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.

Student Spotlight: Abhishek Ramchandani

Abhi RamchandaniBHP senior Abhishek Ramchandani always knew he wanted to teach. After graduating, he will be pursuing a PhD in Accounting at the University of Texas at Austin. “The reason I first got into research was because I knew that I liked teaching. I looked at what would get me a teaching job. The answer was a PhD, and PhDs do research. So I realized that in order to start teaching, I would need to start doing research.”

Over the past four years, Ramchandani has indeed amassed a wealth of research experience across the fields of sociology, finance, MIS, and strategy. “As I started delving deeper, I realized that research is incredibly important. This connection is a little hard to see in business. Cancer research makes sense because cancer is a daily problem that people have, and we want to cure it. With accounting research, you have to wonder how it really changes the world,” says Ramchandani. “Yet, the real reason accounting research is important is because it redraws those lines that our economic society works on. We hold comments and beliefs that society is supposed to interact a certain way, that the economy is going to work a certain way, and that accounting information comes out a certain way. Research helps us look at how people are doing with the current state the world is in, and it tells us what is effective. We can redraw those boundaries. I have always thought research is really cool because you are extending the boundaries of what humanity knows and helping people lead better lives, even though it might not be super tangible.”

For students who may be interested in research, Ramchandani recommends reaching out to faculty, and going for it. “Freshman year, when I first started, I was looking to get into a finance project. I applied and didn’t get the position. I was very crestfallen. At the time, I was also in my sociology class for the core requirements. One day after class, I went up to my professor and told her I thought she was doing some really cool stuff, and then I asked if she would take me on. That’s all it took. We went to her office, talked for a while, and she told me that I had the necessary math skills but that my coding wasn’t up to par. So she gave me the resources I needed to learn.”

Through his experience as a research assistant, Ramchandani can attest that help is never far away. “Professors are so willing to help if you ask them. It’s important, however, to read their research – don’t just reach out to someone because they’re hiring. If you like their research and can talk meaningfully about it, professors will love it. I made sure that whoever I was reaching out to, I was reading their research and really, truly enjoyed it. You need to know what you’re talking about. If you come on for a year-long project and don’t think what they’re doing is interesting, you probably aren’t going to apply yourself to the work.”

Ramchandani has also honed several important skills through his time in research. “I wrote a case for Professor Hannah and he gave it back with a thousand edits. I rewrote it so many times. I learned how to write better, and more academically. Now when I am writing case reports or audit documents, I know how to write just the right amount to get all the information across but not lose the reader to boredom.” Another skill he learned was how to critically reason. “Research definitely helps you make connections between areas,” says Ramchandani. “I’ve learned to parse statements which are complex but perhaps logically flawed. Sometimes logical fallacies can be said in a way where you believe them simply because of the way they are said.” He believes the best skill he developed though is the ability to tell a story. “Research can be a particularly drab story. It’s a lot of data and numbers, and nobody’s going to delve into your numbers and models unless you can tell them why they should care about it. When I was working with these top-level researchers at McCombs, what I learned from them was how to be infectious with my passion.”

Ramchandani will be continuing his passion for research and teaching McCombs as a PhD student, but he is grateful for his years in BHP, and the skills he learned in the program, which he was able to apply to his research as an undergraduate.

BHP Alumni Involved in My All American Movie

BHP alumnus Adam Blum with director Angelo Pizzo and UT Legend Frank Denius.

BHP alumnus Adam Blum with director Angelo Pizzo and UT Legend Frank Denius.

Three BHP alumni, a fellow McCombs graduate, and a current student in the program have played roles in the development, production and marketing of the new UT football film, “My All American.”  The film shares the story of an incredible young man, Freddie Steinmark, who played for the 1969 Championship Team.  Freddie is a legend in the UT football community and UT alumni played a crucial role in bringing the film to life.

Corby Robertson Jr. (BHP Class of 1969) played linebacker for the Texas Longhorns football team from 1966-68, earning All American status in 1967. Corby was on the team with Freddie Steinmark and is featured in the book about Freddie, “Courage Beyond the Game,” which served as the basis for the movie. Corby has been working closely with the film’s executive producers throughout the filmmaking process.

Adam Blum (BHP Class of 2006) is an investor in “My All American.”  Adam also drove efforts to staff UT student interns in various roles, providing Longhorns a once in a lifetime opportunity to work on a major motion picture being filmed in their backyard.  Adam also played a key role in connecting the filmmakers to some of UT’s most successful alumni and top administrators and he loosely portrays Frank Erwin in a banquet scene in the movie.

Susan Thomson (BHP Class of 1999) is a marketing and strategy consultant on the film. She led several efforts to connect with current UT students and with high school football booster clubs across Texas.

Kell Cahoon (BBA 1982, MBA 1987) is a co-producer on the film as well as an investor in My All American. Kell is a writer/producer whose credits include “King Of The Hill,” “NewsRadio,” “Psych,” and “The Larry Sanders Show.” He has been involved with “My All American” since it’s inception.

Rachel Moore (BHP Class of 2017) is currently an intern on the film assisting with research, and outreach to current students.

The film was directed by Angelo Pizzo, the screenwriter for “Rudy” and “Hoosiers.” The movie premiered at the Paramount Theater in Austin last week and is now in theaters nation-wide. You can view a trailer of the film here.

Ethics Week Brings Focus to BHP Honor Code

During the week of April 6-9, the BHP Student Ethics Board hosted Ethics Week, complete with t-shirt giveaways, delicious treats, and of course, a focus on the BHP Honor Code. This annual weeklong event encourages BHP students to always conduct themselves with integrity and make ethical decisions not only at school but in the workplace too.  The week kicked off with #BHPEthicsChallenge where participants were asked to complete a series of fun challenges related to business ethics. The prize? A Dr. Prentice shirt! Other events during the week included an Honor Code puzzle (with free cookie cake upon completion) and a BHProfessor Panel where students and three professors had the opportunity to meet and chat about ethics over donuts.

The Ethics Board was excited to see so many BHP students come out to the events and enjoy the stellar mix of ethics, food, and fun. The goal of each event was to initiate thoughtful conversation about and reflection on the Honor Code and ethics in everyday life. After all, as individuals who represent not only a top-notch Business Honors Program, but also the outstanding McCombs School of Business and vibrant University of Texas at Austin, each student has the personal and social responsibility to uphold ethical decision-making and integrity. What starts here changes the world. 

View the BHP Ethics FAQ and the most recent Ethics Report online.


Alumni Spotlight: Vivek Shah – Class of 2003

VivekShahVivek Shah, BHP 2003, will be honored with the McCombs Rising Star Award this coming Friday at the McCombs Hall of Fame dinner. The award is given to two McCombs alumni annually who have been successful professionally and have helped strengthen the McCombs Alumni Network. Vivek serves on the BHP Advisory Board and is the co-founder and managing director for Consortium Finance, based in San Francisco, where he manages $200 million of capital for investors.

Take me through your career path since graduating and tell me more about the new company you founded, Consortium Finance.

Since graduating, the first company I worked for was Simmons & Company as an analyst for two years. My boss at the time left to join D.E. Shaw and called me a few months later and asked me to consider joining so I actually followed him there to the firm’s Houston office in 2005. There I was focused on direct investing in companies, everything from venture capital to private equity and lending across industries. At the time, I was in a long-distance relationship and my girlfriend at the time (my wife today) really wanted to be in California, so even though it was hard for me to leave Texas, D.E. Shaw wanted to open a SF office and I went out there to help open that office for the firm in 2006. I was there until 2012 investing directly in companies. D.E. Shaw decided to spin our group out into a new firm called Stellus Capital Management, so I ran the West Coast operations for Stellus from San Francisco. I always had a dream to have my own business; in 2013, I was fortunate to partner with my business partner to raise our own capital, which we were successful doing bringing on two investors, raising $100 million from each of them.  This allowed us to start our own firm, Consortium Finance which is my primary focus today.

How has it been different for you running your own business?

There is a lot of healthy anxiety. I am dependent upon myself and my business partner to perform, but what we are really excited about is we have a substantial level of autonomy and transparency. We are a lean firm and there are no politics or organizational bureaucracies. We are having a ton of fun together and for me enjoying work is essential given most people spend almost 70% of their awake hours at work. I am excited about work every day and fortunate to be in such a situation. Things are within our control which is also unique, but with that also comes healthy anxiety.

What are the challenges and rewards of a career in investment management?

The challenges are you are investing other people’s money, so there is a lot of pressure in wanting to do the best possible job to generate positive returns for others. When you don’t have positive outcomes on investments, it is taxing emotionally and financially. The other challenge is that it is a very competitive business, so to set ourselves apart is difficult. It is rewarding in that we do have the ability when we perform well to generate returns for others that is allowing for creation of wealth that goes towards different purposes. There are also a lot of things occurring that positively affect the economy from the capital that we are providing for businesses.

How did you start lecturing at the University of California at Berkeley and what are you teaching there?

I have always been passionate about education. At one point I called and emailed about a dozen professors in the business school (Haas) at Berkeley and offered to teach and there was one professor who responded to me and took me under his wing. I helped him directly at first and then that exposure opened doors for me to do more. I have guest lectured on several occasions over there. I lectured on Hedge Fund investing and grad level micro-economics. I was also a supplemental lecturer for an undergrad intro to finance.

You co-founded EDge-UCATION a few years ago to develop a business curriculum for students. What has been the progress of that business and where are you headed with that endeavor?

The focus of it is to help students in business and other curriculums learn how to value companies, assess businesses, and learn how to be efficient in modeling in Excel. We actually came to UT and taught two classes at McCombs that were one-day, full-day lectures. We will be back this October to teach again. It stems from my passion for education and what I saw as a need to teach students practical skills that supplement what they are learning in class. When students are interviewing and taking on jobs, they are more prepared. We have taught in multiple universities. We aren’t really trying to grow it, it is just something I want to keep doing on the side to educate others.

You have volunteered to do admissions interviews for BHP for many years now. What do you enjoy most about interviewing applicants to the program?

I enjoy the discussion with future potential classes of the BHP. I hope these future classes are a good group and will take the program to the next level and reflect well on the brand of the program and the university. I enjoy assessing their capabilities and the value of what they might bring to the program. It is great to hear their background and stories and see how they might be a fit for the program.

Why do you think it is important for alumni to get involved with McCombs and BHP after graduation?

I attribute a lot of my personal success and the growth of my career to BHP and the business school, so I want to give back. It is easy to take things for granted and I try really hard to be cognizant of people, situations and experience that have led me to where I am today.  With McCombs, the education I received was unparalleled and was critical in my personal development.

What advice do you have for current BHP students?

Follow your passion and in whatever you do, give it your personal best.  Always give what you do 110%. Don’t regret any mistakes or misfortunes. Try not to repeat them and try to learn from them. I have had a lot of challenges professionally and personally. Everyone has their own unique set of problems and all things really do heal with time. From every tough experience, there is something to be learned from it. Something I have learned personally is that a genuine level of internal happiness comes from overcoming challenges, rather than getting something really easily. If you work hard to achieve it, you have a different level of appreciation for it.