A Return to Lyceum: The Homecoming of Phil Canfield

Written by Christopher Hotchkiss

Between detailing his choice to attend UT as an undergraduate to giving financial advice to students, Mr. Canfield used his return to the classroom as an opportunity to inspire the students who are currently benefiting from his recent gift to the Canfield Business Honors Program.

Mr. Canfield started by explaining the impact that BHP had on him as a student. As an undergraduate in the honors program, he made lasting friendships and found a community that helped him during his early years in banking. He also described his perspective as a parent and the visit that motivated him to donate so generously to the program. 

Mr. Canfield believed that the BHP lacked the prestige other business schools heralded. He said prospective students often don’t realize the prestige of the program until attending an event or meeting the students, staff, and faculty who make the program so great. 

As the parent of a prospective student, Mr. Canfield attended Discover BHP, our annual welcome weekend event for admitted students. “Discover BHP blew me away,” he said. But he also felt that the reputation of BHP was not where it should be. This realization coupled with his own positive experiences in the program led him to make his naming gift. “If I want to do something for UT, I wanted to do it with BHP,” he said.

In addition to detailing his love for UT, Mr. Canfield took time to describe his career and the different aspects of it. Failure was something he made a point of highlighting because he believes failure is integral to every person’s development. “Successes don’t teach you anything, but failures teach you everything,” he shared. Furthermore, he said that the worst thing that can happen to a person is for them to only experience success over their first five years of working, as that period is a prime time for failures (and ultimately learning) to occur.

Finally, Mr. Canfield used this conversation as an opportunity to give advice to current students interested in finance and private equity. He took the time to answer questions about his rise to leadership within GTCR. With regards to stepping into a managerial role he shared, “You need to do what needs to be done when it is time to get it done.” Although he was speaking specifically about the working world and his experience, these were wise words to conclude his visit and encourage the next generation of Canfield Business Honors students.

 

Event Recap: Leadership Kickoff 2019 by Madison Mohns

Summer camp dreams don’t die out when you head off to college. This past weekend, 140 CBHP freshmen headed out to Newcombe Tennis Ranch in New Braunfels, Texas for Leadership Kickoff. Freshmen were able to bond as a class all throughout the weekend; sharing meals together, laughing together, singing their lungs out to karaoke together, and even tight roping 50 feet in the air together.

Besides bonding, Leadership Kickoff is really a chance for the new class to gain some leadership skills. Freshmen engage in challenges which are intended to place them in some unexpected situations; testing their communication and getting them used to working on teams.

Henry Bradley (Class of ‘23) reflects on the weekend: “I learned that while I am a strong leader, I can also strive to be a good teammate.” Collaborative learning is a large part of the Canfield Business Honors curriculum and the class of 2023 is already getting a headstart to mastering this skill.

Students braved the high ropes course, and were cheered on by their classmates as they took big leaps into the unknown. The freshmen class took the initiative to come up with creative ways to incorporate their teammates strengths during the BHPlayoffs. Each one of them gave it their all and some hidden talents were exposed in the process. We’ve got some beatboxers, some dancers, and even some gymnasts among us… watch out corporate america.

But it isn’t just the freshmen who learned something during leadership kickoff. “My mentees honestly reinvigorated my excitement for the program” said Peer Mentor Katelyn Barclay. “Especially as I look back as a senior, it is incredible to see how much they each want to accomplish and get involved in the program over the next 4 years.”

Automatically having a welcoming and uplifting community to be a part of can make an otherwise difficult transition to college a lot easier. Coming into such a large school like UT, it can be difficult to feel truly known by your peers. By curating small peer groups of about 10 students, the CBHPhreshmen get the opportunity to start forming those vital relationships from day one.

Lauren Asay, a senior CBHP’er and peer mentor recounts what made her kickoff experience something that inspired her to pay it forward to her mentees. “Leadership Kickoff showed me that it was possible to be successful AND have fun in college. CBHP does an amazing job of fostering a sense of support and community, and I think LKO is what really sets the tone for your four years on the 40 Acres.” At the root of it all, it is the culture of CBHP that makes it so special, and a lasting legacy going forward. What started here at Leadership Kickoff 2019 really will change the world.

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

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.

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.