Meet the BHP Board – Part 2: Craig Bondy, Edith Li, Narayan Bhargava

This is the second of a series of posts we will be doing dedicated to introducing you to our BHP Advisory Board. The BHP Advisory Board is comprised of around 20 alumni representing a mix of class years, occupations and locations. The mission of the board is to drive continued excellence of the BHP and development of leaders through advocacy, connection, and engagement. The board will be ambassadors for the program in their communities, support fundraising objectives, and assist with recruiting the top students in the nation to the program. Board terms are two years. We greatly appreciate the service of these alumni to BHP!

Craig Bondy is a managing director for GTCR in Chicago. He has been with the company since 2000. Previously, Craig worked in the investment banking department at Credit Suisse First Boston in both Chicago and London. Craig is co-head of the Technology, Media & Telecommunications group at GTCR and is currently a Director of Fairway Outdoor and In addition, Craig was previously a Director of GTCR’s past investments including Avention, CAMP Systems, CellNet, DigitalNet, Landmark Aviation, Six3 Systems, Solera, TransFirst and VeriFone. Outside of GTCR, Craig spends significant time as a board member working with Communities In Schools of Chicago, a non-profit organization that connects public school children with free social, emotional, health and enrichment programs

Edith Li graduated from BHP in 2004. She is currently a manager at Par Pacific, Inc., an energy and infrastructure business, where she oversees the internal and external financial reporting for the company.  Previously, Edith was a financial reporting supervisor at HighMount Exploration & Production, LLC, an oil and gas exploration and production company, and a senior financial reporting analyst at The Brock Group, an industrial specialty service provider. Prior to her industry experience, Edith spent nearly four years at Deloitte & Touche LLP, where she was led audit teams working with companies in various industries, including oil and gas, manufacturing, and hospitality.

Narayan Bhargava currently serves as Business Development Officer at The SDB Group. He graduated from BHP in 2010. SDB is involved in several different facets of the oil and gas industry from manufacturing to distribution to exploration. He also acts as president of two SDB subsidiaries and co-director of another. Further, Narayan is principal at Venture Fuel Partners, a VC firm focused on early stage investing. He is serving as treasurer and youngest director for the National Association of Steel Pipe Distributors (NASPD), is a board member for the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston (IACCGH), and for the Houston chapter of Magic Bus, an NGO that raises social awareness among children in poverty-stricken communities.

Applications for the BHP Advisory Board are accepted once a year in the Spring. If you have feedback for our current board, please reach out to the BHP office.

Top 5 Memories from the BHP Outdoor Leadership Trek

The BHP Outdoor Leadership Trek is a one-of-a-kind immersive educational experience that teaches BHP students about leadership and decision-making in the unscripted context of the wilderness. Seven BHP students, along with one BHP staff member participated in a National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) trip to Arizona in January.  Below are the top five memories from their time together as wilderness explorers!

1. Beautiful views

We hiked in the Galiuro Wildnerness of Arizona and summited near Kennedy Peak at an elevation of 7,540 feet. During our daily hikes, we encountered a variety of terrain that included dry and brushy vegetation, large rocks, exposed red soil, narrow passes, and wet forests. Naturally, some of our favorite memories were enduring a daunting uphill and turning around to see the setting sun setting over a canyon, traversing along the side of a steep mountain ridge, and sitting quietly under the stars in an open field on our very first night. We can describe it here and present pictures that may be worth a thousand words, but nothing compares to actually experiencing the significance of nature.

2. Cooking in the backcountry

Everyone raves about the food NOLS provides, which is more than just dehydrated soups and meal kits. Our rations contained raw ingredients such as flour, sugar, quinoa, couscous, dried fruits, hashbrowns, nut butter, and cheddar cheese; one pot, one pan, one cooking lid, and a spatula; and a spice kit. The spice kit is key to unlocking the magic of cooking in the backcountry because it allowed us to improvise and get creative. While we never learned how to bake cinnamon rolls or pizza on our trip, we did make a legendary quinoa soup, a tasty hashbrown breakfast with refried beans, tuna surprise, numerous quesadillas, and “tasted better than they looked” brownie and pancake scrambles.

3. Learning wilderness survival skills

Throughout our course, we learned practical outdoor skills like dressing in layers to stay warm and dry, cooking with creativity (see above), selecting appropriate campsites, pitching storm-proofed tent shelters, reading topographic maps and terrain features, and bear hanging (suspending our food bags from trees to prevent bears from getting to it). While we found some humor in doing the actions, the reality was that we needed to practice all these skills to survive for 8 days in the great outdoors. It’s easy to take certain luxuries like dorm rooms, running water, and cafeterias for granted. We truly felt empowered and ready for anything once we learned basic skills to take care of ourselves and be self-sufficient with very few resources.

4. It snowed!

Every NOLS expedition is different – we can’t predict the routes we will take, how our group will work together, or what the weather will be like. Previous NOLS participants told us about the challenges they faced, but no one could prepare us for the unique challenge of waking up to three inches of snow. We had to re-pitch tents that blew away in the middle of the night, find our buried kitchen equipment, hike and trail-find as it continued to rain and snow, and melt snow as a water source. Our snow day tested our physical and mental resolve, but it was also beautiful and fun to play in. We also learned an important lesson: Snow is the BEST toilet paper.

5. Bonding with BHPals

Here’s the funny thing about spending 8 days dealing with uncertainty with 6 other students and very little alone time: You get VERY close. We developed our own language to describe things, starting with “backcountry,” or what we had previously called the wilderness. This language evolved into euphemisms and inside jokes like “take a walk” (going to the bathroom), “spikes on the left” (watch for sharp objects), “SCAT!” (bear droppings ahead), “pothole water” (questionable drinking water), “beat the beep” (pack faster), and random squeals and squeaks (either Judy or Will tripped). It’s not easy nor fun to describe inside jokes to people on the outside, so we’ll close by encouraging you to go on a NOLS trip as soon as possible. We promise you’ll learn about leadership, engage in self-reflection, practice survival skills, and laugh until your stomach hurts.

Meet the BHP Board – Part 1: Michael Daehne, Vik Kalra, Michelle Stevens

This is our first of a few posts we will be doing dedicated to introducing you to our BHP Advisory Board. The BHP Advisory Board is comprised of around 20 alumni representing a mix of class years, occupations and locations. The mission of the board is to drive continued excellence of the BHP and development of leaders through advocacy, connection, and engagement. The board will be ambassadors for the program in their communities, support fundraising objectives, and assist with recruiting the top students in the nation to the program. Board terms are two years. We greatly appreciate the service of these alumni to BHP.

It only seems right to start this board introduction with our fearless leader – Michael Daehne. Michael is the current board chair. He graduated in 2012. While at UT, he majored in Business Honors, Corporate Finance, and Actuarial Mathematics. Michael is currently a Senior Engagement Manager at Sense Corp, a management and technology consulting firm, where he leads large-scale transformation projects for Fortune 500 clients. During his nearly six years at Sense Corp, Michael has worked on more than 30 projects across half a dozen industries, and developed expertise in the areas of business process optimization, business intelligence and analytics, and customer experience transformation. He enjoys watching Texas Football, eating Texas Barbecue, and listening to Texas Country Music (notice a theme?).

Vik Kalra is a Vice President at Platform Partners, a middle-market investment firm based in Houston. At Platform, Vik is on the Board of Directors of Beneplace and Vortex and is involved with ALM First, Firestone & Robertson Distilling and SmartSky Networks. Vik previously worked as a Vice President for Parallel Investment Partners, a middle market private equity firm in Dallas, and at Pacesetter Capital Group, a Dallas-based lower-middle market private equity firm. He graduated in 2002, having completed majors in Business Honors and Plan II Honors, and went on to earn an MBA from Harvard Business School. He has two young children, and enjoys playing fantasy football.

Michelle Stevens graduated in 2014. She met her husband, Jeff, while in BHP, and they married two years after graduating. Michelle is in the Upstream Ventures organization, supporting M&A activity for ExxonMobil. She began her career there after graduation as a financial analyst in the Development Company supporting assets in Romania and Guyana for two years. She loves to travel, volunteer and spend time with her family.

We look forward to introducing you to our board through a series of these posts. Applications for the BHP Advisory Board are accepted once a year in the Spring. If you have feedback for our current board, please reach out to our board chair, Michael Daehne.

Accenture Leadership Program Application Opening Feb. 1

BHP students are encouraged to apply for The Accenture Leadership Program, a four-week leadership seminar series led by Accenture Executives. The program equips emerging student leaders with proven leadership techniques, enabling participants to be more effective leaders on campus and within their community. This year marks the eleventh year of the recently re-vamped program. With topics and techniques taken from Accenture’s internal development program for consulting executives, this is an opportunity you don’t want to miss with one of BHP’s corporate partners.

Lisa Feng, current BHP and Finance senior, participated in last year’s program, where she learned leadership skills and concepts related to personal strengths, working on great teams, and leaving a legacy. “I enjoyed learning alongside a diverse group of students from across the Forty Acres,” she said, calling ALP a “one-of-a-kind” experience. “I had never met most of the other participants before, so it was inspiring to hear about all of the unique perspectives and experiences they each brought to the table.”

ALP isn’t just for students in the McCombs School of Business. Students from all backgrounds are encouraged to apply and participate. Last year, students from Engineering, Fine Arts, and Natural Sciences, ranging from freshmen to seniors were among the participants.

Tamara Fields, a managing director based out of the Austin office and UT Austin alumna, is a program presenter each year on one of the most popular topics covered: Social Styles. Individuals each have their own way of thinking, acting, and making decisions, and Social Styles aims to define those unique qualities. Each year, ALP participants are asked to distribute the Social Styles questionnaire to their peers, mentors, and fellow leaders. The input is then analyzed to reveal to each participant’s unique social style that indicates unique aspects about the way they communicate and lead. Each ALP session covers a unique leadership topic and includes interactive activities, facilitated discussion, and time to network and interact with top consulting executives.

In Spring 2018, Accenture will again be hosting Accenture Leadership Program on campus. The program runs Mondays from March 19 to April 9. Full-time undergraduate students graduating between Dec ‘18 and May ‘21 are encouraged to apply – the application opens February 1, 2018. We invite emerging leaders, idea generators, and strategic thinkers to apply for the 2018 Accenture Leadership Program.

If you have any questions, please contact Rebecca Teng at

Sophomores Solve National Expansion Issue for BHP Case Competition

Each year, all BHP sophomores compete in the BA151 Sophomore Lyceum Case Competition. The competition, held this past Friday, is the first case competition many of these students have competed in, and offers a great chance for them to practice the skills they are learning in their business classes.

This year’s case, presented by Sense Corp, presented students with the challenge of accelerating the national expansion of College Forward. College Forward is an Austin-based non-profit that coaches underserved, motivated students to achieve the benefits of higher education and a college degree.

The case asked student what one strategy they would suggest pursuing to scale the organization so it can serve more students both in Texas and nationally.

Out of 30 teams, five advanced to the final round. Each team took a very different approach to solving the problem, and the judges were impressed with the level of thought that went into the cases. In the end, first place went to Catherine Cheng, Emily Gex, Brandon Jodie, Thomas Jordan and Ronald Rodriguez. Honorable mention went to Zhiqi Wang, Alison Daily, Arjun Menta, Maitreya Movva and Veshal Prakash.

“Our team recognized how important it is for lower-income students to have access to information about higher-level education, and we wanted to reach the largest population of low income students possible with our proposed solution,” said Emily Gex. “By creating a website that we would license to high schools, students of all income levels would receive personalized information about colleges that would be perfect matches for them. By inputting one’s personal and financial information into our database, our website would automatically generate a list of scholarships that the individual student is eligible for. By handing low-income students personalized college and scholarship information, we hope to empower these students to continue onto higher-level education successfully.”

The names of the winning team members will be etched onto a plaque, which lives on permanent display in the BHP office. Congratulations to all of these students and special thanks to Sense Corp for providing us with such a great case, and to BHP alumnus Michael Daehne for coordinating the case on behalf of Sense Corp.

From left to right: Ron Rodriguez, Catherine Cheng, Thomas Jordan, Emily Gex, Brandon Jodie