Category: EMBA

EMBAAN Industry 4.0 Conference Brings Back Alumni

UA EMBAAN Annual Conference dinner
EMBA alumni Angie Sandritter and Justin Brown at the EMBAAN Conference opening dinner.

The temperature was not the only thing heating up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on October 3-4. Alumni of the University of Alabama’s Executive MBA program traveled from all over the country to attend the 6th annual EMBA Alumni Network (EMBAAN) conference. Sixty members of EMBA classes ranging from 1986-2019, along with faculty and staff, listened to accomplished speakers and a panel of industry experts. Embodying the Capstone of Higher Education, the EMBAAN conference balanced relationships with a glimpse of the future throughout its events at UA.

What better way to start the conference off than dinner at Dreamland, a staple of Tuscaloosa, for bar-b-que and catching up with classmates! Alumni, faculty, staff, and guests were able to network and enjoy mini-reunions with classmates. EMBAAN hosts several events throughout the year leading to the conference in October.

This year’s conference focused on “Industry 4.0: How the Fourth Industrial Revolution is Transforming Our Businesses.” On Friday, October 4, the attendees met at the Bryant Conference Center to engage in discussion about the continuously shifting landscape of technological advancement and its impact on how we conduct business around the globe. Christened the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” it is critical to understand as it dictates how best to leverage an MBA for our high speed, high tech world.

Dr. Kay Palan, dean of the Culverhouse College of Business at The University of Alabama, opened the conference, delivering exciting updates about the College and student growth in the business school program.

EMBAAN Conference Keynote Tom Edwards
EMBAAN Board members and Keynote speaker Tom Edwards (third from left).

Keynote speaker,  Tom Edwards, Futurist and Strategic Consultant at Blackfin 360, consults with companies including Southwest and Nokia, who are on top of the latest trends in the digital age. Edwards captivated the audience with predictions of a world leagues ahead of where movies of the ’80s-’90s put us in the future. Edwards expressed enthusiasm for the “increasingly accessible nature of the tech world and how it will change the way businesses promote and sell goods.”

Next, the attendees heard from a panel on disruptive technologies and trends reshaping our industries.  Panelists included: Mark Spencer, Founder of Avilution, David Johnson, Vice President, Manufacturing Engineering at Nissan North America, and moderator Beth Smith, Chief Compliance Officer and Senior Vice President at Progress Rail.

Johnson reflected that “technology helps us to make more informed decisions, breaking down siloes between separate groups to allow for the potential for better cross-communication as organizations become flatter.” The panel helped to reinforce the idea that being able to roll with the punches and adapt the way we do business is the difference between success and failure.

UA EMBAAN Conference Panel on Disruptive Technology
Disruptive Technology panelists (L-R) Mark Spencer, David Johnson, and Beth Smith.

Finally, attendees heard from Dr. Yuanyuan Chen, Assistant Professor of Information Systems at UA on blockchain and its impact on our industries. Chen delved into the practical applications of blockchain in different sectors, including financial, healthcare, and supply chain.

In a world governed by data, security is at the forefront of our minds. With blockchain, Dr. Chen assured the group that by removing intermediaries and by tracking and securing data, blockchain is the eminent contender for data transportation.

 

Concluding the conference, 2018-2019, EMBAAN President Russell Chambliss awarded the 2019 EMBA Alumnus of the Year award to Kent Darzi (HEMBA 2010). The Board honored Kent for his dedication and support of the EMBA Program and Culverhouse College of Business.

Chambliss then passed the torch to his successor, Ryan McDaniels, 2019-2020 EMBAAN President. McDaniels announced the Board members for next year, and the upcoming annual EMBA Alumni Tailgate on November 9, for the Alabama-LSU game.  Roll Tide!

For more information on The University of Alabama’s Executive MBA Program, contact Cheryl Altemara or call 205.348.4501, or visit the UAEMBA website.

Article written by Ben Tarkoff, Graduate Assistant in the Executive MBA Program.

Welcome to our New HEMBA Class

UA HEMBA Class of 2021

The newest students in The University of Alabama’s EMBA in Huntsville Program are up and Rolling! After completing their orientation on August 7-8, they began classes immediately, tackling accounting, marketing, statistics and project management.

The new class represents a diverse group of industries. The average work experience for the class is 14 years, representing industries in aeronautics, defense, military, technology, telecommunications, manufacturing, energy, distributions, services, engineering, government, education, and non-profit.

The HEMBA program is taught in a hybrid format with students combining face-to-face one weekend per month classes with online learning. Click here for more information.

We look forward to getting to know our new EMBAs over the next 21 months. Roll Tide Roll!

HEMBA 2021 students:

  • Gene Cox, Target Corporation
  • Dean Cozzolino, The Boeing Company
  • Tom Evatt, The Boeing Company
  • Doug Fitzgerald, Legrand
  • Jessica Grubbs, U.S. Army SMDC
  • Tara Guilfoil, Aerojet Rocketdyne
  • Lakota Holder, The Bailey Company
  • James Lee, SAIC
  • Jim Lopresti, Yulista Aviation
  • Lorenzo Mack, U.S. Space and Missile Defense Command
  • Miracle Osborne, ITW Sexton
  • Sam Overdear, Aerojet Rocketdyne
  • Jason Richburg, PPG Aerospace
  • Ryan Roberts, The University of Alabama Intercollegiate Athletics
  • Aundrey Ruffin, Army Material Command
  • Gareth Scott, Boneal Aerospace
  • Shardra Scott, Alabama Power Company
  • Michael Sommer, U.S. Army
  • Christina Zegler, Girls on the Run of North Alabama
  • Don Zegler, KBR Government Solutions

UA EMBA Alumni Network Conference to Focus on Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0: How the Fourth Industrial Revolution is Transforming Our Businesses, will be the focus of this year’s Executive MBA Alumni Network Conference on October 3-4, at the Bryant Conference Center on The University of Alabama campus in Tuscaloosa. The conference brings together EMBA alumni, students, and professionals with break-out industry thinkers, innovative ideas, productive networking events, and challenging education sessions.

Our speakers are reshaping how we do business and will challenge and reignite you as you look to the future of your company and industries.

2019 UA EMBA Alumni Network Conference Keynote Speaker Tom Edwards
Tom Edwards

This year’s line up includes Keynote Speaker Tom Edwards, chief digital and innovation officer for Epsilon. Tom is a futurist and dynamic speaker with a deep understanding of marketing and technology that translates to all audiences. Tom was recognized in 2019 by OnCon as a Marketing Trailblazer and a Marketing Contributor for thought leadership. He is now a 2019 Tech Titans award finalist and was named a 2017 Marketing Technology Trailblazer by Advertising Age. For the past 20 years, Tom has focused on the intersection of emerging technology and its impact on consumer behavior and how to bring Innovation to reality.

Many of the top brands, including Apple, Nintendo, Hulu, and Southwest recognize Edwards as “bold, fearless, a leader in the digital realm, and a forward thinker who pushes the convention.” c-Suite describes Tom as “Insightful in what leaders need to know to stay ahead of the competition.”

Additional conference speakers include:

  • A Panel on Disruptive Technologies and Trends Reshaping Our Industries includes David Johnson, vice president-manufacturing engineering, Nissan North America; Mark Spencer, founder of Avilution; and, Beth Smith, chief compliance officer-senior vice president corporate services for Progress Rail, A Caterpillar Company.
  • Session on Blockchain Impact Across Industries by Dr. Yuanyuan Chen, assistant professor at Culverhouse College of Business.
  • Data analytics sessions with: Sarah Kalicin, Data Scientist, Intel Corporation; Rob King, Senior Vice President, Original Content, ESPN; and, Gregg Chapman, Director, Resorts Revenue Management, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

The EMBA Alumni Network Conference provides opportunities for attendees to connect at the opening dinner at 5:00 PM on October 3 at Dreamland in Northport, and during the networking breaks at the conference on October 4.

ATTEND the 2019 Industry 4.0 Conference, explore possibilities, connect, and transform. See you on October 3-4.

Click here to register for the Industry 4.0 Conference.  For more information on the conference, contact Donna Blackburn at dblackburn@cba.ua.edu.

Meet New EMBA Staff Samantha Vasey

Samantha Vasey is the new EMBA Recruiter at UAHello! My name is Samantha Vasey, and I recently began working in the position of Manager of New Lead Development and Recruitment for the Executive MBA Program. I am originally from Phoenix, Arizona, where I earned my undergraduate degree in Business Management and subsequently, my MBA from the University of Arizona. While I miss authentic Mexican food and the beautiful desert, Alabama has been a wonderful place to call home! My husband and I decided to take a leap of faith and move to Alabama when he was offered a position with the UA Athletic Department. Since moving to Alabama, we have enjoyed getting plugged into the community, meeting new people, and exploring the South!

I am passionate about empowering others to pursue their career goals and aspirations, and I am looking forward to assisting prospective and current students through their MBA journey. The decision to pursue your MBA while working full-time is an ambitious and demanding commitment, but also an investment in your future. Yes, the studying is hard, the hours are long, and the classwork is rigorous, but the outcomes will be life-changing!

From my MBA experience, I have gained a solid network and community with my class cohort that has helped me throughout my professional career and personal life. The MBA program allowed me to form strong bonds with many of my classmates that I still maintain today. Several classmates were guests at my wedding, a classmate was a reference for my first job in Alabama, and my former accounting professor is co-teaching an online accounting class with my husband this summer.

The best advice I was given while pursuing my MBA was to learn how to become comfortable with the uncomfortable, and to take advantage of every situation. Think outside of the box, meet as many people as possible, and take time to learn and read about topics and subjects that may be foreign to you.

When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with my husband Kyle and our two rescue dogs, Zoey and Sadie! You may also find us going to a concert at Tuscaloosa Amphitheater, trying a new restaurant around town, or cheering on the Crimson Tide at Bryant Denny Stadium.

Additionally, I serve as the Director for Church and Community Relations for a local non-profit called Tuscaloosa Angels. We are one out of fifteen chapters of National Angels which is based out of Austin, Texas. The heart of our mission is to walk alongside foster children and their caretakers through intentional giving, relationship building, and mentorship. Starting a non-profit from the ground up has been an amazing journey and learning experience. It is truly an honor to serve the local community in hopes of making a difference in the lives of others.

I look forward to meeting all the wonderful students, alumni, faculty, and staff that make up the Executive MBA family, and I am eager to help build a successful future. Please feel free to contact me at svasey@cba.ua.edu or stop by our offices and say hello! I’m also happy at any time to grab a cup of coffee with you and hear about your background, experiences, and stories! Thanks again and ROLL TIDE!

TEMBA Graduate Jamie Adams Honored as 2019 Alabama CIO of the Year

Jamie Adams has been named the 2019 Alabama CIO of the Year® ORBIE® Enterprise Award winner.  A graduate of The University of Alabama Executive MBA Class of 2013, Jamie is the CIO of Mspark in Helena, Alabama.

The Alabama CIO Leadership Association (Alabama CIO) is the preeminent professional association for Alabama chief information officers, and the ORBIE award honors chief information officers who have demonstrated excellence in technology leadership. Finalists and winners are selected by an independent peer review process, led by prior ORBIE recipients. This selection process is based upon leadership and management effectiveness, business value created by technology innovation, size and scope of responsibilities, and engagement in the industry and community endeavors.

According to Steve Mitzel, Chief Executive Officer at Mspark, “In less than three years at Mspark, Jamie has transformed our IT team, implemented value creation projects, and brought great leadership to Mspark.”

Mspark is a leading national media distribution company delivering advertising solutions to a portfolio of more than 3,000 clients across the United States. For additional information, visit mspark.com.

For more information on The University of Alabama’s Executive MBA Program, contact Cheryl Altemara or call 205.348.4501, or visit the UAEMBA website.

Congratulations EMBA Class of 2019 Graduates

EMBA 2019 Grads and FamilyGraduation is a special achievement to share with family. On Saturday, May 4, The University of Alabama Executive MBA Class of 2019, celebrated the completion of their graduate program with over 200 family members, faculty, staff, and the UA Mascot Big Al.

 

EMBA Graduates getting ready for Commencement at the University of Alabama.
Getting ready to walk at UA Commencement (L-R) Jason Kennedy, Joe Thomas, Rodrigo Gallegos, and Ray Kolis.

Beginning with the tour of Denny Chimes Stadium, the day-long event included a Brunch, EMBA Graduation Ceremony, and finally the University Commencement.

 

“The graduation ceremony at the stadium was wonderful. Getting my MBA was a great experience and I am so grateful I had the opportunity. The staff support of the program and our class is outstanding. The program was even better than I expected,” said graduate Ray Kolis, Senior Manager, Nissan North America.

In addition to recognizing the graduates and class leaders, awards were given to class MVPs Mia Simpson, Scott Staples, and Denise Vickers. The James F. Cashman Faculty award for counsel, positive influence on students, and high standard of integrity was presented to Dr. Ron Dulek for both the TEMBA and HEMBA classes.

Drs. Ron Dulek and Brian Gray were awarded the Faculty Excellence Awards from the HEMBA and TEMBA respectively, for exeptional instruction and significant impact on student understanding.

Ryan McDaniel, Vice President of the EMBA Alumni Network, welcomed the graduates into the Network of now 965 members.

Dr. Ron Dulek receives EMBA Faculty Award
L-R Joe Thomas, Scott Staples, and Dr. Ron Dulek.

 

Congratulations EMBA Class of 2019

  • Ryan Baldwin, Consultant
  • Tony Berenotto, Delta Air Lines
  • Yolanda Coleman, St. Vincent’s Health System
  • Alix Connor, The Sanders Trust
  • Doug Cornelius, U.S. Air Force
  • Lance Ezelle, Alabama Farmers Cooperative
  • Rodrigo Gallegos, Electrolux Major Appliances, North America
  • Diana Goss, Dekalb County Economic Development Authority

    Big Al celebrates graduation with EMBA 2019.
    Big Al celebrates graduation with 2019 EMBA classmates (L-R) Yolanda Coleman, Tamara Smoot, and Shaun Williams.
  • Gifford Haynes, E.A. Renfroe & Company
  • Rob Henry, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama
  • Stephen Hutchings, Torch Technologies
  • Jordan Jaggers, The Distribution Point
  • Jason Kennedy, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman
  • Ray Kolis, Nissan North America
  • Josh Lawley, BAFR Properties
  • Jonathan Lewis, Kord Technologies
  • Stirling Macfarlane, PPG Industries
  • John Malloch, Motion Industries
  • Taylor Nelson, Yates Construction
  • Nichole Parker, PPG Industries
  • Shane Peek, Heil Environmental Company
  • Custis Proctor, Synovus Corporate Banking
  • Mia Simpson, DS Smith
  • Cory Skipper, Mercedes-Benz US
  • Tamara Smoot, Stryker Sustainability Solutions
  • Ray Snead, Snead Group LLC
  • Scott Staples, Fidelity Investments
  • Ric Sweatt, Comcast Cable
  • Rob Terry, Cosmetics Essence Innovations
  • Joe Thomas, Orascoptic
  • Josh Thompson, Cascades Sonoco
  • Denise Vickers, WFXG Fox 54
  • Cyndi Vigil, Army Material Command/US Army Reserves
  • Johnathan Waltz, Ecolab
  • Tamara Washington
  • Shaun Williams, Tuskegee University TUCEP-Co
  • Colby Wilson, Mercedes-Benz US
  • Freddy Windham, Bayer Healthcare

For more information on The University of Alabama Executive MBA Program, visit the UAEMBA website or contact Cheryl Altemara at 205.348.4501 or caltemara@cba.ua.edu.

 

Dumelang! South Africa Exposes University of Alabama EMBA Students to the Extremes

By Denise Vickers
There are few places in the world where on one day you can be holding a rough diamond worth $11 Million, and the next be canvassing the streets of a township where a family of five subsists on less than $11 a day.

One minute you can be strolling the halls of a high-tech innovation hub where an entrepreneur seeks success by developing an animated safari video game and the next be navigating the bumpy roads of the bush stalking real-life wild game.

EMBA 2019 Pilanesberg National Park Safari
UA EMBA Class of 2019 on safari in Pilanesberg National Park, South Africa.

Simply put.  Southern Africa is a land of extremes.

  • Wealth and poverty.
  • Modern and primitive.
  • Stunning and deplorable.

During its final semester, the 2019 University of Alabama Executive MBA class traveled to South Africa and Botswana as part of their International Business course. “The goal of the trip is to experience other cultures and to get [the students] a little bit out of their comfort zone,” said Dr. Sharif Melouk, Associate Dean of the Manderson Graduate School of Business.  “Coming to areas of emerging markets and economies is a good learning experience.  The students see other people, alternate perspectives, and how they live. It is quite valuable and gives everyone fresh perspective when they go home,” Melouk added.

EMBA 2019 teammates visit Table Mountain
EMBA Class of 2019 teammates atop Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa (L-R) Scott Staples, Joe Thomas, Tamara Washington, Rodrigo Gallegos, and Denise Vickers

The Tuscaloosa and Huntsville EMBA cohorts began the first leg of their trip in Cape Town on February 23 with a high-altitude excursion to Table Mountain, reaching the summit via a revolving cable car.  The next day they toured the spectacular scenery of the Cape Peninsula with its gem-like blue water and impressive views from the lighthouse at the Cape of Good Hope.  From there, the students delighted in observing the playful personalities of the endangered African Penguins that have colonized on the beach in Simon’s Town.

Khayelitsha Cookie Company Founder
UA EMBA 2019 students meeting with Khayelitsha Cookie Company Managing Director Adri Williams (fourth from left).

The students applied their newly-acquired business skills-strategy, marketing, economics and global business-by delivering a consulting project to Adri Williams, owner of Khayelitsha Cookies.  Williams wants to export her all-natural, handmade cookies to the United States, and the student presentations focused primarily on marketing channels to successfully do that. “I’m standing here and I can tell you, I feel with every single fiber in my being that today was the day that we got a breakthrough into the American market. And, I know with the help of this group of students we are going to start supplying America very soon,” Williams proclaimed.
Apart from the cookie business, Adri inspired the students with her passion for helping unskilled, uneducated and previously unemployed women of the Khayelitsha township.  They had the opportunity to work alongside the women in the cookie factory rolling cookie dough and performing various production tasks. Others helped plant vegetables in the staff garden and paint a mural in the breakroom. HEMBA 10 student Jonathan Lewis described it as sobering, “To see some of those women in situations that they wouldn’t be able to make the wages or have the jobs, if not for Khayelitsha cookies, that was something that welled my spirit. I’d like to hope that there would be more organizations that would put it all on the line like she (Adri) did. Sell everything. Buy it. Take on all the risk in order to turn an organization like that into something that really impacts the community. It was definitely an inspiration and one I won’t soon forget.”

That evening, the group walked the unpaved, litter-lined streets of the Khayelitsha township where they learned about the realities of living in makeshift homes. Families welcomed the students into the small structures constructed of sheet metal where in most cases a single pipe provided cold water but no other indoor plumbing for basic needs like bathing and bodily functions exists.  A row of community portable toilets services dozens of families.

For the second leg of the journey, the students flew north to Gaborone, the capital of Botswana.  There they met with entrepreneurs at the Botswana Innovation Hub and also learned about the diamond supply chain and valuation process at De Beers Group Sightholder Sales; as well as how the partnership between the government of Botswana and De Beers has transformed Botswana from one of the poorest nations in the world to one filled with economic vitality.

Perhaps the most memorable part of the trip was the evening spent at the Mokolodi Nature Reserve. The group boarded open-air vehicles and guides trekked them across the African bush spotting a variety of indigenous game animals like impalas, kudu, zebras, giraffes, rhinos, and warthogs.

They capped the evening off with an unforgettable bush braai (barbecue) that featured a feast of grilled meats, chakalaka (a spicy dish of onions, tomatoes, and beans) and roasted butternut squash.  The percussive beat of traditional African song and dance arrested everyone’s attention and united everyone in a celebratory spirit. At that moment, there’s no doubt many of the students realized the richness of the African experience, the value of their UA EMBA education and the pricelessness of the relationships they made along the way.

Denise Vickers is General Manager at WFXG Fox 54 in Augusta, Georgia.  She is also a student in The University of Alabama’s Executive MBA Program.  She will graduate in May 2019.  Before joining WFXG, she was Vice President of News for WHNT News 19 in Huntsville.

For more information on the UA EMBA Program, contact Cheryl Altemara at caltemara@cba.ua.edu or call 205.348.4501. To request information now, click here. 

Traditions of Excellence

By Laci Williams

Students who have earned their MBA degrees from The University of Alabama’s Executive MBA program have a history of establishing themselves as industry leaders in the corporations and businesses they serve. Tommy Walker, Tuscaloosa EMBA (TEMBA) 2016 graduate, is a prime example of putting his MBA to immediate use and exploring one’s place in the entrepreneurship realm.

TEMBA 2016 graduate, Tommy Walker

In a very short conversation with Walker I was able to see his vision. I learned a lot about his experience in the EMBA program and how it shaped the creation of S(w)ervice, an on-demand automotive maintenance service for automotive repair shops. As an entrepreneur, businessman, and a two-time graduate of The University of Alabama, he has put his own, unique spin on the automotive maintenance industry and continues to add to the list of all of the amazing things UA EMBA alumni are involved in, professionally and personally.

S(w)ervice is a one-stop system designed with auto maintenance in mind. With scheduling, a convenient mobile app, and valet vehicle services, S(w)ervice aims to increase the overall productivity and efficiency of auto shops, while also directly making the experience for the consumer better. Ultimately, this app is not only beneficial for the automotive maintenance shops, but also for the customers who frequent those shops for all of their auto care needs. A goal for S(w)ervice is to help traditional auto shops move away from traditional marketing and provide customers with a digital, technological solution to their problems. According to Walker, S(w)ervice provides consumers with, “accessibility right at your fingertips.” Walker and his partner plan to expand their service and scale of the application so that it can be used by larger dealerships and national enterprise retailers.

velocity
S(w)ervice Team (Left to Right): Warren Wills and Tommy Walker

You might be wondering where the idea for S(w)ervice came from; it turns out auto maintenance is in Walker’s blood. Walker and his family have three independent auto service locations. Walker has both mechanical and managerial experience within his family’s shops, so if anyone knows the ins and outs of the automotive maintenance industry, it’s him! Walker also has some post-undergraduate experience working with Goodyear in their headquarters.

Tommy is an extremely active member of the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) and is a member of the Charlotte, NC chapter of NBMBAA. His involvement in this organization has been very valuable to not only Walker’s development as a professional, but also as his company begins the process of establishing S(w)ervice. Tommy and his partner have also participated in the NBMBAA Scale-up Pitch competition, encouraging members of National Black chapters across the nation to create startups that are scalable. Tommy and his partner have had tremendous success with participating in and gaining investments and advice from professionals around the nation. The very first competition that Walker participated in was the Rise of the Rest National Competition in Birmingham, AL in May 2018, where S(w)ervice competed as a finalist. Most recently, S(w)ervice was accepted into the Velocity Accelerator cohort for 2019 and was able to secure at $50,000 investment!

rise1
Wills and Walker presenting at the 2018 Rise of the Rest National Competition, Birmingham, AL

Overall, the EMBA program was very influential to Walker and his experience as an entrepreneur. Having classes in the program that taught practical skills, Walker was able to transform the knowledge he gained in the classroom into immediate action with his own business. In addition to courses, an international trip, outside speakers, and diverse, high-achieving classmates, Walker was able to have many different experiences and learning opportunities. Congratulations Tommy and we look forward to seeing where S(w)ervice takes you!

For more information on the UA EMBA Program, contact Cheryl Altemara at caltemara@cba.ua.edu or call 205.348.4501. To request information now, click here. 

Manderson EMBA Welcomes New Associate Dean Sharif Melouk

By Laci Williams, January 18, 2019

Now that the holidays are over and we’re back in full swing to finish out the Spring 2019 semester, Manderson Graduate School of Business and the Executive MBA Program would like to share some exciting news! Please welcome Dr. Sharif Melouk as the new Associate Dean of the Manderson Graduate School of Business.
Dr. Melouk has been with Culverhouse College of Business since 2007 as a faculty member in the Operations Management program. He has taught the Business Spreadsheet Analytics course in the EMBA program since Spring 2013. Dr. Melouk also served as the doctoral program coordinator for the Operations Management program.

Melouk earned his M.B.A. and B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Oklahoma State University and his Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from Texas A&M University, but his path had some interesting bumps and turns. Dr. Melouk considered medical school but ultimately decided that academia was where he wanted to be. His research primarily employs simulation, modeling with applications in healthcare, transportation, emergency response, and production operations. Dr. Melouk is driven, passionate, and excited to continue the legacy of Manderson and all of its successes.

He is married to Dr. Burcu Keskin, a professor in the Operations Management program and who is also an alum of Texas A&M University. Dr. Keskin also teaches in the HEMBA and TEMBA programs at UA. They have two children, and Dr. Melouk is not only an Associate Dean and father but also coaches his children’s sports teams.

Dr. Brian Gray stepped down as Associate Dean on January 2nd of this year and returned to teaching. He is loving being back in the classroom and engaging more with students and faculty! He is actively working on his research and is enjoying having the extra time with his family and grandchildren.

For more information on the UA EMBA Program, contact Cheryl Altemara at caltemara@cba.ua.edu or call 205.348.4501. To request information now, click here. 

Setting the Bar – Ben Paulk Receives First EMBA Alumnus of the Year Award

Benjamin Paulk (TEMBA 2012) received the first EMBA Alumnus of the Year award from The University of Alabama Executive MBA Alumni Network at the annual conference on October 5.  He is a Senior Product Manager at BBVA Compass Bank. He is responsible for supporting strategic direction and execution of business plans focused on the evolution and delivery of Commercial Card products.

Ben served in several positions on the EMBA Alumni Network Board from 2013-2016. During his tenure as President of the board (2015-2016), he championed the family day event at Regions Field in Birmingham, pushed for more alumni events, and promoted the EMBA Alumni on-line store, where alumni can purchase branded apparel while supporting the program.

Paulk receives Alumnus Award from Russ Shamburger, EMBA Alumni Network Past President (2017-2018).

The award recognizes graduates of the UA EMBA Program who have had, or continue to have, a significant impact on the program. In selecting the recipient, the EMBA Alumni Network Board consider overall contribution and promotion of the EMBA Program, efforts to help other EMBA alumni, the longevity of engagement and involvement in enhancing the program experience for students and faculty.
We were fortunate to have an interview with Mr. Paulk and chat with him about his experiences in the EMBA Alumni Network and his new award.

Some people get overwhelmed with performing the duties of their jobs and having families. What piece of advice would you give someone who is wanting to get more involved with the EMBA Alumni Network but doesn’t think they have the time?

I understand the constant demands that we all have on our time. And I know that everyone who has been through the program is capable of managing competing and worthwhile priorities. For me personally, I like to think of where I can have the most significant impact with my time, and I cannot think of a more worthwhile endeavor than promoting this program. The EMBA Program literally changes people’s lives. It’s not only transformative regarding people’s careers, but I have talked to many alumni who share my sentiment, that it has changed the way they view the world.
Another thing to note is that there are multiple ways to be involved. If you cannot serve on the board, you can share ideas with the board. They are always looking for ways to strengthen the network. You could mentor a current student to help them through the transition process, helping them to remain in the program. You could also give to the Brian Rankin scholarship fund, which will help a student struggling with the financial decision to enroll. In place of those options, simply attending an event during the year helps us to generate excitement and promote the program, while networking with classmates and other alumni. If nothing else, place some promotional material on your desk. I have had countless conversations about the program because I keep a copy of the latest view book on my desk. 

What are some hopes that you have for the future of the EMBA program?

I envision the EMBA Program growing over the coming years with the highest caliber students. I believe the faculty and staff have created a world-class program that creates meaningful value for students. I think we also have a unique opportunity in the future to leverage the substantial growth of the University and the Culverhouse College of Business. All of this should create a robust and active alumni network, where we add value to the program by creating networking opportunities, recruiting the best students, and providing career enhancement opportunities. All of this generates a virtuous cycle where the alumni network enhances the program, and the program builds up the alumni network.     

Were you surprised about receiving the award?

This was a humbling experience. Beyond being the first recipient and not knowing about the award, when I think of all of the accomplished alumni that I have met and heard of, I count myself lucky just to have been part of the program and this group. It was a complete shock.

What motivates you to be so active in the program?

I believe in the power of education to change lives. When I think about the arc of my life, which really begins with my parents and now extends to my children, I clearly see the impact of education. This program has helped me in my career, and the effects on my livelihood cannot be overstated. However, it has helped me think about the way I see the world in a whole new light. I had experiences that changed me in a profound way. I have met so many wonderful people through the program that have helped me develop, professionally and personally. When you experience something like that, how could you not want to share it? What motivates me, is that I know other lives are waiting to be changed.  

What brought you to the program?

Initially, it was a degree that I felt I needed to advance in my career. As I looked at job postings, I saw MBA preferred listed on most of the positions I was interested in. I have talked to others who enter the program for the credential, while others really need to fill a gap in their formal education. When I began the program, I was surprised to see people with medical or law backgrounds, and entrepreneurs that need particular skill sets to run their business. But I have found that no matter why someone enters the program, invariable they feel it was worth it in the end. In fact, I have never met anyone who has completed the program that regrets it.  

What does this award mean to you?

When I received the award, I thought about all of the wonderful people I have met and worked with since graduating. I cannot say enough about all of the hard work that Dr. Gray, Donna, Cheryl, Hayley, and Linda have put into making this program what it is. I have also worked with great professionals on the Alumni Network Board who have created something meaningful out of ideas. I have also had the opportunity to see recruits enter the program, graduate, and become involved in the alumni network. I just feel grateful to be a small part in all of this.

What is one of your greatest highlights while in the program and participating in the Alumni Network?

While I had many great and unforgettable experiences in the classroom and on the international trip, the thing that sticks out most in my mind are the indelible relationships that I have formed. One of my classmates is a very close friend. I have gotten to know so many people, and we are watching each other’s lives unfold, and children grow up. We see each other’s careers advance and celebrate each other’s successes. That’s not something I had set out to do in the program but is a natural consequence of being involved.

Where do you see yourself in the future and how will you utilize your MBA to get there?

The MBA has helped me in my career in a myriad of ways, but the most visible are the advancements, promotions, and opportunities it has opened up for me. I don’t know precisely what I will be doing  5-10 years from now. But I recall on the day of orientation, we were asked to write down professional and personal goals. I have achieved most of them, but I am not finished yet. This program has given me the tools and skills needed to attempt and pursue greater ones.

Article written by Laci Williams, Graduate Assistant in the Executive MBA Program.

For more information on the UA EMBA Program, contact Cheryl Altemara at caltemara@cba.ua.edu or call 205.348.4501. To request information now, click here. 

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