Alumni Spotlight – Mark Rogers, Class of 2007


Mark RogersMark Rogers, BHP ’07, followed his passions as they led him from banking in London to opening a charter school in Austin. He held on to the confidence and inspiration he received from his BHP peers as he made various career changes and has now become an award-winning teacher. Mark will deliver the keynote address at Discover BHP, an event for all newly-admitted BHP students, this coming Saturday.

Could you take me through your career path since graduation, and how you ended up teaching at Meridian World School in Austin?

I had an internship at Morgan Stanley in London after my junior year at UT. Living in Europe was a dream of mine ever since my best friend moved to Europe when I was 16. He moved to London and I visited him and became entranced by the city. My goal was to live and work there ever since I was a sophomore in high school. When internship time was coming around, I emailed various managing directors within Morgan Stanley and sent them my CV and lots of cover letters. By the end of the process, they decided to give it a shot. The summer went really well and it was everything I hoped it would be both personally and professionally. I got to travel, meet a lot of very interesting and diverse people, and I fell in love with the idea of moving abroad. I received a full-time offer, and it was only then that I began to consider what that meant – leaving all family, all friends, and being 6,000 miles away. That was very tough because I think the gravity of it never hit me until I got the offer. I accepted the job and moved, and despite how difficult the process of moving that day and saying goodbye to my family was, as soon as I landed and as soon as things started to get going, it did feel right. It did feel like I made the right choice.

The two years go by, and I’m ready to move back, and I go to a friend’s wedding and that’s where I met my wife. It was there, for the first time ever, that someone opened my eyes to education as a full-time career choice that could be so fulfilling and still economically viable. I decided to get my teaching certificate and see what happened. I did get a job in education and helped open a charter school in 2011. I still teach Calculus, Statistics, and Theory of Knowledge there today.

When you were in college, did you think this is where your career path would lead you?

No way. I wouldn’t have felt confident enough to take these risks if I didn’t surround myself with people in BHP who took calculated risks like these, and the teachers who encouraged risk-taking and creative thinking. There was a good entrepreneurial spirit about the program. Even though I left to go to Morgan Stanley, I feel like I would still be in a job that I felt like I had to be in if I hadn’t been exposed to those calculated risk-takers in BHP.

Did you experience any culture shock, starting out your post-graduate career in London

Oh yeah. Going to work at a bank, you need a suit. I had my two suits from college – one was a holdover from high school, the other I had gotten in college. I had these two suits and then I had maybe 10-11 dress shirts. I go into the office wearing my college suit and one of my colleagues says “Rogers, you’re wearing your dad’s suit today, huh?” In America, especially men wear baggier suits and so every time I came in in that suit, he called it my dad’s suit. I maybe lasted two weeks before I took my first paycheck to buy myself a suit that wasn’t baggy so my colleague would stop saying that I was wearing my dad’s suit.

How did your BHP education prepare you to succeed in such diverse industries?

The smaller class size promotes discussion, and it’s that type of exposure to different ideas and student engagement, especially, where it’s just better to learn. In classes that get above 40, it gets tough on the teacher and that type of conversational learning doesn’t scale. In small classes, you had a relationship with your peers and your teachers.

What are some of the challenges and rewards of a career in education?

The challenge is that I know exactly what an education can do for you, and on the other side of that coin, I know what missing out on education can do for you economically. So the biggest challenge for me is helping students who need significant help getting to that point where they have the skills necessary to be successful. And that’s incredibly challenging because you, at times, are making up knowledge and skills gaps that span years. I know how important it is, specifically with math, especially with their finances as they get older. I think about that when I’m working with these kids and we’re trying to close gaps. It’s on the front of my mind.

When you actually fill the gap, when they gain the skill, and when they start performing on grade level, rising to challenges, and gaining confidence, there’s just no better feeling. You get these success stories. I have students who were two grade levels behind, and now they’re performing a grade level above. It’s a two-way street. They just do such a good job of staying the course.

Do you have any advice for current BHP students?

Small changes made over a long period of time can yield the most incredible impact. I guess the advice is: think about something you want to change that’s really small, that you can tackle, but do it every single day. You’ll look back in a year or in two years, and you’ll think back to that day you decided to make the change, and it will amount to something that has greatly improved your life.

*This post was written by Rachel Solomon, a BHP senior and co-chair of Discover BHP 2015.

BHP Peer Advisor and Peer Mentor Applications Being Accepted

The BHP office is currently taking applications for the roles of Peer Advisor and Peer Mentor. These two positions are essential to the program and are a great way to get more involved, gain skills and help others! Read more about the experiences of Morgan Lundy and Miriam Petsch below. Applications for these positions are due this Friday, March 27 to the BHP office no later than 5 pm. Check your email or stop by the office for an application.

MorganLundyPeer Advisor – Morgan Lundy

Why did you apply to be a Peer Advisor?
After my first year as a college student, I knew that McCombs and BHP had completely defined my college experience and were the main reasons I fell in love with the University of Texas. So, I applied to become a Peer Advisor at the end of my freshman year because I was looking for something that would allow me to communicate my passion for the program to others while helping me get more involved in BHP, and I couldn’t imagine a better way to do so than through working in the office. This position provides a great opportunity to connect with your BHPeers and staff on another level. As a PA, you are given the opportunity to work very closely with each member of the staff, touching the areas of advising, admissions, and the BHP curriculum. I knew that this job would give me an enriching and rewarding way to give back to the program, which was exactly what I was looking for!

What have you gained/valued from the experience?
For me, my favorite part about being a PA is that it has helped me to fully appreciate the education and opportunities that BHP provides its students. Working in the BHP office gives you a behind-the-scenes look at how the program is run. From helping out with the admissions and recruiting process, to setting up coffee chats with companies, to pre-advising students on their class schedules, to assisting the staff on other projects, this job gives you insight to just how wonderful our resources, opportunities, and staff are here at the BHP! Being a PA has reinforced for me just how valuable a Business Honors degree is from McCombs, while simultaneously allowing me to further develop hard skills in a professional, yet fun and relaxed environment.

Any challenges or unexpected parts of the job? 

The office can get very busy during admissions season and class registration periods. During the fall when the BHP application is released to high school seniors and during the spring when admissions decisions are released, there can be a high influx of questions from prospective students and their parents. Also, during registration times, many students come into the office seeking advice on their course schedules and require assistance with various circumstances. Both situations require that you are knowledgeable about these processes so you can answer questions and provide appropriate assistance. These situations will help you build your communication skills!


MiriamPeer Mentor – Miriam Petsch

Why did you apply to be a Peer Mentor?

As a student who transferred into the BHP my sophomore year, I wanted to find a way to connect with my new community. Although I met a lot of new people through my classes, I still didn’t feel quite as integrated as I would’ve liked. So when the Peer Mentor application was released, I decided to give it a shot. I felt that my perspective as a sophomore transfer would offer incoming freshmen a truly fresh perspective of the business school.

What have you gained/valued from the experience?

Amusingly, I had a chance to sit through the BHP version of BA 101 at a time when it was very relevant. In fact, as I was going through the junior year recruiting process, the material covered in the class actually helped me a lot! In that sense, being a Peer Mentor was a refresher on what it means to be a McCombs student. The position also allowed me to reflect on my own career ambitions and how my time at McCombs shaped them. When you’re a mentor, it forces you to question what you believe because you want to be certain you’re giving accurate, useful advice. I would recommend the position not only to students who know exactly what they want to do, but also to those who are still discovering their path themselves!

Any challenges or unexpected parts of the job?

The role itself involves much more than just sitting in on a couple of classes and attending weekly meetings. You are literally the face of BHP to ten very impressionable freshmen. Your actions may define their entire academic or professional paths, and you must recognize that fact. On the other hand, this challenge should be viewed as an opportunity to showcase as many different options as possible. This variety of perspectives is often difficult to present because you’re trying to be a mentor instead of just a friend. There is a fine line between preaching and giving advice, so identifying the difference between the two was critical for me.


Alumni Spotlight – Mitch Kreindler, Class of 1984

Mitch and his daughter, Erin, who is a sophomore at UT Austin.

Mitch and his daughter, Erin, who is a sophomore at UT Austin in the College of Natural Sciences.

Mitch Kreindler, BHP ’84, JD ’87, is the founder of Kreindler & Associates, a Houston law firm representing whistle blowers pursuing the recovery of taxpayer dollars from fraud perpetrated against the government. Mitch practiced law for several high profile firms before starting his own. He serves on the BHP Alumni Advisory Board.

How did your business degree prepare you for law school?

I knew early on that I wanted to go to law school. My BHP degree helped with law school and law in two ways. First, it gave me an understanding of basic business concepts and how business works, which is a lot of the law. It is important to understand all the business components of cases. In law school, there were students who had no business background and felt lost in classes like contracts and corporations. Having a business background helped me feel comfortable with principles that underlie the law. Second, BHP helped me develop a lot of basic skills in terms of analytical thinking that apply throughout life, but especially when practicing law.

Describe what you do.

I represent whistle blowers who are trying to stop companies and individuals from ripping off the government and return money to the federal or state treasury. There are federal and state statutes that create a public-private partnership between the government and private parties. Through that partnership an individual and an attorney can file a lawsuit on behalf of the government, asserting that someone has committed fraud against the government. We work with the government to investigate these allegations with the hope they will join our suit and obtain a recovery. If the government doesn’t join the case, the whistleblower can pursue the case on their own, and we engage in litigation with the bad guys. These are very unique statutes. There are really no other statutes like them.

The statutes provides that the whistleblower will be rewarded for their efforts with a bounty that is a percentage of what the government recovers, historically around 17-18 percent. The lawyers, working on a contingent fee, take a percentage of that percentage. These cases take 3-7 years to resolve. Whistleblowers really have to believe in the mission of what they are doing. In my twenty years of doing this, I only have had one client who came to me saying he was motivated by money. Every other client has been concerned about the public harm, fraud or retaliation for complaining about the fraud.

What is it that you have enjoyed most about practicing law?

I am always representing the underdog who is trying to do what is right against strong, powerful, corporate resources that are doing what is wrong. It is in the public good and it is feel-good work. Most people won’t think of being a lawyer as a helping profession, but it really is because you are helping clients fix a problem, and I like that. Students who are considering law school need to think why they want to be a lawyer. What is it that really is interesting to you? It is important to pursue your passions and interests, but don’t pursue them blindly and close yourself off to other opportunities that present themselves.

Why the decision to start your own firm and focus on whistleblowers?

I had always thought about starting my own thing. My father always said make sure by the time you are 40, you are controlling your own destiny. That was his mantra. When I started doing this whistleblower work, there were a lot of small firms engaged in this area of the law, so it was easy to have my own small shop and was a good fit for me.

Is there any case that really stands out to you?

The cases that stand out most in my mind are the ones where I have been most able to help the client. They might not be the ones where we recovered the most money, but the ones where the clients were really serious about their claims and by filing those claims, we were able to put a company out of business or stop a fraud and obtain a righteous result. The client put themselves on the line in a significant way. They did what was right and because of it, they did something that was for the public good.

It takes a special person to be a whistleblower. We all know the difference between right and wrong, but not everyone will stand up to do what is right. It is a difficult path. They decide they need to do the right thing, not the easy thing. They have a strong moral compass and are willing to do what is right, even though it subjects them to a lot pain. It is a part of our culture that we value loyalty, sometimes more than honesty, so whistleblowers are frequently ostracized and in a lonely place. It amazes me that people want to do this, but thankfully there are people who have a strong moral compass because there is a lot of fraud that would not be stopped without them.

Empowering whistleblowers has become government policy in the last 15 years in a big way as a result of Enron and the mortgage fiasco in the late 2000s. The Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd Frank legislation greatly advanced the cause of the whistleblower. We now have an SEC whistleblower office. They are now recognizing that it’s the people on the inside who know what is going on and who we need to stop the fraud that is occurring. There are now more tools and protections provided for individuals who report their companies.

You were student body president at UT and president for the Business Student Council. Why have you remained involved with campus, particularly the BHP Advisory Board?

Since I was young, I have had a sense of wanting to get involved so I could help get things done. I am interested in policy-related issues and governance types of organization. Nothing gets done unless someone does it, so I wanted to help make things happen. You have to pick your niche. After you get out of college, it is hard to get involved in organizations. Pick what is important to you and where you want to spend your volunteer time, which is why I am still involved in BHP, because it has always been important in my life.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time at UT?

I have a lot of favorite memories and most involve experiences with people. It really does come down to relationships and not just relationships with fellow students. My fondest memories are in the dealings I had with professors, particularly a business law professor and math professor I kept in touch long past graduation, as well as a few key administrators. I sat on the committee that chose Bill Cunningham as dean of the business school, then again on the committee that selected him as president. I joked with him that he owed his success to me since I was the common element in the selection processes, which obviously wasn’t true, but I had a great relationship with him. I keep in touch with many fellow BHP students and have really valued those relationships.

For students interested in law after BHP, what advice would you have for them?

If they stay at UT, they should immerse themselves in the law school as though it was at an entirely different university.

BHP Students Present Ideas for REI, Inc. During Milgard Case Competition

Milgard team3

BHP students Lisa Kao, Ryo Kurita, Robert Ma, and David Yu, competed in the Milgard Invitational Case Competition on Social Responsibility (MICCSR) in Seattle a couple weeks ago. A total of 13 teams from schools across the nation and Canada participated in the social responsibility case competition. This year’s case centered on REI, Inc., specifically focusing on how REI could implement its strategic goals in the shared economy market.

This case was unique in a variety of ways. As a social responsibility case, it revolved around how to further expand and sustain REI’s existing reputation as an environmentally and socially aware company. Teams were also specifically tasked with improving on one of REI’s four business strategy components: catalyzing experiences for its customers. Teams were encouraged to develop a solution to this by utilizing what is known today as the “sharing economy”. Examples of businesses who utilize the sharing economy are Uber, Lyft, airbnb, TaskRabbit, etc.

“I thought [the prompt] was incredibly interesting and freeing – the prompt, let alone the topic of social responsibility, licensed us to think more abstractly and creatively than most cases, hence why I thoroughly enjoyed doing this case competition,” said Ryo Kurita.

The UT team presented a three-pronged solution revolving around utilizing the sharing economy to connect REI consumers around the globe. The solution provided users with the ability to seek and provide REI equipment rentals, lodging near popularly visited outdoors attractions, and touring services in those same areas. The team had 72 to hours to come up with a solution and create a presentation.

“I approached it like I’ve done with every other case. We all looked at the case on our own and came up with our own ideas. Then we came together to discuss ideas and ultimately came up with one that we hashed out,” said Robert Ma.

The case was also unique in that it had a two-weekend timeline. Teams were first emailed the case prompt on Friday morning of the first weekend, were given until Monday morning to develop their solutions and presentations, and were flown out to University of Washington at Tacoma at the start of the following weekend to present their solutions to the judges.

“The two-weekend timeline was definitely an adjustment for me.  I had also never had a 72-hour case before, so it was challenging drawing the line between a solution that was thorough and too much detail.  Furthermore, it was tough compiling the slides since we weren’t simultaneously preparing our oral presentations yet, as that portion was for the following weekend,” voiced Kurita.

After the preliminary rounds of the competition concluded, each participating team was invited to watch the finalists’ presentations. Although the UT team did not place in the competition, members felt satisfied with the valuable lessons they had gained through working on the case prompt as a team, as well as through their observations of other schools’ presentations.

“It was a humbling experience. I think it showed how other universities prepare their students differently than how McCombs does. Many of the universities have set teams that work together and organizations that teach about case comps and I think it definitely shows,” noted Ma.

The team made sure to take advantage of their time in the wonderful city of Seattle, too. A visit to the famous Pike’s Place Chowder was accomplished on the first day, and the team also visited popular tourist attractions, such as the Gum Wall and the first Starbucks. After befriending students from other participating schools, the team also enjoyed a fun last night out in Capitol Hill.


The team couldn’t wait after getting of the plane; they went straight to sightseeing in the city!

The team couldn’t wait after getting off the plane; they went straight to sightseeing in the city!

Three of the four team members making their mark at the infamous Gum Wall in downtown Seattle.

Three of the four team members making their mark at the infamous Gum Wall in downtown Seattle.

Student Spotlight – Nikki Ellis

Nikki EllisNikki Ellis is a senior in the BHP program and a third-year MPA student. She has been highly involved in the Alpha Delta Pi sorority, raising more than $30,000 for the Ronald McDonald House, and has had the opportunity to complete multiple internships, including a summer internship with Deloitte in their Rio de Janeiro office.

Nikki is the rare senior who will have completed four internships by the time she graduates. The summer after her freshman year, she interned with a family friend at a small investment bank called Wunderlich Securities. There were five directors she worked with, and all five had CPAs and had done accounting work. “I asked them for advice and they said you can go a lot of directions with an accounting degree and that it is a good foundation for whatever you choose to do,” said Nikki.

She enjoyed her first two BHP accounting classes, so she decided to take their advice and chose MPA as her second major. She chose tax because she is detail-oriented and likes being challenged by numbers. Nikki landed an internship with Deloitte the summer after sophomore year after connecting with a Deloitte recruiter at a conference and keeping in touch with her about opportunities. The internship was in Houston with the Corporate Tax and Federal Compliance group. Deloitte has a global internship program which is open to all interns, and Nikki applied for the program and was the only Houston intern selected to participate that year.

She spent two-and-a-half weeks in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, working with that office’s national tax group. She did research on international taxation and observed client meetings. She went with 7 other interns from across the country and created a strong network with those students as well as the professionals in the office. The program was intended to be a month long, but due to riots at the time, Deloitte delayed her trip but a week and a half. “I thought it would be a good experience to work abroad since I would consider doing an international assignment at some point in my career,” said Nikki. Even with the shortened program, she still felt she did get a taste of what working in tax in an international setting would be like.

Last summer, Nikki decided to take an internship with National Oilwell Varco. “I didn’t want to limit my options, so I wanted to try industry too,” she said. She enjoyed the internship, but ultimately decided that she preferred working with different clients and having a larger scope. She decided to go back into public accounting, accepting an offer with the same Deloitte Tax group this year for her spring for MPA internship. “Deloitte has invested a lot in me and they take an interest in helping interns learn, taking the time to fully explain projects to them. I like the young culture in my group and the fast pace and challenge.”

She wants to stress to underclassmen the value of networking. “I am glad I worked on building my professional network. I got all my internships from people I had met or knew. It is okay to reach out to family friends. I asked a lot of questions to people around me to figure out what I wanted to do and went to networking events.”