Tag Archives: leadership

Competing With Engineers for a Sustainable World

A couple of months ago, we all received an invitation to compete in BASF’s Team Chemistry challenge. A fellow MPA student decided to formTexas-mascot a group, and so I joined. It seemed like a fun project – come up with ideas to lessen the environmental impact of football gameday. I love football gameday and I have an interest in environmental sustainability, so it was like a match made in heaven. Of course, the incentive of winning a bunch of money didn’t hurt.

So, we set to work coming up with ideas on how to approach the problem.  We easily came up with a host of small solutions that would have some impact, but quickly got bogged down in the details. After spending some more time pondering our work, we decided to focus on a group  of related solutions and hone in on them.  As Joel said in his most recent article about accountants being risk-averse, we learned from our initial mistakes, found the proper balance, and ended up with some pretty cool ideas.

We were invited to a couple of events by BASF and the Athletic Department to learn more about the initiative and the goals of the competition. One event was a sustainability panel sponsored by UT Engineers for a Sustainable World. The panel was entirely made up of engineers and the audience was entirely engineers … except two of us MPA students. It was very intimidating hearing about them discussing various polymers of which we had no clue of their existence much less their properties. Apparently these students have a big advantage over us with their knowledge of chemicals, considering BASF is essentially a chemical company. The next event was a stadium tour, during which our guides told us about their issues with waste management. Their focus seemed to be only on waste management problems, while our solutions did little to address that.

ConcoursePoster_#2_Sec120But, we pressed on, confident in the power of our ideas despite not having the technical knowledge that is certainly common among our competition. What we do have is a business ingenuity that enabled us to come up with feasible solutions that are easily implemented and have a measurable impact. We used the skills we have learned in economics, finance, and accounting to estimate the results of our proposals. We also used our branding and presentation skills to develop a persuasive format through which to deliver our proposal.

We find out Friday if we are invited to the finalist round, where we will present and defend our ideas in a “shark tank” environment. We’ve had fun putting it all together, and we’re proud of our accomplishments, but it would be great to get to write a “Part II” to this article about our preparation for the finalist round!


Melissa Takes Boston: Part 2 (Lessons from Beyonce)

Did everyone have a happy Super Bowl weekend? (Or happy Beyonce weekend to those of you whose interests align more with mine.) Beyonce has been very popular in entertainment news recently with the lip syncing controversy and as headliner for the Super Bowl halftime show. I thought I would take some time to share some of my favorite (and applicable) lessons we, as MPA students, can learn from Beyonce.

1. No one can tell you that you can’t succeed. One of my favorite quotes is, “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” – Van Gogh. I think this quote can be extended as a solution to any voice you hear that tells you that you cannot succeed. As students at the University of Texas, members of the MPA program, and even interns in the field, there will always been someone who does not believe we can succeed. (Even if it is ourselves.) Looking at the Beyonce lip-syncing controversy, when she was criticized for her inaugural performance, she retaliated by singing the National Anthem at the start of the Super Bowl Press Conference. As you go through school and our internships, you have to remember that no one can tell you that you can’t succeed. And when they do, because they will, then prove them wrong.

2. “You know it costs to be the boss. One day you’ll run the town.” I have always found this lyric of Beyonce’s to be particularly interesting but I find it more applicable as I get further into my education. Classes can be overwhelming sometimes and I know I am not the only one who has dramatically questioned if it is all worth it. As we go through intense classes and now a busy-season internship, we must keep in mind that these are all steps towards our goals. We may have some struggles along the way, but one day we’ll run the town. (and according to B, us girls will run the world.)

3. Image is important. Before I became a business student, I didn’t own a suit, and I had maybe one or two business casual outfits. Throughout recruiting and now during my internship, I am learning how important it is to ‘dress to impress.’ How you dress is often the first impression that others have about you. Although it is key to act professionally, you will not be taken seriously if you are not also dressed with professionalism. (Beyonce certainly always dresses to impress.)

Beyonce’s driven personality and inspiring songs are great sources for inspiration as we continue along our educational paths and soon into our careers.  Who do you look to for life lessons and what lessons have stuck with you?

Click here to read Part 3 of Melissa Takes Boston!

Welcome back, Longhorns!

BevoWelcome back, everyone! If you are new to the MPA program this year- congratulations and I hope you are excited for an amazing year! I hope everyone had a wonderful summer and the transition back into the swing of things isn’t proving to be too difficult. My summer was a fun one, but I am glad to be back at McCombs.

Over the summer I was informed of some fantastic news about UT. The UT Austin ALPFA Chapter received the Student Chapter Award for the Central Region! ALPFA is largest Latino association for business professionals and students with chapters nationwide. Every year they chose a student chapter from each region and this year, it was UT! I am increasingly humbled and honored to be a part of this school when I learn about all of the accomplishments and accolades that UT is constantly bringing in.

Another tidbit of exciting news this summer was the selection of the winners for the 2012 Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Awards. This year, two McCombs professors were honorable recipients, Anitesh Barua and Steven Kachelmeier. I had the opportunity to take an MPA class with Professor Kachelmeier last semester and it is great to see a familiar professor receive this award! In the article, Professor Kachelmeier is quoted regarding the importance of passion in a teaching role saying, “If a teacher is not passionate about the subject matter, one can hardly expect students to feel otherwise.” Passion about the subject is something that I really value in a professor and if you are new to McCombs this year, you can certainly expect to see passion for their subject is key to McCombs professors.

To be emotional, or not to be emotional? That is the question

As you can see, not everyone appreciates tears!

Boehner Gets Weepy on 60 Minutes

In my organizational behavior class, we discussed the above video showing Representative John Boehner’s use of tears in public speaking. The majority of my class expressed negative opinions about this practice, saying that it showed weakness and didn’t really have a place in politics. One classmate compared crying in politics to crying in business, saying that it would be inappropriate to cry in the boardroom.

After leaving class, this question couldn’t leave my mind: Is the use of emotions appropriate in politics and the business world?

The first way I approached this question was in the field of politics. I first watched this video in my business communications class last semester, and I thought Boehner’s blatant showing of emotions lost him credibility. However, upon seeing this video a second time, I’m starting to see where Boehner is coming from. Although I am not necessarily a fan of tears or politicians proponing tears when trying to appeal to their audience; I do appreciated the showing of Boehner’s seemingly genuine emotion. With responsibilities such as passing legislation regarding abortion and stem cell research, declaring war and dispatching our soldiers, isn’t it nice that our leaders are taking their decisions to heart? If my congressman was discussing these issues in an objective, non-emotional tone, I would interpret the decision as cold and calculating with little regard of the consequences to constituents. Continue reading To be emotional, or not to be emotional? That is the question

Why I Live Strong

My friend Allie and I running the LiveSTRONG Marathon in Austin last year to spread awareness

At the very beginning of 2012, I joined Team LiveSTRONG. As a member of Team LiveSTRONG, I help raise awareness and raise funds to improve the lives of people affected by cancer. Although I have never personally had to battle cancer, my life as still been affected by this disease.

To summarize my history with cancer, both my beloved Grandpa Jimbo and one of by best friends in elementary school, Bailey, ran out of time in their battles with cancer. After losing them, I guess I thought that cancer was done with me. That I could no longer be affected….but of course that could never happen.

In September, my dad found out his best friend from college, Mike, was diagnosed with cancer and had a very slim chance of survival. I felt so helpless seeing the hurt my father felt while dealing with this news. My parents and I visited Mike and his family over winter break, and I suddenly became furious at the toll that battling cancer took on such an incredibly funny, bright and kind man. It was then I realized cancer would never stop affecting my life, or millions of others’ lives, until it was cured.

Now, obviously because I am a student in the MPA program, I am in no way qualified to cure cancer. But, I could take action. I decided to join Team LiveSTRONG so I could no longer feel helpless in the fight against cancer, and so I could spread hope to people like Mike and his support group.

I personally got involved in the war on cancer because I became fed up with being helpless. I know almost everyone has an issue close to their heart that they can’t stand for and we all need a way to find a sense of agency and hope.

So… What do you do about it? GET INVOLVED! Continue reading Why I Live Strong