Executives from GEICO, the insurance company, and Enterprise Holdings, the transportation service provider, participated in separate ribbon-cutting ceremonies last fall that named two meeting rooms to honor their longstanding support.
In September, the GEICO Gecko mascot visited the UT Dallas campus to help debut a seminar room that features his image on one wall. Other GEICO representatives on hand were Michael Russo, director of corporate recruiting; Victoria Elliott, a hiring supervisor; Paul Measley, the Dallas region’s assistant vice president of claims; and Matthew J. Zuraw, GEICO’s assistant vice president for underwriting, sales and service in the Dallas regional office.
They joined JSOM representatives Tom Kim, assistant dean and director of the Career Management Center; Dr. Hasan Pirkul, dean and Caruth Chair; and Dr. Varghese Jacob, vice dean and Lars Magnus Ericsson Chair, Information Systems.
Zuraw, who started at GEICO as a college intern, worked his way up to his current position overseeing a 1,000-employee operation. He brought an insider’s perspective to both the GEICO and JSOM ends of the partnership since he also is a member of the Jindal School Advisory Council.
“The Jindal School offers students an amazing environment conducive to learning and personal development,” Zuraw said at the Sept. 25 ceremony. “I am proud that GEICO is committed to an endeavor that prepares students for successful career paths.”
Involved with selecting employees from JSOM’s talent pool, Elliott understood the importance of such a partnership.
“The direction of the Jindal School is very clear to us, and is something that we want to be a part of,” she said. “The students are well disciplined, hardworking and responsible. All of these characteristics align with GEICO’s core values. It made perfect sense to enhance our investment with sponsorship dollars.”
The critical importance of such a relationship was not lost on Kim, who oversees the CMC’s day-to-day operations. He explained that corporate partners such as GEICO are the lifeblood of the center’s operations.
“Each and every student at Jindal School earns his or her spot in the workplace based on personal merits,” he said. “But having reliable partners, such as GEICO, gives confidence to our students — and to other companies as well — that this is a university where a student can lay the foundation for a successful future.”
Kim and Dr. Monica Powell, senior associate dean, later hosted the Enterprise contingent at a Dec. 8 ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the Enterprise interview room at CMC. Enterprise representatives Steve Talbott, talent manager for the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and John Hebner, regional vice president, were on hand for the festivities.
Talbott explained how important the company’s partnership is with JSOM both for the company and for the CMC’s mission to prepare students for the professional world and facilitate connections with potential employers.
“This is a partnership that we have identified as being critical to meeting our needs on the business side,” he said. “Tom and Monica and the team have really gone out of their way to make us comfortable and have, essentially, given us the tools to be able to help them get their message across.”
Talbott explained how important it is to have employers support and be integrally involved with what the CMC is teaching and showing the students about professional development.
“When a student hears it from an employer, it adds a lot of credibility to the CMC’s message,” he said.
Employer participation in events such as student panels and classroom presentations, he said, serve to “break the seal” for recruiting events like career fairs since Enterprise already has established a relationship with students.
Alumnus Christian Garcia, BS’15, a branch manager at one of the DFW Enterprise locations, was also on hand to celebrate the room naming. He looked back on his time as a Jindal School business administration student and the connections he had made with the company while he pursued his degree at UT Dallas.
“When I was here, they came out to our classrooms, and they had career fairs; and we went to talk to them. It made that partnership that much stronger,” he said. “Now we have the room, and students can come here and talk to us. In the long run, it’s going to better for the students here and for Enterprise as well.”
Hebner described the process of building a relationship with the Jindal School.
“It started with a few students in an internship program,” he said. “As time has gone by, more and more students have come on full-time, they’ve moved through the system. It ends with us being able to contribute more money and have the interview room — that’s fantastic.”
When asked how he sees the partnership progressing, Hebner was animated by the possibilities.
“As we continue to donate more money, and we have more and more students get involved in it,” he said, “I think we can go to the next level. ... We only want this program to grow. And the more students we get, the more we can donate money, too. It works for both of us.”
“The way I look at events such as these is that these partnerships are important for our students,” Kim concluded. “When we’re looking at a business school, we’re talking about professionalism, soft skills and communications — what better way to do it with our employer partners? There’s an opportunity to have a real-world experience talking to the employers — but in a safe environment. That’s just so beneficial to our students.”
— Jimmie R. Markham