Student Spotlight: Kendall Baisden, Women’s Track Star

KendallBaisdenKendall Baisden is a junior in the BHP program and is a professional track athlete. Baisden was a star of the Texas Women’s Track & Field team the past two years before she made the decision this summer to go pro and take a year off from her schooling to compete and train.

Her ultimate goal is to secure a spot on the 2016 Summer Olympics Track and Field team and to win gold in the women’s 400m and 4x400m Relay. Over the summer, Baisden won two gold medals in the Pan American Games 400m and 4x400m relay. Those wins were added to a long list of her track accomplishments which can be viewed on She has a career best time in the 400m of 50.46. Sanya Richards-Ross, a fellow Longhorn, took gold at the London 2012 Olympics in the 400m with a time of 49.55.

Baisden started running track at the young age of 10. She tried out for the track team to improve her tennis game, and she says her track career just took off from there. “I was running with 8th graders in the 4th grade and taking first place. I grew to love it a lot more than tennis,” says Baisden. She credits running track with shaping her by teaching her discipline, the importance of long-term goals, remaining optimistic, and how to have good sportsmanship. She still follows tennis and considers Serena Williams to be her athletics role model, saying that her presence and the way she plays motivates her to be the best.

While she was at UT, Baisden was managing a demanding track schedule with her BHP courses. She had to prioritize what was more important each week and learn how to balance. She plans to come back to finish her BHP degree and possibly combine it with a supply chain management degree. “I love the people in BHP. They have big dreams like me,” she says. “BHP drove me to be innovative and dig deeper and apply it to life. BHP helped me decide to go pro and figure out what I was comfortable with. It taught me if I want to achieve my dreams, I need to dig down and think about what I want. I realized that going pro is the only way I am going to reach my goal.”

Baisden is currently in California training and although she says she can’t give her training secrets away, she says she is fully focused on track and is in an isolated and controlled environment where she is focusing on her body and her sport all the time. Even when she is not training, she is doing extra maintenance for her body.

“I want to show athletes that hard work, dedication and good sportsmanship are important if you want to be successful,” she says. “I want to show you can compete clean and be down to earth. You can be who you are and still be successful. Many athletes go pro for the money, but not for the love of the sport. The only reason I am still able to be successful and in this sport is because I love it so much and am so dedicated.”

Baisden’s business background has also made her cognizant of her own brand. Right now her brand is attached to Texas and her past success here, but she is currently working to figure out what angle she wants to take with her future brand, saying she wants to be a fierce athlete, but wants to win in an honorable and inspiring way and to reach out to youth to help them.

As a program focused on instilling integrity in our graduates, we admire her athletic integrity and look forward to following Kendall this year as she competes in professional meets and in the Olympics trials. The trials are held a couple weeks before the start of the Olympics and it will come down to the final race before she will know if she has a place on Team U.S.A.

Either way, Baisden says this is the start of a great, long career in track, and that if she makes it to the 2016 Olympics, it will not be her last Olympics, but the beginning of many.

Alumni Spotlight: Shirelle Noble, Class of 2009 – rewardStyle

Shirelle NobleShirelle Noble, BHP ’09, joined Bain & Company after graduating from BHP. After spending a few years working as a consultant, she felt it was time to make a move and found a great opportunity to do just that with rewardStyle. She is currently leading business development and partnership efforts for rewardStyle.

How would you describe what rewardStyle does?

rewardStyle connects digital style publishers and global retailers to provide marketing solutions across the web and social media.  At our core, we help fashion bloggers earn commissions from the products they promote on their blogs by providing them with tools and education. We connect the bloggers to our retail partners, who pay for the organic promotion and distribution of their products to the bloggers’ audiences. We do this by managing a technology platform which sales and other key metrics. Our tracking and platform allows us to report back to both the bloggers and retailers on performance. In short, rewardStyle is basically how fashion bloggers are able to make money from linking to products.

We didn’t invent affiliate marketing, but we were the first to make it accessible for fashion bloggers and influencers across the web. We are the market leader in our space. It is a very niche space, but also a profitable one. We work with all the major retailers in Europe and the U.S. and we are also expanding to Asia. We were also the first to launch shoppable Instagram through our product called, which has been a game changer in social media. Since Instagram doesn’t let anyone use links within their feeds, the solution allows consumers to find out what their favorite bloggers are wearing on Instagram by registering for the email service.

Tell me about your roles in sales and business development.

I was brought on board at the end of 2013 to run the team that cultivates relationships with our publishers. My role was largely focused on scaling the team and establishing strategies to keep up with our rapid growth. Our company has grown very rapidly- I was the 48th employee and now we are over 110 employees. We continue to scale to meet the growing demands of both our retail and publishing clients. At the end of last year, I transitioned into business development because of my background in strategy consulting. I was given a project to assess our European business, so I lived in London for three months to identify the growth opportunities and create the strategy plan fro 2015.

Tell me more about what you were doing for that project.

The crux of the problem was to understand the opportunity size for our European business and how to capture it in 2015. At the time, the European business was lagging the U.S., so I looked into all the individual markets to understand why.  Each European country is so different from one another, so we stopped treating the markets equally and started to think about each individual market’s revenue potential. The change of mindset has been very successful.

What work experience has been most rewarding for you so far?

The European strategy project has been most rewarding to me. When I was at Bain, I wasn’t able to see the results of my work in the real world. The European project is a great example of applying the consulting approach, but also leading the implementation. Six months later, I’m excited to see how my work is directly impacting the company.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Implementing the solutions I create and being in a fast-paced industry that is growing rapidly. We like to joke that all of our problems are “good problems to have” because they are all related to growth. A major plus of this role has been the opportunity to wear different hats and raise my hand to work on projects that interest me. Working internationally is something I love and rewardStyle has given me many opportunities to pursue that passion. I grew up in Indonesia and went to high school in Jakarta before coming to UT. Being part of the team that figures out the strategy for these new markets is something that really gets me excited and makes me want to work hard for the company.

rewardStyle has experienced rapid growth during the time you have been there. What kind of unique opportunities and challenges has that presented?

From the tech side, it is the ability to keep up with the growth of our products and data. One of the most interesting problems we are facing today is around email. Because the core product of is an email service, we are sending more than a million emails a day. It’s challenging to keep up with the volume and provide the best consumer experience.

What’s on the horizon for rewardStyle and how does that tie into the work you are doing?

International expansion is a major focus for the company, and I am leading the establishment of our first office in China. We are also continuing to grow our core services and, which is approaching one million registered users.

What experiences and skills did you gain at Bain as a consultant that have made you successful at rewardStyle?

The ability to critically think about a problem and determine the information I need to make an informed decision. I gained the ability to present a compelling recommendation to my team and build confidence in the solutions and plans I create. We are a young company, but it is a very supportive environment. One of the benefits of being in the social media/tech space is that innovators are young.

What advice would you give your college self?

Take advanced accounting, don’t avoid it! I was a BHP/Finance major and I didn’t take it because I was worried about ruining my GPA, but I wish I had gotten more of those hard skills. I also would have learned to code, even just some basic stuff. If I were a freshman, I would be looking at how I could gain some coding experience, whether in school or through a summer program. Being able to maintain a website and know some database architecture is helpful. I am trying to learn more now.

I also want to say how thankful I am for my BHP education. So many of the friends and support groups I have today are from fellow BHP-ers. Networking is really about finding a great friend group, staying in touch with them, and growing together throughout your career.

Where do you see yourself if 5 years?

I have no idea. It is hard to say! I will still be in the tech space and hopefully at a company that is growing quickly!

BHP Alums Melissa Beaver and David Kuo Report on the Dell Development Program

Two years after going private, Dell continues to deliver technology solutions that enable people everywhere to grow, thrive and reach their full potential. While executing their mission to become the leading provider of end-to-end scalable solutions, Dell is continually evolving and developing new ideas amidst a dynamic and challenging technology industry. BHP alumni, Melissa Beaver and David Kuo, are at the forefront of these challenges driving excellence and results.

Melissa and David are graduates of Dell’s Financial Development Program (FDP), an entry-level rotational program that provides participants with mentoring, networking, community service and teambuilding opportunities as well as exposure to the senior leadership team.

Melissa BeaverName: Melissa Beaver

Degree: BHP/Finance, minor in International Business

Current Role: Project Accounting, Dell Software Group in Cork, Ireland, will soon move to Pricing, Dell Financial Services in Austin, TX

Previous Roles: Federal Finance Financial Planning & Analysis, Sales Compensation Project Management, Productivity Transformation Analyst


What makes you excited to come to work every day? What is your favorite part about working for Dell?

There is a lot of opportunity at Dell and lots of ways to impact the company with a job in the finance organization. Finance has a seat at the table to influence decisions by business partners, drive the company forward, and shape Dell’s overall strategy. A sense of ownership, a constant intellectual challenge, and the enthusiasm of the people around me to adapt and improve makes me excited to come to work and is one of my favorite parts about working for Dell. Dell has thousands of people around the world that strive to make technology simpler and more accessible every single day.

What aspects of BHP have helped you most in your career?

I took several things away from the BHP curriculum – the broad base of business knowledge was one, but more importantly the ability to digest complex problems and come up with solutions, to collaborate in group projects with diverse team members, and to craft professional messages and give effective presentations. BHP gives you valuable experience in business case analysis, Excel analytics and modeling, and in-depth research, and BHP also teaches you soft skills to improve your business communication. All of this goes a long way in advancing a career.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

So far the most rewarding part of my job has been the network I’ve established from my four rotations through the FDP over the past two years. I have worked on global projects with people from China, Brazil, Slovakia, and Ireland, one of which sought to improve the annual planning process at Dell. I attended a week-long work conference in Penang, Malaysia where I had the opportunity to present the project to six of Dell’s Finance Vice Presidents and had the chance to network with directors from the Asia-Pacific region. The FDP is a truly global group, one that is passionate about the brand, the company, and enabling me. It has given me incredible opportunities to travel and lead over the past few years.

What has it been like participating in a rotational program immediately out of college?

I am a huge supporter of rotational programs being a college graduate’s point of entry into a company. Dell has a culture centered on career development and has several programs for new college graduates, including Finance, Accounting, Supply Chain, Marketing, Human Resources, IT, and Sales. These programs develop the future generation of leaders and provide countless opportunities for networking and cross-functional collaboration. If you are interested in learning more, please visit Dell’s University Relations page for additional information.


David KuoName: David Kuo

Degree: BBA – Business Honors and Finance, Class of 2012

Current role: Associate, Dell Ventures

Roles in FDP: SEC Reporting, Software & Peripherals Finance, Corporate Strategy, Quest Software Finance (based in Orange County, CA)


What was the transition from UT to Dell like?

There’s definitely a learning curve to climb when transitioning between college and any full-time job. Generally speaking, there are two learning curves to climb: personal and professional.

I think the personal learning curve is a bit easier from UT to Dell because you likely have a local support system to lean on and are already familiar with the city. This makes it easier to develop the appropriate lifestyle habits that set you up for success. The professional learning curve at Dell is probably similar to that of other large companies. Communicating and understanding expectations, developing a solid relationship with your manager, and showing up with a positive attitude are great practices for making a smooth transition.

Why Dell? What does Dell offer new college grads?

The Finance Development Program (FDP), which offers four six-month rotations, MBA-style coursework, and leadership training, attracted me to Dell.

Exposure to multiple business units and functions in just two years was very attractive. The opportunity to compete for a regional assignment was also a key selling point. I was fortunate to earn an assignment in our Quest Software office, based out of Orange County. In my experience, having 6 months to truly immerse yourself in a new place is fantastic and beats the typical airport-hotel-conference room dance that most business travelers experience. Dell also invests in leadership training. My FDP experience concluded with a conference in Bangalore where we attended expert-led training sessions, networked, and learned about the local culture.

The structure the program provides also streamlines the college-to-work transition described above and creates a network of your FDP peers and alumni that are a tremendous resource as you progress in your career. All in all, I’d highly recommend it!

What skill sets are you using on a daily basis?

After FDP, I joined the Dell Ventures team, which involves exercising several skill sets.

Foundational skills like Excel and PowerPoint are critical to the job. For example, I model cash flows to project IRR and cash-on-cash returns and prepare C-suite level decks to facilitate investment decisions.

I’m also developing other skills I believe will be critical in later stages of my career. Depending on the day, I could be flexing critical thinking skills while taking a pitch from a startup, picking up technical knowledge while researching a new technology, building financial acumen by analyzing cap tables and term sheets, sharpening communication skills while interacting with entrepreneurs and VCs, and much more.

Feel free to reach out to Melissa Beaver or David Kuo with any questions you may have.

Connect with us!

Twitter: @DellFDP

Snapchat: dellfdp

LinkedIn: University Relations Page



Alumni Spotlight: Samantha Darnell, Class of 2013

Samantha DarnellSamantha Darnell, BHP ’13, is an eCommerce Inventory Analyst for H-E-B Grocery. Samantha triple majored in BHP, Supply Chain Management, and Spanish Literature. She has used her supply chain management knowledge in her role to guide vendors, work with various teams and analyze inventory. H-E-B is currently recruiting students for 2016 summer internships. Internship postings can be found on the H-E-B website until September 25. BHP will also be hosting a coffee chat with Samantha on September 8. Register for that event here.


What specific projects are you working on as an inventory analyst?

I’m currently working on the eCommerce project which is looking at different ways customers could order product online, potentially as alternatives to the traditional trip to the grocery store. On the supply chain side, I’m helping to design the systems and processes that could support this project. It’s exciting to get in on a project on the ground floor and create processes I might use in the future. The grocery retail industry is changing quickly so we never have a boring day.

Previously, I managed inventory and forecasts for several categories including cosmetics, skin and sun care, and chips, cookies, and crackers. We rotated regularly so inventory analysts could be exposed to different types of products. Inventory analysts work closely with the buying team, that is responsible for meeting with the suppliers and determining which items we will sell. Analysts then ensure that those items stay stocked.

How does your role support the company as a whole?

Supply chain and inventory analysts’ goal is to have the right products at the right place at the right time. In doing this, we are continually trying to maximize our in stock levels at our stores and minimize our inventory, which keeps our operating costs low. In addition to in-stock levels, we also plan for promotions and special events as well as new and discontinued item transitions.

Has working in supply chain been what you expected or different?

One of the first things I learned about supply chain in the real world was how much our modern supply chain relies on technology. In school, there is a distinction between Supply Chain and MIS majors, but realistically that distinction is much less clear. As supply chains continue to become more and more complicated, supply chain professionals are going to have to rely more on technology and become comfortable learning, and potentially helping to design, new systems.

What are the unique challenges of working in inventory for the grocery industry?

The first challenge is customer expectation, myself included. If I walk into a grocery store, I want every item on my list to be in stock, and I get frustrated if it isn’t. Customers expect consistently high in stock levels. Perishable products provide additional challenges;  we must forecast as accurately as possible for products with shorter lives. H-E-B tries to not keep a lot of excess inventory, especially on perishable products. If there is an ice storm in the Northeast and our orders are delayed, our supply chain has to be nimble and flexible in our planning to account for these unforeseen delays.

When you go grocery shopping now, are you looking at everything in the store through a different lens, knowing what has gone into getting the products on the shelves?

Definitely. My trips to H-E-B are about twice as long as they were before I started working for H-E-B. I like to look at the categories that I am managing to see how the shelves look, and to see if we are in stock or if there is anything out of stock that is a surprise to me. Sometimes I write down products that are out of stock that I didn’t think would be. Even though I know how hard it is to get products to the shelves, I still get frustrated when I can’t buy something I am looking for.

You completed an internship with H-E-B while you were in school. What about that experience led you to accept a full-time position with the company?

As an intern, even though it was only a ten-week program, I had a crash course in the H-E-B supply chain practices. H-E-B has a large supply chain organization with many different facets. As a student, I didn’t understand how complicated a retail supply chain was until I experienced it through my internship. I had such a positive experience, because it is an incredibly supportive culture. H-E-B really does have an “open door policy” even though the partners and leaders are very busy. As an intern, I had exposure to any partner or leader that I wanted to interact with, and that experience was invaluable.

I also felt that my work and recommendations were respected and that the leaders paid attention to the work I did even though I was just an intern. Several of the recommendations that I made were actually implemented. This has continued in my work there. I have been able to move around and work on different projects. The fact that I am able to have this experience with the ecommerce team is pretty awesome.

What do you love most about your job and about working for H-E-B?

There are so many opportunities with this company, and my leaders have always made it very clear that they are invested in my long term career goals as well as my personal goals. It is also great to work for a company that is so well respected in the community. When I tell people I work for H-E-B, most people say, “I love H-E-B! That is the best grocery store.” H-E-B does so much for the community, and it is nice to be part of such a positive work environment. Partners work hard, but work-life balance is also very important to the company. I have always felt that from the top-down it is expected that partners should maintain a good work-life balance.


Freshman Leadership Kickoff Top 10

LK 2015 Group Photo

Written by Michelle Zhang

If you were to walk past the McCombs Family Statue at 9 a.m. last Saturday, you would have seen 140 BHP freshmen, faculty, and student leaders getting ready to board three charter buses to the John Newcombe Tennis Ranch in New Braunfels. The event: the annual BHP Leadership Kickoff – a jam-packed 28 hours of outdoor activities, formal convocation, and comprehensive introduction for freshmen to the world of the UT Business Honors Program.

This year, I was lucky enough to have been able to plan Leadership Kickoff with my fantastic and fearless co-chair Kate Shanks. Although the weekend was filled with an abundance of exciting moments, here are the top 10 things we’ll remember from BHP Leadership Kickoff 2015.

  1. How helpful our student leaders were

With 12 peer mentors, eight HBA Executive Board members, and two Ethics Board chair (with overlap between PM and Exec and Ethics Board – wow, BHP students really do do everything!), we had a great deal of student help this year. Student leaders led groups in the many activities throughout the weekend, commanded attention at the appropriate times, assisted at morning check-in, and so much more without complaining for one second. You’re the real MVP’s, student leaders.

  1. The thrill on students’ faces during the high ropes

Part of Saturday’s afternoon activities was the high ropes course, which ranged from a 450 foot zip line to partner rope challenges to the terrifying Screamer. Whether or not students chose to take a Leap of Faith (a climb and jump off a wooden pole to reach a suspended rung several hundred feet off the ground) or watch their peers instead, we loved seeing the enthusiasm for action and adventure.

  1. Teams bonds being formed through the low ropes

On the flip side of the exciting high ropes, the low ropes course allowed for peer mentor groups to collaborate on team-building exercises such as the Spiderweb. In this activity, teams had to work together to make it through a “web” without touching the rope. However, each team member had to make it through a different section of the web, making for a challenging strategic and trust-forming exercise.

  1. Everyone dressed in business casual singing The Eyes of Texas

What is there to explain except that everyone looked great in their ironed shirts and shiny shoes? These freshmen are going to fit right in at McCombs.

  1. Peer mentor group chants at BHPlayoffs

If we were to explain BHPlayoffs, we’d say that it’s a culmination of all the team-bonding of the low ropes + action of the high ropes + natural competitive nature of BHP students into a two-hour face-off between all the peer mentor groups. The first activity of the night was peer mentor group chants, which elicited a conglomeration of huddles, carefully crafted disses, and even some choreographed dance moves from the talented teams. We event witnessed a student doing a backflip over another student.

  1. How hyped up everyone got during the Rock Paper Scissors tournament

Seriously, just look at this picture.

LK 2015 RPS

  1. Two words: Orange Hug

If you’ve never played this game, you basically have to pass an orange down a line of people using your neck. There are two reasons we chose to use this game: 1. you get to know your teammates very well, and 2. the priceless photos.

  1. Going through all the Scavenger Hunt photos

To spice things up this year, we added a photo scavenger hunt led by 18 student leaders in randomized groups. Some criteria items included spelling out BHP with their bodies, getting the farthest away from the starting point (one group made it all the way to the New Braunfels Fire Station – two miles away), and recreating Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus.

  1. Working with Tisha

Even with a lot on her plate already (namely, carrying twins!), our amazing advisor Tisha was with us every step of the way. She kept a comfortable distance so that we could set our own goals and accomplish our own tasks, but supported us with any resources we needed. Thank you, Tisha! You rock.

  1. Seeing it all come together at the end

Special thanks to BHP academic advisors Tisha Monsey, Paul Pritchett, and BHP career advisor Greta Fenley, for their help this past weekend. We couldn’t have done it without you!

LK 2015