Enjoy the Ride
Bauer College Board Chair Reflects on Journey from Student to Alumnus and Now, Supporter
Intro and Interview by Jessica Navarro
Paul Peacock is on a mission.
The 1981 BBA alumnus and retired PwC partner leads the Bauer College Board, a group of more than 40 executives and entrepreneurs who advise Dean Latha Ramchand, providing critical input on issues including strategy, thought leadership, student engagement and curricular relevance.
As chair, Peacock has helped to grow the Bauer College Board roster and to define its mission and charge. But, he’s not stopping there. This year, board members are working alongside college task forces on branding and communications, alumni engagement and student recruitment. Peacock is also looking to continue to expand the board’s membership.
In addition to his service on the board, Peacock has been actively engaged with the college over the last several years, named a Distinguished Alumnus in 2009. He earned an award for Distinguished Service to the college’s Department of Accountancy & Taxation Accounting Advisory Board in 2011 for his service between 2002-2011 (as a founding member and chair), and in 2013, he was named AAB’s Alumni of the Year.
Q. Tell us about your history with the Bauer College Board and how you came to be chair.
It has been a wonderful ride. I came to campus about six years ago — I remember that it was a Friday — to listen to a board member speak. After listening to her speak, I approached the dean and said, ‘I’d like to be part of your board,’ and after some discussion, I was asked to join. About that same time the board was going through some transitions and the current chair was looking for his successor. I’d only been on the board for six months, and they looked at me.
I tell everybody that I’ve been on the board long enough to have been through two five year accreditations with the AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) and happily watched the dean and her team manage through both reviews.
Q. What are some of the board’s priorities?
We are in a period of transition right now. One of our goals is to grow the size of the board. We’re currently at 30 to 40 members with a goal of 60 to 70. The reason for that is we want to have scale. And, we also want our board to look like the city of Houston. We also want to grow in geography. We’re interviewing members outside of Houston, and we’re going to put technology to good use for that. Certainly, with size and scale, we’re afforded much broader expertise and talent.
Currently, the dean has three primary goals — talent recruitment, branding and communication, and community and alumni involvement — that were identified by the dean and her team as part of the last AACSB accreditation process. All three of these align with her top priorities. Due to the size and scale of our board at this point, we’ve been able to establish three committees all chaired by board members that focus on each one of those goals. I look for a board that works. I look for a board that’s going to contribute. I think at this point, we have the talent and the energy to take us to the next level.
Q. Tell us about your experience on campus first as a student and the transition into your role on the Bauer College Board.
My first course at the University of Houston was a fundamental accounting course. I was the second highest grade in the class with a B-plus. I thought at the time, ‘I don’t know what I got myself into.’ But it laid a great foundation for the rest of my college career and told me I was going to have to work really hard to get the grades that I needed to graduate.
I graduated with an accounting degree and joined PwC (at the time, Coopers & Lybrand). Every firm puts staff and partners on campus to help attract talent, and I was in charge of doing that at UH. From there, I became the firm relationship coordinator in charge of all things University of Houston.
Along the way, a group of Bauer alumni started the college’s Accounting Advisory Board. I was the second or third chair of that board, which serves a great purpose focusing solely on accounting and auditing. At the time, the accounting profession was going through significant change with Sarbanes-Oxley, and as chair of the curriculum committee and with help from others, we were able to suggest new curriculum around enterprise risk management and internal controls. We also had AAB board members very active in internal audit who helped Bauer become a Center of Excellence in Internal Audit. From there, it was logical that I wanted to take on more responsibilities and become a Bauer College Board member.
Read the rest of the story in the latest issue of Inside Bauer Magazine.