Majors: Business Honors, Finance, and Mathematics Major, Class of 2012
Post Graduation Job: Consultant, Sense Corp.
It is probably safe to say that most McCombs BBA and certainly most BHP students know who Michael Daehne is. This year he served as president of the Undergraduate Business Council, he has been very involved in HBA and he has served as a peer advisor for the BHP. He was also recently recognized with the Doenges Award, the Outstanding Service Award, and the Rising Star Leadership Award. He will certainly be missed once he graduates. We sat down with him to get his parting thoughts.
BHP: Mentorship and supporting fellow students is something that people mention when talking about you. What do you love about helping other students and why is it important to you?
MD: My parents instilled in me that you can only do so much by yourself and that you can have a greater impact if you use the talents you are blessed with to help develop other people. I think I have a knack for bringing out the best in other people. Last night we had business council elections and seeing how the younger students have developed is a better feeling for me than doing well myself.
In HBA, when I came in as a freshman, people weren’t that excited about HBA. Heather and I worked on the organization a lot together and tried to drive the excitement by meeting with individual freshmen to develop them and make them more invested in what we were doing so they cared more.
When I came on to the Business Council, the leadership was not accessible and approachable to underclassmen. When I became president, I wanted to be the most accessible person, instead of the least. I invited everyone over to my house for brunch, even to my birthday dinner. I started taking younger members and my peers to meetings they wouldn’t be a part of across campus to expose them to different ways of thought, which is very important to me.
I have been told my biggest weakness is that I don’t say no, but I think it is also one of my greatest strengths because people aren’t afraid to ask me questions.
BHP: What have you learned from the leadership roles you have taken on?
MD: I have learned to be more reflective at the kind of person I am and the leader I am. I don’t like disappointing people. I find giving critical feedback to others is difficult. I have had to grow a lot in that area as a leader. It has been reinforced in me the importance of doing the little things. It is easy to get caught up in the procedural business of what you are doing, but it’s just as important to make people feel good when they interact with you. Giving the people you are working with the respect and attention they deserve motivates them, and makes them want to do what they were tasked with.
I have become skilled at communicating hard decisions. I was able to express what we are, and are not willing to budge on in a collaborative instead of combative manner. I had to make calls to students who did not receive a leadership position in the organization, and I was able to empathize and highlight their strengths in a way that helped them and did not just make them feel bad.
BHP: What memories of your time with the BHP stand out the most?
MD: I remember the bus ride to the BHP Leadership Kickoff freshman year. It stands out in my mind because the two kids behind me were talking about how they had gotten into Wharton, had perfect SAT scores, and all of the things they had done in high school. I had a moment of panic wondering how I had gotten into BHP. Once I got to camp and interacted with the other students, I realized we were all big fish from small ponds and we were all going to have to figure out how we fit in here. We needed to check our egos at the door and come willing to work with each other and learn from each other.
HBA company field trip my freshman year in Chicago also stands out in my mind. After a dinner we had with BHP alumni, the HBA president asked me if I was going to run for a leadership position the next year. It caught me off guard and gave me the confidence to take that on. So many people over my time in the BHP have had confidence in me and helped me to take advantage of opportunities that I might not have otherwise pursued.
I also really like participating on the student Discover BHP panel, which I did for the last two years, and recruiting top students to the program. You can go to another business school and get a great education, but the thing I love about BHP is that at the end of the day when I walk out of McCombs, there is an entire campus of opportunities and a very diverse campus. I think that diversity is the thing that binds Longhorns together. At UT, you can succeed in whatever it is you are doing by being yourself.
BHP: What are you going to be doing after graduation?
MD: I will be working as a consultant at Sense Corp., a boutique tech-consulting firm based in St. Louis. I will be based in Austin, but will be travelling around, working for different clients, offering them solutions to help improve their business.
I was attracted to consulting because BHP taught me to see how businesses run and to look at all aspects. The BHP courses are very integrated and that taught me that you can’t just look at one aspect of a business, you have to look at the whole picture. In consulting, you do that as well.
BHP: How do you plan to stay connected to the 40 Acres after graduation?
MD: I am going to be on the BBA/MPA Alumni Advisory Board, so I am looking forward to that. Because I will be in Austin, the BHP staff jokes that I will be bothered a lot to do things with the BHP and HBA, but I actually really look forward to staying involved. I would like to be involved with building BHP up over the long run, particularly in developing the scholarship funds. I would like to see a time when students turn us down because they don’t want to come here, not because other institutions are offering them a more competitive package. If we can align the value of the admissions packages with the value of the experience we are offering, we will be better off. Right now we aren’t competitive in our offers and we are losing top students.
BHP: If you could go back and give advice to yourself as a freshman, what would you say?
MD: As freshmen we wrote a letter to ourselves at the Leadership Kickoff that we will be given to us at graduation. This is the reverse of that. I think my advice would be to never get so caught up in all that you are doing for school that you start to ignore the things outside of your academic life. Over time, I have come to understand that relationships you cultivate with people and the way that you treat others is what really matters in the long run.