2023 Best & Brightest Business Major: Maggie Cooley, Texas A&M University (Mays)

Maggie Cooley

Texas A&M University, Mays Business School

“I am dependable, funny, empathetic, fashionable, inclusive, ambitious, resilient, passionate, kind, and curious.”

Fun fact about yourself: I lived in Paris, France from the ages 3-7! Because of this, I have been able to visit incredible countries, such as Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and Norway. Traveling is now a big passion of mine!

Hometown: Houston, Texas

High School: Kingwood High School

Major: Marketing, Retail Buying and Management

Minor: N/A

Favorite Business Course: My favorite course at Mays Business School has been MKTG 322, Consumer Behavior. I loved learning the psychology behind consumer behavior science and how it is incorporated into marketing! During the course, we read Thinking, Fast, and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, which explains the two systems that drive the way humans think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional, while system 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. In our course project, we were able to apply these concepts to solve a company’s business challenge. We used consumer behavior science frameworks to conduct surveys and run A/B experiments, ultimately looking to increase the client’s social media engagement and sales. This class challenged me and exposed me to many new experiences!

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • Student Retailing Association
    • President, 2022-2023
    • Vice President of Recruitment, 2021-2022
  • Maggies, Women in Leadership
    • General member and acting programs committee member
  • Big Event Group Participant
  • NRF Foundation Next Generation Scholarship Top 25 Semifinalists
  • B. Zale Leadership Scholar
    • Leading retail program at Mays Business School
  • University of New York Fashion Week Program Participant
  • NRF Student Ambassador, Texas A&M University

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • Company: Nordstrom
  • Location: Seattle, Washington
  • Role: Merchandising Intern
    • Worked within the Full Price Women’s Shoe Buying Team and demonstrated an understanding of the omni-channel buying and planning process.
    • Assisted with market preparation, business reviews, vendor meetings, reporting, and purchase orders.
    • Developed an independent impact project focusing on building a product assortment and door matrix for the wear-to-work classification; presented recommendations to increase product depth and customer experience to executive leadership.

Where will you be working after graduation? I am interviewing and hope to return to Nordstrom as a Merchandise Analyst. Otherwise, I am currently seeking and pursuing entry level merchandising and/or marketing roles!

Who is your favorite business professor? My favorite business professor has been Dr. Ray Charles “Chuck” Howard. Dr. Howard was my professor for Marketing 322, Consumer Behavior. It’s important to note that I was a student in his 8:00 AM section, yet to this day, I found his class to be the most engaging and enjoyable that I have taken in college. Dr. Howard is obviously passionate about Consumer Behavior and engaging with students. His lectures are full of thought- provoking conversations, equipping students with the knowledge and skills to solve real-world marketing problems. Additionally, Dr. Howard’s industry experience and real clientele examples made complex theories much more digestible and easier to understand. As a student, I always looked forward to coming to his class!

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? The biggest lesson I have learned from studying business has been to “incorporate multiple perspectives.” I am confident in my own abilities and decision-making, but intentionally seeking unique and different perspectives only adds value to the final result. Specifically in marketing, having a diverse team will allow you to truly deliver a product or service that represents all customer needs.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? I would recommend participating in as many competitions, networking events, conferences, and organization events that you can! Take advantage of the resources in Mays Business School and get involved as early as you can. Participating in these events and student organizations teaches you all the possible career options available, as well as equips you with the knowledge and experience to set you up for success in your career journey.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? I have been most surprised by the enormous variety in career paths. As an incoming freshman, I didn’t really understand what jobs were even available to me. Through my involvement in the Retail Buying and Management track and Student Retailing Association, I have learned about so many different career paths in the retail industry. I have learned that regardless of your job title, my education in business has so many transferable skills across many different industries. With my degree in Marketing, I can go into sales, merchandising, digital merchandising, ecommerce, social media, consulting, and so much more!

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? If I could go back and join the Student Retailing Association on the first day of freshman year, I would in a heartbeat! This organization exposes students to so many opportunities that their coursework may not, such as scholarships, case competitions, networking events, shadowing/company visits, and conferences. The Center for Retailing Studies is an incredible resource and I wish I had been in contract with them from day 1!

What business leader do you admire most? I most admire Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia. In 2022, Mr. Chouinard, his wife and two children transferred their ownership of Patagonia, valued at about $3 billion, to a specially-designed trust and a nonprofit organization. They were created to preserve the company’s independence and ensure that all of its profits — some $100 million a year — are used to combat climate change and protect undeveloped land around the globe. What I admire about Mr. Chouinard is something I admire about the retail industry as a whole – its ability to make an impact. He could have easily sold his company or take it public, but he instead thought about how his brand could truly stand behind their company values. Patagonia’s value in “use business to protect nature” is clearly demonstrated here. As a consumer interested in sustainable fashion, I aspire to find ways to use business for good as well.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? This past summer, I competed in the NRF Next Generation Scholarship competition while simultaneously working full-time as a merchandising intern at Nordstrom. For the first round of the competition, I had to complete a personal brand video and essay on corporate social responsibility, as well as submit my resume and transcript. Thankfully, I was selected as a top 25 semi-finalist, where I moved onto the second phase of the competition, the case study with Nordstrom. In the case study, I was tasked with developing a new private label brand for customers who are looking for quality products, all while reducing the carbon footprint. Additionally, I had to complete 2 phone interviews with retail professionals. Balancing my fulltime workload as a merchandising intern, all while working on the NRF Next Gen case study is something I am very proud of. I used this opportunity to reach out to anyone and everyone in the Nordstrom Product Group, as well as the general merchandising organization. I learned everything from packaging and shipping to product componentry, pricing, and more!

Which classmate do you most admire? A classmate I most admire is Maddy Askew, the former President of the Student Retailing Association (SRA) and current MS Marketing Student. Maddy is incredibly welcoming, funny, kind, and passionate. As my classmate, she is dependable and engaging. Throughout her time as SRA President, she was obviously passionate about retail, constantly sharing out resources, programs, and information. Lastly, Maddy is ambitious to grow and learn with others. She has encouraged me to apply for countless opportunities, such as VP of Recruitment, and now, SRA President. She is a peer who has believed in me and encouraged me to pursue my career goals from the first day we met. I strive to be able to be a mentor and friend for others the way Maddy has been to me.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I would most like to thank Lauren Osborne for my success. Lauren previously served as the Assistant Director of the Center for Retailing Studies and the primary advisor of the Student Retailing Association (SRA). Through Lauren, I got involved with SRA and have been able to participate in so many incredible industry events. Additionally, Lauren has been a true mentor to me as I navigated my career journey and has been there to answer every question, concern, or doubt I have had in the process. She so deeply cares about students and helping them find a future they are passionate about. I am forever grateful to her for all her wisdom, advice, and friendship over the past few years!

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? My top two items on my professional bucket list are to work abroad and become a senior buyer. Having lived abroad in my childhood, I am extremely passionate about living in new places and experiencing different cultures. As a hopeful merchant and buyer, I love the challenge of learning a whole new target market and demographic to sell to. Secondly, I hope to one day become a senior buyer at a fashion retailer. One of my favorite mentors was the senior buyer on my team at Nordstrom. The industry expertise and trend awareness she had regarding product was inspiring, but the relationships she had with her vendors and business partners is what really stuck out to me. I love the challenge of overseeing an entire category’s assortment and the collaboration involved!

What are your hobbies? My hobbies include traveling, reading, cooking, going on hikes, baking, and hanging out with my close friends!

What made Maggie such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“Maggie is a “go-getter” in every sense of the word. From the moment I met Maggie during her freshman year, she has proven herself as a leader and one who truly cares about helping provide impactful opportunities for her peers. Through her involvement in the Center for Retailing Studies at Mays Business School, Maggie was selected to be an M.B. Zale Leadership Scholar, the leading undergraduate professional development program for top students in retailing at Mays Business School. Additionally, Maggie was selected to be the President of the Student Retailing Association following her service as the VP of Recruitment. In this role, Maggie leads the organization and student officer team as well as its 50+ members.

Due to Maggie’s leadership, knowledge, and passion for the industry, Maggie was selected as one of two students from Texas A&M University to attend the UofNYFW program in the fall of 2022. As one of about 16 students from across the country, Maggie represented Texas A&M in the college program at New York Fashion Week, participated in corporate design meetings, attended NYFW shows and panel discussions, and learned more about the collegiate licensing industry. Maggie was also chosen as the NRF Ambassador for Texas A&M University for 2022. Through this role, Maggie increased awareness of the incredible internship and career opportunities within the retail industry to Texas A&M and Mays Business School students, and grew SRA both in membership and social media presence.

Lastly, Maggie was chosen as a Top 25 Finalist in the U.S. for the National Retail Federation Foundation’s Next Generation Scholarship. After creating and submitting a personal brand video, participating in multiple interview phases with leaders from some of them most well-known brands, and completing an intense case study project where she had to develop a new private-label brand, Maggie represented Texas A&M University on retail’s biggest stage in the country during its Honors Gala and BIG Show in NYC in January 2023. Through all of these extracurricular activities and leadership roles, Maggie has maintained an impressive GPA while also working in various positions across campus. Maggie’s work ethic, proven leadership, academic performance, care for her peers, and bright future as a female leader in the retail industry make her an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023, shine a light on an incredible industry for other students of Mays, and make her a worthy candidate of this recognition.”

Lauren Osborne
Associate Director, Student Transformation Center Mays Business School


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