BHP News http://blogs.mccombs.utexas.edu/bhp-news The Business Honors Program Fri, 31 Oct 2014 16:31:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://blogs.mccombs.utexas.edu/?v=3.8.1.1 BHP Sophomores Talk Sports Industry and More With Michael Cramer http://blogs.mccombs.utexas.edu/bhp-news/2014/10/31/bhp-sophomores-talk-sports-industry-and-more-with-michael-cramer/ http://blogs.mccombs.utexas.edu/bhp-news/2014/10/31/bhp-sophomores-talk-sports-industry-and-more-with-michael-cramer/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 16:31:08 +0000 http://blogs.mccombs.utexas.edu/bhp-news/?p=2896 cramerBusiness Honors students in BA 151 had a great opportunity to watch an interview between BHP Faculty Director, Robert Prentice, and the executive director of the Texas Program in Sports and Media, Michael Cramer. This session was especially exciting for students interested in the sports industry as Cramer is a former president of the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Stars and, more recently, a professor in sports management at New York University.

Cramer completed his undergraduate degree in Political Science and History as well as his Master’s of Urban Planning and Public Administration at the State University of New York – Albany. He then went on to attend law school at Marquette University Law School. Cramer knew going into law school that criminal law was not the right fit for him when he clerked for a small law firm and worked on civil law cases where he was introduced to corporate law.

After working at the small firm for seven years, Cramer started his own firm with friends that reached 17 attorneys in just one year. During that time, he sold a business to Dean Metropoulos who then invited Cramer to assist him in buying and selling businesses. The two continue to work together today.

Cramer and Metropoulos have purchased 78 companies over the past 27 years. When they buy companies, they go in and operate them, expand on them and implement add-ons. “We do a lot of merger and acquisition work, but the beauty of what we do is that we’re very hands on,” explained Cramer. “We call ourselves the plumbers. You’ll see us under the sink trying to figure out what’s going wrong.”

Cramer has been involved in various capacities with countless, large brand names such as Aunt Jemima, Chef Boyardee, Ghirardelli Chocolate, Lonestar, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Vlasic Pickles and many more. The lecture hall broke out in applause when Cramer listed Hostess as one of his companies stating, “We brought the Twinkie back.”

Still interested in sports, Cramer also worked with Tom Hicks to create what is now known as Hicks Sports Group, LLC, which owns and operates baseball and hockey teams such as the Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars.

Cramer kept the students engaged with his relatable humor and vivid accounts of his experiences throughout his successful career as an entrepreneur in the consumer products and sports industries. BHP students in the sophomore lyceum course will hear from 10 executives this semester, all of whom will offer great insight into their industries and valuable advice on leadership. Many thanks to Michael for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak with our students!

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HBA Annual Company Dinner http://blogs.mccombs.utexas.edu/bhp-news/2014/10/27/hba-annual-company-dinner/ http://blogs.mccombs.utexas.edu/bhp-news/2014/10/27/hba-annual-company-dinner/#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 16:04:39 +0000 http://blogs.mccombs.utexas.edu/bhp-news/?p=2887 Written by Nicole Chu

On Wednesday, October 15th, the Honors Business Association hosted its annual company dinner at the Etter-Harbin Alumni Center. With approximately 150 guests spread over 21 tables, this year’s dinner was the largest in the organization’s history.

This networking event allowed BHP students—regardless of major or classification—to interact with representatives from 13 different companies spanning a wide variety of industries:

  • Dell
  • PepsiCo
  • BP
  • Accenture
  • PwC
  • ConocoPhillips
  • Deloitte
  • Adlucent
  • Dropbox
  • Capital One
  • Sense Corp
  • Goldman Sachs
  • Southwest Airlines

After a brief networking session, the guests settled in to enjoy a delicious three-course meal. Each table had one or two company representatives and a handful of students. Over the course of the dinner, students gained valuable insights about recruiting and post-collegiate life as representatives fielded questions about their career paths and their experiences at their respective companies. At the end of the dinner, students and representatives continued to chat and network with each other.

As always, the company dinner proved to be a roaring success. It certainly lived up to its reputation as one of the most popular events of the year!

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Corporate Partner Spotlight: Accenture http://blogs.mccombs.utexas.edu/bhp-news/2014/10/22/corporate-partner-spotlight-accenture/ http://blogs.mccombs.utexas.edu/bhp-news/2014/10/22/corporate-partner-spotlight-accenture/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 16:16:25 +0000 http://blogs.mccombs.utexas.edu/bhp-news/?p=2858 Company Partner Spotlight: Accenture

We are pleased to welcome Accenture on board as a BHP corporate partner this year. Accenture is one of the world’s leading organizations providing management consulting, technology and outsourcing services. Sophomores and juniors interested in Accenture will have the chance to visit with Accenture representatives over dinner on October 22. We asked some of our recent BHP graduates working for Accenture to share more about their experiences working for the company, as well as offer advice to current students.

Accenture - HenryName: Henry Shi

Position: Senior Analyst, Resources (Houston office)

Grad Year and Majors: BHP/MPA 2013

Describe your specific analyst role (what types of projects are you working on?): I’m currently working on a $20 billion joint venture to build 26 chemical plants in Saudi Arabia as the communications lead role where I coordinate information across the company. I will actually be travelling to Saudi Arabia later this month to help facilitate implementation operations on the ground. There are a lot of moving parts and shifting timelines, but it is fun and very challenging to keep ahead of potential problem areas and navigate in all the uncertainty.

What do you most enjoy about working for Accenture? The resources and opportunities Accenture offers with almost 300,000 employees worldwide is incredible. There are many different types of projects to work on in the consulting sphere, whether that’s systems implementation, strategy, process improvement, outsourcing, etc. You name it, we have it. Accenture reminds me of UT in that sense, both are large organizations with vast resources at their disposal but also home to phenomenal people and a sense of community (having 500+ Longhorn alums also helps).

Important skills for an Accenture employee to have are: The ability to learn fast and pay attention to the details as well as to articulate problems and solutions clearly.

What unique opportunities exist for an Accenture employee, or what opportunities have you personally experienced? If you earn the trust of your project team, you’ll be given duties and responsibilities to lead at a very early stage. In my first month, I was leading weekly meetings with the CIO of a Fortune 500 company and giving input and I’ve heard similar stories from my peers.  That doesn’t happen everywhere so make the best of those opportunities that come along.

Advice for current students: Get out of the classroom and explore. Activities outside the classroom help broaden horizons and can make you a much more well-rounded candidate. Being well-rounded will always, always help you in your career.

 

Accenture - PranithaName: Pranitha Patil

Position: Analyst, Strategy (Chicago office)

Grad Year and Majors: 2014, Finance

Describe your specific analyst role (what types of projects are you working on?): In my first year, I’ve had the opportunity to work on one role so far in the Health & Public Service industry. I’m a category lead for a healthcare provider, and am conducting strategic sourcing and procurement work. Over the next 6-8 months, I am in charge of identifying potential non-value add services where ROI doesn’t justify spend for a specific set of vendors that provide Health and Disease Management. Following the identification, I will be working on a fact-based negotiation strategy to either consolidate suppliers or term services in order to attain cost savings for the client. My entire team is made up of seven people, and we each manage our own categories.

What do you most enjoy about working for Accenture? As a previous summer intern, returning back to Accenture made me realize why I wanted to come back in the first place. As cliché and repetitive as it may sound, the people and culture are the reason to stay. Since day one, my team members, my mentors, and my counselor have shown their interest in my progress, success, and happiness.

Important skills for an Accenture employee to have are: Adapt. Be curious.

What unique opportunities exist for an Accenture employee, or what opportunities have you personally experienced?

Whether it is non-profit work or international interest, Accenture provides venues for you to explore industries in all areas. The ADP (Accenture Development Program) collaborates with organization work in the international development sector by delivering innovative solutions to the way people work and live. Additionally, there are always opportunities to explore interests outside of work with Accenture people, whether that’s career related or personal. I have personally been involved with Healthcare 2020 which is a new global community of healthcare strategists focused on cutting-edge healthcare innovation trends.

Advice for current students: In order to find a career you enjoy after college, explore all possibilities. If you find yourself interested in something, seek venues to explore and put yourself out there. These are four (or five) years of learning that you aren’t going to get back, so make the most of your time on campus to find out what you truly find interesting and enjoyable.

 

Accenture - JacobName: Jacob Spangler

Position: Interned in Houston office, will be starting full-time in 2015)

Grad Year: 2015

What projects did you work on in your internship?

Over the summer, I interned with the management consulting group in Accenture. As an MC Summer Analyst, I had the opportunity to work in both the resources and consumer products spaces. With my resources client, I helped integrate a singular instance of Oracle into a large chemicals company that was previously running on 13 separate systems nationwide. With the products client, I helped put together a pitch for ways in which our company could help our client cut costs on its energy management practices. Both were very different, and yet, very rewarding. I was able to see the work Accenture does in both its technology and strategy arms.

What did you enjoy most about your internship?

I heard every single consulting company I interacted with over my four years tell me that the best thing about their firm is the people. And until I experienced an internship with Accenture myself, I didn’t like that answer. But now I get it. To me, It’s the kind of people I worked with: subtly brilliant, yet completely relaxed and easygoing at the same time. I was challenged daily by my peers and my managers, but didn’t for a second enjoy my learning and growth opportunities. I was very fortunate to work with such great people for a few months, and am very much looking to going back!

What are you most looking forward to about starting full-time?

Part of the “people” part of Accenture are the resource groups that make up communities within the company. I’m really excited about the potential of making new friends in specific groups that make me who I am, like the Men’s Group or the Interfaith Group. The idea of forming close bonds with coworkers gets me excited about going to work every day, and allows me the ability to make all kinds of contacts, making a big company feel small

 

Accenture - AveryName: Avery Beach

Position: Senior Analyst, Products (Dallas office)

Grad Year: BHP/Finance 2013

Describe your specific analyst role. I have worked in two different industries – Pharmaceuticals and Property & Casualty Insurance. Within these industries I have been part of a marketing process improvement project, a training deployment, and an operating model transformation.

What do you most enjoy about working for Accenture? I love the fast-paced work and ability to impact key decisions within the client organization. Every week brings a new task or assignment; my roles are continually evolving as I grow and learn more about my clients.

Important skills for an Accenture employee to have are: An executive presence – the ability to confidently voice your opinion and articulate the benefits and value of your work.

What unique opportunities exist for an Accenture employee, or what opportunities have you personally experienced? The great thing about Accenture is that there are so many learning opportunities. Once you find an industry or type of work you are passionate about, there is an endless possibility of training resources, support from leadership, and practical application through project experience for you to develop a specialty in that area.

Advice for current students: Network! Make the effort to speak up and participate in class discussions. Learning to carefully craft and articulate a point of view or opinion is so important and the classroom setting is a great place to start refining that skill set.

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Alumni Spotlight: April Underwood, Class of 2001 http://blogs.mccombs.utexas.edu/bhp-news/2014/10/15/alumni-spotlight-april-underwood-class-of-2001/ http://blogs.mccombs.utexas.edu/bhp-news/2014/10/15/alumni-spotlight-april-underwood-class-of-2001/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 17:10:52 +0000 http://blogs.mccombs.utexas.edu/bhp-news/?p=2877 AprilApril Underwood, BHP ’01, is Director of Product for Twitter. She leads product strategy focused on harnessing the power of Twitter’s data through a diverse ecosystem of partners and developers.  April previously led product management, product marketing and business development teams at Twitter, focused on advertising products and Twitter’s API. Before joining Twitter, April held product roles at Weatherbill (Climate Corp), Google and Travelocity, and was a software engineer at Travelocity and Intel.

Tell me about your career path and how you ended up at Twitter.

After I left McCombs I moved to Oregon where I took a role as a software engineer at Intel, where I worked on internal software. I found I wanted to work more on a consumer-basing product, and I missed my family and friends in Texas, so in 2002 I took an opportunity with Travelocity in Dallas. I joined as an engineer, but my McCombs background made me well-suited for a variety of tasks aside from writing code. I was soon asked to be the point of contact on the technical side working with partners like Yahoo! and AOL. I transitioned into a product management role building out a platform to allow Travelocity to power travel experiences on more partner websites. I left in 2005 to get my MBA from Haas at University of California at Berkeley after which I went to work for Google. At Google, I worked on scaling how we brought new types of content to products like Google Maps and Product Search, and how to monetize those Google properties with advertising. After a few years of learning within Google, I was eager to take my experience to a startup, and I spent some time at a small startup. Unexpectedly, I got a chance to join Twitter (a product I already loved and a team I admired), and I took the leap. McCombs opened the door to the early roles in my career, which have consequently led to my current role at Twitter for the past 4 years.

When you were in school, Twitter didn’t even exist. Where did you think your career was going to go back then?

I graduated as the dot-com bubble was bursting in 2001 and it was a tough time in the job market. The first decision I made was that I wanted to go into an engineering role with the thought that I would go into a management or business role down the road. While I was in school, I had a part-time job working for a company that provided technical support for internet service providers, so I already had some experience in tech. I was pretty sure I would want to work in technology in some way, but the number of and types of opportunities has changed so much since that time. There are different types of products, technologies, and roles now than there were in 2001.

You have held various roles at Twitter. How did those transitions happen and do you have a favorite project you have worked on there?

I joined when Twitter was a much smaller company in 2010. It has been really special to be part of the growth of the company, and it’s given me the opportunity to develop products and teams from scratch. I really enjoy what I am working on right now, which is helping businesses understand how they can use Twitter data to make better decisions. I really enjoy the intersection of partnerships, product and technology — and building platforms. My experience at Twitter just keeps getting better and better as we grow our portfolio of products and more opportunities for leadership emerge. Perhaps even more importantly, I get the chance to work with smart and funny people who are not just co-workers but also friends. That’s a very high priority to me because we work hard and it makes busy or hard weeks less burdensome.

What are the main functions of the role you just moved into?

I run a team of product managers. We identify opportunities that exist, and focus a lot on defining the “why”, “for whom” and “what” of our products. We don’t do this alone – we partner closely with business teams, our engineering team which drives the “how” our products work, and spend time with customers and partners to inform our strategy and plans. We operate as a business within Twitter and have to make hard choices about which opportunities to go after since the possibilities are so unlimited.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The thing I enjoy most is the scale and uniqueness of our opportunity. With a billion Tweets produced every 2 days, we and our partners have only scratched the surface of what’s possible. I enjoy working on Twitter data because you can think of Tweets as the pulse of humanity. It is amazing to think of what kinds of problems can be solved with our data  – some have business impact and some make the world a better place.

How do you think your BHP and Management Information Systems (MIS) degrees have prepared you for your career?

MIS coursework was great preparation for what it is like to work on a team to build software. I learned how structure is required to build process and I learned the communication and interpersonal skills I needed to work well with other people. From the BHP side, I learned to not just focus on what you are building, but on why, who it is for, and ultimately what problems you are trying to solve That breadth of perspective made it possible for me as a 21-year-old new graduate to be able to join strategic conversations and ask the right questions of my peers and leaders in a work setting.

Do you have advice for women going into the technology industry?

For women going to work in any field where they are the minority, I would encourage them to reach out and connect with other women within their company, and that definitely holds true for the technology industry. We have two organizations at Twitter that help women connect with others within the company, and it’s a hugely valuable network (and also a lot of fun). You can start similar groups within your company where they don’t exist.  Ask to have coffee with the senior women in your company. Usually they are happy to build those relationships.

What advice do you have for current students in the program?

Number one thing – take a shot at starting a company. I didn’t do it myself, but I think school is a great time to try. Alums, executives, and investors are more willing to help you out while you are a student than they may be after you graduate. For students not looking to make that kind of a leap, I would recommend taking on as many internships as possible. I had two internships and part-time jobs and I learned so much from those experiences. It is the best way to figure out what you like and don’t like.

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Corporate Partner Spotlight: Dell http://blogs.mccombs.utexas.edu/bhp-news/2014/10/09/corporate-partner-spotlight-dell/ http://blogs.mccombs.utexas.edu/bhp-news/2014/10/09/corporate-partner-spotlight-dell/#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 13:51:03 +0000 http://blogs.mccombs.utexas.edu/bhp-news/?p=2870 A year after going private, Dell and its employees are invigorated by the changes occurring within the company; Dell is moving swiftly in an ever-changing industry, delivering on its strategic objectives as the fastest-growing integrated IT Company in the world and enabling its customers to reach their full potential. They have been great supporters of the Business Honors Program and are the class sponsor for this year’s BHP senior class. Casey Lehmann and Mackenzie Lemmer are two BHP Alumni influencing Dell’s bottom line in an impactful way.

Casey and Mackenzie graduated from Dell’s Finance Development Program (FDP), an entry-level program that consists of four rotations over the course of two years within Dell’s finance organization. The accelerated development, breadth of career opportunities and executive exposure are key characteristics the FDP program provides to participants. We asked each of them a few questions to gather more insight into their experiences at Dell.

 

caseyCasey Lehmann

Degree: BHP and Finance, 2010

Current Role: Productivity & Transformation Organization (PTO)

Previous Roles: Mergers & Acquisition Integration Management Office and four roles through FDP: Services Finance, Software & Peripherals Pricing, Treasury, and Global Operations Process Enablement

What are some of the qualities of Dell that attracted you to work here? How do you see those permeate throughout the organization today?

The fast-paced, ever-changing, exciting, “never know what you’re gonna get today” vibe of the tech industry fits well with my personality.  Learning new things on a daily basis grasps my interests and keeps me growing in my career, a quality about Dell that differentiates it from other Fortune 100 companies. I’ve had six different roles in my first four years at Dell, which has allowed me to gain a broad perspective on the company as a whole, learn about various different types of finance roles and observe lots of management styles.  The broad range of diverse roles in a large company makes my options for my career path seem limitless.  I appreciate that Dell not only values its people through numerous development programs, but they also value giving back to the community.  Just last week, I had a team event where we volunteered at a local food pantry.  It’s great to work for a company that not only invests heavily in its employees, but also in its community.

How has Dell empowered you to develop the necessary skills to rise vertically within the organization?

The development programs at Dell are top-notch.  Dell invest in its employees through classroom-based curriculum that applies the theoretical information you learned in school to a real-life setting, simulation-based learning that tests how you would react in various pressure-filled situations, sessions on how to better your presentation skills, speaker sessions where you can learn firsthand from the advice of executives at the company, conferences, mentors, regular feedback, etc.  They work on building out not only your business & financial acumen, but also the soft people skills as well.  The skills I’ve learned in the program have definitely set me up for success in my future endeavors.

What is the biggest change you’ve seen as a result of Dell’s privatization?

Decisions are being made much faster and investments are being undertaken with a longer term focus in mind.

 

MackenzieMackenzie Lemmer

Degree: BHP and Finance, 2010

Current Role: Investor Relations

Previous Roles: Global Assurance & Transformation and four roles through FDP: EMEA G500 FP&A and Jr. Controller, EMEA Accounting, Public Special Pricing and Corporate Opex. (Note: EMEA stands for Europe, Middle East and Africa. EMEA is one of the three business regions for Dell).

Working in the technology industry is demanding and fast-paced, how do you manage these challenges in your role on a day-to-day basis?

Because the tech industry moves so quickly, priorities can often shift week-to-week, and even day-to-day, and I have to ensure that I have effective strategies that enable me to deliver my responsibilities at an extremely high level. Having an open communication channel with your management team is imperative to making sure that you are focused on the areas that will add the most value to the organization. I meet regularly with my manager to ensure I correctly prioritize my work.

What makes you excited about coming to work every day? What is your favorite part about working at Dell?

For me, it has always been about the people. I enjoy working in roles in which there is a strong team component, both internally and externally, because I like collaborating and sharing ideas. I really enjoy that the Dell Finance Organization is partnership-based, meaning that we support and partner with other organizations in the company such as Sales, Marketing, etc. It provides an opportunity to learn about our core business and see the full impact we have on our customers.

What advice do you have for students currently looking for internships and full-time jobs?  

When I was going through recruiting, I wish I had spent more time understanding how my prospective employers view the development of their workforces. I lucked out that I ended up at Dell, which is a company that invests a significant amount of time and resources into its people. My advice is to look for a company that is going to invest in you.

 

Feel free to reach out to Casey Lehmann or Mackenzie Lemmer with any questions you may have.

Connect with us!

Twitter: @DellFDP

LinkedIn: University Relations Page

Facebook: www.facebook.com/DellUniversityRelations

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Student Profile: Rachel Gosch http://blogs.mccombs.utexas.edu/bhp-news/2014/09/30/student-profile-rachel-gosch/ http://blogs.mccombs.utexas.edu/bhp-news/2014/09/30/student-profile-rachel-gosch/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 13:46:49 +0000 http://blogs.mccombs.utexas.edu/bhp-news/?p=2845 RachelAfter spending the summer before her junior year conducting research, BHP senior, Rachel Gosch, was ready for a challenging internship this past summer. The mathematics major was interested in finding something technical that also involved consulting. At a loss for where to start, she Googled “Statistical Internships,” and discovered Summit Consulting.

Summit Consulting in Washington, D.C., was calling for an intern in their Federal Credit Modeling and Forecasting branch, which was right up Rachel’s alley. Rachel applied and completed two phone interviews before landing the position as a Summer Analyst with Summit. Once she accepted the internship, she spoke with her eventual mentor at Summit to determine which groups and projects would be a good fit for her.

Being in D.C., Summit works a lot with government entities such as the Department of Transportation. Within her branch, Rachel was placed on a team consulting the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Rachel and her team were tasked with two main contracts with the SBA. First was working on Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) of their different cash flow models. Her team acted as a third party consult to help the SBA forecast their budget and project how much to allocate to their different lending. The second task was to perform portfolio analysis on those lending programs to assess which lenders may be high-risk.  Rachel’s team then had to present their findings to the client, “The presentation skills I learned in BA 324 really helped me make the findings understandable and presentable,” said Rachel.

Working in the nation’s capital, Rachel had the chance to learn a lot about federal budget planning and allocations for groups such as the SBA, “I wasn’t expecting to learn so much about the SBA! I now know all about the different federal lending programs available for small business owners, how the process of receiving such a loan works, and the different criteria used to grade SBA-approved lenders,” said Rachel.

rachel_interns

The six summer interns at Summit, including Rachel

Rachel spent 10 weeks in D.C. interning at Summit and one of her favorite parts of working at the consulting firm was the young atmosphere. “Summit is a young company, so most of the people that work there are around my age, which made fitting into the culture easier,” said Rachel. There were six interns total at Summit this summer and they became close doing things together outside of work. Of the six interns, Rachel was one of two undergraduates, the other was a student from University of North Carolina. The remaining four were graduate students at George Washington University (MBA), American University (MS), University of Tennessee (MS) and Rutgers University (MS).

In her senior year, Rachel is currently deciding between continuing her education or entering the workforce. She is actively applying to different master’s programs in Financial Engineering and Financial Mathematics. She is particularly interested in a Management Science and Engineering program at Columbia and will also likely apply to UT’s Business Analytics program. She is keeping her options open and also recruiting for positions dealing with statistics, data analytics and/or financial modeling.

Looking back on her time at UT, her fondest memory is all of the football games and seeing the tower lit orange, particularly when the team beat OU in 2013 and A&M in 2011.

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Walmart International CFO, Brett Biggs, Visits BHP Sophomores http://blogs.mccombs.utexas.edu/bhp-news/2014/09/29/walmart-international-cfo-brett-biggs-visits-bhp-sophomores/ http://blogs.mccombs.utexas.edu/bhp-news/2014/09/29/walmart-international-cfo-brett-biggs-visits-bhp-sophomores/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 13:31:33 +0000 http://blogs.mccombs.utexas.edu/bhp-news/?p=2853 brett-biggsStudents in the sophomore lyceum course were visited by Brett Biggs, executive vice president and chief financial officer for Walmart International. Biggs has been with Walmart for 14 years and has held various positions there moving around from strategy, M&A, Sam’s Club and Walmart’s treasury operations and capital markets. He has a vast understanding of Walmart’s operations and finances, which he was able to share with the students.

Biggs attended Harding University and majored in accounting. He stressed the importance of an accounting background, suggesting that students take at least 12 hours of accounting, not merely the six required for their BHP degree. Knowing how to interpret the numbers and how to relate to people are a winning combination, he told them.

His first job after graduation was with Pricewaterhouse in Dallas as an auditor. He went on to pursue an MBA from Oklahoma State University, then took a job as an M&A analyst for Leggett & Platt, where the company completed about 100 deals over four years. He joined Walmart in 2000 working in their M&A division. He joked that he was known by some  as “chief schmoozing officer” because he travelled all the time building a pipeline of relationships for joint ventures and acquisitions.

He showed a willingness to be thrown in the deep end, so the speak, and take calculated risks in his career and he was thus moved around by management and given new opportunities. “It is important to have the judgment to bring in the right people at the right time, be able to collaborate and have the humility to ask for help,” said Biggs.

One example he used was moving from finance to operations. Biggs served as senior vice president of operations for Sam’s Club, leading all facets of Sam’s Club operations in the southern part of the U.S., encompassing 230 clubs and 40,000 associates. He never would have thought of himself in operations, but at the urging of his CEO, he tried it and loved it, learning a great deal along the way. He relied on his team for help during this transition.

Being in operations meant that he had to handle many more personnel issues. When asked by a student about the most challenging situations he has encountered in his career, Biggs said the toughest decisions are around people. “It is most rewarding to watch your people do well, but most difficult to have to part ways with people who aren’t doing well,” he said. He talked about how much Walmart cares about their talent and how much time they invest in growing that talent and giving them opportunities to progress through the organization taking on roles with greater complexity and scale.

Biggs answered questions from students ranging from Walmart’s long-term strategy, partnerships in other countries and charitable endeavors. “There are so many opportunities to do good and help others when you are a company this size,” he said when discussing initiatives from sustainability, to jobs for veterans, to women’s economic empowerment. He also touched on Walmart’s big plans for E-Commerce and how they plan to compete with online giants like Amazon in the near future, saying to stay tuned for news in the future.

The students in the class enjoyed learning more about Walmart and Biggs’ roles at the company. Biggs described the culture at Walmart as “pay-it-forward,” saying that people will make time to help you and give you advice. We thank him for making time for our students and sharing with them his unique career path and advice!

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Internship Spotlight: Rachel Solomon – The Neiman Marcus Group http://blogs.mccombs.utexas.edu/bhp-news/2014/09/17/rachel-solomon/ http://blogs.mccombs.utexas.edu/bhp-news/2014/09/17/rachel-solomon/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 13:55:57 +0000 http://blogs.mccombs.utexas.edu/bhp-news/?p=2832 Rachel_headshot

BHP Senior, Rachel Solomon, has always wanted to work in high-end retail and when the opportunity presented itself for her to work at Neiman Marcus she jumped on it. She is very happy to announce the internship resulted in a full-time offer, which she just recently accepted.

Company: The Neiman Marcus Group

Intern Position: Buying/Planning Intern

Full-Time Position: Executive Development Program (to become an Assistant Buyer)

What steps did you take to secure your internship?

I used the Neiman Marcus Careers page to find the opportunity for the internship, and then met with HR representatives at the Fall McCombs Career Expo. I applied online in October, then took a retail math test and went through two rounds of interviews before eventually receiving an offer.

What were the responsibilities for this role?
I was a rotational planning intern, so I worked in the Home & Gifts and Men’s divisions with the Senior Merchandise Planners and Assistant Buyers. I helped recap sales history, forecast and project sales for future seasons, and allocate merchandise across stores. I also worked on a team project with the other interns to suggest the ways in which Neiman Marcus could leverage big data. We were lucky enough to present our findings to the senior executives in their boardroom at the end of the internship.

Describe the culture within the organization.
The culture at Neiman Marcus was one of my favorite things about the company. Going into luxury retail, I was expecting more of a cutthroat atmosphere, but what I experienced was just the opposite. Everyone was so warm and willing to help me with everything from my daily tasks to where I should take my visiting friends out to dinner. I cannot wait to go back to the office next fall and work with some of the most caring and creative people I have ever met.

What advice would you offer your peers in the Honors Program about getting the most out of an internship?
I think the most important part of any job is the people you surround yourself with. I would make an effort to get to know as many people within the company as you can, because it’ll tell you a lot about what the company stands for and what the culture is like. And as an intern, I was pleasantly surprised by how many people were not only willing, but excited, to tell me about what they do on a daily basis and even let me help. Sometimes I ended up doing work for people who weren’t my direct supervisors, which made for an exciting and well-rounded experience. So, I would say don’t be afraid to reach out to those around you because you never know what you’ll get to learn or do.

What was your favorite part about this internship?
I’ve always been interested in a career that would let me actively use both the right and left sides of my brain, so I loved the fact that I could spend hours in a database analyzing sales history and margins, then open a binder full of swatches and images to see exactly what the products I was analyzing looked and felt like. And at the end of my internship, I got to attend a weeklong event where many of our vendors came to present their products, oftentimes in the form of a fashion show. That was probably one of the most exciting weeks of my life.

How did you find your classes in the Business Honors Program at the university to be applicable during your internship?
I think the communication skills taught in BA 324 helped me to secure the internship, while MIS 301 provided me with a good foundation of technical skills that I needed while working in the buying offices. Sometimes I was even able to show other employees Excel tricks I learned in MIS, which was a good feeling over two years after having taken the class.

What are the most valuable lessons you gained from this internship?
Since I rotated in so many offices, I had the opportunity to meet and work with a lot of different people in the company. Oftentimes, I only worked in a particular office for two to three days. So I had to learn to adjust to new working styles and quickly prove that I had the skills necessary to help with whatever tasks my supervisors would assign. Since they hadn’t seen my previous work, sometimes that was challenging. But I learned how to briefly summarize other projects I had done and systems I had worked with over the course of the summer so they could figure out what I could complete without training, and what they would need to help me with.

What parts of your internship convinced you to sign on full-time?
I have always wanted to go into luxury retail, and have had my sights set on Neiman Marcus for years. I walk into the Austin store to find inspiration on a bad day, and I really can’t imagine anything better than working to fill the stores with the products I find so inspiring. Combine that with the fact that everyone I worked with this summer was so kind, helpful, bright, and driven, and there is no place I would rather be. I am so excited to begin this journey after graduation.

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ExxonMobil VP Ken Cohen Visits with BHP Sophomores http://blogs.mccombs.utexas.edu/bhp-news/2014/09/15/exxonmobil-vp-ken-cohen-visits-with-bhp-sophomores/ http://blogs.mccombs.utexas.edu/bhp-news/2014/09/15/exxonmobil-vp-ken-cohen-visits-with-bhp-sophomores/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 20:41:15 +0000 http://blogs.mccombs.utexas.edu/bhp-news/?p=2841 Ken CohenBHP students had the unique opportunity to hear from ExxonMobil’s Vice President of Public and Governmental Affairs, Ken Cohen, last week during their sophomore lyceum course. Cohen has worldwide responsibility for the company’s public policy, government relations, communications, media relations, and corporate citizenship activities, all of which he touched on during his extended Q&A session with BHP Faculty Director Robert Prentice.

Cohen has been with ExxonMobil for 37 years. He earned his law degree from Baylor University, then had a short stint as a professor at the Robert H. McKinney School of Law at Indiana University before making the move to ExxonMobil. He has moved around quite a bit during his 37 years, but said he has enjoyed each role he has undertaken along the way. He encouraged students to find a work situation in which they are enjoying what is in front of them every day, and are not spending their time thinking about what they want to be doing next. “There is no typical day when you are dealing with the public, government, and media, and I have enjoyed every challenge,” said Cohen.

Students in the class learned more about the main functions of Cohen’s department, which include maintaining ExxonMobil’s “license to operate” in countries and communities across the world, negotiating access to resources, and reputation management. Cohen touched on recent headlines and explained how world events come into play in the work he does. ExxonMobil is the largest foreign investor in Russia and has major operations in the Middle East, so current events in those areas are a major focus of his work. These two examples alone shed light on the complex set of challenges Cohen and his team deal with on a daily basis.

In addition to his role as VP, Cohen also serves as Chairman of the ExxonMobil Foundation and the ExxonMobil PAC. He answered questions from students related to both areas. Students didn’t hold back on questions related to climate change, fracking, and PAC contributions. Cohen answered each one thoroughly and openly discussed the challenges ExxonMobil faces in the area of geopolitics, specifically related to controversial fracking practices.

One policy area that ExxonMobil is paying special attention to right now is education. Cohen said the company is closely following what is happening with higher education standards, specifically at UT Austin, because of ExxonMobil’s hiring interests and a desire to keep up the rigorous standards that have produced top employees for the company.

The sophomore lyceum class has a focus on leadership and ethics, so Cohen also discussed the qualities he feels are important in leadership: honesty, clarity, and being a good team member. In addition to exhibiting these traits himself throughout the discussion, he also mixed in a good dose of humor, keeping the students engaged. BHP students in the sophomore lyceum course will hear from 10 executives this semester, all of whom will offer great insight into their industries and valuable advice on leadership. Many thanks to Ken for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak with our students!

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Annual BHP Community BBQ Kicks Off the School Year http://blogs.mccombs.utexas.edu/bhp-news/2014/09/12/community-bbq/ http://blogs.mccombs.utexas.edu/bhp-news/2014/09/12/community-bbq/#comments Fri, 12 Sep 2014 19:31:19 +0000 http://blogs.mccombs.utexas.edu/bhp-news/?p=2827 BBQ

Last night, around 200 students attended the annual BHP Community BBQ, where they chatted over free BBQ at Scholz Garten and then competed in six rounds of trivia with representatives from BP, ConocoPhillips, Dell, Deloitte, Dropbox, PepsiCo and PwC.

Teams were asked to choose a team name. Some of the names that garnered the best reactions from the crowd were  “Sorcerer’s Prentice,” “Staff Infection” and “Dr. Konana’s Voiceover IP.”

Trivia rounds done by “Geeks who Drink” were witty and hilarious. Rounds included: “Bad YouTube Karaoke,” which required participants to identify songs that someone had completely botched and posted on Youtube; “Wallstreet Balderdash,” in which teams had to identify the true meaning of made-up words used by those working on Wall Street; and “Do Give Up Your Day Job,” a round which brought to light some interesting past occupations of famous celebrities.

The competition was fierce and in the end teams Deloitte and Lets Get Fiscal tied for first place, but a tie breaker question set team Deloitte apart as the first place winner. Deloitte team members included:

BBQ4

Top row (from left to right):
Arvind Sivakumar
Rabin Shetty
Sai Yeluru
James Abbott
Malorie Liljenwall (Deloitte rep.)

Bottom row (from left to right):
Mickey Li
Kevin Yu
Sophia Ding
Macy Huang
Lisa Feng
Nazifa Mim
Kevin Chiu (Deloitte rep.)

Special thanks to our sponsors: BP, ConocoPhillips, Dell, Deloitte, Dropbox, PepsiCo and PwC!

 

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