Class of 2023 Discovers Possibilities with Canfield BHP

Written by Megan Tran-Olmsted, as told by Annie Wang and Tatum Lee

Discover Canfield BHP is a one-day event for students admitted into the Class of 2023. The event helps students get a sense of what the program is all about, learn about life at UT, and meet current Canfield BHP students. This year, the event featured student panels, mock classes, exciting speakers, and of course, time for newly admitted students to begin bonding with peers. Discover Canfield BHP is a great opportunity for the incoming students to connect with their future peers and dive into the community of the program from the very beginning!

One of the major talks during the day was given by the current faculty director, Dr. Andres Almazan. Dr. Almazan has had an extensive career at McCombs and joined Canfield BHP as director last year. In his address, Dr. Almazan welcomed the students and their parents. He emphasized that current students are not only driven to get good grades but are also extremely passionate about what they do, including taking time out of their day to volunteer and enjoy the overall Canfield BHP experience. In fact, he noted that the involvement of student volunteers at Discover was a testament to their passion for the program and the type of leaders that come out of Canfield BHP.

Next, Phil Canfield was able to join as the event’s keynote speaker in his first address since the program was named in his honor this past year. While Mr. Canfield covered a lot of different topics, one of the most interesting things he discussed was how his BHP education contributed to his professional career, and how that motivated him and his wife to ultimately give back to the program. He advised the prospective students to think about what kind of skills and community they wanted to get out of their college education. Leadership, he emphasized, was a crucial skill he developed in the program, and something he believed he wouldn’t have found elsewhere. He also stressed the uniqueness of the BHP community and the spirit of the program that creates a lasting network and camaraderie among the students.

We chatted with two students within Canfield BHP who graciously served as the co-chairs of the Discover Canfield BHP event, Annie Wang and Tatum Lee. Here, we had a Q&A session and got to hear their perspectives on the event:

Q: You had two student panels: one for student life and one for careers & internships – what do you think was the most helpful piece of advice from each of these events?

During the careers & internships panel, the panelists discussed the importance of the Canfield BHP network, which includes not only experienced alumni but also upperclassmen in the program. Oftentimes, current students will only think about doing informational interviews and networking formally with alumni, but it’s often easier to talk to upperclassmen, since they are more relatable and can provide more immediate insight on internship programs, career decisions, and more.

The most important takeaway from the student life panel was the diversity of experience between the panelists. Each panelist had delved into widely varying college paths, whether that be Greek life, startups, fashion magazines, or study abroad experiences. The panel emphasized that the most impactful college experience comes from following your own passions and learning more about what you are interested in. UT is a huge school with a wide variety of opportunities, and you can learn a lot from seeing what your BHPeers are involved in and joining orgs that speak to you!

Q: What was your favorite part of the day?

Annie: For me, I really loved getting to mingle with students during the morning. As much as I enjoyed learning about event-planning and organizing the event, in the end it’s all for the prospective students to have a great time. Even just in the 15 minutes I had to mingle before running to the next thing, I got to chat with a student who was interested in double-majoring in international relations (context: I’m an international relations double major!) and mingle with a group of attendees who all attended Austin high schools.

Tatum: My favorite part of the day was lunch, where I got to sit and chat with prospective students. Like Annie, I think the best part of the event is talking with the prospective students and getting to share our experiences with Canfield BHP. I loved talking to my table at lunch and hearing about their passions in high school–a few of them were fellow band kids, like I was! It really meant a lot to me to get to meet them and share why I care so much about CBHP, which is why I love volunteering at Discover.

Q: Can you recount how your experience was with Discover Canfield BHP 3 years ago?

Annie: Discover Canfield BHP provided insight into the program that convinced me to come to UT and join this cohort. I told the prospective students this, and it was 100% true. I experienced the supportive community in BHP through the one-day event, which showed me that business didn’t have to be cutthroat and competition could be collaborative, even with people who are as brilliant and accomplished as the peers around me. This made me even more excited but also nervous about being a co-chair, because I felt pressured to make Discover as good as or even better than the day I attended.

Q: How does it feel to be on the other side now that you are a student organizing this event?

Honestly it felt kind of surreal to be the ones speaking during the introduction, running around making sure everything was in place, and ending the day realizing that we’d helped make a difference for the 300+ people that attended. During the process of planning, it was very cool to see all the different aspects of the event, and just how much work the office puts into Discover every year so that it can be successful.

On behalf of the entire Canfield Business Honors Program, we are so excited to welcome the Class of 2023! After our successful Discover Canfield BHP event, we can’t wait for this new cohort to make their way to the 40 Acres in August.

Canfield BHP Students Celebrate Ethics Month

Written by Victoria Bennett

Over the month of February, the Canfield BHP Ethics Board put on their annual “Ethics Month,” a time to promote awareness and positive conversations about academic integrity and its application to the real world. Each week for the month of February, the board put on events and activities for students, ranging from Ethics-grams to a discussion with Brian Cruver, former employee of Enron. Canfield BHP sophomores Jessie Meek and Poonam Agarwal, co-chairs of the Ethics Board, recently shared their experience planning the events.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both Poonam and Jessie had personal interests in ethics coming into college. For Poonam, ethics in business was always important, even during her college search. Seeing that an Ethics Board existed was encouraging to her because she saw that ethics was a priority in the program. For Jessie, her childhood experience with sports where she often saw integrity sacrificed for the sake of winning, gave her a lifelong passion for advocating for ethics. Both Jessie and Poonam joined the Ethics Board their freshman year, and their mission for the board is to foster positive, trusting relationships between both professors and students and students with other students.

The goal for Ethics Month this year was to make ethics a more approachable conversation within the program. With this focus in mind, the Ethics Board planned several fun events and activities for Canfield BHP students with the underlying message of being kind, making good decisions, and encouraging others to make good decisions as well. Poonam and Jessie explained how each of their events worked toward this goal. For example, the goal of the Ethics-grams, cards with candy and positive messages that students could send to their peers, was to help foster a culture of uplifting and supporting each other as students, as opposed to a cutthroat or competitive culture. Another event, a movie night with Dr. Prentice, served as a comfortable and casual environment for students to discuss ethical dilemmas.

The month ended with a speaker event featuring Brian Cruver, a McCombs MBA graduate who worked at Enron at the time of the scandal and wrote an account of his experience entitled “The Anatomy of Greed.” He shared the lessons he learned from his experience as well as how he has used these lessons to navigate his unique career path. According to Jessie, the event was particularly impactful because it showed students how ethics can be applied to the real world and the importance of the Ethics Board’s work to educate students before they enter the professional world.

When asked about the most rewarding part about their experience, Poonam and Jessie both attested to their positive experience with their task team. The board is made up of Canfield BHP students across classes, who are all passionate about ethics in their community. Poonam and Jessie shared how inspired they were by the hard work and dedication put in by the team, and how proud they were to see all the work come to fruition with a successful month of events. They also acknowledged the help and support from their staff liaison, Steph, who helped make their experiences as co-chairs so positive.

Thank you Poonam, Jessie, and the Ethics Board for a great Ethics Month!

To learn more about our Ethics Board, visit their group page here.

Student Leadership Skills Reach New Heights Through Outdoor Expedition

By Stephanie Cantu. As told by Cindy, Derek, Elmer, Evie, Jerry, Kirsten, Nachiket, Richard, Robert, and Sreya.

The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) is a one-of-a-kind immersive educational experience that teaches Canfield BHP students about leadership and decision-making in the unscripted context of the wilderness. Over the course of eight days in January, ten CBHP students travelled through the Galiuro Mountains of southeastern Arizona. Although conditions were largely cold and wet with intense precipitation, the group also experienced highlights such as making pizza, seeing a full arc double rainbow, throwing a backcountry birthday party, and forging deeper bonds and connections. As a group, we put together our top four take-aways from the trip:

  1. Gaining perspective and making the abstract more concrete

In the wilderness, concepts like self-care become real and you actually have to internalize what to do in difficult situations. We had a saying on our trip that we heard on day one: “Cold is a choice.” Essentially, it reminded us that if we were cold, we had to do something about it – put on another layer, do some jumping jacks to generate body heat, etc. This saying applied to any other feeling, such as sensing the start of a blister or being hungry or tired. “It is a simple concept, but one none of us had needed to act on before,” said Sreya. Also, the difficulties we faced on the trip put every day annoyances into perspective: “I complain less about the cold,” said Evie. And everyone else chimed in that “MIS 301H is not that bad.”

  1. Appreciation of nature

Backpacking for several days without technology may not be how most people envision spending their winter break, but everyone agreed that their love of nature grew as a result of attending. “I’m more motivated to get my friends together and go out into the Hill Country for a hike,” shared Kirsten. Jerry added, “I’m more romantic about the absence of technology. I bought this small notebook to take all my notes on instead of a laptop or a tablet.” The students also shared how rewarding it was to “work for the view” and hike to the top of Kennedy Peak for the sunset. “On most other trips, I would normally just take a bus to the top of a vista. It was much more satisfying to know I hiked to the top myself,” said Evie.

  1. Building character and leadership skills

Each day, we learned NOLS curriculum before the day’s hike began or on the trail. For example, one day a few of us took a snack break and learned about risk assessment and likelihood using red and green peanut butter M&M’s and our instructor’s hiking poles. In addition to formal curriculum, we also developed our personal leadership styles and skills through daily feedback from our hiking groups. “I learned I’m a stronger person and leader than I realized,” said Sreya. The leadership feedback also impacted Jerry, who has carried what he learned on the trek into his honors courses: “When I got my MIS 301H group, I immediately sent out a schedule with due dates for completing parts of the project. I was worried about being too commanding or dictatorial, but then I remembered all the feedback I got on the trip about how helpful it was when I took charge, and I felt less doubt,” he said.

  1. Closer friendships

Ultimately, the greatest take-away from our time in the backcountry were the bonds we formed. “I got close to people I didn’t really know well before,” said Elmer. A lot of bonding happened during the evening down time in camp, either over (responsibly-built!) campfires or having 8 students crowd into a 3-person tent to talk until 11:30pm. Because the students didn’t have any form of technology with them, they had ample time to connect interpersonally. “I’m more conscious of being on my phone now,” said Kirsten. “I think if we had had our phones on the trip, we wouldn’t have bonded as much.”

In the end, NOLS provides invaluable leadership experience and the chance to connect with the great outdoors and each other. The 2019 expedition encourages you to attend because, according to Cindy, “We’re the only undergraduate program in the country to do a course like this. It’s such a unique experience; when else would you have this kind of opportunity?” We promise if you go, you won’t regret it.

Check out a student-made video of our experience here!

You can also read Evie’s personal blog account of her experience here.

Curious what our 2017 and 2018 cohorts have to say? Read about them here and here.

BA 151 Lyceum Students Receive Priceless Advice from Alum

Written by Victoria Bennett

In a recent BA 151H Honors Lyceum class, the sophomores were visited by Mandy Price, Co-Founder and CEO at Kanarys, Inc. An alumnae of both the Canfield Business Honors Program and Harvard Law School, Price shared how her background working in financial services and practicing law led to her current passions and career path. Throughout the question-and-answer based discussion, Price not only shared her own unique story, but gave students insights into how to navigate their own interests during their time in CBHP and after graduation.

During her time on the Forty Acres, Ms. Price studied Finance in addition to the Business Honors curriculum. She was involved in multiple organizations on campus, and spent her summers interning in financial services. These experiences gave her practical experience in her field of study and also allowed her to consider whether or not she saw herself in these roles after graduation.

Immediately following her graduation in 2003, Price continued her education at Harvard Law School. From the content to the teaching style, she described how law school provided a very different learning experience from her undergraduate education and how this helped her grow and develop. One thing her undergraduate and graduate education had in common was the community. She described how she found community with other Texans at Harvard Law, many of whom were Texas Exes, who would do everything from watch football games together to host professional events.

Upon graduating from law school, Price began her professional career as a corporate attorney at Weil, Gotshal, & Manges LLP. She described how her career in corporate law gave her the unique opportunity to combine her education in both finance and law. In her 10 years at the company, she worked on numerous mergers & acquisitions where she was able to bring her unique financial understanding to her work. Following her time at this firm, she also worked at Barnes & Thronburg LLP where she was a partner working primarily with private equity firms.

Although Price enjoyed her time practicing law, her experiences on various firm committees (e.g. Diversity Committee, Woman’s Task Force and Hiring Committee), highlighted the challenges organizations face when it comes to diversity and inclusion issues.  This led her to the creation of her company, Kanarys, Inc., a social enterprise focused on helping organizations build more inclusive cultures. The company is a direct response to the issues Price saw in the workplace, and the company has a goal of using data to create a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable work environment worldwide.

After the class session, the sophomore class left feeling inspired by Mandy Price and her story. She used her unique career path to talk candidly to the students about the importance of exploring academic interests and acknowledged that everyone’s path both through and after their time in CBHP will look different. In addition, her story of seeing a problem in her day-to-day life and creating her own company to create a solution, showed students that they can make real change in the world around them.

 

An Utterly Amazing Alumni Speaker Visits BHP Sophomores

Written by Victoria Bennett

Lynn Utter, CEO of First Source, recently visited the Honors Lyceum course attended by all Business Honors sophomores. In a lively conversation driven by student questions, Lynn shared her experiences navigating the business world as a woman and her path to her current success.

Lynn began her academic and professional career as a student on the Forty Acres. She is Business Honors Program alum, so she was once in the same position as the sophomores in the class, and she encouraged students to both maximize and enjoy their time in the program. After her time at UT, Lynn took the next step in her education at Stanford Business School where she earned her Master’s in Business Administration. She then began her professional career as a manager at Strategic Planning Associates in DC.

As she walked the class through her path to the role of CEO, Lynn revealed that her career path has been defined by tough decisions. She emphasized the importance of knowing what decisions are best for yourself, as she shared the story of her move to Denver during her time with the Frito Lay Company. Despite the fact that first position she took did not immediately advance her career, she knew it was the right career step for her at the time, and eventually led to her position as Area Vice President. Lynn’s story is full of these kind of decisions, as she pivoted through numerous leadership roles. Following her time at Frito Lay/PepsiCo Lynn worked at Coors Brewing Company both in Operations and as a Chief Strategy Officer and Knoll as a President and Chief Operations Officer, all preceding her time as CEO at First Source.

In her time as CEO of First Source, a US leader in packaging and distribution of specialty candy and snacks, Lynn led the company through mergers and managed full strategic and operating responsibility. Most recently, she transitioned into the role of Chief Talent Officer of Atlas Holdings LLC, where she works closely with the company’s partners and portfolio company leaders.

Throughout the session students were curious to hear Lynn’s advice and asked numerous questions about her biggest challenges and lessons. She talked about the importance of finding community in the workplace and she described the close bond she had with the other women in her office. In this conversation, she emphasized the importance of not only finding coworkers or peers who will support you, but also give you honest and critical feedback when necessary. She shared about her experience on numerous boards outside of her job, including the boards for WESCO, Merchants Metals, and numerous non-for-profit boards. In reference to these experiences, she encouraged Business Honors students to find work they are passionate about despite their busy schedules.

With her lively personality and years of experience and wisdom, Lynn Utter created a fun and informative class experience for the sophomores. Students loved hearing from a fellow BHP alum, and were inspired by her and her work.