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  • 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




Keynote Speaker

David Dewhurst
41st Lieutenant Governor of Texas

David Dewhurst is a Texas businessman, rancher and long-time former Lt. Governor of Texas. He served as an Intelligence Officer in the U.S. Air Force, as a case officer in the CIA abroad, and as a Presidential Commissioner on the Roles and Capabilities of the U.S. Intelligence Community in the Post-Cold War Era.   
In the mid-1980s, Dewhurst teamed up with Ted Law, the original founder of Falcon Seaboard, a highly successful oil and gas exploration company, onshore and offshore drilling contractor, and coal mine owner and operator, to form a second generation Falcon Seaboard. Soon David was running the company, and faced with the challenge of more natural gas production than Falcon Seaboard could sell, Dewhurst pivoted, becoming a pioneer in the development of natural gas-fired co-generation plants in Texas, Pennsylvania, New York and abroad. Simultaneously, Dewhurst grew Falcon Seaboard’s exploration and production business, with operations in the Gulf of Mexico, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and Canada. 
In the late 1990s, Dewhurst sold Falcon Seaboard’s co-generation plants, and being a believer that it is an honor to serve your country, he ran for state-wide public office, serving first as Commissioner of the General Land Office from 1999-2002, and in 2003 was elected the 41st Lt. Governor of Texas, an office he held until 2015. He is the second longest serving Lt. Governor in Texas history, with three successive four year terms.  
An ardent entrepreneur, Lt. Governor Dewhurst set about changing the State of Texas, growing Texas’ GDP from $750 billion in 2003 to over $1.6 trillion in 2015 when he left office. He was the architect of the Texas Miracle, cutting taxes 54 times for $16 billion per year, eliminating or consolidating 57 state agencies, keeping Texas one of the four most frugal states in America in per capita state taxes and per capita state debt, while at the same time improving public and higher education, launching an unprecedented surge in highway construction, protecting children, and providing almost $1 billion in new state funding to secure Texas’ southern border. In 2012, after leading in the Primary, he lost a runoff election to Ted Cruz for retiring Kay Bailey Hutchison’s U.S. Senate seat.
Today, as an entrepreneur and CEO of Falcon Seaboard, Dewhurst continues to maintain the company’s traditional involvement in oil and gas, electric power, midstream pipeline and other energy infrastructure opportunities, most recently opening Falcon Seaboard’s Permian Fund to raise investor funds for exploration and development in the red-hot Permian Basin.


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

Dr. Adams is an active investor, author and consultant, and on the staff of the management department at The University of Texas at Austin's McCombs School of Management, where he is also the Director of Texas Venture Labs. Adams is an active angel investor and is affiliated with numerous venture funds, several of which he started. Prior to the venture business, he was a software operating executive. Throughout his venture and operating career he has been a founding investor in more than 30 companies, including Waveset (sold to Sun, NASDAQ: SUNW), Newgistics, and Troux. Prior to his appointment at the University of Texas, Adams founded Tejas Venture Partners, the second venture fund he has started. Previously he was the founder of AV Labs, a successful early stage venture fund allied with Austin Ventures, starting it after being a partner with TL Ventures. Before entering the venture business, he was a technology executive for 18 years. He started his career with Lotus (NYSE: IBM), joining the company shortly after its public offering. Adams was instrumental in the development and launch of both 1-2-3 for Macintosh and Lotus Notes. He went on to be founder and CEO of Business Matters, a venture backed developer of financial modeling products and was an executive with Pervasive Software (NASDAQ: PVSW), a company he helped take public in 1997. Adams holds a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering from Purdue University, a Masters of Business Administration from Babson College's Olin School of Management, and a Ph.D. in Management from Capella University. He has taught at the MBA programs of The Acton School of Business, Babson College, University of Texas, and St. Edwards University. He is a nationally recognized expert and speaker on entrepreneurship, company and product strategy, marketing and technology issues. He recently keynoted the Inc. 500 business conference and consults for companies such as ATG, Mentor Graphics and Symantec. He has been covered in Business Week, Forbes, Fortune, Money, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, on Bloomberg Radio, Public Television, and public radio’s nationally syndicated “Marketplace” program. He is also the author of A Good Hard Kick in the Ass: Basic Training for Entrepreneurs (Random House/Crown, 2002), and is currently working on his next book, Market Advantage: The New Competitive Strategy. Adams is on the advisory board of Austin's Community Development Corporation, an organization that provides loans and assistance to small businesses in low and moderate income areas. He is a Fellow at IC2, a University of Texas based foundation that runs the Austin Technology Incubator, on the board of Purdue Research Park, and a volunteer with Austin's Habitat for Humanity. He is an avid skier and marathoner. He was a collegiate rower and graduated from the Marine Corps; Officer Candidate School.

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

Ken is a digital marketing software entrepreneur, early-stage investor and gentleman farmer. He is known as the "Godfather of Social Media Management Systems". He is the co-founder & CEO of People Pattern Corporation. People Pattern is a natural language processing and machine learning-based audience intelligence platform. People Pattern provides digital marketers insights that help them identify and target high-value audience segments. Prior to starting People Pattern, Ken founded Spredfast, Inc., a pioneering enterprise social media management software platform that allows organizations to manage, monitor and measure their social media programs.

Ken lives in Austin, TX with his wife, Laura. He is the father of two bon vivants, Callie & Eliza. He is active in the Austin community and supports a variety of local charities including Austin’s public broadcasting station, KLRU, where he serves on the board of directors.

Ken holds a B.A. in Economics from Wesleyan University where he played college ball. Wesleyan's gameday program listed him as 6'4" 200lbs. He satisfied his Korean "Tiger" parents' advanced degree expectations and received an MBA from The McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin.

Ken loves writing about himself in the third person ironically.

Jay Hartzell

Dean Jay Hartzell
McCombs School of Business

Jay C. Hartzell is the 12th dean of the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin, one of the largest and most distinguished business schools in the country. He joined UT in 2001 after teaching at New York University’s Stern School of Business, and prior to his current role, he held several key administrative roles at the McCombs School. His most notable positions include his service as the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Chair of the Finance Department, and Executive Director of the McCombs School’s Real Estate Finance and Investment Center.

Dr. Hartzell holds the Centennial Chair in Business Education Leadership and the Trammell Crow Regents Professorship in Business. He holds a B.S. in Business Administration and Economics (cum laude) from Trinity University and a Ph.D. in Finance from The University of Texas at Austin. His research focuses on real estate finance, corporate finance and corporate governance. His articles have been published in the leading journals in the field, including the Journal of Finance, Journal of Financial Economics, Real Estate Economics, and the Review of Financial Studies. Dr. Hartzell serves on the editorial board of Real Estate Economics, and he served as an Associate Editor of the Review of Financial Studies, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association. In addition to his academic experience, Dr. Hartzell previously worked as a consultant with Hewitt Associates.


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

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, 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,
Ken Cho, People Pattern

Moderator: Luis Martins, McCombs School

 12-1 p.m.

Dean Jay Hartzell, McCombs School 

 1-2 p.m.

Keynote Speaker

 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.