Students Get to Know Professors on a Different Level during DWAP Events

Every semester BHP professors volunteer to participate in a program coordinated by the Honors Business Association, called Dinner with a Professor (DWAP). DWAP was started five years ago and has become one of the most popular events for students and professors alike. Students from the program are invited to dinner with a BHP professor at a location of the professor’s choice.

William O’Hara, a professor with the Department of Accounting, and his wife, Beverly, took around 60 students to Dave & Buster’s last semester for a dinner and dessert buffet as well as games. According to O’Hara, the students were as competitive playing games as they are in the classroom. At the end of the night though, they all came together and surprised him by pooling the tickets they won from their games to buy him an enormous Clifford The Big Red Dog to thank him and his wife for hosting the event.

When asked why he enjoyed hosting the event, O’Hara said, “Even with the smaller class sizes of BHP, it is still hard to get to know your students well. I think the education process is better when you know them better and unless they come to office hours, it is hard to do that. This provides that opportunity.”  O’Hara noted that the event developed a camaraderie that translated to the classroom. “I noticed a difference afterwards that some of the students who didn’t participate much in class before, were now participating.”

For students, the appeal of these events is that they allow students to get to know their professors on a personal level and see them in a different environment than they usually do. Prabhudev Konana, a BHP MIS professor, has hosted a DWAP at his house every year for around 70 students since 2008. He admits that is a lot of work for him and his wife, but says he wants to expose students to their culture. They serve Indian food, expose them to Bollywood and Bollywood dance, and show them the Indian artwork in their house. Courtney Brindle, a junior BHP student who participated in Dr. Konana’s DWAP last year, had heard about the impromptu Bollywood dance parties beforehand, but being a participant last year, she thought it was, “really cool to have fun with Dr. Konana and see another side of him.”

HBA plans around five DWAPs per semester. Forrest Ripley, president of HBA, thinks these events are important for the BHP culture. “Professors are at the core of what makes BHP so great. Giving students a chance to bond with their professors on a personal level is one of the best services that HBA can offer students.”

Professor O’Hara said he and his wife Beverly will definitely be hosting a DWAP again this year. “Beverly is very interested in education and she wants to be involved. She still talks about what a great evening it was. We heard comments from students that the event was the perfect break during a tough time of year and allowed them one night to be a kid again. We will be on board to do it again this year!”

Alumni Spotlight: Raquel Baldelomar, Founder and Managing Director of Quaintise

Raquel BaldelomarRaquel Baldelomar, BHP ’01, BBA ’01, left the comfort of her job with JPMorgan to start her own agency. Eight years later, her business is booming. Quaintise, pronounced “kwan-tees,” based in Phoenix is about to open a second location in Los Angeles and is the Agency of Record for several of Arizona’s largest healthcare companies. As someone who is creative, yet analytical at the same time, Raquel says she has found a great fit in the advertising and marketing industry.

What prompted you to create Quaintise and did you always know you wanted to start your own business?

I was working for JPMorgan Private Bank as a financial analyst for high net worth individuals.  And I always admired the entrepreneurial spirit, drive, and world view of our self-made clients.  After two years of working for JP Morgan, I was at a crossroads whether I should go for my MBA or do something that I had always wanted to do – start a company.   I realized that if I ever could take a chance to do something on my own, it would be then.   I had studied Classical Rhetoric, which is really the art of persuasion and oratory.  I became fascinated with what makes people persuaded, why they buy things, and how there are three basic different ways to win people to your way of thinking – ethos (character), logos (logic), and most important, pathos (emotion).  And I realized that’s what advertising was all about; engaging people to your way of thinking.  That’s what gave me the idea to start Quaintise.

What niche does your company fills in the marketplace?

We specialize in healthcare advertising.  I saw an opportunity in healthcare. There were so many large medical practices that were unorganized in their branding and messaging. One of the biggest trends we are seeing is a rise in consumer-driven health care.  Healthcare marketing has shifted from the provider to the consumer whereas it used to be mostly physician driven or market driven. We have found that in healthcare, trust is essential in consumer decision making. Patients realize they now have choices and base their healthcare providers on a positive association with the brand.  A strong brand position is a necessary foundation for driving patients to medical practices.  They have to trust the brand before they can trust the service.

What has been the most challenging aspect of running your own business?

I started Quaintise with no capital, I just had my own savings. Soon after I founded Quaintise,  I moved to Phoenix to work with a new client, but I didn’t have enough clients at that time to sustain a positive cash flow.  So I took a part time job waiting tables.  I thought to myself – I have a finance degree from the BHP Program at UT and I am waiting tables!  It was very humbling, but it taught me a lot.  I’m so glad I didn’t quit because I learned so much during that time.  That’s when I saw an opportunity in healthcare.  I spent my time learning everything I could about the healthcare industry, and contacting medical practices to pitch our services.   That’s when our business really started to grow.

You are part owner and a contributor for How did you get into the Luxury Travel business?

I was born in Bolivia where I lived for 10 years and have also lived in multiple states. Travel and exploring new cultures has always been part of my blood. I met my LTM business partners in 2008.  Christine Gray, the founder and Editor-in-Chief, was the brainchild for Luxury Travel Magazine.  The web site was huge, it was targeted to a very specific niche, and we came up very high in organic search engine results.  What was missing was a sound revenue model, and someone who could represent the company to prospective advertisers, mainly luxury hotels.  That’s where I came in.  They offered me an equity stake in their company along with a great commission structure if I could bring in new advertising partners.  Over three years, I brought in more than 120 luxury hotel advertisers.  I was also able to explore another passion I have – writing, as a contributing writer for the magazine. I built some great contacts in the luxury hotel industry and also got to travel to some of the most exotic destinations in the world.

Where is your favorite vacation spot?

The Amalfi Coast, in Italy.  The natural beauty, elegance, and understated luxury of towns like Capri, Ischia, Ravello, Sorrento, and Positano are simply unrivaled. John Steinbeck once wrote that Italy’s Amalfi Coast “is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.”  That is so true.  Being in Amalfi is like being in a dream.

How do you think BHP prepared you for what you are doing now?

It taught me the value of hard work and discipline. My two accounting classes were the hardest classes I had ever had. And I was surrounded by super smart and talented people at BHP, where everything seemed so easy to them.  I felt I had to study harder for my A’s all while working 20 hours a week at a part-time job to pay for my school.  But at BHP, I learned that while someone may be talented, 90% of your success comes from discipline, how you practice your talent, and what you do with it. I wasn’t the best at accounting and finance, but I became good at it by practicing. Hard work and discipline will take you a long way.

You specialize in helping companies create their perfect plan. What advice would you give to current BHP students to help them create their own perfect plan?

When you are developing your own perfect plan, remember this quote by Vince Lombardi: “Perfection is unattainable.  But if you chase perfection, you can catch excellence.” Pick something you absolutely love and pursue it honestly, yet relentlessly.  Spend your time doing something to better yourself to pursue your goals. Instinct is not going to carry you through this entire journey.  It’s what you do in the moments between inspiration that will define your success.

Is there any  other advice you would give? 

Find a good mentor. I have had some wonderful mentors and what I have learned is that some people have to learn from experience, but a good mentor can help you profit from others’ experiences. It doesn’t have to be someone much older, it can just be someone you respect and who can be really honest with you about what you are doing. Good mentors help you be objective and see things in a different way.

BHP 2012-2013 Alumni Advisory Board Announced

We are pleased to announce the members of the Alumni Advisory Board for 2012-2013. Dominic Sung, BHP ’03, will chair the board and Boris Siperstein, BHP ’95 will serve as immediate past chair. Additional board members include ­­Chrissy Baumann, Robin Boesch, Robert Buchholz, Michael Daehne, Morgan Davis, Randy Eisenman, Samuel Hines, Michael Klein, Mitch Kreindler, Scott Packman, Vivek Shah, Glenna Sharafeldin, and Craig Wielansky. Areas of focus for the board this year include fundraising and scholarships; student mentoring; admissions and recruitment; and alumni communication. Thank you to everyone who nominated themselves or others to serve on the board. We are excited to work with this great group over the next year.

Fall BHP Book Club

DATE: Wednesday, September 5

TIME: 6-8pm 

LOCATION: UPO Conference Room (next to the BHP office) 

The BHP Book Club for the fall 2012 semester is being hosted by former BA 324H professor Luke Winslow. The chosen book is The Defining Decade by Meg Jay.  It’s about how to make the most of your upcoming years and use your time wisely to be successful in your work and relationships.  Read more about it here.  Dinner from Potbellys will be provided to participants.  Make the most of the last bit of free time you have this summer to read the book and take advantage of this unique BHP opportunity.  Sign-up is required (there are only 30 spots available).

Alumni Spotlight – Liz Williams, VP of Business Planning and Strategy for Taco Bell

As VP of Business Planning and Strategy for Taco Bell at Yum! Brands, Liz Williams, BBA, BHP ’98, leads the financial planning, marketing analysis, and strategy teams. She contributed to the smashing success of the newly launched Dorito Locos Taco, their most popular product ever, and has worked to improve the Taco Bell brand to make it more relevant to consumers.

What do you love about your job?
I love the great interaction I have with all of the business partners. In my role, I get to work closely with people in every function, from marketing, to finance, to operations. I also really love the Taco Bell brand. It has a great following and Yum! Brands is a terrific company to work for.

Any there any fun perks?
I get to eat a lot of tacos! I also really enjoy the recognition culture. We are very good about recognizing team members for their hard work and I think that is important. Working for Taco Bell, I get what the brand has to offer, but I also get the breadth and experience of the parent company and sister brands, which include KFC and Pizza Hut.

How did the Drive-Thru Diet® Menu come about?  How have you had to change strategy during this time of increasing emphasis on eating healthy and increased scrutiny on fast food chains?
This menu has been around for a couple years now, and it includes our Fresco Style items.  The menu has reduced calorie and healthier options. It’s important for us to find a balance in our menu offerings. We want to provide healthier options, but also keep people’s favorites on the menu. We just launched the Cantina Bell Menu that was inspired by celebrity chef Lorena Garcia. It has elevated quality perception and created more choices for consumers looking for layers of flavors.. The idea for it came from consumer insight calling for a better and more relevant Taco Bell. One great thing about being in the restaurant business is that it is easy for us to get consumer feedback because our customers are in our stores and using social media daily. Our store managers are listening to their feedback and bringing that information to us to drive strategy.

What was the strategy behind the launch of the Dorito Locos Taco and why do you think it has been so successful?
DLT, as we call it here, is something we really get excited about- —we sold more than 10 million in just 10 weeks! Going back to the better and more relevant Bell, we were trying to find a way to highlight the better Bell. We were talking about ways to make the taco shell better, while also doing something really innovative to celebrate Taco Bell’s 50th anniversary. Our brand and the Frito Lay brand ended up coming together in a co-branding partnership to create the DLT. The launch was done through a hybrid of media, focusing on social networking platforms. We saw a lot of success using this new launch model. DLT has had great sales, great customer feedback, and it is good for the operations because we know how to make tacos. I think the product has been so successful because it is a craveable product and it was the perfect trifecta of great marketing, innovation and operations. Financially it has also been great for us because we can price it at a premium. It is rare that you get a product that is a slam dunk in all of these areas. We plan to make a platform out of this and will have more innovation to come with new Doritos flavors in the future.

Yum! Brands has a presence internationally. How do you change your product strategy to accommodate for cultural differences?
Taco Bell is starting to expand globally, but is still pretty much domestic. When we expand into international markets though, we do try to balance the global brand with what local has to offer. I did some with this when I was at Yum! Brands before moving into my Taco Bell role. Yum! Brands’ growth outside the US is a huge initiative for us. We are putting resources into global growth and are working to make our products relevant to the local market. We are just at the beginning of global growth for Taco Bell.

How did your career in consulting and sales translate into corporate strategy work?
Being in sales gave me the confidence I needed to help me deal with the thrill of winning and the reality of rejection. It also got me deeply rooted and really focused on a goal and objective. Consulting was influential in giving me a well-rounded background in problem solving and being objective when looking at problems and opportunities. It also helped me to be a quick learner and to be comfortable working in new situations with people on the fly. One big change that I had from working in consulting is that in consulting, the work is theoretical, but in the restaurant industry, execution is important. In consulting you don’t have to worry as much about taking people with you or creating buy-in for your strategy, but that is crucial to success in this industry.

Were there any skills or lessons you learned in the BHP that have been invaluable to you in your career?
BHP was very rigorous and that challenge helped me up my game, ask questions in class, and develop my inquisitive side. The caliber of the professors and students made me realize I needed to bring my A-game to everything I did. When I was interviewing for jobs, having BHP on my resume helped me get opportunities since employers knew the reputation of the program. The program also helped me learn to work with teams. If you can’t work together with a team, then you are going to have a hard time in the professional world.

What advice do you have for current BHP students?
Challenge yourself in any work situation to gain more experience. Get as much experience as you can and keep challenging yourself to take on new things. When you feel like you are out of your comfort zone, that is the best time for growth. You can use the skills you are gaining to re-brand yourself if you need to down the road. I didn’t switch employers to do this, I just constantly asked for different opportunities.