BHP Students Take 2nd Place at National Stock Pitch Competition

This weekend, a team of four BHP University Securities Investment Team (USIT) students traveled to the University of Michigan Ross School of Business to compete in one of the oldest undergraduate stock pitch competitions, hosted by the Michigan Interactive Investments Team . USIT has historically done very well at this competition (3rd in 2016, 1st in 2014), and this year the team was thrilled to clench 2nd place!

The team, comprised of Karna Venkatraj (BHP Junior, USIT Industrials Portfolio Manager), Ryan Spencer (BHP Junior, USIT Energy Fund Analyst), Catherine Cheng (BHP Sophomore, USIT Senior Analyst), and Ananya Rajesh (BHP Sophomore, USIT Senior Analyst), beat out 25 teams from other top business schools.

Stock pitch competitions allow teams of students to formulate a variant view revolving aroung a particular security, conducting intrinsic and relative valuation to arrive at an implied valuation for the company. Students then present their findings to the competition judges in a preliminary and final round. This year, the team chose to pitch Hawaiian Airlines.

The four students on the team are leaders within the University Securities Investment Team (USIT), an investing team that seeks to provide financial education through active securities investing. USIT is the only UT finance organization to send teams to national competitions. The organization also boasts and all-female executive board, including two BHP students serving in the roles of President (Phoebe Lin) and Director of Investment (Megan Tran-Olmsted).

Faculty Spotlight: Rayan Bagchi – Operations Management

Written by Nandita Daga

Professor Bagchi may have made a circuitous path to the business industry, but he is no stranger in the field. He’s been teaching Operations Management for the last 39 years, with the last 36 years at UT. At McCombs, he teaches OM335H: Operations Management, OM337: Total Quality Management, and OM367: Strategic Supply Chain Management. Bagchi actually began his career as a Chemistry student; he received his B.Sc and M.Sc in Chemistry from the Indian Institute of Technology (Kharagpur), his M.S. in Chemistry at Washington State University, and a Ph.D in Operations Management from Pennsylvania State University.

He attributes this switch to Operations as a realization that “[I was] not happy at the prospect of spending the rest of my career life in a chemistry lab; hours are exceedingly long, you don’t see people, and spend a lot of time with only chemicals. I wanted something different and I wasn’t sure what. Business is an area you can come into from any other area, so I joined business school without knowing what I was getting into – so much for strategic planning.”

When asked why he chose operations, Bagchi stated, “Operations lends itself to mathematical analysis, which attracted me. I liked the flavor of operations, which is problem-solving. I’m not attracted to money. Not too keen about satisfying customers; marketing was interesting, but not particularly appealing. Operations is neutral; it’s about making things cheaper, faster, better.” He incorporates this flavor of operations into his research; most of his published work revolves around planning and scheduling models. His research interests look at how to make businesses more process oriented; getting good results consistently requires developing good processes. He is also interested in knowledge management, which looks at knowledge not easily captured in documents or archival – essentially, implicit knowledge. “Most of us have knowledge not readily available to others, but often times, that knowledge goes unused. I like to study how to put knowledge that already exists to use,” he smiles and says.

Professor Bagchi enjoys teaching OM335H the most; it’s the first course in operations for students, so “they have a clean slate,” he explains. BHP students are “alive” in class. He notes that attendance and engagement in classes are higher, and that students have a wider range of interests. “BBA students are more narrow in their focus; BHP students are more open to other things. Their minds are nimble and active.”

Professor Bagchi is always eager to hear from his students during office hours (MW 12-1 at CBA 4.304A); he says that “Anything the student finds interesting is likely something that would interest me,” and would love to engage in deeper conversation about likes, dislikes, regrets, etc. If you’re looking for conversation starters, consider asking him about:

1) the book he’s currently reading! Professor Bagchi enjoys reading 19th and early 20th century books, and has recently began Teddy Roosevelt’s biography.

2) his favorite movies! (He particularly enjoys a French director, Éric Rohmer, whose moral tales are “absolutely wonderful.”)

3) traveling: his favorite destination spots are London and Paris.

4) food: he enjoys Italian and French cuisines.

Faculty Spotlight: JJ Riekenberg – Business Communications

Written by Nandita Daga

JJ Riekenberg

“It’s a class.”

Every BA324H class, Professor Janet J Riekenberg, or JJ as students affectionately call her, leans against her desk, gives a smile, and utters this iconic phrase. JJ teaches honors and non-honors sections of BA324, a Business Communication course all McCombs students are required to take. She is a non-tenure lecturer within the Management Department and describes her focus as “creating teaching situations to facilitate learning.”

After graduating UT as a RTF major, JJ started her career in corporate communications and worked in public television as a Floor and Operations Manager for ten years. From there she co-owned and managed a film and video production company before coming back to UT for graduate school. Here, she received her Master’s degree in Educational Psychology, focusing on higher education counseling. She also received her Doctorate degree from UT in Educational Psychology, with a concentration in Learning, Cognition, Motivation, & Instruction. She utilizes all three of her degrees as a professor.

JJ’s favorite thing about teaching BHP is undoubtedly the students. “The BHP culture emphasizes learning. You come out of college a learner. Students in BHP own their education; they are invested in making the most of their experience and taking as much knowledge as they can,” she said. She actually wanted me to interview her students instead of her – as an accurate reflection of who she is as a teacher.

According to Nicholas Kuehl, a BHP sophomore, “JJ has an incredible sense of humor and makes bland content funny.’” Another sophomore, Rebecca Ortiz, says that JJ structures her classes really well and incorporates lots of “quirky, haha” moments.

“She’ll take a look at your paper, and tell you five things you did wrong in a glance, and is always honest and helpful. JJ also takes in interest in students’ lives; if you’re dressed up professionally, she’ll always ask what you are up to. She’ll pause presentations and physically fix your posture if it needs work. She’ll pull people up to the front of the classroom and do in-class examples.”

JJ’s always very engaging in class, but students really get to know her through her office hours (MW 10-11, T 1:30-2:30 in CBA 4.202). The best piece of wisdom upperclassmen pass down is simply that: go to office hours. She will clarify minute details of the assignment, find resources to verify doubts, give helpful suggestions, and share her own experiences. But don’t just visit for assignment help! “[I wish] students came to ask how to learn more effectively,” JJ says. To make the most of office hours and JJ’s broad depth of knowledge, try asking her about some of her hobbies and interests. If you don’t know where to start, here are some ideas:

  • How did you get into photography, and what subject matter is your favorite to capture?
  • What’s the most valuable skill you learned from managing your own business?
  • What interests you about ornithology, and what is your favorite bird?
  • What is your favorite story about miscommunication?
  • Where have you traveled recently, and where would you like to go?

Student Spotlight: Rachel Diebner

Having primary interests in writing and journalism, Rachel Diebner didn’t exactly know how she found herself in the business school when she arrived on the 40 Acres as a freshman.

But three years later, Diebner has now found a home at McCombs. The senior is set to graduate with a double major in BHP and Plan II and a minor in supply chain management.

“BHP was something I never knew was coming and never knew I would fall in love with,” Diebner said. “It was the best choice I kind of accidentally threw myself into.”

Despite her initial hesitation about her academic career path, Diebner has always been certain about one thing: her passion for philanthropy. Outside of school, she devotes her time to serving her community through her involvement with Texas Orange Jackets and Chi Kappa Phi Service Society.

“To live a meaningful life means that I am uplifting and empowering other people,” Diebner said. “I’ve always had a heart for service. Both groups (Texas Orange Jackets and Chi Kappa Phi Service Society) have great mindsets about service. I appreciate learning about different ways to impact communities and exploring why we serve, who we serve and what it means to be a good citizen and community partner.”

Diebner is grateful for the unique opportunities she has experienced during her time as a member of her service societies. She cherishes her memories of the moments she has spent reading to children at Helping Hand Home.

“Through Chi Kappa Phi Service Society, I became connected to Helping Hand Home, a residential treatment center for children who have experienced abuse and neglect,” Diebner said. “During the summer after my sophomore year, I volunteered there every Friday night as a bedtime reader: I’d spend an hour or two reading my old childhood favorites, like Junie B. Jones or Where the Wild Things Are, to the youngest girls’ cottage. Being able to provide the girls with things their parents might not have been able to at the time — a sense of comfort and security as they crawled in bed at night, a magical story as they drifted off to sleep, a love for books and reading — was extra special.”

Diebner believes it is actually her dedication to social impact that has allowed her to realize her academic and professional aspirations in the business world. When she interned at McKinsey & Company as a business analyst last summer, she discovered that creative thinking skills used in business can be applied to resolving current social issues.

“Part of why I like McKinsey is because they aim to tackle the world’s most challenging problems,” Diebner said. “I think that I’ll grow tremendously from surrounding myself with such smart, driven people, and I hope that someday I’ll be able to use the lessons I learn to tackle the world’s most challenging social impact problems. I want to apply that business-minded thinking to nonprofits and socially-driven organizations around the world, helping them help more people.”

After completing her summer internship with McKinsey, Diebner has decided to accept a full-time offer to pursue a career in consulting with the firm after graduation.

Everything has neatly fallen into place for Diebner at this point in her life on the 40 Acres, but she believes she couldn’t have thrived without learning from both her successes and failures along the way.

“It’s OK to not have it all figured out yet,” Diebner said. “All the pieces will slowly fall into place … It’s OK to take time to explore random things, to dabble a little bit, to make mistakes and fail and figure things out. That’s the best way to go about finding what path is right for you.”

Faculty Spotlight: Joe Hahn – Business Finance (FIN 357H)

Written by Nicholas Kuehl

Dr. Joe Hahn teaches FIN 357H, which is Business Finance – Honors, in the fall semester. Along with teaching FIN 357H, Dr. Hahn also teaches FIN 372, FIN 374C, and he serves as the director of the MSF (Master of Science in Finance) program. One of Dr. Hahn’s favorite parts of teaching BHP students in FIN 357H is that BHP students are usually quite inquisitive, which helps foster lively discussions in class. Also, FIN 357H is one of the only Finance classes that BHP students who aren’t also majoring in Finance will take, so Dr. Hahn enjoys challenging these students’ assumptions about Finance and exposing them to the interesting theories and applications that could apply to their own fields of study.

In addition to teaching, Dr. Hahn also partakes in research. Since his background is in petroleum engineering, a significant portion of his research is focused on commodity pricing and forecasting, and utilizing these insights in investment in both fossil fuels and renewable sources of energy. Dr. Hahn particularly enjoys research problems involving important decisions coupled with uncertainty, as modeling this uncertainty can lead to exciting insights.

Dr. Hahn began his time at UT Austin as an undergraduate majoring in petroleum engineering. However, once he graduated, the market for jobs in the energy sector wasn’t good, so he went back to school to receive a Master’s in Civil Engineering. After going to graduate school, Dr. Hahn held several jobs in the energy sector, including an environmental engineering job where he was tasked with decommissioning a cooling tower. He worked on an Acquisitions & Investiture team where he picked up economic modeling skills. Eventually, he decided to come back to UT Austin to get an MBA, and he stayed on to get a PhD. After returning to the energy industry for a year, Dr. Hahn realized that his love for working with interns could translate to working in academia, so he left the energy industry and became a professor.

If you aren’t sure about what to ask Dr. Hahn about in office hours, he says that he is willing to talk about almost anything. He loves when students ask him about his family, his background, and, of course, UT sports! He also loves to give advice, and encourages student to learn how to become good at identifying opportunities. Coming from a small town where several people discouraged him from going to UT Austin, Dr. Hahn understands the value of thinking longer-term and evaluating opportunities, and he wants BHP students to think about decisions in a similar way.

If you would like to learn more about Dr. Hahn, he invites you to come by his office hours on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM. His office is CBA 6.228, which is located in CBA North, near the Hall of Honors. Dr. Hahn loves to get to know his students, and he believes his office hours are the perfect opportunity for students to get both their academic and non-academic questions answered. After all, the students that Dr. Hahn sees the most in his office hours are often the students who end up doing the best in his class, so come on by, even if you just want to chat!