Why You Should Be Paying Attention to These Texas Bosses.
What do you call an Aggie in five years? Boss.
And increasingly, those Aggie bosses are women. In just the 50 years since Texas A&M University opened its doors to female students, Aggie women have taken great strides, leading the way in a variety of fields and becoming some of the state’s most notable bosses.
Carri Baker Wells – BBA in marketing
Carri Baker-Wells began as a marketing and communications specialist at the law firm of Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP, and today she is a key executive and chief operations officer for the firm’s San Antonio office. Wells says it’s important for women to pursue leadership positions because diversity makes for a stronger, more successful society.“Diversity in leadership gives the workplace different styles, perspectives and knowledge that lead to greater success,” she says. “Diversity’s strength is rooted in the experiences and struggles that shape an individual.” She is an active volunteer in the San Antonio community, having served as chairman of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, the San Antonio ISD Foundation, Go Red for Women, and on the boards of Teach for America and the San Antonio A&M Club. And her devotion to building a future full of strong female leaders is evident in her continued involvement with the Girl Scouts, whose Southwest Texas chapter named her a “Girl Scout Great.”
Cindy Taylor – BBA in accounting
During her tenure as president, chief executive officer and director of Oil States International, Inc. a diversified oilfield services company headquartered in Houston, Cindy Taylor has seen the company grow dramatically since its IPO in 2001. Taylor has become a powerhouse in the male-dominated energy business, joining only 45 other female CEOs in the Fortune 1000. She says she’s grateful for both her strong career and family life, noting she’d like to see more women in positions of leadership. But, she notes, regardless of gender, “Everyone should strive to be their best. Once you’ve attained success, it’s important to create opportunities for others and give back where you can.” And she does − Taylor is active in her community and alma mater serving on the Dean’s Development Council for the Texas A&M Mays Business School and as a trustee of the 12th Man Foundation. She’s won a number of awards including Mays’ Outstanding Alumni, the Women Former Students’ Network Women’s Legacy Award, the 2012 Aggie Summit Award and the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year regional award for Energy Services.
Lauren Olson – B.S. in biomedical science
After practicing medicine as a physician assistant for 23 years, Lauren Olson opened a medical spa and wellness center in The Woodlands and today leads a staff of 25 employees. Her guiding philosophy as a boss comes straight out of an Aretha Franklin song: “Respect is very important in any relationship. I treat employees as I would like to be treated.” She adds it’s also important to communicate expectations, “so employees have a clear understanding of the company’s mission and their roles and responsibilities.” Olson graduated from Texas A&M with a B.S. in biomedical science and went on to Baylor College of Medicine, physician assistant program. One of only 1,200 P.A.s in the entire country at the time she began, she was a pioneer in the field. Her Aggie ties remain strong; she’s currently serving as the president of the Texas A&M Women Former Students’ Network (WFSN). In 2012, she was recognized by the Federation of Houston Professional Women as a Woman of Excellence. She is also the chairman of the board of the Cypress Symphony, a new symphony bringing musical arts to north Houston, Cypress and The Woodlands.
Lynn Hickey – Former Texas A&M Women’s Basketball Coach, Associate Athletics Director and Senior Associate Athletics Director
To say college athletics is a male-dominated field is an understatement, but with women like Lynn Hickey in leadership positions, female athletes and coaches are inspired to fulfill their dreams. As the director of athletics (AD) at the University of Texas at San Antonio since 1999, Hickey has overseen UTSA as it won three conference commissioner’s cups, two all-sports trophies, and both team and individual academic and athletics awards in all 17 university-sponsored sports. She is the first and currently the only female Division 1 FBS AD in the state of Texas and one of only six in the nation. She came to San Antonio from Texas A&M, where she served as head women’s basketball coach and associate athletics director/senior woman administrator from 1984-94, and after retiring from coaching was promoted to senior associate athletics director until she left for UTSA. She led the ’93-’94 team at Texas A&M to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 and finished her 15-year collegiate coaching career with an overall mark of 279-167. She says she’s especially grateful to her bosses at Texas A&M for their groundbreaking move in promoting her to full-time athletics administration as senior associate AD, giving her oversight of women’s and men’s sports. “Being a female administrator in collegiate athletics with oversight of men’s sports was very unique at the time,” she explains. “Texas A&M had faith in my abilities and the courage to do something out of the norm. My time there prepared me to assume the role of athletics director at UTSA.”
Sandra Parét – Bachelor’s in environmental design; Master’s in architectural design
Sandra Parét is the senior vice president and director of strategic accounts at the Dallas location of the Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum, (HOK, Inc.) architectural design firm. With 23 HOK offices on three continents, Parét has her hands full, to say the least, managing the design and build of corporate real estate on a global scale. As a boss, Parét says she strives to lead by example, “and I don’t ask of others what I’m not willing to do myself.” Her connection to Texas A&M has endured; she was named the College of Architecture Outstanding Alumni (the first female architect bestowed that honor), served on the college’s Professional Leadership Board and as the Women Former Students’ Network president. “Texas A&M educates students around independent thinking and collaborative problem-solving,” notes Parét. “That’s how leaders are created.” Service to her community is a priority and has earned her the Yellow Rose Award for Community Service from the Governor’s office. Parét is a former presiding officer of the Texas Military Facilities Commission and currently serves as advisor to the Adjutant General of the National Guard.
Yvette Martinez – B.A. in speech communication
With a diverse career that includes teaching, sales, entrepreneurship and healthcare, Yvette Martinez has plenty of experience to share with those she leads. As the CEO at Dee L. Martinez MD PA/North Texas Imaging Hampton Center in Dallas, Martinez says her guiding philosophy as a boss is to develop long-term business relationships with her employees with a common goal in mind, “what’s best for the company.” After she earned her bachelor of arts degree in speech communication at Texas A&M, Martinez taught second grade students at the San Antonio Independent School District and reflects on her days as a student and as a teacher with great pride saying, “To receive or provide an education is the single most rewarding gift in life.” While at Texas A&M, Martinez joined the Alpha Chi Omega sorority and continues her affiliation to this day, currently serving as vice president of membership and recruitment of the Beta Kappa Beta Chapter of Alpha Chi Omega in the Dallas area. She also serves as vice president of the executive board of Texas Business Women of Oak Cliff in Dallas and was voted its “Woman of the Year” in 2011.
Texas A&M’s recognition of women leaders will continue this fall when the Women Former Students’ Network hosts its leadership conference on Oct. 3 at the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center on the Texas A&M campus. This year’s event will focus on Defining Success by the Choices We Make and will include a keynote presentation by Marsha Clark, organization development consultant, executive coach and author of Choose! The Role That Choice Plays in Shaping Women’s Lives and Ceslie Armstrong, award-winning editor, writer, interviewer and on-camera talent. For more information and to register, visit http://aggiewomen.org/members/signup/2014-conference.
This story was researched and written by Lesley Henton, Communications Specialist, Division of Marketing & Communications at Texas A&M University