Manny Carter’s distinguished career in international business brought him to both the heights of success and across the globe. But Manny remembers where — and when — it all began, when as a native Texan he got his start at The University of Texas at Austin with a new type of degree: International Business.
Starting at the 40 Acres
Students today likely would not recognize The University of Texas at Austin as it stood 60 years ago:
Campus was host to a little over 20,0000 undergraduate students, Harry Ransom had just assumed the role of President of the university, and the Jester building was merely an idea. The Longhorn football team had only won two national championships. But UT was still calling to those who wanted to “start here and change the world.”
When Manny Carter arrived at UT in 1959, he planned to pursue a degree in engineering, but soon found himself unhappy with his intended course of study. He wanted to broaden his perspective, and he wanted to have a career in which he could travel the world — a dream he’d held since he was young. Of course, he also decided he wanted to “have engineers work for me, rather than be an engineer working for someone else.” So after meeting with John Arch White, Dean of the School of Business, Manny decided to transfer schools and pursue a new degree: International Business.
“We do these little things and we don’t know they are going to change the rest of our lives.”
As a student in the new International Business program, Manny was able to combine his study of business with the study of culture and language, cultivating a broad, adaptable perspective that would ultimately facilitate a successful career. He also met Dr. Calvin “Pat” Blair — a beloved faculty member who took a great interest in both his students and in preparing them for a global future. Together Manny and Dr. Blair brought AISEC — then an “East Coast” organization — to UT, with Manny as its student leader and Dr. Blair as the faculty sponsor.
AISEC, which matches college students with international internships, facilitates global connections for students looking forward to international business. By helping young professionals establish strong contacts, AISEC built a network across colleges, and governments, helping participants understand the unique problems and challenges faced in other counties and — importantly — how they may ultimately be able to help.
Ultimately Manny would complete a brief AISEC internship in Germany following his graduation, but the connections he made — and the network he built — would endure throughout his career and across the globe.
After graduating with honors alongside his newly minted International Business degree, Manny was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study for a year in Germany. Following his Fulbright study, he served as a First Lieutenant in the United States Army in the field of military intelligence. After completing his time with the military (and after meeting and marrying his wife, Renata, a German national) Manny moved on to work for Mobil Oil International, becoming the first individual hired directly into the Mobil International Executive Development program from outside the Ivy League.
At Mobil, Manny forged a decades-long career in international marketing, operations, and sales, including serving as CEO of several of Mobil’s overseas affiliates and in senior marketing positions in Germany, Australia, and Saudi Arabia, culminating in the role of General Manager of Mobil’s International Marketing Operations. This career carried him across the globe, from years of work in Africa to Latin America, the Mediterranean and even Australia, in a variety of leadership positions.
No matter where he was stationed, and no matter what change world events would bring, one thing remained constant: Different cultures and different people are motivated in different ways. Learn and understand where you are.
“Every country is very different in terms of culture, economics, foreign exchange, exposure to borrowing and interest rates. To be successful you need to appreciate how to factor those things into your company’s goals” Manny understands. “You can’t just make a profit to the detriment of your host country because that’s just bad business. You have to show how your business can help them strengthen and grow themselves.”
Manny credits his celebrated career — and the friendships he made along the way — to this approach. And he credits his International Business degree with helping him get started on his way.
So while campus might have changed considerably, today’s International Business students would find much in common with Manny’s desire to see the world and make a contribution to it. He encourages those students to keep an open mind about business and explore along the way … because you never know what little thing will change the rest of your life.