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OWLIEs Boast Best of the Best of JSOM

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Glitz, school spirit, music and dance filled the Davidson Auditorium last Wednesday evening.

JSOM’s 2019 OWLIE Award winners

The Naveen Jindal School of Management’s fifth annual OWLIE Awards on April 10 combined glitz with spirited emcees, singing, music and, most of all, exceptional nominees. Put on by the Dean’s Council, the awards show presented an opportunity to showcase outstanding students, faculty, staff and others. Those who attended the main event in the Davidson Auditorium were swept up in the spirit of the moment, a welcome break from the home stretch for the main school year. Dean Hasan Pirkul was onstage and ready to celebrate with the winners, and an exuberant audience cheered on nominees and winners. OWLIE is an abbreviation of and acronym for Outstanding Worthy Leaders Involved Exceptionally. OWLIE trophies aptly feature an owl, and getting one is the culmination of a recipient’s hard work and dedication. 


Jindal Selfless Heart

A category devoted to students who generously give to other individuals and/or to the community. Ranging from dedication to groups on campus to being devoted to helping students who need direction, the Selfless Heart shoots for the moon when it comes to the spirit of the school.


Ryan Townsend

Undergraduate: Ryan Townsend, senior, accounting

Townsend been co-director of Camp Kesem, an organization devoted to providing a camp experience for children with parents who have cancer. He spearheaded fundraising of more than $100,000 for the cause and worked to improve the chapter’s outreach.

Graduate (tie): Jatin Jain, MS in ITM

Jain has served as a teaching assistant and president for major student organizations, including Envision and the Indian Students Association. Being the president of one of the Indian Students Association, Jatin is there 24/7, not only for his friends and family but also for all those 1000+ international students who join UT Dallas every year. He also has worked hard to organize various industry-oriented events by calling different employers, including Microsoft, Toyota and Intuit to interact and share knowledge with students. 

Graduate (tie): James Hawes, Global Leadership MBA

Hawes spearheaded a GLEMBA class effort that raised $10,000 to assist a grassroots organization outside Buenos Aires. The money provided WiFi for internet access at a high school and restored a local dining hall that daily feeds as many as 200 children between the ages of two and five.

Jindal Student Master Mentor

Everyone can use a little direction. This OWLIE award recognizes the students who help other students in their professional, educational and personal development. JSOM students learn from each other as well as instructors, and these winners display the philosophy that a school is only as much a leader as the leadership provided by its students.


Undergraduate: Justin Corcoran, senior, information technology and systems

As a student leader in the campus Military and Veteran Center, Corcoran executed more than 30 events for more than 200 new and incoming students who are veterans, along with creating a monthly news bulletin for veterans and military-affiliated students to be in the know on upcoming events.

Graduate: Tiffany Chen, FT MBA, MS in Marketing

Chen has been a key member of Graduate Business Society, along with being an MBA Ambassador. She holds regular résumé reviews with her peers and offers her network to them so they can reach out to potential employers. She also has helped her cohort gain valuable projects with local businesses using her professional contacts.

Jindal Future CEO

The Jindal School has turned out its share of CEOs over the years in many leading industries. One winner is presently a CEO—and watch out for the other.


Undergraduate: Brian Hoang, senior, software engineering

Hoang is CEO and co-founder for SurviVR, a virtual reality platform for police training that won the JSOM-based Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s Big Idea Competition last November. In addition, Hoang is CEO and co-founder of Immosis, a VR gaming studio that has expanded into sectors such as healthcare and education.

Graduate: Michelle King, FT MBA, MS in SCM

King has worn her share of hats, including operations coordinator and program coordinator for International Christian Concern. She also has been area director for Au Pair International. She is the first person classmates turn to when they have a question about anything regarding the MBA program, from class material to what is on the calendar. She regularly organizes acts of service to show our appreciation for the staff and faculty of JSOM. She is in the consulting immersion program, serves on the JSOM Masters’ Committee and is a class representative.

Jindal Amazing Alum

JSOM would be of little note without its alums. Over the years, you have found them everywhere — in top organizations to the donors behind scholarships. You also can find them on campus in the school — giving talks, lending encouragement and offering a presence that says the school stays with you long after you leave it.


Eddie Rhea, MS in IMS ’88

Rhea’s presence is felt in multiple areas, from the Eddie W. and Nanette D. Rhea Opportunity Fund for Energy Management to the imparting of his knowledge to aid the community. Rhea is CEO of Foundation Energy Management.

Jindal Employer of the Year

A nominated employer must have posted positions in the Jindal School, hired students for both internships and career positions and helped to support the professional development of students.



With Dean Hasan Pirkul and representing PepsiCo at the event were (from left) Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science alumna Saima Rasheed, BS ’18, and JSOM alums Ahmed Zahid, BS ’17, and Syed Anees, BS ’18 

JSOM Student of the Year

What makes a student? Is it excelling in the classroom? Is it leadership or engagement in the life of the school? For this award, make it all three.


Undergraduate: Jason Cohn, senior, supply chain management

Cohn was fodder for a joke at the event that he belonged to a double-digit amount of organizations. But, afterward, Cohn admitted the number was not exactly exaggeration. “I love being involved because there’s so much being offered,” he said. “JSOM wants you to have more than just a diploma.” Cohn has been a peer-led team learning leader in Applied Calculus II and an orientation leader, just to name a few of his contributions.

Graduate: Michael Benoit: MBA ’18, MS in SCM

Michael Benoit proudly says he got more than he ever hoped for with an OWLIE. “You don’t start off contributing because you think you’ll get recognition,” he says. “This OWLIE Award means so much to me.” Benoit has been president of the Graduate Business Society, a Full-Time MBA Ambassador and team captain for the APICS Case Competition.

PhD: Leila Hosseini, management science, with Iinformation Systems Concentration

For Hosseini, the OWLIE makes the long climb to her PhD a little easier through its inspiration, she says. Her contributions have spanned lecturing, graduate research and her time as a teaching assistant.

JSOM Faculty Idol of the Year

As JSOM has climbed the rankings ladder, a good amount of the movement has been courtesy of an outstanding faculty. They keep doling out lessons long after class ends for the day or for the semester as educators, mentors, advisors and supporters.


Undergraduate: Margaret Smallwood, senior lecturer, Organizations, Strategy and International Management

A JSOM MBA ’10 alumna, Smallwood is a business communications educator who, according to her nominator, “from day one,… makes it clear that every student is valued, their opinion is valid, and they deserve her full care and attention.”

Graduate: William (Bill) Hefley, clinical professor, Information Systems, and program director, MS in Business Analytics

Hefley was simply surprised and beaming after the event. “You show up, and you just want the students to be as successful as possible,” he says. “You’re glad to give them extra time, and they make it worth it. I enjoy seeing my students’ success.”

PhD: Milind Dawande, Ashbel Smith Professor of Operations Management and coordinator of the Operations Management Area

The success of Jindal School PhD students is a particular point of pride for Dawande, who has been enhancing the learning experience at JSOM since 2000. Dawande has inspired students to think critically and apply themselves fully. He is patient, fair and encourages student engagement and discussion to ensure a clear understanding of the material. Since 2016, he has been the chair or co-chair of seven dissertation committees and has seven publications completed with PhD students since 2013.

JSOM Outstanding Staff Member

Staff members provide assistance, support and encouragement to students. This award recognized one of many exemplary staff members.


Lisa Johnson, Administrative Assistant II for Advising Office

Johnson constantly goes above and beyond to help students in the most patient and caring way possible. She is always happy and friendly to both students and staff members of the advising office. She has shown that attitude and willingness to help go a long way in the workplace.

Dean’s Council Super OWL Award

Dean’s Council members are not eligible for other OWLIE awards. This offers a chance to recognize an undergraduate and graduate student who provide leadership and support for all activities of the council.


Undergraduate: Kristin Harris, senior, supply chain management

A member of the Dean’s Council since her freshman year, Harris has served as president of the Undergraduate Council this year. “My favorite thing about Dean’s Council,” she has said, “is that every member has the opportunity to make a contribution to JSOM.”

Graduate: Reagan Renner, MBA, and Reshma Maliakkal, MBA and MS in Healthcare Leadership and Management

Renner, the photographer for the Graduate Dean’s Council, and Maliakkal, who has hosted Dean Council Office Hours — where she has done much to recruit future council members, — are valued members who have raised the bar on taking initiative on behalf of the council.

JSOM Outstanding Leader: Student Organizations


Undergraduate: Tina Dimitrova, senior finance

Dimitrova, president of the Financial Leadership Association, has been helping the organization since she started. Within her first month of taking office, she secured a $2,000 donation from Ernst & Young, which she promptly used to organize a consulting case competition. She launched FLA’s first ambassador program, dramatically improved its one-on-one mentoring, doubled membership and improved overall event attendance by 65 percent over the previous year.

Graduate: Angie Wong, MS Accounting

Wong has served as president of IIA/ISACA/ACFE, an organization out to improve learning in areas ranging from auditing to fraud examination. Wong was student leader for four conferences at which she led at least 50 volunteers each time. Last fall. shel 2018 interviewed IIA Global Chairman Naohiro Mouri as a representative of JSOM’s IAEP program. The interview occurred in Florida at the annual IAEP Exchange event.

JSOM Student Organization of the Year


Undergraduate: Women in Technology International

The mission of Women In Technology International is to empower women worldwide to achieve unimagined possibilities. Although it started as an organization targeted toward helping women grow in the workforce, WITI also teams with men and bridges the connections between men and women in order to provide more opportunities to WITI members.

Graduate: Ascend

With hundreds of members in the UT Dallas chapter of Ascend, this popular Pan-Asian leadership organization is out to foster the important qualities of mentorship and leadership. Last fall semester, Ascend hosted 16 events ranging from career coaching workshops to social and professional networking events. Ascend also hosts social events each month to celebrate different cultures.

Eric Butterman

Eric Butterman

Eric is a Dallas-area freelancer who has written for more than 50 publications, ranging from Arthritis Today and Glamour to Kiplinger's Retirement Report and EXEL, a research magazine for Drexel University A frequent contributor to Jindal School publications, he wrote the New Faculty profiles in the Autumn 2015 issue of MANAGEMENT magazine and the cover story, “Advisory Council Connects to ‘The JSOM Experience, From a Student Perspective’ ” in the Spring 2015 issue. Read more articles

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