTMBA program at Texas A&M took that subject matter to a deeper level,” she said. “I learned to look at things from a manager’s perspective. I was able to connect my learnings and prior work experience, connections that would be very useful in my career.”

The FTMBA program’s self and leadership assessments, as well as intimate coaching sessions, also provided a transformative mirror for improvement and building confidence. “I had never really looked at myself under a microscope,” she said. “It was very insightful and caused me to strive to be a better version of myself. The Full Time MBA Program promoted a culture of continuous improvement. You get really comfortable giving and receiving feedback.”

Orlean believes the FTMBA provided a strong foundation for her entrepreneurial venture, even though she wasn’t aware she would be launching a business at the time. “The practical knowledge I gained in the FTMBA coursework has allowed me succeed as a new business owner. I understand my financials and know how to speak to them in pitch competitions and business meetings,” she said. “My critical thinking skills, self-awareness, and ability to work with others have improved. These are skills that have been extremely helpful as a new business owner.”

The Aggieland environment

She credits the FTMBA program with creating a special comradery among her cohort, which continues to this day. “Since we were all in College Station and solely working on our MBAs, we spent a lot of time together inside and outside the classroom,” she said. “From tailgates to football games, to intramural sports, and nights out in Northgate, we really grew as friends.”

She also found time to become involved in key Mays leadership roles. “I really enjoyed giving back to the program by serving on the MBA Association Board and working in the admissions office for the FTMBA program,” Orlean said. “I loved talking to prospective students, helping them through the application process, showing them around Aggieland, and celebrating with them when they were accepted into the program.”

As an added benefit, she met her soon-to-be husband, Alex Orlean ’11 ’20, in the FTMBA program, and they grew close working together on group projects. She noted that the FTMBA’s assessments helped her better understand the complimentary nature of her own personal work style as well as that of her future husband. “We found that we worked really, really well together,” she said. “When there was conflict on the team, we worked through it together.”

Finding Her Own Path

After graduation, Orlean joined ExxonMobil, where she worked in procurement for the transportation and logistics team. But the COVID-19 pandemic soon forced the company into lockdown. Orlean began working from home, and re-evaluating the type of life she wanted to lead.

A few months later, her mother-in-law, Terri Orlean, reached out for advice on how to organize the various Zoom links for meetings as well as help on other technology issues. Soon her mother-in-law began advertising Orlean’s skill and patient counsel to her friends, who all needed help. “I saw the very rapid and uncontrollable dependence on technology that we all had to figure out quickly. I also saw that there was such a need for a service here that wasn’t being offered,” the resident of Houston, Texas said. “I started helping older adults with tech before work and during my lunch breaks.”

The need continued to grow, soon leading to Orlean’s realization that a promising business concept had found her. She created ClaraTech in October 2020—and five months later, the company had grown enough that its founder left ExxonMobil to concentrate full-time on building her new venture.

The young company takes a personalized approach to service. Orlean develops a tailored technology plan for each client, including identifying the best technology for a specific situation and then training the older adult how to use it. In some cases, this technology supports older adults who have mobility or hearing impairment. “People don’t know what opportunities are out there to make life easier,” she said. “If we can introduce some tips, tricks, or ways in which older adults can use technology to stay safe, connected, and independent, that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Over the past year, she’s refined her business model based on what she’s learning from multiple datapoints. While she continues to work primarily with individual older adults, Orlean also has received invitations to train care providers and employees of small businesses.

She also is initiating technology workshops in Houston-area retirement communities, which she sees as a huge gap in services. “Tech education is not provided at retirement communities, and I really believe it should be,” she said. “They want to learn, but nobody’s taking the time to show them how to use their iPhone or how to FaceTime. My goal is to change that so retirement communities regularly have tech education on their activity calendars.”

Increasing Tech Literacy

Realizing the growing opportunities for ClaraTech, Orlean decided to participate in the Lift-Off Houston Business Plan Competition. Impressed by ClaraTech’s business plan, the organizers invited the Aggie to pitch in a Shark Tank-like competition in front of influential decision-makers. “It was my first pitch competition, and I hadn’t done anything like that before,” she said.

Her pitch in the services category earned her first place and $10,000 to cover costs associated with growing her business—and she credits the FTMBA program for preparing her for the intense competition. “The MBA program gave me the confidence to stand up in front of the room and pitch my business. It was nerve-wracking,” she said. “My big transformation in the MBA program was my confidence and belief in myself. Texas A&M’s MBA program allowed me so much time to progress and to get over my fear of public speaking. It turns out that I’m pretty good at public speaking once I got over the fear.”

She’s also really good at identifying the needs of older adults and is committed to figuring out how to help them incorporate technology more seamlessly in their lives. “I want to impact more people and help more older adults stay safe, connected, and independent through technology,” Orlean said. “I want to change tech from being this frustrating thing that is a barrier making their life more difficult into a tool that can enhance their lives. Tech can and will change the lives of older adults if we provide this service, education, and training in a way that is tailored to them.”

Orlean is grateful for how her family and her “chosen family” from Mays FTMBA Program have influenced her life, both in personal and professional life. Now she wants to remain connected to Mays to reciprocate—and to keep learning. “I have a deep desire to stay involved and give back. I have really enjoyed staying involved with the admissions team to serve as a panelist and just helped with a marketing campaign for the MBA programs,” she said, adding that she remains close to her classmates. “We had our annual reunion for the FTMBA program called Brisket Bowl back in October of last year and had about 20 of our classmates come from all over the country to be together. It was like we didn’t skip a beat.”

Categories: Entrepreneurship, MBA

Tara ’91 and Todd Storch ’91 have embraced a life of entrepreneurship, using their passion, knowledge, talents, and network to bridge emerging gaps and build strong teams to help companies improve their service. Those same resources have been instrumental in their efforts to build their personal passion project.

This project emerged in the aftermath of great tragedy, when the couple’s eldest daughter, Taylor, died in a skiing accident on a family vacation in March 2010. Realizing that Taylor would not recover, the couple chose to donate their daughter’s organs to give life to others. “Out of all the hard decisions we were making, saying yes to organ donation was an easy one. Taylor was such a giving child that we knew she would have wanted to help others if she had the chance. Tara and I both knew our family had the opportunity to make something good out of this very terrible situation,” Todd said, a testament to their resilience.

With their decision, Taylor’s organs saved and improved five lives. Realizing the need for more organ donation registrations and understanding, the Aggies created a 501(c)(3) named Taylor’s Gift Foundation. The non-profit has united all aspects of the Storches’ lives—from their education at Mays Business School, to their personal friendships, to their corporate careers—and now they are leaders in a societal movement.

From West Texas to Aggieland

Both Tara and Todd have West Texas roots—Tara was raised in Abilene while Todd’s earliest years were spent in Sweetwater and Midland. Both also are the first Aggies in their family.

But each took a different path to get to Texas A&M. Tara initially planned to follow in the footsteps of her two older brothers, who attended Texas Tech University. However, she changed her mind after visiting Aggieland with a friend late in her senior year of high school. “Texas A&M had a completely different feel. That was the biggest thing, how friendly and warm people were,” she said. “It just felt like where I belonged.”

In comparison, Todd always knew he was College Station-bound, but attended the University of Texas at San Antonio as a freshman to stay close to home. “I always wanted to be an Aggie, and quite honestly, I don’t know where that came from,” he said. “But, I do think it came from other people I talked to who were Aggies. There was just something special about Texas A&M and I knew I had to go there.”

The couple’s paths first crossed during a Business Analysis class, taught by Professor Louise Darcey, soon after Todd enrolled. “Todd sat behind me, and I thought he was cute, so I passed him a note saying something silly, I’m sure. Passing notes was the 1988 form of texting,” Tara remembered with a laugh. “That note started a great friendship.”

Both were drawn to studying business, with Tara focusing on marketing while Todd embraced accounting and finance. Tara was involved in Fish Aides, Fish Camp, MSC Hospitality and with sorority life as a Kappa Alpha Theta. Todd was a leader in Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity. They both appreciated the university’s commitment to students and the wealth of opportunities that Texas A&M and the business school offered to explore emerging areas of interest. For example, Todd credits his business classes and Texas A&M’s computer lab for giving him a deeper context about technology’s role in business and hands-on skills at a time when personal computers and the internet were just emerging. While a student, he was one of IBM’s first sales staff at Texas A&M, encouraging Aggies to buy new IBM laptops. “Looking back at it, I feel that Texas A&M was on the forefront,” he said. “They exposed me to this entire new digital world that was like a gold rush about to start back in those days.”

The couple gives special credit to the College of Business Administration Fellows program (now known as Mays Business Fellows) for increasing their professional opportunities. They pointed to the Business Fellows’ week-long trip to New York City and the many professional speakers who came to the Fellows’ meetings as opening their eyes to the wide range of possibilities they would have after graduation.

Being Business Fellows also offered the additional benefit of getting a paid internship with a major company, which has the potential to result in a job right after graduation. As an outcome of her internship, Tara accepted a position at Kraft General Foods in Dallas. Her decision prompted Todd, who was the first in his family to graduate from college, to reconsider his initial plan to move to New York City to work for Arthur Andersen; instead, he took an accounting and operational consulting job at the company’s Dallas office.

Changing Directions

Tara worked at Kraft for three years before shifting to selling advertising at KPLX Radio, one of the biggest Metroplex radio stations. “I worked at Kraft because I had an internship there and enjoyed the work and the people, but knew it wasn’t the best fit for me about a year in,” she said. “It was just time for my next step. My manager knew I was losing interest, so she encouraged me to interview elsewhere. She was so supportive and knew I was good with people and sales. She knew the sales manager at KPLX Radio, so she made an introduction. I really respected her for being actively involved with me moving on instead of trying to hold me there.”

Using her characteristic approach of making the most of her current situation, Tara committed to being the best sales representative possible while working for KPLX. However, she didn’t hesitate to step away from corporate life after giving birth to Taylor in 1996. “Being a stay-at-home mom was something Todd and I had desired from the moment we started a family,” she explained. “It was important to both of us. This was a no-brainer decision for me to leave corporate life to focus on being a full-time mom.”

As Tara stepped away from her corporate career, Todd’s career began to skyrocket. He remained at Arthur Andersen for another year before moving into radio sales and sales management for 11 years. He then transitioned to the Center for Sales Strategy (CSS), a privately-held consulting company that helps organizations develop sales management and salespeople to improve revenue and strategic outcomes. Todd’s timing in joining CSS proved to be auspicious as digital social media platforms were just emerging and were not yet viewed as game-changers in marketing. “I helped develop a digital plan for one of the largest sales organizations in the country, Katz Media,” Todd said. “We built out a digital plan back when Twitter and Facebook were seen as a joke.”

Outlive Yourself

Everything irrevocably changed in 2010 after Taylor’s death. The Storch family, which also includes Ryan ’21 and Peyton, a nursing student at Texas Tech Health Science Center, never had a conversation about organ donation before Taylor’s death. Yet when they were approached by a nurse about considering organ donation, Tara and Todd said yes without hesitation.

Even in their initial heartbreak, they realized that their decision honored Taylor’s legacy. “People flocked to Taylor, and she inspired people,” Todd said. “We’ve heard many beautiful stories about her over these last 11 years on how kind, caring, and respected she was. She was truly loved by others and had a true gift in lifting others up that was mature beyond her years.”

Seeing the impact of this decision on the rest of the family and close friends triggered their curiosity to learn more about organ donation. The couple was surprised to learn that only 2% of Texans were registered as organ donors in April 2010. That sparked a fire in Todd to do what he could to encourage organ donor registration in hopes of significantly raising that number.

As true leaders and entrepreneurs, the couple stepped into this societal gap to encourage organ donor registrations and spark others to share about the importance of organ donation. That decision also included Todd resigning from CSS to start a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Taylor’s Gift Foundation. It quickly became a national award-winning non-profit, winning “Best New Charity in the Nation” by the Classy Awards after only one year of being established.

The couple began to put themselves out there publicly, sharing their story to help other families in the same devastating situation. “The pain of losing Taylor was very difficult to talk about publicly when I first started doing speaking engagements, but I found that sharing our story was also helping others,” Tara said. “Sometimes hearing from someone who has walked a very difficult path, but still has joy in their life, can help others who are in a dark place find some hope. That was the spark that helped me continue.”

The family’s experience continues to grow Taylor’s Gift, which uses the marketing tagline “Outlive Yourself” to encourage individuals to consider the power of organ donation. “When people think of organ donation, they usually think of death. But organ donation is all about life,” Tara said. “Outlive Yourself is all about leaving a lasting difference in the life of others, and organ donation can be a beautiful way to outlive yourself.”

The couple wrote a book titled, “Taylor’s Gift: A Courageous Story of Giving Life and Renewing Hope” about their experience, which was a best-seller and won “The Most Inspirational Book” at the Books for a Better Life Awards in New York. Additionally, they began to increase organ donor registrations and helped others discuss organ donation more openly. This happened through national features on Good Morning America, The Today Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and People Magazine. They were honored with being People Magazine’s “Heroes Among Us” for their efforts surrounding the importance of organ donation.

Todd and Tara also realized that they needed something creative to make Taylor’s Gift more tangible. The couple reached out to OPI, which agreed to create OPI “Taylor Blue,” a nail color that was inspired by Taylor’s beautiful blue eyes, and that helped share the Outlive Yourself message globally.

And, unsurprisingly, the Storches relied on the Aggie Network for assistance. Near the top of the list was Hans George ’91, another Business Fellow and Todd’s fraternity brother and first roommate after college. George, who was a vice president at Nike, helped champion the company’s creation of “Outlive Yourself Socks” that incorporated the “Taylor Blue” color of Taylor’s eyes and five stripes to symbolize the individuals who were saved by Taylor’s gifts of life through organ donation. The proceeds of the sales support Taylor’s Gift Foundation and Taylor’s Place at the new Southwest Transplant Alliance Organ Recovery Center.

The non-profit continues to evolve, as Todd stepped into the role of chairman emeritus and Tara took on the role as the volunteer President. Tara continues to speak regularly at different events around the nation, sharing the heartfelt story of her daughter’s legacy. The next chapter of Taylor’s Gift also is broadening to start providing emotional support to families who have donated their loved ones’ organs through their Kindred Hearts Program, which is a partnership with Heritage Health Solutions. Also, to expand the program, Johns Hopkins University and NYU have partnered with the foundation on a pilot program and research study about the Kindred Hearts Program.

Back to Business

After dedicating three years to Taylor’s Gift, Todd built and executed a transition plan for the foundation’s sustainability and continued growth. He then returned to the corporate world in 2013 where he continues today focusing on technology and leadership. He’s worked as a vice president and general manager for a technology company called FormStack, a software-as-a-service platform, as well as CEO of Kindrid, a high-tech payment platform delivering solutions to non-profit and church sectors. After working in strategic development with companies in technology, Todd was recruited to become CEO of a national media publishing company. He recently was named chief revenue officer for Futuri Media.

These companies value Todd’s deep experience, his vulnerability and how he has learned to strategically leverage his knowledge and skills to benefit the company as well as its customers. “A strategic entrepreneur is constantly looking to innovate and improve an existing organization or company where you work or belong,” he said, adding that this mindset requires, “the constant curiosity and ability to find, unlock and implement value with people, processes, new markets, new customers, and new products.”

Tara believes it’s this ability that sets Todd apart. “He has this innate skill to hone in on people’s talents to bring out the best in employees and teams,” she said. “He’s so good at developing teams, culture, and talent in people, all the while being very approachable.”

Always Ready to Return

Now married for 28 years, Tara and Todd remain firmly committed to both Texas A&M and Mays Business School. Both are regular speakers at various Texas A&M events, including Fish Aides, Musters in Texas and Arkansas, Mays Business School marketing and non-profit classes, Business Fellows, and fraternity and sorority meetings. Tara was on the board of the Aggie Women network while Todd serves as a member of Mays MS Marketing Advisory Board. “It’s been such a joy to give back,” said Tara, who received the Aggie Women Network’s Legacy Award for her work with Taylor’s Gift. “Whenever we’re asked to do anything to help at A&M, we do everything we can to be there.”

The Storches also have come full circle personally in relation to the class where they initially met. “In 2016, we were on a campus tour with our son, and we called Professor Darcey to let her know that because of her class, we met, got married and now have a son who was going to be an Aggie,” Tara said. “Then our son, Ryan ’21, who was in the Business Honors program in marketing and a Maroon Coat, had Ms. Darcey as a professor before she retired. It was just amazing to us that our son had the same teacher as we did at the business school!”

Focusing on the Good

Years ago, the Storches had to make the best out of the worst situation, so they decided to focus on the good, which is not easy to do. “The good was that Taylor saved lives and so we decided to create something to honor her legacy and keep her spirit alive, while helping others,” Tara said. “Our sweet girl is still impacting lives to this day.”

Despite enduring one of the most difficult crises—the death of a child—that a family can face, Tara and Todd have found ways to thrive professionally and personally. Both credit their faith for their strength and Texas A&M for creating a strong business foundation that has helped them succeed in a variety of professional roles where they were able to leverage change as entrepreneurs. They also are thankful for the power of the Aggie Network. “When you have an Aggie Ring, you immediately have a bond with Aggies everywhere,” Todd said. “So many of these Aggies came to our side to carry us during those dark days of grief and have celebrated with us in times of joy and success.”

Todd and Tara Storch truly exemplify the Aggie Core value of Selfless Service. What they have done nationally brings to light the importance of organ donation, which is a selfless gift in itself. By contributing their time and talents to Mays Business School and Aggieland, they are outliving themselves by making a lasting difference in the lives of Aggies across the globe.

Categories: Entrepreneurship

More than 200 current students attended the inaugural event featuring 55 Aggie 100™ recruiting companies.

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

COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS February 22, 2022 –The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship hosted its inaugural Aggie 100™ Career Fair Friday, Feb. 11 at Texas A&M University’s Memorial Student Center. Exclusive to past Aggie 100™ honored companies, the career fair aimed to connect company representatives recruiting for internships, part-time and full-time positions with current students from across a variety of majors, interests and sectors. Fifty-five companies, 50% of which were represented by the company’s Aggie founder, were on hand to recruit, meet and connect with the more than 200 current students in attendance.

Held annually since its inception in 2005, Aggie 100™ honors the 100 fastest-growing, Aggie-owned or Aggie-led businesses in the world. Additionally, it provides a forum to pass lessons to the next generation of Aggie entrepreneurs and has grown significantly in its 17 years. After hearing the consistent message from honorees each year that “Aggies want to hire more Aggies,” the McFerrin Center established the Aggie 100™ Career Fair.

Christine Hollinden ‘87, owner/principal at Hollinden Marketers + Strategists and four-time Aggie 100™ honoree, noted that this job fair was unique in that in addition to recruiting students, the companies were able and eager to network with and support each other in identifying good candidates due to their shared entrepreneurial experiences and connections to Texas A&M.

“Texas A&M is known for producing outstanding students,” Hollinden stated. “[The Aggie 100 Career Fair] gives the opportunity for students to really look at entrepreneurial-minded firms, these fast-growth organizations, as a great career opportunity, a great employment opportunity.”

Jackson Wiese ’25, a business honors major, made a point to attend to “meet entrepreneurs and [participate] in a community of entrepreneurship” and noted he particularly enjoyed the unique opportunity to connect directly with founders and companies across diverse industries.

“It’s no secret that the Aggie Network is strong and well-known globally, and this career fair was about us doing our part to plant more seeds and grow more opportunities,” Blake Petty ’98, executive director of the McFerrin Center, said. “At McFerrin, our passion and focus are on those with an entrepreneurial interest or attitude, so connecting current students with proven, successful Aggie 100™ companies is an obvious next step for our support of Aggie Entrepreneurs.”

Next year’s Aggie 100™ Career Fair is already in the planning stages, with many of this year’s recruiting companies signed on for the event.

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.

##

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

 

 

Categories: McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship

11 faculty members at Mays Business School rank in the top 2% of scholars worldwide. A broad-scale effort analyzing citations of almost 7 million scholars was conducted by Stanford University and Elsevier BV, resulting in a publicly available standardized database containing the top 2% of cited scientists in the world.

We are so fortunate to have such a vibrant group of faculty at Mays Business School who are invested in providing lasting impact at the college and beyond. They include Michael A. Hitt, Leonard L. Berry, R. Duane Ireland, Venkatesh Shankar, David A. Griffith, Rajan Varadarajan, Albert Cannella, Lorraine Eden, Murray R. Barrick, Xenophon Koufteros, and Chelliah Sriskandarajah.

2021 Top 2% Researchers worldwide include Mays faculty members

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

According to Fortune magazine, Mays Business School at Texas A&M University has the top online business analytics program in the country. Factors highlighting the success of the MS Analytics program include selectivity, demand, and brand, per Fortune’s methodology.

One component to the ranking outcome emphasizes the MS Analytics program enrolling its most recent class with an average of over 12 years of full-time work experience and an average incoming undergraduate GPA of 3.42. With a mix of computer science, business acumen, business math, and statistics, this online/face-to-face, flexible format degree allows students to select from many diverse paths in data science while incorporating business and leadership skills.

“We are so pleased to see our program recognized at the national level,” said Jerry Strawser, associate dean for graduate programs. “This ranking reflects the outstanding efforts of our program leadership – Myra Gonzales and Javier Aldape – as well as the faculty and staff who create a valuable learning experience for our students.”

MS Analytics program director Myra Gonzalez shared, “As a young, quickly-growing industry, we are committed to the mission of Mays Business School: to be a vibrant learning organization that creates impactful knowledge and develops transformational leaders. We designed our program to be an inclusive learning environment, while also focusing on an excellent customer experience (CX) through our cohort model. Those efforts, in addition to our quality faculty and curriculum, have enabled a strong graduation rate launching excellent data leaders into the marketplace.”

With over 300+ data science/analytics programs in the nation, students have many options. Texas A&M’s MS Analytics offers a formal education led by prestigious faculty with terminal degrees or strong ties to industry. Each year, the program enrolls 65 students from all backgrounds. Faculty and students create synergy in the program. “Our faculty members’ capability, paired with our students’ persistence and thirst for excellence, enable the quality and the success of the MS Analytics program,” added Gonzalez.

“In today’s challenging and rapidly changing global markets, firms gain significant benefits by using sophisticated tools and techniques to analyze, interpret, and use data in competitively relevant ways,” shared interim dean, R. Duane Ireland. “Our MS Analytics program presents learners with opportunities to develop skills through which they can help their firms succeed by working with data effectively. We are thrilled for our MS Analytics program to receive Fortune’s number 1 ranking! Congratulations to our outstanding students and to our faculty and staff who collaborate with them.”

Texas A&M’s MS Analytics program is currently accepting applications for the fall 2022 cohort. Visit the MS Analytics site for an overview. To request more information, contact Javier Aldape, Program Manager at 979-845-2149 or jaldape@mays.tamu.edu.

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

By Amy Dahmann, Texas A&M University Mays Business School

COLLEGE STATION, Jan. 14, 2022 – The Mays Business School Center for Executive Development (CED) at Texas A&M University was recently awarded Full Membership status in UNICON — The International University Consortium for Executive Education. UNICON’s members comprise the most relevant, successful, and sought-after learning partners for leaders and organizations who want to improve performance. The consortium is a vital resource for executive education providers worldwide.

The Mays Business School CED at Texas A&M University was awarded Full Membership status during the November UNICON board call. Having demonstrated their commitment and engagement, the board approved Full Membership status for four Associate members. The EDHEC Business School, the Irish Management Institute (IMI), and The Carey Executive Education program at John Hopkins University’s Carey Business School were also awarded Full Membership status.

“We are honored to be awarded Full Membership status in UNICON and join their global network of executive education colleagues,” said Dr. Ben Welch, Assistant Dean for Executive Education for the Mays Business School CED. “The past two years have shown us that executive education must continue to evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of organizations, their leaders, and their people. Being part of UNICON allows us to both learn from and share with our peers. Together, we’ll shape the future of our industry,” Welch said.

For more information, go to www.uniconexed.org.

A leading global consortium of business‐school‐based executive education organizations, UNICON is committed to improving and advancing the Executive Education industry. Founded in 1972, UNICON is comprised of more than 100 of the world’s top university-based executive education providers. UNICON’s primary activities include conferences, research, benchmarking, sharing of best practices, staff development, recruitment/job postings, information‐sharing, and extensive networking among members, all centered around the business and practice of executive education.

The Center for Executive Development (CED) at Mays Business School provides fully custom executive education programs for companies that aim to cultivate ethical leaders. It is the CED’s mission to educate and empower transformational leaders for a global society.

Categories: Center for Executive Development, Mays Business, Programs, 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

Berrys Donate $1MM

Dr. Leonard L. Berry and The Honorable Nancy Berry have established the Dr. Leonard L. Berry Chair in Services Marketing at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School through a $1 million gift to the Texas A&M Foundation. This endowed faculty chair will enhance Mays’ Department of Marketing’s efforts to attract and retain a leading senior faculty member who can help the school move forward to reach its vision to advance the world’s prosperity by creating a better future though improved service.

Creating the endowed chair is a milestone in Dr. Berry’s nearly 40-year tenure at Texas A&M. “I have loved being a faculty member at Texas A&M. It’s an outstanding university and I’ve had a wonderful career here,” he said. “I was raised to always give back and this is a way that I wanted to give back to my university, to my department, to my colleagues and to tangibly say thank you for the opportunity that I’ve had to build a career here at Mays Business School.”

The Berry’s said their decision to create the chair was made during a short conversation that spanned only a few minutes. “When you live in a place, you want it to be the best place possible. My philosophy is if I want it to be better, I need to work to make it better,” said Nancy Berry, who noted that service is an integral part of the couple’s lives. “Len’s research is focused on what services can do to help humanity and improve the quality of life. That’s what I’ve tried to do as well.”

The Berry’s’ gift is the first Mays endowed chair established by a current Mays faculty member. “We have many Mays faculty and staff who support our school by gifting some of their treasured resources to us. The Berry gift is unique, though, in that it is the first endowed chair established by a faculty member and in this instance, his spouse,” said Mays Interim Dean R. Duane Ireland. “Faculty and staff committing their resources in any form, but perhaps especially in the form of an endowed position, demonstrates to all who are committed to Mays’ success that those of us working within Mays Business School are willing to join others to provide gifts that support our work in terms of research, teaching, and service.”

The creation of the endowed chair extends Dr. Berry’s marketing legacy. “This endowed position recognizes and honors the long-term contributions of Dr. Berry to the field of services marketing,” said Dr. Manjit Yadav, head of Mays’ Department of Marketing. “His groundbreaking work in the area of service quality has impacted scholarship and practice worldwide. As the service-based economy continues to expand in the 21st century, this endowed position will ensure that the Department of Marketing at Mays Business School continues to be an academic leader in the area of services marketing.”

A Services Marketing Pioneer

Dr. Berry was recruited from the University of Virginia in 1982 to serve as the founding director of Mays’ Center for Retailing Studies. When he joined Mays, services marketing and service quality improvement had yet to develop as areas of research. At that time, marketing faculty did not recognize the different challenges in marketing a tangible product, such as an automobile or a food product, versus an intangible service, such as transportation, healthcare, and telecommunications. The fields of services marketing and service quality did not exist. Berry’s work, along with two Mays marketing colleagues, A. Parasuraman and Valarie Zeithaml, in concert with a small group of other researchers around the world, began to change this perspective.

A development leave in 2001-2002 at the prestigious Mayo Clinic proved to be a watershed moment in Dr. Berry’s career. Afterwards, the respected professor decided to shift his focus to pioneer the study of service quality improvement in healthcare. His healthcare research has been published in numerous prestigious medical journals, including Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Annals of Internal Medicine, Journal of Clinical Oncology, and Journal of Oncology Practice He also serves as a Senior Fellow of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, where he studies service improvement in cancer care for patients and their families.

Dr. Berry continues to have a very productive research career. He currently is the most cited Texas A&M University faculty member on Google Scholar, with 231,414 citations as of December 7, 2021. He also has co-authored 10 books, including the best-selling book, “Management Lessons from Mayo Clinic.”

Over the years, both Texas A&M and Mays have recognized Dr. Berry for his professional contributions. He holds the M.B. Zale Chair in Retailing and Marketing Leadership and has been named a University Distinguished Professor of Marketing, a Regents Professor, and a Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence.

Dr. Berry also has received significant external accolades from the American Marketing Association (AMA) and other entities during his career, including being the second individual ever to receive each of the “Big 4 Marketing Awards”: The Sheth Foundation Medal in 2018, the AMA William L. Wilkie “Marketing for a Better World” Award in 2018, the AMA Paul D. Converse Award in 2008, and the AMA/McGraw-Hill/Irwin Distinguished Marketing Educator Award in 2007.

Dr. Berry’s work has not only influenced scholars, students, and the industry, but also his wife in her current work as a Brazos County Commissioner and member of numerous Brazos Valley non-profit boards, as well as in her previous role as Mayor of the City of College Station. “I’ve read most of Len’s work and it’s been significant and meaningful,” she said. “His contribution is irrefutable.”

The endowed chair will help Mays continue Dr. Berry’s groundbreaking work in the field of services marketing. “I want there always to be a senior scholar in the marketing department that specializes in services marketing,” Dr. Berry said. “In a sense, I am making the gift to help create a succession plan for myself because I won’t be here forever. I want our work and our reputation in services to continue.”

>>> Add your response to the announcement on LinkedIn!

Categories: Departments, Donors Corner, Faculty, Health Care, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Selfless service, Spotlights, Texas A&M

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

A $20 million gift from Adam C. Sinn ’00 will support students and programs in Mays Business School’s Department of Finance.

A $10 million gift—and a pledge for an additional $10 million—from Adam C. Sinn ’00, a commodities trader and owner of Aspire Commodities, will help Mays Business School’s Department of Finance enhance the quality of education it provides and offer financial support to undergraduate and graduate students.

“I applaud Mr. Sinn’s willingness to invest in our university,” said Dr. M. Katherine Banks, president of Texas A&M University. “Contributions such as these not only help elevate the department but provide a brighter future to our students for generations to come. We appreciate his support of our mission.”

In recognition of Sinn’s $10 million gift through the Texas A&M Foundation, the department has been renamed the Adam C. Sinn ’00 Department of Finance. This is the second named department at Mays, following the naming of the James Benjamin Department of Accounting in 2017.

“On behalf of Mays Business School, I want to extend a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to Mr. Sinn for his extremely generous support,” said Dr. Duane Ireland, interim dean. “Through Mr. Sinn’s gift, we will have opportunities to continuously increase the value of our students’ educational experiences. The type of support we are receiving from Mr. Sinn reflects the unique relationship between Mays Business School and Texas A&M University with former students.”

Sinn’s gift includes $7.5 million for undergraduate and graduate scholarships to assist finance students whose financial challenges might prevent them from attending college. The gift will support students from Sinn’s hometown in Hoopeston, Illinois, and nearby Cissna Park, Illinois, as well as those from Dorado, Puerto Rico, where he maintains a residence today.

If there is an insufficient number of eligible finance students from those regions, a portion of Sinn’s gift will benefit Aggies enrolled in Mays’ Trading, Risk and Investments Program (TRIP), which prepares participants in the fields of energy trading, investments and risk management by combining exceptional class instruction with hands-on, internship-based experience. Sinn’s gift will cover part of participants’ graduate fees as well as a portion of their undergraduate tuition.

“Considering that the cost of education is increasing for most graduate programs, this gift will allow us to provide a significant level of financial support to TRIP students across the program annually,” said Mays Reliant Trading Center Director Detlef Hallermann ’89, who serves as the TRIP director. “This is a monumental achievement.”

In addition to the current gift, Sinn pledged an additional $10 million gift to be funded over the next five years in support of student and faculty success initiatives in the department.

Continuing Success

Sinn’s gift offers the department’s latest indicator of success. “In our world of higher education, philanthropy is more than a fundraising tool; it is actually a metric of performance,” said Mays Executive Associate Dean Sorin Sorescu. “Named departments can be seen as a seal of approval from influential, successful individuals like Mr. Sinn, who has had tremendous career success and is encouraged by what he sees in our programs at Mays. We are so honored to have his support.”

The department’s undergraduate program ranked 34th nationally in 2021 by U.S. News and World Report. In 2021, Eduniversal Best Masters rated the department’s Master’s in Real Estate Management 3rd globally and the graduate portion of TRIP 15th globally. Also in 2021, the department’s Master of Science in Finance Program was ranked 10th among U.S. public programs by TFE Times.

Prospective student interest in the department’s programs is also increasing. More than 1,000 Aggies are enrolled in finance programs for the 2021-22 academic year, a 30% increase over the past five years.

The department prides itself on cross-campus interdisciplinary partnerships and high-impact programs that provide students with cutting-edge academic knowledge and industry best practices. Additionally, innovative opportunities such as Aggies on Wall Street and the Reveille Fund, a student-run investment fund, require students to apply their learning.

The remaining portion of Sinn’s gift will support the department’s efforts to recruit top faculty and create and expand these types of innovative programs. Funds may also support the Master of Science in Finance, career development offerings, educational travel opportunities, etiquette dinners, and training in personal skills. These offerings are designed to create well-rounded graduates who can make an immediate impact when they start their careers.

“When we can do more as a finance department, it’s not only our department and the students in Mays who win. Texas A&M also wins,” said Interim Department Head Christa Bouwman. “These interdisciplinary programs and partnerships are very valuable.”

Luck and Hard Work

 

Sinn grew up in Hoopeston, Illinois, which like many Midwestern small towns, particularly those not proximate to an interstate, had its share of successes and struggles in the 1980s and 1990s. The area’s economy primarily revolved around agriculture and particularly growing and canning corn and other products; Hoopeston is the Sweetcorn Capital of the World.

Minimum-wage jobs like one Sinn held at a hog farm during high school and good-paying blue-collar jobs in the local industries remained to a degree but became less available over time. However, Hoopeston maintained a strong Midwestern work ethic that influenced Sinn. That work ethic was bolstered greatly by his parents and grandparents, who he described as being part of “hard-working Middle America,” and his role models for hard work. Sinn’s father started a small business as an electrician and his mother performed office functions for the business. His parents saved ardently so they could provide some assistance to their sons if they chose to pursue college degrees.

Sinn was also fortunate that his local Rotary Club was a strong supporter of the Rotary Youth Exchange program. He studied abroad in Japan for a year through that program, which was instrumental in him learning to be open to new experiences and places.

After consideration, Sinn set his sights on Southern Methodist University, which offered degrees in international business and Japanese, and qualified for numerous scholarships, which paid for his entire education there.

However, he soon realized that he didn’t feel at home at SMU. Several of his college friends transferred, including one who enrolled in Texas A&M—and Sinn quickly followed. “Texas A&M was exactly what I was looking for. I liked the culture and the camaraderie,” he said. “It was an easy place to flourish, and I liked the college town environment.”

But he also discovered Texas A&M was harder academically, and he found himself in the mid-tier of students scholastically. He said, “I decided that if I couldn’t get the grades, I would beef up my resume. I had three internships, was involved in several organizations, and held jobs while I was a student.”

His penchant for hard work paid off. After initially being declined for an internship with Dell, Sinn offered to work for free. Impressed, the company representative invited him to reapply. He did when another opportunity arose—and was quickly offered a job when the interviewers realized that the Aggie knew more about the company than they did.

After graduating with his bachelor’s degree in finance in 2001, Sinn wanted to pursue a career in trading, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, who bought and sold livestock in the small livestock business founded by his great-grandfather and sons. However, it took him a while to find his niche. He briefly worked in accounting and finance jobs before he was in the right place at the right time—without a job when Lehman Brothers folded—to step into energy trading. “People sometimes end up in a spot due to sudden life circumstances,” said Sinn, who now operates one of the largest speculative trading firms in the commodity market. “It’s what you do with that situation that can determine the course of your future and whether you reach the next level.”

Sinn has embraced Texas A&M’s core values during his career. Now, his selfless service through creating this endowment will help middle-tier students avoid taking on student loan debt. “I want others to not have a financial burden so they can attend the best university on the planet,” he said, adding that these scholarships will also help position finance students to be successful in their lives after college. “I hope to lay the foundation so that at some point in time, these students can bet on themselves like I was able to do when they need to. The person who is financially burdened by rising educational costs may be unable to take that shot.”

Mays faculty, staff and students appreciate Sinn’s commitment to selfless service as he opens doors for the next generation of Aggies. “He wants to give people an opportunity,” Hallermann said. “He’s got an unbelievable talent for trading power and electricity, but when he looks around, his focus is always, ‘How do I help people get to where they need to be?’”

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.

About the Texas A&M Foundation

The Texas A&M Foundation is a nonprofit organization that aspires to be among the most trusted philanthropies in higher education. It builds a brighter future for Texas A&M University, one relationship at a time. To learn more, visit txamfoundation.com.

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