May 15, 2016
Al Niemi, Dean of the Cox School of Business; Bryan Sheffield, BBA ’01 and 2016 SMU Cox Outstanding Young Alumnus; John Santa Maria Otazua, BBA ’79 , MBA ’81 and 2016 SMU Cox Distinguished Alumnus; Michael Merriman, BBA ’79 and 2016 SMU Cox Distinguished Alumnus; Jason Signor, MBA ’04 and 2016 SMU Cox Outstanding Young Alumnus; Billie Ida Williamson, BBA ’74 and 2016 SMU Cox Distinguished Alumna; and R. Gerald Turner, SMU President.

SMU’s Cox School of Business honored five alumni May 13. Pictured at the awards luncheon are (from left) Dean Al Niemi, Bryan Sheffield ’01, John Anthony Santa Maria Otazua ’79 , ’81, Michael Merriman ’79, Jason Signor ’04, Billie Ida Williamson ’74 and SMU President R. Gerald Turner.

The SMU Cox School of Business honored five alumni at the school’s annual Distinguished Alumni and Outstanding Young Alumni Awards Luncheon on May 13.

2016 Distinguished Alumni Honorees

Michael Merriman, BBA’79, is Chief Executive Officer of Financial Holding Corporation — FHC — a privately held financial services holding company in Kansas City, Missouri. In addition to serving on other corporate and civic boards, he is a member of the SMU Cox Executive Board. Mr. Merriman’s wife, Ellen, and their four children — Jack, Margaux, Edward and Mattie — are all SMU alumni.

John Anthony Santa Maria Otazua, BBA ’79 and MBA ’81, is the CEO of Coca-Cola FEMSA, the largest public bottler of Coca-Cola products in the world, encompassing franchise territories in 10 countries across Latin America and Asia, with over 100,000 associates operating 63 bottling plants and 327 distribution centers globally. He serves on other corporate boards and helps represent Mexico on the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Advisory Council. He and his family live in Mexico City.

Billie Ida Williamson, BBA ’74, served as a senior assurance partner and the Americas’ inclusiveness officer of Ernst & Young LLP until her retirement in 2011. She began her career at Ernst & Young in 1974 in the assurance practice. Ten years later, she became one of the firm’s first women partners. After 19 years with EY, she left to become chief financial officer of AMX Corp., led that company’s successful IPO, and became senior vice president of finance of Marriott International, Inc. In 1998, she rejoined Ernst & Young in its Center for Strategic Transactions and became a senior client-serving partner. Ms. Williamson serves on multiple corporate boards, is active on civic boards and is a member of the Cox Executive Board. Before earning a BBA in accounting in 1974, with highest honors, Ms. Williamson was SMU’s student body treasurer and Homecoming queen. She was honored by SMU with a Distinguished Alumni Award in 2015.

2016 Outstanding Young Alumni Honorees

Bryan Sheffield, BBA ’01, founded Parsley Energy in 2008 and serves as chairman, president and CEO. He led the company’s growth from a two-person contract operator to a publicly-traded company with more than 200 employees and more than 800 operated wells. In May 2014, he directed Parsley’s initial public offering — the second largest E&P IPO ever — after which the company has established a track record of drilling some of the basin’s most productive wells. Last fall, he presented SMU Cox with a gift to honor his father. The new Scott Sheffield Energy Investment lab bears the name of Bryan’s dad, the chairman and CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources.

Jason Signor, MBA ’04, is a partner and CEO of Caddis Healthcare Real Estate. He began his career designing hospitals in Nashville, Tennessee, then chose to pursue graduate school at SMU Cox, where he served as president of his MBA class. In graduate school, he co-founded the still thriving Real Estate Club at Cox with a fellow graduate student who would eventually become his business partner at Caddis. Modern Healthcare magazine named Caddis the ninth largest healthcare developer in the U.S. this year.

SMU Cox Distinguished Alumni must hold an undergraduate or graduate degree from SMU, a position of distinction in the business community; demonstrate outstanding career success, be active civic leaders and community partners, and be involved with SMU and the Cox School through activities and contributions. Those recognized as SMU Cox Outstanding Young Alumni must meet the same criteria, but can be no more than 40 years of age at the time of the awards luncheon. Nominations for either honor may be sent to Kevin Knox, assistant dean of external relations and executive director of the SMU Cox Alumni Association, at kknox@cox.smu.edu.