Student Spotlight: Bethany Rolan

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BHP senior Bethany Rolan was originally intimidated by the size of UT and envisioned herself at  small liberal arts college in the northeast. Her mother insisted that she apply to one Texas school, so she applied to UT Austin. She didn’t know much about BHP at the time. She had only heard about it through her college counselor. After being accepted into the program, she attended Discover BHP in the Spring of her senior year.  Bethany remembers it as an incredible experience, and appreciated that the professors really knew their students. The program was what led her to choose UT and BHP.

As an entering freshman, she aspired to be an event planner specializing in corporate events and high-end weddings. This led her to join the student organization Campus Events and Entertainment. She served on the Texas Traditions Committee planning such campus events as Texas Revue, the largest campus talent show, and 40 Acres Fest, the largest campus outdoor festival.

Bethany was honored to be accepted into Orange Jackets, the oldest women’s service organization on campus, her sophomore year. This year, she is serving as the president of the organization. She says that “it has been the biggest opportunity for development she has ever experienced” and says that trying to lead a group of driven, empowered women leaders has helped her to learn about herself, her competencies, and her leadership style. Bethany is also involved in the Best Buddies program, where she works with adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and she is a member of the Honors Business Association.

Bethany added a supply chain major her sophomore year and landed an internship with Fiat Chrysler in the area of Purchasing . She enjoyed the role, but found her career interests shifting again as she learned from her peers about the dynamic opportunities to engage new audiences, travel across the world, and work on unique projects as a management consultant. She recruited for a management consulting position her Junior year and was grateful to have the opportunity to intern with McKinsey. Bethany will return to the firm as a full-time employee after graduation.  She plans to join the women’s network at her new firm and is excited to work for a company that will let her work on projects that empower women.

In the future, she would like to consult in education and lead empathy and language campaigns for young students, teaching inclusivity. “How we are taught to talk people and how we hear people talk about others is very important,” she says. 

Having a strong support system of students who are all driven, yet passionate about diverse interests, has made a significant impact on Bethany’s BHP experience. “People are the whole point,” she says, explaining that engaging with others deeply and developing strong relationships have been the most rewarding part of college. “BHP and Orange Jackets have changed me as a person and are what I will remember most about college. Every project, initiative, and event I have helped complete on campus has been enabled by incredible people.” She wholeheartedly believes that informal mentoring from older students was instrumental in her gaining an understanding of the unique career paths she could take, which is why she is always happy to go to lunch or grab coffee with underclassmen!

Daniel Miyares: Student Spotlight

Daniel_MiyaresMaryland native Daniel Miyares has always had his heart set on the south. When he visited UT as a high school student, he fell in love with Austin’s great people, fun activities, and pleasant weather. He applied to BHP not knowing the magnitude of opportunities, benefits, and connections it has to offer. Once he began his freshman year, he quickly realized BHP was “pretty spectacular in terms of, not only the rankings, but the opportunities BHP provides on campus and post graduation.” He is a BHP and MIS major and will graduate in May 2019.

Daniel came to UT knowing that he wanted to get involved in the start-up community and create his own business, but as he started to define his college experience, a passion for social entrepreneurship and social responsibility developed. He is currently interning at a social enterprise in Austin, Care2Rock. The company will soon be pitching to a start-up incubator, and he is helping them prepare. Care2Rock is a small office, with only two full-time employees, and is in the early stages of development. Care2Rock is launching an online music tutoring platform that will positively impact the foster care community nationwide. During the course of his internship, he has identified a referral program to help them grow and expand their customer acquisition efforts, assisted in optimizing their operations, and supported other business efforts.

Daniel also interned for ZeeMee, a venture-backed startup based in Mountain View, CA, which provides an online platform for students to express themselves in a social-media friendly, three-dimensional way throughout the college and job application processes. ZeeMee is currently partnered with more than 200 colleges, from the University of Oklahoma to Carnegie Mellon, to Morehouse, who allow students to submit their pages as part of their application. Daniel worked with their outreach and their operations teams, and spent most of the last school year coordinating their internship program. Daniel characterizes ZeeMee as “an ideal of a successful startup because of their mutual respect for each other, unrelenting drive, and fun-loving attitude.”

On campus, Daniel is heavily involved in the UT Longhorn Entrepreneurship Agency. Daniel was also part of the Launchpad program, a branch of Freshmen Founders, last year as a freshman, and is now directing the program. The Launchpad program works with aspiring first-year students who are excited about entrepreneurship, but don’t know how to start. The Freshman Founders Program offers a semester long, immersive introduction to the UT and the Austin startup community. The program is a sequence of entrepreneurial seminars, workshops, and events meant to allow participants to network with the Austin startup community, and aimed at teaching them about on-campus resources available for student entrepreneurs. The organization also connects students with mentors. Daniel says he has been blown away by what students have done this year in the launch pad program.

Daniel attributes much of his success to the community of high-caliber students he has bonded with in BHP. “They are not only highly intelligent and have founded their own companies, but they have great personalities and we can share laughs.”

Major Representatives Help Students Choose Additional Business Major

For the past two years, BHP has sought out upperclassmen representing each business major to serve as Major Representatives. Major Representatives are available to help underclassmen trying to determine which business major would be the best fit for them. Although BHP students do not need to take on another business major, most choose to do so and the choice of which one to pursue can be a difficult one.

Senior Kruti Mehta is serving as a major representative for Management Information Systems (MIS). Kruti came into UT planning to do pre-med, but realized freshman year she didn’t want to pursue that path anymore.

“One day I woke up and decided I didn’t want to be a pre-med student anymore. So I  did the only thing I could think of and ran straight to the BHP office, having no idea what I wanted or how to even ask for help,” said Kruti. “I must have looked so terrified when I got there, because the upperclassman working the desk immediately left his chair and came and sat on the couches with me. And an hour later, I was still sitting there, except five to six additional upperclassmen had joined the discussion.  A few hours and many conversations later, I finally left the office, relieved. I’ll never forget the immense gratitude I felt towards these students that willingly came to the rescue of a lost freshman that they didn’t even know. I still think back on this day as one of my favorite memories from being a part of this program.”

Kruti encourages students to visit with a major representative or another upperclassman if they need help figuring out what they would enjoy doing or are just looking for a dependable friend to help guide them.

BHP has devoted a page of our current student site to our major representatives. On this page, students can read about why these students chose their major, what specific skills they associate with the major and why they would recommend the major to other students. Their contact information is also provided for students who are interested in contacting them to learn more about their experience in the major.

Additionally, BHP will host a Major Representatives Coffee Chat on Monday, October 17 from 5-6 pm in the GSB Event Room. This event will give students the opportunity to visit with all of the reps and ask them questions about the specific path they are considering. Please RSVP for this event in advance.

Senior Nadia Senter is living her dream working for Universal Music Group

nadia-senterBHP senior Nadia Senter has wanted to work in the music industry since high school. She got her wish when she landed a coveted internship with the Grammys, which then led to an even more coveted internship with Universal Music Group (UMG), eventually leading to a full-time job with UMG which she will start this summer. It has been a long journey full of hard work and persistence, but that persistence has paid off.

As a senior in high school at Westlake High School in Austin, Nadia called nearly 100 places in Austin trying to land her first internship in the music industry. Finally one person, Freddie Krc, said yes, and took her on. Freddie owns his own record label, has a lot of music industry connections and he was a governor on the board of The Recording Academy, which administers the Grammys. He encouraged her to get involved in GrammyU in college.

Each year GrammyU hires two interns from each of their chapters who are juniors. Nadia landed the internship her junior year. It isn’t your typical internship, as it is a year-round commitment and requires 20 hours a week. It was through a connection she made at GrammyU that Nadia made an introduction to UMG.

The UMG interview process was rigorous, with multiple rounds of interviews and reference checks for all of her previous jobs. Nadia was one of only 60 students nation-wide to land the internship. Again, she was expected to work year-round, part-time during the year and full-time during the summer. Nadia doesn’t mind the work load, because she loves what she is doing. She is a College and Lifestyle Marketing Representative, serving as UMG’s boots on the ground in Austin. When one of their artist’s comes through, she goes to the show, then reports on the venue, how the show went, the demographics of the audience, and builds relationships with the venues and record stores in Austin. She is also working on new artist development, coming up with ideas to gain exposure with college students in the area.

Once a semester Nadia and the entire intern team are flow to the UMG headquarters in Santa Monica for a type of case competition. Each team is given a new artist and tasked with determining plans for how to market their artist. The teams then pitch their plans to the executives. The interns are also introduced to employees in all departments. If interns in their program do well, they will be hired full-time and will have the opportunity to pick which department they are most interested in working in, so it is important that they understand all the functions at the company. Nadia is still figuring out what function she prefers, but knows she has an interest in entertainment law, and is considering pursuing a law degree in the future.

Reflecting back upon her success in landing these coveted internships, Nadia says networking was the key to her success. “I went to every possible event in the music industry that I could,” she says. “Getting a good mentor, which I had with Freddie, was also important.”

Alumni Spotlight: Taylor Hwang, Class of 1990

Taylor HwangTaylor Hwang, BHP ’90, has had a varied career in emerging technologies and entrepreneurship, working on both coasts, in Korea, and in various industries. He is currently Head of Strategic Relationships at an advanced data analytics company in San Francisco.

While at Booz Allen & Hamilton, you worked on a project in cooperation with Netscape that turned out to be the world’s first global intranet. Tell me more about that project and what you learned from it.

The firm was using itself as a guinea pig to determine what could be offered to clients. Netscape was an unknown company at the time, and we needed external expertise about internet-based technology since we didn’t know much about it. Netscape sent one of their technical experts, who turned out to be Marc Andreessen {editor’s note: Marc is co-founder of Netscape and is one of six inductees to the World Wide Web Hall of Fame}. The idea was to create a tool that would serve as a knowledge system. A consultancy runs off the knowledge of experts in-house. The existing culture was such that if you were the particular subject matter expert, you would hoard that knowledge so that related projects had to come to you for expertise.

The knowledge system had the potential to change the existing culture. With the intranet, if you wanted to be the recognized subject matter expert, you had to be the author of the dominant document on that subject which was then shared across the company. The companion project to the launch of the intranet was the development of a change management practice. Up until the mid-90s, the major management consultancies would charge a company a large fee for a report about a particular problem and then it would be up to the client to read and implement the recommendations.  Often the client’s senior leadership wouldn’t really know how to implement the recommended changes, and the changes they tried to implement would frequently fail. Booz Allen recognized that the launch of the intranet knowledge system would require a cultural shift in the company and had to be explicit about how to get colleagues to embrace the changes. We studied how to get organizations to change and used this knowledge on ourselves to adopt the new intranet. We were using ourselves as a guinea pig on two different experiments and both worked very well, much better than most people had anticipated.

Apple heard about the project and decided to provide marketing support, and as a result, anyone who was remotely involved in the project was being hunted by headhunters and offered big positions many of us were unqualified to take. The interesting lesson for me at that early point in my career was that unplanned opportunities can come your way if you’re already working hard toward some meaningful goal.  I didn’t recognize the magnitude of internet technology’s potential and lobby to get on the project. I was forced on the project as a lesson for being too finicky about what projects I was willing to work.  Yet, that experience turned out to be one of the most significantly positive points in my career.

In 2002, you started your own business, EmiFinancial Corporation. What service did your company provide and what lessons in entrepreneurship would you pass on to others who are thinking about or have already started their own business?

Emifinancial provided stored-value MasterCard financial services customized to the unbanked Hispanic immigrant consumer at about half the average annual fees. I started that business in an industry that I had very little exposure to. It worked out okay for me, but I don’t know if it was the right decision. I selected the EmiFinancial business because my industry expertise was in media and entertainment right after the internet bubble burst, and media wasn’t a great industry at the time for a first-time entrepreneur to start a new business. I wanted to go into an industry that provided essentials, and basic financial services is an essential. We did a structured brainstorming and applied weighted prioritization criteria, and the idea for EmiFinancial rose to the top out of 26 ideas. It was important to me that we apply the same kind of rigor in starting a company that we would apply for a client.

In most cases, it is better to be in an industry you understand well. The target demographic was Hispanic immigrants, and I didn’t understand that market at all. It would have been much easier if I went into an industry I understood or was fascinated by. I was just fascinated by the idea of starting a new company and learning a new demographic. Starting a company is one of the hardest jobs. You have to pursue it because you love what it is, and love the gratification of building something, and if it is a consumer business, offering something of value to your customer. I would recommend that if you do find a viable opportunity where you are already interested in the subject matter or audience, that’s usually a good reason to pursue that opportunity.

You spent nearly three years in Seoul, Korea, as a country manager for frog design. How was doing business over there different than doing business in the U.S.?

It was completely different, especially relative to the meritocracy of the Bay Area. Korea, many feel is one of the last strongholds of Confucianist society. It’s like bureaucracy masquerading as philosophy and almost the opposite of meritocracy. If you are an employee working at one of the conglomerates and you start with a number of peers in a certain group, you are a team. If you are contributing more relative to your teammates and advance ahead of the group, the group views you as an enemy at that point, so management will actually suppress your advancement to give the group a chance to catch up and promote corporate harmony. There is also an ageist element to Korean business. As an example, I showed up to a meeting with a conglomerate CEO where his bank of secretaries greeted me. They thought I looked much younger than expected from my title and tried to bar me from meeting the CEO because I was not old enough. That would never happen in Silicon Valley. You frequently encounter 20-something geniuses here who have a great business idea, and you want to take that meeting.

It was a rude awakening to what I was entering into and how different things were going to be. I was grateful for the experience, but I am glad to be back. Korean businessmen also have a very heavy drinking culture, so my liver suffered tremendously.

When you came back from that, you moved into a venture investment role for Proof Ventures, investing in technologies such as the Internet-of-things and voice recognition. Tell me more about what you were doing in that role?

I started the fund, and the original model was to take Korean entrepreneurs succeeding in Korea and help them expand to the U.S. market. The entire market there is still dominated by the conglomerates. A successful Korean entrepreneur with an ideal domestic client list including all the conglomerates will have his or her margins squeezed by the rampant collusion among the giants. With your suppressed margins, there is really nowhere to grow domestically. Even if the conglomerates make you an offer, they don’t make very good offers and will make sure no other conglomerates give you a counter offer to play them off of each other. I thought there was a market to help the entrepreneurs expand to the U.S. When the entrepreneurs enter the U.S. market, they have very little idea what they are doing. I overestimated the Korean entrepreneurs’ ability to adapt to the U.S. market even with full financial, legal, and operational support. I was early to the market. They have such a unique way of operating that is particular to the Korean market and not very adaptive. In the venture capital, it really comes down to the entrepreneurial team succeeding, and if they don’t succeed, your efforts are in vain, which is what we saw.

The experience gave me exposure to a new set of emerging technologies. In tech, you have to have a willingness to dive in and learn the new technologies. Even in my current role, the CEO had to tutor me in advanced data analytics . It’s been 25 years since I touched code, but I’m playing with R Studio to gain context for what our data practitioners are doing for our clients.

Do you have any advice for current BHP students?

I can share an anecdote. I was mentoring entrepreneurs at Draper University and had a chance to meet the new generation of entrepreneurs. Relative to Silicon Valley where there are so many experienced entrepreneurs, these early entrepreneurs are very green. They have an understandable naiveté about what is in front of them which can provide optimism and a clear vision, but you can see that the current models they are pursuing often have a low probability of success. One student had one of the more viable ideas to provide direct mentoring by Silicon Valley engineers to students aspiring to similar positions and also provide a filtered recruiting channel for employers, but he abandoned his model in favor of a startup swag retailing business that didn’t really add significant value to the market place or enhance his more marketable business skills. I shared with him that his criteria for selecting a business to build shouldn’t neglect looking at the long-term value to his career. Even if the desire is to be a serial entrepreneur, you should consider the marketable value of the skills you develop while building your chosen business.

I would also say if you have interest in data-driven insights, you will likely do well to pursue it as a career.  I’m biased in my opinion, but the more I learn, the more I see that business is only scratching the surface of what true data insight can provide, and almost every sector stands to significantly enhance its decisions and planning over the coming decade as data science progresses.  Currently, demand for skilled experts far exceeds supply, and any solid recruit is practically guaranteed a position.