Student Profile: Rachel Gosch

RachelAfter spending the summer before her junior year conducting research, BHP senior, Rachel Gosch, was ready for a challenging internship this past summer. The mathematics major was interested in finding something technical that also involved consulting. At a loss for where to start, she Googled “Statistical Internships,” and discovered Summit Consulting.

Summit Consulting in Washington, D.C., was calling for an intern in their Federal Credit Modeling and Forecasting branch, which was right up Rachel’s alley. Rachel applied and completed two phone interviews before landing the position as a Summer Analyst with Summit. Once she accepted the internship, she spoke with her eventual mentor at Summit to determine which groups and projects would be a good fit for her.

Being in D.C., Summit works a lot with government entities such as the Department of Transportation. Within her branch, Rachel was placed on a team consulting the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Rachel and her team were tasked with two main contracts with the SBA. First was working on Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) of their different cash flow models. Her team acted as a third party consult to help the SBA forecast their budget and project how much to allocate to their different lending. The second task was to perform portfolio analysis on those lending programs to assess which lenders may be high-risk.  Rachel’s team then had to present their findings to the client, “The presentation skills I learned in BA 324 really helped me make the findings understandable and presentable,” said Rachel.

Working in the nation’s capital, Rachel had the chance to learn a lot about federal budget planning and allocations for groups such as the SBA, “I wasn’t expecting to learn so much about the SBA! I now know all about the different federal lending programs available for small business owners, how the process of receiving such a loan works, and the different criteria used to grade SBA-approved lenders,” said Rachel.


The six summer interns at Summit, including Rachel

Rachel spent 10 weeks in D.C. interning at Summit and one of her favorite parts of working at the consulting firm was the young atmosphere. “Summit is a young company, so most of the people that work there are around my age, which made fitting into the culture easier,” said Rachel. There were six interns total at Summit this summer and they became close doing things together outside of work. Of the six interns, Rachel was one of two undergraduates, the other was a student from University of North Carolina. The remaining four were graduate students at George Washington University (MBA), American University (MS), University of Tennessee (MS) and Rutgers University (MS).

In her senior year, Rachel is currently deciding between continuing her education or entering the workforce. She is actively applying to different master’s programs in Financial Engineering and Financial Mathematics. She is particularly interested in a Management Science and Engineering program at Columbia and will also likely apply to UT’s Business Analytics program. She is keeping her options open and also recruiting for positions dealing with statistics, data analytics and/or financial modeling.

Looking back on her time at UT, her fondest memory is all of the football games and seeing the tower lit orange, particularly when the team beat OU in 2013 and A&M in 2011.

Walmart International CFO, Brett Biggs, Visits BHP Sophomores

brett-biggsStudents in the sophomore lyceum course were visited by Brett Biggs, executive vice president and chief financial officer for Walmart International. Biggs has been with Walmart for 14 years and has held various positions there moving around from strategy, M&A, Sam’s Club and Walmart’s treasury operations and capital markets. He has a vast understanding of Walmart’s operations and finances, which he was able to share with the students.

Biggs attended Harding University and majored in accounting. He stressed the importance of an accounting background, suggesting that students take at least 12 hours of accounting, not merely the six required for their BHP degree. Knowing how to interpret the numbers and how to relate to people are a winning combination, he told them.

His first job after graduation was with Pricewaterhouse in Dallas as an auditor. He went on to pursue an MBA from Oklahoma State University, then took a job as an M&A analyst for Leggett & Platt, where the company completed about 100 deals over four years. He joined Walmart in 2000 working in their M&A division. He joked that he was known by some  as “chief schmoozing officer” because he travelled all the time building a pipeline of relationships for joint ventures and acquisitions.

He showed a willingness to be thrown in the deep end, so the speak, and take calculated risks in his career and he was thus moved around by management and given new opportunities. “It is important to have the judgment to bring in the right people at the right time, be able to collaborate and have the humility to ask for help,” said Biggs.

One example he used was moving from finance to operations. Biggs served as senior vice president of operations for Sam’s Club, leading all facets of Sam’s Club operations in the southern part of the U.S., encompassing 230 clubs and 40,000 associates. He never would have thought of himself in operations, but at the urging of his CEO, he tried it and loved it, learning a great deal along the way. He relied on his team for help during this transition.

Being in operations meant that he had to handle many more personnel issues. When asked by a student about the most challenging situations he has encountered in his career, Biggs said the toughest decisions are around people. “It is most rewarding to watch your people do well, but most difficult to have to part ways with people who aren’t doing well,” he said. He talked about how much Walmart cares about their talent and how much time they invest in growing that talent and giving them opportunities to progress through the organization taking on roles with greater complexity and scale.

Biggs answered questions from students ranging from Walmart’s long-term strategy, partnerships in other countries and charitable endeavors. “There are so many opportunities to do good and help others when you are a company this size,” he said when discussing initiatives from sustainability, to jobs for veterans, to women’s economic empowerment. He also touched on Walmart’s big plans for E-Commerce and how they plan to compete with online giants like Amazon in the near future, saying to stay tuned for news in the future.

The students in the class enjoyed learning more about Walmart and Biggs’ roles at the company. Biggs described the culture at Walmart as “pay-it-forward,” saying that people will make time to help you and give you advice. We thank him for making time for our students and sharing with them his unique career path and advice!

Internship Spotlight: Rachel Solomon – The Neiman Marcus Group


BHP Senior, Rachel Solomon, has always wanted to work in high-end retail and when the opportunity presented itself for her to work at Neiman Marcus she jumped on it. She is very happy to announce the internship resulted in a full-time offer, which she just recently accepted.

Company: The Neiman Marcus Group

Intern Position: Buying/Planning Intern

Full-Time Position: Executive Development Program (to become an Assistant Buyer)

What steps did you take to secure your internship?

I used the Neiman Marcus Careers page to find the opportunity for the internship, and then met with HR representatives at the Fall McCombs Career Expo. I applied online in October, then took a retail math test and went through two rounds of interviews before eventually receiving an offer.

What were the responsibilities for this role?
I was a rotational planning intern, so I worked in the Home & Gifts and Men’s divisions with the Senior Merchandise Planners and Assistant Buyers. I helped recap sales history, forecast and project sales for future seasons, and allocate merchandise across stores. I also worked on a team project with the other interns to suggest the ways in which Neiman Marcus could leverage big data. We were lucky enough to present our findings to the senior executives in their boardroom at the end of the internship.

Describe the culture within the organization.
The culture at Neiman Marcus was one of my favorite things about the company. Going into luxury retail, I was expecting more of a cutthroat atmosphere, but what I experienced was just the opposite. Everyone was so warm and willing to help me with everything from my daily tasks to where I should take my visiting friends out to dinner. I cannot wait to go back to the office next fall and work with some of the most caring and creative people I have ever met.

What advice would you offer your peers in the Honors Program about getting the most out of an internship?
I think the most important part of any job is the people you surround yourself with. I would make an effort to get to know as many people within the company as you can, because it’ll tell you a lot about what the company stands for and what the culture is like. And as an intern, I was pleasantly surprised by how many people were not only willing, but excited, to tell me about what they do on a daily basis and even let me help. Sometimes I ended up doing work for people who weren’t my direct supervisors, which made for an exciting and well-rounded experience. So, I would say don’t be afraid to reach out to those around you because you never know what you’ll get to learn or do.

What was your favorite part about this internship?
I’ve always been interested in a career that would let me actively use both the right and left sides of my brain, so I loved the fact that I could spend hours in a database analyzing sales history and margins, then open a binder full of swatches and images to see exactly what the products I was analyzing looked and felt like. And at the end of my internship, I got to attend a weeklong event where many of our vendors came to present their products, oftentimes in the form of a fashion show. That was probably one of the most exciting weeks of my life.

How did you find your classes in the Business Honors Program at the university to be applicable during your internship?
I think the communication skills taught in BA 324 helped me to secure the internship, while MIS 301 provided me with a good foundation of technical skills that I needed while working in the buying offices. Sometimes I was even able to show other employees Excel tricks I learned in MIS, which was a good feeling over two years after having taken the class.

What are the most valuable lessons you gained from this internship?
Since I rotated in so many offices, I had the opportunity to meet and work with a lot of different people in the company. Oftentimes, I only worked in a particular office for two to three days. So I had to learn to adjust to new working styles and quickly prove that I had the skills necessary to help with whatever tasks my supervisors would assign. Since they hadn’t seen my previous work, sometimes that was challenging. But I learned how to briefly summarize other projects I had done and systems I had worked with over the course of the summer so they could figure out what I could complete without training, and what they would need to help me with.

What parts of your internship convinced you to sign on full-time?
I have always wanted to go into luxury retail, and have had my sights set on Neiman Marcus for years. I walk into the Austin store to find inspiration on a bad day, and I really can’t imagine anything better than working to fill the stores with the products I find so inspiring. Combine that with the fact that everyone I worked with this summer was so kind, helpful, bright, and driven, and there is no place I would rather be. I am so excited to begin this journey after graduation.

ExxonMobil VP Ken Cohen Visits with BHP Sophomores

Ken CohenBHP students had the unique opportunity to hear from ExxonMobil’s Vice President of Public and Governmental Affairs, Ken Cohen, last week during their sophomore lyceum course. Cohen has worldwide responsibility for the company’s public policy, government relations, communications, media relations, and corporate citizenship activities, all of which he touched on during his extended Q&A session with BHP Faculty Director Robert Prentice.

Cohen has been with ExxonMobil for 37 years. He earned his law degree from Baylor University, then had a short stint as a professor at the Robert H. McKinney School of Law at Indiana University before making the move to ExxonMobil. He has moved around quite a bit during his 37 years, but said he has enjoyed each role he has undertaken along the way. He encouraged students to find a work situation in which they are enjoying what is in front of them every day, and are not spending their time thinking about what they want to be doing next. “There is no typical day when you are dealing with the public, government, and media, and I have enjoyed every challenge,” said Cohen.

Students in the class learned more about the main functions of Cohen’s department, which include maintaining ExxonMobil’s “license to operate” in countries and communities across the world, negotiating access to resources, and reputation management. Cohen touched on recent headlines and explained how world events come into play in the work he does. ExxonMobil is the largest foreign investor in Russia and has major operations in the Middle East, so current events in those areas are a major focus of his work. These two examples alone shed light on the complex set of challenges Cohen and his team deal with on a daily basis.

In addition to his role as VP, Cohen also serves as Chairman of the ExxonMobil Foundation and the ExxonMobil PAC. He answered questions from students related to both areas. Students didn’t hold back on questions related to climate change, fracking, and PAC contributions. Cohen answered each one thoroughly and openly discussed the challenges ExxonMobil faces in the area of geopolitics, specifically related to controversial fracking practices.

One policy area that ExxonMobil is paying special attention to right now is education. Cohen said the company is closely following what is happening with higher education standards, specifically at UT Austin, because of ExxonMobil’s hiring interests and a desire to keep up the rigorous standards that have produced top employees for the company.

The sophomore lyceum class has a focus on leadership and ethics, so Cohen also discussed the qualities he feels are important in leadership: honesty, clarity, and being a good team member. In addition to exhibiting these traits himself throughout the discussion, he also mixed in a good dose of humor, keeping the students engaged. BHP students in the sophomore lyceum course will hear from 10 executives this semester, all of whom will offer great insight into their industries and valuable advice on leadership. Many thanks to Ken for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak with our students!

Annual BHP Community BBQ Kicks Off the School Year


Last night, around 200 students attended the annual BHP Community BBQ, where they chatted over free BBQ at Scholz Garten and then competed in six rounds of trivia with representatives from BP, ConocoPhillips, Dell, Deloitte, Dropbox, PepsiCo and PwC.

Teams were asked to choose a team name. Some of the names that garnered the best reactions from the crowd were  “Sorcerer’s Prentice,” “Staff Infection” and “Dr. Konana’s Voiceover IP.”

Trivia rounds done by “Geeks who Drink” were witty and hilarious. Rounds included: “Bad YouTube Karaoke,” which required participants to identify songs that someone had completely botched and posted on Youtube; “Wallstreet Balderdash,” in which teams had to identify the true meaning of made-up words used by those working on Wall Street; and “Do Give Up Your Day Job,” a round which brought to light some interesting past occupations of famous celebrities.

The competition was fierce and in the end teams Deloitte and Lets Get Fiscal tied for first place, but a tie breaker question set team Deloitte apart as the first place winner. Deloitte team members included:


Top row (from left to right):
Arvind Sivakumar
Rabin Shetty
Sai Yeluru
James Abbott
Malorie Liljenwall (Deloitte rep.)

Bottom row (from left to right):
Mickey Li
Kevin Yu
Sophia Ding
Macy Huang
Lisa Feng
Nazifa Mim
Kevin Chiu (Deloitte rep.)

Special thanks to our sponsors: BP, ConocoPhillips, Dell, Deloitte, Dropbox, PepsiCo and PwC!