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.” 

Student Spotlight: Rahul Das

Name: Rahul Das

Major: Canfield BHP, Plan II Honors, Marketing 

Previous internship: Southwest Airlines

Topics of Interest: Social entrepreneurship, adoption studies, design thinking, soccer, IM volleyball, sharks

 

For students who want to pursue non-profit work while in college, Rahul Das proves it’s possible. As someone passionate about education and entrepreneurship, Rahul spends the majority of his time working as Chief Operating Officer of a student-led non-profit, The Exponentialists. 

The mission of The Exponentialists is to empower students in underserved communities through entrepreneurship. Rahul and the rest of the team spend their time mentoring students at  Eastside High School to help them start their own small businesses. 

“We teach them about important business and entrepreneurial concepts. By the end of the year, (the students) have fully developed business ideas,” Rahul said. “Then they have the opportunity to pitch (their idea) to a panel of Austin entrepreneurs and investors to win seed funding for their idea or an invitation into our incubator program.” 

In addition to working in the Austin community, Rahul has gone abroad to fulfill The Exponentialists’ mission. This past summer he went to Medellin, Colombia to run an entrepreneurship camp called Los Exponencialistas. 

“We ran a week long camp to 56 students who come from rural areas who wouldn’t know the tools otherwise without our help,” Rahul said, “We’re planning on going back to Medellin in the winter to do another camp. We’re trying to reach out to Mexico City and have something lined up there as well.”

In addition to working with The Exponentialists, Rahul is a student-leader in the University Management Business Research Association (UMBRA), an organization that consults pro-bono for local Austin businesses, and a bedtime reader for Helping Hand Home, a home for mentally-abused or neglected children. 

Rahul said he’s incredibly grateful for the opportunity to act on his love for non-profit organizations throughout college. He said Canfield BHP has helped him follow his passions and encouraged him to become a better person throughout.

“(The classes) force me to learn how to be independent and think critically and foster analytical thinking skills,” Rahul said. “Also, the community within Canfield BHP, whether it’s the alum or the current students, push me to be a better version of myself.”

Destination Southwest – A Talk with Mike Van de Ven

Written by Zoya Saxena

UT graduate and alum Mike Van de Ven returned to the classroom, this time sitting on the other side of the lecture hall. Van de Ven, Chief Operating Officer of Southwest Airlines, visited the sophomore Business Honors Lyceum to share advice with the students and talk to them about his time in college and career at Southwest. 

Ever since he watched UT play A&M during the Thanksgiving football game, Van de Ven  knew he wanted to come to UT. When applying to college, Van de Ven was also searching for the best school to complete his degree in Accounting.

 “UT has a great return on investment. I am proud of the quality of education which you can receive here in such a cost effective manner. That’s why I love this school,” said Van de Ven. 

Van de Ven said that he feels reenergized when he returns to campus and that his passion for education and development of young professionals is what keeps him coming back. 

“A while ago, my wife and I sat down and asked ourselves what we truly care about. I thought I would have a long list, but we were only able to come up with a few things: young people, education, and bringing that (talent) into our company,” Van de Ven said. 

Many students were curious about Van de Ven’s time at Southwest and what made him make the switch from accounting to the airline industry. Van de Ven explained that his job in accounting allowed him to identify problems or issues, but that he wanted to make a larger impact and be part of resolutions.

“It’s not about the money. It’s about the job. The best part about Southwest is that if you enjoy what you are doing, there is no limit to the work they allow you to do,” Van de Ven said.

Van de Ven also stressed the value of people, relationships, and the community. He said that anyone in the workplace needs to pass what Van de Ven has coined ‘the lunch test’. Van de Ven believes this mantra is a reason why Southwest is a successful people-focused and community-driven company.

He said, “You should be able to go to lunch every single day with the people you work with. It’s not necessarily the smartest person in the room, but it’s someone you can have a dialog with, and someone who brings an interesting perspective.”

At the end of the discussion, Van de Ven left the students with three key pieces of advice:

  1. “Stay connected to the people around you.”
  2. “Be yourself out there.”
  3. “If you are not having fun, don’t do it.”

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.”

Canfield BHP Celebrates National Siblings Day

Great things happen when siblings experience the world together. The Wright brothers, for example, were the first to take man to the air. Together they changed the history of travel and aviation with their achievements in the early 20th century. Venus and Serena Williams changed the world of women’s professional tennis forever when the two sisters burst onto the scene in the 1990s, racking up numerous titles throughout the world. Both sisters have won Olympic gold medals. Many siblings often go off to run a business together and others venture off to great things to make the world a better place.

Today is National Siblings Day and in honor of this occasion, we wanted to feature current Canfield Business Honors siblings to share their experiences with our readers. The Canfield Business Honors Program has seen a fair share of siblings come and go throughout the years. It’s always a bittersweet moment to see them part when the oldest one graduates and enters the post-college world. For now, however, we’re just happy to have them with us!

Ellie and Emily Gex

Ellie (Left) – Freshman – Canfield BHP Class of ‘22
Emily (Right)  – Junior – Canfield BHP Class of ‘20

Ellie Says:

Q: What is it like being in Canfield BHP with your sibling?
A: It is so fun! My sister is so wise and has a lot of advice when it comes to which classes or professors to take. It’s also fun seeing her in McCombs.

Q: What advice, if any, could you provide for future siblings who find themselves in Canfield BHP together?
A: To take advantage of the time you have together!  It is such a sweet privilege to be able to invest in your relationship with your sibling that not many others have.

Q: Has being in Canfield BHP together brought you closer as siblings? If so, how?
A: Yes, definitely! Running into each other and talking before our classes start has brought us closer.  Also, her ability to relate and empathize with everything I’m going through (MIS) has brought more things in common between us.

Q: What lessons have you learned from your older sibling that you’ll take with you throughout your time at Canfield BHP/UT?
A: I’ve learned that if she can do it, so can I. I’ve also learned that even though classes are hard, school does not have to affect my personal life or emotions.  Emily has self-control, rarely appears overwhelmed, and always gives others the time of day even if she’s stressed which I hope to mimic in my life throughout my time at UT and in CBHP.


Emily Says:

Q: What is it like being in Canfield BHP with your sibling?
A: It’s really fun running into Ellie when we’re both sprinting into McCombs because we’re both running late for our respective 12:30pm classes. We’re usually both wearing the same Patagonia pullover and Outdoor Voices leggings and holding a cup of coffee.

We are so similar and its been great to completely understand each other with regards to classes, work/life balance, etc. I understand how hard MIS is, and I am able to give her advice on the projects. It’s fun seeing Ellie become really good friends with the people in her Canfield BHP classes, because I know that my Canfield BHP friends are my best friends, and I want that same thing for Ellie.

It’s also really funny because we are constantly forwarding each other business-related emails for events put on by Undergraduate Business Council and Honors Business Association, etc. Ellie and I went on a company visit to Whole Foods headquarters the other day together. Sisters who network together, stay together!

Q: What advice, if any, could you provide for future siblings who find themselves in Canfield BHP together?
A: Ellie and I try to make time every week to hang out one-on-one and catch up, and this is something I would recommend. Make it a recurring event on your Google Calendar! It’s great for Ellie and I to catch up on school, life, and friends.

Q: Has being in Canfield BHP together brought you closer as siblings? If so, how?
A: I think for the first time I’m really understanding how similar Ellie and I are. What I’ve seen her walk through as a freshman– finding a good friend group, staying up so late studying MIS and BA324 in Scottish Rite Dormitory, and figuring out how to balance school, sorority involvement, faith, and life was almost exactly what I went through. It’s cool to think of Ellie as an extension of myself, in a way, and being in Canfield BHP together has emphasized that for sure.

Q: What advice can you provide for your younger sibling?
A: School is not everything! It seems like it now, but it is not the reason we are on this earth. GPA fades, course schedules fade, even friends fades— the only thing we are able to hold onto is hope for the future and the fact that we have a good God that we can rest in, even when everything else around us may be falling apart.


Eric and Sam Lin

Eric (Left) – Freshman – Canfield BHP Class of ‘22
Sam (Right) – Senior – Canfield BHP Class of ‘19

Eric Says:

Q: What is it like being in Canfield BHP with your sibling?
A: Since we have a three year age gap – he’s a senior and I’m a freshman – I don’t really notice it. It’s only when I’m going for certain student orgs that he happens to be in charge of – any sort of business org – the seniors or the leaders tend to know my brother well. Academically though, since I’m in different classes than he is – he lives off campus, I live on campus – I don’t really interact with him as much as you’d expect. It’s not like I walk into a CBHP class and see him there. So it’s really just convenient if I need to borrow his car or if I have questions about a class or a professor or about the program as a whole. He generally knows all the answers. Other than that, I don’t force myself to interact with him too much because he has his own stuff that he has going on and I have my own stuff. The most interaction is inside student orgs or outside of school entirely.

Q: What advice, if any, could you provide for future siblings who find themselves in Canfield BHP together?
A: I would say don’t rely on your sibling because you don’t want some sort of dependency to develop. If I would’ve developed too much of a dependency on my older brother, then when he graduates this semester I would be stranded without his help. So I force myself to break away from establishing any significant dependency on whatever value he provides to me because that would hinder my ability to sustain myself.

Q: What lessons have you learned from your older sibling that you’ll take with you throughout your time at Canfield BHP/UT?
A: The biggest thing I’ve definitely learned from him is understanding how to value your time and prioritize what matters the most to you, whether that’s academics or extracurricular. He’s shown me that academics don’t mean everything and to spend more time doing stuff outside of class that means more to me.


Sam Says:

Q: What is it like being in Canfield BHP with your sibling?
A: The truth is we’re so busy we don’t run into each other. I almost never see him physically unless it’s on purpose like whenever we need groceries, shopping, or need to get a haircut. I don’t run into him. He has intense classes and is busy all the time. He’s working two internships at the same time and I’m doing a bunch of stuff with orgs. We usually don’t run into each other at all. In fact, other people who are my peers in CBHP tell me they run into him like, “Hey, I saw your little brother again!” and I haven’t even seen him in a week! He’ll randomly reach out to me and say, “I’m taking this class and I’m struggling” with his question and I’ll jokingly be like, “I can’t help you because I did worse.”

Q: What advice, if any, could you provide for future siblings who find themselves in Canfield BHP together?
A: The biggest thing for other siblings in Canfield BHP is; don’t be afraid to talk about a mix of work and personal life with your sibling. When my brother first came, he was like “Okay, I’m going to focus on getting my work done and then Sam, we can go eat together and do whatever.” I gradually offered him help with this stuff.

Q: Has being in Canfield BHP together brought you closer as siblings? If so, how?
A: We’ve always been close. We lived together for over a decade. So we’ve always been close. It’s more just proven that we’re close siblings to begin with. We already know everything about each other. It’s just proving that despite not seeing each other all the time we still randomly connect.

Q: What advice can you provide for your younger sibling?
A: Challenge yourself. Get out of your comfort zone. Do something that you would never see yourself doing and pass it forward to somebody else.