BHP Year In Review

BHP staff and peer advisors

As we near the end of 2012, we wanted to take the time to give you an update on all of the great things that happened over the last 12 months. It has been an exciting year for us. In August we announced a $1 million challenge grant from BHP alumnus and El Paso native Woody Hunt. We have five years to raise $2 million in order to receive the full $1 million from Woody, and we are ready to rise to the challenge! These funds, which will be used for scholarships as well as faculty, student, and programmatic support, will no doubt make a truly lasting impact on the BHP.

This kind of support is needed, as the quality of the BHP students continues to increase. In 2012 we enrolled 116 very bright freshmen, who in addition to earning numerous academic accolades, were also top leaders at their schools. The average SAT of these students was a 1453 and the average class rank was in the top 2%. However, as some come in, some also go out, and in 2012 we graduated around 100 students who are now making a name for themselves in the workplace.

The 2012 senior class swept campus awards, receiving both of the campus-wide Outstanding Student Awards given by the Texas Parents’ Association, as well as three of the President’s Leadership Awards given by the Texas Exes. A BHP senior also received the McCombs Rising Star Leadership Award. These awards were further recognition of the fact that BHP students excel both in and out of the classroom, and truly make an impact on campus.

Our award streak continued beyond our students though, as BHP Advisory Board Chair Dominic Sung (’03) received the McCombs Rising Star Award during the McCombs Hall of Fame ceremony. This award is presented to alumni no more than 10 years out from graduation who have been successful professionally and helped strengthen the McCombs Alumni Network. Dominic is a Director of Structured Products in the Integrated Supply and Trading Group at BP.

Dominic and a team of alumni, along with BHP staff, have also been busy revamping the BHP Advisory Board. The Board has added new members and is focusing its attention around the areas of admissions and recruitment, fundraising, student mentoring, and alumni communication. We are already seeing the benefits of this increased focus and look forward to making more progress in the coming year.

Speaking of alumni communication, you may have noticed an increase in the information you are receiving from us. Over the last year, we developed an alumni e-newsletter, created an alumni Facebook group, enhanced our blog content, and grew our LinkedIn alumni group to nearly 900 members. All of this is part of a greater effort on our part to keep you abreast of what is going on with the program. We hope you find it beneficial, and as always, feel free to let us know if you have suggestions.

Finally, we want to let you know that we continue to do all we can to improve the program and make it the best it can be for current students. This year we added a new mentoring program, created student study circles, planned a new boot camp to help prepare students for one of their more difficult courses, and revamped curriculum – all of this in addition to providing them with opportunities to connect with employers, alumni, and C-level executives. In the same week, our students had a visit from the COO of SW Airlines one day and the CFO of Walmart the next!

As you can see, this year has been a great one. We are thankful for our wonderful students, alumni, and supporters. We will keep doing our part to protect the value of your degree and ensure that future generations of BHP students have the same opportunities you did. Happy holidays and onwards to 2013!

Honors Formal Brought UT Honors Programs Together for Night of Fun

This past Saturday, students from honors organizations across campus enjoyed the third annual All-Honors Formal. For the third year in a row, the Honors Business Association (HBA) worked with representatives from Plan II Student Association and Liberal Arts Honors to plan and fund this popular event. With plenty of hors d’oeuvres, great live music, an in-house DJ, and intelligent friends, the event was a great success that drew over 500 students – the largest attendance yet!

“I thought it was a great opportunity to see all of my friends and just have fun together one last time before finals-induced hibernation,” said Rachel Solomon, a sophomore in BHP and Plan II.

We look forward to an even better event next year!

Alumni Spotlight: Webb Stevens – Operations Consultant for Deloitte

Originally published on McCombs TODAY

Webb Stevens, BBA ’04, enjoys navigating leadership positions as much as he enjoys navigating mountain-climbing excursion and water safaris. Since graduating from the Business Honors Program, he has travelled the world as a strategy and operations consultant with Deloitte and now, as senior director of business and corporate development at Avalara, a sales-tax automating software provider, he is helping companies across the country simplify their tax processes. But throughout his career, he hasn’t forgotten where his success started—at McCombs.

In a phone call from his office in Seattle, Stevens discussed his experience in the business world and how he remains connected with the University of Texas at Austin and the McCombs School of Business. Here is our conversation, edited for clarity and length.

What have you done since graduation?

Since I left McCombs I’ve been having a good time! I did a stint with Deloitte in the strategy and operations group and then moved to venture capital and private equity with Summit Partners, and joined the company I actually tried to make an investment in, Avalara.

Where in the world has your career taken you so far?

For Deloitte I basically lived on an airplane. I worked for a month in Istanbul, and I worked for six months out of the UK. I enjoyed the traveling, but at a certain stage in your life it’s a lot easier to do.

What did you learn from all the traveling?

I think that a lot of the trite phrases about having to work with other cultures, while trite when being said in a classroom, are still true. You’re really getting to work with people that have a different perspective, not just because they’re in marketing or sales or development, but because of their culture have a radically different way of solving problems or approaching business issues. The other important issue that’s absolutely applicable in my role right now is massively different regulating environments. Thinking about those things early on is always valuable.

How else have you stayed connected to McCombs?

I was fortunate to be fairly lucky and have some success with case competitions as an undergrad. And I think as a result of that I was invited back to judge the competitions and Kurt Leedy, BBA ’02, and I wrote the case for a local [competition]. I got involved in that as a product of winning some [case competitions] as an undergrad.

How did those case competitions shape your experience at McCombs?

As a student,  part of the reason why I found it rewarding to do extracurricular activities like case competitions was because it really puts together all the pieces of the business education when you have to apply accounting, finance, marketing and presentation skills all in a couple of days. I think it was that more than anything else that drove me towards pursuing strategy and operations consulting. When I’d had some success at some of those competitions and was thinking about what I wanted to do after McCombs, somebody mentioned that there was an equivalent to case competitions professionally, and it was called management consulting. So for the lack of being more creative while thinking about what I wanted to do next, I thought that sounded interesting and decided to pursue the strategy and operations consulting role.

As an alumnus, what has your experience been with the McCombs alumni network?

The McCombs alumni network is an impressive one. There were multiple times when I was in Leeds [England] I would go and meet with fellow McCombs alumni in London that were there working permanently with a variety of different jobs. The McCombs reach is broad.

When I moved to California, I was looking to build a professional and social network and started attending some of the McCombs events. I then joined the executive team, organizing a couple of events throughout the year. And then the former president stepped down and so I filled in, not really aggressively seeking it out but because there was a need and I wanted to make sure that we could keep organizing projects and events for McCombs alumni in the Bay Area.

Why do you think the McCombs network is so strong?

I think the business world definitely encourages a certain degree of professional networking, but I think everybody has such amazing experiences both academically and socially at McCombs. Whether it’s a BBA, MBA, or MPA program, there’s a common bond everyone has spending a handful of years on campus and in Austin that makes you a little more excited to reach out and interact with someone else that also had that shared experience.

What aspect of your career are you most proud of so far?

I think I’m probably most proud of the work I’m doing now. I’m co-managing two different teams of a total of 10 people in a rapidly growing company in the software [industry] that is having a really big impact on all the burden of taxes. It seems like a really mundane thing, but we’re positively impacting thousands of companies, allowing them to focus on what’s important.

When you aren’t working, what do you do?

I am trying to find time to get into the mountains and outdoors, participating in ultra endurance events. I was still able to find time when I was working at Summit in investing to train and complete a couple of ultra marathons. I took third place in a 50km race in 2010. I also completed a Texas Water Safari, which is a 263 nonstop canoe race in 2006 as a solo competitor. While I haven’t competed in anything specific here [in Seattle], I have actually paddled around Bainbridge Island, which is about 28 miles in a day, so I’m still getting out and doing some fun stuff.

Can you explain how you’ve used your love of the outdoors to help the community?

Since I’ve left McCombs, one of the things that I still put on my resume is Big City Mountaineers. I gave a presentation to one of the Business Honors Program symposiums when I was still in school about the value of outdoor education and the applicability it has in business and to life skills in general. I’ve continued to try to make contributions to people that are less fortunate. I’ve raised well over $10,000 for Big City Mountaineers, which takes at-risk urban youth and pulls them out of the city environment and puts them into constructive educational and learning environments out on a trail or canoeing trip. I’m proud that I’ve been able to find time with my professional career to go and raise funds for something that I think is a really worthwhile cause.

What advice do you have for current students?

Stay hungry. I think it’s really easy for people once they get a job to start to feel like they’ve got some stability, and, as a result, they start to get soft, frankly. If you put yourself in situations that are a stretch and actively pursue those, you not only experience professional success, but you’ll stay mentally sharp and have a lot of interesting life experiences.

Congratulations to BHP Sophomore Case Competition Winners

This past Friday BHP sophomores participated in a case competition for the BHP Sophomore Lyceum. The case from Dell tasked students with analyzing the current state of the PC industry and recommending a strategy for Dell to win in its PC business in China. A panel of McCombs professors and Dell employees judged the presentations.

The winning team members were Nakul Shah, Jeremy Tsui, Tommy Moore, and Andrew Smith. Their presentation really stood out and all four team members made a big impression on the judges.

Students advancing to the final round from other teams were Jane Tedjajuwana, Linda Shi, Philip Berthelsen, Jimmy Cao, Robert Ma, Simi Kavthekar, Daisy Hao, Priyanka Thupili, Becky Pickert, Audrey Mehrl, Margaret Sone, and Armiya Humphrey.

Congratulations to all finalists and to all sophomores for doing a great job!

Internship Spotlight: Jasmine Bell, Finance Intern for Circuit of the Americas

The 2012 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix (USGP), held in Austin last month, was one of the most highly anticipated and talked about events in the recent future. The race marked the return of F1 to the United States, and it attracted an international crowd larger than that of the Superbowl. Jasmine Bell, a BHP senior, had the chance to see what goes into putting on a sporting event of this magnitude through an internship with Circuit of the Americas.

What was the internship?

It was an accounting internship in the Finance Department for Circuit of the Americas (COTA). I started in July and will continue working with them through the end of the spring semester. For the F1 race, I mainly worked with contracts that had to do with marketing the race. I kept a running tab of more than 200 contracts, and also handled some payments and invoices. For the spring semester, we will be working on Grand-Am in March, MotoGP in April, and possibly V8 Supercars in May, as well as concerts and other events. My responsibilities will vary by event and will be specific to the needs of that event.

How did you find out about the internship and was the hiring process competitive?

While studing abroad in Hong Kong, an HR recruiter reached out to my supply chain professor about the position. He let our class know about it and I applied from there. I interviewed when I returned to the states and got the internship. There were three student interns, and I was the only UT student intern. This was the first year they had interns because the company is young. I was the only one in the Finance Department. I want to work in sports down the line, so this reaffirmed my desire to be in something sports-related.

What role did you play the actual weekend of the race?

They approached me and asked if I wanted to work the weekend of the race and then assigned me to the command center. I headed out to the track Thursday at noon and worked late into the evening learning the process in the command center. I worked 12 hour days during Friday’s practice sessions and Saturday practice and qualifying sessions.  I was the main line/receptionist for the command center; I took calls about every two minutes, so it was pretty hectic, but still exciting. It was nice to experience the event from the back-end and meet people during the event from the other departments that I don’t usually work in the office.

What was it like in the office leading up to the race?

There was a lot of excitement and we had a countdown in the office for the race. Some of the people who had been involved for a long time in getting F1 in Austin were really excited, so it was neat to be part of that. It was also really great to be a part of a track that is the first ever custom made F1 track in America.  I liked how much UT was showcased. Mack Brown did a pep talk for employees before the race weekend, and the UT band, cheer, pom, and Hook ‘Em performed on Sunday right before the Championship race started.

Any interesting stories or lessons learned from the weekend?

I liked hearing stories from the attendees after the race and learning about the sport and dealing with people from all nationalities. There were some people who called so often that I knew by the end of the weekend their name, what suite they were calling from and generally what they were probably calling about.  I think we handled twice the load of a Superbowl crowd for transportation, with attendance on Sunday alone being 117,429. A lot of the calls received were from Americans relating to transportation issues and having to walk a lot, which we didn’t hear from foreigners;it was quite apparent Americans aren’t used to walking as much as people who live in other countries. I learned it really takes a lot of work from the back end of operations so the front end looks like it is running smoothly.