Announcing the 2016 BHP Senior Award Winners

Congratulations to all the seniors selected to receive a BHP Senior Award. It was a difficult task selecting the winners from such an accomplished group of students. The BHP staff would like to congratulate all of the nominees this year: Charlie Adkins, Varun Bhatnagar, Kyle Campbell, Nicole Chu, Amy Enrione, Samuel Garcia, Alex Ghadially, David Hoyer, Rachel Huynh, Blake Jones, Isaac Kaplan, Catherine King, Sylvia Liaw, Shanna Liu, Hayden McMurrey, Avani Patel, Miriam Petsch, Jacqui Roberts, Jenny Scouller and Jackson Simons.

Conrad Doenges Award: Rachel Huynh

This award is given to one BHP senior each year. This person is selected based on non-academic contributions to UT, McCombs, and/or the BHP, distinction among their peers in the BHP and academic excellence. The award, named after the late Associate Dean for Undergraduate Affairs, Dr. R.C. Doenges, consists of a plaque and a $1,000 honorarium.

Beverly and Will O’Hara Service Award: Charlie Adkins

This award is given to one BHP senior each year. This is the inaugural year for this award. This person is selected based on their outstanding service to the university. The O’Hara Award is named after Beverly and Will O’Hara. Dr. O’Hara was a former professor for BHP. He and his wife, Beverly, are lifelong contributors to BHP, McCombs and UT. Their involvement in BHP has made a lasting impact on the program. The winner of this award will receive a plaque and a $500 honorarium.

Woody Hunt Award for Academic Excellence: Alexandre Ghadially

This award is given to one BHP senior each year. This is the inaugural year for this award. This person is selected based on their academic excellence. The Hunt Award is named after BHP Class of ’66 alumnus Woody Hunt, who committed significant funding towards BHP recruiting scholarships and a BHP Excellence Fund that supports student programming. The winner of this award will receive a plaque and a $500 honorarium.

Outstanding Student Awards: Nicole Chu, Amy Enrione, Varun Bhatnagar, Kyle Campbell, Avani Patel

These awards are presented to the five graduating Business Honors students who have distinguished themselves in academics and leadership in the judgment of their peers, the Honors Program faculty, and the Honors Program Faculty Committee.

Additionally, students were selected for the BHP Outstanding Service Award and BHP Outstanding Leadership Award. Winners of these awards will be announced and recognized at the BBA Honors Convocation on April 15.

Student Spotlight: Madison Gove

Madison GoveBHP junior Madison Gove was one of three BHP students to receive the Texas Exes President’s Award in the 2014-2015 school year. Madison is a co -president of UT Students for Wema and Executive VP for Texas Enactus. Madison and a group of five other students restarted Students for Wema at a time when the organization had become defunct. She worked to reinstate the chapter and communicated with the owner of The Wema Children’s Centre in Kenya to learn more about what they needed and how she and other UT students could help them.

Through conversations with the owner, they hatched a plan to provide a sustainable source of income to the orphanage in the form of a bakery. The orphanage was heavily reliant upon outside donations. They wanted something they could do themselves and they realized that making bread would be a great source of income since there was a need for it in their village. The cost of the bakery was estimated to be $45,000 and UT Students for Wema decided to raise these funds.

Madison led the charge, first trying to raise the funds through events, then through corporations, eventually soliciting individuals for donations. This past fall, her team was successful in securing a private donation to cover the cost of the bakery. Having secured the funding, the group recently transitioned their work to providing curriculum to tackle another challenge the orphanage was facing – a lack of job opportunities for graduates of the orphanage not attending college. Older girls leaving the orphanage had fewer job prospects, occasionally turning to the area’s prevalent sex trade for income. Once the bakery is complete, these young women will be able to work at the bakery for a year. During this time, they and other students at the orphanage will complete a 6-8 week course designed by the Students for Wema group. The program will teach them about social entrepreneurship and financial literacy. They hope to encourage the students to build their own business venture and empower them to break a cycle of poverty.

The Students for Wema group will bring the same curriculum to high-school students in Austin under the title “SEEKing Change.” Their first school will be Travis Early College High School. Not only will they teach low-income students about social entrepreneurship and financial literacy, they will mentor groups of students in creating their own social venture idea. The group is currently talking to angel investors in the area to try to secure their presence at the student’s final idea pitches to invest in start-up funding.

Madison’s involvement in Texas Enactus is also a help to her Students for Wema work. She connected with the group, which is a chapter of the international non-profit Enactus, while seeking funding for the Wema bakery. The organization develops, mentors, and funds social entrepreneurship ventures at UT. As the Executive Vice President of the team, she now works to secure new corporate business partners.

Coming into McCombs, Madison thought her calling was in non-profit work, but after working more with the Students for Wema group, she realized that social entrepreneurship was her true calling. She hopes to secure an internship this summer working in corporate social responsibility. In the meantime, she is excited to see the surge of interest in social entrepreneurship from UT students. She is also hoping she will have the chance to visit the new bakery once it is complete in 2017.

Alumni Spotlight: Yasmin Bhatia, Class of 1998 – CEO of Uplift Education

yasminYasmin Bhatia has been the CEO of Uplift Education in the Dallas/Fort Worth area for seven years. Prior to joining Uplift, she was at McKinsey & Co. for nine years. Yasmin graduated from BHP in 1998 and went on to receive an MBA from Stanford. Uplift operates a total of 34 schools with 14,000 students enrolled.

Tell me more about Uplift Education and the goals of the organization.

Uplift is the largest network of high performing public charter schools in the North Texas area. Our mission is to help children who are economically disadvantaged or educationally underserved and provide them with a high quality education to help them get into and complete college. This year, more than 75 percent of our graduating seniors are the first in their family to go to college. We have a track record of 100% college acceptance for our graduating seniors. We are all about making college accessible for students who don’t come from a family where that has been part of their history. Ninety percent of our students are minorities and 74 percent are classified as low income by the federal government. We were founded 20 years ago in the DFW area.

What drew you to education?

At every avenue (BHP, McKinsey, Stanford), whenever there was an opportunity to do pro-bono or community engagement work, I always picked things related to children. When I decided to leave McKinsey, I identified that I would like to do something at a high level to help children. I wanted to focus on one organization, not have to be spread out among clients, and not have to be one step removed from making a direct impact. Uplift was looking for a new CEO, and they were looking for someone to help them grow while maintaining and increasing academic quality. The board really respected my strong sense for systems and process, my focus on talent being an important driver to an organization’s success, and how to grow Uplift in a sustainable way that improved the outlook for the students. There was and still is a huge demand for Uplift schools, so they wanted to ensure they did not implode from growing too quickly. When I joined, we were at 3500 students across 15 schools, and now we are at 34 schools with 14,000 students. We are considered one of the best charter school networks in the nation based on academic outcome.

What do you attribute to that growth?

When you have a high quality product, parents will talk about it. Last year there were 2,500 open spots, and we had 20,000 applicants for those spots. We basically run nine applications for every one opening at Uplift. The demand was driven by the quality. Luckily we had donors who cared about increasing access to college for students who have previously been locked out due to family circumstance.

How would you like to see education transformed in the next 5-10 years?

I try not to pontificate on what is going to happen. At Uplift, what we believe to be true is that you will see more opportunities for more personalized and differentiated education in the classroom. This is critical because it is hard for teachers to teach to one set of students in a classroom who may be at different levels. Teachers able to differentiate for students at different places in their learning helps them grow faster academically. In the future, there will also be an increased focus on social and emotional learning, as well as character development. We want to help students make good decisions, be strong leaders, and productive citizens to society. We are currently running pilots on different character education in a meaningful and purposeful way.

What immediate goals are you pursuing and what is most challenging in accomplishing those goals?

Two things and they both have to do with leadership and human capital. First, is finding people who want to come teach in schools like Uplift and who are qualified. We have very high expectations. We value teaching for what it is. It is an intellectually demanding exercise with a lot of planning. It is a rigorous and demanding job. Teachers need to be thoughtfully planning for students in their classroom. The second challenge is keeping those teachers. They get hired away by school districts who can pay more since traditional public schools receive $1,000 more per student in State funding than charter schools. How can we keep teachers for upwards of 10 years, when the average is only 3, is a major issue.

It is also a challenge to find people who want to be a principal. It is incredibly demanding. You are basically managing a small company of 30-40 employees including a board, parents, students, and the teaching staff. The principal is tending to those stakeholders, and complying with the overarching state accountability system. We rapidly promote teachers who demonstrate leadership potential because we have to. You could be a principal in our network at 28, which is hard to do in a company, so it is a great place to come and grow. Then later in life, these individuals can move on to newer industries with real practical management knowledge. Sure, students can go to famous firms, but if they want to become a manager, they can go faster working in a high performing school network like ours.

When you were with McKinsey, you were working with some of the foundation clients. How did that work prepare you for what you are doing now?

Our foundation clients helped me understand the sector, the multiple stakeholders and political forces that exist in social issues. There is an underlying political dialogue that is happening in education. It was helpful to understand the complexity behind the social issues. It comes into play on a regular basis in my position. I have to manage community perceptions. We just spent a month on a public fight we got drawn into with a Dallas ISD trustee who didn’t want another charter school in her elected district. It created dialogue with the media about whether the ISD should be allowed to choose if it has competitors, and whether the ISD has to meet or beat the competition, as opposed to denying a competitor’s ability to exist in order to limit competition. At the end of the day, we won 7-6, but it was controversial, and was mostly about the overarching politics.

What did you most enjoy about your time in BHP and at UT?

I loved my time at UT. I loved having a cohort. I really got to know everyone in my cohort and I loved the case-based learning and the caliber of the people in the program. There were no slackers. I loved being surrounded by smart, leadership-oriented peers. I became involved in HBA, Business Council, Forty Acres Fest, and I loved being involved. It helped build early leadership skills that laid a foundation for going on to McKinsey and Stanford.

How would you recommend graduates go about getting involved in their communities and finding the organizations that fit their interests?

The best thing to do is to find a couple of nonprofits you really enjoy and be an active volunteer. People will draw you into board roles. They will be more likely to put you on a board if they see you give of your time first. In Dallas, there are organizations like Leadership Dallas. Organizations like these which are taking young people into service projects and teaching them about civic issues in their community are great. Gain exposure to different organizations, and different leaders, and you will start to build a peer network. Pick one or two organizations to be involved in and go deep with those so you can put yourself on a path to join the board.

My husband and I actively volunteered for Make a Wish because we believe in the mission of giving hope to families through the granting of a wish to a child who has a life threatening illness. We did that for several years and then my husband was approached about joining the board. On that board were CEOs of other major companies that he has been able to connect to. Take a long range view of this. In some ways it is like college in becoming a member and then becoming a leader of an organization. You have to do that as well in the working world, and in the community. You have to start laying foundations that you can build on later.

HBA Hosts Nonprofit Speed Dating Event for BHP Students


Written by Jena Mrochek

“Your head plus your heart equals your hustle.” This quote from Lexi Heller, a representative of Teach For America, is emblematic of the passion of those who work in the nonprofit sector. Ms. Heller was one of the seven nonprofits professionals who served on the panel for HBA’s Nonprofit Speed Dating event on March 2. At this event, about 15 BHP students were able to meet and talk with a panel of seven nonprofit professionals from the Austin Area. These professionals included:

  • Amber Fogarty – Director of Learning and Leadership at Mission Capital
  • Lila Igram – founder of Connectorg
  • Lexi Heller – representative of Teach for America
  • Karen Landolt – Professor of Business Law, Behavioral Ethics, and Entrepreneurship at the McCombs School of Business
  • Ashley Haustein (Plan II/Econ ’11) – Developing and Marketing manager at the Miracle Foundation
  • Isha Paul (BHP ’12)- Strategic Planning Manager at KIPP Austin Public Schools and Austin Chapter President of Pratham
  • Aaron Yeats (BHP ’01) – member of the Board of Directors of the Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival

nonprofit2Three groups of 2 or 3 panelists rotated among groups of students so that each student was able to hear from each panelist. The discussion flowed freely throughout each rotation as the panelists shared their insightful experiences. For those of you who were not able to attend the event, here are some of the valuable takeaways from the discussions:

  1. Don’t be afraid to question how things how are run. Teach for America representative Lexi Heller emphasized that a large part of her success as a teacher operating in a low-income school is that she does not follow the traditional teaching strategy at her school. Rather, she uses her creativity to develop daring projects that both challenge her students and show them the relevancy of what they are learning. Isha Paul agreed with this, noting that her organization is considering changing the name of her position from “Strategic” planning manager to “Disruption” manager precisely because her task is to question why things are being done the way they are and to strive to change them for the better.
  2. Prepare to wear many hats. Although Ashley Haustein’s title at the Miracle Foundation is “Developing and Marketing Manager,” she explained that she actually plays many different roles within the organization, and that these roles change every day. Although she admitted that sometimes she wishes her job were more structured, she also appreciates that she is able to do so much for her organization and for her cause.
  3. Realize the importance of building relationships. Lila Igram of Connecther and Aaron Yeats of the Austin Gay & Lesbian Film Festival noted that in order to build and sustain a strong nonprofit organization, it is essential to nurture relationships with donors. At the same time, however, both emphasized the importance or realizing that some donors may drop out for financial reasons or, as Mr. Yeats noted, may no longer support the organization because of its ideological changes over the years.
  4. Reconsider the idea of “work-life balance.” Karen Landolt, who worked in law for six years before realizing that she needed a change and becoming involved in nonprofits and academics, noted the importance of being passionate about what you do. She explained that while she was working in law, she was continually thinking about how much she was working. Now, although she works a comparable number of hours, she does not even think about it as much because she enjoys her work. This implies a good work-life balance lies not in a forty hour work week, but rather a week spent on work that one loves.
  5. Know that meaningful work is not limited to the nonprofit sector. Amber Fogarty of Mission Capital agreed with Dr. Landolt, noting her shift from the corporate marketing world to the nonprofit sector and the difference it made in her career. However, Ms. Fogarty also noted that many people believe that they can only find truly meaningful work in the nonprofit sector. She emphasized that this is not true; passion and meaningful work can be found in both the nonprofit and the for-profit sectors. What’s really important, she said, is that you find what you personally are good at and what you feel strongly about. That could be in either the for-profit or the nonprofit sector.

If you would like to learn more about any of the nonprofit organizations that the panelists were involved in, please click on one of their links below.

Mission Capital:


Teach For America:

Miracle Foundation:

Kipp Austin Public Schools:


Austin Gay and Lesbian Film Festival:

Three BHP Students Part of UT Team Working to Build Hyperloop Pod


The 512 Hyperloop Team

Three BHP students are part of a team of 70 UT students, called 512 Hyperloop, working to make Elon Musk’s concept of Hyperloop into a reality. Adnan Rupani, Vamshi Gujju and Shyam Gandhi are working on the business aspects for the team. In January the team competed against more than 100 teams in the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition Design Weekend. Unfortunately they didn’t advance, but that hasn’t put a stop to their plans. They are raising funds to build the Hyperloop pod they designed, and they plan to test it on the Hyperloop track this summer. We sat down with Adnan to learn more about their role on the team, and how their plans are progressing.

Can you explain the Hyperloop concept and how your team’s pod concept works?

Elon Musk describes this very well in his alpha paper for Hyperloop. Essentially, the reason cars, trains, and planes can’t move as fast as they potentially could is because of air resistance. Air is also much denser at sea level, where our current modes of transportation operate, so that poses an issue as well. Hyperloop aims to solve this issue by creating a system in which a pod moves through a tube within which there is a specialized environment. There have been proposals to create a vacuum in the tube, however, the problem with this is that a single tiny puncture hole can disrupt the vacuum and thus the whole system. If instead, you create a partial vacuum, you have a system with low pressure that can handle a leak or variation in pressure. Now, you have a tube with very little air, and a pod moving at a very high speed. There is a certain pod to tube ratio at high speeds that you can’t break, because if you break that ratio, then the system behaves like a syringe and stops the flow of air, forcing the pod to have to push all the air in front of it. This is known as the Kantrowitz Limit, or the syringe effect. There are two ways to fix that: 1) make the pod go really, really fast or 2) make the pod go really, really slow.

Obviously going really slow would defeat the purpose of Hyperloop. You couldn’t go too fast either because turns at that speed could injure or kill riders. To solve the syringe effect, you can put an electric compressor in the nose of the pod that sucks in the air and compresses it into air tanks so you don’t have to push the air, and instead just swallow it in as the pod moves through the tube. This also solves the problem of levitating the pod. If you want to create something with little to no friction, you can’t use wheels because they would rub against the surface of the tube.  The compressed air that you are taking in from the compressor could be used for air bearings, which would allow the pod to levitate and move with very little friction. Some teams used electromagnets instead of air bearings, but we wanted to stay true to the original Hyperloop concept, so we used air bearings in our design.

In regards to our design, we wanted to focus on feasibility. I’m excited to say that our design is one of the few that could be put into production tomorrow, because we used parts that could easily be acquired off-the-shelf. Our pod is also relatively very inexpensive because it focuses on modularity. The components are easily detachable and the pod could be customized depending on the whether it is being used as transportation or freight.

And it would be completely safe for people?

Yes, it would be safe. You wouldn’t feel it. Just like if you are on a plane where you are going over 500 mph. There is a “pusher” system built into the tube that would accelerate the pod to whatever speed it needed to go and then once the pod is at that speed, passengers wouldn’t feel the velocity they are going at. However, there is a certain distance after which Hyperloop loses its efficiency. If you are going over 900 miles, it is better to just go on a supersonic jet, because at that range, a supersonic jet would be less expensive. For journeys that are less than 900 miles you would spend most of your time on a supersonic jet just ascending and descending and very little time at cruise speeds. That would be pointless because it would be expensive and inefficient. Hyperloop is ideal for journeys less than 900 miles apart, as it would get you there as fast or faster than a jet would, but without all the nuances of flying. It would provide the convenience of a train with the speed of a plane. Elon Musk goes much more in depth when it comes to the design and advantages of Hyperloop in the alpha paper.

How did you hear about it, and why did you think it was cool to get involved in?

I heard about it through Vamshi, and Vamshi’s friend is one of the leads for the project. Elon Musk is one of my role models, and I’ve told Vamshi and basically everyone I know about how amazing Elon Musk and his ideas are. So Vamshi knew I would be interested in it because Hyperloop is a concept he created. I’m interested in the concept because it’s a way to change the world.

If it comes to fruition, it’ll essentially change the very way we travel forever. We’ll be able to get from Dallas to Austin in 20 minutes. If you think of the implications of that, people could live in Austin and work in Dallas. People can set up meetings that would usually take hours to get to in minutes. The applicability and implications of that in the future fascinate me.

How difficult was it to secure a spot on the team?

We had to apply to it and they looked at our apps and what we had done in the past. Then we were assigned to work that was the best fit. For me, Vamshi, and Shyam, we were placed on the Operations Management team because of our business knowledge. We also have one journalism student on our team. He’s handling the PR side and takes care of the different news organizations, government issues, and setting up our tax status (since we’re a non-profit).

Did you come up with your own goals from the business side, or did the project lead direct your goals?

It was a bit of both. The head lead’s objectives for us was to make sure we maximize our publicity, create a professional looking website, and raise funds as soon as we can. Within our group, we knew we needed $35k to build the pod, an additional $10k to transport it, and around $5k for miscellaneous expenses. So we set a budget of $50k, and we contacted companies to see if they want to partner up with us, offering them sponsorship opportunities. Right now we have raised about $5k. We set up a HornsLink for private donations. Each donation also comes with perks, and every dollar counts. The hornsraiser ends March 20.

Tell me about the competition the team recently went to.

This was the first competition as part of the college challenge. It was a design weekend. Judges from SpaceX, Tesla, and other companies came to see the design and decided if it’ll progress in the initial phase of the project. We weren’t selected, but it was a great opportunity to gain access to sponsors and vendors who could donate to our team. For example, one sponsor came up to us, and his company built carbon fiber composites. Our pod design currently doesn’t use carbon fiber, but that’s an example of the type of people that were there. On the last day of the competition, the public was allowed to attend and learn more about the design as well. Although we didn’t advance in the initial phase, we will still be allowed to test our pod on the track.

Between now and June, what else can you do?

Since we worked so hard, we are going to use the feedback from the judges and redesign our pod and test it out on the Hyperloop track. During the testing, SpaceX and Tesla representatives will judge the built pods and determine which pod would be ideal for further testing and development. There will be cameras in the test tube, and audiences will be able to watch everything – including the crashes!

Elon Musk has planned to make this an annual competition until they find a perfect design which will be used in the future.

Are there any specific skillsets that you gained from working on the business side?

I think one of the overlooked skillsets we gained was effectively communicating with engineers and understanding the engineering concepts. It may seem simple, but there is a very different mentality and goal set between business and engineering. If you don’t understand what the engineers are saying or vice versa, it creates friction between the two groups. For that reason, understanding the engineering concepts that were behind Hyperloop was very important, and the skill is very applicable for us in the future. If we work at a tech firm, understanding its core technology will help us grow and develop the company effectively. Also, talking to corporations and getting them to sponsor our idea has helped me develop my professional communication skills. I also had never designed a website before, so I learned how to do that for the first time.

Why do you think he’s going about it in this way, challenging students to build the design?

One of the things I remember a speaker at design weekend said was “If you can’t figure out a problem, give it to your students and tell them it’s possible. They’ll figure out a way.”

Elon Musk had this concept while sitting in LA traffic, but he said he couldn’t fully devote to making it a reality because he is busy with SpaceX and Tesla – especially SpaceX because they’re building reusable rockets and changing space travel. So he published his concept paper online for anyone to access and work on.

There are actually some companies that are also working on Hyperloop. But he also opened this competition to students to create more enthusiasm about Hyperloop and generate additional PR. It’s an amazing challenge and opportunity for students because we get to be a part of something that can potentially change the world.