president and CEO

Photo Credit: Xintong Guo | Daily Texan Staff

A legacy media company, such as National Geographic, has to reach people across different media platforms to stay relevant, according to Gary Knell, president and CEO of National Geographic. 

Knell spoke Wednesday at an Undergraduate Business Council event to discuss the challenges of leading National Geographic. Knell said National Geographic has to embrace change to fulfill its mission as an educational nonprofit with a global audience. 

“Different people need different media,” Knell said. “In my view, we have to be platform-agnostic, and it’s not one or the other — it’s all of the above.”  

Knell said companies such as Kodak and Encyclopædia Britannica went bankrupt because they would not change. 

“There are a lot of brands that your parents knew about and that you’ll know about because they disappeared,” said Knell. “Kodak is a good example. … They didn’t get in the digital game; they didn’t make the switch. They are like pretty much gone.” 

Knell said National Geographic has expanded its educational mission by working with other companies, such as Rolex and Shell, to advocate for corporate social responsibility. 

“It’s much more about corporate social responsibility and connecting with a company like Rolex, who we work with around ocean preservation, and Shell, [whom] we’ve done some work with in terms of energy issues,” Knell said. 

Accounting senior Mandy Albrecht, the chair of the VIP Distinguished Speaker Series, said Knell made what she learned in the classroom relevant. 

“I really appreciated how he drew in social media in talking about how everything is changing,” Albrecht said. “He brought in relevant cases like Kodak that we’ve studied in school as business majors. Bringing in that into what he was talking about made it relevant to what I was learning in my classroom.” 

Environmental science junior Kali Miller said Knell’s work at Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization that produces Sesame Street, demonstrated his commitment to cultural diversity. 

“He started a program in India, and … everything was spot-on, and it wasn’t this American program that was being translated,” Miller said. “So I think that’s a useful way — being able to correctly represent an idea — is by immersing yourself in whatever you’re trying to represent.”

U.S. Navy Admiral William H. McRaven, who led the mission that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011, pictured here at the Champions of Justice Gala Benefitting Veterans in May 2012.

Photo Credit: Rebeca Rodriguez | Daily Texan Staff

Update (July 13, 8:12 p.m.): A source close to the UT System has confirmed to The Daily Texan both McRaven and Fisher are candidates for the chancellor position.

Original Story (July 12): Naval Adm. William McRaven and Richard Fisher, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, are among the finalists to for the UT System chancellor position, according to media reports on Friday.

Outgoing Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa announced his resignation in February, launching a search for his replacement. Paul Foster, Board of Regents chairman, has said he hopes to find Cigarroa’s successor before the start of fall 2014 semester. At a regents meeting on Thursday, Foster said several candidates have been interviewed for the position.

The news was first reported by Paul Burka of Texas Monthly on Friday. The Austin American-Statesman and The Dallas Morning News reports cited unnamed sources. UT System spokeswoman Karen Adler declined to comment.

According to the Dallas Morning News, Kyle Janek, state health and human services executive commissioner and reportedly Gov. Rick Perry’s choice for the position, is also a finalist.

McRaven is commander of U.S. Special Operations Command and is known for leading the mission that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden. Before becoming a Navy SEAL, McRaven graduated from UT with a journalism degree in 1977.

In May, he delivered the commencement address at the University, sharing live lessons he learned from basic training.

“If take you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up – if you do these things, then next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today,” McRaven said.

A video of the speech on YouTube has received over 2 million views.

Fisher, who is not a UT graduate, became head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas in 2005.

In 1993, Fisher won the Democratic primary in a special election to fill Lloyd Bentsen’s vacate Senate seat. Fisher lost to Kay Bailey Hutchison, the current Texas Exes president, in the general election.

Fisher himself served in President Bill Clinton’s administration as deputy U.S. trade representative from 1997 to 2001. He serves on one of Harvard University’s governing boards and has served on the board of directors of the UT Investment Management Company, better known as UTIMCO.

Photo Credit: Fabian Fernandez | Daily Texan Staff

Tom Horton, former president and CEO of American Airlines, spoke about his perspective on leadership Tuesday as part of the University’s VIP Distinguished Speaker Series.  

Horton was president, chairman and CEO of AMR Corporation until its merger with US Airways Group formed American Airlines Group, Inc. in December 2013.

After being elected president of AMR Corporation, then immediately voting with the board of directors to declare bankruptcy in one decisive 2011 phone call, Horton said it was his stubbornness and determination that allowed him to remain optimistic and eventually help turn the company around.

“I had sort of a dogged, maybe persistent, belief in that, and I think people eventually got behind me — that’s where we landed,” Horton said. “Stubbornness almost to the point of dumb optimism [allowed me to be successful].”

McCombs Undergraduate Dean David Platt, who interviewed Horton throughout the talk, said he would emphasize to students the importance of persistence. 

“Resilience is vastly underrated,” Pratt said. “If people could take something away from him it’s to know that people like him, at the highest levels of [a] company and who influence how everyone else thinks about it, are really so sincerely serious about integrity.”

Drawing upon Warren Buffet, William Shakespeare and George Strait quotes to give business advice to students, Horton emphasized hard work, integrity and humility. Horton said this commitment to ethics could be manifested by a strong belief in capitalism.

“I believe in the golden rule … as a principle property of business,” Horton said. “We need to be successful in producing a good product for our customers which … will produce security, jobs and hopefully growth in jobs … there’s almost nothing you can do better for your fellow man than to give him a job.” 

Charlie  Adkins, chair of the VIP Distinguished Speakers Series and business honors and accounting sophomore, said he has been continuously impressed by the affability of the speakers, especially Horton’s commitment to character and hard work.

“Behind being CEOs of a company, [VIP distinguished speakers] have also been really great people and I think that’s something that’s really important to look for in a leaders,” Adkins said. “It really hit home with how you should do negotiations and have business and just leadership in general.”

President and CEO of Anue Systems Hemi Thaker talks about how to run a successful buisness during the Entrepreneur in Residence Speaker Series at the AT&T Center Tuesday night. In addition to Anue Systmes, Thaker started four other companies and received the Ernst & Young Entreprenuer 2011 Award for Central Texas.

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

Hemi Thaker, president and CEO of Anue Systems, a local software maker, focused on advising future entrepreneurs in a lecture Tuesday evening at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center. 

Every month, the Red McCombs School of Business invites UT students and faculty to attend lectures where business experts provide audiences with an interactive presentation of their journey. A reception follows in which students are encouraged to participate in networking experiences.

Laura Kilcrease, entrepreneur-in-residence for the Red McCombs School of Business, invited Thaker to speak. She said she believed Thaker’s valuable lessons would be useful for students.

“Hemi built four companies — two of which he learnt a lot of lessons and two of which he applied those lessons,” Kilcrease said.

Thaker, who holds a master’s degree in electrical engineering and 13 patents, earned the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Central Texas in 2011. 

Thaker started his last company, Anue Systems, with $20,000 and six years later, he sold the company for $154 million, according to Kilcrease. 

“Anue’s mission statement is to provide a complete solution to optimize and secure rapidly evolving, dynamic data center networks,” Thaker said.

Thaker said he attributes his success to surrounding himself with a good team. He said he vowed to personally interview every potential employee.

“I would only hire people with character, chemistry and capability. If they lacked the character and chemistry, then I wouldn’t hire them,” Thaker said.

Several UT students attended the event. Government freshman Bernardo Paredes said he was inspired by Thaker’s entrepreneurial spirit.

“I want to start a nonprofit organization to prevent bullying in our schools,” Paredes said. “So I have the ideas, but Thaker gave me the good information on how to kick-start the ideas to actuality.”

After a 60-minute presentation, Thaker closed with motivation for aspiring entrepreneurs. 

“Just start,” Thaker said. “Just do it. Don’t be afraid to fail.”

Published on February 6, 2013 as "Local tech CEO inspires with success story".