Faculty Spotlight: Rayan Bagchi – Operations Management

Written by Nandita Daga

Professor Bagchi may have made a circuitous path to the business industry, but he is no stranger in the field. He’s been teaching Operations Management for the last 39 years, with the last 36 years at UT. At McCombs, he teaches OM335H: Operations Management, OM337: Total Quality Management, and OM367: Strategic Supply Chain Management. Bagchi actually began his career as a Chemistry student; he received his B.Sc and M.Sc in Chemistry from the Indian Institute of Technology (Kharagpur), his M.S. in Chemistry at Washington State University, and a Ph.D in Operations Management from Pennsylvania State University.

He attributes this switch to Operations as a realization that “[I was] not happy at the prospect of spending the rest of my career life in a chemistry lab; hours are exceedingly long, you don’t see people, and spend a lot of time with only chemicals. I wanted something different and I wasn’t sure what. Business is an area you can come into from any other area, so I joined business school without knowing what I was getting into – so much for strategic planning.”

When asked why he chose operations, Bagchi stated, “Operations lends itself to mathematical analysis, which attracted me. I liked the flavor of operations, which is problem-solving. I’m not attracted to money. Not too keen about satisfying customers; marketing was interesting, but not particularly appealing. Operations is neutral; it’s about making things cheaper, faster, better.” He incorporates this flavor of operations into his research; most of his published work revolves around planning and scheduling models. His research interests look at how to make businesses more process oriented; getting good results consistently requires developing good processes. He is also interested in knowledge management, which looks at knowledge not easily captured in documents or archival – essentially, implicit knowledge. “Most of us have knowledge not readily available to others, but often times, that knowledge goes unused. I like to study how to put knowledge that already exists to use,” he smiles and says.

Professor Bagchi enjoys teaching OM335H the most; it’s the first course in operations for students, so “they have a clean slate,” he explains. BHP students are “alive” in class. He notes that attendance and engagement in classes are higher, and that students have a wider range of interests. “BBA students are more narrow in their focus; BHP students are more open to other things. Their minds are nimble and active.”

Professor Bagchi is always eager to hear from his students during office hours (MW 12-1 at CBA 4.304A); he says that “Anything the student finds interesting is likely something that would interest me,” and would love to engage in deeper conversation about likes, dislikes, regrets, etc. If you’re looking for conversation starters, consider asking him about:

1) the book he’s currently reading! Professor Bagchi enjoys reading 19th and early 20th century books, and has recently began Teddy Roosevelt’s biography.

2) his favorite movies! (He particularly enjoys a French director, Éric Rohmer, whose moral tales are “absolutely wonderful.”)

3) traveling: his favorite destination spots are London and Paris.

4) food: he enjoys Italian and French cuisines.

Faculty Spotlight: Joe Hahn – Business Finance (FIN 357H)

Written by Nicholas Kuehl

Dr. Joe Hahn teaches FIN 357H, which is Business Finance – Honors, in the fall semester. Along with teaching FIN 357H, Dr. Hahn also teaches FIN 372, FIN 374C, and he serves as the director of the MSF (Master of Science in Finance) program. One of Dr. Hahn’s favorite parts of teaching BHP students in FIN 357H is that BHP students are usually quite inquisitive, which helps foster lively discussions in class. Also, FIN 357H is one of the only Finance classes that BHP students who aren’t also majoring in Finance will take, so Dr. Hahn enjoys challenging these students’ assumptions about Finance and exposing them to the interesting theories and applications that could apply to their own fields of study.

In addition to teaching, Dr. Hahn also partakes in research. Since his background is in petroleum engineering, a significant portion of his research is focused on commodity pricing and forecasting, and utilizing these insights in investment in both fossil fuels and renewable sources of energy. Dr. Hahn particularly enjoys research problems involving important decisions coupled with uncertainty, as modeling this uncertainty can lead to exciting insights.

Dr. Hahn began his time at UT Austin as an undergraduate majoring in petroleum engineering. However, once he graduated, the market for jobs in the energy sector wasn’t good, so he went back to school to receive a Master’s in Civil Engineering. After going to graduate school, Dr. Hahn held several jobs in the energy sector, including an environmental engineering job where he was tasked with decommissioning a cooling tower. He worked on an Acquisitions & Investiture team where he picked up economic modeling skills. Eventually, he decided to come back to UT Austin to get an MBA, and he stayed on to get a PhD. After returning to the energy industry for a year, Dr. Hahn realized that his love for working with interns could translate to working in academia, so he left the energy industry and became a professor.

If you aren’t sure about what to ask Dr. Hahn about in office hours, he says that he is willing to talk about almost anything. He loves when students ask him about his family, his background, and, of course, UT sports! He also loves to give advice, and encourages student to learn how to become good at identifying opportunities. Coming from a small town where several people discouraged him from going to UT Austin, Dr. Hahn understands the value of thinking longer-term and evaluating opportunities, and he wants BHP students to think about decisions in a similar way.

If you would like to learn more about Dr. Hahn, he invites you to come by his office hours on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM. His office is CBA 6.228, which is located in CBA North, near the Hall of Honors. Dr. Hahn loves to get to know his students, and he believes his office hours are the perfect opportunity for students to get both their academic and non-academic questions answered. After all, the students that Dr. Hahn sees the most in his office hours are often the students who end up doing the best in his class, so come on by, even if you just want to chat!

Alumni Spotlight: John Ward, Class of 1988 – Accenture Managing Director

JohnWardJohn Ward, BHP ’88, is a Managing Director at Accenture .  His current role is Commercial Director for one of Accenture’s largest accounts and the Lead for other Commercial Directors in Accenture’s Communications, Media & Technology business unit in North America. John has been with Accenture for 15 years and, although he has had multiple opportunities to take other roles outside of Accenture, one of the primary reasons he has stayed is because of the company culture. Accenture is a BHP corporate partner and has several upcoming opportunities for BHP students. Applications for summer internships are due by October 8 and the Accenture Leadership Series application will open early next semester.

Take me through your career path leading up to working at Accenture.

When I graduated from UT, I knew I didn’t want to be an accountant or auditor, but I knew that two years at an accounting firm would help me understand accounting as the language of business, so I accepted a position with Arthur Andersen. I spent two years at Arthur Andersen in Dallas. Arthur Andersen met all of my expectations and I still have relationships that I formed there.  I knew I wanted to go to a top-tier grad school, so eight months after marrying my college girlfriend we loaded up the moving truck and relocated to Philadelphia to attend the Wharton School of Business.

After Wharton, my wife and I wanted to move back to Texas, so I took a job in Finance and Corporate Development at American Airlines in Dallas.  After four years of the airline business, I learned that it was a very difficult business for management to influence. I decided I wanted to be in a role where I could have more control and influence over the business, so I moved to a CFO role for a couple of different start-ups, one of which was a private equity investment fund. When a head hunter called about a role as the Portfolio Manager of Andersen Consulting’s venture capital fund, I couldn’t say no. In a lot of ways it was like going home because Arthur Andersen/Andersen Consulting, which eventually became Accenture, employed the same kind of people, so it was really easy for me to go back there.

I have been here for 15 years. I started as a portfolio manager, but after we went public in 2001, it was in 2002 that our shareholder came to us and told us we needed to sell the venture portfolio, which I was tasked with.  After selling the portfolio, I had to make a decision as to whether to leave Accenture and stay in the investment world or remain at Accenture. I chose to stay because of the great corporate culture at Accenture.

After coming into Accenture, how did your role evolve?

After I sold the venture portfolio, the CFO asked me to stick around and said he would figure out something for me to do. The first thing he had me do was figure out how to manage compensation and benefits around the globe. I chartered Accenture’s first global compensation and benefits committee. I worked with HR to form a comp and benefits committee chaired by the COO at the time. We built processes around compensation and benefits for all 52 countries we were in. In that role, I met leaders in our business around the world and learned the business. It was a great introduction to Accenture as a whole.

The next big move was to move closer to clients, so I moved to the client I am on now, taking on more responsibility within that account over time. Three years ago, I was asked to lead the other commercial directors in our business unit, Communications, Media and Technology, for other clients.

You moved from working in industry to start-up to private equity. Do you feel your breadth of experience prepared you well for the management role you are in now.

As Commercial Director, I am the COO of Accenture’s relationship with one of its largest clients. In that role, I manage a finance team, a legal team, an HR team, a sales operations team and a business operations team. All of my experience with HR, legal, accounting, finance, strategy, etc. prepared me for this role.

What have you enjoyed the most and what is most challenging?

I enjoy the client interaction and helping my client achieve its objectives.  I actually get energy from meeting with my clients.    The most challenging part of the COO role is that I am often handed the most difficult problems that require tough client discussions, so that’s tricky, but I enjoy it. Those client bumps in the road are the biggest challenges and the most rewarding. My client’s problems become my problems and sometimes those discussions can get pretty challenging. When you deal with a large client, they expect big things and sometimes those are difficult discussions. My job is to remain unconditionally constructive and continue to find constructive outcomes. It helps to put yourself in your client’s shoes and understand the position they are coming from.

What do you enjoy most about working for Accenture?

The people and the corporate culture. We have incredible ethics. We hire good people and we treat them well. Not every company has the strong culture we have. We don’t mess around in the way we conduct ourselves. We have six core values which are: stewardship, best people, client value creation, one global network, respect for individual and integrity. These core values truly represents who we are. I see it day in and day out and people who don’t adhere to those values don’t last very long.

How did you feel BHP prepared you for the MBA curriculum at Wharton and what did you gain from earning your MBA?

I was fully prepared, so much so that I was asked to be a teaching assistant for two classes, which was great because it helped me pay for some of my grad school. I felt fully qualified to be there and BHP was really the ramp-up for that.

If a current BHP student is considering getting an MBA in the future, I recommend that they put it on the back burner for a while.  An MBA isn’t something I would rush.  Most importantly, you should have significant work experience before going to get your MBA. The benefits of getting an MBA are really more around the people you meet and using the curriculum to take it all to the next level. Much of the Business Honors Program is effectively a mini-MBA. .  Take your BHP degree as far as you can in your career without getting the MBA, then go get it when you need something more or different. Don’t go get it straight out of BHP.  Coming out of BHP, I wouldn’t do the MBA unless it is from a top-tier program. I knew I didn’t want to be an accountant, I wanted to be something different, so I felt I needed to go get my MBA.

Once you head down the MBA path, one piece of advice I wish I had received is not to place out of classes. You will most likely have the opportunity to place out of “core” classes in an MBA program and I would argue against that. If you place out of some of those core classes, you lose the opportunity to develop those relationships with your classmates.

What advice do you have for BHP graduates who are just starting their careers?

Choose an employer where you respect the people and the product or service. I call it the “take home to dinner” test. Find a culture of people you are comfortable with. Not just were they are nice or successful, but are they people you really want to associate with and take home to dinner with your family. Find a challenging industry/role where you can add value, grow your skills and use what you learned in BHP. Don’t be afraid to take risks. It is important to stay somewhere for a couple of years at least, but be open to trying new roles that aren’t in your comfort zone and stretch yourself. Also, establish a reputation of always doing a good job and being excellent at what you do. At the same time, keep some work life balance and maintain activities and interests outside of the company.

Internship Spotlight: Trina Bui – Southwest Airlines

Trina BuiCompany:  Southwest Airlines

Position:  Technology Analyst

What steps did you take to secure your internship? 

I applied on the Southwest Airlines NoLimits internship page.  Following that, I kept up with the company’s progress in reviewing resumes and applications through their NoLimits Facebook page.  The first interview I had with them was over the phone. I then had an in-person interview with two hiring managers and an individual from HR.  The internship offer came approximately two weeks later.

What were the responsibilities for this role?

My responsibilities were to manage the changes that my team made to our production and QA environments while also helping monitor the quality of code delivered to us through our third-party vendor for the revenue-accounting application Southwest uses.   I also had a separate set of responsibilities within the technology intern team I was assigned to. In that analyst role, I was in charge of creating the budget reports and outlining the phasing strategy for the solution we came up with to a current problem they were facing.

Describe the culture within the organization.

The culture is extremely welcoming.  Every person I met at Southwest, even if it was a random person who walked by, always wore a smile and said “hello!”  The people I worked with were always willing to help me, no matter how busy they are.  The leaders at SWA showed me that they were truly invested in me and my development as an intern (and a possible future employee).  All the employees worked so hard, no matter how large or small their roles were. And of course, the people at Southwest love to have fun!  Weekly parties brought all us together to be a family of employees who enjoyed each other’s presence.  I’ve never seen a company more dedicated to customer service; it’s a wonderful thing to experience on a daily basis.

What was most surprising or unexpected during your experience?

The complexity of Southwest’s booking and revenue-managing system was extremely surprising to me.  In order to provide their customers’ the easiest and simplest booking process, there are many different applications and software that must interact with one another seamlessly.  Learning about this system was overwhelming in the first few days of the internship, but luckily I was able to catch on quickly.

What advice would you offer your peers in the Honors Program about getting the most out of an internship?

My advice would be to ask questions!  There really are no dumb questions.  Each company has their own complexities and with Southwest, there were a multitude of acronyms for applications, software, and systems which I had no clue how to decipher.  By asking all the questions that I did, it helped me to fully understand what everything is and how it all ties together.  Additionally, you’ll have really smart people you work with who can give you remarkable advice for your future.  Never be afraid to ask.

What was your favorite part about this internship?

My favorite part about the internship would definitely have to be the people I worked with and having the chance to get to know each and every one of them.  I had a fully-functioning team that showed me that we could accomplish so much as one unit.  I met other interns who I’m sure will be my friends for the rest of my life.

How did you find your classes in the Business Honors Program at the university to be applicable during your internship?

It was great to see the different aspects of what we learn in our BHP classes shown in the real-world.  Given that I just finished my management class which talked quite extensively about a company’s culture, it was a unique experience to walk into one of the most well-known company cultures in the corporate realm.

How did this organization ensure you got the most out of your internship experience?

I was learning all the time.  I was always picking up something new – either about the company, a new skill, or about the industry as a whole.  They have workshops that even interns can participate in.  The people at Southwest encourage questions and educate you on different topics even when you don’t ask.  The culture pushes the development of its employees, and I got to benefit from it all!

What are the most valuable lessons you gained from this internship?

I learned that a successful organization relies on its greatest assets, its people; developing your organization’s people to be good to one another while having a high standard for the service you’re providing to your customers is a great business model.

Students Take Fourth Place in a Non-Profit Case Consulting Competition

BHP students Robert Ma, Thomas Pigeon, Jane Tedjajuwana and Shannon Wey took fourth place at the McDonough-Hilltop Business Strategy Challenge at Georgetown University in Washington, DC this month. Twenty teams competed, 11 from the U.S. and nine international, in this unique non-profit case consulting competition. This year’s case centered on expanding job opportunities available to members of the National Institute for the Blind (NIB).


From left: Jane Tedjajuwana, Robert Ma, Thomas Pigeon, Shannon Wey

“The main goal of NIB is to help the blind become independent personally and financially. Our job in the case competition was to find ways for the NIB to open up job opportunities not only within the federal government, but in the private sector and in the service industries,” said Shannon Wey.

The team presented a three-pronged solution which involved starting an internship program allowing blind people to get a foot in the door with employers, building a stronger network of partner companies across the nation, and implementing a talent showcase open to companies to show what blind people are capable of with current assisted technologies.

The unique emphasis on non-profit organizations altered the way the students view not-for-profit work, “We realized all the different obstacles that are placed in front of a non-profit, be it people’s biases against the people the organization is trying to serve, to limited opportunities, to financial restrictions,” said Thomas Pigeon. “It gives you a greater appreciation for how they maximize every dollar they are given.”

“Non-profit put such a huge twist on it. I’ve done six or seven case competitions and this is the one I’ve enjoyed the most because the nature of the case made if feel more fulfilling because I felt like I was contributing to a greater cause,” said Robert Ma. The students were also able to dedicate more of their efforts in areas, which may not receive as much attention in typical business case competitions. “Because it’s a nonprofit we didn’t just focus in on revenue,” said Jane Tedjajuwana. “We didn’t look at the financial projection at all in the first round because they just wanted to hear our ideas and gage how realistic it was because ideally they wanted to be able to implement the solution.”

The team also enjoyed meeting other competitors from outside of the U.S. and hearing their global perspective on the case. “It provided a really unique experience for all of us. We appreciated how international it was. We met people from Hong Kong, Australia, Germany and Singapore,” said Robert Ma.

After taking a closer look at non-profit organizations, all of the team members said they would now definitely consider working with non-profits after college.

The trip was not all work. The group managed to find time to visit the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and made sure to make a pit stop at Georgetown Cupcake.