She said, “I was told that you cannot be nice if you want to succeed, and I know that is not true.”
The statement meant a lot coming from a person with her credibility. She has been described as “The Woman behind the New Brand of NFL Apparel.” She talks of a personal board of directors, of being mentored and of mentoring. She works with “at-risk” kids and brings them to her swanky office on Park Avenue so they can see what education and hard work, not to mention a supportive and loving family, can do to help you develop and grow yourself. She showed me her picture with Oprah, and she took me on a tour of her office at the NFL.
She is Bauer alumna Natara Holloway, and I had dinner with her recently on a trip to New York City.
As vice president of retail development in the NFL’s consumer products department, Natara is responsible for establishing the NFL’s retail growth strategy. She focuses on growing the NFL brand at retail events, elevating the consumer’s retail experiences and on growing sustainable retail partnerships.
Natara graduated with a BBA in accounting from Bauer College. She is a CPA who started her career at Exxon in Houston before moving to NYC. Starting at the NFL as a VP for Corporate and New Business Development, she worked to create the NFL’s event retail operations. Under her leadership, retail revenue grew significantly. She created the first retail pop-up store for women in New Orleans and won the Commissioner’s Innovation Award as part of the Consumer Products Women’s Initiative.
Refreshingly, her success has served to underscore the importance of family and relationships. She credits her parents with giving her everything she needed to succeed, she visits them often in San Antonio, she is close to her sister and nephews, and above all, she believes, as she told me, that you can be nice and be successful.
I smiled as we left The Fig and Olive restaurant where we met for dinner. I told myself that this is what it is all about — changing lives one student at a time, changing lives the right way and changing lives with the right values.
Thank you, Natara. You are special. You are successful. You are Bauer.
It’s the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle
The Circle of Life
So go the lyrics of the song by Elton John in the movie The Lion King. I was reminded of the song this past week as we held several events at Bauer College.
On Thursday, we hosted children from schools in the area who had created artwork around themes related to money and finance, surrounding the week-long financial literacy program which is part of Houston Money Week. We celebrated their creativity and talked to them about what it means to plan and budget, to come to college and to have a job, to buy a house, a car and to make sure they planned for retirement. The best part – they were 7-12 year olds, and they promised to come back as Bauer students when they graduated from high school. Their circle has just begun.
Catherine Waldmann, a 1946 BBA graduate, and her daughter Virginia “Ginger” Hawthorne were two of our guests at the annual Gold & Silver Cougar Luncheon.
On Friday, we hosted our annual Gold and Silver Cougar Luncheon attended by Bauer College alumni who graduated 25 and 50 years ago. At this event, we share our stories told through the experiences of our current students and listen to stories like that of Catherine Waldmann, who was part of the graduating BBA class of 1946. Catherine’s daughter Virginia “Ginger” Hawthorne attended as well. Willie Burns spoke of his experiences and let us know that we may have two more Burns boys at Bauer in our MBA and BBA programs. Ginger, Willie and Catherine have complete circles and come back to start a new circle of engagement.
Later that evening, we attended a dinner at the home of one of our scholarship donors – Rahul Mehta, who awards scholarships to our students every year. Rahul’s home is an amazing architectural delight and tastefully furnished. We met his sister Nisha, his brother Dharmesh and his wife, and Rahul’s mother. We all shared our stories. Rahul came to the U.S. as a student in computer science, took a course by happenstance with Dr. Scamell, and out of that arose a friendship that lasted beyond his class and degree and helped sow the seeds for a very successful career in business. The story has all the right ingredients – the genius and hard work of a student and the dedication and commitment of a caring faculty who wanted their student to succeed. And now with several businesses and a career that is successful beyond measure, the student as alum, gives back, reconnects, completes the circle and creates new circles of opportunity for other students.
In all cases – from the connections from the middle school children who talked about money and saving so they could perhaps attend Bauer College later, to the Gold and Silver Cougars who came back to reconnect, to Rahul Mehta who comes back to thank his mentor Dr. Richard Scamell – each has found their place in that unwinding circle of life.
On Saturday, we hosted newly admitted students who will start at Bauer College this fall. We talked about what makes Bauer College special. What is it? It is the Circle of Life – it is the commitment our faculty and staff have to developing and growing students to find their place in that unwinding circle. This is why when our students graduate, they never leave. They find their place; they stay inside the circle; they come back and engage; they reconnect and create new circles through their engagement and giving, their caring and commitment.
Wonder if Elton John was thinking of Bauer College when he sang:
It moves us all, the Circle of Life, the unwinding circle…
At this time every year, many of us make resolutions, New Year’s resolutions — a resolution to work out more often, to earn a degree, to save more, to call my mother every week, to go on a vacation.
There are some of us, for whom resolutions do not make sense, they simply cannot happen. They cannot happen because these individuals do not have the luxury of time to plan to make the resolution a reality. Every year, about 27,000 children can only make a wish and hope that someone will listen and convert their wish into a resolution and then into action. That someone is the Make-A-Wish (MAW) Foundation.
Last Thursday, January 22, we were very fortunate at Bauer College to host Bauer alumnus (EMBA ’90) and MAW America President David Williams in our inaugural Inspiring Minds series. With several hundred offices in cities in the U.S., MAW also has offices in 48 countries worldwide. Every year, they help thousands of children see their wishes fulfilled. In fact, they make sure that every seven minutes a wish becomes reality.
Everyone agreed that the talk was inspiring, to say the least. Here are some highlights:
How did MAW get started?
In the spring of 1980, U.S. Customs Agent Tommy Austin from the DPS in Arizona tells his colleague Ron Cox about a 7-year-old boy named Chris. The son of a friend, Chris had been diagnosed with leukemia and did not have much time left. Chris wanted to be a police officer and catch bad guys with Austin. Agent Austin got a team of friends together. With a patrol car, a motorcycle, and a helicopter, they flew Chris to their offices. There, he was given a tour of their facility, a “Smokey the Bear” hat, and even a uniform (tailored to fit his little body). He was given a police officer’s badge, and Chris became Arizona’s first and only honorary DPS officer. A month or so later, Chris passed away. Chris died on May 3, and as one of the officers described it:
He was only seven years, 269 days old when he died. But he taught me about being a man, even though he was only a boy. I can tell you that because of meeting Chris, I am an entirely different man.
What is the most valuable lesson David learnt working at the Houston Food Bank, at Habitat for Humanity, and now at MAW?
Never worry about failure. Ask yourself two questions. What would you do if you knew you could not fail? What would you do if you failed?
How did he choose this profession?
A mentor once asked him, “What melts your butter?” Follow your passion and choose your career. David followed his heart — he loves to give back and make a difference.
How many kids does MAW help every year?
About 14,000 wishes. Every seven minutes a wish becomes reality.
To date, what has been the most interesting wish?
A young girl in North Carolina had a wish — she wanted to be famous. On finding out that at the time she made this wish, there were 155 kids who also had wishes, this little girl changed her wish. She wanted the 155 kids’ wishes come to fruition first. When she was told that this was a monumental task, which was nearly impossible given that this required $1.5 million, her reaction was — “you told me that I could ask for anything I wanted.” Her voice and message brought the community together, and the 155 kids saw their wishes become reality. Although the little girl died a few days before this happened, her wish will be remembered for a long time. Help others first.
Thank you, David. You make a difference for those who make a wish.
Thank you, David. You make all Bauer alumni proud.
Thank you, David. You are the reason Bauer College is Where Awesome Happens.