Internship Spotlight: Shivi Agarwal – BP Integrated Supply & Trading Division

Shivi AgarwalShivi Agarwal is a senior BHP/Finance major with minors in Supply Chain and Psychology. This past summer, Shivi held an internship with BP in their Integrated Supply & Trading division. She enjoyed the experience and decided to accept a full-time offer from BP to join their new Finance & Risk Rotational Program.

BP is currently accepting applicants for their early experience programs offered to freshmen and sophomores, BP STEP, Integrated supply and trading (IST) and BP scholars program. Applications are being accepted through March 15, 2016.   To learn more, please go to

What were your specific responsibilities in your internship?

I worked in Power Settlements, working in the back-end operations of the trading sphere. I worked on two main projects. The first was a cash forecasting project in which I was responsible for improving the current cash forecasting model. The Power Settlements team is required by the Treasury to submit a five-week cash forecast every week of how much they think the trades between the various ISO markets, which operate a region’s electricity grid, are going to be. The original forecast had several limitations, including lack of procedural standardization across the regional ISOs and differing timings in the availability of data. I analyzed the current situation for the cash forecasting modelling and provided solutions for possible improvements by holding discussions with analysts. I also created market overview charts, invoicing schedules, and a quantitative variance analysis to allow the analysts to better understand and improve the limitations.

The second major project I worked on was the cataloging project, in which I led the creation and revamping of documentation processes for the entire Settlements division. After presenting my proposal to the Settlements board, I remodeled the cataloging procedure for the division, as well as created a comprehensive SAP manual and an onboarding guide for new hires. Both of those are still being used today!

What is unique about the company and culture of BP?

I really appreciated the open door policy. I was able to meet with high-end executives and managers to find out more about what they do and their personal backgrounds. They were always happy to dedicate one-on-one time with me and offer advice to help me succeed and grow.

BP organized meetings for the interns in which leaders from different IST divisions would share about their role at BP and the nature of their division. These meetings were extremely helpful in understanding the core business and various operations of the company. They also held “Lunch and Learns”, where we learned ways to improve and develop our skills. As an intern, we had to give a final presentation and they helped us prepare for that. They really provided resources for us to understand the company culture, help us improve, and make the most out of the summer.

BP also organized several fun events for the interns, like going to Top Golf and bowling, as well as a group volunteering event with the Boys & Girls Club to give back to the community. As a sponsor for the Olympics, BP even gave us interns the opportunity to meet Olympians and Paralympians and listen o their remarkable stories.

Was there any one experience that really stood out to you?

As part of my Cataloging Project, I was able to present a proposal to the Board of Settlements Division. They responded with a lot of positive feedback and approved my proposal. Seeing my ideas actually being implemented and having a lasting impact on the organization felt incredibly rewarding.

Why did you decide to work there full-time and what will your role be?

I liked the team-oriented culture and found it to be rewarding.  I found there to be a lot of growth potential and I think BP will be a fantastic company to propel my career forward. The presentations by the division managers were very enlightening and helped me understand the unique skillsets I would gain by working with BP. Most importantly, the people of the company were vital in helping me form my decision. Everyone there was so intelligent, supportive, and wanted to help me grow. Ultimately, I wanted to work for a company that would have a positive impact on me, and I felt that BP would provide that.

I will be in the Finance and Risk Rotation Program, a three-year rotation program in the Integrated Supply and Trading division. It is a relatively new program for BP, based out of the Houston office. Because it is a rotational program, I will have the opportunity to get exposure in various realms of the trading business and to increase my experience overall.

What would you say to students who are nervous about going to work in the Oil & Gas industry with the current downturn in that industry?

While the Oil & Gas industry is notorious for market fluctuations, there are several other industries, such as Retail and I-Banking, that are equally as temperamental. However within the O&G industry, there are many sectors that are not as affected by these fluctuations, including Supply and Trading. Do your research on each industry and the various sectors within them. There is a lot of room to learn and grow your career in Oil & Gas. Don’t be deterred and be inspired to take on a challenge.



Alumni Spotlight: John Michael Cassetta – Class of 2010, Strategy & Development at The New York Times

John MichaelJohn Michael Cassetta, BHP 2010, works on the Strategy & Development team at The New York Times. His work has included launching new products and assisting with acquisitions and other strategic investments. He is currently working on an ambitious plan to double digital revenue to a whopping $800 million by 2020. He previously worked as a strategy & operations consultant for Deloitte Consulting.

After you graduated, you went to work as a consultant for Deloitte, with a focus on media and publishing industries. What drew you to those industries and why do you find working in that industry so interesting?

When I started in consulting, I knew I wanted to experience a breadth of industries, but my English major also taught me that I was interested in media and publishing

It took a couple of years to be in a position where I could work with our media group at Deloitte. My first year was less about pursuing my interests than about rounding out the tactical skills I would use for the rest of my career. During that year, I developed good relationships with the partners I worked for, and through conversations with them about my career goals and interests, I was able to transition into doing strategy work in our media practice for my next projects.

Having now moved to the Times, what I find interesting about the media industry is the huge and necessary impact journalism has on the way our society functions. I really believe it’s necessary for us to continue to inform and thereby better the world. But news is expensive, and you have to find a way to make sure that both readers and advertisers continue to want to pay for it. The complexity of that dual-revenue model was intriguing to me, and so is the reward of being part of an institution that uses that money to pay to send reporters safely to war zones, have journalists with law degrees covering the Supreme Court, invest in very expensive investigative journalism, and generally have the financial freedom to independently report the news. That’s very exciting.

How did the projects you had at Deloitte prepare you for what you are doing now?

One of the things you really learn in consulting is the mechanics of influence. On a lot of projects you fight every day to maintain relevance. Just because the project is sold doesn’t mean your answers are going to be immediately accepted and implemented by your client.

In industry, it is a similar thing. The Times has over 3,000 employees and a lot of them are occupied with writing the news every single day. Just the fact you solved a business problem or developed a strategic perspective isn’t enough for those recommendations to become integrated into the way the organization works. In consulting, I learned the extra step of identifying the influencers, communicating my ideas, and thinking about the real impact and tactical execution of the recommendations you make. I think that was the biggest thing in consulting that prepared me for what I am doing now.

How did you end up at the New York Times? Did you seek your position out or did someone come to you with the opportunity?

I sought it out, but I would say it was serendipitous. I was working for a similar media client at Deloitte and realized I wanted to do it full-time. I started talking to people in my network and someone knew someone, who knew someone, and I started the conversation with the Times. Once I did, it seemed like a really natural fit and I was very excited about it. I have now been here seven months.

Doubling digital revenue in five years is an ambitious goal. What pieces of the plan are you responsible for?

Our team is responsible for all of it at a high level. Our executives determine the core of the strategy, but we have a hand in crafting the message and working with people on all levels to execute it.

For instance, we developed a strategy for how our video group will contribute to our revenue growth goals. We want to work with video as a way of storytelling as we move forward, but we have to figure out the mechanics of the business model. So we need to answer questions like how much it costs to send reporters to foreign countries, which advertisers would be interested in being involved in those efforts, and how we ethically and profitably set up those relationships. Then at a higher level, the team has to determine how we make sure the content we create is something our subscribers are interested in. I have a portfolio of two to three different projects at all times. It is similar to the consulting work I did, but more focused, and we work on more things at once.

What do you think will be the biggest challenge in reaching the goal?

The biggest challenge is continuing to be relevant and reinforcing the value of the Times with our readers. It isn’t enough for a newspaper anymore to just publish the news every day. You have to stay in readers’ lives in new and innovative ways. For example by using virtual reality as a new way to tell stories. We recently sent out Google Cardboard VR (virtual reality) units to all of our home subscribers, with which they can watch VR videos on refugees on three continents, political campaign rallies during election season or breaking news during the terrorist attacks in Paris, to name a few. We’re proud at the Times to be able to push the envelope further in that medium, making innovation in the way we tell stories core to our brand. With proliferation of media and content everywhere, we as a news organization can’t take for granted that people are going to come to us every day. It is something we have to work towards.

You majored in BHP, Finance and English. It seems like what you are doing really does combine all three of those very well. Can you talk about how the skills you gained through your UT classes have helped you in your career?

The collaborative skills and strategic frameworks we learned in BHP and Finance classes allowed me to feel comfortable approaching business problems in the real world, so I felt well-prepared in my first year as a consultant to make sense of what I was working on. My English degree, maybe surprisingly, has had a lot of application in the business world. It’s more than just being able to communicate well, it’s the analytical rigor of literary analysis – you are unpacking some of the most difficult literature in the English language every week – that isn’t so different to understanding the mechanics of a complicated business problem.

What advice do you have for current BHP students?

Budget in some time for serendipity. A lot of what you do in college and life is focused on honing skills, but that only amounts to preparation for opportunities. I find that making time to find new opportunities, which can literally mean going out with friends I haven’t seen in a while to ask them what’s new with them, has surfaced new opportunities for growth for me. This false narrative of if you want something, put your head down and work hard for it isn’t true. Sometimes I think if you really want something, go get a drink at a bar alone and see who has some thoughts on it.

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.

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.


Junior Jeffrey Li Working to Make Positive Changes to Medical Research

JeffLiJeff Li was drawn to UT by the roaring school spirit, high-caliber academics and top-notch funding for research. When he started at UT he found a land of opportunity as he made the transformation from Biochemistry major in his freshman year to a double major in BHP and the Dean’s Scholar Honor’s Program in natural sciences. He also received the Unrestricted Endowed Presidential Scholarship, which is one of the most prestigious continuing student scholarships offered by UT and has also become heavily involved in research, “I’m so thankful that I chose UT because there are a lot of opportunities here that I don’t think I would’ve found elsewhere,” said Li.

Jeff LiLi has always known that he wanted to go into healthcare and research, interning at the Texas Medical Center immediately after graduating high school. Now as a junior in the BHP, Li has found a new interest in examining how healthcare and business intersect, “I want to learn more about how to take the business principles from my BHP courses and cross-apply them to make healthcare more efficient. I want to make a big contribution in this area,” said Li.

He is specifically concerned with how research funds are allocated and the extended time gap between when a medical breakthrough begins at the laboratory bench to ten plus years when it reaches the patient’s bedside. “It’s interesting to me how someone puts a quantitative value on someone’s potential research. I think business concepts and risk management can play a big part in improving this decision-making process by decreasing possible risk and subjectivity,” said Li. “Something McCombs is really good at is teaching us how to make the best choices with a limited amount of information and that’s something I want to continue to learn here and apply to interdisciplinary healthcare and science fields.”

As for the time gap in the research process, Li would like to find improvements to promote efficiency. “What I want to do is leverage education and sustainable business models to develop new therapies for things like Alzheimer’s and cancer, and create new technologies,” said Li. “And I’d like to accelerate that development – get the necessary approval, get it to the patient’s bedside and then bring the information you collect from the patient’s bedside back to the lab bench creating bi-directional communication.”

Jeff Li (front) with Learn To Be

Jeff Li (front) with Learn To Be

Shortly after beginning in the BHP, Li discovered another passion for education through Learn To Be, a non-profit organization that offers free online tutoring services to underprivileged children across the country. Li became involved with the UT chapter, started by a group of BHP students, after learning about the group’s mission. “A lot of times tutoring doesn’t make it to the areas that need it most,” said Li. “What most schools in the nation do have is a computer and internet access, which is really all we need.” Learn To Be has over 600 tutors across the nation made available to students in grades 5–12 via different pre-existing technologies.

Ultimately, Li is working towards creating a better world for generations to come, “I believe that people should not be a victim of their DNA. People should not be a victim of the zip code from where they grew up. Everyone should have the right to aspire to something,” said Li.

Jeff LiLi’s outstanding contributions on campus have not gone unnoticed. He was recently chosen as a recipient of the Texas Exes Presidential Leadership Award, which recognizes undergraduate students who have demonstrated outstanding leadership within the student community at UT Austin. “It means the world to me,” said Li. “I really love that the UT community rewards students for taking a blind leap of faith to make real changes in this world, holding true to the motto, ‘What starts here changes the world,’” said Li. He also encourages his peers to find their passion and take action, “A lot of people think they’ll wait to create change until they get a job or finish graduate school, but you can make a difference right here, right now.”

Li will graduate next year and plans to continue on to medical school. His hope for the future is to work as an intermediary improving the health of others by further opening the valve between research and healthcare.