Editor - Adriana Byrum
Contributors - Ben Byrum, Bill Mearse
On Thursday, February 21st, the Baylor Business Network of Houston hosted Julie Sweet, Accenture CEO North America, for our speaker series.
Sweet shared practical advice on reaching the next step in your career by saying, "Top leaders get to where they are because of help from other key leaders."
Research indicates up to 65% of current students will have jobs not currently in existence today emphasizing the impact of living in an age of digital disruption. "There are two types of companies – disruptors and transformers. Only the transformers will have a track for long-term sustainability," Sweet shared.
Sweet told how Accenture successfully enables digital transformers by highlighting their recent work with Carnival Cruise Lines. Carnival approached Accenture to assist with enhancing their boarding process. Accenture created a wrist band with a data sensor for passengers to wear to enable Carnival to personally deliver any item purchased while on the ship. Wearing this wrist band simplified and accelerated the check-in process allowing passengers to board the ship quicker and to engage in purchasing cruise services faster. "Almost 76% of CEO's believe their business models will dramatically change within the next 5 years. We have a role to ensure Accenture helps these companies innovate technology responsibly," Sweet said.
The motivation for Accenture to become a digital transformer occurred in 2013 when the company missed earnings for only the 2nd time in history. Accenture responded by reflecting on their strategy and transforming themselves to become professional life-long learners. In this mindset, Accenture decided to invest millions of dollars into personal professional development related to digital technology.
"To be relevant today, you have to be a continuous learner. It is no longer enough to be 'senior and know something,'" Sweet said.
In the spirit of being a continuous learner, Sweet suggested we read the book entitled, "Weekend Language: Presenting with More Stories and Less PowerPoint," by Andy Craig.
Rebecca Cheney is the 2018 scholarship recipient for the Baylor Business Network in Houston. Rebecca is a senior at Baylor where she is in her 5th year receiving her master’s in accounting. The Baylor Business Network in Houston had the opportunity to sit down with Rebecca and learn more about her future plans in Houston as well as receive insight as to how Baylor has prepared her for her future endeavors.
Upon high school graduation, Rebecca always knew Baylor would be a top contender for her college choice. Her father is a Baylor alumnus, and the business program specifically drew Rebecca to making her final decision. At Baylor, Rebecca has learned from opportunities involving classes and workshops plus coaching from professors who shared their own experiences in navigating their careers. This process enabled Rebecca to land a notable internship with Philipps 66 in Houston, where she will be working upon graduation as a financial analyst. Being a natural leader and always seeking opportunities at hand, Rebecca had other job offers but said it was the culture of Philipps 66 that eventually determined her final decision.
When asked about where she sees herself in 5 years, Rebecca hopes to stay in the energy sector and aspires to find mentors through her current office to aid her in becoming a leader and to guide others. If faced with a tough decision in life Rebecca reflects on her Christian roots and refers to Philippians 1:21, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain," always remembering that wherever her career takes her, it is her ultimate foundation that will guide her.
To find out how you can contribute to Houston's scholarship program for recipients like Rebecca, click here.
The Baylor Business Network of Houston wrapped up the year by hosting Larry Heard, CEO of Transwestern, a privately-held, global real estate organization actively involved in investment management, development, and real estate services.
In an intimate interview setting, Heard shared a wealth of experiences, reflections, and knowledge. An alumnus of Baylor University, he credited the university with successfully fostering student-professor relationships due to small class sizes. He served as intern at Joe A. McDermott, Inc. a real estate company at the time, and this internship peaked his passion for the industry. In 1983, he joined Transwestern saying, "I really loved the passion and pace of the business."
Heard explained the difference between private and public companies involves access to capital. While the real estate industry is capital intensive, Transwestern has experienced strong growth as a private company. Heard also revealed there is currently a 10-15% decrease in occupied space mainly due to a growing trend of companies investing in virtual office spaces. Further, he revealed the Dallas tops commercial real estate markets in Texas due to the relocation of several corporate headquarters to that metro area.
During the economic downturn of the '08-'09, Transwestern remained a strong company through the downturn and afterwards. During the downturn, the company implemented a no lay-off strategy. The trade off was each employee was required to take a pay cut, and those employees at the top of the firm were required to take the largest cuts. When the market improved, Transwestern had the resources to grow their business and recover more quickly than other peer organizations.
Heard also shared a practice he often uses when interviewing a potential candidate. As CEO of Transwestern, he is aware potential candidates will always show him respect. After the interview, Heard will ask the company receptionists how the candidate interacted and treated them to gain further insight before making a final decision.
Heard concluded by touching on his faith saying, "My faith in Christ is central in everything that is done. Obstacles will come and knock us down in life to the point where all we can rely on when we are down is our faith."