skip main site navigation go to current site section navigation
McCombs Alumni Network | Connect
  • 2016 Alumni Business Conference

    Early-Bird Pricing!

    Register before August 13th for a discounted rate!

12th Annual Alumni Business Conference

Early-Bird Pricing!

Register before Aug. 13 for discounted tickets at $135 each. The ticket cost will increase to $165 after Aug. 13.

Register today for the 12th Annual Alumni Business Conference on September 8, 2017 in Austin. The conference theme is Texas Entrepreneurship: Disrupt // Own // Connect. The conference includes presentations from distinguished faculty, industry experts, and panel discussions. For questions about this event, please email the alumni office or call 512-232-2441.

Ticket Cost: $135 before Aug. 13, $165 after Aug. 13 - Register now!

Texas CPAs are eligible to receive CPE credits for the conference. There will be a sign up sheet at the registration table for those seeking CPE credits. We will also include a reminder about CPE credits in follow up emails after the event.

We understand that plans can change and offer refunds through Sept. 1, 2017, which is the last day before we incur costs from our vendors. Please email the alumni office to request a refund.

Alumni Business Conference Speaker Lineup

bob metcalfe

Keynote Speaker

Robert Metcalfe

Professor of Engineering
UT Cockrell School of Engineering

Robert Metcalfe was an Internet pioneer starting in 1970 at MIT, Harvard, and Stanford. He invented Ethernet at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center in 1973 and founded 3Com Corporation in 1979. Ethernet became the industry standard packet plumbing of the Internet. Today, more than a billion Ethernet ports ship each year, if you count Wi-Fi, (which Professor Metcalfe does). For various times at 3Com in Silicon Valley 1979-1990, Professor Metcalfe was chairman, CEO, VP sales and marketing, VP corporate marketing, and general manager of the Software, Workstation, and Hardware divisions. 3Com raised venture capital starting in 1981, went public in 1984, had $5.7B in revenue in 1999, and became part of HP in 2010.

Professor Metcalfe spent the 1990s as CEO, publisher, columnist at InfoWorld, and VP technology at its billion-dollar parent IDG. Professor Metcalfe spent the 2000s as a general partner of the billion-dollar venture capital company, Polaris Venture Partners, where he is now emeritus partner. In 2011, Professor Metcalfe became professor of innovation in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. During 2015-16, Professor Metcalfe will be an MIT visiting innovation fellow. His principle interest is in the startup ecosystems surrounding research universities.

Professor Metcalfe is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and in 2005 he received the National Medal of Technology for his “leadership in the invention, standardization, and commercialization of Ethernet." He says his mission is, "helping make Austin, and now "Baustin", be better Silicon Valleys.” 

Rob Adams
  Rob Adams
Texas Venture Labs

Rajiv Bala
  Rajiv Bala
S3 Ventures

Rajiv Bala joined S3 Ventures in 2008 and currently serves as a Principal. His investment focus ranges across sales and marketing software, datacenter software, and hardware. He currently serves on the board of Briggo, OutboundEngine, Iconixx, VUV Analytics, and Packet Design and previously worked with Gravitant (acquired by IBM), LibreDigital (acquired by RR Donnelley), Sipera (acquired by Avaya), and Phurnace (acquired by BMC Software). Prior to S3, Rajiv was a Marketing Manager and Applications Engineer at Texas Instruments. Rajiv holds a BS in Electrical Engineering and a BA in Economics from Rice University and an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin.
Mark Bunting
  Mark Bunting
UT Moody College of Communication

Ken Cho
  Ken Cho
People Pattern

Jay Hartzell
  Dean Jay Hartzell
McCombs School of Business

Dan Laufer
  Dan Laufer
Associate Professor
Victoria University of Wellington

Daniel Laufer, PhD, MBA (McCombs) is an Associate Professor of Marketing at Victoria University of Wellington, and a former Head of the School of Marketing and International Business (2014-2017). Victoria University of Wellington is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in New Zealand.

Dan has published articles in leading academic and managerial journals on Crisis Management. His main focus over the past decade has been on topics relating to the psychology of blame and crisis communications. In 2015 he served as the sole guest editor on a special issue about Crisis Management for the well-known managerial journal Business Horizons. He is currently co-editing a special issue on Global Crisis Management for the Journal of International Management, a leading journal in International Business.

In addition to his publications, Dan is frequently quoted in the media as an expert on Crisis Management (WSJ, AP, CNN, BusinessWeek, Sina News in China, Nikkei Business Daily in Japan, The Korea Times, Der Standard in Austria, Haaretz in Israel, FD in the Netherlands, and Radio New Zealand.). He also has been serving on a panel of experts for the Wall Street Journal since 2014 discussing best practices in Crisis Management.

Dan has taught executive courses on the topic of Crisis Management at leading universities worldwide, and his article about the importance of Crisis Management courses in business schools ("Charting a Course Through Crisis") was published in the AACSB's magazine BizEd in 2010. He has also been featured by PwC in both the USA and New Zealand for his work on Crisis Management (see
Sandy Leeds
  Sandy Leeds
Distinguished Senior Lecturer
McCombs School of Business

Sandy Leeds is a Distinguished Senior Lecturer in the Finance Department faculty at The University of Texas and President of The MBA Investment Fund, L.L.C. He teaches both graduate and undergraduate level courses, including Corporate Finance, Advanced Corporate Finance, Public Policy (Long-Term Issues in the Markets), Investments, Portfolio Management / Security Analysis and Macroeconomics. He has a J.D. from The University of Virginia School of Law, an MBA from The University of Texas at Austin and a B.S. in Investment Management from The University of Alabama. He is a member of the Texas State Bar and holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation.

Prior to joining the faculty, Sandy managed money for a private money management firm. He was one of four portfolio managers responsible for approximately $1.6 billion of assets. He spent the majority of his time analyzing publicly traded companies. He also has extensive experience implementing option strategies.

In addition to money management experience, Sandy also has significant legal experience. He has conducted approximately 100 jury trials and 100 bench trials. He has participated in the regulation of the securities industry, conducting the hearing against most of the principals involved in the Sterling Foster case (a $75 million fraud). He has also advised attorneys on financial related litigation involving options, hedge funds, and other matters.

At UT, Sandy has received numerous teaching awards, including three school-wide awards: the Joe D. Beasley Teaching Award (for teaching in the graduate program), the CBA Foundation Advisory Council Award for Teaching Innovation, and the Jim Nolen Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching. He has received recognition from his students with the “Outstanding MBA Professor Award” (selected by the full-time MBA students in multiple years and also the Evening MBA students and the Dallas MBA students) and the “Outstanding MSF Professor Award” (in multiple years). In 2015, he was selected (at the University level) to be a Provost Teaching Fellow and then served on the steering committee of that organization. Within the Austin community, he just finished a three-year term on the Investment Committee for the Austin Community Foundation (managing $100 million) and also just finished a term as the vice-Chair for the Board of Trustees at The Girls’ School of Austin.
Luis Martins
  Luis Martins
Professor and Chair, Department of Management
Juanita Dreibelbis Fellow in Business
Herb Kelleher Chair in Entrepreneurship
Director, Herb Kelleher Center For Entrepreneurship, Growth, and Renewal
Provost’s Teaching Fellow

Luis Martins is the Chair of the Department of Management and the Director of the Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship, Growth, and Renewal at the McCombs School of Business. He earned his Ph.D. in Management from the Stern School of Business at New York University, and was previously a faculty member at Georgia Tech and the University of Connecticut. He conducts research on the cognitive underpinnings of entrepreneurship, innovation, organizational change, team dynamics, and work performance. He has won several research awards and a 2012 study rated him among the top 20 in the world in terms of scholarly impact of management faculty who earned their doctorates within the previous 15 years. He teaches strategic innovation and entrepreneurship, change management, leadership, and managing teams in the McCombs School’s full-time and professional MBA programs, and in its executive programs. He has won several teaching awards, most recently the 2016-17 Jim Nolen Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and the 2015 Houston MBA Professor of the Program Award.
Joah Spearman
  Joah Spearman
Founder, CEO

Joah Spearman is founder and CEO of Localeur overseeing business development, community management, marketing and investor relations. Before Localeur, Spearman was the director of operations and strategic initiatives at Bazaarvoice in the leadup to their 2012 IPO. Previously, Joah co-founded an experiential marketing agency which worked closely with SXSW and ESPN X Games, and earlier served as a social media and communications adviser to companies ranging from FedEx to Volkswagen. Joah is the co-chair of the board of directors for AIDS Services of Austin and on the board of KLRU-TV (Austin's PBS affiliate). He previously served as vice chair of the Austin Music Commission and a member of its Downtown Commission. Joah was named one of the Top 10 Black Innovators of 2014 by MVMT 50 ("Movement 50"), Emerging Business Leader of the Year by the Greater Austin Black Chamber in 2013, and is a four-time finalist for Austin’s Under 40 Awards. He is also the co-author of Real Role Models: Successful African Americans Beyond Pop Culture (Univ. of Texas Press).
Krishna Srinivasan
  Krishna Srinivasan
Live Oak Venture Partners

Kelly Steckelberg
  Kelly Steckelberg

Zeynep Young

  Zeynep Young
Next Coast Ventures

Alumni Business Conference Schedule

Friday, Sept. 8

 8-8:30 a.m.

Registration, Breakfast, and Networking  

 8:30-9:30 a.m.

Rob Adams, McCombs School, Texas Venture Labs

 9:30-9:45 a.m.

Break and Networking

 9:45-10:45 a.m.

Dan Laufer, Victoria University of Wellington

Topic: Communicating with the Media During a Crisis

 10:45-11 a.m.

Break and Networking

 11 a.m.-12 p.m.

Local Entrepreneur Panel

Joah Spearman,
Kelly Steckelberg, Zoosk
Ken Cho, People Pattern

Moderator: Luis Martins, McCombs School

 12-1 p.m.

Dean Jay Hartzell, McCombs School 

 1-2 p.m.

Keynote Speaker: Robert Metcalfe

 2-3 p.m.

Seed Funding/Venture Capital/Angel Financing Industry Panel

Krishna Srinivasan, Live Oak Venture Partners
Rajiv Bala, S3 Ventures
Zeynep Young, Next Coast Ventures

 3-3:15 p.m.

Break and Networking

 3:15-4:15 p.m. Sandy Leeds, McCombs School

Topic: 30 Thoughts From the Fed and the Markets
4:15-6 p.m.

Networking Reception

Hotel Room Block

Room Block Information

Hampton Inn & Suites Austin at The University/Capitol
1701 Lavaca St.
Austin, TX 78701

Reservations: register online  
Room Block Dates: Sept. 7-9, 2017
Special Conference Rate*: from $189
Room Block Deadline: Aug. 8, 2017
*Refer to reservation code MCA or the McCombs Alumni Business Conference to receive this special rate.

If the room block sells out, or if you prefer a different location, you can search this list of area hotels.

Restaurants and Entertainment

You will most likely want to visit your favorite restaurants, museums and music venues while you are in Austin. Here's a brief list of recommendations and resources.