Undergraduate Business Council

The McCombs School of Business presents Ellis Armstrong, CFO of Exploration and Broduction for BP, with an honary Stetson Hat following his apperance at WednesdayÂ’s VIP Speaker Session.

Photo Credit: Aaron Berecka | Daily Texan Staff

Donning a black Stetson cowboy hat presented to him by the Undergraduate Business Council and holding up a Hook ‘Em Horns sign, BP executive Ellis Armstrong concluded his discussion chronicling his journey up the corporate ladder as part of the McCombs VIP Distinguished Speaker Series.

Armstrong, Chief Financial Officer of Exploration and Production at BP, participated in a discussion Wednesday evening with David Platt, associate dean for undergraduate programs at the McCombs School of Business, followed by a Q-and-A session where he offered advice on everything from family life to natural gas price speculation. The Undergraduate Business Council organized the event as part of the McCombs VIP Distinguished Speaker Series. The event was free to all UT students.

As he recounted his professional successes and mistakes, Armstrong drew on his personal experiences to offer advice to college students.

“The thing I would have told myself in college is don’t get too stressed about making the right choice because some people know all their life they want to do a certain thing,” Armstrong said. “At least in my life, I didn’t know, so the thing I would have told myself is give yourself the most options and pick one that you are going to like doing.”

BP, a name that has become inextricably and infamously linked with the Deepwater Horizon explosion that resulted in nearly five millions barrels of oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico, has worked to correct the damage since the spill in April 2010, Armstrong said.

“Obviously the events of 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico were a tragic accident and everybody wishes it did not happen. But the thing that is interesting though, is that the response to that accident did actually, in a deep way, reveal the values of the company,” Armstrong said.

Finance and computer science student, Jay Shah, who serves as chair of the VIP Distinguished Speaker Series, said BP’s global standing and prominence on the UT campus motivated the Undergraduate Business Council to invite Armstrong to speak.

“BP is a company that has a strong presence at UT, both in the business school and outside,” Shah said. “We know how many students are recruited by BP and we know how big of a role they play in energy throughout the world.”

Business freshman, Liam Woolley-MacMath, said being able to see and hear from Armstrong and the other speakers the series brings to campus is extremely beneficial to undergraduate students.

“That’s basically all of our dream jobs,” Wooley-MacMath said. “Just to see somebody in that position is kind of inspiring.”

Printed on Thursday, September 6th, 2012 as: Distinguished Speaker Series features BP CFO Armstrong

Eva Agoulnik, finance senior in the business honors program, asks a question during the Curriculum Review Town Hall meeting in the McCombs School of Business Tuesday afternoon.

Photo Credit: Thomas Allison | Daily Texan Staff

Ethical business on a global level and skills-based courses are important issues to students in the McCombs School of Business.

The Undergraduate Business Council hosted the McCombs Curriculum Review Town Hall Meeting Tuesday in partnership with the Undergraduate Programs Committee to learn about students’ perspective on possible changes to the school’s undergraduate curriculum.

The four potential areas of improvement presented by the committee were curriculum core integration, business citizenship, higher emphasis on analytical thinking and higher emphasis on global perspectives.

Andrew Gershoff, committee member and marketing professor, coined the business citizenship idea and said it is important for students to gain a better understanding of the effect of business on the community, government and society as a whole.

“Understanding of this allows for better informed decisions that lead to better societies and not just short-term profitability,” he said.

Most students agreed that the need for an increased global perspective is necessary to focus on businesses in the sense of the social and global environment.

Katie Chapman, international business and Hispanic studies senior, said obtaining a global perspective of the business world while in college is beneficial to students.

“These benefits may not be very tangible or evident right out of school, but having the experience of studying abroad or taking a specialization course about the business culture of a country impresses employers,” she said. “It’s important to know how ethics vary across borders.”

Among other concerns, students also talked about creating sequences for majors, tools used by professors and advising opportunities from professionals. Various students also said they would like a synchronization between core and upper-division courses so that quantitative skills, like Microsoft Excel, did not need to be revisited.

“We are looking for better teaching processes through standardization; where concepts are pulled from the core curriculum and taught upon in upper-division courses,” said Leanna Swain, finance and business honors senior. “Instead of memorizing vocabulary words, we want to be pushed critically to solidify the concepts we are being taught.”

McCombs currently offers 10 majors including a business honors degree and an accounting program, which maintained its No. 1 rank for best program in the nation for the seventh year in a row.

The Undergraduate Programs Committee identified the potential areas for improvement during its four-month-long surveying of faculty, alumni and leadership in McCombs. The committee hoped to gain the student perspective at the town hall meeting, said committee member Bhargav Srinivasan, a finance and business honors senior.

“Our committee hopes to provide a more cross-sectional and integrated understanding of business concepts and how it operates in society,” Srinivasan said. “This will allow our students to take what they learn in school and apply it to being ethical and well-rounded managers.”

Beverly Hadaway, associate professor in the Department of Finance and faculty chair of the committee, said she was happy to see so many students at the town hall meeting.

“We are in the continuing process of trying to get input from various constituents of the college,” she said. “But our most important constituents are, of course, the students.”

There is currently no set time line for the implementation of a new curriculum, but the council will present a recommendation report to the deans by the end of the year.

CEO of the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group Larry Young spoke to UT business students at the SAC auditorium Monday evening. Young provided his personal insights on how to succeed in the business world.

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

If you pursue a career in a field you have passion for, you will be able to learn something new and laugh everyday, said Larry Young, CEO of Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc.

Young spoke at the Student Activity Center on Monday as part of the Undergraduate Business Council’s VIP Speaker Series. The speaker series is held throughout each semester, hosting three to four informal interview sessions followed by an open floor question and answer session from major U.S. corporations. Guest speakers discuss their life and career and provide advice to students on how to succeed in their fields.

Beginning his career driving a route truck for Pepsi-Cola General Bottlers, Young worked his way to the top in his 30-year career, 25 of those years working for Pepsi, to become president and CEO of Dr Pepper Snapple Group after the formation of the company in October 2007.

“As head of operations, he played a central role in helping to create a new business model for a fully integrated beverage company,” said finance junior Luke Fernandez, one of the chairs for the speaker series.

With nearly a $1 million annual salary, Young has accomplished many things, such as being appointed chairman of the board of the American Beverage Association and recently being inducted into the Beverage World Soft Drink Hall of Fame.

“I had a lot of structure and a lot of discipline which was really good to start my life, and I did everything to be the best,” Young said. “When I’d get promoted I wanted to look at the next position and know what did I have to do to get there, I wanted to talk to people that have been there, I wanted to surround myself with successful people and I also realized that I had to build a team under me because when I was ready to go anybody on my team could take my position.”

One of Young’s best strategies in succeeding is having great people surrounding him and taking great risks, he said. “I think with Dr Pepper Snapple you have got to be able to make decisions very quickly, you have got to be able to beat the other guys and the only way you’re going to do that is to make sure you have the right people working for you and working with you,” Young said.

Lamar Johnson, executive director of the center for customer insights and marketing solutions said he was asked to host the event because of his business relationship with members of the company.

“I’m very proud to represent the McCombs School of Business in hosting this event,” Johnson said. “It’s an honor.”

The business council invited Young to speak because of his accomplishments and his continuing relationship with the McCombs School of Business, said Johnson.

“Dr Pepper Snapple is a strong partner with the McCombs School of Business and hires a number of our students,” Johnson said. “We love to have our strong partners come and speak to our school.”

From this event, Johnson wanted students to learn a number of life lessons.

“One is, what has Larry personally done to make sure he personally succeeds,” Johnson said. “Also, understanding the approach he took to define Dr Pepper business strategies and how he is determined to make Dr Pepper win.”

Printed on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 as: Dr Pepper CEO discusses work ethic, self determination at Speaker Series