Student Spotlight: Brooke Reaves

Brooke Reaves in front of TaskUs LogoMajors: Canfield BHP, Plan II, Government

Company: TaskUs

Position: Research and Product Development Intern

Topics of Interest: Entrepreneurship, Women’s Empowerment, Civil Discourse, and Education


From her time as a Research and Product Development Intern to her insightful exploration of India, while conducting personal research, Brooke Reaves goes in-depth about her experiences as an intern and student seeking karma this summer.

Brooke is a junior at Canfield BHP and as a Business Honors, Plan II, and Government major, she has a full plate this year. She recently spent time interning at TaskUs, a global tech outsourcing company that delivers next-generation business strategy, process optimization, revolutionary technology, and the best talent available. Brooke spoke to me about her projects and overall experience working as a Research and Product Development Intern and described her learnings.

On her travels abroad, Brooke talked to us about her wonderful experience as a student studying in India as part of her Plan II sanctioned research on women’s education and entrepreneurship. We also learn about how she worked with an organization called Women on Wheels that helps to promote a woman’s right to drive in India.

Tell me about your internship at TaskUs.

View from TaskUs Austin office

View from TaskUs Austin office

TaskUs is a Global tech outsourcing company. They work with several firms to help maximize their customer experience and customer service offerings. I specifically worked on a solo project building a business case and recommending a corporate strategy to upscale their workers from entry-level workers to high skilled workers so they can become even better competitors in highly saturated marketplaces.


What sorts of projects were you involved in?

I performed research, shadowed employees, built a financial model, and got to research different types of training programs. Specifically, I conducted market research and utilized financial models, just like we do in Canfield BHP classes, and built a slide deck that I presented at the firm. Essentially, I was able to build a business case and presented it to the executive team which included the SVP of Client Services (my boss), CCO (Chief Client Officer), and CEO at TaskUs. It’s not normal for interns to be given this much responsibility on a solo project and the amount of trust that I was given felt unparalleled. This was a genuinely amazing opportunity and I’m grateful to have had the chance to do this.

I also had the opportunity to oversee the education program at TaskUs. This program provides a variety of educational programming to entry-level workers who may or may not have some college training. It serves to elevate their skill sets in any field they want and enables them to take on new roles within the firm. My job was to develop the education program and build a solid case that would help convince the board to preserve it.

Tell us about the challenges you faced and how you overcame them.

Working on a solo project like this is a lot of responsibility. Normally, you can build off of each other’s strengths in a Canfield BHP class. If you have questions or problems, you can go to each other. For me, it was increasingly challenging because I had questions. I had to do more research and dig in to find potential ways to come up with a solution before asking my boss. I wanted to show my boss that I had already tried doing everything I could to find an answer before coming to him. I wanted to prove that I was trying my hardest and taking the time and effort rather than coming off as an ignorant intern who just needed to be babysat. They gave me so much responsibility and I wanted to do my best with it. They gave me a lot of freedom because they trusted me. It was a wonderful experience and I loved it so much.

Any advice for current students?

Take advantage of every opportunity you get. I know it sounds cheesy but all I had to do with my boss was just ask him. He didn’t offer me the chance to sit in on a sales department visit. I just asked him. I said, “Hey, I got this email by accident. I think this potential client is going to visit. Is it possible that I can I sit in?” He thought it would be a cool idea and it worked out. This wasn’t something that was given to me. I had to pursue it and be eager to show up. I had to be willing to be there and ready to learn from a different department. As interns, you just expect to stay in your lane and do your work but if you reach outside your comfort zone or job description of your internship, you’ll find there can be a lot of opportunities available and you’ll have an even better experience.

How was your time in India? What piqued your interest in traveling there?

Brooke visiting the Taj Mahal

Brooke visiting the Taj Mahal

I did a section on Indian literature in my Plan II World Literature class freshman year and loved it. We read the Ramayana and it was amazing. It’s probably one of my favorite books that I’ve ever read. That was what initially interested me in the country and the culture. Then I saw that Plan II provides a scholarship grant every summer that offers $2500. To earn the scholarship, you propose a country and why you want to visit, then if you win, you get selected to go. I thought it was the perfect opportunity to explore a culture that I had very little knowledge about.

How do you apply for that scholarship and how does it work?

India Gate in Mumbai

India Gate in Mumbai

You propose the country and research topic then create a formal report. Then you have to perform independent research or conduct personal discovery of that topic. I proposed women’s education and entrepreneurship. While I was there, I arranged informal interviews with a handful of women in small businesses and got the opportunity to work with an organization called Women On Wheels. They work to promote women driving cars in India, which is still unpopular and to a certain extent, stigmatized in India. I had many conversations when I was with these drivers about what it was like to be part of an initiative like that. We also visited a restaurant that is run entirely by acid attack survivors, as part of that personal research, and I was able to speak to and learn from these women and their experiences as well.

What were your key takeaways from the trip?

Friends in Pushkar

Friends in Pushkar

It was overwhelming in the best way possible. It made me think about the happenstance of birth, and just how lucky I am to be at UT and be born in the US. Especially as a woman, having that amount of opportunity in my life is a gift. It’s not part of the norm in many parts of the world and some parts of India to have that level of opportunity. However, in India, there’s so much hope and progress in this area. There’s plenty of room for advancements but they’re definitely at the forefront of women’s rights. However, the privilege of being born in the US just can’t be emphasized enough.

If you’re interested in studying abroad in India, Brooke highly recommends learning about the culture in advance. Culture shock is a real thing that can happen if you don’t prepare for it. She explains that power outages are commonplace, the water quality is questionable throughout the country, and bottled water is king. Nonetheless, Brooke fell in love with the people and the culture of India. If you like the color pink, she highly recommends the city of Jaipur, which is filled with beautiful pink buildings accenting the city. If you prefer a touristy locale, visit the neighboring city called Udaipur which is known as the Venice of India. Oh, and did we mention the monkeys?

A Return to Lyceum: The Homecoming of Phil Canfield

Written by Christopher Hotchkiss

Between detailing his choice to attend UT as an undergraduate to giving financial advice to students, Mr. Canfield used his return to the classroom as an opportunity to inspire the students who are currently benefiting from his recent gift to the Canfield Business Honors Program.

Mr. Canfield started by explaining the impact that BHP had on him as a student. As an undergraduate in the honors program, he made lasting friendships and found a community that helped him during his early years in banking. He also described his perspective as a parent and the visit that motivated him to donate so generously to the program. 

Mr. Canfield believed that the BHP lacked the prestige other business schools heralded. He said prospective students often don’t realize the prestige of the program until attending an event or meeting the students, staff, and faculty who make the program so great. 

As the parent of a prospective student, Mr. Canfield attended Discover BHP, our annual welcome weekend event for admitted students. “Discover BHP blew me away,” he said. But he also felt that the reputation of BHP was not where it should be. This realization coupled with his own positive experiences in the program led him to make his naming gift. “If I want to do something for UT, I wanted to do it with BHP,” he said.

In addition to detailing his love for UT, Mr. Canfield took time to describe his career and the different aspects of it. Failure was something he made a point of highlighting because he believes failure is integral to every person’s development. “Successes don’t teach you anything, but failures teach you everything,” he shared. Furthermore, he said that the worst thing that can happen to a person is for them to only experience success over their first five years of working, as that period is a prime time for failures (and ultimately learning) to occur.

Finally, Mr. Canfield used this conversation as an opportunity to give advice to current students interested in finance and private equity. He took the time to answer questions about his rise to leadership within GTCR. With regards to stepping into a managerial role he shared, “You need to do what needs to be done when it is time to get it done.” Although he was speaking specifically about the working world and his experience, these were wise words to conclude his visit and encourage the next generation of Canfield Business Honors students.

 

Student Spotlight: Andrea Ocanas

Name: Andrea Ocanas

Major: Canfield BHP, Accounting (MPA)

Company: Dell

Position: Government Affairs Intern

Topics of Interest: Education, Social Impact, Entrepreneurship

From budgeting to working on government research to driving women’s empowerment initiatives, Andrea Ocanas had the opportunity to do it all this summer while interning at Dell. 

As a Government Affairs Intern, Andrea was not quite sure what to expect at first. Initially, she spent the majority of her time researching social issues that certain Representatives and Senators stand for. After working with her supervisors to increase her “business oriented” workload, Andrea was able to dive deeper into budgeting and social outreach initiatives. 

“Some of (Dell’s) main goals are focused on enhancing women entrepreneurship and STEM education,” Andrea said. “The government affairs team has worked to implement different programs across the country. The whole Dell team will go to (a city) and get people from that city to participate in social impact projects or events.”

One of the cities Dell is currently working with just so happens to be Las Cruces, New Mexico, which borders El Paso, Andrea’s hometown.

“The (initiative) in El Paso focused on women’s entrepreneurship and Dell hosted a competition and they got a team to brainstorm ideas that would help female entrepreneurs in the area start businesses,” Andrea said. “I got to go to meetings at the Mexican embassy to figure out how we would work with Mexico, New Mexico and then the edge of Texas to get resources towards the project.” 

Andrea said it was nice to work with an area she knew while still interning in Washington, D.C., a place she has always wanted to visit. She said she expected to do quite a bit of government-oriented work and welcomed all the learning opportunities that the internship presented.

“I think one of the main things I took out of the summer was that there’s a lot more to businesses than just accounting and finance,” Andrea said. “A lot of what is happening up there (in DC) really does affect businesses. It’s just harder to see from far away.” 

Despite the distance and familiarity of the program in general, Andrea said Canfield BHP prepared her well for the shift because of the diverse community the program offers. 

“A big thing I learned from being in BHP is just how to talk to different people. Being from El Paso was kind of different because, despite the fact that I’m a minority, I’ve been in the majority my whole life,” Andrea said. “All of my supervisors (in DC) varied on the political spectrum and a bunch of other factors. It was a small, but diverse team. CanfieldBHP taught me a lot about how to interact with different people and helped me stay comfortable going up to DC and being in that internship.” 

A Peek into Lyceum: Our Chat with Niloufar Molavi of PwC

This Wednesday, the sophomore Canfield BHP class had the pleasure of hosting Niloufar Molavi, the Global and US Energy leader at PwC, for the fifth time in five years. 

In a conversation that covered topics ranging from Molavi’s decision to attend UT as an accounting major to an overview of her future career goals, Molavi once again proved herself as an immeasurable resource for the McCombs community. 

When asked why she comes back to speak to students year over year, Molavi said she aims to pay it forward, whether it be through speaking to students or in other capacities. While at McCombs, Molavi said she was an active member of AKPsi and made an effort to make friends outside the business school as well. She advises current students to take advantage of UT’s breadth and learn both inside and outside the classroom. 

“I’m happy to share what I learned and explain why it’s important to take advantage of all the resources students have available while here (at UT Austin) and the importance of (being) involved and engaged,” Molavi said. “It’s not just about showing up, going to class and going home and having a great time on the weekends.”

Molavi has worked at PwC for 28 years and said the extracurriculars she participated in at UT prepared her for success in the workplace. The leadership opportunities she had taught her to be confident outside her comfort zone.

“UT taught me how to get comfortable being uncomfortable. It’s a safe environment to learn and make mistakes,” Molavi said. “When I entered the real world it was amazing how many of the experiences that I had while at UT replicated themselves; it was just a very different environment.” 

While Molavi praised UT resources and organizations, she also commended the McCombs accounting program and the students and faculty who make it up. She said the program gave her a basis for success and has maintained its reputation since she graduated. 

“(The accounting program) continues to be number one and was number one when I was here (at McCombs),” Molavi said. “And of course there’s a reason for that. I think it’s attributable to the strong curriculum, the faculty, and the students who are attracted to it.”

Student Spotlight: Vibhav Joopelli


Major:
Canfield BHP, Finance

Company: Goldman Sachs

Position: Summer Analyst in Specialty Lending Group

Topics of Interest: Investing, Current Events, Entrepreneurship


 

 

Stocks and bonds, loans, assets, and commodities – oh my! Investing in today’s world economy is more complex than ever. This is why it’s important that we have really smart individuals overseeing our wealth. Smart people like fellow Canfield BHPer Vibhav Joopelli.

Over the course of the summer, Vibhav performed his duties as a Summer Analyst in the Specialty Lending Group at Goldman Sachs, a division which sits within the firm’s Special Situations Group (SSG). SSG is a “global, multi-asset class business, specializing in principal investing and lending in all levels of capital structures on a risk-adjusted return basis. SSG lends and invests Goldman’s capital directly to mid-sized companies.” We caught up with Vibhav and talked about his experience at Goldman Sachs this summer.

Tell me about your internship at Goldman Sachs.

The internship at Goldman Sachs was divided into two major parts. One part consisted of three major projects that we worked on over the course of the summer and synthesized a lot of what we had learned. The other part of the internship involved my participation in ongoing live deals. A full deal-team worked on these live deals but I specifically assisted the deal-team with specific aspects of the diligence process. Additionally, I also drafted slides for the Investment Committee memo, conducted financial analysis, and performed any unique research tasks that were needed by the team.

What projects did you work on specifically?

One of the biggest projects I worked on involved drafting up an Investment Committee memo for my final internship project, which was based off of a previous deal the group had closed. I was tasked with performing the qualitative and quantitative analysis for the deal. This included deriving valuation methods to evaluate the business, writing up a company and industry overview, and determining high level investment strengths and risks. Secondly, I worked on a live deal for a restaurant company that was going through a bankruptcy process. These were two of the largest projects that I was involved in. Additionally, I also worked on a deal for a real-estate software technology company and developed a tear-sheet for summarizing an investment into a telecom services provider.

What interested you in this opportunity?

I was originally interested in the internship because I wanted to experience learning how to invest from the perspective of one of the largest players in the industry. I thought the internship would provide me a great opportunity to learn the basics of financial analysis and performing due diligence into potential investment opportunities. I also liked the opportunity to be a part of a large organization that had a significant breadth of resources. During my internship, I was able to utilize some of those resources to learn more about various industries through conversations I was able to have with industry experts available to me in the Goldman Sachs network.

Let’s talk about the challenges you faced while working on your biggest projects and how you overcame those obstacles.

The biggest challenges I had were for example, being thrown into the projects earlier on and not having as much familiarity with how to properly execute tasks and build out the models that we were utilizing. Trying to figure out how to do those on my own was difficult, at first, but I was able to reference past deals that the company had made and use other resources that the company had in the database to build up my knowledge and the skills necessary to complete the project tasks. There is a significant learning curve, at first. Admittedly, a lot of the stuff I did wasn’t 100% correct right off the bat but many of the people at the firm were willing to help and provide guidance on how to properly do some of the things that were necessary for the projects.

What was the company culture like at Goldman Sachs?

The company culture was welcoming and collegial. It was a really small group so you got to know everyone in the group very quickly. Everyone was generally very willing to help out as questions came up or as challenges arose. They understood we were interns. They also knew when to hold our hand versus when to let us figure things out on our own. Sometimes the best way to learn things is to figure them out on your own, rather than having someone walk you through the process step-by-step. There were also a good number of out-of-office activities that the company hosted to help you get to know everyone better.

What resources can students with similar interests and goals utilize to gain an internship like the one you participated in?

I’d highly recommend leveraging on-campus organizations. Within the investing space, there are multiple investment teams and finance organizations that provide mentorship and guidance through upperclassmen and through structured teaching curriculums. The next step, once you’re in those organizations, is to leverage the upperclassmen at McCombs and CBHP specifically, to talk about their experiences. Ask them to walk you through some of the challenges that they faced, how they overcame those, and what steps they took afterward. Additionally, ask them to point you towards helpful online resources.

In a nutshell, get involved in McCombs with different organizations and leverage upperclassmen at McCombs and CBHP. Do the grunt work on your own to talk to alumni and learn about what their experiences were like as well. At the same time, I’d encourage everyone in McCombs to step out of the comfort zone of the business school and get involved in activities and organizations outside of school. Whether they be social / service organizations or fun hobbies, getting involved outside of McCombs provides a unique perspective and can allow you to meet some really cool people.