Bruce '83 and Kris '81 Petersen
Bruce ’83 and Kris ’81 Petersen

Since graduating from Texas A&M in the early 1980s, Kris ’81 and Bruce ’83 Petersen have been involved in the life of their alma mater in a variety of ways. They met each other through the San Antonio A&M Club and have remained active in the club over the years. As Executive Managing Director of Investments at USAA Real Estate Company, Bruce has also had the opportunity to hire Mays students for internships and full-time positions, and he has served as a guest speaker for the Real Estate Department’s Friday Speaker Series on several occasions. When their two sons, Bryce ’14 and Dane ’14, were admitted to Mays Business School’s Business Honors and Business Fellows programs, the Petersens had a chance to learn more about these innovative programs.

“I am continually “pinching myself’ because the experience our sons are having at Mays is too good to be true, but true!” Kris said. “The boys have really benefitted from the smaller class sizes, the exceptional student peer group and the access to business leaders through the speakers programs and educational trips. We are truly grateful for the incredible impact these programs, and the people who lead them, have made on the lives of our sons and so many students.”

As they carefully considered how they would make their first “significant” gifts to Texas A&M, the Petersens chose to create endowments for the two programs in which their sons are enrolled. Through a $25,000 gift, the Petersens established the Kris ’81 and Bruce ’83 Petersen Business Honors Development Endowment, which provides funding support for the activities of the Business Honors Program. A second $25,000 gift created the Kris ’81 and Bruce ’83 Petersen Business Fellows Endowment, supporting programmatic expenses such as event travel, speaker fees and operational costs of the school’s Business Fellows Program. A $50,000 matching gift from Bruce’s employer, USAA, created the USAA Real Estate Company Endowed Scholarship, which will provide merit-based scholarship support to a student in the Texas A&M Real Estate Program.

“The Petersens’ generous gifts will provide important support to our students and their learning experiences,” said Mays Dean Jerry Strawser. “The fact that their commitment was driven by their sons’ experiences at Mays makes these gifts even more meaningful to our School.”

“Texas A&M has blessed our family in so many ways—both personally and professionally,” said Bruce. “To give back to these programs is really an honor.”

About Mays Business School

Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,000 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: Donors Corner, Former Students, Texas A&M

Sallie O. and Don H. Davis Jr. '61
Sallie O. and Don H. Davis Jr. ’61

Don Davis’ sense of Aggie pride and appreciation for the core values of Texas A&M have driven him to give back multiple times to his alma mater. Already a supporter of the Dwight Look College of Engineering and the Olsen Field renovation, Davis decided he would like to make another gift to Texas A&M — this time to Mays Business School.

Now, with the help of matching funds, Sallie and Don H. Davis Jr. ’61 are supporting undergraduate and graduate business students at Texas A&M. A $1 million endowment from Sallie and Don H. Davis Jr. ’61 will have double the impact, thanks to a matching gift of $1 million from the Center for Executive Development at Mays Business School.

The resulting $2 million Sallie O. and Don H. Davis Jr. ’61 Endowed Scholars Fund will provide scholarships and fellowships to Aggies enrolled in the undergraduate business honors program or full-time MBA program at Mays Business School.

Davis, who served as president, CEO and chairman of Rockwell Automation until his retirement in 2005, received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in business administration from Texas A&M. He currently serves on the board of directors for Illinois Tool Works, Inc. in Chicago.

“I think it’s a real honor to be a graduate of Texas A&M, and this was an appealing way for us to help other Aggies along with their education and careers,” said Davis. “The fact that I could double my gift and its potential with the help of Mays was a sound deal.”

“Don and Sallie’s most generous commitment to our School will allow us to recruit top students to our two signature programs,” said Mays Dean Jerry Strawser. “They understand the competition for top students and their endowed Scholars Fund will allow us to attract the next generation of business leaders to our programs.”

Davis said he is lucky to have spent his life doing what he loved and to have found success with it. His appreciation for the business degree he received at Texas A&M is what inspired him to choose Mays for this endowment.

“I want to afford other students the open-door opportunities that come with a business degree, so they too can appreciate what it can do for them,” said Davis. He also credits Dean Strawser and the other administrators for making Mays into the “well-recognized and reputable school of business” that it is today.

About Mays Business School

Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,000 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: Donors Corner, Former Students, Texas A&M

Robert (Bob) A. Rinn '75
Robert (Bob) A. Rinn ’75

Robert (Bob) A. Rinn ’75 knew for many years that he wanted to leave part of his estate to Texas A&M through his will. After meeting with a financial consultant, Rinn decided to make a planned gift by assigning the Texas A&M Foundation as a beneficiary of one of his life insurance policies. His gift of $267,000 established the Robert A. Rinn ’75 Energy Accounting/Tax Education Endowment. Distributions from this endowment fund will be used to support teaching, student activities and/or scholarships related to energy accounting and tax education in the Mays Business School.

“I was very fortunate as a college student,” Rinn said. “The Texas A&M Accounting Department and its professors were invaluable to me, and my parents funded my education so I graduated with no student loan debt. I hope my endowment will help future Mays accounting students acquire a comparable outstanding education and graduate without student loans.”

“We appreciate Robert’s generous support of our Accounting Department,” said Mays Dean Jerry Strawser. “Planned gifts of this nature are an important manner in which to support our School and allow us to continue to provide outstanding educational opportunities to our students.”

After graduating from Texas A&M, Rinn earned his CPA certification before embarking upon a successful 36-year accounting career at Schlumberger, a leading oil field services company. “I am humbled to be able to give back to Texas A&M and Mays Business School,” Rinn said. “And I hope my story might trigger other alumni to do the same.”

About Mays Business School

Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,000 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: Donors Corner, Former Students

Stephanie Anderson '89
Stephanie Anderson ’89

Stephanie Anderson says her grandmother’s ambition for her family to be attend and graduate from college changed the trajectory of her family; and this objective has carried on in Stephanie and her husband’s charitable mission statement to help other families change their trajectories through education.  The Dallas pair donated $60,000 to Mays Business School to create the Stephanie ’89 and Todd Anderson Family Business Honors Scholarship fund.

“We do donate to a lot of organizations, and there is a special place in my heart for the business school,” Anderson said. “Dean Strawser spent a lot of time explaining to us the need the school has to give scholarships that will enable some great kids to go to Texas A&M.” Anderson noted that she and her husband appreciate the small size of the classes in the business honors program and the quality of instruction the students receive.

“We sincerely appreciate the Andersons’ generosity,” said Mays Dean Jerry Strawser. “Their scholarship will provide opportunities and change the lives of many students at Mays for years to come.”

Anderson said her grandmother was a bobbin changer in a denim factory — a literal blue-collar worker — who was divorced in the 1940s, when single mothers were a rarity. She only had a high school education, but was determined to put her two daughters through college. “This was during a time when not many women were going to college, and my mother was enrolled in the Business Honors at the University of Georgia. She was the first in her family to complete college. That really changed the trajectory for our whole family, so I am happy to help others accomplish this.”

Anderson received her MBA from Texas A&M and was a teacher’s assistant in the finance department. “I still have lots of friends there and keep up with what is going on. It is an exciting time for Mays.” She is now managing director at AlixPartners LLP.

About Mays Business School

Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,000 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: Donors Corner, Former Students, Texas A&M

Nick Brennan and Will Sames of Aggi3D
Nick Brennan and Will Sames of Aggi3D

From shorts complete with built-in fanny pack to an affordable 3D printer, Aggies are coming up with new ideas and Texas A&M University encourages their ingenuity both through education and practice. One example is the university’s first-ever elevator pitch competition, a fun and fast-paced contest where students pitched their business startups to a panel of expert investors who judged which businesses would take home a variety of cash prizes, and a Grand Prize trip to pitch to investors in Silicon Valley.

In the business world, the term “elevator pitch” is used to describe a brief summary that explains an idea for a product, service or project in the short time it takes for an elevator ride, say 30-60 seconds.

Organized by Startup Aggieland, the university’s student-run business accelerator, the elevator pitch competition was sponsored by Silicon Valley Bank and hosted by Chris Westfall, the 2011 National Elevator Pitch Competition winner and coach for the ABC television show “Shark Tank.”

“In business, whoever tells the best story wins,” Westfall told the crowd at Rudder Theatre. Westfall, a former Hollywood stuntman, went on to describe how he made his business dreams come true by “going from the green room to the boardroom. As I changed my story, I was able to change my results.”

Special guest, former Texas A&M and NFL football player-turned-serial entrepreneur, Chris Valletta ’01, welcomed Aggie student entrepreneurs to pitch their startup ideas to a panel of experts that included high-level business executives, several of whom are former Texas A&M students.

One-by-one student teams pitched their ideas, often bringing their products on stage for display.

The grand prize-winning team was Aggi3D, founded by nuclear engineering Ph.D. candidate Will Sames and Master’s in electrical engineering student Nick Brennan. Both earned their bachelor’s degrees at Texas A&M and are working to launch their idea for an inexpensive, tabletop 3D printer that creates metal machine parts such as drill bits.

Often compared to the replicator on “Star Trek,” 3D printers are being used to create everything from working guns, musical instruments, toys and food to, maybe someday, replacement body parts. The machines work like two-dimensional printers, but instead of printing with ink, 3D printers create three-dimensional objects by layering sheets of material such as plastic or wood, or in the case of Aggi3D − metal.

Sames, who is from San Antonio, and Brennan of Shoreline, Wash., met as freshmen at Texas A&M and together took an interest in 3D printing technology. They noticed that the 3D printers available at reasonable costs to ordinary people all printed exclusively in plastic and often had quality and reliability issues.

“We came to the realization that there are no inexpensive metal printers on the market,” says Brennan. “The cheapest metal printing systems cost upwards of $500,000. When Will first suggested we try to build our own inexpensive metal 3D printer, I was a bit dubious, but as we investigated the technology further, it seemed more and more achievable.”

The team is currently working on a prototype and hopes to have a beta model ready in less than a year. “Our plan is to launch on a crowd-funding site like KickStarter with a fairly simple design and get it into the hands of hobbyists, enthusiasts and educators,” Brennan notes. “We hope to use revenue from this launch to fund the development of a much slicker, plug-and-play printer we can then use to target the mass market.”

As the grand prize winners, Sames and Brennan will be treated this summer to an expenses-paid trip to Silicon Valley, Calif., sponsored by Silicon Valley Financial Group. There they hope to further develop their business plan, set goals for product release and pitch for funding.

The first-place winner at the competition was Notequill, a software startup pitched by its CEO, computer science major Graham Leslie. Notequill is a software program that allows students to take notes, typed or handwritten, on a variety of devices and stores the information online in “the cloud” where classmates can share and contribute, and where documents, photos and files can never be lost. “We are bringing the Notequill platform to school districts to improve the ease of learning in their new “bring your own technology’ programs for students and teachers,” Leslie adds.

If you thought fanny packs were a thing of the past, senior finance major Kyler Ferris begs to differ. He placed second for his startup idea called Chutes Shorts which are shorts made out of a fast-drying, parachute-like fabric that feature an insertable, waterproof pouch to hold personal items.

And third place at the competition was awarded to university studies major Brian Lamb whose mission to provide clean water to people around the world has resulted in a not-for-profit bottled water organization called Replenish. For every bottle sold, the organization donates a water purification tablet that provides an individual with a liter of clean water. For every case sold, the organization donates a “life straw,” a portable filter that is worn like a necklace and can purify enough water to last a person three years. “Rather than donating water so that people are dependent, we give them the resources to clean the water they already have,” Lamb notes.

The winning teams, along with all the other competitors, are entrepreneurs-in-residence at Startup Aggieland, located in Texas A&M’s Research Park. Open to any Texas A&M student operating a business, with a strong business idea or who is simply curious about entrepreneurship, Startup Aggieland provides free business resources including workspace, mentoring and networking opportunities. A seed fund is available and every startup receives $24,000 in web hosting. Visit startupaggieland.tamu.edu to learn more and find out when the 2014 elevator pitch competition will occur.

Event coordinators included the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship at Mays Business School. Prior to the competition, the student teams presented their pitches to members of the Aggie 100, an organization that recognizes and celebrates the 100 fastest growing Aggie-owned or Aggie-led businesses in the world.

About Mays Business School

Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,000 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, Former Students, Students, Texas A&M

Christopher Narayanan '96
Christopher Narayanan ’96

A job as director and head of agricultural commodities research for Societe Generale touches millions of lives, but the deepest rewards Christopher Narayanan ’96 receives are the one-on-one interactions with clients based on his in-depth analysis. “There is nothing better than working to get on the level with a client where you can challenge each other and develop a better product for both of us.”

Narayanan recently described his job to a group of business honors students at Mays. He sets the house view of where his employer expects prices to go on commodities such as soybeans, corn, wheat, sugar and livestock. He creates a quarterly report that reviews each commodity, and he projects prices four quarters and five years out. To do that requires daily monitoring of news and updates from the marketplace. He says he spends up to 65 percent of his day reading and updating data, then he spends the remainder of his time talking to clients and salespeople and preparing reports. “It’s a lot of moving parts, but once you get into your systems, you just keep it going.”

Narayan received two agriculture degrees from Texas A&M University. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps before earning an MBA from the University of Texas. He worked in positions at agribusinesses, commodity brokerages, hedge funds and investment banks. And though his current job is in New York City, he says the company’s French roots are apparent. “The people in this company take coffee breaks and go to lunch together. That is reflective of the culture here.”

Narayanan cautioned the students not to get caught up in solely what models produce, because the markets and other factors change so quickly. “As you go through your classes, learn the methodology and terminology, but always remember these are guides, they aren’t absolutes,” he cautioned. “When you do get out of school, obviously you do what your boss tells you, but as you move up you have more flexibility and you draw from your experiences and do what your data and your gut tell you to do. When you graduate, your learning has just begun. Take every opportunity to advance your knowledge and skills.”

Cristina Ayala ’14, a business honors and supply chain major, said she learned a lot from Narayanan about the basics of agricultural commodities, such as who the major producers are, how the production may fluctuate and how they are traded. “He emphasized that in order to predict the price of an agricultural commodity more precisely, attention to cash markets is a must,” she explained. “Also, he emphasized how important it is to stay on top of current events, both nationally and globally – especially if you are in investment banking.”

Jordan DePuma ’14, a business honors and supply chain major, said the students benefited from Narayanan’s description of the 15 different commodities he covers, and the details of the daily activities of his job. “He also stressed the importance of keeping up with current events and being fluent in programs like Microsoft Excel.”

Narayanan told the students to prove their desire to succeed by making good grades and getting involved in activities that allow them to display their leadership skills. “Anyone who tells you grades don’t matter isn’t being honest. You are competing against the very best this country has to offer.” He also advised them to work for three to five years before pursuing an MBA, to develop their skills to analyze information quantitatively and to be geographically mobile. “If you have a chance to do an internship or job somewhere else, do it,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to leave Texas. It’s not going anywhere.”

About Mays Business School

Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,000 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, Former Students, Texas A&M

John Robison '85
John Robison ’85

John Robison ’85 has created more companies than most people have joined, and he doesn’t intend to slow down any time soon. His 25-year career entertainment content and technology has led to his current positions as chairman and CEO of Big PlayAR and PoliteView (PVtv), as well as AM2.IO (America 2.0), Hollywood Center Studios and Hollywood Movieworks /China Clicks 2, which has operations in China.

He shared some of his stories with a group of business honors students at Mays and encouraged them to be open to doing several jobs over the course of their lifetimes.

Robison learned about entrepreneurship from his mother, who supported three children after her husband died. Robison’s first business endeavor was as “the hubcap kid,” selling shiny wheel covers he found on the streets in his Houston neighborhood for $5 each. Soon, he was recruiting his friends to help him. “I had my friends out on bikes, picking up hubcaps, and all I had to do was buy them hot dogs. I was making about $100 a day in junior high basically selling trash I found on the side of the road.”

Some of Robison’s neighbors and mentors happened to be prominent business leaders including Houston Industries, BFI and Sysco Foods. During the time between junior high and the end of college, Robison learned about investing from them and invested some of his earnings in those and other stocks. By the time he was out of college, that 10 years later, those stocks had grown in value to exceed $1 million. “I didn’t have to have a job, so I took a different path, working for a mentor, Paul Meyer. But that also meant I was highly unemployable. By the time I was ready to go to work, I had to create my own jobs.”

He chose accounting and management as his majors, and as a hobby outside of school he and a few aspiring students, including Graham Weston ’86 (co-Founder of Rackspace), created The Society for Entrepreneurship and New Ventures (ENVE) and INVENT as well as Campus Entrepreneur Magazine. Robison said those organizations strengthened his ties to the business school. “We brought in experts to talk to the students, then the dean (William Mobley) offered to help us out if he could get a few minutes with these folks. It was a good partnership.”

Robison’s career has included holdings with his partners (including Bryan Cranston, John O’Hurley, Bryan Singer, Joe Sabatino and others) in multiple entertainment production companies that have produced hit TV shows, major movies and documentaries. His long-time friend, Mark Cuban (owner of Dallas Mavs), is also his partner and a co-founder of Big PlayAR.

His newest project is a concept he calls “America 2.0…there’s an app for that,” which he is doing with an eclectic group of partners including Newt Gingrich to create a marketplace to “appify” government.

During college, Robison helped initiate the tradition of waving the 12th Man towels at football games. In 1984, as they were looking for ideas that were less expensive to produce than his popular “Hornbuster” sweatshirts, he and his business partners noticed the small Corps of Cadet hand towels in his grandfather’s 1931 A&M yearbook.

Robison and a couple of fellow ENVE members thought that in addition to being easier and cheaper to produce, the towels would complement the 12th Man program Coach Jackie Sherrill had introduced with the 12th Man kick-off team. They approached a then-tiny silk screening operation known as CC Creations to make the first batch, and that company still produces them today.

Sherrill deserves much of the credit for the towels’ popularity, Robison notes, because they weren’t selling well until Sherrill agreed to wave them during the next game. The towels sold out from then on.

Robison shared with the Mays students two of his favorite lessons from his mentors. One is a line that motivates him to work a little harder: “What you do from 9-5 will make you a living…but what you do from 5 to 9 will make you wealthy.” The other is a set of questions he uses to measure his own progress, which he asks himself on his birthday each year:

  • What do you want?
  • Why do you want it?
  • When do you want it?
  • Why don’t you have it?
  • Whose fault is it?

“You have to ask those questions at each step of your life, and you have to know the answers,” he said. “You have to be honest with yourself and do whatever you need to do about it.”

About Mays Business School

Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,000 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, Former Students, Texas A&M

Michael Bolner '73
Michael Bolner ’73

Bolner’s Fiesta Spices is trying to balance culinary ventures with the proven formulas that have sustained it for almost six decades, says Michael Bolner ’73, vice president of sales and marketing.

The family-run business that started in 1955 in San Antonio focuses on a specific flavor profile — a targeted range of tastes. Fiesta’s products encompass authentic Mexican, Cajun and barbecue. “In general, you don’t want to taste the spice, you just want to enhance the product,” Bolner explained to a group of Business Honors students.

Bolner, one of seven children, works day-to-day with two brothers and their 85-year-old father. The next generation is also emerging, with two mechanical engineers keeping the equipment operating and a daughter managing the retail sales in Houston. Each weekday, all the family members who are available eat a working lunch together.

Until 1980, the company’s cash flow was seasonal — catering to cool-weather dishes such as chili and tamales. “The first product was a menudo mix. Recognizing that convenience sells, Fiesta’s first blend formulation back in 1955 was decided on by four employees making their own versions of menudo and the group picked the one that tasted the best.” The company added barbecue seasonings, spices for wild game and an array of rubs. Now, tailgating is a top trend through the fall, followed by rodeos — with their cook-offs — in late winter. “We don’t add products or packaging just for fun,” he says. “If I don’t see a clear path to money, I don’t do it.”

Bolner said his challenges include keeping the prices low, keeping the labor force staffed and bidding against other companies for a finite amount of commodities. “We are at the mercy of agriculture, the weather, hurricanes and civil unrest,” he said. “All we can do is plan ahead and keep our lines of communication open with our suppliers. There are only so many places that grow particular spices.”

Matthew Korioth ’17, a Business Honors major, said the most important thing he learned from Bolner was how items are chosen for the shelves of the stores. “As the typical consumer, the most important thing to me was always what was on the shelf at Walmart. Never did I think about the story behind the product, the buying of commodities for the production of the product, shipping the product to the store, or the marketing of the product in the store. Through this interaction, I was able to see the inner workings of a successful business and how much time and effort really goes into selling a product. This experience was extremely interesting and enlightening.”

About Mays Business School

Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,000 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, Former Students, Texas A&M

Mays Outstanding Alumni Dan Allen Hughes, Jr. '80, Tony R. Weber '84 and Randy Cain '82
Mays Outstanding Alumni Dan Allen Hughes, Jr. ’80, Tony R. Weber ’84 and Randy Cain ’82
Click for more photos

Dan Allen Hughes, Jr. ’80, Randy Cain ’82 and Tony R. Weber ’84 were recognized for their contributions to Mays in particular and to Texas A&M University in general. “As I thought of these three, one word kept coming to mind: integrity,” observed Mays Dean Jerry Strawser. “They did business well and they did business right. They are fine examples to us all.”

Kathryn Sykes ’13, a Business Honors and accounting major, said what stood out to her was how each honoree mentioned Texas A&M’s core values during his speech. “The Outstanding Alumni each mentioned how these values shaped them while in school in striving for excellence and also in their working life, through demonstrating leadership, loyalty and integrity in their careers and family lives,” she said. “I learned how Mays Business School has improved its reputation greatly within the last 30 years through the quality of its graduates, and it was motivating for me to realize how we continue to mold that reputation as we graduate and begin our careers.  I look forward to being able to give back to the school that has given me so much.”

Hughes said the Aggie Core Values and his dad’s advice still guide his choices. “I called my dad one time during my freshman year and said, “I need to drop out, get an apartment and quit messing with this Corps stuff.’ He was silent a long time, then he said, “Son, you’re an adult. You have to make decisions. If you decide to quit now, it will be easier the next time, then easier the time after that.’ So basically he told me if I quit the Corps I may be a quitter all my life. I have always thought of that when making decisions in my life.”

Cain helped blaze a trail for Texas A&M students when he started his first job at Ernst & Whinney. Now his company, renamed Ernst & Young, has a long record of recruiting and promoting Aggies. Cain credits the impact of former Dean Benton Cocanougher (dean from 1987 to 2001), accounting Department Head James Benjamin and current Dean Jerry Strawser. He said he believes in doing the right thing, no matter what everyone else is doing. “Keep doing what you’re doing and that will benefit the business world, and the world in general.”

Weber was in the inaugural class of the Fellows professional development program for A&M business students. Now he and his wife host recruiting and welcoming receptions at their home for promising students. Weber credits his father for teaching him core values from a young age, and his mother – a cheerleader in high school and college — for supporting her two boys their whole lives. “I see that kind of excitement here at the business school. We all love this school and it works because we give back to help others succeed. That brings the value of our brand up.”

Meg Maedgen ’13, a Business Honors and accounting major, said it was inspiring to be able to talk with and learn from numerous outstanding former students at the banquet. “I left with lots of hope for my future and a strong desire to continue finding my own journey, which I hope will one day lead to being able to give back to the university as these alumni do,” she said.

About Mays Business School

Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,000 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: Former Students, Texas A&M

Michael Tedder '91, CFO and founding partner of Red Gap Communications
Michael Tedder ’91, CFO and founding partner of
Red Gap Communications

An Aggie ring can open a lot of doors, but a firm handshake and good eye contact can make sure they stay open, explains Michael Tedder ’91, CFO and founding partner of Red Gap Communications. Once inside a company, an employee should be prepared to invest time in getting to know as much as possible about the company and its culture. “The ability to develop things and build relations count,” he told a group of Business Honors students recently. “On my first job, I was promoted in two years – and I haven’t really slowed down since. The key, I think, is that I am always open to learning new things.”

Tedder’s nontraditional career path has taken him from small companies to large, from privately held to public, and from improving existing processes to developing new products. He warns that accounting in the real world is not as simple as the classroom assignments given in college might indicate. “There is a big difference from doing a project in school and facing a deadline for a big transaction at work,” he says. In school, I wish I had learned more about the legal side of things, the contracts. I took a couple of legal classes, but I didn’t learn to cross-reference that with accounting. I learned that by doing it.”

Tedder says his confidence has sometimes shocked his employers. He interviewed for a position, then found out the company had hired someone from Princeton. “I told them when their Ivy League guy couldn’t do the job, they could call me. A couple of months later, they called me because that “Ivy League guy’ couldn’t do the basics, the fundamentals to bring the company from Square Zero to success. I let my work speak for itself.”

In his spare time, he is mayor of Dalworthington Gardens and plays adult-league baseball in the Arlington, Texas, area. He was elected as an alderman in 2003, then in 2006 he unseated a 20-year incumbent for the mayor’s spot after figuring out a solution to high water bills. “I figured we could raise taxes and lower water bills, and not have any impact on the residents. Then I pulled my old governmental account book off the shelf, and I kept it handy for a while.” He negotiated oil and gas contracts so the residents could get the same contacts as the city got.

Alison Savage ’17 said she learned from Tedder that interactions are key in the business world. “Though grades matter a lot on scoring a job, it is ultimately your personality and how you connect to that person that will score you a job,” she recalled. “I also learned that you have to ask questions. The more questions you ask about the job you are doing or even just about the company in general, the better businessperson you will become.”

Tedder advised the students to be assertive when they are seeking a job — to go visit companies they are interested in and to seek internships. “If companies have opportunities to check them out, or if you can make those opportunities, do it. Site visits are great. Talk to the people. Interact with them to get a real feel for the environment.”

About Mays Business School

Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,000 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, Former Students