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  • CEO of Ebay John Donahoe


    John Donahoe

  • Ellis Armstrong BP Hook 'em


    Ellis Armstrong 

  • VIP Indra 2010


    Indra Nooyi

VIP Distinguished Speaker Series

The VIP Distinguished Speaker Series is the Dean’s official lecture series at the McCombs School of Business. Top executives from the world’s leading businesses are invited to share their Views, Insights & Perspectives with future business leaders through their own inspiring stories. Held throughout the academic year, this program has brought many esteemed executives to McCombs including: Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO of General Electric; Kenneth Chenault, CEO of American Express; Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo; Michael Dell, Founder and CEO of Dell; and James Mulva, CEO of ConocoPhillips. This is one of the Undergraduate Business Council’s most prestigious programs and is known across the university and the nation. 

The VIP Distinguished Speaker Series is divided into two segments: a 30 minute interview with one of the deans of the McCombs School of Business and a 30 minute open Q&A from the audience. Some executives also have a “meet and greet” with students after the event.

Benefits of attending a VIP speaker series
  • Valuable in-depth stories from some of the most successful individuals in the world
  • Interaction with company personnel before and after the event
  • Motivation to succeed and represent McCombs after graduation

Chair Contact Information

If the CEO of your company would like the opportunity to be a part of the VIP Distinguished Speaker Series, please contact our chair, Kenny Young, at 

VIP Videos - Filmed by Conrad Solis

Ravi Saligram - Former President and CEO of OfficeMax

John Donahoe - CEO of eBay

Ken Hicks - CEO of Foot Locker

Richard H. Anderson - CEO of Delta Airlines

David Booth - CEO of Dimensional Fund Advisors

Ken Chenault - CEO of American Express

Don Knauss - Chairman and CEO of Clorox

Dan Hesse - CEO of Sprint

Ellis Armstrong - CFO of Exploration and Production, BP

Spring 2014

Ravi Saligram

Former President and CEO of OfficeMax


Mr. Saligram was recruited in November 2010 to be President and CEO of OfficeMax, a nearly $7 billion Fortune 300 company. He recruited a world-class management team and led the company through a transformational journey by driving innovation and evolving the company from an office products distributor to an omnichannel provider of workplace products, services, and solutions. To accelerate transformation of the company, an historic merger with Office Depot was announced in February 2013. Shareholders from both companies voted overwhelmingly in favor of the proposed combination, and the merger was consummated in November 2013, after receiving unconditional clearance from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. In collaboration with the board, Mr. Saligram, with a core team of executives and advisors, drove a strong premium for OfficeMax shareholders. OfficeMax share price reached $15.26 on November 5, 2013, at merger close. Adjusting for a special dividend of $1.50 per share, the share price had more than tripled (+260%) since the launch of Mr. Saligram’s turnaround plan in November 2011.

Considered an inspirational and visionary leader by his associates and peers, Mr. Saligram is known for his ability to attract world-class talent and for forming cohesive, aligned management teams. In Mr. Saligram’s first general management role, SC Johnson Korea was named one of the three best foreign-managed companies in Korea by KBS-TV. He received the 2010 British American Business Council (BABC) of Greater Philadelphia “Building a Better Future” award for his role in helping ARAMARK to become one of the UK’s largest employers. At OfficeMax, under Mr. Saligram’s leadership, the company was one of only nine retail companies – and the only company in the office supply industry – to be named to Ethisphere’s World’s Most Ethical Companies list, for two consecutive years (2012 and 2013). OfficeMax was also awarded the National Employment Team 2013 "Private Sector Business of the Year" by the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) for its commitment to employing people with disabilities, including veterans.

Mr. Saligram earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Bangalore University in India and holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Michigan.

Fall 2013

Ken Hicks

CEO of Footlocker, Inc.

Ken C. Hicks was elected President and Chief Executive Officer of Foot Locker, Inc. effective August 17, 2009. He was
subsequently appointed as the Company’s Chairman of the Board, effective January 31, 2010. Foot Locker, Inc. operates approximately 3,300 athletic retail stores in 23 countries in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand as well as the direct-to-customer channel 

Prior to joining Foot Locker, Inc. Mr. Hicks served as President and Chief Merchandising Officer of J.C. Penney Company, Inc. since 2005 and was a member of its Board of Directors since 2008. From 2002 to 2005 he was President and Chief Operating Officer of Penney’s stores and merchandise operations. Before joining JCPenney, Mr. Hicks was president of Payless ShoeSource from 1999 to 2002, where he had responsibility for all elements of merchandising, marketing, product distribution, and direct product development and sourcing for 4,900 stores in 7 countries. Prior to joining Payless ShoeSource, Mr. Hicks was executive vice president and general merchandise manager of all merchandising and programming for the Home Shopping Network.
From 1987 to 1998, he held senior management and merchandising positions for May Department Stores, including senior vice president of strategic planning and general merchandise manager for several divisions. From 1982 to 1987, he was a senior engagement manager for McKinsey and Company Consultants. 

Mr. Hicks graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY and served in the U. S. Army, attaining the rank of captain. After leaving the Army, he earned an MBA with highest distinction from Harvard University.

Mr. Hicks serves on the board of Avery Dennison Corporation. 

John Donahoe

CEO and President of eBay Marketplaces

John Donahoe serves as the Chief Executive Officer and President of eBay Inc. since March 2008. Under his leadership, the company has become a global commerce platform and payments leader, with revenue in 2012 of $14.1 billion. 

John joined eBay in March 2005 as President of eBay Marketplaces. While in this position, he focused on expanding eBay's core business. He oversaw many acquisitions including, StubHub and other classified sites. In addition, he currently serves on eBay Inc. and Intel Corp. Board of Directors. Before eBay, Mr. Donahoe spent more than 20 years at Bain & Company and served as a head of the San Francisco office overseeing 30 offices and 3,000 employees worldwide. 

Mr. Donahoe's education is impressive in itself, as he graduated from Dartmouth College with a B.A. in Economics with highest distinction, and earned his M.B.A. from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business where he was an Arjay Scholar.

Duff Stewart

Duff Stewart serves as the Chief Executive Officer for GSD&M. He has worked for 22 years for GSD&M and has ensured that the agency has the right people, resources, and perspective to help build it's clients' businesses. 

GSD&M is an advertising agency headquartered in Austin, Texas. It was founded in 1971 by UT Alumni. In 1986, the firm created the highly popular slogan "Don't Mess With Texas" for the Texas Department of Transportation. The firm is part of Omnicom Group, Inc. Under his leadership, Duff has led a profitable agency turnaround over the past five years. Since becoming CEO, more than 90% of the agency's roster is new and the team has expanded capabilities in digital, design, experiential, and many other areas. 

Prior to becoming CEO, Duff held many other agency roles including president, COO, and head of account services. He was also awarded a three-time EFFIE award-winning group account director for clients including Fannie Mae, United Health Care, and United Health Foundation. He also has had experience with clients such as Southwest Airlines, BMW, Wal-Mart and Molson Coors Brewing Company. 

Within the Austin community, Duff is president of the board of directors for the Austin Theatre Alliance and has lent his time to causes such as the Austin Bike Share program, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, and the LIVESTRONG Challenge. Duff graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a degree in economics and began his career in commercial real estate. 

Spring 2013

Richard Anderson

Richard Anderson

CEO of Delta Airlines

Richard H. Anderson is Delta’s chief executive officer and a member of the company’s Board of Directors.

Delta is a values-based company that is strategically and creatively reengineering the airline business model through the vision of Anderson's leadership team. The airline reinvigorated a culture known for high employee engagement and gracious customer service. Under Mr. Anderson’s leadership, the airline is reducing debt, strengthening revenues and thinking differently about cost-control to build a flexible, stable and more durable business.

Richard Anderson’s more than 25 years of aviation experience began in 1987 at Continental Airlines. In 1990, he began a 14-year career at Northwest Airlines where he eventually became chief executive officer from 2001 to 2004. In September 2007, Richard joined Delta from United Health Group.

Mr. Anderson recently served as chairman of the board of directors for Airlines for America, and he's been elected chairman of the International Air Transport Association Board of Governors. He also serves as a director on the Boards of Medtronic, Inc. and Cargill.


David Booth

Chairman and Co-CEO of Dimensional Fund Advisors

David Booth co-founded Dimensional Fund Advisors in 1981 with Rex Sinquefield, and he currently serves as the chairman and co-CEO.

In 2008, Mr. Booth donated $300 million to the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, which was renamed the Booth School of Business. Mr. Booth is a member of the board of trustees at the University of Kansas Endowment Association and the University of Chicago, where he also serves as a lifetime member of the school’s business advisory council. Mr. Booth is also on the board for the Becker Friedman Institute and Georgetown University.

In 2010, Investment News named Mr. Booth as one of "The Power 20" in the financial services industry, and MutualFundWire ranked him 12th in its list of the 100 Most Influential People in mutual funds. In 2012, Financial Management Association International awarded Mr. Booth the Outstanding Financial Executive Award. They selected Mr. Booth for his background and accomplishments in applying financial theory and research to the practical world of asset management, particularly for his pioneering work in indexing and small capitalization investing.

Mr. Booth received his MBA from the University of Chicago in 1971. He also holds an MS and a BA from the University of Kansas.

Fall 2012

Ken Chenault

Ken Chenault

CEO of American Express 

 Kenneth Chenault joined American Express in September 1981 as director of strategic planning. He was named president of the Consumer Card Group in 1989, and in 1993 he became president of Travel Related Services (TRS), which encompassed all of American Express' card and travel businesses in the United States. In 1995, he assumed additional responsibility for the company's worldwide card and travel businesses and also was named vice chairman of American Express. Mr. Chenault became president and chief operating officer in February 1997. He assumed his current responsibilities as CEO on January 1, 2001, and as chairman on April 23 of that year. Before he went to American Express, Mr. Chenault was a management consultant with Bain & Co. from 1979 to 1981, and an attorney with Rogers & Wells from 1977 to 1979.

Mr. Chenault serves on the boards of American Express and several other corporate and nonprofit organizations, including IBM, the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health, the National Center on Addiction & Substance Abuse at Columbia University, the Smithsonian Institution's Advisory Council for the National Museum of African American History & Culture, the Phoenix House Foundation and the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation. He is also on the boards of the Partnership for New York City, The Business Council and the Business Roundtable and serves as vice chairman of each of these organizations.

Don Knauss

Don Knauss

CEO of Clorox

Donald R. "Don" Knauss joined The Clorox Company as chairman and chief executive officer in October 2006. As CEO, he has overall responsibility for directing the company's worldwide business, which generated revenues of $5.2 billion in fiscal year 2011.

Prior to joining Clorox, Knauss spent 12 years with The Coca-Cola Company. He joined the company in 1994 as senior vice president of marketing for The Minute Maid Company, and, in 1996, was promoted to senior vice president and general manager for Minute Maid's U.S. retail operations. Beginning in 1998, Knauss served nearly two years managing Coca-Cola's businesses in ten countries of Southern Africa. In 2000, he was named president and chief executive officer of The Minute Maid Company. He became president and chief operating officer of Coca-Cola North America in 2004.


Dan Hesse

Dan Hesse

CEO of Sprint

Before joining Sprint, Hesse was the chairman and CEO of Embarq Corporation, a $6 billion telecommunications services company. From 2000 to 2004, he served as chairman, president and CEO of Terabeam Corporation, a wireless telecommunications technology company. From 1997 until 2000, he served as president and CEO of AT&T Wireless Services, which was then the United States’ largest wireless carrier. In total, Hesse spent 23 years at AT&T.

He has been named “Most Influential Person in Mobile Technology” by LAPTOP magazine, Wireless Industry “Person of the Year” by RCR magazine, “Executive of the Year” by Wireless Business and Technology magazine, one of the five “Best Turnaround CEO’s of All Time” by Fierce Wireless,  and one of the “Top 20 CEO’s” by Glassdoor (for highest employee approval ratings). He also received Wireless Week magazine’s Leadership Award and Cornell’s L. Joseph Thomas Leadership Award. President Obama appointed Hesse to the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee, and he currently serves on the National Board of Governors of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

Ellis Armstrong

Ellis Armstrong

CFO of BP, Exploration and Production

Ellis Armstrong has a BSc and PhD in Civil Engineering from Imperial College. He joined BP in 1983. After a range of offshore operational roles followed by commercial and planning roles, Ellis became Business Unit Leader for BP’s Endicott operations in Alaska. 

In 1997, Ellis attended Stanford Business School and attained a Masters degree in Business Administration. He moved to Caracas in late 1997 and became President of BP Venezuela. Following the merger of BP and Amoco, he returned to London to take on the role of Group Vice-President, Planning and Control for the BP Group.

In September 2001, Ellis was appointed Group Vice-President, Upstream for the Caribbean and Latin America, based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In this role, he had responsibility for the operations of BP’s extensive upstream oil and gas operations in Trinidad & Tobago and Latin America.

Spring 2012

 Manolo Sanchez

Manolo Sanchez

CEO and President of BBVA/Compass

Manolo Sanchez joined BBVA in September 1990. In 1994, he was appointed director and senior vice president for BBVA Paris. He was named director of the Corporate Banking Branch in 1997. His BBVA career took him to the United States in 1999 after being named director and senior vice president of Global Corporate Banking at BBVA New York. In 2000, he became senior vice president branch manager for New York. In 2002, Sanchez went to BBVA Bancomer in Mexico City to become chief risk officer. Sanchez returned to the U.S. in 2005 to lead Laredo National Bank—then newly acquired by BBVA—as president and CEO. He served in that position until his 2008 appointment as community banking head for BBVA Compass. He assumed the helm of BBVA Compass in December 2008. In addition, as the country manager of U.S. operations, he is responsible for control and supervision of the BBVA operations in the U.S. which includes BBVA Compass, BBVA NY, Puerto Rico and Bancomer Financial Holdings.

Sanchez is fluent in Spanish, English and French, conversational in German and at an intermediate level in Arabic. He received a B.A. in Economics from Yale University, a Diplome des Hautes Etudes Europeennes, Economics at the College of Europe and a Master of Science in International Relations from the London School of Economics.

Mark Gottfredson

Matt Gottfredson

National Partner at Bain

Mark Gottfredson is a partner in Bain & Company's Dallas, Texas office, which he founded in 1990. Currently global head of Bain's performance improvement practice, he has advised clients in a wide range of industries and is a leader in the firm's business strategy, airline, manufacturing, and retailing practices. In 2005, Consulting Magazine named him one of the world's top twenty-five consultants. He has written extensively for publications such as the Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, Singapore Business Times, The Edge (Malaysia), South China Morning Post, London Business School's Business Strategy Review, and World Business Review. He is fluent in Japanese and has worked extensively in Japan. Mark graduated magna cum laude from Brigham Young University and received his MBA from Harvard Business School with high distinction in 1983. He lives in Dallas.

Fall 2011


Larry Young

CEO of Dr. Pepper/Snapple

Larry Young has been the president and chief executive officer for Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, Inc. since October 10, 2007. In his 30-year career, Larry has produced and sold virtually every type of beverage in the Americas and across Europe and Russia. Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, Inc. is one of the leading beverage manufacturers in the North America. Some of their products include: Dr. Pepper, 7 Up, A&W Root Beer, Hawaiian Punch, RC Cola, and Snapple.


Gary Kelly

CEO of Southwest Airlines

 A 24-year veteran at Southwest, Gary began as controller before advancing to CFO and then CEO in 2004. Gary received a B.B.A. in accounting at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a member of the Texas Society of CPAs, and he chairs the McCombs School Advisory Council. For the 13th year in a row, Fortune magazine listed Southwest Airlines among the world’s most admired corporations. Gary has helped Southwest become the nation’s largest airline in terms


Brian Gallagher

CEO & President of United Way

Brian Gallagher has improved the standards for accountability, governance, and transparency across United Ways has been a key contributor to the company’s tremendous success over the past two decades.


George Bodenheimer

CEO & President of ESPN and ABC sports

George Bodenheimer was named one of Businessweek’s “Most Influential People in Sports”, Sports Business Journal’s “Sports Executive of the Year”, and has been a key contributor to ESPN and ABC Sports’ tremendous success over the past two decades.

Spring 2011

T. Boone Pickens

T. Boone Pickens

Chairman of BP Capital Management

Pickens chairs the hedge fund BP Capital Management. He was a well-known takeover operator and corporate raider during the 1980s. With an estimated current net worth of about $1.4 billion, he is ranked by Forbes as the 328th richest person in America and 879th richest in the world.

 John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods

John Mackey

CEO of  Whole Foods

John Mackey, 57, co-founder of the Whole Foods, has served as co-chief executive officer since May 2010. He was the chief executive officer from 1978 to May 2010 and president from June 2001 to October 2004. Mr. Mackey has served as a director of the company since 1978, and he was chairman of the board from 1978 through December 2009.

 AG Laflev, Former CEO of Proctor & Gamble

A.G. Lafely

CEO of Proctor and Gamble

A. G. Lafely was named a group vice president of Proctor and Gamble in 1992, an executive vice president in 1995, and president of global beauty care and North America in 1999. He served as chief executive officer from 2000 to 2009 and was elected chairman of the board in 2002. He currently serves as a special partner at Clayton, Dubilier and Rice, a private equity firm, and as chairman of the board of trustees of Hamilton College. Mr. Lafley has also served as a director at Dell Inc. during the last five years.

 Anne M. Mulcahy, CEO of Xerox  

Anne M. Mulcahy

CEO of Xerox

Anne Mulcahy was awarded “CEO of the Year 2008″ by Chief Executive Magazine and continues to be revered as one of the most influential businesswomen in the world.

Fall 2010

Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo

Indra Nooyi

CEO of Pepsi Co

Indra is the current chairman and chief executive officer of PepsiCo, the second largest food & beverage business in the world.

 Barry Salzberg, CEO of Deloitte

Barry Salzberg

CEO of Deloitte

Barry Salzberg was elected as chief executive officer of Deloitte LLP in June 2007, after serving as the U.S. managing partner from 2003 to 2007. He also is a member of Deloitte’s U.S. board of directors, the Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Global Executive Committee, and the DTT Global Board of Directors

 John Allison, Former CEO of BB&T

John Allison

Former CEO of BB&T

Mr. Allison, 62, served as the chairman of BB&T Corporation from 1989 to December 2009 and the chief executive officer of BB&T Corporation and chairman and chief executive officer of Branch Bank from 1989 to December 2008.

Spring 2010


Jim Turley

CEO of Ernst & Young

Jim Turley has worked to create a high-performance work environment with a highly visible leadership commitment to “Quality in Everything We Do.” His efforts have created a leading global professional services organization providing assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services.

 Ahmen Mahmoud, CIO of AMD

Ahmen Mahmoud


Ahmed Mahmoud is responsible for AMD’s global information technology strategy and the company’s IT assets. Prior to joining AMD, Mahmoud spent 13 years at Dell, where he served as Vice President of IT.

 Doug Ulman, CEO of Livestrong

Doug Ulman

CEO of Livestrong

Doug currently holds numerous civic and charitable board positions across the country and he is serving a four-year term as the Chairman of the National Cancer Institute Director's Consumer Liaison Group. He also sits on the executive board of the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults and is a founder of the LIVESTRONG Young Adult Alliance.

Fall 2009

Lee Scott, Former CEO of Walmart

Lee Scott

Former CEO of Wal Mart

Mr. Scott was Walmart's President and CEO from January 2000 through his retirement on January 31, 2009. Mr. Scott served as an executive officer of Walmart and as the chairman of the executive committee until January 31, 2011, when he retired from the company.

 Michael Dell, CEO of Dell Corporation

Michael Dell

CEO of Dell

Mr. Dell currently serves as chairman of the board of directors and chief executive officer. He has held the title of chairman of the board since he founded Dell in 1984. Mr. Dell also served as chief executive officer of Dell from 1984 until July 2004 and resumed that role in January 2007.

 Stacy Smith, CEO of Intel

Stacy Smith

CEO of Intel

Stacy Smith is presently the senior vice president and held the positions: chief financial officer, 2007 - present, VP, chief financial officer; 2006 - 2007, VP, assistant chief financial officer; 2004 - 2006, VP of finance and enterprise services, chief information officer; 2002 - 2004, VP of sales and marketing group, general manager (GM) of EMEA of Europe, Middle East, and Africa. He joined Intel 1988


Roy Spence


Roy Spence is chairman and CEO of GSD&M Idea City, a leading national marketing communications and advertising company. Under Roy’s leadership and their Purpose-based Branding™ philosophy, the agency has helped grow some of the world’s most successful brands and has used their talents to make a difference in communities around the country and the world.

 Alice Schroeder  

Alice Shroeder

Author of The Snowball

Alice Shroeder is the author of The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life. She held a previous position as a managing director for Morgan Stanley.

Spring 2009


Randall Stephenson


Randall Stephenson is the chairman of the board, chief executive officer and president of AT&T Inc. and has served in this capacity since June 2007. Mr. Stephenson has held a variety of high-level finance, operational, and marketing positions with AT&T, including serving as chief operating officer from 2004 until his appointment as chief executive officer in 2007 and as chief financial officer from 2001 to 2004.


Todd Maclin

CEO of JP Morgan Chase

Chief executive officer of commercial banking. Todd Maclin, head of the Commercial Bank, will assume additional responsibilities for the company's retail business, including the branch network, consumer franchise, small business banking and the Chase private client business. He will continue as CEO of the Commercial Bank.


Ralph Heath

President of Lockheed Martin


Mr. Heath has served as executive vice president of aeronautics since January 2005. He previously served as executive vice president and general manager of the F-22 Program from November 2002 to December 2004; chief operating officer for aeronautics from November 1999 to November 2002; and vice president of business development for Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems from January 1996 to November 1999.


William Johnson

President and CEO of H.J. Heinz

William R. Johnson, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Heinz (2000-present); also serves as a director of Emerson Electric Company and United Parcel Service, Inc. Since joining Heinz in 1982, Mr. Johnson has held a number of leadership positions.


Herb Kelleher

Founder and Executive Chairman of Southwest Airlines

Herb Kelleher is the co-founder and former CEO of Southwest, the first airline to eliminate unnecessary services and utilize secondary airports in order to offer low-cost fares. Kelleher started out as a lawyer, but quickly switched to follow his aerial vision. His leadership style has won numerous awards and the hearts and minds of many employees. He stepped down from his position in 2008.