UT Professor of Innovation Bob Metcalfe Shared Lessons and Rousing Stories with BHP Sophomores

Bob Metcalfe embarked on his fifth career a little more than a year ago as Professor of Innovation and Murchison Fellow of Free Enterprise at UT Austin in the Cockrell School of Engineering. Before coming to UT, Metcalfe had worked as a venture capitalist, a publisher, an executive and an entrepreneur. He is the inventor of the Ethernet and the founder of 3Com Corporation. As you might imagine, he had a lot to share with our sophomore students during their BHP Lyceum course last week.

Metcalfe describes his life as a “win-win-win-win,” and “the culmination of the American dream.” Despite naysayers and setbacks, he has had a lot of success in his myriad careers. He started his career with Xerox in 1973. On May 22nd of that year, he was given the job of installing the network in the first building full of personal computers, and it was on that day that he invented the Ethernet, which was made the industry standard in 1980. He was living in Silicon Valley at the time, where entrepreneurship was “in the water” and he felt that the time was right for him to start his own company. He started 3Com in 1979 and stayed with the company for 11 years. After leaving 3Com, he started a new career as publisher of the information technology website, InfoWorld, and internet columnist. Metcalfe then went on to work in venture capital for Polaris Venture Partners for nearly ten years before coming to UT.

Metcalfe has several specific goals in mind for this next phase of his life in Austin as a professor of innovation. One he feels strongly about is making Austin what he calls, “a better Silicon Valley.” He talked about the enormous potential that exists in Austin to connect UT students who are aspiring entrepreneurs with current entrepreneurs who can mentor them. He sees his role in innovation and free enterprise tying into this nicely. He will be working with the community of Austin and UT students to create technological innovation at scale and to learn to operate the machinery of free enterprise.

The BHP Lyceum course focuses on leadership and ethics and Metcalfe shared his thoughts on both. “My leadership philosophy focuses on communicating well,” he said. “The key is to listen. We were given two ears and one mouth for a reason.” He shared with the students that he had indeed been in situations where doing something that wasn’t right would have led to personal gain. He stressed that it is what you do when no one is looking that counts. He also talked about the gray area that exists in sales and said that exaggeration is frequently used when selling, but that one has to ask themselves if the person you are exaggerating to is damaged by what you are telling them. If the answer is yes, then that has crossed the line.

One of the best and most engaging stories of the day came from a student question regarding an incident where Metcalfe literally ate his words in the form of a column smoothie. One can reference Wikipedia for the full tale, but hearing the story first-person was quite a treat. It was yet another instance of how Metcalfe managed to turn things around and create another win out of a not-so-great situation, resulting in stellar publicity.

Student Spotlight: Jasmine Bell

Jasmine BellAs a student recruiter for the BHP, Jasmine Bell, knows everything there is to know about the program. As a fifth-year student in the MPA program, she has actually been a recruiter for the BHP now for three years. She is so good at selling the program, that she even recruited her younger brother to the program  and her parents to the BHP Parents’ Council. Jasmine is also heavily involved with the Black Students Business Association and the Orange Jackets.

Why did you decide to become a BHP recruiter?

I really wanted to help the BHP recruit a diverse group of students. I wanted to spread the word to minorities and tell them about the opportunities I have been given in BHP. I have found it to be very rewarding. I like seeing students be successful and I know they can be in BHP.

What do you think makes the Business Honors Program unique?

I think the BHP professors really stand out. They don’t focus on memorization, they teach you HOW to think. They have really influenced the way I process information and my desire to learn information. The BHP community is also great. It is easy to find a group of friends you can fit in with that have the same interests as you do. Another point I always bring up to prospective students is the high level of exposure BHP students have to companies. The opportunities I had to interact with recruiters helped me land my internship with L’Oreal USA, which was a great experience.  Going into it, I just thought it was an accounting position, but coming out, I had a real connection with the brand and their products.

How did you decide to do the MPA program?

I took two accounting courses in high school and really enjoyed it. I even did UIL accounting my senior year. When I was looking at colleges, I was narrowing down which ones I was interested in by the strength of their accounting programs. UT’s accounting program was ranked highly, and would make me eligible to get my Certified Public Accountant (CPA) credentials upon graduation.

What would you like to do after graduation?

I will be working in Dallas with KPMG as an auditor. I am interested in entertainment, gaming and sports, which is why I picked Dallas over Houston. I want to stay in Texas for a bit.

Was L’Oreal your favorite internship so far?

I honestly loved all of my internships. They were all so different. Two were in public accounting and the other one gave me the chance to explore industry. L’Oreal helped me become more open-minded and to keep my mind open to other options. Right now I am interning for Circuit of the Americas which is really in line with my interests in working for the sports industry.

How did you get involved in the Orange Jackets? How has it been being a member of that?

Some of my BHP peers had been admitted to Orange Jackets and I learned of it from them. I applied the fall of my junior year and then interviewed for it and got in. I found myself wanting to be involved outside of the business school. I got to meet women from all majors and it diversified my circle of influence, which I have enjoyed. I also like all of the community service that we do. It is nice to be able to help out the community.

Have you given your brother any advice?

I told him to go to the career fair and to network early and meet recruiters early. All of my internships were acquired through building relationships, so I think relationships is a key part of getting what you want in your career and learning about opportunities. I strongly believe in networking and sharing opportunities with other students when you hear about them.  It is so important to be proactive and talk with recruiters about what you want.

Networking with Fortune 500 Executives, touring state-of-the-art corporate offices—BHP students visit Dell campus

A typical Friday in the life of a McCombs student usually involves sleeping in and enjoying the perks of a major that rarely schedules class on Fridays. However, this past Friday, a couple dozen BHP students and I decided to forego the extra sleep in favor of trekking up to Round Rock to explore the Dell campus and learn about the opportunities provided by Austin’s largest employer.

The visit kicked off with the Dell recruiting team leading us into the Executive Briefing Center for a presentation on the innovative internship and full-time opportunities offered by Dell. This presentation was followed by a Q&A lunch with Brian Gladden, the current Dell CFO. While gaining helpful career insights from Dell’s Chief Financial Officer, we were treated to a surprise appearance from Michael Dell himself, who casually walked in to take any questions we had for him.

 After we regained our breath from watching the net value of the room rise several billion dollars, we quizzed the Dell CEO on leadership styles, the future of his company, and how to maintain a good work-life balance. For nearly an hour, Dell’s leading officers shared with us valuable career lessons and wisdom while we eagerly listened and struggled to minimize the crinkling of our box lunch packaging.

 The tour concluded with a visit to Dell’s Social Media Command Center where employees monitor and study Dell’s perception in the social media sphere using systems that track every internet post that references their company, be it positive or negative. From meeting both the CFO and CEO, to learning about the wealth of opportunities offered by Dell, we definitely discovered the best way to spend a drizzly Friday morning.

-Forrest Ripley, BHP Class of 2014

Alumni Spotlight: Woody Hunt – The Man Behind BHP’s Million Dollar Gift

Last week it was announced that the Business Honors Program received a $1 million pledge grant from BHP alumnus and El Paso native, Woody Hunt’s family foundation.  Hunt, who graduated from the Business Honors Program in 1966, has put forth a challenge to alumni and friends of the program to raise an additional $2 million over the next five years. A portion of his gift will go towards scholarships for students from the El Paso/Las Cruces/Juarez area and the remainder will be allocated to a BHP Excellence Fund to be used for faculty, student and programmatic support.

Hunt was in one of the first graduating classes and says that the program has come a long way in terms of both quality and quantity. “The Business Honors Program is certainly a significant asset for The University of Texas, the business school, and for the state of Texas,” he said. “I have always connected my success partially to the quality of the education I got in the Business Honors Program.”

In order to receive the gift in its entirety, the McCombs School must raise $2 million over the next five years. It is Hunt’s hope that the challenge he has created will incentivize alumni to give and will put more dollars in place to have a lasting impact on the program. “I think it is appropriate, particularly given changes to funding for higher education, to ask alumni who have reaped the rewards of going through such a high-quality program and have the capacity to give to help,” said Hunt. “UT Austin is becoming more state-assisted, and less state-supported, so I think the time is certainly right.”

Hunt met his wife Gayle, with whom he established the Hunt Family Foundation in 1987, while attending UT Austin. In 2008, the couple was recognized by the West Texas-Southern New Mexico Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals as “Philanthropists of the Year,” for their continued support of the El Paso community.

Hunt is Chairman and CEO of Hunt Companies, Inc., an industry-leading real estate company, and its affiliate companies. Together, Hunt and its affiliates have more than $13 billion in assets under management. He was previously Vice-Chairman of The University of Texas System Board of Regents and served seven years, three as Chairman, on the Board of Directors of The University of Texas Investment Management Company (UTIMCO). He has also served on numerous boards over the years, mainly focused on health care and higher education.

Facebook’s Doug Wolfe Shares Journey with BHP Students

Doug Wolfe, the head of Online Operations for Facebook in Austin spoke to the BHP sophomores last week during their lyceum course. He captured the students’ attention with riveting tales of his time in the military and sound career advice. His path is anything but typical, but he explained that there is a common thread, even if it may not be fully apparent at first glance.

Wolfe attended Officer Candidate School when he was an undergraduate and spent nine years as a U.S. Marine Corps Officer. His specialty was in logistics and he went on multiple deployments, including Operation Iraqi Freedom. He then earned his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, while simultaneously serving as a Naval ROTC instructor at the school. He then spent four years at Morgan Stanley & Co. in institutional services. When he realized he didn’t want to do investment banking anymore, he spent many sleepless nights trying to figure out what it was that he wanted to do. He finally focused on doing what he loved to in an industry he found compelling, finding an operations and organizational leadership role at Facebook in 2010. He recently assumed the position of head of online operations for Facebook’s Austin office.

So what is the common thread? Chaos said Wolfe. He talked about the chaos that exists in serving in the military, where you are consistently faced with new challenges; the chaos that exists in the financial markets; and the chaos that ensues from trying to meet the needs of billions of Facebook users. “I like working in chaos, with some amount of control. The environment keeps you agile. There is value in inefficiency and the space it creates to innovate and learn.”

Leadership and ethics are the two focus areas for the lyceum course and Wolfe said his philosophies on both were heavily shaped by the Marine Corp.

As a leader, he tries to find the best position for someone based on their skill sets, shape them in that role, and then give them the autonomy and practice they need to execute on their own. He stressed the importance of understanding people’s motivations, so you can emotionally connect them to what they are doing.

When talking about ethics, Wolfe recounted the old motto of, ‘You are what you do.’ “Integrity is a bridge between your words and actions,” he said. He explained that Facebook has five values, and one of those is to build trust. He takes that seriously and said that seeing the consistent reflection of Facebook’s five values in their actions is part of what attracted him to working for the company.

Several students asked questions alluding to criticism that Facebook has faced from their users over the years in response to changes made to the platform. “We are user-driven, not necessarily user-led,” said Wolfe. “We have a ship-evaluate-change-ship again philosophy. If you aren’t trying something new, someone else will, and you will lose your position as the market-leader.”