#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.”
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
Thanks to the generous support of the Texas Bankers Association, Dwight Garey ’67 has been named the Texas Bankers Foundation Executive Professorship in Commercial Banking at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School. Garey has led the Commercial Banking Program since 2016 and this endowed award speaks to the difference Garey brings to the Department of Finance within Mays.
Garey’s career in banking and financial services spans more than 40 years, with 27 years of his banking career in correspondent banking at First City Bank-Houston, and Amegy Bank in Houston. He managed Amegy Bank’s Correspondent Banking department from 2006 to 2016, a regional line of business for a three-state region. He graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s degree in finance, then earned an MBA from the University of Houston Clear Lake.
He is also a graduate of the Southwestern Graduate School of Banking at Southern Methodist University, where he was a director of the Alumni Board of Directors and was president of the Alumni Board 2012-2015.
“I am truly pleased with the appointment of Dwight to this important endowed professorship at Mays,” shared Eli Jones, dean of Mays Business School. “This appointment, which I supported along with others in Mays Business School and the highest level of administration at Texas A&M, reflects Dwight’s continuing contributions that are bringing distinction to the Department of Finance and Mays Business School. Endowed professorships are a priority at Mays, established as part of our grassroots strategic planning process which began in 2016. Through these professorships, we are able to recruit and retain individuals who will advance the world’s prosperity, our vision at Mays.”
“We’re fortunate to have Dwight represent the Texas Bankers Association in this endowed professorship and know that it will be a resource within the Commercial Banking Program for developing transformational leaders, part of our mission at Mays,” shared Sorin Sorescu, Interim Executive Associate Dean at Mays Business School. “Banking is a relationship-driven business, and our college is thankful for the generous support the TBA has established to help us educate the next generation of bankers. All of us at Mays know that Dwight will continue performing in this high honor in order to serve our students and equip them to enter the banking industry fully prepared to bring the necessary hard and soft skills, along with the Aggie Core Values, every day.”
About Texas Bankers Association
Founded in 1885, the Texas Bankers Association is a member-centric state organization based in Austin whose members represent the voice of the banking industry within the state and national halls of Austin and Washington, D.C. In addition, its members participate in discussions around financial and economic roundtables where community leaders ponder safety and soundness issues confronting the state and national economics.
About the Commercial Banking Program
The Commercial Banking Program at Mays is designed to equip students with the banking and finance skills needed for a career in banking. The program prepares students to serve the personnel needs of banking organizations in Texas and the United States. The students in the program establish relationships with banking professionals, and other students, who serve them throughout their banking careers, and develop the financial skills critical to success when beginning careers with a commercial bank.
The Commercial Banking Program allows students to learn industry skills and terminologies within a focused curriculum and provides experiences that are not otherwise available to finance majors.
About Mays Business School
At Mays Business School, we strive to advance the world’s prosperity. Our mission is to be a vibrant learning organization that creates impactful knowledge and develops transformational leaders. Mays Business School educates more than 6,300 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 in the country for its programs and for faculty research.
Almost six months to the date of the originally planned celebration disrupted by Coronavirus, on October 8, 2020, Mays friends and family gathered at the Texas A&M Hotel and via Zoom to celebrate and honor the 2020 Outstanding Alumni. Safety protocol was followed with 6-feet spaced tables seating six instead of their regular 12, facemasks were worn at all times unless eating, and the event was moved to a hybrid virtual/in-person structure. The in-person celebration, though smaller than past years, was a welcomed reminder of our collective humanity and love of Mays Business School.
As the highest honor a Mays Business School graduate can receive from the college, recipients of the Mays Outstanding Alumni Award are recognized for leading lives of distinction and embodying the Aggie core values of excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect, and selfless service.
Coming from different backgrounds and walks of life, these recipients are chosen for their activity in their communities and continued involvement within the Mays community. Mays recognized the three 2020 Outstanding Alumni inductees at the 28th annual Outstanding Alumni Awards Dinner.
The honorees are Laura C. Fulton ’85, Randall B. Hale ’85, and Blake A. Pounds ’89.
So far, Mays has honored 91 former students who have reached outstanding achievements and have made significant contributions within their respective fields, as well as within Mays and their surrounding communities.
Laura C. Fulton ’85 is the vice-president of finance for the American Bureau of Shipping
Fulton graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting.
Fulton, who started as an auditor at Deloitte & Touche, reached a career milestone when she assisted Hi- Crush Partners LP in becoming a publicly-traded company as the organization’s CFO. In 2019, “Oil & Gas Investor” magazine recognized Fulton as one of the “25 Most Influential Women in Energy.”
At the dinner, Fulton mentioned her multi-generational Aggie family and called out her dad, Daniel Clinton ’52, Texas A&M Distinguished Alumni Recipient, and the ways that they have supported her.
“A lot of people think of giving back t0 A&M as a giving of money but I think of it as giving yourself– giving your time and your talents.”
Randall B. Hale ’85 is founder and managing director of Rock Hill Capital Group
He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting.
At the Outstanding Alumni Dinner, Hale said that it was an honor to be on the stage after seeing the names and the pictures of the past recipients of the Outstanding Alumni Awards on the screen during the dinner.
“Certainly an unexpected award for me, I didn’t anticipate receiving it. Thanks to Dr. Jim Benjamin and a few other phenomenal business teachers, I am where I am today.”
Blake A. Pounds ’89 serves as Accenture’s Houston Office Managing Director where he leads more than 2,000 professionals and oversees developing local business relationships, expanding civic presence, and fostering employee engagement.
Pounds graduated with a bachelor’s degree in finance.
Pounds said at the dinner that in the same way that iron sharpens iron, so had the family, friends, and colleagues in the room sharpened him to be the man he was.
“Texas A&M has given me a lot and it’s neat now, later in my career, to be able to give back and to give opportunities to current students.”
Amid Black Lives Matter protests this summer, the 14 college of business deans of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) decided to make a joint statement in support of diversity, equity and inclusion in their programs.
They are “soundly committed to fostering a sense of community that is welcoming to and respectful of all individuals — students, faculty and staff,” their statement read… read more.
September 2, 2020 – Mays Business School at Texas A&M University and leading health and well-being company Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) are launching the 2020 Humana-Mays Healthcare Analytics Case Competition to showcase students’ analytical abilities to solve a real-world business problem. The prize package for the winning teams has increased to $70,000, with $40,000 for first place, $20,000 for second place, and $10,000 for third place.
The fourth annual competition will be held virtually and is open to all accredited educational institutions based in the United States. Full-time and part-time master’s students from accredited Master of Science, Master of Arts, Master of Information Systems, Master of Public Health, or Master of Business Administration programs, or other similar master’s programs in business, healthcare, or analytics, are eligible to enter. Students are invited to create teams of two to three to tackle a real-world case. Each team can only include students from the same school.
“We have recalibrated one of the top national analytics competitions into a virtual format this year to continue to attract the brightest graduate students in the country,” said Eli Jones, dean of Mays Business School. “The teams will use data analytics to address real-world issues in healthcare, presenting in the digital format the whole world is adjusting to now.”
“Humana is grateful for the opportunity to again partner with my alma mater Texas A&M University on this impactful and real-world opportunity for students.” said Humana President and CEO Bruce Broussard. “The future of health care increasingly depends on data analytics as a means to create personalized experiences and support emerging capabilities from telehealth to chronic disease management, all of which contribute to better health outcomes.”
The teams will be judged based on the following criteria:
Quantitative analysis identifying key business insights
Professionalism, data visualization, and presentation skills
Ability to provide meaningful implications and recommendations based on results/insights
Key dates for 2020 participants include:
Sept. 9: Virtual kickoff call for prospective participants
Sept. 18: Team registration due
Sept. 28: Virtual Q&A session with competition leadership
Oct. 11: Completed team analysis due
Oct. 23: Finalists selected and notified
Nov. 12: Virtual presentations to executive panel; winners announced
The student team of Ozgur Cetinok, Leah Kelly, and Erica Millwater from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) won the $30,000 First Place prize in 2019. Over 1,300 masters level students representing over 80 major universities in the U.S. registered to compete for $52,500 in prizes.
At Mays Business School, we strive to advance the world’s prosperity. Our mission is to be a vibrant learning organization that creates impactful knowledge and develops transformational leaders. Mays Business School educates 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 in the country for its programs and for faculty research.
Humana Inc. is committed to helping our millions of medical and specialty members achieve their best health. Our successful history in care delivery and health plan administration is helping us create a new kind of integrated care with the power to improve health and well-being and lower costs. Our efforts are leading to a better quality of life for people with Medicare, families, individuals, military service personnel, and communities at large.
To accomplish that, we support physicians and other health care professionals as they work to deliver the right care in the right place for their patients, our members. Our range of clinical capabilities, resources and tools – such as in-home care, behavioral health, pharmacy services, data analytics and wellness solutions – combine to produce a simplified experience that makes health care easier to navigate and more effective.
More information regarding Humana is available to investors via the Investor Relations page of the company’s web site at www.humana.com, including copies of:
Annual reports to stockholders
Securities and Exchange Commission filings
Most recent investor conference presentations
Quarterly earnings news releases and conference calls
As most other programming has done this year, the Mays Transformational Leadership Academy kicked-off virtually on July 20, 2020. The Mays Transformational Leadership Academy is a program designed for rising high school seniors from underrepresented groups who have an interest in pursuing a business degree.
The objectives of this program are to:
Cultivate the leadership and academic potential of rising high school seniors
Allow students to experience on a first-hand basis a microcosm of the collegiate and professional lives of business students
Introduce talented students to career opportunities in business disciplines
Provide information about admission, scholarship funding, and high-impact programs available at Mays
Two participants and one student-leader at the 2020 Mays Transformational Leadership Academy shared their thoughts and feelings about the virtual experience. Read on below to see their #aMAYSing reflections.
Sofia Rojas, Participant
I heard about MTLA through an email sent to my mother, and she thought I would be interested. I didn’t have any hesitations about signing up because it was within my passion for business. Another benefit of why I signed up was the fact that it was supposed to be in person, and I was looking forward to staying there for four days. However, with COVID and just like any other situation life could have thrown at us, you guys found the solution and still made the program very special and valuable to young leaders in the business community, which I was very impressed by.
I didn’t know you could learn so much from just a zoom call. It was very interactive. I thought the small groups were a fantastic idea because it gives you an opportunity to be heard and get comfortable with talking to others little by little; that way, when you’re in the main room talking to everyone would become easier. There were also so many little things that just shows the effort put into this program:
the ice breaker activities and packages with a T-shirt;
Padlets to communicate with others and share our creativity;
connection with the professors and the ability to speak to all of them;
critical thinking and reflection.
After coming out of MTLA, I felt very stimulated/knowledgeable and already a part of the Mays Business school family, even if I hadn’t already applied to their school (which I definitely am). I am also 10000x blown away and super grateful for the scholarship I won. It was definitely something that wasn’t in my conscious state of mind. I was simply myself, and I was gifted with this opportunity. MTLA is definitely a program I would recommend to anyone going into the business field. I am beyond impressed and thankful for the opportunity I took throughout those four days!
P.S. These 4 days will prepare me for wanting years at this school!
Pablo De La Garza, Participant
I heard about MTLA by looking for opportunities to participate in a summer program with the Mays School of Business.
Entering the program I was hesitant because I was worried that it would be difficult to connect with fellow participants and get an understanding of the environment of the Mays School of Business because of the program’s transition to a virtual platform. However, all of these fears were quickly alleviated after MTLA began.
The highlights of MTLA included connecting with current and former Mays students in order to learn more about the school. Another highlight was when we did activities that helped us identify our core values and the type of leaders that we are. MTLA taught me how to have an inclusive mindset as a person and how to use the inclusive mindset in leadership positions in order to become the best leader I can be.
Coming out of MTLA I feel confident in my decision to apply to the Mays Business School as my number 1 choice for higher education. I also feel confident in myself as a person, student, and leader.
Veronica Holsem ’22, Small group leader
I heard about MTLA from Dr. Nancy Hutchins in the middle of the summer. I was a part of MABS (Multicultural Association of Business Students) last year where I worked with Dr. Hutchins on various events and affairs that concerned the organization. Dr. Hutchins and I maintained communication because we connected during our time together. It was through her outreach that I became involved and in MTLA.
I was originally recruited to be a panelist during the Majors and the Organizations sessions, but as the start date of MTLA approached, Dr. Hutchins requested me to serve as a small group leader as well. Both of these roles were fulfilling in different ways. One of the most interesting things about MTLA was seeing the week through a different set of eyes as I switched roles multiple times. It was through these different experiences that I found MTLA to be an incredible opportunity for growth in myself in different ways.
I was immensely hesitant about participating in MTLA. I was added to the team only a few days before the start date and I was concerned about my ability to effectively serve in the roles that were being asked of me. I felt as if I had to “play catch up” the week before the start date so that I would not disappoint anybody. However, as the first day of MTLA approached, I asked questions, created a plan for speaking parts, and dug through the team drive to ensure that I knew what was expected of me. After the first day passed, I was fully confident in my ability to be a successful small group leader and panelist.
The experience I had was one of growth. While the experience was partially one of personal growth, the more important one was growth through the students that I worked with during the MTLA program. At the start of the week, the students were apprehensive to participate in the activities and discussion but by the end of the week, they were direct messaging each other and asking speakers in-depth questions about Mays and using the information to make an informed decision about their future.
Now, after MTLA, I feel valuable as a representative of Mays and influential as a peer advisor coming out of MTLA. Serving as a small group leader gave me the opportunity to represent Mays Business School and communicate with potential students all the various ways that Mays can add value to their college experience. For example, in the mornings we had break-out time with our small group where I had several minutes to speak on my personal experience at Mays. After these sessions, my small group told me that it was those particular moments where they found the most value when it came to learning about Mays because hearing about an actual student’s stories are influential to their decision to come to Mays.
I received my undergrad in AgriBusiness from Texas A&M and then went on to work at MEI Technologies (then is was Muniz Engineering). My father founded MEIT in 1992, I began working there in 2001. Over the next ten years, I worked in various corporate departments and had taken on leadership roles within the company. We began succession planning for MEIT and I was interested in additional formal education (MBA) to help prepare me for my next roles within the company as an executive and an owner. I attended an Aggie 100 lunch with my father who was receiving an award, and Ricky Griffin happened to be a guest at our table. He was talking about the Executive MBA (EMBA) program and the new location at City Centre. I applied to the program and found it to be competitive with other programs and very convenient in terms of location and my work schedule.
After graduating in 2014, I had an opportunity to take an idea developed at MEIT and launch a new business providing testing in the harsh environment of space as a service. In 2015 I founded Alpha Space Test and Research Alliance, and in 2018 we launched a testing platform that is permanently attached to the International Space Station. We privately own the facility, known as MISSE, and offer government agencies, academia, private companies, and now individuals access to the low earth orbit space environment. We are part of a small group of companies offering commercial services in space and at the forefront of developing a new space economy.
My EMBA prepared me for the launch (literally) of this new company not only through the academics, but also set a cadence of hard work and efficiency for me. I made great relationships and connections, and have gone on to participate and serve in other organizations as a direct result of the network I built during my time in the EMBA program.
Mays: How did the idea about sending the EMBA Class XX Coin come to gain traction?
SM: I was meeting with Julie [Orzabal, Director, Texas A&M Executive MBA Program] and had expressed an interest in staying engaged with the EMBA program. We were chatting about the Class XX graduating and their program coming to an end. I shared with her that I sent my husband’s Aggie ring into space, and I commented to her how cool it would be to send their class coin, which typically travels around the world with students, on the ultimate trip into space. I committed to sponsor that trip for the Class XX coin, and Julie let me announce it to the class via Zoom on their last program day.
Mays: Can you detail exactly what will happen, as planned, for the EMBA Class XX Coin?
SM: The EMBA Class XX coin was delivered to our headquarters in Houston. It will be put into our vacuum chamber and the pressure will reduced to 10-6 torr (0.000000001 atmosphere) and the temperature will be raised to 60oC (140oF). This removes contaminants and particulates from the coin and prepares it for space flight. It is then moved into our 10K clean room, where our engineers integrate the coin into a MISSE carrier along with other experiments bound for the space station. Our carrier is packed and delivered to NASA Johnson Space Center, then shipped along with all the other cargo manifested on our flight to the International Space Station. NASA will ship the cargo to the launch site, either Florida for a SpaceX launch, or Virginia for a Northrup Grumman launch, and it will be packed for launch.
It will launch in spring 2021, where the coin will experience acceleration forces of about 3X to 4X gravity. Once docked to the ISS, the astronaut crew will unpack our carrier from the cargo. An astronaut attaches our carrier, containing the Class XX coin, to the MISSE transfer tray and send them through the airlock into space attached to the ISS robotic arm. The robotic arm and other robotic tools plug our carrier into the MISSE facility, which we will then control from our operations center here in Houston. The Class XX coin will be exposed to the harsh environment of space, including extreme temperature changes that can range from -40oC to 60oC (-40oF to 140oF), while it orbits the Earth approximately 16 times per day. At this point, the coin is traveling almost 5 miles per second and is about 240 miles above the Earth. We expect it to stay for about 6 months totaling over 75,000,000 miles on its trip in space.
At the end of this mission, the carrier is returned into the habitable portion of the space station by the robotic arm and the transfer tray. The astronauts load it, along with other cargo, for a ride back to Earth on the SpaceX Dragon capsule. Once retrieved by NASA, the carrier is returned to our office in Houston, where our engineers de-integrate and unpack the carriers. At that time, the coin will be returned to Class XX and happy hour to follow!
Mays: What’s next after the EMBA Class XX Coin?
SM: In 2019, we were the first company to sign a reimbursable Space Act Agreement with NASA to allow us to purchase resources from NASA (launch, astronaut time, etc) to send commercial items to the International Space Station. This allows us to open space access to private individuals, not just researchers, for personal use. In 2021, we will be selling space for Aggie Rings and other personal mementos to fly in one of our carriers just like the Class XX coin. For about the price of an airline ticket for international travel, an Aggie ring can complete a mission to the space station and return to its owner.
Mays: Why is this special and important to you – and why you think it’ll be special for others?
SM: Sending an item into the space environment and having it returned is such a unique experience that has been limited to very select scientists. We have the opportunity to enable that experience for private companies, organizations, and individuals on a limited basis for the first time in the history of space exploration. I think it’s amazing that one could send their Aggie Ring, which connects Aggies instantly and represents Aggie values, on a unique mission into space. The eagle on the ring symbolizes agility, power, and the ability to reach great heights, and what better way to celebrate that than by sending it beyond the sky?
Explore Stephanie Murphy and Texas A&M’s MBA Programs
The COVID-19 pandemic and the widespread lockdown associated with it has been a shock to most organizations, causing leaders to adapt to the impacts of sudden changes to the way they do business with external stakeholders (e.g., customers) as well as how they manage their workforce. As we have seen, the severity of this shock has created immense challenges for even the most stable and well-resourced firms. For businesses that are resource constrained or that operate in unstable environments, which includes most entrepreneurial firms and small businesses, this unforeseen shock may pose an existential threat to their ability to stay in business.
The enormous amount of information that is being disseminated concerning the situation, much of which is contradictory, has only compounded the effect of the pandemic and lockdown on leaders’ abilities to chart a course through this crisis. At the same time, there is much more unknown than known about COVID-19. This creates a state of affairs in which there is too much data for leaders to digest, and in spite of this information overload, there is also more uncertainty about the future than most leaders have ever faced. Again, even CEOs of large organizations, who have entire teams of advisors, have admitted that they do not know how the next two to three years will unfold. For entrepreneurs and small business owners, trying to balance the wave of data that this crisis is generating and plot a path forward into the murky future can be particularly overwhelming and depleting.
Fortunately for many entrepreneurs and small business owners, they are not alone in their struggle to respond to the pandemic and the lockdown. Although it is common to portray small and entrepreneurial ventures as being led by a lone individual at the top of the organization the reality is that the majority of these firms are helmed by a team. In my research on new venture teams, I define these people as “the group of individuals that is chiefly responsible for the strategic decision making and ongoing operations of a new venture.” While this definition focuses on firms in the early stages of the entrepreneurial process, companies at all stages of development tend to have some form of top management team that collectively guides the organization.
The distinction between the lone entrepreneur and a venture team is important. Research has shown that teams have advantages over individuals when it comes to decision making. Teams can gather more information, offer more perspectives, and develop a greater number of approaches, often leading to more creative and effective solutions than those generated by individual decision-makers. Another advantage of team-based decision making involves what happens after the decision is made. Specifically, rather than a single leader having to explain to employees why the decision was made and trying to get them to buy into that course of action when the decision is made by a top management team, the result is a group of leaders who had a say in the decision process and therefore feel committed to communicating and executing the decision.
That’s not to say that team-based leadership is all roses. As anyone who has suffered through a strategic offsite can attest, group-based decision making is far slower than having a single leader call the shots. Moreover, just because the group setting allows all team members to contribute does not mean that they necessarily will. Introverted members may be reluctant to voice their insights, and extroverts may dominate discussions even if they are not the experts on a given topic. Stalemates in which group members cannot come to agreement and groupthink in which teammates fail to critique proposed courses of action can also erase the potential benefits of team-based leadership.
For leaders seeking to take advantage of the power of teams to help navigate their venture through these uncharted waters, the question that arises is how to maximize the benefits of their leadership teams while mitigating the downsides. My research suggests three components of high-functioning teams that are particularly relevant to the challenges caused by this pandemic.
1. A climate of psychological safety.
Over time, organizations develop a system of shared values and beliefs that guide the behaviors of their employees; we call this organizational culture. The same thing happens within teams, only we refer to it as team climate. What is the climate of your top management team? Is that climate helping or hindering your ability to lead in this time of crisis? Why? Odds are that your answer to those questions will involve the presence or absence of psychological safety in your team. Psychological safety refers to the extent to which team members collectively feel that they can speak up, take risks, and be creative without fear of being punished or ridiculed for doing so. Put another way, in teams with high psychological safety, team members are comfortable making themselves vulnerable to one another. A great deal of research indicates that a strong climate of psychological safety is key for high team performance, and it is not hard to understand why. Think about your current team, which is currently facing unforeseen challenges that likely require creative solutions. In developing these solutions, it is critical that all members feel comfortable sharing their unfiltered thoughts and ideas, and constructively critiquing those of others, which is what happens in teams with high psychological safety. When psychological safety is low, your team is like a racecar that is running on four of its eight cylinders, because members are holding back their boldest ideas and sharpest critiques due to fear of the consequences. Fortunately, one of the best ways to develop psychological safety in teams is for the leader to model it, and a crisis presents an opportune time for you to show some vulnerability to your team members, thereby encouraging them to do the same.
2. Healthy conflict norms.
The pressure and stress caused by the pandemic will undoubtedly lead to higher incidents of conflict within organizations and teams. All of us are just a bit more on edge than usual. Some leaders seem to feel that conflict among team members is good, or even necessary, to achieve high performance. Team conflict has been studied for decades, and the conclusion from this body of evidence is clear – most of the time, conflict hinders team functioning. To understand why it is important to consider the two main types of team conflict. Task conflict refers to disagreement among members regarding how to complete the task at hand. Relationship conflict also involves disagreement, but it emanates from interpersonal issues among team members, and typically includes tension, annoyance, and animosity. Although task conflict slows down team decision making, when it is present in small and controlled doses it can contribute to higher group performance. Relationship conflict, on the other hand, always harms team functioning and performance. The takeaway for leaders is to observe how their team handles conflict. Often, disagreements begin as task conflict and then escalate into relationship conflict. This is where leaders need to be managers and help develop norms for “healthy fighting” within their team. If those norms do not currently exist one shortcut to harness the bright side of team conflict is to publicly appoint one group member the role of assigned critic, also known as a devil’s advocate. Because this member is tasked with critiquing the rest of the team’s ideas, they can do so and in turn generate healthy task conflict without activating the interpersonal dynamics associated with relationship conflict.
3. Balance between stars and role players.
It does not take an avid sports fan to notice that oftentimes the most successful teams are not filled with star athletes, but are comprised of a mix of star performers and lesser-known “role players.” Research indicates that teams that are balanced in this way often outperform more talented teams because teamwork requires maintenance, and while not glamorous, someone has to do it. And in the face of this pandemic, this “dirty work” is more critical than ever. There is a tendency, in times of crisis, to not focus on the details as closely as usual or to let more mundane team duties pile up in the background while focusing on the immediate threat to the business. In addition, most of us are in more fragile emotional states than usual right now which can cause emotional instability within the team on a day-to-day basis. Therefore, teams that have members who are willing to roll up their sleeves and stay focused on the details, handle the mundane tasks in the midst of the crisis, and take care of the emotional needs of team members will be able to more effectively respond to the challenges that arise over the coming months and years. Put another way, in the words of New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, when it comes to critical moments, leaders should “forget high flyers” and count on their consistent performers, who he has dubbed his “dependables.” So consider your current team and ask yourself who is handling the dirty work while you and your star performers tackle the big problems? Who are your dependables? If the answer is no one then you are setting yourself up for failure, or worse yet, burnout as you try to lead and micromanage at the same time.
In considering these three elements of high functioning teams in light of this crisis, you may realize that you have deficiencies in your team. Indeed, perhaps strengthening some of the weaknesses in your top management team was on your “to-do” list even before this pandemic-induced crisis. As I described above, some of these weaknesses may be addressed by making changes to your leadership behavior. But correcting other shortcomings may require changes to the membership of your team. If that is the case, there is some good news. Economic downturns present the optimal time to recruit and select top managers. With the current economic challenges hiring may be the last thing on your mind. However, by seizing opportunities to upgrade the strength of your venture team during this time of uncertainty, you will be positioning your firm to thrive in the future, no matter which “new normal” becomes reality.
 Coyle, D. (2018). The culture code: The secrets of highly successful groups. Bantam.
 Bradley, B. H., Postlethwaite, B. E., Klotz, A. C., Hamdani, M. R., & Brown, K. G. (2012). Reaping the benefits of task conflict in teams: The critical role of team psychological safety climate. Journal of Applied Psychology, 97, 151-158.
 Bolinger, A. R., Klotz, A. C., & Leavitt, K. (2018). Contributing from inside the outer circle: The identity-based effects of noncore role incumbents on relational coordination and organizational climate. Academy of Management Review, 43(4), 680-703.
COLLEGE STATION, TX, June 29, 2020 – Texas A&M’s Executive MBA program has been named a top ten public program by The Economist, the international publication headquartered in London. The program, delivered at CityCentre Houston, is ranked the #1 public program in Texas, the #9 public program in the U.S., the #21 overall program in the U.S., and #37 overall globally.
TheEconomist survey was based on feedback from current students (classes of 2020 and 2021) and Former Students (alumni) from the classes of 2017, 2018, and 2019.
Texas A&M’s Executive MBA program received the top mark in both “Quality of Faculty” and “Student Rating of Teaching Quality” categories above the rest of the 70 international programs ranked this year. The program ranked #2 in the “Student Rating of Faculty” and “Student Rating of Content” categories, a testament to the sentiment current and former students have for the value of the program.
“I am savoring this moment knowing we have been judged by The Economist as the #9 U.S. Public Program,” said Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, Arvind Mahajan. “This ranking is a major recognition of the incredible students we have matriculate through our program. The expertise and dedication of our faculty and the hard work and perseverance of these students results in an incredible experience and transformation for each cohort. That vast change is the true output; these rankings are an outcome that measures how our students’ entire lives are improved.”
“It’s wonderful to have The Economist recognize the hard work and dedication that the Executive MBA program faculty and staff put in every semester,” said Eli Jones, Dean of Mays Business School. “Congratulations to the faculty, staff, and students that comprise this Executive MBA program and the impact each of them makes to advance the world’s prosperity. I want to specifically thank Julie Orzabal, the director of the program, who since its inception 20 years ago, has led executive leaders and gained results like these.”
Applications for the Texas A&M Executive MBA program are being accepted now for the class of 2022. For more information, visit mba.tamu.edu.
In an office park above a swanky pet store in Grapevine, Texas you’ll find the empty offices of CTRL Technologies. The desks are deserted, the 3D printers are still, and the space is eerily quiet without the constant, background hum of electronics. Taking up a large footprint in the office is a fully-operational golf simulation bay. Normally it’s teeming with activity, a place where CTRL product developers go to instantly test hardware and software updates to ensure the product is free of bugs. Now it sits blank and lifeless. CTRL, like many businesses around the world, has closed its office doors to ensure the health and safety of its staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. But just because the lights aren’t on doesn’t mean the work stops.
CTRL is 2 weeks away from officially launching its product via a highly anticipated IndieGoGo crowdsource campaign. Time is not a luxury they can afford as the team prepares for a milestone that has been 3 years in the making. The founder of CTRL, Ian Cash ’17, is a contemplative leader with a seemingly unflappable positivity. “I never thought it would be this much work” he says with a chuckle. “When you’re trying to do all of this development, and run a business, and you have 7 people to your name. That’s a lot of stuff to keep up with.”
CTRL is poised to be a major breakthrough is sports technology. Their flagship product is a first-of-its-kind bio kinetic sleeve that comfortably fits on a golfer’s arm. In 30 strokes or less the sleeve learns a player’s unique swing and then provides a hyper personalized coaching experience through the use of data science and AI. CTRL’s technology allows players to practice their game as if they were being trained by a professional coach, for a fraction of the cost. Making the game of golf more accessible to players alienated by a sport traditionally seen as cost-prohibitive. “We’re here to grow the game of golf,” said Cash.
But, what is it about the game of golf that has intoxicated Cash to the point of starting a sports technology company? According to him, it’s all about the thrill of the perfect swing. “It may not have happened to you yet but it will. You’re going to get that one perfect swing. That one swing that’s so good that you didn’t even realize you made contact. It’ll feel like butter it’s so smooth. When you can do that it’s one of the most amazing [feelings] on the planet.” Cash emphasized that every player should be seen as a unique individual, decrying the outdated practices of one-size-fits-all training programs that are common even among professional athletes and trainers. “There’s no cookie-cutter mold for humans,” said Cash. A player’s swing is as unique as their fingerprint and when you train with hyper-personalization in mind that perfect swing goes from rare anomaly to a normal part of the playing experience. “That’s why we’re so focused on consistency. We want you to have that feeling every single time. That’s 100% the reason I do this.”
The sensors in CTRL’s sleeve quickly evaluate the club face, club path, and tempo of a player’s swing in order to provide real-time insights and training recommendations. All of this consumer data could easily be sold in order to boost profit margins. However, Cash says that will never be an option for the company. “We’re never going to sell any of [your data]. From day 1 that has been important to us.” CTRL is committed to radical transparency with customers and uses strict privacy practices in order to protect consumer data. “It comes from the whole team. We really don’t like it when people use our data without our knowledge,” said Cash, “Facebook taught everyone that’s not the way it should go.”
Cash also fervently believes that CTRL should be a self-reliant company in terms of developing its technology. Many startups will outsource product development to third-party companies, but Cash said that at CTRL “we chose to do it all.” From hardware to data science and even app development, CTRL has a team of 7 employees so that all development is completely in-house. “I’m really happy we chose to do that and I think it sets us apart from our competition.” Cash has big plans for CTRL and hopes that one day the company can bring radical transparency and hyper-personalization to a number of other sports. “Golf is our first step. But as we’ve been building we’ve been focused on human motion. Down the line, we’d like to move elsewhere whether that’s volleyball, cricket, swimming, or physical therapy.”
Cash says that being the CEO of a startup is overwhelming, yet incredibly satisfying. “Every single day you get to learn and do a lot more than you ever thought you would.” Cash is an avid learner, absorbing and synthesizing every book, podcast, and webinar he can get his hands on. “That was a core thing when we built our team. Are you focused on learning? Because there’s no chance that we’re working on a problem that you’ve seen before.”
Cash has used his passion for learning to develop a fail-fast company culture built on a foundation of pre-forgiveness. “We know we’re all going to make mistakes. There’s no way around that.” said Cash, “the fastest way for us to learn and grow is to go out there and not be afraid to make mistakes. That’s core value #1 that really inspires everyone. For us, it’s never a scolding. We made a bad call, how can we improve and move forward? You don’t find a lot of places out there that encourage that.”
It’s surprising to find such a young leader who empowers his employees to take ownership of the company’s success. Even some seasoned entrepreneurs struggle to relinquish control, clinging to their titles with white-knuckled enthusiasm. But Cash repeatedly acknowledges that without his team there would be no company. “There’s no room for selfishness when everyone is making sacrifices for the common good. Everyone has really made sacrifices to be here and even more sacrifices to make sure no one left. My team has to feel like they can make choices and if they make the wrong one it’s okay.”
Cash’s passion for hyper-personalization is evident in the way he leads the company. One of the biggest lessons he’s learned as CEO is that everyone needs to be treated as an individual. “You need to find what makes someone tick. You need to understand why they do what they do and what’s on their mind. You need to truly understand them as a person. Learning your team and making sure you take the time to do so, it’ll make you so much more effective in the workplace.”
Don’t let Cash’s encouraging demeanor fool you. His journey as an entrepreneur hasn’t been all sprinkles and smooth sailing. CTRL has experienced many setbacks, pivoted more times than Cash can count, and is set to launch publicly during a global pandemic that has crushed the United States economy. But Cash won’t let these difficulties cloud his vision. “You get hit left and right and it feels like it never stops. But you don’t quit. You keep going and you’re going to get through.” A fitting message from an entrepreneur whose company is taking on industry titans such as Nike, Callaway, and Garmin. When all is said and done Cash is pursuing his dream in an industry that he loves and he tries to keep that in mind when things get difficult. “We’re working in golf. It’s the most fun you could have!”
From his leadership style as CEO to CTRL’s hyper-personalized technology, Ian Cash ’17 has built a company devoted to the individual. “We all have unique stories. This is going to sound cliché, but it’s really what I believe. Everyone is an individual with different backgrounds and thoughts and I think that should be celebrated. I think there is value in, quite literally, every person out there.” Cash is building a company that puts people before profits. A natural occurrence when a CEO wears an Aggie ring.
EDITOR’S NOTE: CTRL, formerly Alba Golf, was a client of the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship’s Business Incubator and was a prize winner at Aggie Pitch 2018. If you’re interested in supporting this Aggie startup you can follow them on Instagram or share the CTRL IndieGoGo campaign with the golf lover in your life.
About the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship
Since its inception in 1999, the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship has served as the hub of entrepreneurship for Texas A&M University. Offering more than 30 enterprising programs each year, the center engages student and non-student entrepreneurs in a variety of opportunities to enhance their entrepreneurial skills. From business plan competitions to entrepreneurship certificates to the Reynolds and Reynolds Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities, the center’s programs are touted as transformative and inspiring.
SkyStations and Interwoven Collective are 2 of the 50 student entrepreneurs that will receive a $5,000 grant to focus for 8 weeks on advancing their student startup.
SkyStations, an electric air taxi service provider, and Interwoven Collective, a transparent, ethical retail company, have been selected to participate in the LaunchPad Summer Startup Fellowship during which college students from the U.S. and Ireland will be provided additional opportunity to validate their strategies and advance their businesses. During the program, student fellows will participate in coaching sessions with LaunchPad Campus Directors as well as mentoring from Blackstone Campus Ambassadors and Techstars Entrepreneurs and Advisors. Students will also have the opportunity to hear first-hand from entrepreneurs like Allbirds Co-Founder Tim Brown, Techstars CEO and Co-Founder David Brown, CareMessage Co-Founder Cecilia Corral, and SparkCharge Co-Founder (and LaunchPad Alum) Josh Aviv during the LaunchPad Lessons Learned speaker series.
SkyStations is a member of the McFerrin Center student business incubator and has been making significant progress in its business model and supply chain. Founder Daniel De Clute-Melancon also took home an Honorable Mention award at the 2019 Raymond Ideas Challenge. His startup wants to provide innovative transportation systems for individuals living in major metroplexes.
“We are thrilled to have Daniel and Mallory representing Texas A&M in the LaunchPad Startup Fellowship program this summer. Both of these young entrepreneurs are driven to change the world and during their time at the McFerrin Center, have each made tremendous progress in developing their business venture. The experience, resources, and network now available to them through the LaunchPad Fellowship will be incredibly valuable in helping them to achieve their next milestones and get even closer to realizing their entrepreneurial dreams.” said LauraLee Hughes, Assistant Director of New Ventures at the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship.
The LaunchPad Summer Startup Fellowship was developed this spring in response to a number of current challenges facing college-aged entrepreneurs: According to recent research by Glassdoor, internship opportunities dropped 52% this summer. These opportunities are crucial to informing future young entrepreneurs about their own startup ideas and helping land traditional full-time positions after graduation. Reduced professional entry-level job opportunities and strains on family finances have also increased pressure for students to ‘earn a paycheck’, and potentially postpone or forgo taking a risk on a startup idea.
Mallory Gale, the founder of Interwoven Collective, was actively engaged with the McFerrin Center of Entrepreneurship and looked forward to taking advantage of the McFerrin Center’s Mentor Mashup events and networking opportunities during the Spring of 2020. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit her plans were suddenly derailed. When asked how it felt to be selected for the LaunchPad Summer Startup Fellowship Gale commented, “When I received my acceptance email, I immediately started crying. In the weeks prior to my acceptance I had spoken to two of my partners in Ethiopia, one leader was worried about mothers in their program starving because of the pandemic and our other partner had sent all but two of her employees home during what should have been their busiest season. Receiving a $5,000 grant means that we could provide work in the most crucial time. That means women can come in and actually have a job that day. That means businesses have more runway for payroll where every $144 is a living wage for a month. This Fellowship is not just supporting my business, but providing demand for businesses that protect some of the most vulnerable groups in Adis Ababa, Ethiopia.”
In addition to coaching and mentorship from LaunchPad Campus Directors and Blackstone Campus Ambassadors throughout the 8 weeks, students will also get the chance to participate in a Techstars Mentor Week. The LaunchPad Student Startup Fellowship will conclude July 31, 2020.
About McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship
Since its inception in 1999, the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship has served as the hub of entrepreneurship for Texas A&M University. Offering more than 30 enterprising programs each year, the center engages student and non-student entrepreneurs in a variety of opportunities to enhance their entrepreneurial skills. The center’s programs are touted as transformative and inspiring and have helped hundreds of student entrepreneurs to achieve their dreams.
About Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars
The Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars entrepreneurship network helps students succeed in entrepreneurship and in their careers. Open to all students and recent alumni in all majors, the campus-based Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars network enables participants to access mentoring, grow their network, and access the resources to accelerate the success of their business. For more information, see www.blackstonelaunchpad.org
About Blackstone Charitable Foundation
The Blackstone Charitable Foundation was founded at the time of Blackstone’s IPO in 2007 with substantial commitments from the Firm’s employees. Influenced by the enterprising heritage of the firm and its founders, The Blackstone Charitable Foundation is directing its resources and applying the intellectual capital of the firm to foster entrepreneurship in areas nationwide and globally. Through its investment expertise across several asset classes and geographies, Blackstone has a unique perspective on the global economy and a heightened understanding of how entrepreneurial activity is often the crucial catalyst in the growth of successful businesses, industries, and communities. For more information, see http://www.blackstone.com/foundation.
Techstars is the global platform for investment and innovation. Techstars founders connect with other entrepreneurs, experts, mentors, alumni, investors, community leaders, and corporations to grow their companies. Techstars operates three divisions: Techstars Mentorship-Driven Accelerator Programs, Techstars Corporate Innovation Partnerships, and Techstars Communities. Techstars accelerator portfolio includes more than 2,200 companies with a market cap of more than $26 billion. www.techstars.com.