Professor Spotlight: Jared Murray

As a statistician, Dr. Jared Murray is no stranger to uncertainty. In fact, he teaches STA 371H, which focuses on using probability, statistics, and data science to learn about the world and make decisions in the presence of uncertainty. In today’s climate, in which uncertainty seems to be a major theme, Dr. Murray emphasizes that he and his students must look for solutions, rather than problems, in the classroom and beyond. 

“The biggest thing, given everything that’s going on, is trying to have the attitude that we’re going to look for solutions, not problems, in this new format,” he said. “There are some things that I want to do that are just not going to be possible. There are some sort of modes of instruction that just don’t work anymore.”

For the past three years, Dr. Murray has been an assistant professor in the Department of Information, Risk, and Operations Management. Prior to teaching at UT, he worked in the Department of Statistics at Carnegie Mellon University and earned his Ph.D. and M.S. in Statistical Science at Duke University.

“One of the things that brought me here was the people’s potential for the collaboration in the (Information, Risk, and Operations Management) group. In fact, there are some folks here that I had already been working with and since I got here, I’ve explored even more collaboration,” he said. “One of the really nice things about UT is that it is enormous. Whatever you’re interested in, you can find it going on here at UT. That’s been a really good experience for me.”

This year, Dr. Murray is teaching three sections of Canfield Business Honors courses. Traditionally, his class is discussion and activity-based, with lots of student collaboration. With classes now online, he has altered his teaching style to fit the needs of his students. 

“It’s so important to try to remain adaptive and flexible and give ourselves and everybody else a break. I’ve really leaned into this model of having videos that students can watch before class and then really dedicating class time to conversation– group work and labs and things like that,” he said. “(Canfield BHP students) all learn really well from each other and it’s a really good way for them to see each other and interact with each other and get a little bit of that social contact that may be limited for a lot of folks right now.”

One challenge in particular that often comes with online classes is attendance, but Dr. Murray has been particularly impressed by his Canfield BHP students. Despite many extenuating circumstances, students have continued to show up and actively participate in his classes.

“There are some folks that I know are in dramatically different time zones or their living situations are difficult. It’s hard to have a lot of siblings at home when everybody is trying to learn online on a limited wifi connection. I’ve got a lot of folks that are way out in the middle of Texas and they’re like driving to places so they can sit next to a cell tower and you can get online,” he said. “It means so much to me that my students are going through all that just so they can get to class. I’ve been really impressed with their resilience.”

Professor Spotlight: Eric Chan (ACC 312H)

Dr. Eric Chan spent the majority of his academic life in the northeast. He earned his undergraduate degrees in Accounting and Finance at the University of Maryland, College Park, his Ph.D. in Accounting from the University of Pittsburgh, and has family roots in Washington, D.C. Soon after graduating Pittsburgh with his Ph. D., however, his journey brought him to the south. Upon being hired, Dr. Chan was offered a position to teach either MBA or honors students– for the past five years he’s taught Managerial Accounting (ACC 312H) to Canfield BHP students.

“I remember when I first came, they asked me to either teach a masters level class or the undergraduate honors students. To me, it was a no brainer. I think I connect better with younger students and an intro class is very important for whether (students) enjoy and end up pursuing accounting,” Dr. Chan said.

Aside from being able to teach honors students, Dr. Chan felt that the University of Texas was the best choice for him because of the research opportunities as well. The faculty and McCombs resources, including the McCombs Behavioral Lab, both played a major part in his decision. 

“I study people’s decision making– how they respond to certain interventions, whether there’s an incentive or rewards scheme that we implement, or how they react to certain feedback. Without the lab we wouldn’t be able to do our research, so that’s an important resource,” he said. “I also have four other colleagues who do experimental research and all of them are just fantastic. Many of them are doing top research in their respective fields. Being able to learn from them is very important for me.”

Dr. Chan applies his academic and personal learnings to the classes he teaches by linking case studies with recent research studies to inform his students. 

“The case studies help (students) apply their knowledge and techniques, but the research is also important to see, ‘Hey, there’s actually more to this than just applying the techniques,’” Dr. Chan said. “It’s actually a lot of tradeoffs and understanding of how people think and respond to actions. Bringing in research can help students see the bigger picture and also help see the cutting edge or new frontier in terms of accounting. For a lot of people, it’s hard to imagine what that might be, so I want to expose students to that”

In addition to connecting research studies to traditional case studies, Dr. Chan accelerates the lecture aspects of his class to ensure time for discussion. Dr. Chan said Canfield BHP students tend to be engaged and willing to speak up and share ideas. He said it’s one of his favorite things about Canfield BHP students because the discussion helps people connect the class to real life. Dr. Chan said that the conversation Canfield BHP students generate allow him to learn as well.

“(Canfield BHP) students are willing to ask questions that are not just about a specific idea or a process or a learning objective. They ask, ‘How does this apply to the big picture of what’s going on outside the room?,’” Dr. Chan said. “On the first day of class I got (a question) about how accounting applies to the real world where AI and machine learning are taking over many jobs. I appreciate students being able to ask those big picture questions, because I learn something from hearing those questions and thinking through them.”

Student Spotlight: Victoria Bennett

Name: Victoria Bennett

Major: Canfield BHP, Economics, Health and Society

Previous internship: McKinsey and Company

Topics of Interest: Healthcare, service, economic policy, the color yellow

For UT students interested in the intersection of healthcare and business, Canfield BHP junior Victoria Bennett is living proof that a career path from these industries can be paved. In addition to Canfield BHP, Victoria is studying Economics and Health and Society. While juggling her three majors is no small feat, Victoria says that her passion for healthcare paired with the community and opportunities Canfield BHP offers makes it all worthwhile.

Victoria actually didn’t know that she wanted to focus on healthcare and business until after an internship she had with McKinsey and Company after her freshman year where she was put on a healthcare project.

“The (summer healthcare project) inspired me to apply for the health and society major and shift the direction of my academic career to focus on the business and economics of healthcare,” Victoria said. “I really had no idea that that was something I was so passionate about until that summer experience. Now, I really want to specialize in healthcare consulting after I graduate.” 

Before attending UT, Victoria attended a small school in Dallas. She said she initially felt intimidated by UT’s size, but that Canfield BHP made all the difference in finding both an initial community and the internship that helped develop her passion for healthcare. 

“I actually went to the same school my entire life. From ages four to eighteen I was with the same people and my class size was a little over a hundred people, so I was nervous about attending UT,” she said. “I expected it to be a place where I could easily get lost in the crowd, but when I came and realized (Canfield BHP) was a real community I had that experience of an actual home base. It was really so surprising for me. (Canfield BHP) made me feel comfortable in college so quickly.”

Victoria said her classes in the program make her feel at home even if her immediate friend group isn’t there. 

“One of my favorite things about Canfield BHP is that I can come into class and I don’t even think about whether or not my best friends are going to be in that class,” she said. “I know that I can walk into a class and like find a group of people who are going to be super sweet and super nice to me and we’ll have so much fun even if I only see those people in class.”

The community in Canfield BHP stretches beyond class, however. Victoria said students in the program also have each other’s backs when it comes to recruiting. In fact, she would never have been introduced to healthcare if not for a fellow Canfield BHP student. 

“I know the main reason I am working at (McKinsey) is because my freshman year a senior in Canfield BHP who I kind of knew just sent me an application to the freshman leadership program, which I had no idea about previously,” she said. “It’s really cool how much people in Canfield BHP look out for each other and just help everybody in any way that they can,” she said. 

An Entrepreneurial Perspective in Lyceum from Cindy Lo

For those taking on an entrepreneurial path, Canfield BHP alum Cindy Lo is a wonderful example. Upon graduation, Lo took on roles in technical sales and consulting before founding the company she continues to run now: Red Velvet Events. 

Amidst all the business of being the CEO and Founder of an international events agency, Lo still finds time to come back to McCombs and meet with the sophomore Lyceum class each year. She said Canfield BHP funded her tuition and gave her amazing opportunities, so she loves coming back to the program and the students in it.  

“Someone else again funded my school and I always wanted to be able to do that. I feel like I’m in a place and a time in my life where I can easily give back in various ways,” Lo said. 

Lo especially hopes to encourage entrepreneurship during her visits because of the unique, go-getter nature of Canfield Business Honors students. Even if students don’t become entrepreneurs right out of college, Lo hopes that students are empowered to do so at some point in their lives.

I encourage (entrepreneurship) because of all the people I met through the (Canfield) Business Honors program, 90% of them are self motivated,” Lo said. “I guarantee you that anyone, as long as they can handle the grind, can be an entrepreneur. I hope that when students in the program hear me talk about it they see that opportunity.”

For Lo, entrepreneurship wasn’t something she saw herself doing in college. After working at a startup for a few years, 9/11 happened and she realized that there were other paths out there for her. Lo ultimately decided to pursue her passion for events and start her own company. 

“When 9/11 happened, I was actually outside of New York City. It made me wake up and realize maybe that’s not what I necessarily want to do forever and ever and life is too short,” Lo said. “At that point, the market was changing too. (The startup) where I was working changed directions. It gave me some time to rethink my path and through the help of some friends, I was pointed in the direction of events, but because no one wanted to hire me, I started this company with the intention of only running it for about a year and now we’re 17 years in.”

Lo said Canfield BHP played a large part in her life. From learning through group projects to gaining a better understanding of problems through case studies, Canfield BHP proved integral to her success. 

“Definitely the one thing that I really underestimated at the time, but now looking back, I realized a lot of this had to do with again, how (Canfield) BHP is situated and how the program structures classes around team projects,” Lo said. “Everybody has to understand how to assess the team dynamics, how do we get (the project) done in the timeline, and how do we work with everyone’s schedule. That alone has allowed me to be as effective as possible of a leader.”

Even more important than the projects, however, were the people in Lo’s class. She said being surrounded by students who were leaders on campus and self-starters made her want to be a  better version of herself.

“I was surrounded by a lot of natural achievers, and I took this for granted. I’ve learned over the years that I want to continue to surround myself with people smarter than me, so I can keep learning,” Lo said. “Canfield Business Honors allowed me to do that.” 

Shopping for careers with Brandi Joplin: What made her buy into Sam’s?

Article written by Zoya Saxena

What really goes on in the Club? Brandi Joplin, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Sam’s Club, visited the Canfield BHP class of 2022 during Business Lyceum to answer this burning question and share some experiences from her career path and time at Walmart. 

Joplin started out as an industrial engineering major at the University of Arkansas, but eventually made the switch to Accounting and completed her CPA. While in college, Joplin was extremely involved on campus, which remains a large reason why she feels compelled to return and talk to students. 

“I have a passion for connecting back to something that was such an instrumental part of my education,” Joplin said. 

Joplin remains a believer in keeping in touch with “the younger generation of leaders.” She said she stays involved because she sees students as the budding professionals which will one day be the driving force of companies today.

When asked how she ended up at Walmart, Joplin explained how she found her first job there through a previous connection from the University of Alabama. She encouraged students to build a strong network organically as they go through their careers and schooling.

“Relationships matter,” Joplin said. “I am a relationship person. I like to build my network before I need them. You don’t want to be in a position of need when you start building your relationships.”

Joplin went on to talk about how her experience at Walmart has been extremely fruitful. She spent time elaborating on employee dedication and the lively company spirit. Joplin said she is proud and excited to be a part of a company that closely aligns with her values.

“You need to find a company that invests in you and has a culture where you believe in their purpose,” said Joplin. “When I came to Walmart, I believed in its purpose.”

Joplin also emphasized the importance of building one’s career on experience. She stressed the value of learning from a breadth of opportunities, some of which can be acquired through rotational programs or just by being open to trying new things.

“It is important to have that hands-on experience. You always need to be in learning mode. Be willing to get your hands dirty,” said Joplin.