UHV business alumna achieves management goal through MBA
Huandong “Mary” Faris always knew she wanted to work in management for a company one day. She had the drive to get there, and so she took her first steps toward her goal: pursue a Master of Business Administration.
“By getting an MBA in management, it made my dream come true,” said Faris, now the chief financial officer for Grocery Services Inc. “By combining a CPA and MBA, I was able to accelerate to reach my career goal and become a c-level executive despite my background.”
Faris is a 2011 alumna of the University of Houston-Victoria College of Business. She recently gave a presentation at the UHV College of Business Dean’s Distinguished Speaker series, where she shared with students her story of how she navigated through challenges in her career. The series features some of the best and brightest from the Houston area to share their wisdom and experiences with UHV and the community, as well as a networking opportunity for alumni.
“We appreciate such alumni like Mary coming back to interact with our students and help them with their career paths,” said Ken Colwell, dean of the UHV College of Business.
Faris has more than 20 years of experience in financial management, business leadership and corporate strategy in a variety of industries. She is from Tianjin, China, and received an associate degree in international business from the Tianjin University of Finance and Economics. She received a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting from the University of Houston-Downtown and received her Texas Certified Public Accountant license in 2008.
Prior to coming to the U.S., she worked for five years at an international shipping corporation in China. From 2004 to 2015, she served as the chief financial officer for Hearing Aid Express Inc., a hearing aid retail company in Texas. After that, she served as the senior financial accountant at Houston Methodist Corporate Finance department for three years. Grocery Services Inc., where Faris currently works, is a private company that provides food to individuals who qualify for benefits under Texas’ Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. In her role, she is responsible for all the company’s financial functions, including accounting, audit, treasury, corporate finance and investor relations. Additionally, she oversees and manages all the company’s human resources and facilities activities.
Management is crucial to the success of any company, and Faris knew that being a part of an MBA program would help elevate her to another level in her career. Like many UHV graduate students, she chose UHV for her graduate studies because the university offered a flexible schedule and location that made it possible for her to earn an MBA while she worked full time. She took both in-person and online courses. She enjoyed the in-person classes because she was able to make friends, while the online courses were helpful for her work schedule. She remembers how former UHV associate professor of management Stephanie Solansky had a big impact on her leadership skills.
“I took her leadership course and gained tremendous knowledge on how to be a great leader,” Faris said. “It helped me to gain more confidence and encouraged me to take on a leadership role.”
As an alumna, Faris advises that students should join professional groups to extend their network, find mentors and help others. Ultimately, volunteering will be beneficial for their future, she said. Faris is a member of several organizations herself and serves as the president-elect 2022 of the Federation of Houston Professional Women and as the CPE director for the Accounting & Financial Women’s Alliance Houston Chapter. She also is a member of TXCPA and TXCPA Houston, where she has served as the CFO/Controller Conference Committee board member and as a board member on the diversity and inclusion committee. She also is a member of the On The Fly Toastmasters, Women’s Finance Exchange Houston, and serves as chair of the UH Alumni Association Fort Bend Scholarship Committee.
Faris was named the 2018 Woman of Excellence by Federation of Houston Professional Women. She recently was the recipient of the 2022 Women Who Count Industry Professional National Award by the Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance.
In addition to being a successful professional, Faris also is a foodie and an outstanding cook, said Jeff Blodgett, a UHV marketing professor. Blodgett and his wife have been good friends with Faris and her husband Larry for several years.
“Mary is a classic ‘success story,’” Blodgett said. “She came to the U.S. from China, speaking very little English. She has worked hard and has fully capitalized on her education to continually move up in the business world. Despite working long hours, she finds time to be involved in several women’s organizations, which provide scholarships for students.”
Faris also encourages current UHV students to learn as much as possible.
“The knowledge you gain will be yours, and no one can take it away,” she said. “Getting an MBA will help you to have more opportunities in your career.”
To learn more about the degrees offered at the UHV College of Business, go to www.uhv.edu/business.
The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.