BHP News The Business Honors Program Thu, 10 Jul 2014 20:26:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Alumni Spotlight: Paul Myhill, Class of 1989 Thu, 10 Jul 2014 20:26:06 +0000 Paul Myhill3 Paul Myhill is an entrepreneur and consultant for social ventures and non-profits. He graduated from BHP in 1989 and earned an MBA from UT in 1991. While at UT he took to heart the motto, “What starts here changes the world,” and he has spent his entire career working to make a significant contribution to the world by creating and collaborating with companies to fund charitable causes that are close to his heart. He is the founder of the Traffic Jam Campaign that rescues children from trafficking and slavery and, most recently, he founded One Percent for Children which enlists companies – primarily start-ups and early-stage ventures – to give one percent of their equity and/or one percent of their annual gross revenues to a variety of pre-selected global causes that impact the safety and wellbeing of children

How would you describe your unique career path?

I have always had a desire to change the world and make a difference and while I was in BHP and the MBA program, I developed a real love of entrepreneurship. To me success is not monetary, but defined by significance and how much positive change I can create. I wanted to make a significant contribution to the world while pursuing entrepreneurial endeavors. My career has been focused on creating income-producing ventures that can benefit the world through their close association with, and support of, relevant causes and charities. My passion for entrepreneurial pursuits has spanned a host of industries, products, services and business models, both public and private. In all cases, there is a common theme of using the products or services directly, or the income they produce, to help high-impact charitable endeavors. The charitable gifts can come from equity on the front end, a percentage of annual revenues or royalties, an amount based on the attainment of certain performance benchmarks, or any number of other options. As the businesses are successful, the charities they are supporting are also successful. Value is also created for the businesses involved in these programs through increased exposure and goodwill, resulting in greater revenues through better customer attainment and retention.

Tell me more about the causes you are passionate about and what you are working towards with your various involvements in these causes.

Paul Myhill1I am passionate about helping orphaned, abandoned, abused and exploited children. My primary goal is to use businesses to fund work that helps children around the world. My involvement first started with orphans in the developing world. I wanted to get them into loving homes in their communities instead of the default institutionalization model or, worse, letting them fend for themselves in slums and sewers. As I was working with these populations of orphaned and abandoned children around the globe, I started to notice them going missing, later finding out that they were being snatched up by human traffickers and sold into the child sex trade. I wanted justice for these kids and to help prevent them from being preyed upon. I realized the need for more prevention and rescue programs, safe houses, and aftercare support – rehabilitation and restoration facilities. Now my goal is to help create a movement of companies to tackle the gross injustices suffered by tens of millions of children around the world through One Percent for Children. I initially started with businesses I founded and consulted with to make an impact. Now I am scaling what I learned through my venture and philanthropic experience to expand for greater outcomes and impact.

What has been the most memorable moment of your work so far?

There are memorable moments from all aspects of my life. Getting a product [Protandim] featured on ABC Primetime Live was very memorable. That breakthrough product alone is a legacy creator and that was the proudest moment of my life from a business and product-development standpoint. Likewise, winning the MOOT CORP competition was my greatest memory and proudest achievement from an academic standpoint.

It is hard to pick one on the charitable side. I adopted my daughter from Asia and my heart leaps even more so when we see kids rescued from slavery in Asia. For example, I work with the Vietnamese community in Cambodia, a population that is at high-risk for sex trafficking. It is estimated that thirty-percent of the Vietnamese families in Cambodia have sold a child into the Cambodian sex trade just to survive and pay off debt.  On one of the many trips I have taken there, a local teacher pointed out two 12-year old girls and told me their parents were going to sell them the very next week. I was able to immediately make sure that didn’t happen by putting their girls in a skills-development program. We invested in the girls by educating them. We prepared them to be able to produce an income for the family in the future so the parents wouldn’t sell them. I have pictures of those girls on my desk from then and also from when they were 16 and 18. I know that those two girls didn’t have to endure the prostitution, rape and resulting stigma, and that they are now able to help support their families and community. Those kinds of prevention stories are the ones that impact me the most, even more so than the rescues.

You continue to use your business skills to make an impact through non-profit work. Are there any common themes you see in your work with non-profits that are barriers to their success?

One of the problems is a lot of the non-profits are well-intentioned but because they are US-based charities, they have to go through a series of partnership connections to get their money into the field because they aren’t in the field themselves. For example, you might have a non-profit that raises funds, then takes out their administrative fees before they pass the funds on to another non-profit oversees, that also takes out their own administrative fees before they pass it on and so on. By the time it gets to the front-line specialist, there could be four or five levels of administrative fees that were taken out, so only fifty-percent of the original donation is in the field.

We focus on finding the right front-line partners through extensive due diligence and high-accountability systems, to cut out this chain of diminishing applied resources. My non-profits direct 100 percent of public donations to the front-line specialists who are doing the real work. Partnerships with companies to apply equity and revenues to administrative costs enables general public contributions to go straight into the field. One Percent for Children, for example, is a warehouse for getting such funds from businesses, but we also have developed and apply core competencies that have been achieved through the collaboration with child-focused programs in over 75 countries. These competencies include due diligence and accountability in the field, getting funds straight into the hands of front-line practitioners without “middlemen,” and the sharing and implementation of best practices for more effective and lasting outcomes.

You won the UT MOOT CORP competition while you were in school. What was your business plan and did that lead to anything?

It was for advertising sales and placements using the boards that you now see in multiple locations like restrooms, stadiums, elevators, etc. We were one of two companies started at the same time that opened up this whole new concept in advertising. We could sell extremely targeted advertising to captive audiences that were very well defined demographically. When we won the competition with that plan a couple of the judges subsequently invested in the company. All expenses were tied to the revenue and so the costs were completely variable. It was a great business model, but the other teammates had other dreams, so we ran it for a year or so, then passed it on to another operator who now franchises it around the world.

*Note: The UT MOOT CORP competition was the predecessor to the Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition.

What advice do you have for current students?

Paul Myhill2The opportunity that you have been given – being part of such a prestigious program – is not only going to embed skills that can be used to make a tremendous difference, but will open many doors to you. As they say, “with great power comes great responsibility” – you are in a program that is truly empowering. Appreciate that, but realize you have a responsibility to use that in ways that can create positive change, and not just earn you money. You will have opportunities that others can only dream of. Define success as significance and truly change the world as you strive for it. Of course, I would encourage you to give to One Percent for Children if you end up creating a new business. How beautiful it would be to see many businesses run by BHP students and alumni coming together to help impact so many children’s lives around the world.

I also want to stress to you that, for me, it has never been a case of either choosing to go into for-profit or non-profit. With the right motives and plans, there can be a great synergy between the two. You can indeed be in a for-profit making a difference. It doesn’t have to be compartmentalized; they can be tied together in a mutually-beneficial relationship, as platforms of support for each other.

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BHP Senior Leads Texas Rock Climbing to National Victories Thu, 19 Jun 2014 16:14:06 +0000 will_1BHP senior, Will Butcher, has found a unique passion outside of his studies in the program: rock climbing. The Plano native is now president of Texas Rock Climbing team on campus, which became a UT affiliated organization just two years ago. Learn more about how Will has managed to juggle four majors (BHP, Finance, Plan II and Spanish) and lead the team to a national victories.

Why did you choose UT, and why did you specifically choose BHP?

I always thought about going to UT, because there is a long tradition of UT graduates in my family, including my older brother, my dad and both of my dad’s parents. After I found out that I had been accepted into both BHP and Plan II, I knew that I wanted to go to UT, because I was aware of the great reputation of both programs. I do not think that I could have chosen a better place to go to school than UT as a student in both BHP and Plan II.

How long have you been rock climbing?

will_2I have been climbing since I was nine years old. I got into climbing after I went to a summer camp at a climbing gym in Dallas called Exposure. The coach of the youth climbing team there invited me to join the team, and I begged my parents to let me on. I started competing with the team when I was 10 and have been climbing and competing ever since. Climbing has allowed me to travel around the country and around the world to compete, and I have had the honor to represent the U.S. in the Youth World Championships for climbing two times, first in Austria when I was 14, and again in Ecuador when I was 15. Before coming to UT, climbing on a team, training, and competing had been a huge part of my life for a long time, and I feel so fortunate to have been able to continue climbing and competing at UT. My freshman year at UT was the year the UT climbing team was established and the first year UT competed in the Collegiate Climbing Series, which was started in 2009 by John Myrick, who currently coaches the UT climbing team and has been coaching climbers in Austin for over a decade. UT currently has the largest climbing collegiate climbing team in the country and has had a very successful track record, winning all three consecutive National Championships it has competed in since the founding of the club team at UT.

What is your role within Texas Rock Climbing?

I took over as president of Texas Rock Climbing my sophomore year, becoming the second president of the club, which had just become an official sport club at UT the preceding fall. I was president of the club for two years before handing the reins over to my successor this past spring. As president, I led a group of eight other officers who helped manage the club of 50 active members. We hold practices four days each week at the Austin Rock Gym and at the Gregory Gym climbing wall. Practices involve climbing, strength training and running. As a club we volunteer for local youth climbing competitions and participate in trail-building projects at climbing areas around Austin, like Reimers Ranch and Enchanted Rock. We also host two competitions each year, and our spring competition is a Collegiate Climbing Series competition that counts toward the regional score for CCS competitors and teams.

Texas Rock Climbing took first place at the National Collegiate Climbing Series in 2012, 2013 and 2014. How did it feel to have the UT tower lit in honor of the team’s accomplishments?

will_3Lighting up the Tower is one of the proudest moments a UT student can have! It is such an honor to see the Tower burning orange because of an achievement you had a hand in. Coming from a line of UT alumni, I have a strong sense of the value of UT traditions, and my family was incredibly excited to see the climbing team light up the Tower. Looking back on my time with the UT climbing team, I am so proud of all of the hard work of our team members and the amazing bond that has formed among team members, and I am honored to feel that I had a role in building the team and so grateful to have formed those connections and had so much fun doing something I love. UT is full of talented people who are successful in a wide range of pursuits, and I hope that Texas Rock Climbing will continue a legacy of climbing success at UT for many years to come.

What is your favorite part about the sport of rock climbing?

Rock climbing is not just a hobby to me. Climbing has been a passion for me, and my experiences with climbing have profoundly shaped who I am as a person. The things I have learned through climbing carry over into all aspects of my life. Through climbing, I learned the meaning of dedication and hard work, how to visualize success and overcome obstacles, how to step out of my comfort zone, how to handle both success and failure, how to have fun and enjoy the present while staying intensely focused and motivated, and so many other lessons that have helped me become who I am.

One of my favorite parts about climbing is that it takes you all kinds of places that you would never visit otherwise. Climbing has allowed me to travel around the world and to experience beautiful natural areas and a diverse set of people drawn together by their passion for climbing.

Besides rock climbing, what are you passionate about?

I am currently writing my Plan II senior thesis, and I have had the opportunity to study microfinance in-depth. Since freshman year, I have been drawn to thinking about how business can do good for the world, and I became interested in the idea of social entrepreneurship. The tension between the profit-motive and social responsibility has been a concept I have spent a lot of time thinking about at UT, with many of my classes providing new viewpoints from which to view the issue. Microfinance proposes to offer a win-win solution to world poverty while also profiting investors. In this way, microfinance offers an example of how capitalism can be used for social good beyond the goal of maximizing wealth creation. My thesis will examine microfinance and will seek to understand how microfinance might or might not play a role in sustainable economic development in developing countries around the world. I will travel to Ecuador in August to conduct research for my thesis, which I will complete this December.

What has been your favorite BHP course and why?

My favorite BHP course was MIS with Konana my freshman year. It was my first experience of what BHP classes were like, and I remember feeling excited that my classes would be all of the things that I had hoped for: rigorous yet engaging, filled with eager and intelligent peers, and taught by outstanding faculty. I had a lot of fun solving challenging problems in Excel and learning valuable analytical skills right away freshman year.

What are your plans for after you leave the 40 Acres?

This summer, I will be an investment banking analyst at Jefferies in Houston. I am really excited for the summer, and I plan to pursue a full-time analyst position to begin next year after graduation.














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Alumni Spotlight: Rod Morris – VP of Marketing and Operations for Opower, Class of 1995 Mon, 09 Jun 2014 15:49:17 +0000 Rod MorrisRoderick Morris is the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Operations for Opower, the global leader in cloud-based consumer engagement solutions for the utility industry. Rod graduated from UT Austin with degrees in Business Honors, Philosophy and MIS in 1995, then went on to earn an MBA from Stanford in 2002. Using behavioral science and big data analytics, Opower creates innovative software that motivates utility customers to save energy and better manage demand. Since 2007, Opower has become an industry trendsetter, working with 93 utilities and serving 32.1 million households worldwide. To date, the company has helped consumers save more than 4 terawatt hours of electricity – equivalent to $460 million dollars or €338 million euros.

You seem to have vast responsibility within Opower. What are the main functions of your role and what are your main goals in the position at this time?

At the highest level, I run the marketing, client services, and operations sides of the company. I am growing Opower’s top line through marketing, enhancing relationships with the client base, and delivering on an increasingly streamlined quality implementation of our products around the world. Opower’s future growth is going to come from new customer acquisition, existing customer expansion, new product introduction, and international market growth. Everything I do is in support of that: from creating awareness around our new products, to ensuring that the client base is interested in expanding relationships, and making certain our clients are satisfied with the execution of rollouts on their behalf.

What gets you excited about the work you are doing?

It’s really exciting being a part of a double bottom line business. In addition to serving our utility client’s needs, every dollar of revenue has a benefit to the planet. With our double bottom line and high growth, we have a huge opportunity to make a difference in the world while also providing great growth opportunities to our employees.

Before coming to Opower, I was working in software and doing volunteer work on the side. I never had an opportunity to do something for profit that also had a social benefit. This job gave me the opportunity to combine both of those worlds (watch a short video about this).

When I joined, we were less than 100 employees and had 23 clients. Today, we have more than 500 employees and 93 clients worldwide. We had $89 million in gap revenue in 2014 and had an initial public offering (IPO) in April.

You work with both domestic and international utility partners. What are the unique challenges of working with your partners in foreign countries and how do you determine the best messaging for the consumers in those cultures?

With our utility partners, we spend a lot of time localizing our products and innovating in those markets. The core elements of behavioral marketing are pretty consistent across all parts of the world though. What compels someone in Europe to turn off the lights is the same thing that compels them to do it in the U.S. It’s just a matter of localizing the product so we give them clear actions they can take that are relevant to their situation.

We have rapidly expanded the portion of our revenue that is international. One of the main differences in other countries is there isn’t as much regulation of the utility industry. In the U.S., there are many regions that are highly regulated. In other countries, there are more competitive markets for energy. Our U.S. utility partners use us to reach energy efficiency goals, whereas international partners are interested in the competitive advantage we bring to them.

You have degrees in business, philosophy and MIS. Your role seems to have an element of all of these areas. How did your education at UT prepare you for your career?

The thing they have in common is logical problem solving. As I have become more senior, a lot of the problems I have seen require me to go back to those problem-solving skills I learned in school.

In philosophy I learned that the best messages are the simplest ones. It is actually really difficult to come up with simple messages that resonate with people on an emotional level. The building blocks I gained in my MIS classes and as a TA for a software development class have helped me work with teams doing software implementations around the world. I use the building blocks from BHP in all aspects of my job. I would be hard-pressed to find a better business education than I received from BHP.

How did your experiences in BHP compare to going through the Stanford MBA program and did the program prepare you well?

The program prepared me very well. Stanford’s curriculum is tailored to the individual. Because of the base of knowledge I had built in BHP, I was able to focus my learning on elective projects. I wrote entrepreneurial cases, did entrepreneurial coursework and led the marketing club. Those of my classmates who had degrees in business had more freedom to pursue their own interests earlier. I think my BHP education put me in good standing within my cohort.

Your career has had many twists and turns. You had roles with the Peace Corps, Simmons & Co., Bain, LexisNexis and Vovici. Did you find that one thing led to another or were you deliberate in your transitions?

The only thing I was deliberate about was working hard and helping out whatever team I was on, as well as networking to build relationships. I didn’t plan out my career. I sought out the best opportunities and did the best I could in those positions. The variety in my career has given me valuable perspective and kept my life interesting. While recruiters were sometimes involved, pretty much every job I have had has happened because of a relationship in my network. I learned a great deal in each position, but I learned a tremendous amount as an investment banker at Simmons and a consultant at Bain. Those positions were foundational for me and really impacted how I approach my work daily.

What advice do you have for current BHP students?

I would encourage people to be more linear than I have been. It has worked out for me to bounce around to different opportunities, but there is a lot to be said for building functional expertise in one area. If you can find that area earlier on, it will be easier for you.

What is next for you?

Opower just went public and we have a huge market ahead of us. I will be working on growing the company. I had never been through an IPO and it was thrilling to be an integral part of it. I built much of the company from the early days, and had an opportunity to be deeply involved in scaling a really cool company. It was rewarding to go from that to helping in the IPO roadshow to share the company’s story and growth opportunitywith investors. It was a milestone in my professional life.

Note: To learn more about opportunities at Opower, visit the current postings page on their website.

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BHP Junior Launches Music Career Tue, 27 May 2014 20:18:30 +0000 Colin_leonard

Colin Leonard, BHP ’16

At McCombs students are urged to use their degree towards their individual passions from non-profit organizations to corporate relations. Only occasionally do we encounter a student that chooses to pursue the arts. Colin Leonard, BHP ‘16 and brother Drew Leonard, BBA ‘14, have found solace and success in the music industry. Colin has become a singer/songwriter and Drew is Colin’s manager.

Colin began songwriting in November 2012 and released his first album on iTunes shortly after. The album did very well receiving almost 2,000 downloads. Feeling confident in his abilities, Colin and Drew felt there might be a bright future ahead if they follow this path. The duo started a Kickstarter page asking for donations and met their goal of $8,000 in just 10 days. The page ultimately resulted in $11,000 in donations.

Most recently, Colin released Valleys EP, which debuted on iTunes under the singer/songwriter genre up against big names such as Ed Sheeran, Nickel Creek, and Passenger. Valleys held it’s own and reached #5 on the genre’s chart for 3 days and remained in the top 20 for two weeks. Colin and Drew are both very humbled by the success of the album.

The Leonard brothers have always had an interest in singing and music as they were both active in chorus groups at their local church growing up in San Antonio. Things really took off recently when Colin and Drew partnered together.

“We have meetings together, which is really just two brothers going to a coffee shop,” said Colin. During these meetings, the brothers talk about the future of Colin’s music career and how to create and maintain an online persona. “It’s been hard trying to strike a balance between being a real person that’s young and just 20 years old, but I’m also trying to pursue this professional career,” said Drew. Colin looks to Drew for creative support as well. When Colin writes a song he shares it with Drew for honest feedback that he can trust.


Drew Leonard, BBA ’14

“Right now it’s all about building connections and trying to manage his personal identity, being a young, goofy college sophomore, while also building a more serious and professional online personality that fans can connect with and respect,” said Drew.

Colin sometimes struggles with time management when juggling honors coursework; work at a local church, involvement with Younglife and his music career. However, he is fortunate to have made many friends in the honors program to lean on for support and help in navigating his commitments. “BHP is a great opportunity and I don’t want to waste that,” said Colin.

When asked which professor has been most influential, Drew expressed his gratitude to marketing professor, Jonathan Highbarger, for teaching practical and applicable skills. Drew graduated in May with a degree in marketing and accepted a full-time position with SHI, a technology sales company, as an account executive.

Colin will continue to grow as a musician and work hard in the Business Honors Program. He is projected to graduate in May 2016.

Check out Colin’s music on his website or iTunes.

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Senior Reflections from the Class of 2014 Thu, 15 May 2014 14:14:48 +0000 Each May we have to say goodbye to around 100 BHP seniors as they graduate and move on to the next phase of their lives. The BHP Class of 2014 made their mark not only on BHP, but on McCombs and the entire UT campus. In fact, they even raised more than $22,000 from their class this past month to benefit the BHP Make-a-Mark scholarship fund, which funds merit-based scholarships for incoming BHP students. Before they left, we asked some of them to provide us with reflections on their time in the BHP. We look forward to welcoming all of the BHP Class of 2014 graduates to the BHP alumni family!


BHP has given me community, perspective and direction. My peers were the ones who motivated me to interview for a consulting position at Bain, and I couldn’t be more grateful to them as I look forward to what comes next. The faculty in BHP is incredible, and I have found some of my best mentors in my professors. I have been able to gain such a competitive education within such a supportive environment has made for an incredible four years that I will always cherish.

- Holland Finley
Associate Consultant, Bain

I am so unbelievably honored to be a part of a community filled with driven, successful, talented people. The program has challenged me within and without the classroom, helping me to excel in academics and extracurriculars. I found a home in BHP and a group of friends for whom I am immeasurably grateful.

Mukul Ramakrishnan
Attending Medical School

The past four years in BHP have truly been the best of my life. I never anticipated the second family that I would find here or the vast amount of knowledge I would gain from my professors. My BHP roots will always stay with me throughout my career and will definitely give me a leg up in my future endeavors.

Chris Pavlich
Management Consultant, Sense Corp

The Business Honors Program has defined my college experience. In the program, I have met some of my closest friends and have been able to grow into the person I am today. I will forever be grateful to BHP for everything is has offered me, and I plan to stay connected to the program for many years to come.

Oscar Barbosa
Financial Analyst, ExxonMobil

The BHP has been more than an academic program for me — it has been a community. The students and professors have not only pushed me to greater heights academically and professionally, but they have also been my closest friends and mentors.

–  Courtney Brindle
Business Analyst, Deloitte Consulting

The BHP has been my home for the past four years; it has provided me with the best undergraduate business education, amazing career opportunities, and many life-long friends. I could not have imagined a better college experience. The relationships that I have developed here will remain long into the future.

Robert Belanger
Financial Analyst, ExxonMobil

The Business Honors Program really fosters personal growth beyond the walls of the classroom. No matter what pursuits you have, you’ll be supported by a tight-knit community of accomplished friends that challenge you to outdo yourself and leave an impact somewhere on the 40 Acres or beyond it. It’s the call to always outgrow my comfort level that will carry with me after graduation day.

Nick Bedenkop
Financial Analyst, Frito-Lay

BHP has given me the unique opportunity of developing a more holistic view of the business environment.  I think that college students have a tendency to identify a subject they like and then narrow their focus on that particular topic – BHP gives room for students to create a basic understanding of and appreciation for multiple business functions, outside of purely finance or accounting, for instance.  This wider perspective is valuable to employers and has given me a competitive edge in the labor market.

Daniel Amin
Investment Banking Analyst, Goldman Sachs

I could not be more thankful for the incredible education I received from the Business Honors Program. The BHP has challenged me to become a more critical thinker and to continuously set higher academic and professional standards for myself. I have made lifelong friendships with my peers, advisors, and professors, and know I will have a strong support system from my BHP community in the future.

Bari Rabinovich
Assurance Associate, PwC

The Business Honors Program defined the majority my college enjoyment and success through the unique academic, professional, and social opportunities it provided. In addition to working with incredibly talented and passionate students and faculty, I made my best friends in college through the close-knit community of BHP. I am certain that the friends I met and the lessons I learned while in BHP will stay with me long after graduation, and I look forward to staying involved with BHP as an alumnus.

Forrest Ripley
Graduate School – UT Data Analytics Program

As a Student Recruiter for BHP, I always tell prospective students that the people in this program are what make it so great. The students in BHP are some of the most inspiring, talented, dedicated, and genuine people that I know, and they push me every day to be a better student, person, and friend. This network of peers has really shaped me into the person I am today, and the relationships I have made in the program will no doubt last beyond graduation. I am truly grateful to be a part of this community.

Josh Hu
5th year Masters in Professional Accounting (MPA) student

The Business Honors Program has profoundly shaped my undergraduate career by challenging me every day to think critically about the type of leader that I aspire to be in all facets of my life beyond the Forty Acres. I could not be more thankful for the education and professional opportunities the BHP has offered me throughout my time in McCombs, and most of all, I cannot fully express my gratitude for this wonderful community that is shared by all students, faculty, and staff in the program. A number of my fondest memories in and outside of the classroom over the past four years have been with my BHP peers, and I look forward to cherishing these lifelong friendships in the many years ahead.

Michelle Moon
Financial Analyst, ExxonMobil

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BHP Senior Takes First Place in Case Competition While Studying Abroad Mon, 05 May 2014 18:49:53 +0000 Josh_profileBHP senior, Josh Hu, was recently awarded the Barbara Jordan Senior Award, which honors two graduating seniors whose outstanding motivation has left a lasting legacy at McCombs. He also received a BHP Outstanding Student Award, chosen by BHP faculty, staff and peers.

Josh spent last semester studying abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland. While he was there, he had many unique and memorable experiences, including participating in an international case competition, which his group actually ended up winning.

joshscotlandHu was taking a Financial Services Marketing Class in Edinburgh that challenged students to find a solution to a case presented by TESCO Bank. The class was split up into groups of four and the situation became even more unique because Hu, the only McCombs student in the class, was paired with other exchange students from around the world including: Hong Kong, England and Scotland.

An executive from TESCO Bank asked the groups to come up with a mobile banking app for clients to access account information at their own convenience. There was a lot of freedom and flexibility with this project and the students were told to use both research they could find as well as research they would conduct themselves.

Many banks in the U.S. now offer mobile banking applications, so Hu started his research in the states, “I was surprised to find that the states are actually very technologically ahead in terms of innovation and new ideas for banking,” said Hu. Through his research, he was able to bring a lot of ideas to his group, like mobile check deposits.

JoshProjectHu’s group put together consumer focus groups to gauge what consumers valued, liked and disliked, “Using feedback from the focus groups, we found that the number one reason people aren’t using mobile banking apps is fear that there’s a lack of privacy,” said Hu. The group used this information in their final presentation to emphasize the safety of the app to the consumer. The combination of new, innovative features and making sure the app is secure to use, won the competition.

“Going abroad was a chance for me to be an ambassador for my school,” he said. “The perceptions of Americans aren’t always positive while abroad so I thought of it as I’m representing my school, and the students at McCombs are great, and I wanted to show them that and that I had a lot to contribute to the group.”

Hu is back on the 40 Acres now. His group’s proposal for the new application was presented to TESCO executives in February and was very well received. Each group member will receive a new tablet for their winning idea.

After graduating from the program in May, Hu will stay another year to complete his MPA degree. Before finding a job, Hu plans to travel around Asia.

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BHP Students Mingle with Professors at HBA Events Thu, 01 May 2014 19:57:06 +0000 Konana DWAPThe Honors Business Association (HBA) hosts Dinner with a Professor (DWAP) events throughout the year to connect BHP students with professors outside of the classroom. “After the DWAPs professors have more participation in class since students know the professors more which makes them more comfortable,” said Rachel Solomon, outgoing HBA Academics VP. “It also gives professors an opportunity to learn what we are doing outside of class and how what we are learning in the classroom is being applied.”

HBA hosted DWAP events with the Dean of the McCombs School, Tom Gilligan, and BHP MIS professors Ashish Agarwal and Prabhudev Konana in April. For both events students were invited into their homes and were able to share dinner with the hosts and their families. “DWAPs are very popular events,” said Solomon. “They always fill up. Students really enjoy the professors and want to spend time with them outside of the classroom. Professors and the dean have a lot to do, but they take time to be with the students for a night.”

Konana DWAP3The HBA MIS DWAP is a tradition now and an event that students look forward to every year. The event was held in the home of Ashish Agarwal and co-hosted by Prabhudev Konana. The two professors enjoy sharing Indian culture with the students and call their DWAP a Bollywood dance party and Indian feast. This year 70 students attended. Students really look forward to letting loose and having fun with the professors. “Dr. Agarwal and Dr. Konana want everyone dancing and they teach them dance moves. Everyone gets really excited to see the professors dancing,” said Solomon. Neal Makkar, a junior in the program, has been to the MIS DWAP multiple times and really enjoyed it this year. “I noticed my friends all enjoying the Indian food, some for the first time,” he said. “It was incredible to see how willing people were to learn the Garba dance style – the entire group participated!”

Dean Gilligan hosted a smaller group of 15 students at his house. “I was expecting it to be formal,” said Solomon, “but he kept it very casual.” Students who attended were treated to a short tour of the back of the house and the backyard. They had dinner with him and his wife and enjoyed learning more about them and sharing more about themselves. “He made us feel very welcome and at ease. It speaks to the openness and transparency of the school that he was willing to answer all of our questions and no topic was off limits,” said Solomon.

HBA hosts around four to five DWAPs a semester. The Business Honors Program is grateful to HBA for organizing these events and to the faculty and administrators who generously give of their time to host them.

Konana DWAP2

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BHP Freshman Pioneers Innovative High School Tutoring Program Mon, 28 Apr 2014 18:05:54 +0000 AnishaS

BHP freshman, Anisha Srivastava, started a unique mentoring program this year called Project Activate. The program is designed to bring college students and high school students together for tutoring. A group of UT freshmen including students from BHP and Plan II honors will be selected each year to pair with a group of high school freshmen at local Austin high schools. Each high school student in the program will receive one-on-one tutoring from a UT student in five subjects including: algebra, biology, English, geography and geometry.

The program officially launched on March 19 with a group of high school students that were recommended for the program by their teachers. “It’s started smaller than we hoped with nine high school students total, but I’m so happy to get started even if it is a smaller start than we hoped for,” said Anisha. “Despite the small group, it went really well. The students reacted so positively and I think we’re really going to have some great results!”

Anisha hopes her program will go beyond just tutoring, “I want to make this program different from other tutoring programs by adding a mentoring aspect,” she said. “The tutor and high school student will progress through their four years together, all the way through to graduation.” She is hopeful that the narrow age gap between tutors and students will prove effective. “We just went through this process of learning the material and we remember having to make the same connections they’re having to make right now to make the material make sense,” said Anisha. “In addition to teaching the material, the tutors are teaching them how to learn something.”

The idea behind Project Activate is to activate the potential in students. The big focus for Anisha is on activating intellectual interest, goals, career aspirations and creative thought. “The idea that you can succeed,” she said.

The idea for Project Activate stemmed from a non-profit organization Anisha co-founded with her twin brother, Arjun Srivastava who is also a Plan II Honors student studying business and pre-med. The duo started goMAD (Make A Difference) during high school in Allen, TX. This organization raised $10K in its first year for a home in India that cares for 40 HIV positive children. “Fundraising for an international cause started to feel impersonal,” said Anisha. “So, Project Activate is my way of expanding the idea of goMAD by practicing philanthropy at the local level.”

Success of the program has already spread to other school in the Ausitn Independent School District; Anisha recently met with another local high school interested in implementing the program at their school.

Looking ahead to the future of Project Activate, Anisha hopes to continue to recruit BHP and Plan II freshmen to grow the program and connect with more high school students, “MY BHP peers are some of the brightest and most passionate people I have ever met,” said Anisha. “I know that each BHP student involved in Project Activate will go above and beyond to help the high school students achieve their absolute best.”

BHP and Plan II students interested in getting involved with Project Activate should email Anisha directly to discuss the program.




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Alumni Spotlight: Pegah Javidpour Taylor – Principal for KIPP CONNECT, Class of 2007 Wed, 23 Apr 2014 16:38:38 +0000 Pegah JavidpourPegah Javidpour Taylor graduated with degrees in BHP and MIS in 2007. She is now the principal for KIPP CONNECT Houston Middle School in Houston. The school will serve 108 5th grade students in Fall 2014, and will ultimately grow to serve approximately 430 students from the Sharpstown and Gulfton neighborhoods of southwest Houston. Pegah believes that all students in this world deserve an excellent education, and she has made her life’s work to try to end the injustice that is hindering this.

You started at KIPP through Teach for America right after college. Why did you decide to go to TFA?

It started with doing Business in Brazil, a McCombs study abroad program, after my freshman year. I was starting to pay attention to when I was just taking notes in class for learning and when I was actually passionate about what I was learning. One of the things we learned about in the program was education issues in low-income areas of Brazil, and how so many children didn’t have access to education after primary school. I was very interested in that topic and realized I was passionate about education and mentoring.

When I returned to McCombs, I signed up for the Bridging Disciplines Program which allowed me to combine my interest in education with my interest in business. Through the program, I was able to have internships in the education field that counted for business credits. I had a few internships, including ones with Teach For America’s Human Resource Department, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Dept. of Education in Washington, DC through the Archer Program. Through my internships in education policy, I realized that as much as I loved working on a level that was impacting students across the nation, what I really wanted was to work directly with children. So I joined Teach for America after I graduated college, so I could have a direct impact on kids at the classroom level.

KIPP serves students from low-income families. Tell me more about their model and what makes their schools unique?

KIPP caters to low-income families or those who do not have access to resources other more affluent families may have. The students are in school longer, which helps them catch up since they tend to come in more behind.  Research says that the discrepancies in children’s knowledge, experience, and parent-child interaction lead to children from high-income families being exposed to 30 million more words than children from low-income areas. The students also don’t always have access to extracurricular activities, so KIPP offers that during the school day. Another difference is that we have a KIPP Through College program, so our students are tracked starting in 8th grade to make sure they have the support they need to go to and through college. We are very focused on student achievement, but in a well-rounded way. We teach character in addition to academics, which is unique.

You have been with KIPP for six years now. What do you love about working for KIPP.

I love the staff. Because of our extended hours, extended school year, and unique mission, there is a special breed of teachers that are attracted to the school. They have a similar mindset. They believe that every student has the ability to learn and go to college. It is amazing to see the growth of our students over time. We work really long days, so to have that to get up to is great.

You are in your third year of the KIPP School Leadership Program. Tell me more about that.

I am a Fisher Fellow this year through the KIPP School Leadership Program. It is my third year in the program. The first year, I was in a training program for Grade Level and Department Chairs, and the second year, I was in a training program for Assistant Principals. It is a fellowship for any person nationwide starting a KIPP school. You get a year to plan when you open a new KIPP school. I traveled to about 30 schools across the nation to come up with my structures for the classes and the culture of our new Houston campus school. We also have ongoing programming to cover different topics, such as budgeting and hiring. It all started with a five-week summer institute with courses taught by experts in various fields, including business, education and sociology. There are 18 other people like me opening up KIPP schools this year, but I am the only one in Texas. This varies year-to-year based on specific growth plans of the different KIPP regions across the nation.

What has been the most meaningful accomplishment for you so far in your career?

My first year of teaching I had tremendous student achievement in my 8th grade math class. They had the highest achievement of any class in the district. One student in particular represents so much to me. She came in with very low scores and told me she was not a “math student.” In that year, I saw what was truly possible with any kid. She struggled in many ways, but she grew so much both in character and in math abilities. More importantly, she proved to herself what she can be capable of.  That is why I do this work. She reminds me that all the work I do is for students like her who don’t believe in themselves, but then show themselves they can achieve.

How do you think BHP prepared you for what you are doing now?

Having a business background has really helped me manage all the different aspects of my job. Sometimes I feel like I am running a small city. The BHP community helped me turn a huge campus at The University of Texas into a small family. I made great connections through the program. BHP also gave me a vision of what I wanted my students to be able to achieve.  BHP helps me see what amazing high school seniors need to be capable of to have a great college experience and opportunities.

What advice do you have for current BHP students?

I always followed my passion for education and kids. I suggest students do what they are passionate about and not feel like they are wasting a degree if they do not follow the traditional route.  Their business skills can be applied no matter which field they go into.  . I am so glad I have followed my heart, and it is okay to be non-conventional. You want your job to feel like something you would do if you weren’t getting paid for it. So, think about the different organizations you are involved in now and the parts of your day you choose to do.  Those parts of the day will usually show you what you would do even if you weren’t getting paid.  This way you can turn what you love doing into a career or weave it into your full-time job.

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BHP Students Honored by McCombs Faculty, Staff and Peers Mon, 14 Apr 2014 15:51:12 +0000 Congratulations to all of the students recognized at the McCombs Honors Convocation last Friday. Here is a list of the BHP students who received awards at the event. In addition to these individuals, we were proud to honor many of you for your outstanding scholastic achievements and want to congratulate all business students and organizations who were honored with an award this year.

McCombs BBA/MPA Alumni Advisory Board Award

Rising Star Leadership Award – Dennis Thankachan

 This award is presented to a graduating McCombs undergraduate or MPA student who has proven an established commitment to service within the McCombs School through outstanding scholarship and achievements, as well as exemplary leadership and community involvement. The recipient demonstrates significant growth potential as a future leader in the McCombs community.

BHP Award

R. Conrad Doenges Award – Michelle Moon

This award is given to a Business Honors senior, who in the judgment of their peers and the BHP faculty and staff, have distinguished themselves in academics and leadership.

Undergraduate Business Council Awards

George Mitchell Business Leadership Award - This award recognizes students who have exhibited strong leadership within the McCombs School. There are two winners per class.

Freshmen – Zachary Schultz, Anisha Srivastava

Sophomores – Varun Bhatnagar, David Yu

Junior – Neha Vaidya

Barbara Jordan Business Leadership Award – This award recognizes outstanding seniors who have shown great initiative, strong leadership, and outstanding motivation through their activities within the McCombs School.

 Josh Hu

Texas BBA Program Awards

BHP Outstanding Service Award – Courtney Brindle, ’14

BHP Student Leadership Award – Robert Belanger, ’14


Dennis Thankachan Rising Star

Rising Star winner, Dennis Thankachan, with BHP alumni Michael Daehne, Emily Benigno and Jeff Stevens

Michelle Moon Doenges Award

Doenges Award winner Michelle Moon with Associate Dean Dave Platt and BHP Director Robert Prentice

2014 George Mitchell Awards

George Mitchell Business Leadership Award winners


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