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. 

Student Spotlight: Lucious McDaniel IV

Lucious McDaniel IV Headshot

Lucious McDaniel IV

 

Name: Lucious McDaniel IV

Class: Sophomore

Major: MIS/CBHP

Position: Founder, CEO of Phly

Topics of Interest: Technology, Business, Entrepreneurship, Philanthropy

 

The guy behind Phly

Lucious McDaniel IV took it upon himself to hone in on an idea and build it from the ground up. He and his team, composed of Electrical and Computer Engineering students Tara Kuruvilla and Grace Anconetani, have been working on this startup, Phly, for quite some time. When we first heard about the startup, we were unaware of how much the platform had to offer and the functionality it would bring to organizations to help them raise money. Lucious’s ambition matches up to his talent and intelligence, bringing him to where he is today – the start of something groundbreaking. 

Pronounced like the word “fly”, Phly comes from shortening the phrase Lucious coined, “philanthropy on the fly.” Lucious was motivated to create Phly so students and organizations on campus could be more philanthropic. The platform makes the fundraising process more efficient and painless for all parties involved. 

Lucious McDaniel IV and his Phly team at Capital Factory

Lucious McDaniel IV and his Phly team posing for a photo at Capital Factory.

 

The idea that took flight 

Lucious explained that his team came up with the idea out of necessity, “We realized that as student organization leaders ourselves – myself and my whole team included – that one of the most tedious parts of our roles as finance chairs and leaders of organizations is trying to manage the on-campus aspect of things.” 

After dealing with a variety of hodge-podge excel sheets and various documents with contesting formats, it was evident that there was a need for something better. The Phly team then created a solution that would work for their student organizations. 

Once we realized it was working for these [student] orgs that we are in, we said, “why not roll it out to the rest of the students at UT?” 

The Phly team had a mission to make student fundraising easy for everyone across the country, but before they could do that, their goal was to help their peers here on the Forty Acres! 

You have to run before you can Phly 

One of the major problems Phly was designed to solve was cutting out the need to use personal Venmo and PayPal accounts to collect donations. When organizations use personal payment accounts to, for example, collect money for baked goods they are selling on Speedway, donations and personal payments quickly get muddled. Before long, student organization leaders have a big problem on their hands which is only made worse by piles of spreadsheets. By eliminating that process, organizations can keep better track of money that is being exchanged. 

The Phly team knew integrating Venmo in their platform was going to make them very useful for student orgs, but it was tough.

The first two times we went to Venmo to get approved for our integration, they said “No”. After I kept being extremely persistent and going after them, talking to them, and trying to improve our product, they eventually said “Yes”.

Today, Phly has one of the few coveted partnerships that Venmo doles out to external organizations, allowing them to integrate the popular app into their platform.

Lucious McDaniel and the Phly team working

Lucious McDaniel IV and the Phly team working with the Austin Skyline in the background.

 

Ready for takeoff! 

Due to Lucious’ uncanny ability to find a problem that needs a solution, Phly was born and then fully developed by going above and beyond to develop that solution. Asked about his interests and what he feels his career trajectory is, Lucious shared, 

“…my end goal right now is either to be a startup founder myself or to work for another startup in a product-centered role.” 

Lucious spent quality time in San Francisco this past summer as an intern for Flo Recruit, a startup launched out of UT, which was participating in Y Combinator – the world’s best accelerator program. Going forward, Lucious plans on using his degree in Canfield BHP, MIS to either continue building his own company or work in product at a fast-growing startup.

“Early on, [Interning at Y Combinator] solidified my love for working at scrappy startups but it also solidified my interest and passion for sales, marketing, and especially product”

Parting Advice 

Lucious advises that anyone looking for a place in the Canfield Business Honors Program or wanting to get involved with startups should explore business-related organizations in high school like DECA. Being involved in organizations played a key role in building connections and long-lasting friendships. 

If you’re interested in learning more and run a student organization, signup at www.Phly.co and start fundraising the right way today by creating your first campaign with Phly. Lucious is also happy to make each of these lines of communication open for either academic or Phly related matters:

P: 832-341-7603

E: lucious4@utexas.edu

Student Spotlight: Martha Czernuszenko and her experience at Forbes Under 30 Summit

Martha Czernuszenko Headshot

Martha Czernuszenko


Today we feature a student who displays all the characteristics of a mover and a shaker. Well on her way to be one of tomorrow’s leaders and now a Forbes Under 30 Scholar, Canfield BHPeer Martha Czernuszenko talks to us about her experience at the Forbes Under 30 Summit last October in Detroit. The Forbes Under 30 Scholars Program joins the best young leaders, founders, and creators to connect, learn, teach and build – a life-changing professional experience for any student selected to attend and participate.

 

Read on to learn about her experience and how to apply.

Tell us about your experience, the events that led up to it and after. Did you learn anything from it? What can others do to strive towards this opportunity?

If you’ve had a class with me, chances are you’ve seen me lugging a suitcase into the room. The McCombs School of Business is filled with amazing opportunities such as Texas Convergent (UT’s first Business and Computer Science organization) and a case-based/project curriculum. However, I’ve always wondered how various concepts I’ve learned at The University of Texas could be applied outside of the Forty Acres, and that led me to apply to the Forbes 30 Under 30 program.

Martha posing for a photo with her colleaguesI applied in Summer 2019 through an online application. A month later, I was accepted. Although the scholar program covered some expenses, this trip would not have been possible without the Canfield Business Honors Program sponsoring the rest of my trip. 

While I expected the conference to be very corporate and standardized, it turned out to be more of a “Choose your own adventure!” experience. There were various content tracks to select from AgTech, Artificial Intelligence, Art & Style, Cannabis Capitalism, Cloud & CyberSecurity, CMO Next, Finance & Investing, Fintech & Blockchain, Food & Drink, Gaming, Impact, Innovation, Law & Policy, Manufacturing & Robotics, Media & Environment, Mobility, Retail, Science & Healthcare, Sports, Founders’ Forum, and Women & Wellness. There were also plenty of activities outside of the conference talks such as company experiences, food festivals, investor speed-pitching, self-driving car showcases. 

Some highlights:

  • Serena Williams telling me to never share my money with any man (opting for separate accounts versus joint accounts during a marriage)
  • Reuniting with a few of my coworkers and other conference friends 
  • Meeting so many people across the United States
  • Learning about Olivia Munn’s investing strategies and later meeting her at the food festival
  • Hearing from the founders of products I’ve used (Postmates, Squarespace, etc.)
  • Listening to founders of iconic brands such as Postmates, Squarespace, and Museum of Ice Cream – YES Maryellis Bunn!!!)
  • Meeting Detroit locals and entrepreneurs at the official bar crawl with Nicole (Plan II, Business Honors, and Management’20) and Pooja (Bioengineering’20)
  • Exploring Startup Simulation Fair and talking with founders from Braxley Bands to VX Tours in Nepal
  • Accidently venturing into a VIP lounge and eating very fancy chocolate with Pooja and Luca (Electrical Engineering ‘20)
  • Exploring the city and its rooftops
  • Analyzing pitches from top startups pitching for thousands of dollars
  • Enjoying a free concert by Normani, 21 Savage, and The Chainsmokers 
  • The autumn leaves that changed colors daily on our walk to the conference
  • Trying out fig tarts at a local bakery after a food keynote speech with Antoni Porowski

Photo of panel at Forbes Under 30 Summit via Martha CzernuszenkoWhile I learned many lessons and heard inspirational advice, two things stood out. First, the concept that changing minds is a lot harder than building technology. Although my studies are combined between technical and soft classes, I found this concept intriguing as it is often skimmed over. Second, develop non-negotiables while you raise money – if your morals are being broken during raising rounds, your morals aren’t working. Apply this framework in your personal and professional life as well. While I expected to mostly focus on concepts like these during the conference, it was also refreshing to take a personalized path through the conference to attend workshops on topics I have never dived into, such as sustainability and transportation.

A huge thank you again to the Canfield Business Honors Program!!! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out! You can apply to attend next year’s program typically in June/July 2020!

Student Spotlight: Samantha Lustberg

Name: Samantha (Sam) Lustberg

Major: Canfield BHP, Management Information Systems

Company: Bringg 

Position: Business Solutions Analyst

Topics of Interest: kickboxing, all the foods in the world, social dance, the ukulele

It’s not often students get to travel abroad for an internship, but Samantha (Sam) Lustberg had the opportunity to work not one, but two internships this past summer in Tel Aviv, a city on the coast of Israel. 

Sam began her summer in Tel Aviv as a consultant at a boutique firm, Targo Consulting, where she worked with pre-seed startups analyzing the ideas presented by budding entrepreneurs. After working at Targo for a few weeks, Sam pivoted to a new role at Bringg. 

Bringg, a Series C technology startup, is a delivery logistics software that partners with Fortune 500 companies to ensure data security when working with food delivery services like Uber Eats and Postmates. Sam worked as a Business Solutions Analyst on the Business Development team. She had the opportunity to strategize with the sales and marketing teams for the rest of the summer. 

“I had two experiences. A lot of it was me transferring what I learned in the consulting firm to this new tech company, Bringg, where I worked in Business Development,” Sam said. “My job was to realign the sales and marketing teams. There was this problem with connecting the most recent marketing materials with sales. So I helped create a centralized platform for all of that.”

In addition to helping to create a centralized platform, Sam worked to develop Bringg’s international marketing efforts. As an American intern in another country, she brought a unique skillset to the table. 

“Bringg is an international company and I was in Israel and obviously there’s a huge language barrier,” Sam said. “They were looking to market around the world and I helped with building emails and content so their English language marketing was improved.” 

Throughout all of her work, Sam said she loved her time in Tel Aviv. As someone who hails from New York and has studied abroad in Hong Kong, culture shock does not come easily for her. The biggest challenge Sam faced was finding and securing the internship in the first place. Sam’s advice to other students is to network and stay involved outside of McCombs. 

“Navigating actually getting these opportunities is not as easy because I didn’t do it through McCombs. I went through Texas Hillel, which is an on-campus organization which then connected me to the third party organization that led me to the internship,” Sam said. “If you want to have an opportunity outside of McCombs, then you really have to talk to other organizations, continue networking with people and just make sure you put yourself in the right places at the right time.” 

Sam also advises students to find friends and champions to support them through the recruiting process. She said peers from Canfield BHP and Texas Hillel kept her connected and vouched for her during the recruiting process. 

“There have been other Canfield BHP kids in the past who have gone to Israel and using them as champions was helpful,” Sam said. “For example, a friend was going to do the program that I did, so she helped me make all the connections. The key takeaway from that is there’s a network within Canfield BHP for whatever you want to do. If you want to go into Tel Aviv it can happen. If you want to go into television or any other industry, it can happen.”

Student Spotlight: Sloane Castleman

Name: Sloane Castleman

Major: Canfield BHP, Plan II Honors

Company: National Basketball Association (NBA)

Position: Team Finance Intern

Topics of Interest: Outdoor skiing, music, reading, photography, finding new restaurants

While some students searched Recruit McCombs for investment banking, marketing, or consulting internships last year, Sloane Castleman took a different route. She browsed Google for different Finance positions and eventually found a posting that stood out. After applying, interviewing, and getting the job, Sloane spent this past summer in New York as a Team Finance Intern for the National Basketball Association (NBA). 

Interning with the NBA before her senior year allowed Sloane to learn more about not only finance, but also basketball. She had the opportunity to compile the PNLs of each of the teams, review year over year team profitability, and analyze the models that the NBA uses for League financials. 

“I was specifically under the team and labor finance group and I helped create a model that was a template for the outputs that we needed to give the (team) directors. It was cool because I got to look at their other models and see how the NBA as a whole viewed leagues’ finances, including international leagues like the China League and Africa League,” Sloane said. 

Oddly enough, Sloane didn’t apply to the position as a major basketball fan. Rather, she applied because she thought the position would be a great learning experience. She said she wanted to explore something new and she loved sports, so it seemed like a great opportunity. In addition, Sloan studied abroad the semester before going into the internship and was able to take a Business of Sports class while in Europe that helped her the following summer. 

“I have never been a huge NBA follower or anything,” Sloane said, “But (the study abroad class) was a lot about the business of soccer and Formula One. It was cool to be able to take that into my internship because I would never have studied that here at UT.”

Although Sloane didn’t expect to take sports-related classes at UT, her Canfield Business Honors major helped her feel prepared in different ways. 

“In my final review my boss said I was good at communicating and presenting,” Sloane said. Being able to get up on stage and not be worried and then have people asking me hard questions and being able to think on the spot is something I definitely got from Canfield BHP.”

In addition to helping her improve her speaking skills, Sloane said Canfield BHP has helped her improve her focus on the bigger picture within business problems. She said Canfield BHP professors teach students to analyze details, but also take a step back to think about how the lessons they’re learning in classes or units fit into the larger picture.

“(My boss) said I was good at taking numbers and thinking about the cases and contexts they fit into, like the overall aspects within the company that those factors could be affecting,” Sloane said. “I think that’s a very Canfield BHP thing to be able to do because we’re taught to look at the big picture too.”

Overall, Sloane walked away from the internship knowing what she wanted to do full-time. She said she enjoyed her environment, but the strategy aspects of the job excited her most. Next year, Sloane will begin her full-time job at Boston Consulting Group (BCG). Her advice to other students is to not be afraid to take on new experiences because opportunities for learning are always available.

“Internships are the best way to see what you enjoy. I realize how much I like to work in sports, but I also realized that cut and dry finance isn’t totally for me,” Sloane said. “With each internship experience, there’s so much you can learn, so keeping an open mind and looking for things that get you excited is the way to go about it.”