Lyceum Recap: Flying Through Boeing with Paul Kinscherff

Written by Christopher Hotchkiss

Paul Kinscherff, the former CFO of International Finance at Boeing and a current executive in residence at UT, took time out of his day recently to discuss his career and past with Canfield Business Honors students during Lyceum this week.  Students asked about international experiences, mentorship, and current events.

Kinscherff began by discussing the decisions that led him towards business and away from a role in government.  He discussed his undergraduate degree in public administration and how his arrival at UT prompted him to consider other a dual degree option with the LBJ School of Public Affairs and McCombs School of Business.  Kinscherff also explained how the advice of his father proved beneficial in helping him make career decisions.

Kinscherff said that he was, “Initially accepted by the LBJ school and (in the) first semester, someone walked up and asked, ’Why are you here?’”  Kinscherff said this was, “Absolutely a wake-up call.” He also said that his father told him, “If (he) really wanted to have an impact, (to) go spend some years in the private sector and then come back to government.” Now, Kinscherff said he thoroughly enjoys giving back to the University of Texas.

In addition, Kinscherff discussed his time working internationally.  He detailed the different experiences that he had as well as some of the nuances associated with working overseas. Kinscherff also commented on the value international experience brings when applying to companies. He said adapting to cultures and learning to live in unfamiliar environments is one of the most important skills a student can have.

“I was stationed in Alaska, Indonesia and Colombia back at a time when South Colombia was a mess,” Kinscherff said. “It is harder to come home… you adjust to the culture, you learn to operate in that culture and then come back and have to readjust to working at home many people that don’t have your new perspectives. (Having) the international experience is important. The spreadsheets are the easy part.”

Mentors served as another key aspect of Kinsherff’s career. He used the opportunities mentors provided to him and used his experiences to offer advice to the Lyceum students. Kinsherff said being thoughtful while finding mentors is the best way to approach it.

“You have to be intentional about maintaining contact with people,” he said.  “The best way to build good mentors… is to just do great work.”

While discussing his own career path, Kinscherff discussed Boeing and the recent controversy involving malfunctions in the Boeing 737 MAX.  He spoke about the recent controversy and how a company such as Boeing has to address the issue when it arises.

“Externally, If you are not telling your story, someone else is… you have to keep the media and airlines informed in particular,” Kinscherff said. “Internally, you also need to review and return your internal culture. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes an unwanted event to refocus an organization after things have gone well for a long time.”

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.”

New to Texas? Here Are 5 Ways to be a Successful Canfield BHPer by Katherine Wu

Students from the Canfield Business Honors Program pose for headshots outside the McCombs School of Business on May 14, 2019. Photo by Lauren Gerson DeLeon.

Check out these five ways to be a successful Canfield BHPer! Student, Katherine Wu explains below:

If you think you know what you want to do after college, great! If not, also great!

There are so many resources for both ends of the spectrum! In the first business honors class freshmen take during fall semester—BA 101H—there are so many resources, seminars, and activities you do that can clarify your interests and potential career paths. However, if you’re really set on a certain career path, I would highly recommend taking advantage of the amazing resource that is Greta Fenley! She is the Canfield BHP career advisor that has an abundant amount of connections and can connect you with alumni who are in your field of interest.

Please join clubs/get involved on campus!!

I really can’t stress this enough! It’s also always great to have a mix of on-campus involvements—one great piece of advice my peer mentor gave me freshman year was to have interactions with both business-related and non-business organizations. Getting involved provides you with community here on campus, and some clubs can also be an avenue for career help.  Some orgs can provide early education, mentorship, and helpful tips for recruiting. I came into UT knowing pretty much nothing about these clubs, and if it wasn’t for older friends at UT who had advice, I probably would have been clueless.

Enjoy the city – here are some Austin places I love

Austin is the best city. From breakfast tacos to snow cones to all the fun things there are to do, there’s seriously so much to love. I highly recommend taking advantage of everything the city offers, and to start off with a list of favorites, here are some places easily accessible from campus that I love: Austin Public Library (brand new and beautiful), Cabo Bob’s (they make tortillas right in front of you!), Mango Mango Desserts, and Zilker Park. If anyone is in need of a foodie or hiking buddy, I’m here to give any recommendations or explore with you!

Capitol and downtown at night as seen from the 4th floor President’s Office of the Main Building.


BONUS tip for new Texans: It might seem like everyone else is from Texas, but embrace that!

Coming into UT, I didn’t know a single person—and then when I got to UT, I felt like I was the only person not from Texas. It might be a little nerve-wracking at first, but soon enough, the Texas culture will make you feel at home! Everyone is so nice here, and even though the single most frequently asked question I get is “why did you choose UT,” it’s always fun having your fun fact be “I’m not from Texas!” (I even used that in an interview). Canfield BHP is also the best community, and it made the transition to UT so much better due to all our bonding and instant friendships. With CBHP, it’s not even a big deal to be from out of state. 🙂

Katherine is a rising CBHP & Finance sophomore from Inverness, IL, where she graduated from William Fremd High School. This summer, she interned within the Equity Research division of Morningstar, a global investment research firm headquartered in Chicago. On campus, Katherine is involved in Texas Equity Group, Young Life, and Undergraduate Real Estate Society; she also leads Young Life at Anderson High School in Austin. Katherine loves hiking and the outdoors, exploring the Austin food scene, and yoga.

If you’d like to hear more from Katherine or want to ask her a question, contact her at:

Email: katherinewu@utexas.edu
Phone: (224) 279-9180

Alumni Spotlight: Phil Canfield

In the thirty years since Phil Canfield graduated from the University of Texas with degrees in Business Honors and Finance, much has changed in the world, in Austin, and on our campus. We begin our conversation discussing the increasing number of hipsters in the city (we are meeting during SXSW, after all) and then move into talking about the dynamic relationship between artificial intelligence and business. Despite this rapid evolution, Mr. Canfield agrees that one thing has remained constant: The caliber of the Business Honors Program and the benefit of receiving a Business Honors degree.

“The BHP was a small group within a large university, which allowed for teamwork and the ability for us to have a small cohort of really bright students that I could work with, learn from, test ideas out, and play ideas off of each other. It was seamless going from that environment to sitting at a desk at Kidder, Peabody, and Co. working on financial models and being part of a deal team,” Mr. Canfield shares. Throughout our conversation, we keep coming back to this theme of the strong relationships students build with each other through their time in the program. He believes these tightknit relationships are one part of what make the honors program unique. “It’s not just the friendships, it’s also learning how to work with other people,” he says. “Also, the faculty. Those are the two things that make a great learning experience: A great group of engaged students whom you know and build relationships with combined with a faculty that pushes you, teaches you things that perhaps weren’t intuitive, that surprise you, and importantly, a faculty that is doing research in areas that are going to be important for the future.”

Mr. Canfield vividly remembers being pushed and challenged in his honors classes. When asked about his favorite memory, he laughs and says he doesn’t have a favorite memory, but he definitely has a class that he remembers the most. “I think everybody who comes to BHP is used to making A’s. So, we had this Operations Research class, and I remember about 4 weeks into the class, I was sitting with my group of 5 or 6 friends that we studied with and 2 or 3 of them really got it in a way that I didn’t. And I realized that I wasn’t going to get it. It was the only class at UT in my entire 4 years where I said, ‘You know what, I think I’m shooting for a B in this class.’ And it’s so funny because I think about that all the time; it’s the only time I’ve ever just stepped back and said, ‘Wow, there’s something about the way that they think that’s different than the way I think. This makes sense to them and this is really hard for me.’”

Mr. Canfield believes the difficulties that honors students face together, like challenging courses, are what allow the close friendships to form. “BHP is an intense program. Any time a group of people go through something with that intensity together, they create a bond. The great thing about bonds like that is they really stand the test of time.” As an example, he recalls calling his BHP peers when it came time for him to think about what he was going to do after his first two years in investment banking. “It was useful for me to be able to call friends of mine who I had this shared experience with,” he says. “At the time, most people only worked for two years and then went and got an MBA, and I was thinking about not doing that. That’s a big decision, it’s the kind of decision where there aren’t that many people you can really talk to about it.”

After two years at Kidder, Peabody, and Co., Mr. Canfield joined GTCR, a private equity firm. After two years as an associate there, he started thinking about getting his MBA. “At the time in private equity, there were very few people who did not have an MBA. I felt like as long as I stayed on track at GTCR, working with people I knew and who knew what I was capable of doing, things would probably be fine; but I had this nagging concern that there was more that I could know, so I decided to pursue an MBA.” Mr. Canfield started at the University of Chicago Booth School on a part-time basis, working full-time during the day and taking classes in the evening. “That didn’t last too long,” he chuckles. Eventually, he took two quarters off from work to finish his degree.

Reflecting on his experience in the MBA program, he recalls how prepared he was for the curriculum and how his past BHP classes allowed him to customize his MBA degree. “I was incredibly well-prepared. In fact, I got to skip a lot of the intro-level, first-year MBA classes. The neat thing about that was that it enabled me to quickly go to the higher-level classes and get a dual concentration in finance and accounting. I probably would not have been able to do that if I didn’t have the BHP background. The BHP enabled me to get a more broad experience when I did decide to go get an MBA, and it allowed me to tailor that experience more to what I felt I needed for my career.”

Mr. Canfield is now a successful Managing Director at GTCR, a leadership position he has held since 2007. He and his wife Mary Beth are also devoted philanthropists who focus on education. In November 2018, we celebrated the official naming of the Canfield Business Honors Program in the McCombs School of Business after a generous donation from the Canfields. They believe that contributing to education has the highest return on investment. “In my deepest part of my heart and soul, I’m an investor. I think, ‘Let’s do something early, let’s make an investment, let’s put capital into something, and then let’s see that have a return over a long period of time.’ For me, investing in someone’s education is exactly the same thing. I’ve always felt like it’s really important for our society to support getting everyone an opportunity to have a great education. I also think it’s a great investment that enables people to do something really fantastic.”

In closing, Mr. Canfield offers the following words of advice for our current students: “Enjoy the experience, but also make sure that whatever you choose to concentrate in, really make sure you focus on the fundamentals of that concentration.” He talks about Novak Djokovic, the best tennis player in the world, and how he drills and works the fundamentals with a hitting partner and his coach. “Why does he do that?  Because those fundamental skills need to happen automatically. If your concentration is accounting, then you need to work on it so hard that it is just intuitive to you. The test of knowing the fundamentals in a particular topic is you can look at a problem that you’ve never seen anything like it before, and you can intuit how it must have to work. That’s when you know you really understand it at the detailed level and the abstract level because you can take all the stuff you know about that particular topic and say, ‘Well, I’ve never seen this particular area before, but it must work this way.’ In business, to succeed in your career, you need to be functioning at that level.”

He also has some advice for prospective Canfield BHP students that we wholeheartedly agree with: “You should come here because it’s the best undergraduate business program in the country. You will learn a tremendous amount, you’ll make great friends, and it will serve you very well in your career.”

Watch the video celebrating the newly named Canfield Business Honors Program 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.