HFBE Bolsters Speaker Series

Published on January 13, 2012

Partnership Brings Diverse Speakers, Scholarships to Marketing 3336 Students

Valuation and investment banking firm HFBE has strong ties to the University of Houston C. T. Bauer College of Business, counting several shareholders as alumni and bringing an executive speaker series to students in the college.

The University of Houston C. T. Bauer College of Business has continued a long-standing tradition of bringing the real world of business into the classroom with a speaker series for marketing students, presented by HFBE, a Houston-based valuation firm.

Each semester, Houston business leaders are invited to take on the role of “executive professor for the day” to address Professor Keith Cox’s Marketing 3336 class of more than 200 students, focusing on their personal stories both in business and personally.

In the fall, the HFBE Executive Speaker Series brought nine guests to Cox’s  class, including entrepreneur Mark Ostrofsky, Houston Business Journal publisher John Beddow and Merrick Systems President and CEO Kemal Farid. With support from HFBE, Cox was able to bolster the regular visits from guest speakers in the course with an additional component of a scholarship awarded in the name of each speaker.

“We have had a long-standing relationship with the University of Houston and graduates from the Bauer College. We have quite a few in our ranks right now, including three shareholders,” said senior managing director Garry Marshall (MBA ’95).

The speaker series has been a natural fit to expand the relationship between HFBE and UH Bauer, he added.

“We saw this opportunity to further our ties with the university and to help support the school and students in providing additional education, which includes bringing in speakers from the business community who have been very successful in their respective industries and endeavors and share their experiences and war stories,” Marshall said.

The series will continue into the spring, with three sessions throughout the semester bringing in three speakers each. The goal is to bring in speakers from as many diverse backgrounds as possible to give students the chance to hear about a wide range of experiences and perspectives, said HFBE principal and owner Alex Howard. Though different in many ways, he added, each speaker shares two common traits — passion and the courage to take an opportunity.

“Regardless of whether the speaker is a CEO of a private company or built their firm from scratch, the fact that you need passion for what you are doing has been consistent,” Howard said. “If you get an opportunity, take that opportunity. Don’t be afraid of failure. The best thing to do is act when you have an opportunity, and if it doesn’t work out, move on and do it again.”

By bringing in a variety of speakers from unique backgrounds, including non-profit organizations and the government sector, students should learn that success is measured beyond wealth, he said.

“The students are very engaged and also ask many questions,” Howard said. “Understanding these life lessons may be one of the most important things about being successful in business, and it is a program I wish had been available to me as a student.”

By Ryan Tang