By Molly Packer
Out of 10 people named Dallas Business Journal’s “Best CFO of the Year,” two winners had one thing in common: a degree from Baylor.
Temple Weiss, a 1994 alumnus and chief financial officer of LaQuinta Inn and Suites, and Kellie Fischer, a 1995 alumna and chief financial officer of the Texas Rangers, both graduated with degrees in business. Weiss and Fischer credited their Baylor education for their success in the work force.
Although Weiss graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration, he did not start school on the business track.
“I started out studying piano and then realized that I needed a career option,” Weiss said. “Piano performance probably wasn’t it.” After settling on business, Weiss discovered where his future success would lie.
Weiss is credited with leading the team that fixed the business habits of LaQuinta Inn and Suites in order to keep the business afloat while other hotel chains failed to survive the recent economic turmoil. Weiss said the most important part of the process was identifying the needs of the company and rearranging employees’ positions to put the right people in the right spots. The team also set a new vision for future success for the company.
“We measured and monitored, measured and monitored, measured and monitored to make sure we were making progress,” he said.
Fischer didn’t start out studying business at Baylor, either.
“I started out as a pre-med major and switched my junior year,” she said. “I was taking business classes before my junior year, though.” Now Fischer is the CFO of an increasingly successful professional baseball team.
Just a few years ago, Fischer was forced to sell the Texas Rangers and file the team for bankruptcy. Her job has certainly not been easy, but in a small period of time the Rangers have fully recovered and appeared in the 2010 World Series.
A part of the business school that both alumni agree was integral to their success is the stress placed on group work.
“Be as involved as you can with groups. The more skill you can pick up by working with groups the better off you are,” Weiss advises current students. “It only helps you to handle the real world that much better.” Working with a team helped Fischer heighten the success of the Texas Rangers and it also helped Weiss to recreate the fundamental ideals of LaQuinta to save the company during the economic recession.
Both Weiss’ and Fischer’s occupations require a great dependence on teamwork. Weiss appreciates the projects he did with other students while studying in the Hankamer School of Business.
“You don’t learn as much with studying facts as you do just with your peers,” Weiss said. “Take that and multiply it and it happens hundreds and thousands of times in the real world.”
When times were tough for the Rangers, Fischer insists she would not have been able to do what she did without the help of fellow team members.
“I didn’t do it alone,” she said.
In light of these alumni and their successes, Baylor’s Career Services encourages students to drop by the Career Services Office in the Sid Richardson building for help in finding success in their own futures.
“I think that in the economy we’re in, [finding a career] is still going to be different,” Christie Walker, secretary at the Baylor Career Services Office, said. “If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, you’ll be good at it.”
The Career Services Office offers many different resources for job and internship searches, including Hire A Bear, job postings, career fairs and counselors.
“We have a lot of information if people just come to us. If every student just did that they would be so prepared [for a career] by the time they were a senior,” Walker said.
Even though Weiss and Fischer have moved past the “Baylor bubble” and into the real world, their time in college will always be a part of who they are.
“I think the [business] ethics classes at Baylor were just phenomenal and it really prepared me for daily life,” Fischer said. “I give Baylor’s business school a lot of credit for what they do.”
Weiss has continued with his Baylor obsession since graduation. He has season tickets for football and basketball games and has traveled back to Waco to give guest lectures to students in the business school as recently as last semester.
“I love the university and what we stand for,” he said.