Ann Rhoads ’85 says she considers herself lucky because she has always known her career path: Banking. She told a group of Business Honors students she worked as a teller in the summers during school, then after graduating with a finance degree she started with a training class of 12. Only three or four of them are still bankers, but she said it was valuable training that introduced her to a broad spectrum of business fields. Rhoads said her first motivation for working was to have financial security and to give back. “Now what drives me is the enjoyment of what I do and getting to do it with people I like,” she added. Throughout her career, Rhoads said, she has been fortunate to learn various skills and work with great bosses. “I look at what has happened in my 30 years and look ahead to what’s going to happen in the next 30 years, and it is exciting,” she said.

Ann Rhoads

The last 19 years, her career has been focused on the energy sector. She is currently a managing director at Houston-based BNP Paribas, covering upstream clients. Previously, she was Head of the Americas for Global Energy and Commodities at Natixis, based in New York. She has been part of several interesting deals and has lived in London and traveled to Germany, France, Iraq and Italy. She encouraged the students to be open to traveling for their jobs. Ashley Shinpaugh ’14, a fifth-year Business Honors and PPA student, said she learned several important business lessons from Rhoads. “First, the importance of people in a business environment is essential because of the impact they can have on the success or failure of your business,” she said. “I also learned that even though performed at high rates, mergers and acquisitions rarely result in a good business transaction. Lastly, I took away her own valuable lesson of stepping outside your comfort zone in order to push yourself to the next level. Overall, it was an excellent presentation.” Neil Rabroker ’15, a senior Business Honors and accounting major, said Rhoads delivered “a highly informational presentation of life as a professional in investment banking and what it takes to succeed in any way of life.” He recalled her description of her at BNP Paribas and at a firm in London, and then on the importance of M&A activities and how people love to do it even though they have a reputation of being unsuccessful. “Personally, Mrs. Rhoads spoke on how as a young professional having the ability to think and push yourself out of your comfort zone will lead you to a life of success.” ABOUT MAYS BUSINESS SCHOOL Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,900 undergraduate, master’s 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 undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.

Catagories: Business Honors, Executive Speakers, Mays Business

16891476217_bfe02d7a4e_k Keep an open mind on your career journey. That’s just one piece of advice Frito-Lay’s Laura Maxwell offered Business Honors students. She serves as the senior vice president of the Transformation Integration Office at Frito-Lay, and executive sponsor of their Women’s Inclusion Network (WIN). After Maxwell recently took time away from her busy schedule to visit with students at Mays Business School, they said they appreciated her candor and thoughts on preparing for a career after business school. Angela Lowak ’16, a junior Business Honors major, said Maxwell’s talk was the best professional development event she has attended. Lowak said it helped her make some decisions about her own career path. “I have been debating between finance and supply chain, and after listening to her I concluded supply chain was the best route for me,” she said. “Most importantly, I learned that if I make the wrong decision, it isn't the end of the world. I just need to be adaptive and eager. I also learned the importance of evaluating each year individually. In fact, I need to do a better job of focusing on the short-term goals rather than basing everything off of the long term.” Maxwell’s background includes engineering and supply chain, and now, she has transitioned into more of a business management role. Her current responsibilities include the development and leadership of all business transformation activities and she works closely with external partners to develop new strategies and manage business implementations. Maxwell’s career with parent company PepsiCo has spanned 25 years so far. Most recently she led the Supply Chain Growth and Commercialization team, where she was responsible for Product Supply, Service to Sales, Asset Strategy, Economic Development and Supply Chain capability to support Customer Growth.  She began her PepsiCo career as an Operations Resource and spent 17 years in field manufacturing roles prior to coming to Frito-Lay’s headquarters in Plano. Her previous roles include Director of Manufacturing, Senior Director Supply Chain and VP Marketing Services. Her connection to WIN as the executive sponsor is a welcome activity she says illustrates the company’s culture. “It is a great company and a fun company,” Maxwell explains.  “We make Mountain Dew and Doritos – products people know and love.” She advised the students to find an activity or area of their jobs that they enjoy and are passionate about. Maxwell lives in Plano with her husband, Marty, and two daughters, Maddy (19) and Molly (16). She has relocated several times for her work, and encouraged the students to think about whether relocation is an option in advance of being asked to move.  “When considering a job, consider whether or not you are willing to move for that company,” she said. “Have that conversation before it becomes a hard conversation.” She also advised asking questions during the interview such as, “Hypothetically, where could I be in four years?” and to understand the company’s culture as deeply as possible. Sarah Solcher ’15, a senior Business Honors and management major, said she considered Maxwell informative, candid and insightful. “She had great wisdom about navigating corporate life with personality, professionalism and passion,” she said. “She encouraged success in the traditional workforce, but also challenged us in that success may be found in taking a road less traveled.” Michael Formella ’18, a freshman Business Honors major, called Maxwell “an impressive, distinguished executive who was very professional yet casual and down-to-earth all the same.” “Her easy-going speaking style and simple presentation were straightforward and easy to obtain valuable information from, and not only just advice for business, but also for life,” he said. “In fact, Ms. Maxwell gave advice to ‘not worry so much about your first job,’ as she had a degree in engineering before joining Frito-Lay and working her way up.” He cited three pieces of advice Maxwell offered:

  • Choose one thing besides school or work that you enjoy doing and, do it;
  • Surround yourself with positive people;
  • Know that there will probably be a curveball. Plan for it.
“In life, you never know what to expect,” Formella explained, “but with these three things in mind, Ms. Maxwell explained that you will be happy and content with your professional life, and your personal life will follow suit.” ABOUT MAYS BUSINESS SCHOOL Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,900 undergraduate, master’s 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 undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.

Catagories: Executive Speakers, Mays Business

Mike Shaw ’68

Mike Shaw ’68 has parlayed his motto - “When the sun comes up, I'm up” – to achieve financial and personal success in the auto industry. He owns and operates six car dealerships in three states, and he has garnered numerous awards, including TIME Magazine’s national “Dealer of the Year” in 2012 – which he called the Heisman Trophy of car dealers – and Automotive News’ “Dealer of Distinction” in 2013. Shaw shared business tactics and stories when he spoke to Business Honors students at Mays Business School. He said he learned his work ethic at Texas A&M University - in the Corps of Cadets and with jobs selling donuts in dorms, selling newspaper subscriptions and running a pizza parlor. For the first 10 years of his career, he worked 12 to 15 hours a day. His first dealership failed and he said he “lost everything except my ethics.” He repaid his debts and kept working to build his empire, paying cash for every dealership with no guarantees or cross collateralization. “Spoken like a true entrepreneur, his ‘never give up’ attitude has translated into both financial and personal success,” observed Erika Arthur ’15, a senior Business Honors and accounting major who was at the breakfast meeting. “However, his success did not come without valuable lessons learned. These lessons highlighted the value of business ethics and doing the right thing, maintaining a consistent business philosophy and appreciating the benefit of human resource differentiation. Both new and seasoned Business Honor students can apply Shaw's wisdom as we move about our respective pursuits in life.” Shaw said he runs his business similarly to a football team. “It’s about business and process. We map out our strategies, then go execute them,” he said. “If you give me a good attitude, enthusiasm and hard work, you’ll have a place on my team. And sometimes a player doesn’t work out and you need a quarterback change.” Alin Piranian ’16, a junior Business Honors and finance major, said Shaw’s presentation was “less abstract and cheesy than what most people say about work-life balance.” Piranian said Shaw’s advice “was more realistic, which is more applicable.” “Mr. Shaw claimed that when it came to work, the more hours he put in the ‘luckier’ he got,” Piranian said. “He mentioned that in whatever field you're in, the number one thing is people. When it came to family and work-life balance, Mr. Shaw claimed that some things would have to be sacrificed, and to him it was his hobbies.” Shaw said he maintained strong family ties because he made it a priority. He ate dinner at home every night, then returned to work or worked from home. “I made every family conference, soccer games – everything. But I didn’t golf or go hunting or things like that,” he said. “I was at home or at work. I lived my priorities.” ABOUT MAYS BUSINESS SCHOOL Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,600 undergraduate, master’s 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 undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.

Catagories: Executive Speakers

[cycloneslider id="zale-lecture-series"] From the stockroom to the boardroom, Blake Nordstrom has spent nearly his entire life devoted to the success of his family’s 115-year-old, Seattle-based business. On March 11, the first-time visitor to Aggieland presented the 2015 keynote at the M.B. Zale Visionary Merchant Lecture Series, honoring innovation and the advancement of retail in the name of the M.B. and Edna Zale Foundation and hosted by the Center for Retailing Studies (CRS). Venkatesh Shankar, the CRS’ research director, led a question-and-answer session in which Nordstrom detailed the company’s keys to success, promise and outlook for growth, and career advice for a full house in Mays Business School’s Ray Auditorium. Since 1901, the Fortune 500 Company has set its sights on being a forward-thinking retail business and has received numerous awards and recognition for its contributions to the industry. However, it wasn’t until the 1950s that Nordstrom, Inc. expanded beyond shoe sales and began the fast track toward its current position as a leader in fashionable apparel. In 2014, Nordstrom named Texas A&M University a core partner school for recruitment in stores, headquarters roles and increasingly tech-savvy hires. Nordstrom said he was attracted to visit Texas A&M by its sense of community, reputation and “the key ingredient for our business [of] people – talent.” When he spoke, Nordstrom quickly dove into sharing the company’s business strategy by emphasizing the importance of paying attention to customers. “We live in an age where we have immediate access to things, especially at our fingertips, concerning fashion, product, price and availability,” he said. Four-legged chair Nordstrom provided an illustration of a four-legged chair to explain the company’s composition, which has created a launch pad for success and growth. He identified:

  1. 1. Full-line Nordstrom stores: Posting $7.7 billion in sales, Nordstrom’s brick-and-mortar sites make up 60 percent of the business. Although there is a large investment nationwide, the company has experienced multiple challenges from housing their stores in mall-based environments.
  2. eCommerce and online sales: This is the fastest-growing area of business for the company.
  3. Nordstrom Rack stores: Attracting the younger, aspirational generation, the Rack is an expanding channel for Nordstrom. The off-price model targets an entirely new demographic and method to gaining new customers and paving way for new merchandising in full-line stores.
  4. On-line off-price: As Nordstrom said, it’s all about acquisition “in the name of speed.” By acquiring flash sale site HauteLook in 2011, the company can compete with Amazon, offering dynamic price strategy online, increasing momentum and sales, something that cannot be done quickly in-store.
The “multi-channel” chair, combined with Nordstrom’s exceptional and unique approach to customer service, creates a seamless environment for the company that cannot be replicated. When companies follow the inverted pyramid and place the customer on top and senior executives on the bottom, “When we think about what [they] value the most, it gives us the most clarity of how we should focus our time, energy and money where the business is going,” Nordstrom said. Challenges faced Death of the mall As Nordstrom mentioned, malls pose a unique challenge but also provide opportunity for looking outside the confinements of being in-store. With the increase in ecommerce, retailers, including Nordstrom, are sensitive to a third-year decline in foot traffic in malls across America. The company has had to identify, expand and take more risks, because “if you don’t take [them], you just add age to yourself as a retailer.” Amazon.com Although Amazon was identified as one of the top competitors for the company, Nordstrom was quick to commend the online giant as a leader in expedited decision making and “laser focus on the customer,” even when it means taking a financial loss. Especially in Seattle, the two compete for jobs, talent and square feet. Amazon also has infinitely more fulfillment centers than Nordstrom, coming in at around 50 versus Nordstrom’s two, with an additional three on the way. People culture Nordstrom uses the saying “from service to sales,” because customer-based service influences every aspect that makes the company run successfully, including board members and stakeholders. The company is working on a number of ways to cater to different audiences and customize service. According to Nordstrom, “If someone wants to spend an hour [in our stores], great, we should be able to do that. But, if they want to get in and get out in five minutes, that’s good service too.” He also emphasized the importance of his 60,000 team members, saying he hopes each person comes to work highly motivated and knowing they are making a tremendous impact as the face of the company. This is also true of how the family operates the business. “We have a team approach,” he said, “Everyone leaves our meetings on the same page and because we all work together, our outcome is richer.” In fact, Nordstrom would rather be invisible as to not detract from the company’s mission of people, not person, first. Maintaining a company culture of treating everyone with value and importance remains at the forefront of Nordstrom, Inc. Words of wisdom As a father of two, Nordstrom understands the stresses of transitioning from higher education to the job market. With anywhere from five to eight career changes in a lifetime, he said, it’s important to shift your focus early on to your “experiences [and] how you are in control of the few things you actually own, which are your character, reputation and integrity.” Instead, he advised, ask yourself how those traits can help you open doors. He also mentioned the importance of having a “truth teller” or mentor with whom you can be open and honest, even in your failures. Often, the biggest learning moments occur during the worst situations and it’s essential for you to be able to put it all into perspective. Having someone else to talk things through can help you do that. Goal setting During the final portion of the lecture, Nordstrom touched upon the company’s expansion into Canada and plans for future growth across the United States. Nordstrom has set some high goals in the next several years, including a goal of $20 billion in sales by 2020 and a new store in New York, opening in late 2018. The 300,000-square-foot store will span seven floors and employ more than 2,000 team members. It will be located in the second-highest building in the city and will overlook Central Park and Columbus Circle. Nordstrom added, “We don’t really need more stores, but instead need to expand and improve on what we are currently doing.” ABOUT MAYS BUSINESS SCHOOL Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,600 undergraduate, master’s 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 undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.

Catagories: Centers, Executive Speakers

Mark Alfieri Mark Alfieri’s early roots as a bar owner taught him about more than how to keep the inventory stocked. Serving a varied audience and having a flat management style based on transparency are habits that have served him well. He bought a bar on Harvey Road in College Station after his sophomore year at Texas A&M University when he was 19 and the drinking age was 18. “I hired a lot of students and the bar was highly successful,” he said. “It was the bar, and it was fun, but I had no business owning my own company. I was too young and inexperienced. It taught me a lot – including the fact that I didn’t want to do that for a career.” Alfieri, a 1983 marketing graduate from Texas A&M, recounted his career to a group of Mays Business Honors students recently. “You’ve got to set your goals and make your plan, then follow that plan all the way through,” he advised them. “You need hard work, patience and most importantly, dedication.” Alfieri started working for ALMI, a Dallas-based company that bought and sold upscale apartment complexes. That move set the tone for more than 20 years in the apartment industry, including eight years of building his company since its inception. Prior to joining Behringer as chief operating officer, Alfieri operated as senior VP for AMLI Residential from 1998 to May 2006. During that time he served on the board of directors for the National Multi Housing Council and was recognized as “Executive of the Year” in the 2011 edition of Multifamily Executive magazine. In 2014, Behringer Harvard Residential became Monogram Residential Trust, and Alfieri was appointed CEO and a member of the Board of Directors. The company is a $4 billion Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) that was listed on the New York Stock Exchange this year after being a publicly registered non-traded REIT for most of its life cycle. He described to the students some of the advantages of taking a company public, such as creating access to capital and liquidity for the company’s 49,000 shareholders. “Stock is a currency that can be used to acquire other companies,” he said. “And when you’re a public company, everything is public. You tell people what your strategy is, what your plan is and become fully transparent for the benefit of shareholders.” Alfieri became animated as he described the “road show” he went on to tell potential investors about his company. “It was a wild and woolly two weeks, and an experience I’ll never forget,” he said. He then recalled getting to ring the bell at the New York Stock Exchange on his company’s listing date - what he called “the epitome of capitalism” and “the coolest thing ever.” Alfieri is a licensed Real Estate Broker in Texas and served on the board of directors of the National Multi Housing Council from 2002 to 2015. In 2011, he was honored as Executive of the Year by Multifamily Executive magazine. The students who met with Alfieri said they learned a lot from him. “Having the opportunity to meet and interact with Mr. Alfieri was incredible,” said Nicholas Davis, a business honors and finance major. “He was extremely personable and made it into a relaxed environment. It is not every day to be able to listen firsthand how a CEO processes different events and executes taking a company public.” Business Honors sophomore Margaret Hartman said she enjoyed hearing about Alfieri’s career path. “His success story of how he set the goal for himself to run a publicly traded company and achieved that goal is inspiring,” she said. ABOUT MAYS BUSINESS SCHOOL Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,600 undergraduate, master’s 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 undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.

Catagories: Executive Speakers

15746800769_6a8aa1522d_zIn a series of presentations to Mays undergraduate and graduate students on Nov. 24, General Josue “Joe” Robles captivated his audiences by advising them to “never graduate.” Robles elaborated on this message by emphasizing the importance of lifelong learning in building a successful career and cultivating an engaged workforce. As president and CEO of USAA and a retired U.S. Army officer who served on numerous active duty posts as well as director of the Army budget and commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division (the Big Red One), Robles knows a thing or two about professional development and leadership. He shared a number of insights gleaned from his 28-year military career and his experience leading one of the world’s most successful diversified financial services firms. In an intimate roundtable discussion over lunch, Robles offered advice to Business Honors students as they prepare to graduate, apply for jobs and begin their professional careers. “You need to know yourself, your preferences and tendencies,” he said. “How are you different from other job candidates? What do you bring to the table that is truly unique?” Robles also stressed to the students the importance of following their passion, citing the example of one of his sons, who has recently embarked upon a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences in hopes of discovering a natural, non-chemical cure for cancer. He noted that internships provide students with a great opportunity to “test the waters” to see if the organization—namely its mission and core values—along with the work itself will hold their interest over the long haul. Even as students graduate and begin a new chapter in their lives, Robles stated that “never graduating” is the most important factor in building a successful career. “You have to be committed to learning new skills and acquiring more knowledge throughout your life,” he said. “That will be the key to enjoying a satisfying career and continuously delivering value to your employer.” When asked about the differences between leading in the military and leading in the civilian world, Robles commented on some of the changing generational attitudes today. “When I was coming up through the military ranks, leaders gave orders and expected them to be followed,” he said. Commanders, he noted, didn’t have to focus as much on their “softer” communications skills or provide explanations about why an order was being given. “The workplace today has become more collaborative and more team-oriented. The younger employees want to know the ‘why’ behind leaders’ decisions. So to cultivate an engaged workforce—where employees understand, accept and embody your mission and core values through their customer interactions—leaders must commit much more of their time to communicating with employees.” Robles delved into his leadership philosophy during his afternoon presentation to a group of Full-Time MBA students. As a backdrop for this discussion, he noted the three mandates given to him by the USAA Board of Directors when he took over as president and CEO of the company in December 2007. “The great recession had just begun,” he said, “so the Board made it clear that I could not let the company sink like so many other companies in the U.S. and abroad. But just as important, they wanted me to improve the morale of the troops and reconnect the company with the communities in which we operated.” One of his first initiatives was to implement a formal leadership development program ultimately focused on improving overall employee engagement. “I knew from experience that if you take care of your employees, they will take care of you,” he said. USAA’s enviable 16-percent attrition rate for its contact center employees (compared to an industry average of about 35 percent) speaks to the success of the company’s efforts in this area. Robles also knew he needed to create a safe and open environment in which employees felt comfortable sharing bad news as well as good news with their managers and the USAA leadership team. To engender that kind of trust, he increased his communications with employees through casual “walk around” conversations as well as small group meetings. Robles also noted that most big mistakes in companies are the result of breakdowns in character, so he redoubled USAA’s efforts to inculcate its core values in all employees. “We emphasized that taking care of our members (USAA’s customers) was more important than focusing on our profitability,” he said. “Acting in the best interest of our members has always served as a guiding principle for everything we do.” When asked by a student about the greatest hurdle facing USAA and other companies in the coming years, Robles stated unequivocally that leaders’ ability to manage the people equation represents the biggest challenge. “In a global marketplace where your workforce is becoming increasingly diverse along gender, racial, cultural and generational lines, the ability to attract, train and retain talent will spell the difference between success and failure,” he said. “General Robles stated that in order to build a successful company or become a successful leader in the business world, you must have strong core values and professional ethics,” said Business Honors student Michael Formella ’18. “But even after you attain success, he made it clear that you must never be satisfied. The company, along with its leaders, must always challenge themselves and their employees to learn more every day.”  ABOUT MAYS BUSINESS SCHOOL Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,600 undergraduate, master’s 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 undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.    

Catagories: Executive Speakers

Jordan Southwest Airlines Executive Vice President Robert Jordan went straight for the heart when he revealed the story behind the company’s brand refresh. He showed a video of employees sharing stories about how they had accommodated and interacted with their customers, from saving a lost teddy bear to keeping a military family together as long as possible before the husband/father was deployed. “Our employees’ mission every day transcends their daily duties,” said Jordan, who is Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer, overseeing marketing, advertising, network planning, revenue management, and the call centers. “It’s about creating moments that are important to our customers: $20 too high or 20 minutes too late and that opportunity is gone. What is really wonderful about Southwest is that the caring is real. It’s inculcated in our employees.” Jordan is also president of AirTran Airways, which Southwest acquired in May 2011. The AirTran acquisition added about 20 percent to the size of the company, and the integration will be fully complete this December. Jordan said that despite being the largest domestic carrier in terms of passengers boarded, and the second-largest in the world, having a large and loyal fan base, and having unique customer-friendly policies like no bag fees and no change fees, there had been worry that the brand had lost a bit of its edge as a maverick, and that the visual identity had not kept pace as the brand had evolved. “Compared to just five years ago, Southwest now offers international service, onboard satellite-based wifi, free live TV, and free streaming music in partnership with Beats Music.” As part of the refresh, the company decided to emphasize the core values that have made it so successful since it started in 1971, the unique connection their employees have with their customers. The new tagline, “without a Heart, it’s just a machine,” does just that. The centerpiece of the visual campaign, a tricolored heart with silver accents, is on the belly and at the door of every plane. Jordan said the airlines’ brand refresh was meant to build on the company’s proud history, not run from it. “The new branding is loyal to our past, but expresses the company we have become, and our future.” While at Mays, Jordan spoke with groups of Business Honors undergraduates and MBA students. His presentation to the MBA students was informational, but all the students enjoyed the informal setting of the roundtable discussions. Jordan boasted about the students’ accomplishments already – getting into Texas A&M University and Mays. “This is a very elite group of people,” he said. “It’s fun to see what a great group of leaders we have coming up.” He told the students to always remember someone might be watching how they work. He said he has not applied for any job promotions. Instead, he was approached about every one of them. He shared some pointers with the students:

  • Work hard and be ready for whatever comes up.
  • Try to work with a company that is great to work with, and where you enjoy working.
  • Realize there is a lot more to life than work. Have balance.
Mays undergraduate Angela Lowak commented afterward on Jordan’s easygoing, friendly demeanor. “My biggest take away from this professional development event is the importance of sticking to what your company is known for despite potential revenue and also the effectiveness of efficiency to create revenue,” she said. “Mr. Jordan also was a good example of a humble and well-balanced leader.” Alan Clayton called the interaction with Jordan “one of the most interesting encounters of my semester.” He said: “He had many interesting insights regarding how Southwest has made an effort to distinguish itself as the most successful airline in the world. The way he spoke about the remarkable firm made us question, ‘Well, why doesn't every airline do the same thing?’ However, at a closer glance, it's clear the amount of conflicting balls the C-Suite has to juggle - such as low fares, low costs, high efficiencies and high wages - is incredibly difficult and requires a uniquely effective team.” ABOUT MAYS BUSINESS SCHOOL Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,600 undergraduate, master’s 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 undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.    

Catagories: Executive Speakers

An idea to preserve fresh food propelled a team of five freshmen from Startup Aggieland's Startup Living Learning Community to be named one of 21 finalists for the inaugural Food Challenge Prize. The competition was sponsored by the Food Lab at the University of Texas. Team members from Mays include Berryman Tolder, Hunter Pearson, Price Burnett and Felipe Estrada. More than 120 registrants of all experience levels and from a wide range of backgrounds entered the competition, which encourages innovations of all types in the global food system. Judges from the Food Lab's advisory committee selected the finalists, who will continue to work with industry mentors for around 13 weeks before the Food Challenge Showcase in February 14, 2015. Over $30,000 will be awarded in prize money. Animal science major McCalley Cunninham described the team's idea, "Go Fresh!" products, which seeks to preserve food during transport in order to reduce food waste. "Go Fresh!"" products contain an OYA gene that absorbs ethanol to prevent deterioration of produce, she said. We are losing $165 billion a year by throwing away wasted food. If we can resolve this issue, then we can help with the challenge of feeding the world in the next 50 years." The "Go Fresh" team is doing a patent search and, if the idea is not patented already, will go forward with provisional patent preparation. For more information on the competition, visit http://utfoodlab.com/2014-ut-food-lab-challenge/. ABOUT MAYS BUSINESS SCHOOL Texas A&M University's Mays Business School educates more than 5,600 undergraduate, master's 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 undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.

Catagories: Executive Speakers

15582260520_b359db034c_z Litigation is constant in today's business environment. The question seems to be not whether a company will be sued, but when. However, Blaine Edwards '83 told Business Honors students that companies are often able to avoid the hassle and costs of lawsuits. "You can deal with issues and problems before they turn into litigation," he said. "I try to spot issues and help the company up front." Edwards is assistant general counsel for global litigation at Houston-based Superior Energy Services, Inc., an international oil and gas company. In this role, he is responsible for supervising the group of attorneys and paralegals at Superior Energy that handles major job problems, accident investigations and litigation in the United States and around the world. He holds a bachelor's degree in accounting and finance from Texas A&M University and a J.D. from St. Mary's University School of Law. Prior to joining Superior Energy, Edwards served as associate general counsel at BJ Services Company. He also has more than 17 years of experience as a trial lawyer and three years of experience as a bank officer. Edwards described himself as a "fixer," saying he spends most of his time advising company leaders how to identify what is happening in the business and what they need to do to avoid problems and litigation. "You don't want to be in the litigation business," he said. "It's expensive, time-consuming and risky." He described three major types of risks facing companies, all of which can lead to class action lawsuits: policy, procedure and people risks. To prevent lawsuits from arising from workplace accidents, Edwards said companies must make sure their employees are fit for duty. "What employees do can affect you, your company and the company's stock price," he said. A major part of Edwards' job is working to prevent future incidents. "It's important for me to take the lessons learned and be fervent in educating people about accidents to make sure it doesn't happen again," he said. Even when a company does cause an accident, Edwards said an apology can often go a long way. ""I'm sorry" are often the two best words you can say," he said. "Take responsibility by saying you're sorry and putting it right." Taking the initiative to resolve problems quickly and personally often allows companies to meet the needs of those affected by accidents without ever going to court. Edwards left the students with three pieces of advice for their professional careers:

  • Learn how to spot issues in your area
  • Come up with solutions to these issues
  • Look for risks for what you do and try to find a way to minimize them
"To be effective, you've got to be able to tell how big a problem is," he said. Edwards said he often just practices common sense. "If something doesn't seem fair, it's probably not right." ABOUT MAYS BUSINESS SCHOOL Texas A&M University's Mays Business School educates more than 5,600 undergraduate, master's 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 undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.

Catagories: Executive Speakers

Garberding Throughout his 20 years of experience in the energy industry, Michael Garberding '91 has witnessed both the growth and decline of major energy companies. We are in the midst of what he calls an "energy renaissance," and he spoke with a group of Business Honors students about implications for companies in this industry. Garberding is executive vice president and chief financial officer of EnLink Midstream, an integrated midstream company formed in 2014 by combining the midstream assets of Devon Energy and Crosstex Energy. Before joining Crosstex in 2008, Garberding held positions at TXU, Enron and Arthur Andersen LLP. He holds a bachelor's degree in accounting from Texas A&M and an MBA from the University of Michigan. During his time at TXU, he helped navigate the business after it became deregulated and subsequently underwent a major restructuring. After joining Crosstex, he saw the business face challenges associated with two hurricanes and the collapse of the financial market. According to Garberding, successful companies are able to survive these types of challenges by managing three things: company culture, risk and the balance sheet. Unfortunately, many companies, such as Enron, have failed because of their inability to manage these aspects of the business. "The opportunity to interact with a C-Level executive for a major oil company was incredible," said Nicholas Davis '16. "Mr. Garberding was very open to any questions, and his experience at Enron before its collapse was particularly interesting to me." Garberding focused especially on the importance of creating a positive and supportive company culture. He emphasized the need for employees to be able to work together to get things done, noting that he works with other people at least 50 percent of the time. "The people and culture you see in your career is so important," said Garberding. "If you have a bad culture, you lose." "Mr. Garberding was a very interesting speaker," said Ian Wood '17. "He stressed that business culture is key and that people are the most important aspect in every company." Garberding said he has been able to use his personal connections to find new career opportunities, even when the market was performing poorly. "All my jobs have come through relationships," he said. He described EnLink's five relationship principles:

  • Care: Showing appreciation for others and caring about their success
  • Know: Spending time with others and understanding their needs
  • Communicate: Taking advantage of every opportunity to interact with others
  • Plan: Have a purpose for every interaction. Every interaction is an opportunity.
  • Deliver: Doing what you say you will do, going the extra mile and fixing your mistakes
Garberding also outlined the company's "Keys to Success," including a foundation built on relationships and a focus on safety, financials, customer service, engineering /operations and commercial development. "These are things you have to have to be successful before you even talk about the business," he said. "I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Mr. Garberding talk about his experiences and takeaways from his professional life and career," said Drew Faith '15. "He furthered my beliefs about the importance of relationship building in regards to creating both a rewarding career and a successful company." Lastly, Garberding encouraged the students to take advantage of any and all opportunities even when situations are tough. "The best opportunities arise when things are bad," he said. ABOUT MAYS BUSINESS SCHOOL Texas A&M University's Mays Business School educates more than 5,600 undergraduate, master's and doctoral students in accounting, finance, management, management informaton systems, marketing and supply chain management. Mays consistently ranks among the top public business schools in the country for its undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.

Catagories: Executive Speakers