At the recent UT Dallas chapter induction ceremony for the business honor society Beta Gamma Sigma, new members learned the Greek meaning behind the letters in the society’s name. More importantly, they learned how to apply the meaning to their academic, personal and professional lives from a business leader who has used these virtues to achieve extraordinary success.
Guest speaker and honorary inductee Ray Hemmig, chairman of the Naveen Jindal School of Management Advisory Council, shared with inductees and their families how Beta Gamma Sigma’s founding principles of honor (Bebaeos), wisdom (Gnosis) and earnestness (Spoude) are the foundation of a successful life through examples from his own 40-year career as a restaurateur, entrepreneur and venture capitalist. He is the founder and manager of investment company Retail and Restaurant Growth Capital.
“I was never the smartest guy in the room, but I was persuasive and had passion,” Hemmig said at the April 10 ceremony as he answered questions from Dr. Diane McNulty, JSOM associate dean for external affairs and corporate development. “You have to have allegiance to some higher form of purpose.”
Hemmig recounted an example from his retail experience at J.C. Penney early in his career when he granted a customer a costly refund to adhere to the company’s mission of “customer satisfaction guaranteed. “Though it was hard to do at the time, the customer ended up spending eight times more money in purchases at the store in the next year.” This shows how allegiance to a guiding principle —– how he defines the Beta Gamma Sigma virtue of “earnestness” — leads to success, he told the students.
Hemmig emphasized learning from examples like this, as well as their own responsibility to pass on what they learn. He reminded students to not underestimate the power of observation, with “wisdom happening all around us if you pay attention. It’s never-ending.”
The UT Dallas chapter inducted approximately 90 students this year. Membership is based on GPA and is by invitation only. The students invited this year “represent the best and brightest, as well as the future at JSOM,” said Dr. Monica Powell, chapter president and JSOM senior associate dean. As is tradition, Hemmig also joined the society as an honorary member.
Inductees included two doctoral candidates, 70 graduate and 15 undergraduate students from all majors across JSOM. The message Hemmig shared at the ceremony resonated with them as many approached the end of their academic careers.
“I really enjoyed the fireside chat approach to learn more from Mr. Hemmig about the three virtues of the honor society. He brought great insight that will stay with me as I continue to reflect on it,” said Ekema Anyanwu, a graduate student in healthcare management.
Membership in Beta Gamma Sigma offers opportunities for networking with peers and society alumni through local social and educational events. Jason Bottenfield, president of the DFW alumni chapter, encouraged new members at the ceremony to take advantage of these benefits to get the most out of the organization.
This aspect of the honor society is what enticed information technology and systems senior Jack Chapman to accept his invitation.
“I’m at a point where I’m close to graduating with my undergraduate degree and thinking about what’s next,” Jack Chapman said. “[Beta Gamma Sigma] is a great place to get questions answered and gain exposure with high-achieving people.”
Hemmig closed his talk by reminding students that the Beta Gamma Sigma virtues of honor, wisdom and earnestness are tied together to make up their greatest asset: their reputation.
“The one thing you can’t financially engineer is your reputation,” he said. “And Beta Gamma Sigma means you have the highest of reputations. Guard your reputation above all else.”
— Caryn Berardi