Senior Jeff Stevens was recently honored with the Barbara Jordan Business Leadership Award, the BBA/MPA Alumni Advisory Board’s Rising Star Award, and the BHP’s top honor, the Doenges Award. What has set Jeff apart this year is not only his stellar leadership, service and academic accomplishments, but also the fact that he stepped up and took on several additional service and leadership positions in his senior year. During a time when most seniors take a step back, Jeff kept pushing himself to give more and have more of an impact before graduating. This year he lead the BBA Legacy campaign, headed marketing for the BHP Make-a-Mark campaign, served as a BHP recruiter, joined the Financial Analyst Program Advisory Board, and coordinated the BHP senior newsletter. We visited with Jeff to get some final thoughts on his time here before he leaves.
You have said that being a recruiter for the BHP was your favorite thing you did. Why?
Yes, there are two things that stick out to me about the experience. Being a recruiter has really made me feel like I am giving back to a program that gave me so much. I like to recruit the type of students who are going to make this program and the value of my degree even better. I also like interacting with the students. It gets me excited about school and has helped me push through all I do for my classes and extracurricular activities. In order to recruit the best students, I have to be on top of my game too. In order to sell BHP to them, I have to be able to tell them what I love about the program and all of the things I am doing.
How did you find your path of which organizations to be involved in?
I was drawn towards the people in the Undergraduate Business Council from the start. That was the vehicle through which I got involved in a lot more at McCombs. I had to pick and choose what was most meaningful and which I could give back to the most. I got involved in things my mentors were involved in. Michael Daehne and Bhargav Srinivasan were probably my greatest mentors in terms of how to be a leader and connect with people and how to choose which organizations to get involved in. My work this year on the Legacy campaign was motivating and I felt I could really make an impact on that campaign and improve it. I had a wide range of experiences at UT, which helped me explain to people why giving back to McCombs is important. A lot of the success of this year’s campaign was due to the strength of the committee and their network. We hit 28% participation, which was more than double the rate of any past campaign.
What lessons have you learned from all of the leadership positions you held? Were there any common themes?
I have always been good at managing tasks and getting things done, but I learned how to better manage people. Leading by example is very important, especially when interacting with underclassmen. I never approached them with the idea of me mentoring them, but I found that if I was open to learning from them and was open to answering any questions they had, that sort of mentorship relationship naturally progressed. I think it is important to always been kind to people and take time out of your day to develop relationships, and not just constantly ask people to do things.
What will you remember most when you look back on your time at UT?
Being a part of the VIP Distinguished Speaker series was amazing. I got to hear from C-level executives, including Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo. I learned so much from them. I have also really enjoyed being involved in Make a Mark and reconnecting with all of my classmates who I haven’t had classes with in a while. Going to the football games is great and I have also enjoyed checking out the Austin food scene.
What are you most proud of and why?
I am most proud of the relationships I have built with not only those in my class, but also underclassmen. I have really enjoyed the mutual opportunities for learning from these relationships. Being a cheerleader for other’s success is so much more rewarding than just being successful yourself. I really enjoy helping people succeed and again, I think that is part of why I enjoyed being a BHP recruiter and helping students see how BHP can help them accomplish their goals.
If you could go back and give advice to yourself as a freshman, what would you say?
I would say not to give up anything that you are passionate about. I was really passionate about band and music in high school and that is my greatest college regret that I didn’t pursue it further once I got here. I probably would have joined Longhorn Band if I had it to do over again.
What are you going to be doing after graduation?
I will be working for Exxon Mobil in Houston. My role is yet to be determined there, but I did my internship there last summer in their Internal Audit Division and really liked it. I feel confident in saying that I will stay with the company for many years. I hope that will afford me the opportunity to live and work in other countries. The travelling and study abroad experiences I did in college really opened my eyes and I would like to continue to broaden my world view and experience how business is conducted in other countries. I am actually going to be travelling this summer before I start my job and will be doing an internship in Shanghai, China. I found a program through the UT International Office and decided it would be a great opportunity. I will be working for an energy think tank, the China Energy Fund, doing research about the energy needs of China. That research will then be passed on to oil and gas companies operating in China. I am excited to start a new phase in my professional and personal life, but am also looking forward to staying connected to UT through my involvement with the BBA/MPA Alumni Advisory Board.