HBA Hosts Inaugural Start-up Field Trip

Written by Ana Aiken, BHP Junior


This month, the Honors Business Association (HBA) hosted its inaugural start-up field trip, providing students with a first-hand look into the exciting world of entrepreneurship. Spearheaded by BHP junior Jiaying Han, the trip consisted of visits to three Austin-based companies: Civitas Learning, Red Velvet Events, and Aceable, all of which are under the leadership of trailblazing BHP alumni. Each visit was an opportunity for students to be exposed to the operational structure of a start-up and interact with company founders on a personal level.

startup-trip-2016-civitasAt Civitas Learning, students met with Michael Koetting (BHP/MIS ’13), who serves as the company’s Director of Corporate & Business Development. An entrepreneur to the core, Michael co-founded Hoot.me while on the Forty Acres. His zeal is just as evident in his work for Civitas, which offers an analytics platform that makes data-driven recommendations to organizations on how to increase college graduation rates. The passion with which Michael described his work was deeply moving, and it was clear that his team could not be more motivated by the ultimate cause behind their business.

startup-trip-2016-red-velvetCindy Lo (BHP/MIS ’98), founder and CEO of Red Velvet Events, an internationally renowned events management company, exuded a contagious sense of passion about her work as well. Students were not only delighted by her humorous anecdotes, but they also got the chance to ask her a number of questions over lunch. Among the most notable lessons she shared was the importance of adaptability in business (a quality that helped her successfully organize a last-minute concert for Lionel Richie, for example.) Her self-made success was certainly awe-inspiring.

Aceable, which offers the first-ever mobile app for driver’s education, was the third stop of the action-packed day. There, students met with Travis Devitt (BHP/FIN ’06), the company’s Director of Growth. Travis brought in different members of the team—including the founder himself—to share insights gleaned from years of work in entrepreneurship. The team’s words of advice emphasized the fact that the position in which college students find themselves is an enviable one, and that they should therefore work to ensure they are making the most of the vast amount of resources available to them.

Beyond receiving office tours and free goodies, students left with a richer picture of what a career in entrepreneurship is like. The lauded event is surely one that will become an HBA tradition.

Student Spotlight: Katie Stephens – HBA President

katie-stephensThis year’s Honors Business Association (HBA) president is Katie Stephens. Katie is a senior majoring in BHP and Supply Chain Management, with a minor in MIS. She is from El Paso, and attended Coronado High School. In addition to her involvement in HBA, she has also served as treasurer of Texas Sweethearts and leads a weekly prayer group for the Baptist Student Ministries. She loves being in Austin and can be found paddle boarding on Lady Bird Lake on the weekends.

Katie has loved being a UT Student and being in BHP. When she started searching for the right college, she knew she wanted to combine quantitative skills with a social atmosphere. She also knew she wanted to be challenged. She had researched BHP and knew it was competitive and that she would be challenged. “Your BHP peers push you in class, encourage you and teach you about things you never knew before,” she says. “My classmates are so smart. They are extremely competitive, but that doesn’t affect how kind they are.”

Katie first experienced HBA as a freshman on the bus ride to the BHP Leadership Kickoff. Members of the HBA executive team were on the bus and struck up a conversation with her, helping to connect her with upperclassmen who were active in groups she was interested in joining. “Freshman year I went to every meeting and loved it. It was my home. My first semester I felt really far from home, and HBA helped me adjust,” says Katie.

When asked about her favorite HBA event, she quickly answers the Konana/Agarwal DWAP (Dinner with a Professor).  This event is a favorite for many students. Of all of the DWAP events HBA puts on each year, this one, hosted in the home of BHP MIS professors, garners the largest turnout. Katie tries to go every year and has enjoyed bonding with classmates and professors at this and other DWAP events.

One of Katie’s and the HBA executive team’s goals this year is to increase inter-class relations. “Students in the same grade level are really close, but it is common that they won’t know anyone in the grades above them, especially freshmen,” she says. HBA is working to create events and programs that will help freshmen get to know those in the classes above them. Their hope is that eventually students will start to form “BHP families”, and will have connections in each of the classes to go to for help.

Katie values the friendships she has made through HBA and what it has added to her BHP experience. “HBA is the best way to get to know your BHP peers and to interact with faculty outside of class,” she says. We are lucky to have her leading this year’s great executive team, and look forward to another year of memorable HBA events!

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

Annual HBA Company Field Trip Brings Students to Washington D.C.

CFT 2014

Written by Jace Barton

Four days. 23 students. Three companies. Good memories? Too many to count.

The Honors Business Association recently traveled to Washington D.C. for its annual Company Field Trip. A broad mix of students, from freshmen to seniors, marketing to finance, took advantage of an incredible opportunity to network with executives at top companies in the city while learning more about the non-traditional doors a McCombs major can open.

The first company visit was to Marriott. We toured sample rooms from six of Marriott’s brands and learned about the intricate process behind crafting the perfect hotel rooms. We also gained insight to the subtleties of hotel branding, and how even the smallest details can make a difference in guest experience. The Marriott visit also included a tour of the Innovation Lab, where Marriott is testing new designs to place itself at the cutting edge of the hospitality industry. The visit concluded with a quick tour of the rest of the headquarters building and a question-and-answer panel with two Longhorn alumni.

Thursday night, the group was treated to even more alumni interaction through the annual Alumni Dinner. Four local BHP alumni joined us at the Texas-themed Rhodeside Grill. We chatted with the alumni to enquire about their career paths and gathered advice on fun classes to take and quirky hole-in-the-wall restaurants to try. With outstanding food and even better company, the night was a treat for all involved.

Friday started with a tour of the White House. While not all of us have political ambitions, it was hard not to fantasize about one day calling 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. home. After the White House, we trekked to one of Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Technology Laboratories. Various company executives talked to us about multiple facets of the company’s business, including aerospace & defense, space, and information technology. At the end of the visit, we took turns piloting Lockheed Martin’s F-22 and F-35 simulators. While no student has voiced intent to leave the Business Honors Program to become a fighter pilot, several were tempted!

Friday concluded with a visit to the Central Intelligence Agency. We were treated to a tour of the Main Hall and museum, where the history of the agency is illuminated through photographs, artifacts, and exhibits. After the tour, two officers from the Agency’s recruiting division talked to us about how business majors make an impact in the CIA. We departed extremely impressed with the level of excellence the CIA attains. We would tell you more, but we’ve been sworn to secrecy…

Saturday, we started the day with a tour of the Capitol. Following this, we broke off into small groups to explore all Washington D.C. has to offer. Popular destinations included the Newseum, the National Zoo, several Smithsonian museums, and many of the national monuments.

Sadly, the trip needed to end sometime, and the group returned home Sunday. While the trip was finite, we all knew that the memories of good times with great friends in an amazing city would last forever.