Leadership Kickoff and Sophomore Social Co-Chair Applications Being Accepted

The BHP office is currently taking applications for the roles of Leadership Kickoff Co-Chair and Sophomore Social Co-Chair (as well as other positions). These positions are essential to the program and a great way to get more involved, gain skills and help others! Read more about the experiences of the fall 2015 Kickoff co-chairs, Kate Shanks and Michelle Zhang, as well as Maya Josiam’s experience as one of the Sophomore Social co-chairs. Applications for these positions are due Friday, March 11 to the BHP office no later than 5 pm. Check your email for an application.

LKcochairs2015 Leadership Kickoff Co-Chairs – Kate Shanks and Michelle Zhang

Why did you apply to be a co-chair?

Kate: I heard about the position from one of the co-chairs from the year before; she loved the experience, which made me look into it. As I learned more, I really wanted to add more social events in the schedule of the weekend to encourage more bonding.

Michelle: I think first impressions are an incredibly important factor for pretty much ANYTHING, and I wanted the Class of 2019’s first impression of BHP to be nothing but amazing.

What have you gained/valued from the experience?

Kate: I know how to make jello now.

Michelle: Same. Also we know who our perfect team counterparts are, because it’s each other. (I’m the creative, experience-focused one, and Kate is the logistic, practical one.)

Why (or to whom) would you recommend applying for this position?

Kate: I would recommend other students apply to be kickoff co-chair because it’s an incredible way to have an impact on the BHP experience of an entire entering class. Also your co might become one of your favorite people.

Michelle: If you have good organizational skills and genuinely want to provide a great introductory experience for the incoming freshmen, I would for sure recommend applying. Even if you’ve never planned an event like this but you have some great ideas – do it!


2015 Sophomore Social Co-Chair – Maya Josiam

MayaWhy did you apply to be Sophomore Social Co-Chair?

I applied to be a co-chair because I wanted to get to know the members of my own class better while organizing a fun event. Sophomore Social is a great event to introduce people to each other and create friendships that may not have time to form in just a classroom setting. I am a big proponent of party games, and the Sophomore Social was a chance to put together a big social just for the sophomore class to reconnect and get to know the new transfers too.

Why (or to whom) would you recommend applying for this position?

I would recommend applying for Sophomore Social Co-Chair to anyone who likes planning fun events and wants to get to know the sophomore class (and office staff) better. If you like party games, planning hangouts, or working with fun-loving people to create a relaxed event, this is the position for you!

What have you gained/valued from the experience?

I gained valuable event planning experience like learning how to market an event and set up a timeline. Also, I learned how to improvise and delegate on the fly, which was a great learning experience in a relatively relaxed environment. I really valued being able to create an event that brought my class closer and work with the awesome staff and my co-chair, Katie, to put this event together.

Internship Spotlight: Shivi Agarwal – BP Integrated Supply & Trading Division

Shivi AgarwalShivi Agarwal is a senior BHP/Finance major with minors in Supply Chain and Psychology. This past summer, Shivi held an internship with BP in their Integrated Supply & Trading division. She enjoyed the experience and decided to accept a full-time offer from BP to join their new Finance & Risk Rotational Program.

BP is currently accepting applicants for their early experience programs offered to freshmen and sophomores, BP STEP, Integrated supply and trading (IST) and BP scholars program. Applications are being accepted through March 15, 2016.   To learn more, please go to www.bp.com/us-studentopps.

What were your specific responsibilities in your internship?

I worked in Power Settlements, working in the back-end operations of the trading sphere. I worked on two main projects. The first was a cash forecasting project in which I was responsible for improving the current cash forecasting model. The Power Settlements team is required by the Treasury to submit a five-week cash forecast every week of how much they think the trades between the various ISO markets, which operate a region’s electricity grid, are going to be. The original forecast had several limitations, including lack of procedural standardization across the regional ISOs and differing timings in the availability of data. I analyzed the current situation for the cash forecasting modelling and provided solutions for possible improvements by holding discussions with analysts. I also created market overview charts, invoicing schedules, and a quantitative variance analysis to allow the analysts to better understand and improve the limitations.

The second major project I worked on was the cataloging project, in which I led the creation and revamping of documentation processes for the entire Settlements division. After presenting my proposal to the Settlements board, I remodeled the cataloging procedure for the division, as well as created a comprehensive SAP manual and an onboarding guide for new hires. Both of those are still being used today!

What is unique about the company and culture of BP?

I really appreciated the open door policy. I was able to meet with high-end executives and managers to find out more about what they do and their personal backgrounds. They were always happy to dedicate one-on-one time with me and offer advice to help me succeed and grow.

BP organized meetings for the interns in which leaders from different IST divisions would share about their role at BP and the nature of their division. These meetings were extremely helpful in understanding the core business and various operations of the company. They also held “Lunch and Learns”, where we learned ways to improve and develop our skills. As an intern, we had to give a final presentation and they helped us prepare for that. They really provided resources for us to understand the company culture, help us improve, and make the most out of the summer.

BP also organized several fun events for the interns, like going to Top Golf and bowling, as well as a group volunteering event with the Boys & Girls Club to give back to the community. As a sponsor for the Olympics, BP even gave us interns the opportunity to meet Olympians and Paralympians and listen o their remarkable stories.

Was there any one experience that really stood out to you?

As part of my Cataloging Project, I was able to present a proposal to the Board of Settlements Division. They responded with a lot of positive feedback and approved my proposal. Seeing my ideas actually being implemented and having a lasting impact on the organization felt incredibly rewarding.

Why did you decide to work there full-time and what will your role be?

I liked the team-oriented culture and found it to be rewarding.  I found there to be a lot of growth potential and I think BP will be a fantastic company to propel my career forward. The presentations by the division managers were very enlightening and helped me understand the unique skillsets I would gain by working with BP. Most importantly, the people of the company were vital in helping me form my decision. Everyone there was so intelligent, supportive, and wanted to help me grow. Ultimately, I wanted to work for a company that would have a positive impact on me, and I felt that BP would provide that.

I will be in the Finance and Risk Rotation Program, a three-year rotation program in the Integrated Supply and Trading division. It is a relatively new program for BP, based out of the Houston office. Because it is a rotational program, I will have the opportunity to get exposure in various realms of the trading business and to increase my experience overall.

What would you say to students who are nervous about going to work in the Oil & Gas industry with the current downturn in that industry?

While the Oil & Gas industry is notorious for market fluctuations, there are several other industries, such as Retail and I-Banking, that are equally as temperamental. However within the O&G industry, there are many sectors that are not as affected by these fluctuations, including Supply and Trading. Do your research on each industry and the various sectors within them. There is a lot of room to learn and grow your career in Oil & Gas. Don’t be deterred and be inspired to take on a challenge.



New Interdisciplinary BHP Case Competition Tackles Austin Traffic Issues

First Place Team: Abhishek Ramchandani, Eric Saldanha, Tejas Choudhary, and Andy Patel

First Place Team: Abhishek Ramchandani, Eric Saldanha, Tejas Choudhary, and Andy Patel

The Business Honors Program in partnership with Women in Computer Science (WiCS), hosted its first interdisciplinary case competition focused on Austin traffic this past weekend. Given the population explosion, record number of crashes, and insufficient infrastructure development, students were asked to provide City of Austin with a technology-driven solution to substantially alleviate these transportation issues for a significant portion of the population. Forty-four students from Business Honors, Computer Science, and Engineering competed for the top spots. The teams thoroughly enjoyed the chance to work with people outside of their majors, and the winning team talked about how the interdisciplinary team structure helped them approach the case from multiple angles. BHP sophomore Eric Saldanha said, “I focused on all the political considerations, while the engineering and CS majors figured out the mechanics behind our solution, and the other BHP-er ran the numbers to ensure the financial sustainability.”

The competition judges included experts from the City of Austin, the Austin Transportation Department, transportation start-ups, venture capitalists, and UT professors in IROM, urban planning, and civil engineering. They watched eleven teams pitch innovative and imaginative solutions, but it was ultimately team Pacific Solutions, made up of Abhishek Ramchandani, Eric Saldanha, Tejas Choudhary, and Andy Patel, that won our judges’ approval and took home first place in the competition. Their solution focused on two key aspects: (i) Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) – automated traffic signaling, hard shoulder reform, and variable speed limits, and (ii) Traffic Demand Management (TDM) – a dynamic pricing model for parking, a carpooling program, and staggered work shifts. The judges were highly impressed with the quality of the presentations, the innovative ideas, and the incredible team work reflected by the teams.

This competition focused on a public sector issue that Austin residents face on a daily basis and gave students a chance to make a significant impact in improving the safety and mobility of our city. We were extremely impressed to hear that many teams had already reached out to key figures in government influencing the transportation dialogue to present their findings outside of the competition. Congratulations to all the teams that competed, and we hope to continue this new tradition of collaborating with other UT colleges on real, societal issues every year.

Alumni Spotlight: John Michael Cassetta – Class of 2010, Strategy & Development at The New York Times

John MichaelJohn Michael Cassetta, BHP 2010, works on the Strategy & Development team at The New York Times. His work has included launching new products and assisting with acquisitions and other strategic investments. He is currently working on an ambitious plan to double digital revenue to a whopping $800 million by 2020. He previously worked as a strategy & operations consultant for Deloitte Consulting.

After you graduated, you went to work as a consultant for Deloitte, with a focus on media and publishing industries. What drew you to those industries and why do you find working in that industry so interesting?

When I started in consulting, I knew I wanted to experience a breadth of industries, but my English major also taught me that I was interested in media and publishing

It took a couple of years to be in a position where I could work with our media group at Deloitte. My first year was less about pursuing my interests than about rounding out the tactical skills I would use for the rest of my career. During that year, I developed good relationships with the partners I worked for, and through conversations with them about my career goals and interests, I was able to transition into doing strategy work in our media practice for my next projects.

Having now moved to the Times, what I find interesting about the media industry is the huge and necessary impact journalism has on the way our society functions. I really believe it’s necessary for us to continue to inform and thereby better the world. But news is expensive, and you have to find a way to make sure that both readers and advertisers continue to want to pay for it. The complexity of that dual-revenue model was intriguing to me, and so is the reward of being part of an institution that uses that money to pay to send reporters safely to war zones, have journalists with law degrees covering the Supreme Court, invest in very expensive investigative journalism, and generally have the financial freedom to independently report the news. That’s very exciting.

How did the projects you had at Deloitte prepare you for what you are doing now?

One of the things you really learn in consulting is the mechanics of influence. On a lot of projects you fight every day to maintain relevance. Just because the project is sold doesn’t mean your answers are going to be immediately accepted and implemented by your client.

In industry, it is a similar thing. The Times has over 3,000 employees and a lot of them are occupied with writing the news every single day. Just the fact you solved a business problem or developed a strategic perspective isn’t enough for those recommendations to become integrated into the way the organization works. In consulting, I learned the extra step of identifying the influencers, communicating my ideas, and thinking about the real impact and tactical execution of the recommendations you make. I think that was the biggest thing in consulting that prepared me for what I am doing now.

How did you end up at the New York Times? Did you seek your position out or did someone come to you with the opportunity?

I sought it out, but I would say it was serendipitous. I was working for a similar media client at Deloitte and realized I wanted to do it full-time. I started talking to people in my network and someone knew someone, who knew someone, and I started the conversation with the Times. Once I did, it seemed like a really natural fit and I was very excited about it. I have now been here seven months.

Doubling digital revenue in five years is an ambitious goal. What pieces of the plan are you responsible for?

Our team is responsible for all of it at a high level. Our executives determine the core of the strategy, but we have a hand in crafting the message and working with people on all levels to execute it.

For instance, we developed a strategy for how our video group will contribute to our revenue growth goals. We want to work with video as a way of storytelling as we move forward, but we have to figure out the mechanics of the business model. So we need to answer questions like how much it costs to send reporters to foreign countries, which advertisers would be interested in being involved in those efforts, and how we ethically and profitably set up those relationships. Then at a higher level, the team has to determine how we make sure the content we create is something our subscribers are interested in. I have a portfolio of two to three different projects at all times. It is similar to the consulting work I did, but more focused, and we work on more things at once.

What do you think will be the biggest challenge in reaching the goal?

The biggest challenge is continuing to be relevant and reinforcing the value of the Times with our readers. It isn’t enough for a newspaper anymore to just publish the news every day. You have to stay in readers’ lives in new and innovative ways. For example by using virtual reality as a new way to tell stories. We recently sent out Google Cardboard VR (virtual reality) units to all of our home subscribers, with which they can watch VR videos on refugees on three continents, political campaign rallies during election season or breaking news during the terrorist attacks in Paris, to name a few. We’re proud at the Times to be able to push the envelope further in that medium, making innovation in the way we tell stories core to our brand. With proliferation of media and content everywhere, we as a news organization can’t take for granted that people are going to come to us every day. It is something we have to work towards.

You majored in BHP, Finance and English. It seems like what you are doing really does combine all three of those very well. Can you talk about how the skills you gained through your UT classes have helped you in your career?

The collaborative skills and strategic frameworks we learned in BHP and Finance classes allowed me to feel comfortable approaching business problems in the real world, so I felt well-prepared in my first year as a consultant to make sense of what I was working on. My English degree, maybe surprisingly, has had a lot of application in the business world. It’s more than just being able to communicate well, it’s the analytical rigor of literary analysis – you are unpacking some of the most difficult literature in the English language every week – that isn’t so different to understanding the mechanics of a complicated business problem.

What advice do you have for current BHP students?

Budget in some time for serendipity. A lot of what you do in college and life is focused on honing skills, but that only amounts to preparation for opportunities. I find that making time to find new opportunities, which can literally mean going out with friends I haven’t seen in a while to ask them what’s new with them, has surfaced new opportunities for growth for me. This false narrative of if you want something, put your head down and work hard for it isn’t true. Sometimes I think if you really want something, go get a drink at a bar alone and see who has some thoughts on it.

Student Spotlight: Karan Mahendroo

Karan MahendrooKaran Mahendroo is a sophomore in BHP who is truly making the most of his four years in college. Karan has completed an internship for BCBG Max Azaria in their social media department, twice attending New York Fashion Week supporting BCBG. He is currently creative director for Narrative Edge, an Austin-based company providing video production and distribution services. He is also president of Austin Connect, a group that brings students together with CEOs and corporate influencers in Austin. Karan has many interests and is pursuing them all. We sat down with him to find out more.

What role do you think social media plays in branding in the fashion industry?

Social media is the coolest form of advertising you can use. So much of the perception of the brand is what is put out there through social media. Everyone is on social media, it is completely free, and you have to learn how to leverage that to make money off of it. I worked for BCBG over the summer in their social media department and we worked with a lot of different influencers. For Kylie Jenner to upload an Instagram picture with one of your products, it would cost from $10,000-$40,000. It really is the best billboard you can buy, though. It’s there forever and it gets more engagement than a traditional billboard or advertisement in a magazine. I have always been active on social media, but doing that for a big brand was even cooler and I learned so much about what it means to be famous online and how being Instagram famous is actually a career. It is a new world that I had always dreamed of being a part of and when I got in it, it was so much more complex than I had thought it would be and it was so much fun.

What were you doing specifically at BCBG?

When I was asked to intern, I sent the head of the social media department some samples of my work, like my graphic design and photography. He liked me, so even though my internship wasn’t supposed to start until June, he asked me to come to New York in February to help with New York Fashion Week. It was my first taste. Fashion week happens twice a year and it is the busiest and craziest week of the year. I jumped right in and learned a lot quickly.

The social media department is tasked with capturing everything. We manned the behind-the-scenes footage and the editorial shots of the new clothes, we live Snapchated, live Tweeted and live Periscoped, and updated the Instagram and Facebook accounts. After the show, we interviewed the models and featured the celebrities who were there. I got to take pictures of all the celebrities which was great.

During my summer internship, I was keeping people updated about what BCBG is doing daily. I was posting online daily and I actually developed a social media calendar and schedule for our posting that aligned with what our ecommerce department was doing. If there was going to be a sale on items, we would gift it to a celebrity, take pictures of them wearing it, and then post those pictures to make the item sell better.

I had a strategy for which three things we were going to post a day, mixing editorial, with sale items, with celebrity shots, lifestyle shots, etc., and then I would check with the other departments and make adjustments. I also worked on some bigger projects like benchmarking against other companies to make the case to expand the social media department at BCBG. I was designing reports and pitching to the higher ups. It was very fast-paced and nice mix of everything from business to creative.

Did you enjoy interacting with celebrities in your role?

When you are at a party and Kanye West is within 20 feet of you, it is a little shocking. The first time I went to New York fashion week I met Victoria Justice and she liked my glasses, and then I met her a few times in LA, and I got to go to a few parties with her which was fun. It’s fun to interact with celebrities. They know they are a big deal, but they also get nervous being in a new place, so you have to make them feel like a big deal without being a weird fan. I think building a person’s brand would be one of the most fun brand work to do. I would love to be a publicist. Working with them, getting them to come to a BCBG show, and making BCBG seem like a part of their brand was really cool.

We actually had binders of celebrities and I would make profiles for them to analyze who would be likely to come to our show based on their level of fame and our level of brand fame. We do a lot of work with fashion bloggers. They are taking over the Instagram industry. If they have a million or more followers, the fashion industry wants them to wear their clothes. I would track how many followers they had, what their average engagement was, what type of blogger they are, what brands they prefer to wear, how old they are and how that compares to our clients. Basically just different attributes. Then we send out invites to these bloggers and relate it to their brand by sending them the correct clothing. It was a lot of work.

You have been doing graphic design, website design and photography for a long time. Has that helped you land roles, having creative and business skills?

People want to hire one person who can do everything they want. If you just know creative, you won’t get a job. If you just know business, you won’t get a job, but if you know both, it makes it easier to get the jobs and rise faster in them.

A perfect example is the job I have now. About a year ago, I met a woman here who was starting a company called Narrative Edge and she hired me as an intern because of my diverse skills. It is a video production and distribution company, so we work with people like CNN and The Economist. We produce editorial video for their platform, geared towards C-suite executives. I was brought on as an intern, but within a month I was managing the other interns and doing a lot more than typical intern week because I could do a lot of the things she wanted. I started doing more sales, business development and creative director work.

In May of 2015 she flew me to Dubai to attend the Arabian Travel Conference, the largest travel conference in the world. Ministries of tourism and huge hotel chains attend. I secured meetings with CEOs and ministers to sell them on our video services. I was doing sales there, but when I came back, I was working on the creative side. One of the clients we got was Aqua Power Systems, a renewable energy company in the Middle East. We sent a team to several places all over the world to film, and I did the behind-the-scenes work for that, telling them what to film, where to film and what the message should. I am now the creative director there. My boss says whenever she gets me on a project, she knows I won’t do just one thing, but will help with all the different steps of the project.

What would you say to people who are afraid to try working in a new industry they know nothing about, and how can they be successful in their role?

You have to just jump in. I had never done anything in fashion. I like to be in new situations and I am good at thinking fast on my feet. You have to learn the language of the world you are in, whether that is accounting or fashion. I ask a lot of questions and meet the right people. You need to take a step back and look at everything happening in the room when you first start. Who are all of the people go to? I knew who I needed to meet and be friends with, and I offered to help them with the things I do know how to do. If I was done with my work, I would help them. Then I would learn things from them as I went along. If someone can vouch for you, it gets you so much farther than a resume ever will. Networking is important.

I am currently leading Austin Connect. Every week we have coffee with someone very successful and it has really helped me grow my network. It’s all about meeting people and making a good impression. It’s best to just be real and not super uptight. Be casual and subtly talk about yourself in the right way, so that they know you are coming from a place of expertise. Don’t try to get something out of them. Just ask them about what they like, to set them at ease. Also, having something that makes you stand out helps people remember you. People always remember me as the kid with the red glasses. It is a defining look and people don’t even recognize me without them.

What is your goal for your remaining college years?

My goal with my four years of college is to try everything I want to try. I wanted to try the fashion industry. I was also interested in journalism, which is the job I have now. I also like music, publicist type of work, and consulting work, too. I want to have a million different internships and then decide what I want to pursue when I graduate. I am very interested in entrepreneurial work as well. I want to work with people who are starting small, but have big ideas that could be profitable, and come in to assist them with a bunch of different things that will help them grow the company quickly.