Student Spotlight: Catherine King – HBA President

Catherine King - BHP student

BHP Senior, Catherine King, is the current president of the Honors Business Association. Catherine is majoring in BHP and MIS. This past summer, she interned for Shell Oil Company and is excited to announce she has three full-time offers from prominent oil and gas firms in the field of Management Information Systems.

Why did you choose UT and specifically the BHP program?
I was applying to colleges all over the nation hoping to leave Texas to try something new. I found out about BHP, applied, and was accepted. After touring the BHP program office and sitting in a couple of classes, I felt that it was more of a community than any of the other campuses I had visited. I could just tell that students were in a very collaborative and positive environment rather than an environment where students pit themselves against each other.

I am from Austin and I thought it would be too much of the same. I was happy to see that the campus is a completely different environment than Austin itself. All of my childhood friends went to different universities so it was not like a repeat of high school. It was a completely new experience, and I found a great community in BHP, which is also why I joined HBA.

What advice would you give to any students interested in MIS?
I think people fear MIS because they think it is all programming, but it is not. We connect the end user and the programmer to ensure that functionality and end user goals are met. It is all about communication and knowing how the technical people do what they do. If you can communicate well and are interested in technology, MIS is for you.

What enticed you to become a member of the Honors Business Association?
I joined Delta Gamma sorority right before freshman year began. I realized that organizations make the campus smaller and with Delta Gamma I had the social side, but I wanted an academic organization as well.

Honors Business Association was able to fulfill my need to be part of an extended academic community. I attended the first meeting for the free food and heard the president and executive members give an overview of HBA. They all were so funny and light-hearted. I didn’t expect that from an organization in the UT business school. It had the perfect balance of professionalism and fun.

I quickly realized that HBA makes you a very well rounded student. We are not just academic, but we are also philanthropic. We have academic events with professors. You can visit their homes, dine at restaurants, or play golf with them to get to know them on a more personal level. We also have networking events, socials, and formals to enhance your academic pursuits. HBA gives you an overall experience in Austin and BHP.

As President, what do you plan to do differently with HBA?
What we have been doing the last couple of years works well, but my executive members have had some new initiatives that we are committed to starting. We created a buddy program that pairs a new freshman with a sophomore buddy. We started recycling at meetings. And that is only the beginning. Small, yet strategic, enhancements to our current activities and initiatives will make a big difference and will make our organization more effective.

What keeps a member actively involved in HBA?
People who get involved in the beginning find those 30 members you become really good friends with. They go to all the meetings and events. If you want that close set of friends, you can find them in HBA and continue with them throughout your career at UT. If you are looking for that sense of community and haven’t found it outside of the business school, HBA is always a home to the BHP students and I think everyone that is active or inactive feels that,they are always welcome.

HBA Hosts Successful Incredible Race for McCombs Students

2015 Incredible Race

This past Sunday, the Honors Business Association held its third annual Incredible Race event, open to all McCombs students.  Organized by the External Affairs committee, this event is an effort for HBA to both connect with other McCombs organizations while also giving back to the Austin community.

In the race, teams of two were given cryptic clues to find the location of eight stations hidden around UT. Once they found the location of a station, they had to complete the station’s challenge to gain access to another clue. The first three teams to find all eight stations and complete the eight challenges were declared the winners.

This year, HBA chose to donate all event proceeds to the Micah 6 Food Pantry, a food bank for the homeless and impoverished located right next to the UT campus. HBA has been consistently volunteering at the pantry for several years, so this year’s Incredible Race became an opportunity to contribute financially to an organization to which HBA has gotten quite close.  HBA raised approximately $150 for the pantry.

This event is also HBA’s avenue to connect with other McCombs student organizations, as HBA traditionally partners with another McCombs organization to plan the race. This year, in an effort to grow HBA’s presence in the McCombs community, HBA worked with five McCombs organizations (a record-breaking number) to organize the event. These organizations are:

  • Asian Business Students Association
  • Black Business Students Association
  • Delta Sigma Pi
  • Hispanic Business Students Association
  • University Securities Investment Team

All in all, this year’s Incredible Race was a great success. Despite the fact that this event only started two years ago, it has grown tremendously. Hopes are high that it continues to grow and make an even bigger impact in the McCombs and Austin communities.

A huge thank you to the volunteers from all of the organizations that participated, and all of the participants who made this event a success!

2015 Incredible Race 2

HBA Annual Company Field Trip Brings Students to Seattle

BHP students enjoyed their tour of Boeing.

BHP students enjoyed their tour of Boeing.

Written by Nadia Senter

What a whirlwind of a weekend! As part of our yearly Company Field Trip, 22 members of the Honors Business Association took a four day trip to Seattle to tour Microsoft, Amazon, and Boeing and meet up with local alumni.

Our first stop on the trip was Microsoft. We met up with BHP alum, Dina Consolino, and were able to have lunch in Microsoft’s spacious (and delicious!) cafeteria. We were also able to explore the visitor center which was full of new technology unreleased to the public such as a virtual mirror that allows you to see yourself in hundreds of outfits with the swipe of your hand. Finally, we had a Q&A session in the swanky Xbox building with fellow BHP and McCombs alumni.

The following day, we woke up bright and early to tour Amazon’s headquarters, located in a conglomeration of buildings right next to downtown Seattle. During the tour, we were pleasantly surprised by the prevalence of employees’ pets and casual attire. Despite the misty weather, they brought us onto the roof, which had a stunning view of downtown Seattle and all of the Puget Sound. We also had the pleasure of meeting eight UT alums that work across all functions of the company.

Hustling our way back to the hotel, we had a quick turnaround when a bus destined for Boeing’s headquarters picked us up an hour later. Beginning with a tour of Boeing’s humbling factory, we spent an hour and a half learning about their impressive assembly line spread throughout the world’s largest building by volume. Due to security reasons, we weren’t allowed to take any photos, but rather spent our time gaping at the intricacies of plane manufacturing. Soon after, we met up with some McCombs alumni who worked there to learn about their recruitment process and play Boeing trivia.

That evening, we were offered an unforgettable experience through our alumni dinner on the 76th floor of the Columbia Tower, the tallest building in Seattle. The sky was perfectly clear and we were able to witness 360 degree views of downtown Seattle through floor-to-ceiling windows. We spent the evening eating hors d’oeuvres with a diverse group of alumni.

On Saturday, everyone spent their free time exploring all the unique tourist activities Seattle has to offer. From perusing through Pike’s Place Market, strolling though Chihuly Gardens & Glass, and sampling local cuisine, everyone had a fantastic time meandering through the city. In the evening, we all went together to the Space Needle, which was the perfect capstone to an unforgettable weekend.

Now, we are back to the hustle and bustle of school, and even though we have loads of classwork to make up and a whole lot of studying to do, I think I speak for everyone when I say the experience was well worth the trip.

BHP Students Mingle with Professors at HBA Events

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

Kyle Campbell Competes For Mr. McCombs Title In Style

Kyle Campbell with escort Jemma Miller

Kyle Campbell with escort Jemma Miller

Written by Kyle Campbell

On Friday, Jan. 31 I had the amazing opportunity of representing HBA in the Mr. McCombs Pageant. This fundraiser, organized by the org reps of the Undergraduate Business Council, pits representatives from other McCombs organizations against each other in a fight for the title of “Mr. McCombs.” The winner also gets to choose which charity the proceeds go to.

This experience was grueling, competitive and exhilarating all at once.  The other contestants and I spent at least a month practicing the choreography for our opening dance, and trust me it took a LOT of practice until we were ready for the big stage.  Every week we would show up to rehearsal, and our choreographer, Tenci, would ask if we wanted to run through the whole thing to see what we remembered.  After stumbling through the few twists and fist pumps we could recall, we would share embarrassed looks, pat each other on the back, apologize to Tenci, and start learning the dance all over again.  The coolest thing is that after suffering through a dance none of us had any business attempting we became friends.  We added our own moves, started to learn about each other, and we were no longer competitors, but just 10 guys trying to get through a performance without embarrassing themselves because a few of our cheekier friends tricked us into agreeing to compete (Natalie Parma if you’re reading this I’m talking about you.)

Students that heart Kyle, showing their support at the pagaent

Students that heart Kyle, showing their support at the pageant

Finally the night of the competition came.  We all had to somehow make it through a choreographed dance, Q&A period, swimsuit competition and talent portion without falling or fainting from the pressure of performing in front of hundreds of UT students. As the opening notes of “I’m Too Sexy For My Shirt” started to play I wiped the sweat off my palms, ran out on the stage, chest bumped Archie Agarwal, the UBC Representative, and began maybe the most exciting hour and a half of my college career.  While being escorted by the lovely Jemma Miller and wearing a batman onesie, I talked about how if I could have lunch with anyone it would have to be Dr. Seuss. I showed off what I would wear to the beach.  But the highlight of the night definitely came out of the talent portion.  I began by playing Chopin’s “Revolutionary Etude” on my piano, but after about half a page I ripped the sheet music off and broke into what I hope was an extremely moving and powerful rendition of Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball.”

In the end I lost the crown, but I came away from the experience with nine new friends, and memories that will probably stay with me for a very long time.  The Mr. McCombs pageant was an incredibly fun and fulfilling way to raise $2,158.81 for a great cause, and I consider myself extremely lucky to have been a part of it.