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Business leaders discuss tips for success at annual COBA symposium
Posted: 10/12/2011
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Loving what you do as a career is one piece of the sound advice picked up by students in the College of Business Administration (COBA) at The University of Texas-Pan American during its annual Business Symposium held Sept. 28.

Successful entrepreneurs, business executives and an economic development specialist shared their tips for success and views on future business opportunities and challenges during the symposium, focused this year on marketing design.

This year's Business Symposium, organized by The University of Texas-Pan American's American Marketing Association student chapter and the College of Business Administration's Department of Marketing, focused on marketing design. Pictured (left to right) at the symposium, held Sept. 28, are guest speakers Roell Vento, chief technology officer, BIBISI Corp.; Dr. Robert S. Nelsen, UTPA president; Keith Patridge, president and CEO, McAllen Economic Development Corporation; and Dr. Teo Ozuna, dean, UTPA College of Business Administration.
"You must love whatever business you decide to do ... and you must put everything into that idea. You are going to do what you are going do every day. But do your research and know your customer," said Roell Vento, chief technology officer, BIBISI (Build it, Buy it, Sell it) Corp., who was a keynote speaker at the event.

The symposium, organized by UTPA's American Marketing Association student chapter and COBA's Department of Marketing, drew approximately 150 students and faculty who were welcomed by UT Pan American President Robert S. Nelsen and COBA Dean Dr. Teo Ozuna.

"Education is an engine of economic development. It is what transforms lives," said Nelsen. "What your college does and your faculty does here is amazing because they are helping to create a true business class. We are creating businessmen and women who are superior to all. You have a wonderful culture and by being bilingual you have an advantage above everyone else."

Titled "See Me, Touch Me, Feel me, Buy me: Designing Better Products and Services," the event also included a second keynote address by Keith Patridge, president and CEO of the McAllen Economic Development Corporation (EDC), who spoke about the EDC's worldwide marketing efforts and challenges to bringing businesses to the area. In addition, a panel discussion was presented by Alex Heien, vice president, Wireless Texas, Time Warner Cable; Enrique Garza, co-founder and CEO, BIBISI Corp.; and Brian Lewis, vice president, HRH-McAllen, followed by a networking reception.

Vento, whose five-year-old company now has clients nationwide, talked about the steps involved in the creation and success of BIBISI, a full service digital marketing company focused on multimedia messaging, SMS (short message service), custom QR (quick response) code development, mobile platforms and websites, data capture and QR-based mobile tours.

Started in 2006 in Weslaco, the company has opened a corporate office in Los Colinas, Texas and a technology center in San Antonio. This year the company won four ADDY awards for mobile phone marketing campaigns they developed and an International Downtown Association Merit Award for Innovation for its work on the Robert H. H. Hugman Riverwalk Tour available on iTunes for downtown San Antonio.

"We were actually at the right place at the right time," said Vento, who started in the real estate-related mobile texting business locally."Half of the world's Internet-connected devices are now mobile, that's huge."

To be successful, Vento said it was important to have the right partner in business and to be able to adapt to constant change, particularly in a technology-related business. Vento also advised the students for the need to be versatile.

"You've got to wear lots of hats," he said. Ozuna said symposiums like this allow students the opportunity to hear from and interact with local and national business leaders.

"It aligns the theory and the academic phase in the classroom with experience in their field. That is a super combination for our students," he said.

Monica Cavazos, a senior from McAllen majoring in marketing, who moderated the symposium, started her own business, an online store (monikapolitan.com), when she graduated from high school. She said she thought she knew everything about marketing and business until she started taking classes in marketing at the University.

"It really opened by eyes when I started taking marketing courses. I didn't know as much as I thought I did," she said. "I think everyone should take at least one marketing course in their college career ... no matter what career path you choose, in the end, it's all about marketing yourself."

Cavazos said symposiums like this one provides students the opportunity to learn beyond the textbook and classroom from actual business owners and to hear from the best that marketing design not only involves products, but experiences.

"Marketing is a cool thing to do now, marketing is everywhere. I believe that our generation is getting more technology savvy each day and knowing at least a little bit about marketing design can be beneficial for anyone because at the very least, it will help you brand yourself as an individual and stand out from the rest," she said.

For more information on the academic programs in marketing at UTPA, go to the Department of Marketing website.