Professor Spotlight: Eric Chan – ACC 312H

Professor Eric Chan teaches Managerial Accounting (ACC 312H) for the Business Honors Program at UT – the second class in the introduction to accounting sequence. Chan’s schooling has brought him around the world: from his hometown in the bustling city of Hong Kong, to grade school in England, undergraduate studies at The University of Maryland, Ph.D. studies at The University of Pittsburgh, and finally to his professorship at The University of Texas at Austin.

This semester is Dr. Chan’s third semester at McCombs, and he currently teaches three sections of BHP classes. Chan enjoys that managerial accounting focuses on a company’s management structure, with a strong focus on behavioral elements, as opposed to a focus on strict financial structure. Chan finds it very fulfilling to see young students evolve as they learn, and grasp more in-depth concepts within the material he teaches.

Dr. Chan loves teaching, but it is not all that he has done. After graduating from The University of Maryland with his bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Finance, Chan received his Certified Public Accounting license and worked as a senior auditor for Ernst and Young for four years. While he saw his department as incredibly important for the health of a business from an audit perspective, Chan ultimately did not see himself pursuing this path decades in the future. Instead, Chan desired a path of further learning, achieved through academia. This inspired him to attend The University of Pittsburgh where he received his Ph.D. in Accounting, allowing him to explore different fields of accounting and economics.

In addition to teaching, Dr. Chan spends much of his time conducting research on behavioral and experimental economics, performance management and evaluation, and promotions and incentives. Chan says that he is most proud of his dissertation paper that he wrote while pursuing his Ph.D. The paper, titled “Promotion, relative performance information, and the Peter Principle,focuses on how employers make promotion decisions differently depending on relative information provided to workers. In fact, Chan was honored with the Best Dissertation Award of his 2016 Management Accounting Section, and he hopes that he will be able to publish his findings soon.

After teaching at The University of Pittsburgh, Chan took a leap and moved to Texas to become an assistant professor at McCombs due to its stellar #1 Accounting department, the distinguished professor colleagues, and the unprecedented access to research UT provides. When asked about long-term plans, Chan said that he does envision himself at UT in 40 or 50 years’ time, believing that he will still love accounting as the practice changes over time.

Dr. Chan loves discussing all things accounting and economics, so stop by his office hours (even if you’re not in his class!) on TTH 2:30-4:00pm at CBA 4M.234. If you want to get to know Dr. Chan a little bit better, but already understand the fundamentals of managerial accounting, consider asking him the following questions:

  1. What is your favorite type of music, modern and old-school? (note: Dr. Chan likes to begin class with nostalgic early-2000’s music)
  2. Out of the many places you have lived, where has been your favorite?
  3. If you could have an alternative career, what would it be?

Alumni Spotlight: Laura Rosen, Class of 2004 – Senior Policy Analyst

Laura Rosen, BHP 2004, is a Senior Policy Analyst and Outreach Coordinator for the Center for Public Policy Priorities, where she manages program strategy, advocacy, marketing and communications for their job quality and asset building work. Prior to joining the CPPP, Laura worked for Wells Fargo. She completed a master’s degree in public policy with a concentration in social enterprise and economic development from the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy.

Briefly take me through your career path.

At BHP I discovered microfinance. I was inspired by a community development and social enterprise course taught by Eugene Sepulveda. I felt motivated to use my business skills to give back and do something non-traditional. I received a Fulbright scholarship and worked in Cusco, Peru for a bank providing micro-loans for women starting businesses.

After my time in Peru, I felt I needed to get banking experience, so I went to work at Wells Fargo to get credit skills and ended up working in international trade. I knew that I didn’t want to stay in corporate banking long-term, so I went to grad school to study international development with an emphasis on social enterprise. I discovered a field called asset building, which aligned with my interest in finance. Asset building helps people build both financial and non-financial assets, such as savings and education, so they can reach financial stability.  My eyes were opened to how much need there is for this work and how limited the programs are for people. There are only a few positions in Texas that work in this area, but I was lucky enough to land one of those roles with a respected think tank in Texas, the Center for Public Policy Priorities.

In my role there, I have been focused on expanding household savings and financial education in Texas as well as advancing consumer financial protection policies. We have been working to reform payday and auto title lending in Texas for many years. Unfortunately, they remain virtually unregulated. These predatory lenders target low-income families with their payday loans, which average 500 percent APR in Texas. I am also working on trying to expand access to good jobs in Texas. It is so important to have adequate income to be self-sufficient and be able to save for your future. I am excited to work with the business community to try to advance the work. It isn’t sustainable for our economy to have a huge segment of the population that can’t make ends-meet.

You made a big shift in your career from finance to marketing and public policy. How hard was it to start down a new career path?

Graduate school provides a great opportunity to make a shift. Working in banking really helped me build my resume to take the next step. Having private sector experience in finance was helpful and appealing to the non-profit sector when I was moving into policy work. I knew I didn’t want to stay in the banking role I was in, but I think if I had shared more with my manager about what my interests were, I could have maybe moved into some of the philanthropic work that Wells Fargo was doing. Good mentors want to help you get to where you want to go.

How did your master’s degree in public policy complement the skills you gained in BHP and set you up for success in your current role?

The degrees are similar in some ways. They are both professional degrees, but the sectors are just different. The skill set is similar and a lot of what I learned in BHP was transferable, like strategy, writing, presentations and data analysis. I discovered the one of my good friends from BHP, Pamela Chan, transitioned to the non-profit sector and was doing similar work in DC, so she was very helpful to me in getting me to where I am. Some of my BHP friends have also helped me in thinking about next steps in my career. They are such a great network, professionally and personally.

What is most challenging about your role at CPPP?

Working in the non-profit sector is different from the private sector. Resources are constrained, but the need is so vast. The challenge is trying to be effective with fewer resources and be effective with my time by focusing on the right things. I have to wear a lot of different hats.

What do you envision things looking like for the people of Texas if CPPP is successful in their work?

Our mission is to make sure all Texans are healthy, well-educated and financially secure. We have a very long way to go, but it is such important work. There has been a shift in our economy. The share of low-wage jobs in Texas has grown 15% since 1979, while the middle class has shrunk. At the same time, Texas is not adequately investing in public and higher education, which we need to build a skilled workforce. Both of these trends will be detrimental to our state’s economic growth. We would like to see that regardless of where you live, you have the same access to quality healthcare, food, education, etc. that mean so much for your life trajectory. Even nationally less than half of households could cover a $400 unexpected bill. Many people are struggling to manage their money, because they don’t earn enough, but also because they don’t have access to tools and basic benefits that help them save and provide income stability or financial education.  Sixty percent of Texans have sub-prime credit scores.  Half of Texans don’t have access to a retirement savings plan at work. Forty-five percent of private sector workers in Texas don’t have access to the basic benefit of paid sick days. It would be great if jobs paid enough and provided basic benefits so that families could make ends meet and work to move up the economic ladder.

You were selected as Fulbright Scholar and completed field work in Peru for a year. Tell us about that experience and what you were working on.

I would highly recommend it to people. It was a peak life experience for me. I heard about the opportunity to apply for a Fulbright scholarship and was interested in international work, so I jumped at the opportunity. I conducted research for a small organization in Cusco that operated village banks through the region. Through my research, I studied the impact of why people defaulted on their loans, which gave me the opportunity to interview a lot of people living in extreme poverty. Those interviews really impacted me.

For students interested in going into policy, non-profit or social enterprise work, what would you encourage them to do as students to prepare for that kind of role?

I think it is great to get some experience in non-profit and social enterprise through internships or other experiences. You can always volunteer. Try it out before going to get a master’s. I wish I had figured out what skill sets would be the best fit for me earlier. In grad school we had a course about looking at your strengths and what skills sets you enjoy most. I wish there had been more focus on self-exploration of aptitudes in undergrad. I am happy that I had the business honors degree because a business degree provides a lot of transferable skills and flexibility. I was able to easily transition to something else, and I feel I could always transition back.

I would also add that every year my colleagues and I speak about our work to the UT undergraduate tax practicum class that prepares income taxes for clients at a local non-profit, Foundation Communities. A similar UT business school class inspired my career trajectory, and I really enjoy giving back. Who knows, maybe I will introduce one of the students in the class to a non-traditional career in business like the guest lecturer in my class did when I was a student.

Professor Spotlight: Bill Peterson – MKT 337H

Which courses do you teach?  I teach the honors and non-honors sections of Principles of Marketing (MKT 337). I’ve also developed a class on professional consulting, called Strategy Consulting for Marketers (MKT 372), for students who have an interest in pursuing consulting or want to gain an understanding of business strategy.

What do you enjoy most about teaching BHP students? I love to work with high potential students to maximize their opportunities and help build the skills they need for their post-graduation goals. I enjoy teaching BHP because the program offers a high concentration of those types of students. BHP has some of the most enjoyable students I’ve worked with. They are insightful, dedicated, and enthusiastic, which makes for a fulfilling classroom experience.

Can you tell me more about your independent consulting work? Outside of teaching, I work as an independent consultant with mostly Austin-area businesses to help them solve their operational issues and grow. Most companies need what I like to call basic blocking and tackling. It’s shocking how even the biggest companies we know of don’t have a solid STP (segmentation, targeting, and positioning) strategy. Consulting isn’t rocket science. It’s about implementing the fundamentals, which can be enormously powerful for most companies. As I teach in my class, marketing isn’t limited to just the marketing and promotional department of a company. It encompasses the foundation for the entire business, from how they choose to operate and strategize. I enjoy helping companies appreciate the fundamentals and seeing the results that come from it.

Tell me about how you got into teaching. I’ve always wanted to teach and made it a goal to someday do it. After working in industry, I started teaching at UT’s Professional Development Center, which offers informal classes for adult development. I quickly realized that teaching is much harder than it looks. From my time at UT’s Professional Development Center, I developed the skills and confidence to work with students. A while later, I heard about an opportunity with the Marketing Department in McCombs, and it just worked out. I was in the right place at the right time. I’m very fortunate to be able to do what has been a life goal of mine.

When and where are your office hours? My office is in CBA 5.176C.  This semester, my office hours are: Monday 5:00-6:30pm, Tuesday 1:30-3pm, and Wednesday 9am – 10am. I encourage students to stop by not only to chat about class work but also if they ever have questions about life, careers, networking, etc. I’m always available if a student needs to set up an introduction or informational interview with someone through me, and since I work with several businesses in Austin, the people at those companies often times let me know about opportunities that may be of interest to students.
Questions to consider asking Mr. Peterson in office hours:

1) His time at Dell and other previous industry experience

2) His independent consulting work

3) His ranch

4) Piloting his own plane

5)  Stories about his travels and being a foodie

Interdisciplinary Case Competition Connects BHP with CS and Engineering

This past weekend, BHP hosted the second annual Interdisciplinary Case Competition, which brings together BHP, CS and Engineering students. The competition is an opportunity for business and tech students to learn to work together, and bring their unique skills to the table to solve a business problem. This year’s case involved a struggling fictional airline facing issues with their workforce, technology and operations.

Southwest Airlines partnered with BHP for the competition, sending managers from various departments to judge the competition alongside McCombs faculty members and BHP alumni. Though the airline was fictional, the competition co-chairs created a case which was very relevant to issues major airlines face every day. Teams came up with creative solutions, based on data analytics and extensive research. BHP Faculty Director Robert Prentice said he was impressed in the final rounds. “It was amazing to see how much they knew about the airline industry. They really did a great job researching the industry,” he said. The Southwest Airlines managers were also impressed. One of them even commenting that he learned something from the students that he hadn’t known about before.

It was a hard-fought battle, but in the end a team of juniors took first place, with the key differentiators being comprehensiveness of their plan and clarity of their case. The winning team will receive $1,000. Great job to all the teams participating and kudos to Sai Yeleru and Abhishek Ramchandani, the competition co-chairs, for organizing such a well-run competition and putting together a great case!

First Place Team: Eric Saldanha (BHP), Diane Sun (BHP), Mandeep Patel (ME), Malvika Gupta (BME)

Second Place Team: Saagar Pateder (BHP), Maitreya Movva (BHP), Luca Tomescu (EE), Vishal Vusirikala (CS)

Third Place Team: Catherine Cheng (BHP), Eric Sun (BHP), Wesley Klock (EE), Lee Rao (CS)

Professor Spotlight – Prabhudev Konana – MIS 301H

Professor Prabhudev Konana teaches the Introduction to Information Technology Management (MIS 301H) course. He is known by students as the Apple enthusiast who gives brilliant lectures in MIS 301H, but Professor Konana has a lot more to offer than all of the IT knowledge he brings to class. Professor Konana is passionate about researching the value of social networks, global sourcing, and business value of IT. He uses a global mindset, as well as his own personal experience, to investigate the changing conditions of society in the realms of both technology and sociocultural trends.

Professor Konana has received numerous accolades and awards for both his teaching and his research, but he attributes his success to “how well [his students] do in their lives.” He loves to teach but also to learn from his students. He believes his students are going to be better than he is, which changes his teaching mindset. Each day, he looks forward to learning from his students’ questions and feedback, while he teaches.

Growing up in India and traveling to the United States to obtain his degrees from The University of Arizona, Professor Konana has a very interesting dual perspective on life. What brought him to the point of being an influential figure here at The University of Texas is the opportunities and struggles he has faced throughout different stages of his life. He loves to talk about history and culture and how they have shaped his world. His advice to his students is to never be satisfied. “If you are satisfied with something, then you will never pursue anything else. There has to always be some emptiness and there should always be some desire.”

Professor Konana loves meeting with his students and chatting about anything from technology to global social issues. His office hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:00pm – 4:30pm in CBA 5.244, or by appointment. Not sure what to talk about? Here are some great questions to help you get a great conversation going.

  • What is your outlook on the American Dream and has that changed since you left India for the United States?
  • How do I deal with differing opinions on religion and politics?
  • Tell me about the book you are writing.
  • Who are your heroes?
  • What do you wish you knew when you were my age?
  • What do you look for in a good book?