Alumni Spolight: Nancy Lu – Fancy PR

Nancy Lu

Featured: Music Industry, PR, entrepreneurship

Meet Nancy Lu: lead storyteller of NYC-based Fancy PR, lover of music, and BHP 2009 alum. After graduating with a BHP and Marketing degree from UT, she delved into writing for magazines, coordinating events, and running point on press for up-and-coming musicians. We recently got to visit with Nancy about Fancy PR and her experience in the music industry.

You have held a host of social media, PR, and editing positions in the music industry. Can you walk me through how you got into this industry and got to where you are today?

If you’re the self-starter type, there can be low barriers to entry to the music industry. I’ve typically erred toward playing it safe when it comes to life decisions and my career was no different. I first toyed with the idea of a summer internship at a major label, but at the time, most internship openings were unpaid, and you could only apply through a company portal, as opposed to Recruit McCombs. I didn’t hear back from any of them. I took that as a sign that music wasn’t the path for me, and subsequently picked up internships at a research company, GM, and finally an advertising agency. Upon graduation, I started working for a healthcare consulting company. I thought I would love it, but ultimately the job wasn’t for me!

While working full-time as a healthcare consultant, I also maintained a music blog with a fellow BHPer, John Michael Cassetta, and found it to be a soothing outlet from the day job that I hated. I eventually started covering music at a few other places, and that transitioned into some event planning for those outlets as well. At this point, I had the “aha! moment” realization that I needed to actually give the only thing I’ve consistently cared about the old college try. So, I moved to New York. Through a friend of mine, I was able to secure a summer internship at a music publicity company. Fast forward through moonlighting as a cocktail waitress, running a pop up shop for a couple months, and working as a social media manager at a photo and illustration agency, to finally being offered the opportunity to do press in-house at an artist management company.

One big takeaway I have from my journey is that there is no one way, right way, or right time to break into the music industry. If there’s something in your life that you’re deeply passionate about, go for it! Hard work and gratitude will get you there and even if it doesn’t work out, now you know and you’ll have no regrets.

What is Fancy PR and what work are you doing there?

We’re a music publicity company that started in May 2014, based in New York City and L.A., and we handle promotions for music artists and events. As a publicist, my job is to tell the artist’s story in a compelling and meaningful way. When we are considering onboarding clients, we weigh whether or not we think that artist will have longevity in the industry, and whether we are personally passionate about their music. I am very much a believer in teamwork and in the adage that no man is an island, so it’s nice to have my partner, Nick, to bounce ideas off of, and to have another perspective.

What inspired you to jump into the deep end and start FancyPR?

I found myself in a part-time PR position barely able to pay rent. The experience and team were wonderful, but with almost no disposable income nor promise of full-time employment in the immediate future. I was looking to change my fortune.  I interviewed at a few different places but none of those opportunities panned out. After several months of interviewing and becoming more frustrated, I decided to break off on my own. It was not my first choice, but having the support of friends made it possible. I feel very fortunate that Fancy PR has been able to stay afloat for this long because it definitely takes a village! I think entrepreneurship is a beautiful thing, but only with a solid business plan in place, because like everything else, there are pros and cons. It’s important to live in the present but also be mindful of the future. Most importantly, you have to have a solid support structure of friends and family.

How do you think your BHP and Marketing degrees from UT aided you in what you are doing?

The most helpful class in BHP for me was BA 101H. It might seem like a simple thing, but writing emails is seriously an art! Accounting was also useful because knowing basic bookkeeping is so important when it comes to keeping track of finances. Business owner or not, everyone should know the golden rules of accounting!  Overall, being around people who were driven and crazy intelligent in BHP felt constantly motivating. I hope that motivation is something I’ve been able to carry through to my professional career.

What kind of activities were you involved in while at UT?

I was involved with HBA, Senate of College Councils, Mortar Board, and Orange Jackets.  HBA was the first organization I joined as a freshman and was a part of for all four years. These student organizations gave me an idea of what it’s like to work within a team structure of my peers, delegating and also handling a multitude of tasks. I also worked as fundraising coordinator at KVRX for a year, and it was an amazing outlet for me music wise at the time.

Accenture Leadership Program Application Opening Feb. 1

BHP students are encouraged to apply for The Accenture Leadership Program, a four-week leadership seminar series led by Accenture Executives. The program equips emerging student leaders with proven leadership techniques, enabling participants to be more effective leaders on campus and within their community. This year marks the eleventh year of the recently re-vamped program. With topics and techniques taken from Accenture’s internal development program for consulting executives, this is an opportunity you don’t want to miss with one of BHP’s corporate partners.

Lisa Feng, current BHP and Finance senior, participated in last year’s program, where she learned leadership skills and concepts related to personal strengths, working on great teams, and leaving a legacy. “I enjoyed learning alongside a diverse group of students from across the Forty Acres,” she said, calling ALP a “one-of-a-kind” experience. “I had never met most of the other participants before, so it was inspiring to hear about all of the unique perspectives and experiences they each brought to the table.”

ALP isn’t just for students in the McCombs School of Business. Students from all backgrounds are encouraged to apply and participate. Last year, students from Engineering, Fine Arts, and Natural Sciences, ranging from freshmen to seniors were among the participants.

Tamara Fields, a managing director based out of the Austin office and UT Austin alumna, is a program presenter each year on one of the most popular topics covered: Social Styles. Individuals each have their own way of thinking, acting, and making decisions, and Social Styles aims to define those unique qualities. Each year, ALP participants are asked to distribute the Social Styles questionnaire to their peers, mentors, and fellow leaders. The input is then analyzed to reveal to each participant’s unique social style that indicates unique aspects about the way they communicate and lead. Each ALP session covers a unique leadership topic and includes interactive activities, facilitated discussion, and time to network and interact with top consulting executives.

In Spring 2018, Accenture will again be hosting Accenture Leadership Program on campus. The program runs Mondays from March 19 to April 9. Full-time undergraduate students graduating between Dec ‘18 and May ‘21 are encouraged to apply – the application opens February 1, 2018. We invite emerging leaders, idea generators, and strategic thinkers to apply for the 2018 Accenture Leadership Program.

If you have any questions, please contact Rebecca Teng at

Sophomores Solve National Expansion Issue for BHP Case Competition

Each year, all BHP sophomores compete in the BA151 Sophomore Lyceum Case Competition. The competition, held this past Friday, is the first case competition many of these students have competed in, and offers a great chance for them to practice the skills they are learning in their business classes.

This year’s case, presented by Sense Corp, presented students with the challenge of accelerating the national expansion of College Forward. College Forward is an Austin-based non-profit that coaches underserved, motivated students to achieve the benefits of higher education and a college degree.

The case asked student what one strategy they would suggest pursuing to scale the organization so it can serve more students both in Texas and nationally.

Out of 30 teams, five advanced to the final round. Each team took a very different approach to solving the problem, and the judges were impressed with the level of thought that went into the cases. In the end, first place went to Catherine Cheng, Emily Gex, Brandon Jodie, Thomas Jordan and Ronald Rodriguez. Honorable mention went to Zhiqi Wang, Alison Daily, Arjun Menta, Maitreya Movva and Veshal Prakash.

“Our team recognized how important it is for lower-income students to have access to information about higher-level education, and we wanted to reach the largest population of low income students possible with our proposed solution,” said Emily Gex. “By creating a website that we would license to high schools, students of all income levels would receive personalized information about colleges that would be perfect matches for them. By inputting one’s personal and financial information into our database, our website would automatically generate a list of scholarships that the individual student is eligible for. By handing low-income students personalized college and scholarship information, we hope to empower these students to continue onto higher-level education successfully.”

The names of the winning team members will be etched onto a plaque, which lives on permanent display in the BHP office. Congratulations to all of these students and special thanks to Sense Corp for providing us with such a great case, and to BHP alumnus Michael Daehne for coordinating the case on behalf of Sense Corp.

From left to right: Ron Rodriguez, Catherine Cheng, Thomas Jordan, Emily Gex, Brandon Jodie

Alumni Spotlight: Laura Olivier, General Manager for DEFINE: Dubai

Laura Olivier

Featured: Living Abroad, Entrepreneurship, Marketing

Laura Olivier, BHP 2011, thought she wanted to be a lawyer, but life had other plans for her. After stints as an English teacher in Spain, working in store operations for Lululemon in Australia, and transitioning into a marketing role in Dubai, she is now running a lifestyle and fitness center (DEFINE) in Dubai. Life takes twists and turns when you’re on a mission to constantly learn new things, but Laura has learned a great deal about herself and her professional strengths along the way.

What kind of activities were you involved in while at UT?

At UT, I specialized in Marketing and BHP, and did mock trial competitively throughout. I thought I was going to be a lawyer the entire time! Because of this, I never did the typical activities that my BHP colleagues did, like case competitions.

I know you’ve traversed the globe quite a bit since graduation. Can you walk me through where you’ve been and what you’ve done?

My parents moved to Sydney in Junior year of college, so after graduation I decided to take advantage of that opportunity and move there for a gap year. Little did I know, that would change the course of the rest of my life, as I became addicted to living abroad. I had a job at Lululemon, where I learned about goal-setting. I realized that one of my goals in life was to learn another language, but that if I kept on my trajectory of becoming a lawyer, I would never get the natural break in life that I had at the moment. That prompted me to move to Spain and get a job in Anadalusia teaching English. I realized teaching wasn’t my passion in life, but I learned a lot about myself and that I wanted to keep living abroad. I found a job in Dubai in marketing after that, actually through a McCombs colleague and friend. That just shows you the worth of keeping your network from McCombs and keeping your BHP friends close and connected, because you never know where your colleagues are going to be and when you might want to reach out to them. Now, I run a franchise of DEFINE in Dubai.

What is DEFINE and what kind of work are you doing there?

DEFINE is a Houston-based lifestyle and fitness brand. It’s unique because you don’t need to get a membership at a yoga studio, barre studio, and spinning studio, but you can do all three under one roof at DEFINE. One reason I’m so passionate about this brand and the fitness methods is that they are all low-impact and sustainable—you can do these types of exercises from your 20’s to your 80’s. Dubai is a little behind in education surrounding low-impact versus high-impact fitness and its importance on joint health and injury prevention, so it is rewarding to be part of that educational movement.

What is a day in the life of an entrepreneur in Dubai like, and what surprised you about entrepreneurship?

A day in the life of an entrepreneur involves a lot of managing people. Going into it, I thought that I would be spending most of my time on strategy and overarching decisions, but I realized immediately in my line of work that much of the work is management and handling staff problems. Also, when you’re working for a small business or a startup, you have to wear many hats. This can be great because you often don’t get those types of opportunities at larger companies where your role or function is more specialized. l Sometimes it can feel like you won’t be able to handle the work, but you grow so much from it.

How might that experience be different in Dubai than say, the U.S.?

I think being an entrepreneur in Dubai is very similar to being an entrepreneur anywhere else, except that there can be a lot of headaches in dealing with government rules and bureaucracy. Sometimes, the government changes rules without notifying you, which can be frustrating. There are also regulations like if you want to run a mainland business, you have to have an Emirati partner who owns 51% of your business. That may sound strange, but it is common in the Middle East.

How do you think your BHP and Marketing degrees from UT aided you in what you are doing?

Being surrounded by such smart kids in BHP, I was proud of my grades but I loved not being the smartest person in the room.  Being challenged by my peers and having an awesome curriculum made me want to continue studying business with an Executive Education program at Harvard Business School, which then made me want to get my MBA with IE, a university in Madrid that has a Global MBA Program, which I hope to start in April. Business is so broad and changes so quickly, so you need to keep educating yourself, and BHP gave me the urgency to keep educating myself.

For students interested in entrepreneurship, what is some advice you would give to them?

Being a young manager has been a big struggle because you’re sometimes managing people who are older and more experienced than you in the industry, which can lead to you having credibility issues. Finding your voice and management style is important, but you aren’t really prepared for it until you’re a manager and faced with decisions about firing someone or making your staff like you but not walk all over you. There’s this beautiful dance of soliciting feedback and being collaborative, but not letting someone dictate their vision for the company. My advice-  Don’t be afraid of people who are smarter or have more experience than you. Be confident that you’ve been given the role you have or that you’re starting your company for a reason. Don’t be shy about speaking your mind and stay strong in maintaining your vision for your company, but keep in mind how to be collaborative while doing that with your staff.

This spotlight was written by Audra Fields, a senior in the Business Honors Program.

Faculty Spotlight: Ram Ranganathan – General Management and Strategy

Written by Megan Tran-Olmsted

Professor Ram Ranganathan has travelled throughout the globe on various career expeditions. While he began his career in his home country of India, Professor Ranganathan has settled in the U.S. in various states to pursue his passions, exploring the intersectionality of the science of strategy, business management, and finally, academia.

Professor Ranganathan teaches the Business Honors Capstone class – Management 374/H. This class is one of the final BHP classes that students take during their time at UT. Professor Ranganathan says that this class is particularly insightful because it is not just another class where students learn a single subject. Instead, he believes that this class serves as a bridge between all the classes that students have taken – exploring how finance, accounting, marketing, and supply chain all work together to create successful businesses. Students are assigned to explore a single business of their choice, analyzing how business decisions made in various aspects of the company have contributed to the company’s success or the company’s failure.

Dr. Ranganathan says that a career in academia is unlike so many other careers. He is able to contribute to knowledge creation and knowledge dissemination. He says that he is able to create knowledge through the extensive research that he conducts with colleagues at McCombs, and he is also able to disseminate this knowledge unto others through the classes he teaches. Teaching is something special, says Professor Ranganathan. Not only does he get to interact with a younger generation of bright, insightful students, but he also gets to learn from students as they often challenge his research ideas, strengthening his work.

Professor Ranganathan joined The McCombs School of Business after finishing his Ph.D. in Strategic Management at The Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania. Prior to making the switch to academia, Professor Ranganathan worked for Deloitte as a strategy consultant in California. This job was particularly stimulating for Ranganathan since he had received his a dual-undergraduate degree in computer science and computer engineering, allowing him to contribute to problem-solving for some of the world’s largest technology companies.

In addition to teaching, Ranganathan conducts research with The University of Texas, focusing on how companies adapt to technological changes, looking at company responses and the factors that enable companies to control the evolution of technology. One of the main reasons that Professor Ranganathan chose to come to UT after finishing his Ph.D was because of the excellence of the research department, coupled with the strong culture, focus on professor retention, and the bright students.

If you want to get to know Dr. Ranganathan better, but need some conversation starters, consider asking him the about the following topics:

  1. His travel aspirations (He travelled to 5 countries this summer alone!)
  2. What he likes to do in his free time (Hint: he’s an outdoorsman as long as it’s not allergy season)
  3. How him and his neighborhood cricket team are doing
  4. Some of his favorite books (He most recently read Justice, a book by Harvard Professor Michael Sandel, that discusses philosophy and the criminal justice system)

Stop by Professor Ranganathan’s office in CBA 4.234 on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:30-2:30PM to get to know him even better.