Dean's Blog: Aven's Angle

Business Leaders: The New Boogeyman

(Jan. 15, 2016) - First, I want to welcome our students back from the fall break. I hope you are prepared and eager to begin a new semester.

A new year has come and with it new personal challenges. Many of you may have resolutions to recreate the inner or outer you: spend more time with family, learn a new skill, or discover the gym again. I offer you another challenge, one of heart and mind: a test of ethics.

I was recently interviewed by San Antonio Magazine on the erosion of the global view of business people and what we can do to temper this attitude. In the article, I am quoted as saying business people are the new boogeyman. I believe there is truth in that statement; the lack of ethical considerations by few has harmed the professional credibility of many.

In 2001, the Enron scandal broke and we dove into the divisiveness of Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling; c-suite executives were on the chopping block. In 2008, The Great Recession moved the public scorn to hedge fund managers, brokers and bankers. Most recently, Martin Shkreli and big pharma inspired the national outrage. Each time, a nation collectively gathered their proverbial pitchforks and roared for accountability.

Business people are not lurking in the shadows waiting to steal the elderly’s pensions. In fact, only a small percentage has contributed to the idea’s matriculation. However, we are still confronted by the ethical earthquake that shakes the public’s confidence in business.

As students, you are the future stewards of the business world. The values you hold closely will drive the ethos that influences organizational decisions and practices. For 2016, I challenge you to think about the ways you infuse your values into your studies, relationships and goals. Many of your courses have ethical discussions embedded in the lectures. I ask you to pay close attention to the discourse you have with your peers on ethical issues. Talk about the ethical challenges you may face in the evolving business world and how you can work together to make a positive impact upon it.

I want you to know that the administration, faculty and staff in the H-E-B School of Business & Administration have also had these discussions. We understand the importance of teaching students about the confluence between business and ethics.

As Cardinals, you are taught to view the world in greater terms than just yourself. The UIW Mission of social justice is driven by a tenet of service, service based on making ethical decisions that focus on the well being of the community.

It is up to you to change the boogeyman into a hero once again.

Let's Celebrate: The Etiquette of the Office Party

(Dec. 15, 2015) - One of the joys of the holiday season is the office party. Some office parties are elaborate affairs while others are quite intimate. Whether large or small, the office holiday party is a time to connect with your peers away from budgets and deadlines. For my final blog of 2015, I want to share with you my personal views on company socials.

First, attendance is mandatory. For some people, holiday parties can seem like a forced exercise in corporate merriment and to a degree they may be right, but it’s all about relationship building. Your relationship with the organization and your coworkers is evident at company-sponsored events; think of it as team building. You know Carlos in the accounting department that you have only spoken to on the phone? It’s time to meet him in person and laugh about that mistake he helped you correct.

Holiday parties help build company culture. The steps on the corporate ladder are lowered for the evening and you will mingle with managers, executives and even the CEO. Shake hands and speak with all of them; make your presence known. This is one of only a few opportunities where you all will be gathered so closely.

Be composed. The time of the year is festive, but that doesn’t mean you should leave your professionalism at home. The Santa Clause costume you found on E-bay should stay in the box, but a creative and classy tie always makes an impression. But the most important part of your outfit should be your smile. The key is for you to remember that you are still an employee and your actions will influence your image within the company. In other words, you need to be aware of the message you are sending through your behavior.

A few more short tips:

    • Who’s invited? The guest list may be open to your significant other, but it’s always a good idea to check first.
    • Leave business at the door. The office party is a time to eat, drink and be merry. Any talk should be limited to short comments. 
    • Remember to say thank you! Those that sponsored the event worked diligently to provide a special evening; don’t forget them.

As we watch the sunset on 2015, I want to wish everyone a happy holiday season. I hope it is a time of refreshment and preparation for a new year filled with new challenges.

Regarding Your Resume

(Nov. 25, 2015) - It is becoming a pattern: I like to share information on career searching. I do this because you may not hear this information as much as you need to. In my last blog, I wrote on the importance of asking the right questions during the interview process. But that is only one small piece to solving the employment puzzle. For this month’s blog, I want to talk about your resume.

The mighty resume: a single sheet (maybe two), condensed of all your achievements, skills and competencies; the gateway to the interview. Your resume holds immense power. A strong resume, in content and structure, can set you on the path to achieving your career aspirations. A glossed over, fumbled resume leads to nowhere.

Having conducted hundreds of interviews over my tenor in higher education, I am still amazed by the number of people that make these common mistakes.

Remember, during the first stage of evaluating applicants, the goal is to not find “the one," but to eliminate people from the pool so the manager can focus on a smaller number of resumes. During this first cut, the small mistakes stand out, as the focus is to eliminate people. Typos, gone! Wrong contact information, gone! Incoherent cover letter, gone! These are simple mistakes, but they are also simple to correct.

When crafting your resume, formatting is key. You want the reader’s eye to easily maneuver the page, spot important information that correlates directly to the position and move your resume to the top of the stack. Keywords are important, but don’t over do it. In our digital age, human resource departments often use software to identify terminology in your resume that matches that of the position. Use it to your advantage by reviewing the job description and researching the company website.

Lastly, your resume should reflect your accomplishments, not list your job duties. What did you achieve at your previous employer or during your time as a student? Did you produce a marketing plan that was adopted by a local small business during your Capstone project or help a nonprofit reach a fundraising goal? Also, be quantitative! If at your previous job, you produced spreadsheets, don’t just simply state it – quantify it: “I produced 5 spreadsheets a week increasing the efficiency of xyz.”

Putting together the perfect resume may seem daunting, so I encourage you to take advantage of the many great support services we offer on campus such as the Career Services Center. There, you can attend workshops on building your resume or forming clear and concise cover letters; both are skills that should be practiced and perfected.

Make it harder to be cut in the first stage. For more common job search mistakes, take a look at this comprehensive list. Ignore them at your peril.

Asking the Right Questions

(Oct. 29, 2015)The Fall 2015 semester is in full motion. As students, you’ve made it through midterms, progressed in your community service initiatives and joined your peers in many of the student organizations we have on campus.

Last week, the Accounting Society and the Business Club held their annual networking reception. It was a great event, one that has grown over the years through the support of the San Antonio business community and HEBSBA students.

To me, the networking reception is one of the defining events we hold as a school. It is a time for students to use what they have learned, to sell their skills to potential employers and gain confidence in their abilities. As a business school, it is the materialization of what we prepare our students to accomplish: gain a meaningful career in your field.

Simple conversations can lead to big opportunities. As I watched students interact with the attending business professionals, I thought, do they know the questions to ask at the end of the interview? Over many years of being both the interviewer and interviewee, I find the questions candidates ask are as telling as the answers given.

It takes diligent research to know what the appropriate questions are, more so, what questions will make you stand out. Here is an infographic I came across and would like to share with you.

The questions presented are specific and to the point. Specifically, the last question: do you have any hesitations about my qualifications? This question allows you to exit an interview knowing that you have left nothing unattended. The anxiety after leaving an interview can make you doubt your accomplishments, qualifications, and even yourself. You should not retract from discussing an employer’s hesitations, this time allows you to expand and defend. In that moment, with your weaknesses on the table, you may impress more than just the employer.

As always, please contact me if you find these suggestions useful. I would like to hear from you.

Choosing Your Words Wisely

(Sept. 16, 2015)I came across this article and I would like to share the message with you. I hear many students use these phrases in their conversations with me, their professors and each other. As the author of this piece noted, "What you say and how you say it can have a big impact on your success."

  • “There’s nothing I can do.”
  • “It’s not fair.”
  • “That’s impossible.”

Unfortunately, what seems like an innocent phrase in the workplace can lead you straight out the door. As an HEBSBA business student, I want you to practice the behaviors here on campus that will lead to success. This semester, I challenge you to avoid using these phrases; I think you will find an improvement in your interactions with people. 

I wish you continued success this semester. Take advantages of the resources we have here on campus for you and please let me know how you are doing whenever you see me.

 Dean's Message H-E-B School of Business & Administration at the University of the Incarnate Word