finance

J. Crew CEO Mickey Drexler and visiting professor Iris Apfel pose with students participating in the School of Human Ecology's UT in NYC program. 

Photo Credit: Kelsey Barajas | Daily Texan Staff

The summer after my freshman year, I had the opportunity to take an internship position in Fendi North America’s flagship office in New York City, right above their 5th Avenue retail store. 

When I first interviewed and toured the office, I had a magical feeling. Pictures of illustrious models were draped around the office. The furniture was chic and pristine. The office employees seemed bursting with happiness in every department as I toured and interviewed there. I happily accepted the offer to work there — even though it was unpaid — as I thought I would be able to see what made Fendi such a luxurious and highly regarded brand.

Though my time as an accounting intern at Fendi was interesting and enlightening, the biggest feeling I had working there was discovery. My experience working on the corporate accounting side was filled with interdepartmental projects and investigations into fashion industry-related issues that I didn’t even know existed. It was a huge learning opportunity and also an important realization of some of the truths and myths of working in the fashion industry. 

When I started, I thought everyone would have to dress in couture because it’s a fashion company. 

My first day in New York City, the day before I started work, I spent the whole day obsessing over my outfit. I am not someone who dresses with the style of a true fashionista — in other words, on most days you can find me in jean shorts and T-shirts, without makeup and with my hair in a messy bun. But I shopped for a cute outfit, bought new makeup and debated over which handbag to bring to impress my sure-to-be fashion-minded co-workers. 

When I stepped into the office, though, I quickly realized that the cute outfits I saw on recruiting day weren’t the norm. 

While some people were definitely stylish, the common attire of the office seemed to be capri gaucho pants, quirky T-shirts and other eccentric fashion statements. 

After spending a few weeks in the office, I realized that the majority of my coworkers were not at Fendi because they themselves were fashionistas. Like me, they were there because they liked working for a big brand, and also because they didn’t want to leave New York City for familial reasons. 

Once I discovered this similarity — that we all weren’t fashion-inclined by our nature — I gained more confidence proposing ideas and presenting work.

In my first few days, I also realized that departments with more artistic qualities took priority over the more quantitative business units, which surprised me. 

The finance and accounting side of Fendi (located basement floor with no view of the city) was literally and figuratively below the advertising side (top floor, windows and decorations). Every project I worked on in accounting seemed to be a directive from advertising rather than finance. 

For instance, one of my projects was to analyze advertising budgets required by Fendi’s leasing contracts. When I presented my findings to my boss, which advocated for a substantial cut to the budget, she thanked me for doing a good job on it but then hinted that advertising would not make the cuts. 

The sentiment was if advertising felt like they needed the advertising, they would spend the money on it, regardless of financial justification. This is because the advertising department held more power and clout in the business than finance or supply chain. I learned that if I were to return to the fashion world, I would like to be in an area like advertising so that I could make significant impacts on the business.

While I never had to do things like get coffee for people, I was tasked with rectifying Fendi’s fraudulent credit card claims, which was a job involving emailing and calling credit card companies to get them to refund Fendi for certain return claims. 

Even though this task was not glamorous, I actually didn’t mind it too much, as I learned about true business operations that made Fendi function at the lowest level. But in the grand scheme of things, it was not an important job, which taught me that as a fashion intern, I’d most likely be doing menial tasks. 

At Fendi, like at any business, not all work is glamorous. For me, learning this lesson early on in my career has been instrumental. It gave me motivation to try harder when I returned to UT my sophomore year so I could ultimately be placed in a role that was a level higher than basic corporate functioning tasks. My Fendi internship humbled me, for which I am grateful. No work is “beneath me,” and this has given me a better attitude moving forward for other jobs. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work at the firm.

Morisette is a business honors and marketing senior from Houston. 

Editor’s Note: There are eight University-wide representative positions, for which 15 candidates are running. Eighty percent of University-wide representative candidates responded to the Daily Texan Candidate Questionnaire, and we judged the candidates based on the quality of their written responses as well as their performance at Monday’s candidate debate. All photos were provided by the candidates. Voting takes place Wednesday and Thursday at utexasvote.org.

 

Kallen Dimitroff, history and government junior

Kallen Dimitroff has been involved in numerous school organizations in her three years at UT. She previously worked as a first-year representative and a Liberal Arts representative in Student Government. With this experience, she is inspired to create a yearly conference sponsored by SG in which leaders from every major student group discuss issues of importance. She’s devoted to increasing unity on campus and helping students get connected. We strongly recommend Dimitroff.

 

John Falke, BHP, finance and government sophomore

John Falke is committed to student participation in the University. With ideas involving larger and more involved student organization fairs and an increased emphasis on student organizations at freshman orientation, Falke wants students to recognize all their options. As a current member of the Assembly, Falke has the experience needed to be an effective representative of all UT students and a desire to improve the internal culture of SG. We strongly recommend Falke.

 

Anika Agarwal, biomedical engineering freshman

Anika Agarwal does not believe that Student Government cannot effect real change. By “getting the student body more involved in the process of student government and by making the process of enacting legislation more transparent, SG can effectively mitigate this misconception,” Agarwal believes. This freshman’s solutions to campus issues like hours of operation in dining halls and bus route timing are practical and appeal to all ages and types of students. We endorse Agarwal.

 

Hayley Cook, advertising junior

Hayley Cook believes firmly in a “commitment to excellence” and strives to be a good leader. We were impressed to see that she has a specific goal targeting the availability of online recording of lectures to students on campus, and using technology to document SG progress. We liked her idea that by engaging and informing students, SG has an opportunity to empower the student population at UT. We recommend Cook.

 

Alejandrina Guzman, psychology sophomore

Alejandrina Guzman is dedicated to improving handicap accessibility around campus because she does not believe the amenities in place are enough. Guzman displays an initiative to speak on behalf of a group not always represented in Student Government. For her interests in student safety and updated accessibility, we recommend Guzman.

 

Kevin Helgren, psychology and neuroscience senior

As a newcomer to SG, Kevin Helgren makes up for his lack of experience with passion. Helgren believes in transparency and plans to implement an open-door policy — complete with monthly assemblies open to the student body —  if elected. Helgren has the drive and unique perspective to turn this campus around. We recommend Helgren.

 

Santiago Rosales, finance and economics freshman

Santiago Rosales is well aware of the necessary improvements that need to be made within SG and the University as whole. A first-year representative, he cited outreach as a major source of improvement, as well as internal communication. His long term goal is to “see a stronger UT challenge the Ivy League and lead the nation in research and alumni notoriety. That begins with a firm investment in the student life of my peers and a dedication to opening more doors for all students at UT.” We recommend Rosales.

 

Spencer Schredder, economics and international relations & global studies junior

Spencer Schredder understands the problems that exist within Student Government. For him, accountability and ethics play a large role in his life and will surely transfer over if elected. He plans on opening clear lines of communication between SG and the student population as well as increasing cross-cultural understanding and eliminating wasteful spending that could easily be more responsibly allocated to deserving groups and causes. We recommend Schredder.

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

Kevin Hegarty, UT’s vice president and chief financial officer, will step down from his position to become executive vice president and CFO at the University
of Michigan.

Mary Knight, associate vice president for finance, will serve as interim CFO until Hegarty’s position is filled.

Hegarty will make the transition from Texas to Michigan during this semester, pending approval from Michigan’s Board of Regents. His last day working on campus will be Feb. 26.

Since 2001, Hegarty has overseen finance, budget, real estate, information technology, open records, payroll and purchasing at UT. 

Mark Schlissel, president of the University of Michigan, spoke about Hegarty in a speech to Michigan’s Board of Regents.

“Mr. Hegarty is strongly committed to the role of public universities and brings a valuable combination of private sector and public higher education experience to the appointment,” Schlissel said. “I am confident he will serve our university well in meeting the challenges ahead.”

President William Powers Jr. said Hegarty has been a valuable resource to the University with regards to improvements in efficiency.

“Few people in our University’s history have served the campus with as much dedication and honor as Kevin,” Powers said. “He will be sorely missed and will always be a great friend. Kevin’s love for the Longhorns is exceeded only by his accomplishments improving the university, making us one of the most productive and efficient campuses in the nation and leading us through very challenging budget years.”

Hegarty has contributed to large-scale projects at UT, such as information technology, finance and procurement services and Shared Services, a plan to centralize the University’s human resources.

“If you look at any of the main initiatives that have happened at the University — things as big as the creation of the Dell Medical School — Kevin and his expertise [have] really been central to that,” UT spokesman Gary Susswein said. “This is a big loss for the university, but we wish Kevin well.”

Susswein said the search for Hegarty’s replacement will not begin until after the next UT president is in office.

Knight, who worked with Hegarty for the duration of his 13 years at UT, said she will continue to expand Shared Services while serving as interim CFO.

“We’ll continue to move forward with the Shared Services Initiative,” Knight said. “It’s currently in a pilot phase, so it has a relatively small impact on the campus as a whole.”

Knight commended Hegarty for his ability to work closely with faculty and administrators on campus.

“He’s got fabulous working relationships with the deans and the vice presidents and really has the attitude of ‘we are here to help with the academic and research mission, and we want to do our jobs well so that the mission of the University can be accomplished,’” Knight said.

Newly elected Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras appointed a UT visiting professor as the country’s finance minister Tuesday.

Yanis Varoufakis, a visiting professor in the LBJ School of Public Affairs, became an elected member of the Greek parliament this Sunday. He was sworn in as finance minister during a ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Athens on Tuesday.

Serving under Tsipras, Varoufakis will be a part of a new cabinet to advise the prime minister.

Varoufakis is one of the primary critics of Greece’s ongoing economic policies, which have sunk the economy to a historic low since the beginning of the Great Recession in December 2007, according to a statement from UT, “Varoufakis has been a leading voice of opposition to the policies conducted since the start of the financial crisis in Greece and throughout Europe by the European Union and its allied institutions, including the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank,” the statement said.

Robert Hutchings, dean of the LBJ School of Public Affairs, said Varoufakis is not new to the discussion about the Greek economy.

“He’s a prominent public intellectual known, not only in Greece as a major political figure, but around Europe, and he has been at the forefront of the discussion of the crisis in the eurozone,” Hutchings said.

Varoufakis said he will implement economic solutions that work for the various stakeholders of the Greek economy.

“As the next finance minister, I can assure you that I shall not go into the Eurogroup seeking a solution that is good for the Greek taxpayer and bad for the Irish, Slovak, German, French and Italian taxpayer,” said Varoufakis.

Although Varoufakis only taught at UT for two years, Hutchings said his time at the LBJ School served both students and faculty.

“It’s great for us as a faculty to have had him here for two years and great for students to have had the chance to study under someone who is now doing one of the toughest jobs in the world,” Hutchings said

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

Shared Services, a plan to centralize the University’s human resources, information technology, finance and procurement services, will be implemented differently in future pilot programs as a result of feedback from the first round of voluntary implementation. 

After months of discussion last spring, Shared Services’ implementation was scaled down to a few pilot programs in the College of Education and the Provost Portfolio, an administrative unit that oversees academic and professional areas in the University. The scaling down of the program was a result of recommendations made by the Shared Services Steering Committee. In February 2014, the Committee released a report calling for the University to conduct a pilot version of Shared Services so administrators would have more information about the effectiveness and impact of the program before rolling it out to the entire campus.

Now that pilot programs have been active for one long session, administrators are working to see what has gone well — and what could be going better. Jamie Southerland, associate vice president for Shared Services and Business Transformation, said the College of Education’s pilot program revealed issues as the semester went on.

“As the fall progressed, it became clear that the academic units involved in the pilot did not desire to reduce [their own] cost and/or administrative staffing, and therefore Shared Services offered no benefits to the units,” Southerland said.

To remedy this problem, administrators will recruit departments with a more active interest in implementing the pilot program’s services.

“We are also exploring the idea of offering services that any campus department could opt-in to,” Southerland said. “We know that there are processes that no one is happy with. We are in the process of determining how we can combine re-engineered processes into a service that campus finds valuable.”

Although groups such as the UT Save Our Community Coalition insisted that Shared Services would result in mass layoffs, one year after the pilot programs began, no jobs have been terminated, Almasy said.

“I think we’re now at the very least a year, if not two years, from when this discussion began, and there have been no layoffs or firings,“ Almasy said.

University officials are now looking for another department or college willing to implement a pilot program in order to collect another round of data.

“We are in conversations with other departments who are exploring a move to Shared Services, but we are not in a position to announce anything yet,” Southerland said.

Radio-television-film senior lecturer Anne Lewis said the University’s small-scale attempts at using Shared Services have not succeeded.

“It [has been] a miserable failure,” Lewis said. “It just didn’t work well when they tried to merge so many functions — so many individual functions, that served provost or faculty, into one kind of automated system.”

Southerland said the Provost Portfolio experience with Shared Services was a positive one.

“Thus far, the Provost Portfolio has been pleased with the quality of service from both the [Central Business Office] and [Academic Technology Support],” Southerland said. “They estimate that the switch to Shared Services has saved more than $1 million annually, most of which has already been reinvested in academic programs across the campus.”

A brief history:

In January, the Committee on Business Productivity released a plan titled “Smarter Systems for a Greater UT” that outlined recommendations on how to increase the University’s productivity and efficiency. This plan recommended a centralization of University services, leading to the birth of the “UT Shared Services Plan”.

President William Powers Jr. called the initiative to centralize services a “no-brainer” in a report to the University community on Jan. 29.

The Shared Services Committee was formed in order to provide feedback and guidance on the plan through its development.

 

Goal:

To create a more financially efficient and productive operation of the University by centralizing human resources, IT, finance and procurement operations.

 

Recommended Actions:

§  Create a singular administrative organization for human resources, IT, finance and procurement operations — rather than having individual services offered at different colleges and departments, as is currently the case.

 

§  Replace the current virtual administrative network, “DEFINE,” with new system, “Workday” in order to keep up with current technology.

 

§  Reduce the work force of the administrative fields in question — human resources, IT, finance and procurement — by 500 jobs over four years. The report projects that this can be done primarily through attrition. Currently, there are an estimated 4,500 employees in these fields. Kevin Hegarty, vice president and chief financial officer, said the quota of 500 is a conservative estimation and could be subject to change. 

 

§  Hegarty said the University will implement a pilot program on a large university unit before applying the plan campus-wide.

 

Dollars and Cents:

§  Projected savings of the plan: $280 million to $320 million over 10 years.

 

§  Projected cost of the plan: $160 million to $180 million over 10 years.

 

§  Projected net benefit of the plan: $120 million to $140 million over 10 years.

 

 Timeline:

§  A final copy of the plan will reportedly be released in January of 2014.

 

§  Hegarty said the pilot could be expected in eight to 10 months.

 

§  The elimination of all 500 jobs is expected to be complete by the fourth year of the plan’s implementation.

 

§  The sixth year of the plan’s implementation is expected to yield a payback.

ATHENS, Greece — German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday sought to calm market fears that Greece is heading for a chaotic default on its debts as Europe struggles to contain a crippling financial crisis.

Her comments came a day after her deputy raised the possibility of a default and ahead of another telephone discussion between Greece’s finance minister and his German counterpart.

“I think we will do Greece the greatest favor by not speculating much but instead encouraging Greece to implement the commitments it has made,” Merkel said.

Fears of an imminent Greek default have pushed interest rates on the country’s 10-year government bonds up further Tuesday to a new record of more than 24 percent, even though Merkel sounded a note of optimism regarding Greece’s chances of getting the next batch of bailout cash from the so-called troika — the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

“Everything that I hear from Greece is that the Greek government has hopefully understood the signs of the time and is now doing the things that are on the daily agenda,” Merkel said. “The fact that the troika is returning means that Greece has started doing some things that need to be done.”

Merkel also warned of the perils of an “uncontrolled” Greek bankruptcy.

“I have said ‘if the euro fails, Europe fails’ — that applies here, and therefore, everyone should very carefully weigh their words,” she said. “What we don’t need is unrest in the finance markets.”

Merkel suggested that an orderly default could not come any time soon, noting there was not even a mechanism currently in place for a eurozone nation to default. The future permanent European Stability Mechanism — the eurozone’s planned bailout fund — will come into force in 2013.

Greece is relying on international rescue loans to remain solvent. But lagging efforts to tame a bloated budget deficit and enforce reforms are now threatening that lifeline, which is conditional on fiscal progress.

Prime Minister George Papandreou was having what state NET TV called an “emergency meeting” with his finance chief, Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday.

Greece is trying to convince international creditors that it deserves to get the next, sixth tranche of money due from a bailout fund, and Venizelos is to speak Tuesday evening with German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble. A Greek official said the two will resume a 25-minute telephone conversation initiated by Venizelos the previous day.

Government spokesman Elias Mossialos said late Tuesday that Greece will get the bailout money.

“We will get the sixth tranche,” Mossialos told Alpha TV. “It will be disbursed in October,” he said, adding that Greece currently has enough cash to last it until the end of October.

Gov. Rick Perry appointed John Davis Rutkauskas, a Plan II, business honors, finance and French junior, as the next UT System student regent on April 20. His term will begin June 1, 2011 and end May 31, 2012.

The student regent has all the same responsibilities as a full board member but cannot cast a vote. Students from any system institution are eligible to apply. Rutkauskas will act as a liaison between the students and the Board of Regents, representing student opinion to the board.

The Daily Texan: How did you get the position?

John Davis Rutkauskas: It’s a multi-step process. Each campus seeks applications from its student body. All students can apply, and you submit a simultaneous application to the governor’s office. The Student Government selects about five students to move on. Those students are then sent to the UT System, and the system selects about two to send to the governor’s office, which conducts interviews. The governor’s office then makes a selection based on that interview.

DT: What qualifies you for this position?
JDR: I was on [UT President] Bill Power’s President Student Advisory Council. There, I got exposure to how the administration looks at issues. I was also on the faculty council. [Student Government appointed Rutkauskas to serve as the non-voting student member last year.] I’m in the Plan II honors program, and I think a good liberal arts and business foundation lead to a well-rounded education.

DT: What will you do as a regent that will be different from the last?
JDR: I don’t want to comment on that.
DT: How will you determine what the student opinion is?
JDR: Talking to students. I plan on visiting the campuses in the UT System soon and meeting with their leaders and presidents. I read the campus newspapers from each school. I want to establish a LISTSERV where the student body presidents of the system institutions can have a channel for effective communication. I don’t want to limit my connections to only the student body presidents. I want to hold an open forum at those campuses. I will distribute my email so any student can contact me directly.

DT: How will you represent the views of students to the board?
JDR: I am an advocate but not an activist. Being an activist is to demand change where an advocate is someone who rationally supports change. I want to make it clear that I have an interest in the well-being of every student in the UT System and will work to my greatest ability to ensure that students are represented at the highest level of administration. It’s about making informed, rational decisions, and information is the greatest tool in making any decision. You have to obtain credibility somehow — I think you attain credibility by being rational and well informed.

DT: How will you represent the student voice during the tuition-setting year?
JDR: At the board meeting, the student body presidents come and make their own presentations. On our campus, students and administrators alike run the Tuition Policy Advisory Committee.

DT: What do you think the role of research is in higher education?
JDR: I don’t want to comment on that.

Hundreds of students, staff and faculty evacuated the Jesse H. Jones Communication Center Building A after a moving company employee accidentally struck a fire safety sprinkler Thursday.

The employee hit the sprinkler while carrying a tall cabinet through a fourth floor hallway. The rupture triggered a surge of water that flooded the hallway and spilled into the third floor lobby.

Jeff Toreki, College of Communication finance manager, shut off the water valve within six minutes. Austin firefighters helped channel water into the stairwell to prevent additional damage.

The leak affected several linear feet of wall board and several square feet of carpet, said Jason Shoumaker, building services supervisor for the college. The college has not yet determined the cost of the damages.

The building reopened within an hour, and classes resumed shortly afterward.


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