BBA News

2/20 McCombs Executive Mentorship Dinner

Register nowMcCombs Executive Mentorship Dinner
February 20, 2014
Places limited: Sign Up Today

The McCombs BBA/MPA Alumni Advisory Board invites you to participate in the second annual McCombs Executive Mentorship Dinner. This event is an opportunity for you to join highly successful executives and McCombs alumni for dinner and conversation.

Listed below are some of the executive mentors attending this year’s event:

  • Liz Henke Yant – Retired Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers
  • Yvonne Puig – Head of Life Sciences & Healthcare, Norton Rose Fulbright
  • Admiral  Bob R. Inman – U.S. Navy (ret.); Former Director of the NSA
  • Kyle  Bradford – Managing Director, American Capital
  • Cindy  Lo – President, Owner, Event Strategist, Red Velvet Events
  • Jeremy  Smitheal – Partner, Riverside Resources  (2013 McCombs MBA Rising Star)
  • John Bober – Managing Director, GE Energy Financial Services
  • Andrew Phong Vo – Managing Director, Accenture
  • Jack Cardwell – Founder & Partner,  Greenridge Investment Partners
  • Mike Sherill – Head of Operations, Alamo Drafthouse
  • Brett Hurt – Vice Chairman, Former CEO and Co-Founder, Bazaarvoice, and McCombs Entrepreneur-in-Residence
  • Rick Lacher – Managing Director, Houlihan Lokey
  • Joe Holt – CEO, JPMorganChase Central Texas

The Executive Mentorship Dinner will take place in the Hall of Honors on Thursday, Feb. 20 at 6:30 p.m. Each ticket is $20 and will cover a small portion of the cost of the event. Please register by purchasing a ticket.

The deadline to register is Friday, Feb. 7. This event will be limited to only 105 students. Therefore, we greatly encourage you to register as soon as possible. Please feel free to pass this invitation on to other students.

For more information on this event, please contact the McCombs Alumni Relations office at [email protected]. We look forward to meeting you all on Feb. 20!

About the McCombs BBA/MPA Alumni Advisory Board:
The McCombs BBA/MPA Alumni Advisory Board leads a network of 67,000 McCombs alumni, one of the largest alumni bases of any business program in the world. The board oversees strategic initiatives at McCombs, encourages alumni involvement and giving, and strives to make the undergraduate and MPA experience better for current and future students. The board is comprised of 28 members, who are leaders in the business world throughout North America and each have a passion to give back and make McCombs a better place.

McCombs BBA/MPA Alumni Advisory Board

BBA Sophomore Beta Testing Google Glass

If you notice a student on-campus intensely staring straight ahead at nothing, it may be McCombs Sophomore, Austin May. What may appear as daydreaming is actually beta testing for Google’s attempt to create a “wearable computer” known as Google Glass.

May was selected by Google to participate in testing of the product after applying to the Glass Explorer Program. The program allows selected applicants to use Google Glass and provide feedback to Google on a bi-monthly basis about what they like and don’t like about the experience.

Some of the current capabilities of Google Glass include Web browsing, Google Maps, news updates, language translation, camera, phone capabilities via Bluetooth and apps such as a golfing capability that measures the distance from the user to the hole. After having Glass for just one day, May had some insights to offer, “It’s nice to not have to be looking at your phone all the time,” said May. “The battery life is similar to a cellphone, about a day.”

This new, cutting-edge technology may even be puzzling to Millennials, “It’s definitely the biggest learning curve of anything I’ve ever encountered,” said May. “I’ve never had this much of a challenge with technology. I also fear that this could be the beginning of an I, Robot situation,” joked May.

If you happen to see this “daydreaming” student around campus, ask him how it’s going. He’s more than happy to share about the experience. He even let Dean Platt take them for a test run!

Students Gain Consulting Experience Through SCI Case Competition

It is no secret that Austin, Texas is the place to be right now for anything to do with business. Entrepreneurs are flocking to get their startups off the ground, businessmen and women are migrating from the Silicon Valley to the Silicon Hills and everyone who’s anyone is talking about ATX. As businesses are growing, they’re also presented with bumps along the way, which is when consultants are able to lend a helping hand. The UT Student Consulting Initiative (SCI) is more than happy to offer their services to the booming business of Austin.

SCI hosted their Annual Fall Case Competition Saturday, November 23, which was sponsored by the BBA Alumni Excellence Foundation, EYAdvisory, OSL, Student Government and SCI alumni. The competition lasts two months and teams were tasked with assisting a local business with their needs from internal communication to marketing and more. Nine teams competed in the competition pairing with different local businesses. “We were very impressed with the results this year,” said SCI Co-Chair, Holli Wertheimer. “The students created a wide range of deliverables from marketing campaigns to inventory management tools to compensation requirements among many others.”

The winning team worked with Fair Bean Coffee on their internal communications and employee retention for a prize of $1,200. The team consisted of Jason Prideaux, BHP, Finance and Plan II ’16, David Kaplan, BHP & Corporate Finance ’16, Douglas Berkman, BHP ’16, and Catherine Anne Prideaux, BHP & Plan II ’16.

“This was a tremendous learning experience,” said member of the winning team, Douglas Berkman. “The case competition provided me with insight on what it is like to be a consultant for a real company with real employees and a real owner.” Many of the students felt it was a good experience even for those not currently pursuing consulting, “I entered the competition for experience,” said Catherine Anne Prideaux. “I would highly recommend doing SCI even if you’re not considering consulting!” All four team members noted that their group meetings were one of their favorite parts of the competition.

If you’re interested in learning more about SCI, visit their website.

Meet our Fall 2013 Commencement Speaker: Sabah Ali

One of Sabah’s most favorite things are graffitis and her best-loved is right here on West Campus “The world begins where your comfort zone ends.” And once you know Sabah’s story, you quickly find out why she enjoys this particular one so much: it’s the motto of her life!

When it came to choosing a college, Sabah knew what she wanted in terms of location: far enough from Houston so she could explore her independency and close enough to have an easy drive home to be with her family. She quickly fell in love with The University of Texas at Austin (UT), the McCombs School of Business and Austin. Besides putting the desired distance between her and her family to learn how to stand on her own feet, Sabah was strongly attracted by UT’s diversity: ”There is a person for every thought imaginable at UT. And this is where innovation comes from! And UT offers many opportunities to leave one’s comfort zone.”

Her passion for new experiences led her to actively look for classes outside her major. “My rule was to take at least one class each semester that had nothing do to with my degree to widen my horizon and get new experiences,” says Sabah. Her favorite classes included Applied Learning and Development and Human Sexuality with Prof.  Braunstein. She liked her UT classes so much that when she was offered to tutor in the UT Athletics Program, she jumped at the opportunity: “I love service and I love giving back. I enjoyed my UT classes and couldn’t wait to pass on the great experience I had to other students.”

MIS 333K Team

Set to major in Marketing, she quickly changed focus after her first MIS class. Once she took MIS 333K with Rick Byers she was hooked: “I fell in love with MIS then. I gained real understanding on how businesses work with data and I really enjoy this part. The class challenged me on so many levels: I learned more about programming, how to work with a group of people and how to build skills that I didn’t have.” MIS became her major but she kept Marketing close by as her minor: “MIS is all about technology and innovation. I have a passion for Marketing because I like to work with people. I’m excited about the combination of both because technology needs people to make an impact.”

And making an impact and service is very important to Sabah: As a counselor for the summer camps of Al-Uumah and Camp Mosaic she mentored girls from the ages of 6 to 18 and taught them leadership skills and instilled confidence in them to successfully navigate school. On campus she joined the sorority of Kappa Phi Gamma where she held the position of a Service Director and raised thousands of Dollars for UNICEF and increased University-wide cancer awareness. She continued her service as an In-Take Director where she is in charge of the New Member Education Program. 

Kappa Phi Gamma

When it came to choosing her internships, Sabah followed her heart again: new experiences, service and giving back. In summer 2011 and 2012 she signed up to work for two start-up companies: CauseVox, a company that creates online fundraising and crowdfunding sites for non-profit companies, and Benji Frank, a company that sells prescription glasses and donates a pair of glasses for every pair purchased.

The best part of her time UT? Sabah explains: “The many different paths that are offered at UT that gave me the opportunity to stray from the path that was given to me initially. And the professors at UT that really cared about me and my development beyond grades and academic performance.”  Among the many professors that influenced her, she highlights Prof. John Highbarger and his classes Marketing for Entrepreneurs and Contemporary Issues in Marketing. “Prof. Highbarger provided real life advice that I could directly apply in my internships and life. He also discussed all my full-time job offers with me and provided great tools to help me in my decision process.”

After graduation Sabah will join General Mills in Arkansas as an analyst in working on pricing and promotions strategies. She’ll miss her beloved Austin, mainly the food trucks (Gourdough’s is her favorite!), the music scene and the people. But that’s exactly what Sabah is always looking for: New experiences outside her comfort zone – we know she’ll do great! Congratulations, Sabah, from all of us in the BBA Program Office!

President Of The UT Women’s Chorus To Lead Her Fellow Graduates In “The Eyes Of Texas”

Marketing major, Laura Rodriguez, has enjoyed singing as far back as she can remember, so when she was given the opportunity to lead tomorrow’s commencement in singing The Eyes of Texas, she was honored to accept, “It’s going to be an amazing experience,” said Rodriguez. “I love performing and I love my school.”

In her hometown of Edinburg, Texas, Rodriguez was involved in every choir and chorus possible, always working to improve. She performed on holidays and major events throughout the year including The National Anthem at her high school graduation. She also competed at the district and regional levels.

Since coming to the forty acres, she has been very involved with the UT Women’s Chorus of which she has been president the past three semesters. As a business student, Rodriguez has found much to love about McCombs, “I really love how much the faculty and staff appreciate the student body,” said Rodriguez. “McCombs provides so many resources to become successful and they’re passionate about ensuring their students are the best and we stay competitive.” Her favorite professor is Dr. Broniarczyk, who was her instructor for Brand Management.

After graduation, Rodriguez will move to West Lake, Texas to work at Fidelity Investments where she has accepted an offer in sales development.

Congratulations, Laura! We are very excited for you to grace us with your beautiful voice at commencement tomorrow!


Management Senior Plans To Move To Australia After Graduation

Cassia Petridis is on the far left

Arizona native, Cassia Petridis, never imagined herself going to school in Texas, but as graduation fast approaches this Sunday, she can hardly believe how time has flown by. Cassia was a FIG mentor for three years at both the McCombs and UT level, “I enjoyed meeting new freshmen every year and impacting their college careers,” said Cassia. “It was most meaningful when students would contact me even after the FIG was over to ask for advice.”

After studying abroad in Australia, Cassia is passionate about international exchange. She is president of Planet Longhorn, welcoming international students by making their adjustment easier and hosting social events. She is also involved with the McCombs Buddy Program, which pairs current exchange students with McCombs students preparing to go on exchange in their international buddy’s home country.

Cassia enjoyed her time abroad so much that she plans to make a permanent move to Australia after graduation, in January. She hopes to work in the event coordination industry, specifically in music festivals. Cassia is not stranger to such festivals having interned and volunteered for SXSW and Fun Fun Fun Fest.

During her time at UT, Cassia has found comfort in the longhorn pride, enjoying tailgating and football games. Her fondest memory is the football win against OU during her senior year.

Congratulations, Cassia! The BBA program office is so proud of your commitment to mentorship and your genuine passion for international studies!

The Sweet Life Of Ben & Jerry

Written by Madison Hamilton

They were just two seventh grade boys who didn’t want to run the mile in gym class.

“If I can’t run it in seven minutes the first time then why would I be able to run it in seven minutes the second time?” Ben asked his gym coach.

This is when Jerry knew he and Ben, future co-founders of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, would be friends.

On the evening of Nov. 19, hundreds of ice cream lovers and entrepreneurs gathered at the AT&T Conference Center for free ice cream and a talk by Jerry Greenfield. The Beta Eta Lectureship, founded in 2002, focuses on personal growth and ethics. And although Greenfield is a well-known business mogul, he emphasizes the balance between company growth and giving back to the community.

Jerry studied pre-med while Ben worked a number of odd jobs after dropping out of college. After Greenfield was rejected from med school, he decided to team up with Ben to start a business.

The two had always loved to eat, so they decided on opening an ice cream parlor. They split the cost of a class, bought a textbook, and learned how to make ice cream. They had no idea where to open their first shop so they began researching college towns with warm weather. After finding out that most college towns already had ice cream parlors, they decided on Burlington, Vt. Not the warmest place, explained Greenfield, but Ben had visited a few times and thought it would be suitable for their business.

They got a copy of a business plan from a friend’s pizza parlor and submitted it to the bank for a loan.

“Every place where it said ‘slice of pizza,’ we crossed it out and we wrote in ‘ice cream cone,’” said Jerry.

After receiving $4,000 from the bank, Ben and Jerry opened shop in May of 1978. The first summer in the gas-station-turned-ice-cream-parlor, business was booming. But sure enough, as winter rolled around, people stopped wanting ice cream cones.

“We even came up with what, I think, was the best promotion in the history of Ben & Jerry’s. It was called, ‘Penny off for Celsius Degree Below Zero Winter Extravaganza,’” Jerry joked.

But not even that was enough to get them through winter, so to make ends meet during the ice cream off-season, they began selling ice cream to some of the local restaurants. And then, after another beautiful summer, Ben had an idea.

Jerry explained that Ben was always jealous of the salesmen who came in and sold napkins, chocolate syrup, and whatever else they needed.

“In Ben’s mind, what these sales people did was drive around in their car all day and listen to really good music, and then they would stop into a store and sell a couple things and then get back in their car and listen to more really good music,” said Jerry.

They put a nice sound system and an insulated Styrofoam box in Ben’s old station wagon, and for the next year, Ben drove around Vermont everyday trying to sell all the ice cream before it melted.

The business began to grow as more distributers were interested in putting Ben & Jerry’s ice cream on their shelves. Pillsbury even threatened to pull their products if the major companies continued to distribute Ben & Jerry’s alongside their brand.

This led to Jerry’s campaign: “What’s the Doughboy Afraid of?”
The campaign gained so much support that Pillsbury eventually backed down and allowed Ben & Jerry’s to be sold next to their products.

This is when Jerry realized their company was getting big, and he wanted out.

“Our business was becoming another cog in the economic machine,” said Jerry.

But then a friend suggested that, instead of selling the company, they should just change the way big business operates. He agreed and still strives to maintain the “spiritual aspect of business.”

“As you give, you receive. As you help others, you are helped in return,” Jerry explained.

Instead of taking money from venture capitalists to expand their multi-million dollar company, they offered the citizens of Vermont a chance to invest — a big business first. They offered a $126 minimum stock buy-in to anyone living in Vermont. They ended up raising $750,000, and one out of every 100 people in Vermont now owned part of Ben & Jerry’s.

Eventually, they became aware of Greyston, a New York bakery that provides jobs for people who are out of the economic mainstream, and Ben and Jerry began to source their brownies from them. The brownies were used in ice cream flavors such as Chocolate Fudge Brownie and Half Baked. Jerry estimates that last year alone, they spent nearly $8 million for brownies from the bakery.

“Simply by purchasing those brownies from Greyston, we are able to support the work they do in providing jobs,” Jerry said.

Unlike most businesses that measure their success in profits, Ben & Jerry’s has a two-part bottom line.

“It’s not just how much money we make, it’s also how much we improve the community that we operate in,” said Jerry.

The event was wrapped up with questions from the crowd. And finally, Jerry disclosed his favorite ice cream flavor: AmeriCone Dream.

This article originally appeared on McCombs TODAY.

Tips For A Holiday At Home

Here are some tips to make the most of your time home for the holidays!


Use the holiday break to catch up on some R&R.


Don’t stress when choosing between white meat or dark meat.


There is no shame in over-doing dessert on the holidays (or ever, really).
So, when you’re offered a third slice of pie – accept.


Be respectful as your amazing cousin shares their latest
amazing accomplishment in their amazing life.


When it’s time for the annual card game – put your game face on.


Reconnect with childhood friends.


Don’t freak out when your parents enforce your curfew from high school.


Feel free to gush about how much you LOVE being a student at McCombs.

Congratulations recipients of the Boeing Study Abroad Scholarship!

Written by Laura Lapierre-Yap

The BBA International Programs office is excited to offer scholarship opportunities solely for McCombs undergraduate students studying abroad on Spring 2014 BBA Exchange programs. Filling a void where currently no scholarships exist, Boeing contributed $10,000 toward funding scholarships at $500–$1,000 each. The Boeing Study Abroad Scholarships have been awarded to eight students studying abroad in various locations. Each applicant was chosen based on summaries written in response to questions such as ‘In what ways will you be a good ambassador before, during, and after your study abroad experience?’ BBA International Programs sends an enormous thank you to Boeing for making long term study abroad a reality for more McCombs students.


Meet the Winners

Eric McAdamPhoto sample

Senior studying Finance at McCombs
Studying Abroad at The University of Bath in Bath, England.


“Not only will the Boeing scholarship give me a better financial opportunity towards my education, it will also allow me to put it towards exploring my heritage of my family roots in England and the UK.  I will also be able to travel Europe, a life long dream, and learn firsthand about the many cultures that make up Europe.”



Chris Wang

Sophomore studying Finance at McCombs
Studying Abroad at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in Hong Kong

“The Boeing Scholarship will allow me to fund various different activities and festivities I have planned during my study abroad in Asia. Studying abroad will allow me to diversify my portfolio  while learning from renowned professors at The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. This Boeing Scholarship will allow me to make studying abroad possible.”



David SlywkaPhoto sample

Junior studying Finance at McCombs
Studying Abroad at The University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

“I am so grateful to have received this generous scholarship from Boeing. While studying at UNSW in Australia I plan to use the money from the scholarship to travel within the country, which I wasn’t financially going to be able to do before receiving this scholarship.”



Kristen StanleyPhoto sample

Sophomore Business student at McCombs
Studying Abroad at Australian National University in Canberra, Australia.

“The scholarship money received will help me pay for my living expenses while abroad in Canberra, Australia. Thanks to Boeing, I will be able to experience a different country and culture with this money and expand my worldview. 






Juan TorresPhoto sample

Senior studying Management Information Systems at McCombs
Studying Abroad at The University of Economics in Prague, Czech Republic.

“By receiving the Boeing Scholarship I will now be able to almost entirely fund my airfare for Prague. I am very excited that I was selected as a recipient and will do my best to represent Boeing and The University of Texas overseas.”




Andrew Carrillo

Junior studying Accounting at McCombs
Studying Abroad at University of Bath in Bath, England.

“Receiving this scholarship is very exciting because I will now be able to see much of Europe’s museums, churches, and other historical gems. I have never left the United States, so my European experience will now be all the more adventurous! Because of Boeing’s generosity, I will also be able to travel to Orleans, France to see where my family came from!”



Jenny Chau

Senior studying Management Information Systems at McCombs
Studying Abroad at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in Hong Kong

“I am incredibly grateful for Boeing’s generosity to grant me a study abroad scholarship. Without this scholarship, it would be much more difficult for me to take full advantage of a once in a lifetime opportunity to explore and study abroad in Hong Kong.”






Eileen KaoPhoto sample

Senior studying Marketing at McCombs and Communications
Studying Abroad at Wirtschaftsuniversitat Wien in Vienna, Austria. 

The Boeing Scholarship helps in the process of having the dream of studying abroad become a reality. This scholarship will help me reduce the amount of loans I am taking to spend my last semester of college in Vienna, Austria.”

A version of this article originally appeared on the BBA International Programs website.

Student Team Takes First Place At EY Beam Accounting Case Competition

By April Stockwell

A team of students from the McCombs School of Business took first place at the second annual EY Beam Abroad Case Competition held Nov. 1 in Dallas. The team consisted of Leo Chen, MPA ’16, Robert Ma, BBA ’16, Sean Shen, MPA ’16, Shannon Wey, BBA ’16, and Janet Zhou, BBA ’16. They took home the grand prize of $5,000 for the team and a trip to London over spring break.

Reflecting on their accomplishment, Shen shared the secret to their success. “Winning the competition was an amazing experience,” he says. “It has been a blessing to work alongside such talented friends and fellow McCombs students who knew winning was about more than just themselves. We were able to win by recognizing that all of us were part of something bigger than ourselves.”

The Beam Abroad Case Competition focuses on cases requiring an understanding of domestic and international accounting issues as well as the ability to demonstrate a global mindset. The teams are given a week to prepare their presentations. The first round of competition is campus-wide with each five-person team presenting to a panel of EY judges. The winning team at each campus receives $1,000 to be split amongst them and a trip to the final round event in Dallas.

This article originally appeared on McCombs TODAY.

GSD&M CEO Encourages Curiosity

Photo courtesy of the Undergraduate Business Council

CEO of GSD&M, Duff Stewart, graduated from UT with a degree in economics and started out working in commercial real estate.

“I got into marketing by accident,” said Stewart during an interview with Dean Gilligan as part of the VIP Speaker Series on Nov. 14.

Stewart explained that he fell into the industry as opportunities were presented to him. Now as CEO of GSD&M, an Austin-based advertising agency, Stewart has a well-developed understanding of the industry, which is reflected in the organization’s operations, “It starts with a purpose for us. We ask, what is the difference the product makes in the life of the consumers?” said Stewart. “Identify that and it becomes very easy to bring that story to life.”

During his time with the agency, Stewart has made it a priority to create a cohesive environment within the organization. As part of that initiative, he contributed to defining and articulating the agency’s core values: integrity, curiosity, restlessness, community, freedom & responsibility and winning. He emphasized the importance of curiosity, “If we’re not bringing new thinking in, we’re not serving our clients,” said Stewart.

When asked the best advice he’s ever received, Stewart responded “Relax. If you put one foot in front of the other, it’s going to be okay. When you’re relaxed, it makes others comfortable, which makes them more confident.” Stewart is also a strong believer in learning the fundamentals, such as communicating well and knowing how to write a sentence. “Get the fundamentals and be curious and you can learn the business,” said Stewart.

Looking toward the future of GSD&M, Stewart is determined to continue pleasing the consumer, “We’re in an extremely fast paced marketplace,” said Stewart “We need to keep up with the growing consumer and continually work to understand the consumer and how to communicate with them. Once we understand the consumer, we can deliver the right message at the right time in the right place.” When asked which companies GSD&M would like to represent, Stewart listed Office Max, Fed Ex, the hotel industry and Starbucks, adding “You always have a wish list.”

Duff Stewart (left) and Dean Gilligan (right). Photo courtesy of the Undergraduate Business Council

McCombs senior looks to bring hope to those affected by cancer

Some of our parents have told us time and time again that we’re the best thing to ever happen to them. Maybe our arrival into the world was planned, or maybe we were an “unexpected and wonderful surprise.” Maria’s parents will tell her she was nowhere near unplanned, but a surprise indeed.

McCombs Senior, Maria Pedroza, was born and raised in Bogota, Colombia. After high school, she traveled to the US to pursue a college degree, which soon turned into a dual degree in Economics and Accounting.

When I sat down with Maria, it was not hard to feel her contagious and truly genuine passion for life.  As I listened to her story, I knew where her enthusiasm was rooted. About 30 years ago, while Maria’s father was dating her mother, he felt a lump in his upper chest. After visiting a doctor he had a small procedure to remove the lump for further testing. When he returned for to pick up his results, the doctor said, “you have breast cancer.”

The cancer was removed and her father continued with Chemotherapy and radiation. The doctor warned Maria’s parents that the treatment would more than likely prevent him from having children and if they did happen to get pregnant, the child would have special needs. In an attempt to defy the odds, Maria’s parents tried to have children, but after numerous failed attempts they gave up. Her father finished his treatment and entered remission.

Maria with her dad

Maria’s parents could find no rhyme or reason behind the birth of Maria’s older sister years later other than a real and tangible miracle. And they were really at a loss for words when Maria came three years later. Maria understands her time on this earth as a gift – something that wasn’t supposed to happen but miraculously did. Carrying her father’s story with her wherever she goes, her interest was peaked when she heard about Texas 4,000.

Texas 4,000 for Cancer is the longest annual charity bicycle ride in the world, starting in Austin, TX and ending in Anchorage, AK over a 70-day period. Every year a group of about 90 University of Texas students are accepted to participate in the ride. Each rider is expected to raise a minimum of $4,500 (a dollar per mile) to contribute toward Texas 4000’s overall fundraising efforts, which are donated to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and the UT Biomedical Engineering Department. To date, Texas 4000 has donated over $4 million to the cause.

“I want to do Texas 4000 to celebrate the opportunity my dad was given because at the same time I was given an opportunity. I want to pay it forward and share my dad’s story. I want to bring hope to people affected by cancer.” Maria speaks about her mission with Texas 4000 with an excitement and intensity that is felt sitting three feet away from her. “My dad’s cancer has never reappeared. Through Texas 4000 I’ve learned that not many people are so lucky.”

Maria spent Summer 2013 in Shanghai, China as an international engineering intern through Be Global. While the experiences she gained in China gave her unmatched job experience, Maria’s Texas 4000 fundraising took a hit. “I found that you really have to be in the US to raise money because it’s easier to stay on top of things like writing thank you notes,” explained Maria. However, she has not let this set back hinder her efforts. She has since been working tirelessly at getting donations. Her favorite tactic may surprise you, “I really love panhandling! Especially during the football games, I just stand at Fifth and Lamar. I like interacting with people and sharing my mission, it’s fun!” And, it’s working. Maria started September with $75 and now has $1,500. She makes it very clear that no donation is too small. Every dollar, quarter, dime and penny goes toward cancer research.

Maria wants your help and all of those battling cancer need your help. Go to her rider profile to get to know her better and learn how you can help support her mission of raising cancer awareness.

Maria in Shanghai, China during her Be Global internship




Building Brands From The Ground Up: Sweet Leaf Tea & Deep Eddy Vodka

Clayton Christopher kicked off his appearance at the Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship with a disclaimer, “I asked if we could serve everyone some Deep Eddy Vodka, but I was told I couldn’t do that.” The laughs rolled on as the Founder of Sweet Leaf Tea and Co-Founder of Deep Eddy Vodka & Rhythm Superfoods awed listeners with his likable humility and down to earth sense of humor.

Sweet Leaf Tea is one of the fastest growing beverage companies in the US, with over $60M in sales, but the horizon was not always so bright, “It was not the good old days looking back,” says Christopher as he describes starting Sweet Leaf Tea in on his own in 1998 with $10K, an old delivery van and a recipe from his grandmother. Even when the outlook was grim, Christopher maintained a positive outlook. He recalled calling Whole Foods nonstop for one year only to receive a postcard notifying him that they were not interested in his product, “All I could think was they’re talking to us! We have a foot in the door!” exclaimed Christopher. His enthusiasm paid off when Whole Foods later placed Sweet Leaf on the shelves of their southwest division. It took only six months to become the division’s number one selling tea.

One of the biggest hurdles Sweet Leaf Tea faced entering the beverage industry was high cost when compared to large companies like Pepsi and Coca Cola, but Christopher maintains a strong confidence in the product, “You’re never going to be the low-cost provider as a small startup, so you have to have a high quality product.” Sweet Leaf Tea is organic, made of all natural ingredients and better than any other bottled tea you’ll find according to Christopher.

After reaching success with Sweet Leaf Tea, Christopher started a new beverage company, Deep Eddy Vodka, “I knew it was a really good product. I mixed sweet tea and vodka for years!” said Christopher. He was right – after just three years Deep Eddy is the leading brand in six of the 30 states currently sold.

A member of the audience asked what he looks for in employees to hire, “Free vodka is huge. We encourage people to drink on the job,” joked Christopher “I look for people living company values.” He goes on to explain the importance of identifying values as an entrepreneur, “Every company needs to figure out its purpose and values. If you don’t know your values as a person or as a start up, you’re likely to fall for anything, like using high fructose corn syrup,” said Christopher with a grin.

Never missing a marketing opportunity, Christopher didn’t arrive empty-handed. The audience was encouraged to grab Deep Eddy swag on their way out including mini bottles of the flavored vodka and sunglasses.



Pretty Data

This summer Rachel Gosch took on some challenging endeavors: mastering baking to an exact science, competing against friends in Extreme Uno and wrangling real-time data while conducting research in industrial math and statistics.

As a BHP math and business double major, Rachel chose research over the beach this summer in preparation for the research thesis she will be required to complete later in her academic career. In an effort to gain experience in the research realm, she applied for a REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) with the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts. To apply she submitted a transcript, letters of recommendation, an essay describing her interests and topics she would be interested in working on. Rachel and only 11 other undergraduate students were chosen nationwide.

 Rachel’s REU was focused on Industrial Mathematics and Statistics. Once the group arrived, the students split up into 3 teams of four students each. Each team was then assigned an industrial sponsor that presented a problem for the research team to solve by the end of the summer. Rachel’s group was paired with Wellington Management, an investment advisor to more than 2,100 institutions located in over 50 countries.

Wellington had observed work published by three authors working with the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Board. The authors had created a process for filtering real-time data through the Kalman filter to find the Business Condition Index (economic status) of the economy. The process began by collecting four numbers from their U.S. market: GDP, M1, import sales and retail sales. As these four numbers come in and constantly change, they were then funneled into the Kalman filter, which essentially “cleaned up” the data making the numbers manageable and easier to use in determining the current Business Condition Index of the U.S.

Wellington requested help in implementing this process in their operations in other large countries, including: Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan and the UK. The idea was to collect the Business Condition Indexes from each country so they could then be compared to illustrate where business is looking good and where business isn’t doing so hot. If Rachel’s team succeeded, Wellington would be able to use the data in the portfolio planning.

When Rachel first learned she would be working with a portfolio management firm, she assumed she should refresh on finance concepts. However, for this project, her team actually did a lot of research on engineering concepts like signal processing and the Kalman filter, which was a surprise to see those concepts applied to financial math. She quickly realized that working with real-time data would be her biggest challenge, “I’ve heard professors say this before, but working with real-time data is extremely difficult! It’s messy, and when you’re dealing with varying frequencies and information availability, it’s challenging to write programs that can work with whatever data you give them.” She also learned how valuable programming and coding skills can be when working in some types of financial math analyst positions, “I took an intro programming class in the spring pass/fail just so I’d have a basic exposure to coding and I’m so glad I did!”

Outside of researching financial math, Rachel spent a lot of time with her fellow team members. During their free time, the group would play extreme UNO. Rachel described the game as normal UNO with additional, intense rules. She also took to baking with another teammate. They tried recipes over and over again until they perfected them, just as mathematicians do. Being in Massachusetts, the team made frequent trips to Boston to enjoy the city and attended a Boston Red Sox game. Even as Rachel enjoyed her down time, she often noticed her mind wandering back to the research project.

Rachel did not anticipate how invested she would become in the outcome of her team’s research. It didn’t take long before she was putting in long hours after the workday had finished. “Getting results that work…is really exciting,” Rachel explained, with a smile on her face. Rachel was not the only one infected with excitement, her team members rallied with her. Specifically, she recalled an evening the team had finally compiled the data into a useable format. Team members were calling and texting one another to rejoice the great news and review the numbers, which were stored in a file, named “Pretty Data.”

At the end of the summer each group made a presentation to their industrial sponsor to share their findings and hopefully, solutions. Rachel’s team pleased Wellington with the presentation of their hard work, which paid off in an answer to the company’s request. However, the work did not cease here because Rachel continues to correspond with her team via email to further tweak the process.

RetailMeNot CEO On The Importance Of Persistence

Written by Madison Hamilton

Cotter Cunningham may be a CEO today, but it wasn’t always clear he’d eventually reach the top of the corporate ladder.

“I was a terrible student,” said Cunningham during a presentation on behalf of The Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship on Oct. 29.

Cunningham admitted that if he had tried to run a business straight out of college, he wouldn’t have known “what to do and what not to do.”

Cunningham is now the founder, president, and chief executive officer of RetailMeNot, the world’s largest online coupon and deals marketplace. Cunningham appeared for the Kelleher Center’s entrepreneur-in-residence speaker series. McCombs School of Business Entrepreneur-in-Residence and moderator of the event, Brett Hurt, BBA ’94, wanted to know how Cunningham achieved this success.

Before founding the Austin-based coupon company, Cunningham was the chief operating officer of consumer financial information website Bankrate and also worked as an executive with H&R Block. With each company, Cunningham developed skills and gained experience that prepared him for his current CEO position.

At age 40, Cunningham left his job and teamed up with venture capital firm Austin Ventures to start his own business. Cunningham invested $1 million of his own net worth in

“I believe you should invest in yourself,” said Cunningham. “Put your money where your mouth is.”

The site aimed to assist divorcees in financial matters, such as getting a new credit card. Cunningham explained that although he isn’t divorced, he enjoys advising people who are going through big life changes. His happily married wife was skeptical of the divorce-centric site, he joked. And although it never took off, Austin Ventures liked Cunningham and gave him another opportunity.

“They liked me. They didn’t like divorce,” he quipped.

During the transition, Cunningham went to a cocktail party in Florida where he was approached for divorce advice. Out of consideration, Cunningham took the meeting and was planning simply to refer the man to the website. As they began talking, the recent divorcee told Cunningham that he is looking to sell his online couponing company. Because Cunningham had never heard of online couponing, he was intrigued.

“It was insanely profitable, so that really peaked my interest,” explained Cunningham.

Soon after, Cunningham founded RetailMeNot.

“To succeed as an entrepreneur, you have to have a stunning amount of confidence in yourself,” said Cunningham. “Persistence has worked for me.”

When discussing entrepreneurship, Cunningham explained. “It’s not something I was born with; it was a developed skill.”

This article originally appeared on McCombsTODAY.

11/12 – Entrepreneurship Live: Clayton Christopher, Founder- Sweet Leaf Tea

The Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship and Laura Kilcrease, former Entrepreneur-In-Residence are pleased to present




Clayton Christopher, Founder- Sweet Leaf Tea

Co-Founder, Deep Eddy Vodka & Rhythm Superfoods

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

AT&T Conference Center, Room #201

5:30 Registration, 6:00 Program and 7:00 Reception


Moderated by Laura Kilcrease, former Entrepreneur-in-Residence

Clayton Christopher is the founder and former CEO of Sweet Leaf Tea Company that he started in 1998 with $10,000 in savings, an old delivery van and a recipe from his grandmother.  Sweet Leaf Tea is one of the fastest growing beverage companies in the US, with over $60M in sales and 100+ employees.  Nestle purchased Sweet Leaf in June of 2011.  Clayton is passionate about entrepreneurship and loves helping small food and beverage brands grow.  Clayton is currently co-founder and Chairman of Deep Eddy Vodka, and co-founder and Chairman of Rhythm Superfoods.  He also sits on the boards of several other food and beverage companies and is a co-founder of Incubation Station, an accelerator for young brands.  Clayton won the 2006 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for Central Texas, the 2010 AU40 Austinite of the Year Award, AU40 Business and Entrepreneurship Award, as well as the Austin Business Journal’s Best CEO Award for 2011.  He is an active member of the Young Presidents Organization and serves on the advisory board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas where he has been a “Big” to his “Little” Andrew San Miguel for 7 years.


7 McCombs students compete globally—right here in Austin!

Enrollment for the Global Leadership Institute 2014 (second summer session July 7 - July 31) is now open – enroll here!


The CBA Events room is filled with music and laugther as 55 students dance the Wobble at the Global Business Leadership Institute’s “International Night”. Next, the group from Austria, dressed in Lederhosen and Dirndl, perform a Viennese waltz for their new friends from Singapore, China, Mexico, Brazil, Hong Kong and Texas. They’re all ready to have fun and show off the traditions of their countries as they take a break from an intensive program that keeps them busy in and out of the classroom.


McCombs students who participated in this year’s Global Business Leadership Institute (GBLI), a six-credit international business boot camp, learned to solve problems, manage intercultural conflict and operate in a global marketplace. They quickly became friends with their peers from eight top-ranked international universities. “The GBLI program was great for me because I was able to get all aspects from study abroad such as interacting with students from different cultures and backgrounds, without the cost of studying abroad,” says management senior Amanda Flores.

Emily Campbell

And the students bond quickly as they work together in multinational teams on the cutting-edge Marketplace Live™ online global business simulation that challenges the students to make realistic marketing and business decisions in a competitive, international market. “It was the perfect mix of challenging assignments and people with interesting backgrounds. I made a lot of friends and built an international network. I’m already planning on going to see them and I won’t need a hotel!” says Emily Campbell, marketing sophomore, laughing. Shuhan Zhang, from CUHK, agrees, “The Marketplace simulation was great: we saw how markets work, we explored real issues in the markets and how teams work. It was a totally new experience for me.”

The international students live together in the Dobie dorm, where the McCombs students can choose to stay to complete the cultural experience. Together they enjoy the campus (Gregory Gym is especially popular), and all the other fun things that Austin has to offer.
Finance professor Robert Duvic leads the class for the online simulation and Dr. Deirdre Mendez, Director of the Center for International Business Education and Research, provides cross-cultural training and teaches effective teamwork in the management class.

Amanda Flores

“It was an amazing experience to get to know many people from different countries and in our management class we learned how to deal with diverse team members to build effective teams,” says Julian Scheef from WU Vienna. His international teammates agree. “We acquire a toolkit that allows us to assess different personalities and working styles and learn how to best deal with these cultural differences.” The work in teams with members from four continents “offers us the opportunity to see how it works in real life,” says Eduardo Oliveira, FGV Sao Paulo.

The program’s special offerings of global exposure and leadership are in high demand with recruiters. In addition, students complete a personality test, the DiSC Assessment, that many companies use to match jobs with personality types. “The DiSC profile has provided me with key words and values that I talk about in my job interviews and it helped me establish my own personal brand,” says Amanda.

Visits to local companies, guest speakers from dynamic companies, and cultural activities around Austin complete the program. Now the students are making plans to visit each other and take advantage of their new network.

For more information, visit the Global Business Leadership Institute website or contact our program coordinator Maria Terrazas at [email protected].

Participating Universities:

  • Fudan University, China
  • Fundação Getulio Vargas, EAESP, Brazil
  • Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, Mexico
  • McCombs School of Business
  • National University of Singapore
  • Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China
  • Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • WU Vienna, Austria
  • The University of Texas at Austin

3 Day Startup Fall 2013: McCombs Competes

3 Day Startup (“3DS”) teaches entrepreneurial skills in an extreme hands-on environment. This proven program provides members of a university community the tools they need to start successful technology companies. Over 4,000+ 3DS alumni from 70 programs across 4 continents–including programs at Harvard, MIT, ESADE and Peking University–have launched more than 55 companies that have collectively raised $15 million in investor capital.  Find more information on the 3 Day Startup website.

Forty young entrepreneurs are recruited to participate in the 72-hour competition. The process begins Friday evening and students work almost non-stop until the end of 3DS Sunday evening.



Brainstorming: The 40 chosen competitors are broken up into small brainstorming groups to discuss each other’s ideas. Each group will choose 2-3 ideas that they would like to share with the large group. Participants are in no way tied to these initial groups for the rest of the weekend.

First round of pitches: During this time, the brainstorming groups presents the ideas they liked best to the rest of the large group. This initial presentation is just a short overview of the idea, possibly just their end vision.

Voting: After all pitches are given, all participants vote Heads Up 7 Up style with heads down on the table and hands raised to vote. Each person is allowed two votes. One for the project they think will make it and one for the project they’d like to work on for the rest of the weekend.

Team formation: After voting, the top 5–7 ideas that received the most votes are the teams that people can join. The process is very self-selecting and some students start with one team, but switch to another mid-way through the weekend.



Idea development: Teams work hard researching various aspects of their idea and figure out how to make it a reality. This is time for extensive market research including getting out into the public to learn about their consumers. Another important component is conducting a competitive analysis to identify other products currently available that are like their product and knowing what it is that makes their product different or better.

Mentor feedback: Throughout the weekend, there are mentors experienced in various different areas of business, from coding to marketing that are available to help groups with whatever they need. This is very valuable to groups to have an expert at their disposal to offer suggestions and give constructive feedback.

Mock pitches: Saturday evening each team gives a short, trial pitch to the 3DS facilitators, mentors and all other participants. This pitch is sort of a “rough draft” of the final pitch that will be presented the following evening. The facilitators and mentors are brutal during this pitch session in order to give students an idea of what the judges’ panel might throw at them on Sunday.



Idea development/finalization: Teams are given all day to continue to work on their ideas and final pitches. Depending on feedback received the night before, some groups will use this time to perfect their final pitches while others may have decided to start over from square one.

Final pitches: The final presentations are open to the public. Each team is given five minutes to present to the judges’ panel made up of four entrepreneurs and/or investors. After each presentation, the floor is open to questions.


Find out more about 3DS Austin from Silicon Hills News and Storify.




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