Class of 2023 Discovers Possibilities with Canfield BHP

Written by Megan Tran-Olmsted, as told by Annie Wang and Tatum Lee

Discover Canfield BHP is a one-day event for students admitted into the Class of 2023. The event helps students get a sense of what the program is all about, learn about life at UT, and meet current Canfield BHP students. This year, the event featured student panels, mock classes, exciting speakers, and of course, time for newly admitted students to begin bonding with peers. Discover Canfield BHP is a great opportunity for the incoming students to connect with their future peers and dive into the community of the program from the very beginning!

One of the major talks during the day was given by the current faculty director, Dr. Andres Almazan. Dr. Almazan has had an extensive career at McCombs and joined Canfield BHP as director last year. In his address, Dr. Almazan welcomed the students and their parents. He emphasized that current students are not only driven to get good grades but are also extremely passionate about what they do, including taking time out of their day to volunteer and enjoy the overall Canfield BHP experience. In fact, he noted that the involvement of student volunteers at Discover was a testament to their passion for the program and the type of leaders that come out of Canfield BHP.

Next, Phil Canfield was able to join as the event’s keynote speaker in his first address since the program was named in his honor this past year. While Mr. Canfield covered a lot of different topics, one of the most interesting things he discussed was how his BHP education contributed to his professional career, and how that motivated him and his wife to ultimately give back to the program. He advised the prospective students to think about what kind of skills and community they wanted to get out of their college education. Leadership, he emphasized, was a crucial skill he developed in the program, and something he believed he wouldn’t have found elsewhere. He also stressed the uniqueness of the BHP community and the spirit of the program that creates a lasting network and camaraderie among the students.

We chatted with two students within Canfield BHP who graciously served as the co-chairs of the Discover Canfield BHP event, Annie Wang and Tatum Lee. Here, we had a Q&A session and got to hear their perspectives on the event:

Q: You had two student panels: one for student life and one for careers & internships – what do you think was the most helpful piece of advice from each of these events?

During the careers & internships panel, the panelists discussed the importance of the Canfield BHP network, which includes not only experienced alumni but also upperclassmen in the program. Oftentimes, current students will only think about doing informational interviews and networking formally with alumni, but it’s often easier to talk to upperclassmen, since they are more relatable and can provide more immediate insight on internship programs, career decisions, and more.

The most important takeaway from the student life panel was the diversity of experience between the panelists. Each panelist had delved into widely varying college paths, whether that be Greek life, startups, fashion magazines, or study abroad experiences. The panel emphasized that the most impactful college experience comes from following your own passions and learning more about what you are interested in. UT is a huge school with a wide variety of opportunities, and you can learn a lot from seeing what your BHPeers are involved in and joining orgs that speak to you!

Q: What was your favorite part of the day?

Annie: For me, I really loved getting to mingle with students during the morning. As much as I enjoyed learning about event-planning and organizing the event, in the end it’s all for the prospective students to have a great time. Even just in the 15 minutes I had to mingle before running to the next thing, I got to chat with a student who was interested in double-majoring in international relations (context: I’m an international relations double major!) and mingle with a group of attendees who all attended Austin high schools.

Tatum: My favorite part of the day was lunch, where I got to sit and chat with prospective students. Like Annie, I think the best part of the event is talking with the prospective students and getting to share our experiences with Canfield BHP. I loved talking to my table at lunch and hearing about their passions in high school–a few of them were fellow band kids, like I was! It really meant a lot to me to get to meet them and share why I care so much about CBHP, which is why I love volunteering at Discover.

Q: Can you recount how your experience was with Discover Canfield BHP 3 years ago?

Annie: Discover Canfield BHP provided insight into the program that convinced me to come to UT and join this cohort. I told the prospective students this, and it was 100% true. I experienced the supportive community in BHP through the one-day event, which showed me that business didn’t have to be cutthroat and competition could be collaborative, even with people who are as brilliant and accomplished as the peers around me. This made me even more excited but also nervous about being a co-chair, because I felt pressured to make Discover as good as or even better than the day I attended.

Q: How does it feel to be on the other side now that you are a student organizing this event?

Honestly it felt kind of surreal to be the ones speaking during the introduction, running around making sure everything was in place, and ending the day realizing that we’d helped make a difference for the 300+ people that attended. During the process of planning, it was very cool to see all the different aspects of the event, and just how much work the office puts into Discover every year so that it can be successful.

On behalf of the entire Canfield Business Honors Program, we are so excited to welcome the Class of 2023! After our successful Discover Canfield BHP event, we can’t wait for this new cohort to make their way to the 40 Acres in August.

Student Spotlight: Megan Tran-Olmsted

Megan Tran-Olmsted

Written by Allison Cowie

As college progresses, students realize that grades are temporary while the impact of service lasts forever. Senior Business Honors and Finance major Megan Tran-Olmsted definitely understood this as she went into her final year and has found numerous ways to give back to the program. Megan has represented Canfield BHP well, placing in multiple stock pitch competitions across the country, serving as a mentor for Wall Street for McCombs, and creating the curriculum for USIT, McCombs’s largest student-run investment team. Megan loves being able to teach others and seeing topics “click” for younger students. Helping younger students find and grow their passions is Megan’s way of paying it forward in respect to those who have helped her succeed. In honor of her contributions to McCombs and Canfield BHP, Megan recently received the prestigious R. Conrad Doenges Award for Academic Excellence and Leadership in the Canfield BHP.

Megan also serves as the co-chair of the Make-A-Mark campaign, which aims to bring the senior class together one last time prior to graduation. The campaign creates fellowship in addition to educating students on the importance of giving back as they transition into alumni. The first campaign event was held at El Mercado in March and many students attended and reminisced about past classes, funny stories, and even dreaded projects. As Canfield BHP students start specializing and pursuing their passions at UT, some find it hard to make time to catch up with peers, but Make-A-Mark events help remind everyone of the bond they all share.

While spearheading such a large campaign can be challenging, Megan recognizes the generous support she has received from Canfield BHP that has helped make her time at UT so impactful. In her eyes, contributing her time and effort to Make-A-Mark is her way of passing along the good fortune that the program has given her to future Canfield BHP students.

Upon wrapping up Make-A-Mark and her time at UT, Megan will spend a month backpacking through Europe before starting full-time at Goldman Sachs. Her final words of advice for younger students are, “Before jumping down a path, take the time to find out what you want in life and then consider how to achieve it.” The Canfield Business Honors Program is thankful for all of Megan’s contributions and is excited to see what she accomplishes in the future.

Canfield BHP Celebrates National Siblings Day

Great things happen when siblings experience the world together. The Wright brothers, for example, were the first to take man to the air. Together they changed the history of travel and aviation with their achievements in the early 20th century. Venus and Serena Williams changed the world of women’s professional tennis forever when the two sisters burst onto the scene in the 1990s, racking up numerous titles throughout the world. Both sisters have won Olympic gold medals. Many siblings often go off to run a business together and others venture off to great things to make the world a better place.

Today is National Siblings Day and in honor of this occasion, we wanted to feature current Canfield Business Honors siblings to share their experiences with our readers. The Canfield Business Honors Program has seen a fair share of siblings come and go throughout the years. It’s always a bittersweet moment to see them part when the oldest one graduates and enters the post-college world. For now, however, we’re just happy to have them with us!

Ellie and Emily Gex

Ellie (Left) – Freshman – Canfield BHP Class of ‘22
Emily (Right)  – Junior – Canfield BHP Class of ‘20

Ellie Says:

Q: What is it like being in Canfield BHP with your sibling?
A: It is so fun! My sister is so wise and has a lot of advice when it comes to which classes or professors to take. It’s also fun seeing her in McCombs.

Q: What advice, if any, could you provide for future siblings who find themselves in Canfield BHP together?
A: To take advantage of the time you have together!  It is such a sweet privilege to be able to invest in your relationship with your sibling that not many others have.

Q: Has being in Canfield BHP together brought you closer as siblings? If so, how?
A: Yes, definitely! Running into each other and talking before our classes start has brought us closer.  Also, her ability to relate and empathize with everything I’m going through (MIS) has brought more things in common between us.

Q: What lessons have you learned from your older sibling that you’ll take with you throughout your time at Canfield BHP/UT?
A: I’ve learned that if she can do it, so can I. I’ve also learned that even though classes are hard, school does not have to affect my personal life or emotions.  Emily has self-control, rarely appears overwhelmed, and always gives others the time of day even if she’s stressed which I hope to mimic in my life throughout my time at UT and in CBHP.


Emily Says:

Q: What is it like being in Canfield BHP with your sibling?
A: It’s really fun running into Ellie when we’re both sprinting into McCombs because we’re both running late for our respective 12:30pm classes. We’re usually both wearing the same Patagonia pullover and Outdoor Voices leggings and holding a cup of coffee.

We are so similar and its been great to completely understand each other with regards to classes, work/life balance, etc. I understand how hard MIS is, and I am able to give her advice on the projects. It’s fun seeing Ellie become really good friends with the people in her Canfield BHP classes, because I know that my Canfield BHP friends are my best friends, and I want that same thing for Ellie.

It’s also really funny because we are constantly forwarding each other business-related emails for events put on by Undergraduate Business Council and Honors Business Association, etc. Ellie and I went on a company visit to Whole Foods headquarters the other day together. Sisters who network together, stay together!

Q: What advice, if any, could you provide for future siblings who find themselves in Canfield BHP together?
A: Ellie and I try to make time every week to hang out one-on-one and catch up, and this is something I would recommend. Make it a recurring event on your Google Calendar! It’s great for Ellie and I to catch up on school, life, and friends.

Q: Has being in Canfield BHP together brought you closer as siblings? If so, how?
A: I think for the first time I’m really understanding how similar Ellie and I are. What I’ve seen her walk through as a freshman– finding a good friend group, staying up so late studying MIS and BA324 in Scottish Rite Dormitory, and figuring out how to balance school, sorority involvement, faith, and life was almost exactly what I went through. It’s cool to think of Ellie as an extension of myself, in a way, and being in Canfield BHP together has emphasized that for sure.

Q: What advice can you provide for your younger sibling?
A: School is not everything! It seems like it now, but it is not the reason we are on this earth. GPA fades, course schedules fade, even friends fades— the only thing we are able to hold onto is hope for the future and the fact that we have a good God that we can rest in, even when everything else around us may be falling apart.


Eric and Sam Lin

Eric (Left) – Freshman – Canfield BHP Class of ‘22
Sam (Right) – Senior – Canfield BHP Class of ‘19

Eric Says:

Q: What is it like being in Canfield BHP with your sibling?
A: Since we have a three year age gap – he’s a senior and I’m a freshman – I don’t really notice it. It’s only when I’m going for certain student orgs that he happens to be in charge of – any sort of business org – the seniors or the leaders tend to know my brother well. Academically though, since I’m in different classes than he is – he lives off campus, I live on campus – I don’t really interact with him as much as you’d expect. It’s not like I walk into a CBHP class and see him there. So it’s really just convenient if I need to borrow his car or if I have questions about a class or a professor or about the program as a whole. He generally knows all the answers. Other than that, I don’t force myself to interact with him too much because he has his own stuff that he has going on and I have my own stuff. The most interaction is inside student orgs or outside of school entirely.

Q: What advice, if any, could you provide for future siblings who find themselves in Canfield BHP together?
A: I would say don’t rely on your sibling because you don’t want some sort of dependency to develop. If I would’ve developed too much of a dependency on my older brother, then when he graduates this semester I would be stranded without his help. So I force myself to break away from establishing any significant dependency on whatever value he provides to me because that would hinder my ability to sustain myself.

Q: What lessons have you learned from your older sibling that you’ll take with you throughout your time at Canfield BHP/UT?
A: The biggest thing I’ve definitely learned from him is understanding how to value your time and prioritize what matters the most to you, whether that’s academics or extracurricular. He’s shown me that academics don’t mean everything and to spend more time doing stuff outside of class that means more to me.


Sam Says:

Q: What is it like being in Canfield BHP with your sibling?
A: The truth is we’re so busy we don’t run into each other. I almost never see him physically unless it’s on purpose like whenever we need groceries, shopping, or need to get a haircut. I don’t run into him. He has intense classes and is busy all the time. He’s working two internships at the same time and I’m doing a bunch of stuff with orgs. We usually don’t run into each other at all. In fact, other people who are my peers in CBHP tell me they run into him like, “Hey, I saw your little brother again!” and I haven’t even seen him in a week! He’ll randomly reach out to me and say, “I’m taking this class and I’m struggling” with his question and I’ll jokingly be like, “I can’t help you because I did worse.”

Q: What advice, if any, could you provide for future siblings who find themselves in Canfield BHP together?
A: The biggest thing for other siblings in Canfield BHP is; don’t be afraid to talk about a mix of work and personal life with your sibling. When my brother first came, he was like “Okay, I’m going to focus on getting my work done and then Sam, we can go eat together and do whatever.” I gradually offered him help with this stuff.

Q: Has being in Canfield BHP together brought you closer as siblings? If so, how?
A: We’ve always been close. We lived together for over a decade. So we’ve always been close. It’s more just proven that we’re close siblings to begin with. We already know everything about each other. It’s just proving that despite not seeing each other all the time we still randomly connect.

Q: What advice can you provide for your younger sibling?
A: Challenge yourself. Get out of your comfort zone. Do something that you would never see yourself doing and pass it forward to somebody else.

Canfield BHP Students Celebrate Ethics Month

Written by Victoria Bennett

Over the month of February, the Canfield BHP Ethics Board put on their annual “Ethics Month,” a time to promote awareness and positive conversations about academic integrity and its application to the real world. Each week for the month of February, the board put on events and activities for students, ranging from Ethics-grams to a discussion with Brian Cruver, former employee of Enron. Canfield BHP sophomores Jessie Meek and Poonam Agarwal, co-chairs of the Ethics Board, recently shared their experience planning the events.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both Poonam and Jessie had personal interests in ethics coming into college. For Poonam, ethics in business was always important, even during her college search. Seeing that an Ethics Board existed was encouraging to her because she saw that ethics was a priority in the program. For Jessie, her childhood experience with sports where she often saw integrity sacrificed for the sake of winning, gave her a lifelong passion for advocating for ethics. Both Jessie and Poonam joined the Ethics Board their freshman year, and their mission for the board is to foster positive, trusting relationships between both professors and students and students with other students.

The goal for Ethics Month this year was to make ethics a more approachable conversation within the program. With this focus in mind, the Ethics Board planned several fun events and activities for Canfield BHP students with the underlying message of being kind, making good decisions, and encouraging others to make good decisions as well. Poonam and Jessie explained how each of their events worked toward this goal. For example, the goal of the Ethics-grams, cards with candy and positive messages that students could send to their peers, was to help foster a culture of uplifting and supporting each other as students, as opposed to a cutthroat or competitive culture. Another event, a movie night with Dr. Prentice, served as a comfortable and casual environment for students to discuss ethical dilemmas.

The month ended with a speaker event featuring Brian Cruver, a McCombs MBA graduate who worked at Enron at the time of the scandal and wrote an account of his experience entitled “The Anatomy of Greed.” He shared the lessons he learned from his experience as well as how he has used these lessons to navigate his unique career path. According to Jessie, the event was particularly impactful because it showed students how ethics can be applied to the real world and the importance of the Ethics Board’s work to educate students before they enter the professional world.

When asked about the most rewarding part about their experience, Poonam and Jessie both attested to their positive experience with their task team. The board is made up of Canfield BHP students across classes, who are all passionate about ethics in their community. Poonam and Jessie shared how inspired they were by the hard work and dedication put in by the team, and how proud they were to see all the work come to fruition with a successful month of events. They also acknowledged the help and support from their staff liaison, Steph, who helped make their experiences as co-chairs so positive.

Thank you Poonam, Jessie, and the Ethics Board for a great Ethics Month!

To learn more about our Ethics Board, visit their group page here.

Alumni Spotlight: Phil Canfield

In the thirty years since Phil Canfield graduated from the University of Texas with degrees in Business Honors and Finance, much has changed in the world, in Austin, and on our campus. We begin our conversation discussing the increasing number of hipsters in the city (we are meeting during SXSW, after all) and then move into talking about the dynamic relationship between artificial intelligence and business. Despite this rapid evolution, Mr. Canfield agrees that one thing has remained constant: The caliber of the Business Honors Program and the benefit of receiving a Business Honors degree.

“The BHP was a small group within a large university, which allowed for teamwork and the ability for us to have a small cohort of really bright students that I could work with, learn from, test ideas out, and play ideas off of each other. It was seamless going from that environment to sitting at a desk at Kidder, Peabody, and Co. working on financial models and being part of a deal team,” Mr. Canfield shares. Throughout our conversation, we keep coming back to this theme of the strong relationships students build with each other through their time in the program. He believes these tightknit relationships are one part of what make the honors program unique. “It’s not just the friendships, it’s also learning how to work with other people,” he says. “Also, the faculty. Those are the two things that make a great learning experience: A great group of engaged students whom you know and build relationships with combined with a faculty that pushes you, teaches you things that perhaps weren’t intuitive, that surprise you, and importantly, a faculty that is doing research in areas that are going to be important for the future.”

Mr. Canfield vividly remembers being pushed and challenged in his honors classes. When asked about his favorite memory, he laughs and says he doesn’t have a favorite memory, but he definitely has a class that he remembers the most. “I think everybody who comes to BHP is used to making A’s. So, we had this Operations Research class, and I remember about 4 weeks into the class, I was sitting with my group of 5 or 6 friends that we studied with and 2 or 3 of them really got it in a way that I didn’t. And I realized that I wasn’t going to get it. It was the only class at UT in my entire 4 years where I said, ‘You know what, I think I’m shooting for a B in this class.’ And it’s so funny because I think about that all the time; it’s the only time I’ve ever just stepped back and said, ‘Wow, there’s something about the way that they think that’s different than the way I think. This makes sense to them and this is really hard for me.’”

Mr. Canfield believes the difficulties that honors students face together, like challenging courses, are what allow the close friendships to form. “BHP is an intense program. Any time a group of people go through something with that intensity together, they create a bond. The great thing about bonds like that is they really stand the test of time.” As an example, he recalls calling his BHP peers when it came time for him to think about what he was going to do after his first two years in investment banking. “It was useful for me to be able to call friends of mine who I had this shared experience with,” he says. “At the time, most people only worked for two years and then went and got an MBA, and I was thinking about not doing that. That’s a big decision, it’s the kind of decision where there aren’t that many people you can really talk to about it.”

After two years at Kidder, Peabody, and Co., Mr. Canfield joined GTCR, a private equity firm. After two years as an associate there, he started thinking about getting his MBA. “At the time in private equity, there were very few people who did not have an MBA. I felt like as long as I stayed on track at GTCR, working with people I knew and who knew what I was capable of doing, things would probably be fine; but I had this nagging concern that there was more that I could know, so I decided to pursue an MBA.” Mr. Canfield started at the University of Chicago Booth School on a part-time basis, working full-time during the day and taking classes in the evening. “That didn’t last too long,” he chuckles. Eventually, he took two quarters off from work to finish his degree.

Reflecting on his experience in the MBA program, he recalls how prepared he was for the curriculum and how his past BHP classes allowed him to customize his MBA degree. “I was incredibly well-prepared. In fact, I got to skip a lot of the intro-level, first-year MBA classes. The neat thing about that was that it enabled me to quickly go to the higher-level classes and get a dual concentration in finance and accounting. I probably would not have been able to do that if I didn’t have the BHP background. The BHP enabled me to get a more broad experience when I did decide to go get an MBA, and it allowed me to tailor that experience more to what I felt I needed for my career.”

Mr. Canfield is now a successful Managing Director at GTCR, a leadership position he has held since 2007. He and his wife Mary Beth are also devoted philanthropists who focus on education. In November 2018, we celebrated the official naming of the Canfield Business Honors Program in the McCombs School of Business after a generous donation from the Canfields. They believe that contributing to education has the highest return on investment. “In my deepest part of my heart and soul, I’m an investor. I think, ‘Let’s do something early, let’s make an investment, let’s put capital into something, and then let’s see that have a return over a long period of time.’ For me, investing in someone’s education is exactly the same thing. I’ve always felt like it’s really important for our society to support getting everyone an opportunity to have a great education. I also think it’s a great investment that enables people to do something really fantastic.”

In closing, Mr. Canfield offers the following words of advice for our current students: “Enjoy the experience, but also make sure that whatever you choose to concentrate in, really make sure you focus on the fundamentals of that concentration.” He talks about Novak Djokovic, the best tennis player in the world, and how he drills and works the fundamentals with a hitting partner and his coach. “Why does he do that?  Because those fundamental skills need to happen automatically. If your concentration is accounting, then you need to work on it so hard that it is just intuitive to you. The test of knowing the fundamentals in a particular topic is you can look at a problem that you’ve never seen anything like it before, and you can intuit how it must have to work. That’s when you know you really understand it at the detailed level and the abstract level because you can take all the stuff you know about that particular topic and say, ‘Well, I’ve never seen this particular area before, but it must work this way.’ In business, to succeed in your career, you need to be functioning at that level.”

He also has some advice for prospective Canfield BHP students that we wholeheartedly agree with: “You should come here because it’s the best undergraduate business program in the country. You will learn a tremendous amount, you’ll make great friends, and it will serve you very well in your career.”

Watch the video celebrating the newly named Canfield Business Honors Program here.