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Alumni Bragging Rights: Innovative Alum, Distinguished Professor, Experienced CEO, and More

By Forrest Milburn

Texas mascot showing the hook 'em horns hand sign

Every alum who excels in their field will tell you that they owe many of their accomplishments to years spent at the McCombs School of Business. Many alumni, including some below, even go out of their way to give back to the school that started it all.

In this installment of Bragging Rights, we recognize awards, accolades, and recent career achievements, including an innovative alum, a distinguished professor, an experienced CEO, and an alum dedicated to giving back.

Innovative Alum

Deborah Navarro at SpaceX

Deborah Navarro, MSTC '16, co-founder and chief commercialization officer for startup Guadaloop, and her team raced a prototype pod this summer at the Hyperloop Pod Competition. The company, founded at The University of Texas at Austin, was honored with the first innovation award for their air-bearing technology and prototype, Furiosa.

The team, composed of 20 undergraduate and graduate students, was selected by Elon Musk after competing at the hyperloop pod design competition in 2015.

Distinguished Professor

Fred Phillips delivering speech

Fred Phillips, Ph.D. '78, received the 2017 N.D. Kondratieff Medal from the Russian Academy of Sciences. Phillips accepted the gold medal and delivered the laureate lecture on Sept. 25 at a ceremony in Moscow. The academy issues the prize every three years to a scholar who has made significant contributions to the social sciences.

Phillips is a distinguished professor at Yuan Ze University's College of Management and a visiting professor at SUNY Stony Brook’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

The medal, and the N.D. Kondratieff Foundation that administers it, is named for the pioneering Russian economist who by identifying the "long wave" economic cycles inspired the later work of Joseph Schumpeter and Simon Kuznets.

Experienced CEO

Brett Hurt at Entrepreneurship Live!

Brett Hurt, BBA '94, earned the 2017 CEO Legacy Award from the Austin Business Journal. Hurt was one of five CEOs recognized earlier this month for decades of experience at the helm of fast-growth companies. Hurt, CEO of Data.world Inc., previously founded Bazaarvoice Inc.

A team of judges, including some previous award winners, ran through dozens of nominations to pick the class of 2017. They evaluated everything from revenue growth to company culture to make their final selections.

An Alum Giving Back

Lesmes (r) with Suchitra Gururaj from Diversity and Community Engagement

Blanca Lesmes, MBA '11, was chosen to receive the Glen Baumgart Outstanding Alumni Award from the UT Division of Diversity and Community Engagement for her work to support McCombs students. Her recognition was given as part of the Tower Awards, which are presented annually to honor excellence in volunteerism among UT students, faculty, and staff.

Since 1992, the awards have been presented at an on-campus ceremony, which currently recognizes UT students, faculty, and staff, as well as community agencies and university-community partnership efforts. Navarro will be honored in an award ceremony on April 26, 2018.

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