Baylor MBA's Cesar Ortiz, II Named Future Texas Business Legend

October 7, 2020
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By Kristin Kaden Dreyer

Curiosity gets results.

That's what Cesar A. Ortiz, II, Baylor MBA ('21), believes helped him to become this year's Texas Business Hall of Fame (TBHF) scholar award recipient from Baylor University. The cash award is presented annually to students from 24 participating Texas colleges and universities.

"I've always had a curious mind," said Ortiz, an entrepreneur who helped start H3 Construction in the Dallas/Fort Worth area with his best friend, Jerid Hunt, ten years ago and who currently serves as vice president. "Jerid was the best man at my wedding and we went to the same church," said Ortiz. "Together, we took a blind leap of faith to start a company in the land development business, and today, our company has grown to a 50+ person construction firm," he said. "Receiving this award allows me to think of ways to expand our business opportunities," he said.

Ortiz, whose award was announced via video by Texas businessman and Texas Business Hall of Fame member Drayton McLane, feels extremely honored. "Mr. McLane is such an exemplary business leader and Texas Hall of Fame Legend," Ortiz said. "I wouldn't have wanted to receive the award news from anyone else," he said, while being quick to credit the help from others in winning the award. "The truth is, this award speaks to so many more people than just myself, including my wife, Anna," he said. "This award is as much hers as it is mine."

Cesar Ortiz, II
Baylor MBA Cesar Ortiz, II
Drayton McLane
Drayton McLane, '58

Ortiz joins recent 2019 and 2018 Baylor winners, Ethan Holmes (MBA '20) and Anthony Nguyen (MBA '19), respectively.

In addition to allowing future business leaders to pursue their degrees in Texas schools, TBHF Executive Director Meredith Walker says the award, established in 1998, has other benefits. "While the TBHF award has a significant cash prize attached to it, the most honoring aspect is that recipients are hand-selected by Hall of Fame Directors and made permanent members of the Texas Business Hall of Fame community—a community that includes some of the most transformational business leaders of our time," she said.

Making connections with other Texas business leaders

Past Baylor award winners Holmes and Nguyen both agree that the access they've had to Texas business leaders has been significant.

"My biggest takeaway from the TBHF award has been the connections that I've built," said Holmes, a chef who runs Mattie's restaurant in Austin, Texas. "As a result of the award, my network increased exponentially, and I've connected to business professionals from many different categories," he said. Holmes believes it would have taken years to connect with so many leaders, and he credits the award with opening doors for his business. "It is hard to measure the true impact of the award, particularly given the Covid-19 crisis," he said. "I am certain that the dividends from the experience will continue to show a massive return in the near future."

Nguyen agrees. "I have been able to network with fellow recipients as well as TBHF legends, knowing that they are valuable resources who can help me later in my career," he said, adding that the award also helped him to fund his Baylor MBA program in Dallas. "As an entrepreneur, I don't have educational funding from my company so the award definitely helped."

The value of graduate education for business leaders

Ortiz, who is in the midst of his Baylor MBA program in Dallas, feels his graduate education is giving him more knowledge to help guide H3 Construction into the future. "I have always wanted to learn more about everything, including the why and the how," said Ortiz. "I just want to be more knowledgeable about all aspects of the business and to be able to speak from a place of knowledge where possible."

He values that his Baylor professors bring new experiences, energy and ways to challenge business thinking. "Baylor MBA professors are all amazing influencers—including the program directors and assistants—and it just feels like a family, helping each other out."

Nguyen, as the youngest in his MBA cohort, echoed the sentiment. "I was able to learn a lot from my colleagues, professors, and speakers who had years of experience in the business world," he said. "I built lasting relationships with them, and today, I rely on them for their professional advice."

According to Ortiz, his professors also opened up his way of thinking. "I've learned that there can be many 'right' answers, especially when making a tough decision," he said. "As a business owner, there can be many challenges and roadblocks, and I hear 'no' many times. Both my work experiences and my graduate studies have taught me to be resilient in my work ethic. I'm constantly reminding myself to believe that what I am doing is important."

Holmes, who graduated from Baylor's MBA program in Austin, agrees. "The Baylor MBA has given me a higher level of focus as well as the ability to see a much broader picture," he said, adding that this newly developed "lens" has helped him to become a more thoughtful leader. "I am able to analyze an issue and begin to forecast viable, realistic solutions to most issues," he said. "The ability to see and remove frivolous details has made me a more agile leader in the face of ever-changing circumstances."

In running H3 Construction with Hunt, who is president, Ortiz said he has also built on his experience as a non-commissioned officer in the United States Army, having served two tours of duty in Iraq. "I learned that it's important to lead from the front by showing people that you're willing to get dirty, to work hard, and to do whatever it takes to get a job done," he said. "In my job at H3 Construction, employees feed off that energy," he said. "It's infectious."

Currently, Ortiz explains that H3 Construction focuses on commercial and industrial projects in the fields of concrete, demolition, and excavation. Eventually, he hopes to add services and begin pursuing projects as the overall developer.

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