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Alumni Spotlight: Paul Myhill, Class of 1989

Paul Myhill3 Paul Myhill is an entrepreneur and consultant for social ventures and non-profits. He graduated from BHP in 1989 and earned an MBA from UT in 1991. While at UT he took to heart the motto, “What starts here changes the world,” and he has spent his entire career working to make a significant contribution to the world by creating and collaborating with companies to fund charitable causes that are close to his heart. He is the founder of the Traffic Jam Campaign that rescues children from trafficking and slavery and, most recently, he founded One Percent for Children which enlists companies – primarily start-ups and early-stage ventures – to give one percent of their equity and/or one percent of their annual gross revenues to a variety of pre-selected global causes that impact the safety and wellbeing of children

How would you describe your unique career path?

I have always had a desire to change the world and make a difference and while I was in BHP and the MBA program, I developed a real love of entrepreneurship. To me success is not monetary, but defined by significance and how much positive change I can create. I wanted to make a significant contribution to the world while pursuing entrepreneurial endeavors. My career has been focused on creating income-producing ventures that can benefit the world through their close association with, and support of, relevant causes and charities. My passion for entrepreneurial pursuits has spanned a host of industries, products, services and business models, both public and private. In all cases, there is a common theme of using the products or services directly, or the income they produce, to help high-impact charitable endeavors. The charitable gifts can come from equity on the front end, a percentage of annual revenues or royalties, an amount based on the attainment of certain performance benchmarks, or any number of other options. As the businesses are successful, the charities they are supporting are also successful. Value is also created for the businesses involved in these programs through increased exposure and goodwill, resulting in greater revenues through better customer attainment and retention.

Tell me more about the causes you are passionate about and what you are working towards with your various involvements in these causes.

Paul Myhill1I am passionate about helping orphaned, abandoned, abused and exploited children. My primary goal is to use businesses to fund work that helps children around the world. My involvement first started with orphans in the developing world. I wanted to get them into loving homes in their communities instead of the default institutionalization model or, worse, letting them fend for themselves in slums and sewers. As I was working with these populations of orphaned and abandoned children around the globe, I started to notice them going missing, later finding out that they were being snatched up by human traffickers and sold into the child sex trade. I wanted justice for these kids and to help prevent them from being preyed upon. I realized the need for more prevention and rescue programs, safe houses, and aftercare support – rehabilitation and restoration facilities. Now my goal is to help create a movement of companies to tackle the gross injustices suffered by tens of millions of children around the world through One Percent for Children. I initially started with businesses I founded and consulted with to make an impact. Now I am scaling what I learned through my venture and philanthropic experience to expand for greater outcomes and impact.

What has been the most memorable moment of your work so far?

There are memorable moments from all aspects of my life. Getting a product [Protandim] featured on ABC Primetime Live was very memorable. That breakthrough product alone is a legacy creator and that was the proudest moment of my life from a business and product-development standpoint. Likewise, winning the MOOT CORP competition was my greatest memory and proudest achievement from an academic standpoint.

It is hard to pick one on the charitable side. I adopted my daughter from Asia and my heart leaps even more so when we see kids rescued from slavery in Asia. For example, I work with the Vietnamese community in Cambodia, a population that is at high-risk for sex trafficking. It is estimated that thirty-percent of the Vietnamese families in Cambodia have sold a child into the Cambodian sex trade just to survive and pay off debt.  On one of the many trips I have taken there, a local teacher pointed out two 12-year old girls and told me their parents were going to sell them the very next week. I was able to immediately make sure that didn’t happen by putting their girls in a skills-development program. We invested in the girls by educating them. We prepared them to be able to produce an income for the family in the future so the parents wouldn’t sell them. I have pictures of those girls on my desk from then and also from when they were 16 and 18. I know that those two girls didn’t have to endure the prostitution, rape and resulting stigma, and that they are now able to help support their families and community. Those kinds of prevention stories are the ones that impact me the most, even more so than the rescues.

You continue to use your business skills to make an impact through non-profit work. Are there any common themes you see in your work with non-profits that are barriers to their success?

One of the problems is a lot of the non-profits are well-intentioned but because they are US-based charities, they have to go through a series of partnership connections to get their money into the field because they aren’t in the field themselves. For example, you might have a non-profit that raises funds, then takes out their administrative fees before they pass the funds on to another non-profit oversees, that also takes out their own administrative fees before they pass it on and so on. By the time it gets to the front-line specialist, there could be four or five levels of administrative fees that were taken out, so only fifty-percent of the original donation is in the field.

We focus on finding the right front-line partners through extensive due diligence and high-accountability systems, to cut out this chain of diminishing applied resources. My non-profits direct 100 percent of public donations to the front-line specialists who are doing the real work. Partnerships with companies to apply equity and revenues to administrative costs enables general public contributions to go straight into the field. One Percent for Children, for example, is a warehouse for getting such funds from businesses, but we also have developed and apply core competencies that have been achieved through the collaboration with child-focused programs in over 75 countries. These competencies include due diligence and accountability in the field, getting funds straight into the hands of front-line practitioners without “middlemen,” and the sharing and implementation of best practices for more effective and lasting outcomes.

You won the UT MOOT CORP competition while you were in school. What was your business plan and did that lead to anything?

It was for advertising sales and placements using the boards that you now see in multiple locations like restrooms, stadiums, elevators, etc. We were one of two companies started at the same time that opened up this whole new concept in advertising. We could sell extremely targeted advertising to captive audiences that were very well defined demographically. When we won the competition with that plan a couple of the judges subsequently invested in the company. All expenses were tied to the revenue and so the costs were completely variable. It was a great business model, but the other teammates had other dreams, so we ran it for a year or so, then passed it on to another operator who now franchises it around the world.

*Note: The UT MOOT CORP competition was the predecessor to the Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition.

What advice do you have for current students?

Paul Myhill2The opportunity that you have been given – being part of such a prestigious program – is not only going to embed skills that can be used to make a tremendous difference, but will open many doors to you. As they say, “with great power comes great responsibility” – you are in a program that is truly empowering. Appreciate that, but realize you have a responsibility to use that in ways that can create positive change, and not just earn you money. You will have opportunities that others can only dream of. Define success as significance and truly change the world as you strive for it. Of course, I would encourage you to give to One Percent for Children if you end up creating a new business. How beautiful it would be to see many businesses run by BHP students and alumni coming together to help impact so many children’s lives around the world.

I also want to stress to you that, for me, it has never been a case of either choosing to go into for-profit or non-profit. With the right motives and plans, there can be a great synergy between the two. You can indeed be in a for-profit making a difference. It doesn’t have to be compartmentalized; they can be tied together in a mutually-beneficial relationship, as platforms of support for each other.

Alumni Spotlight: Rod Morris – VP of Marketing and Operations for Opower, Class of 1995

Rod MorrisRoderick Morris is the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Operations for Opower, the global leader in cloud-based consumer engagement solutions for the utility industry. Rod graduated from UT Austin with degrees in Business Honors, Philosophy and MIS in 1995, then went on to earn an MBA from Stanford in 2002. Using behavioral science and big data analytics, Opower creates innovative software that motivates utility customers to save energy and better manage demand. Since 2007, Opower has become an industry trendsetter, working with 93 utilities and serving 32.1 million households worldwide. To date, the company has helped consumers save more than 4 terawatt hours of electricity – equivalent to $460 million dollars or €338 million euros.

You seem to have vast responsibility within Opower. What are the main functions of your role and what are your main goals in the position at this time?

At the highest level, I run the marketing, client services, and operations sides of the company. I am growing Opower’s top line through marketing, enhancing relationships with the client base, and delivering on an increasingly streamlined quality implementation of our products around the world. Opower’s future growth is going to come from new customer acquisition, existing customer expansion, new product introduction, and international market growth. Everything I do is in support of that: from creating awareness around our new products, to ensuring that the client base is interested in expanding relationships, and making certain our clients are satisfied with the execution of rollouts on their behalf.

What gets you excited about the work you are doing?

It’s really exciting being a part of a double bottom line business. In addition to serving our utility client’s needs, every dollar of revenue has a benefit to the planet. With our double bottom line and high growth, we have a huge opportunity to make a difference in the world while also providing great growth opportunities to our employees.

Before coming to Opower, I was working in software and doing volunteer work on the side. I never had an opportunity to do something for profit that also had a social benefit. This job gave me the opportunity to combine both of those worlds (watch a short video about this).

When I joined, we were less than 100 employees and had 23 clients. Today, we have more than 500 employees and 93 clients worldwide. We had $89 million in gap revenue in 2014 and had an initial public offering (IPO) in April.

You work with both domestic and international utility partners. What are the unique challenges of working with your partners in foreign countries and how do you determine the best messaging for the consumers in those cultures?

With our utility partners, we spend a lot of time localizing our products and innovating in those markets. The core elements of behavioral marketing are pretty consistent across all parts of the world though. What compels someone in Europe to turn off the lights is the same thing that compels them to do it in the U.S. It’s just a matter of localizing the product so we give them clear actions they can take that are relevant to their situation.

We have rapidly expanded the portion of our revenue that is international. One of the main differences in other countries is there isn’t as much regulation of the utility industry. In the U.S., there are many regions that are highly regulated. In other countries, there are more competitive markets for energy. Our U.S. utility partners use us to reach energy efficiency goals, whereas international partners are interested in the competitive advantage we bring to them.

You have degrees in business, philosophy and MIS. Your role seems to have an element of all of these areas. How did your education at UT prepare you for your career?

The thing they have in common is logical problem solving. As I have become more senior, a lot of the problems I have seen require me to go back to those problem-solving skills I learned in school.

In philosophy I learned that the best messages are the simplest ones. It is actually really difficult to come up with simple messages that resonate with people on an emotional level. The building blocks I gained in my MIS classes and as a TA for a software development class have helped me work with teams doing software implementations around the world. I use the building blocks from BHP in all aspects of my job. I would be hard-pressed to find a better business education than I received from BHP.

How did your experiences in BHP compare to going through the Stanford MBA program and did the program prepare you well?

The program prepared me very well. Stanford’s curriculum is tailored to the individual. Because of the base of knowledge I had built in BHP, I was able to focus my learning on elective projects. I wrote entrepreneurial cases, did entrepreneurial coursework and led the marketing club. Those of my classmates who had degrees in business had more freedom to pursue their own interests earlier. I think my BHP education put me in good standing within my cohort.

Your career has had many twists and turns. You had roles with the Peace Corps, Simmons & Co., Bain, LexisNexis and Vovici. Did you find that one thing led to another or were you deliberate in your transitions?

The only thing I was deliberate about was working hard and helping out whatever team I was on, as well as networking to build relationships. I didn’t plan out my career. I sought out the best opportunities and did the best I could in those positions. The variety in my career has given me valuable perspective and kept my life interesting. While recruiters were sometimes involved, pretty much every job I have had has happened because of a relationship in my network. I learned a great deal in each position, but I learned a tremendous amount as an investment banker at Simmons and a consultant at Bain. Those positions were foundational for me and really impacted how I approach my work daily.

What advice do you have for current BHP students?

I would encourage people to be more linear than I have been. It has worked out for me to bounce around to different opportunities, but there is a lot to be said for building functional expertise in one area. If you can find that area earlier on, it will be easier for you.

What is next for you?

Opower just went public and we have a huge market ahead of us. I will be working on growing the company. I had never been through an IPO and it was thrilling to be an integral part of it. I built much of the company from the early days, and had an opportunity to be deeply involved in scaling a really cool company. It was rewarding to go from that to helping in the IPO roadshow to share the company’s story and growth opportunitywith investors. It was a milestone in my professional life.

Note: To learn more about opportunities at Opower, visit the current postings page on their website.

BHP Junior Launches Music Career

Colin_leonard

Colin Leonard, BHP ’16

At McCombs students are urged to use their degree towards their individual passions from non-profit organizations to corporate relations. Only occasionally do we encounter a student that chooses to pursue the arts. Colin Leonard, BHP ‘16 and brother Drew Leonard, BBA ‘14, have found solace and success in the music industry. Colin has become a singer/songwriter and Drew is Colin’s manager.

Colin began songwriting in November 2012 and released his first album on iTunes shortly after. The album did very well receiving almost 2,000 downloads. Feeling confident in his abilities, Colin and Drew felt there might be a bright future ahead if they follow this path. The duo started a Kickstarter page asking for donations and met their goal of $8,000 in just 10 days. The page ultimately resulted in $11,000 in donations.

Most recently, Colin released Valleys EP, which debuted on iTunes under the singer/songwriter genre up against big names such as Ed Sheeran, Nickel Creek, and Passenger. Valleys held it’s own and reached #5 on the genre’s chart for 3 days and remained in the top 20 for two weeks. Colin and Drew are both very humbled by the success of the album.

The Leonard brothers have always had an interest in singing and music as they were both active in chorus groups at their local church growing up in San Antonio. Things really took off recently when Colin and Drew partnered together.

“We have meetings together, which is really just two brothers going to a coffee shop,” said Colin. During these meetings, the brothers talk about the future of Colin’s music career and how to create and maintain an online persona. “It’s been hard trying to strike a balance between being a real person that’s young and just 20 years old, but I’m also trying to pursue this professional career,” said Drew. Colin looks to Drew for creative support as well. When Colin writes a song he shares it with Drew for honest feedback that he can trust.

Drew_leonard

Drew Leonard, BBA ’14

“Right now it’s all about building connections and trying to manage his personal identity, being a young, goofy college sophomore, while also building a more serious and professional online personality that fans can connect with and respect,” said Drew.

Colin sometimes struggles with time management when juggling honors coursework; work at a local church, involvement with Younglife and his music career. However, he is fortunate to have made many friends in the honors program to lean on for support and help in navigating his commitments. “BHP is a great opportunity and I don’t want to waste that,” said Colin.

When asked which professor has been most influential, Drew expressed his gratitude to marketing professor, Jonathan Highbarger, for teaching practical and applicable skills. Drew graduated in May with a degree in marketing and accepted a full-time position with SHI, a technology sales company, as an account executive.

Colin will continue to grow as a musician and work hard in the Business Honors Program. He is projected to graduate in May 2016.

Check out Colin’s music on his website or iTunes.

Senior Reflections from the Class of 2014

Each May we have to say goodbye to around 100 BHP seniors as they graduate and move on to the next phase of their lives. The BHP Class of 2014 made their mark not only on BHP, but on McCombs and the entire UT campus. In fact, they even raised more than $22,000 from their class this past month to benefit the BHP Make-a-Mark scholarship fund, which funds merit-based scholarships for incoming BHP students. Before they left, we asked some of them to provide us with reflections on their time in the BHP. We look forward to welcoming all of the BHP Class of 2014 graduates to the BHP alumni family!

 

BHP has given me community, perspective and direction. My peers were the ones who motivated me to interview for a consulting position at Bain, and I couldn’t be more grateful to them as I look forward to what comes next. The faculty in BHP is incredible, and I have found some of my best mentors in my professors. I have been able to gain such a competitive education within such a supportive environment has made for an incredible four years that I will always cherish.

- Holland Finley
Associate Consultant, Bain

I am so unbelievably honored to be a part of a community filled with driven, successful, talented people. The program has challenged me within and without the classroom, helping me to excel in academics and extracurriculars. I found a home in BHP and a group of friends for whom I am immeasurably grateful.

Mukul Ramakrishnan
Attending Medical School

The past four years in BHP have truly been the best of my life. I never anticipated the second family that I would find here or the vast amount of knowledge I would gain from my professors. My BHP roots will always stay with me throughout my career and will definitely give me a leg up in my future endeavors.

Chris Pavlich
Management Consultant, Sense Corp

The Business Honors Program has defined my college experience. In the program, I have met some of my closest friends and have been able to grow into the person I am today. I will forever be grateful to BHP for everything is has offered me, and I plan to stay connected to the program for many years to come.

Oscar Barbosa
Financial Analyst, ExxonMobil

The BHP has been more than an academic program for me — it has been a community. The students and professors have not only pushed me to greater heights academically and professionally, but they have also been my closest friends and mentors.

–  Courtney Brindle
Business Analyst, Deloitte Consulting

The BHP has been my home for the past four years; it has provided me with the best undergraduate business education, amazing career opportunities, and many life-long friends. I could not have imagined a better college experience. The relationships that I have developed here will remain long into the future.

Robert Belanger
Financial Analyst, ExxonMobil

The Business Honors Program really fosters personal growth beyond the walls of the classroom. No matter what pursuits you have, you’ll be supported by a tight-knit community of accomplished friends that challenge you to outdo yourself and leave an impact somewhere on the 40 Acres or beyond it. It’s the call to always outgrow my comfort level that will carry with me after graduation day.

Nick Bedenkop
Financial Analyst, Frito-Lay

BHP has given me the unique opportunity of developing a more holistic view of the business environment.  I think that college students have a tendency to identify a subject they like and then narrow their focus on that particular topic – BHP gives room for students to create a basic understanding of and appreciation for multiple business functions, outside of purely finance or accounting, for instance.  This wider perspective is valuable to employers and has given me a competitive edge in the labor market.

Daniel Amin
Investment Banking Analyst, Goldman Sachs

I could not be more thankful for the incredible education I received from the Business Honors Program. The BHP has challenged me to become a more critical thinker and to continuously set higher academic and professional standards for myself. I have made lifelong friendships with my peers, advisors, and professors, and know I will have a strong support system from my BHP community in the future.

Bari Rabinovich
Assurance Associate, PwC

The Business Honors Program defined the majority my college enjoyment and success through the unique academic, professional, and social opportunities it provided. In addition to working with incredibly talented and passionate students and faculty, I made my best friends in college through the close-knit community of BHP. I am certain that the friends I met and the lessons I learned while in BHP will stay with me long after graduation, and I look forward to staying involved with BHP as an alumnus.

Forrest Ripley
Graduate School – UT Data Analytics Program

As a Student Recruiter for BHP, I always tell prospective students that the people in this program are what make it so great. The students in BHP are some of the most inspiring, talented, dedicated, and genuine people that I know, and they push me every day to be a better student, person, and friend. This network of peers has really shaped me into the person I am today, and the relationships I have made in the program will no doubt last beyond graduation. I am truly grateful to be a part of this community.

Josh Hu
5th year Masters in Professional Accounting (MPA) student

The Business Honors Program has profoundly shaped my undergraduate career by challenging me every day to think critically about the type of leader that I aspire to be in all facets of my life beyond the Forty Acres. I could not be more thankful for the education and professional opportunities the BHP has offered me throughout my time in McCombs, and most of all, I cannot fully express my gratitude for this wonderful community that is shared by all students, faculty, and staff in the program. A number of my fondest memories in and outside of the classroom over the past four years have been with my BHP peers, and I look forward to cherishing these lifelong friendships in the many years ahead.

Michelle Moon
Financial Analyst, ExxonMobil

BHP Senior Takes First Place in Case Competition While Studying Abroad

Josh_profileBHP senior, Josh Hu, was recently awarded the Barbara Jordan Senior Award, which honors two graduating seniors whose outstanding motivation has left a lasting legacy at McCombs. He also received a BHP Outstanding Student Award, chosen by BHP faculty, staff and peers.

Josh spent last semester studying abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland. While he was there, he had many unique and memorable experiences, including participating in an international case competition, which his group actually ended up winning.

joshscotlandHu was taking a Financial Services Marketing Class in Edinburgh that challenged students to find a solution to a case presented by TESCO Bank. The class was split up into groups of four and the situation became even more unique because Hu, the only McCombs student in the class, was paired with other exchange students from around the world including: Hong Kong, England and Scotland.

An executive from TESCO Bank asked the groups to come up with a mobile banking app for clients to access account information at their own convenience. There was a lot of freedom and flexibility with this project and the students were told to use both research they could find as well as research they would conduct themselves.

Many banks in the U.S. now offer mobile banking applications, so Hu started his research in the states, “I was surprised to find that the states are actually very technologically ahead in terms of innovation and new ideas for banking,” said Hu. Through his research, he was able to bring a lot of ideas to his group, like mobile check deposits.

JoshProjectHu’s group put together consumer focus groups to gauge what consumers valued, liked and disliked, “Using feedback from the focus groups, we found that the number one reason people aren’t using mobile banking apps is fear that there’s a lack of privacy,” said Hu. The group used this information in their final presentation to emphasize the safety of the app to the consumer. The combination of new, innovative features and making sure the app is secure to use, won the competition.

“Going abroad was a chance for me to be an ambassador for my school,” he said. “The perceptions of Americans aren’t always positive while abroad so I thought of it as I’m representing my school, and the students at McCombs are great, and I wanted to show them that and that I had a lot to contribute to the group.”

Hu is back on the 40 Acres now. His group’s proposal for the new application was presented to TESCO executives in February and was very well received. Each group member will receive a new tablet for their winning idea.

After graduating from the program in May, Hu will stay another year to complete his MPA degree. Before finding a job, Hu plans to travel around Asia.

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