Category: EMBA

Top 5 Benefits of the Alabama EMBA Program

Are you ready to return to graduate school?  Is the EMBA Program at The University of Alabama right for you?  UA’s EMBA program is designed for working professionals and allows students to continue working while completing their degree in four or five semesters. Students may earn an MBA degree in one of two locations, Tuscaloosa or Huntsville.

Students enter the EMBA program with specific needs and set expectations. Interviews conducted before starting the program show that the number one reason for enrollment is “increasing business knowledge.”

What are the top 5 benefits for UA EMBA students?

1. Increased business financial skills

Students are given tools to assess new financial strategies and develop a deeper understanding of annual reports and related financial data. Students report a better understanding of how their businesses run.

2. Building a business network

Without a doubt, one of the greatest benefits is the strong network forged in the UA EMBA.  Students form lifelong friendships and make valuable business contacts.  Diversity in student backgrounds, academics, industry, and culture provides a rich environment to learn.

3. Achieving Personal and Professional Goals

Students set goals at the beginning of the program and encourage each other to reach their personal and professional goals by the end of the program. Achieved goals run the gamut from company promotions to running a marathon, from improving business skills or starting a company to becoming a more effective leader or even learning how to skydive.

4. Improved Negotiating Skills

In combination with other courses, the negotiation class helps students understand their businesses better and teaches them to make more informed decisions. Graduates attribute the skills they learned to negotiating savings for their companies, as well as obtaining better raises and signing bonuses.

5. Thinking Strategically

A boardroom approach to learning encourages the exchange of ideas, discourse, and executive-level strategic thinking. The program builds to a final semester focusing on strategic communications, management, implementation, and global strategy, including a final project that provides valuable ROI to companies.

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UA EMBA Making an Impact on Career Paths

By Addy Woodruff

As 2021 draws to a close, we are honored to have many fantastic professionals graduating from our EMBA Huntsville cohort. Commencement at The University of Alabama will be on December 11th.

Emily Newton, a Contract Management Specialist for The Boeing Company, gives us an insider’s look at how The University of Alabama EMBA Program positively changed many aspects of her life. Desmond Clay, a Business Development Analyst for Torch Technologies, Inc., illustrates the impact of the EMBA Program in bridging the gap between transitioning out of the military while also opening doors for future career opportunities.

Emily Newton (EMBA 2021)

Can you provide a general overview of your career path thus far? 

Newton: My career began in 2002 after graduating from The University of North Carolina at Wilmington. My first job was as a receptionist in a small law firm in California, and eventually promoted to a paralegal.  My paralegal career spanned approximately 12 years (throughout California and Alabama) until I began my Boeing career in 2017.  I was a SAHM for about five years after our daughter, Abigail, was born.  I am now working in the Contracts function, and I have found it to be very interesting and exciting; I learn something new each day, and I cannot wait to see where this career path at Boeing takes me in the future.

How has the Executive MBA Program at U.A. helped you in your job roles thus far? 

Newton: The EMBA has expanded my understanding of the different business functions, how they interconnect, and the vital role they each play in the day-to-day business.  With my newly acquired knowledge, I can confidently speak about finance, strategy, or any subjects I studied in the program.  Additionally, the EMBA program provided me with experience to improve my public speaking, negotiation, teamwork, and networking skills, which I will utilize each day in my role.

What advice do you have for others to start an Executive MBA degree program?

Newton: I was very hesitant to go back to school after almost 20 years, but I am so very glad that I “bit the bullet” and applied for the program.  My advice is to push yourself out of that comfort zone, put in the time and work it takes to succeed, and know that in the end, it will benefit you in ways you never imagined.

Tell us a bit about your company. Has your role in the company changed?

Desmond Clay (EMBA 2021)

Clay: Torch Technologies, Inc. is a 100% employee-owned company headquartered in Huntsville, Alabama, with employee-owners located in 15 different locations. We provide superior research, development, and engineering services to the Federal Government and the Department of Defense. As one of the nation’s top 100 defense companies, our services directly support the men and women who serve our country.

My role has changed since starting the Executive MBA program. I began working for Torch in January 2021 as a Program Integrator, and now I am the Business Development Analyst for my division.

What was the Executive MBA program journey like for you? 

Clay: I began the program as an Active-Duty Army Officer. I returned to the U.S. from a 9-month rotation to Europe just one month before the program started in August 2020. I returned to Savannah, Georgia, where I was stationed until I transitioned to an internship in Huntsville with Torch in October. My first semester was challenging due to the many transitions. I reintegrated with my family after being separated for a year, started a new job, and, to top things off, began an intensive UA EMBA program. The program allowed me to bridge the gap between transitioning out of the military and opening doors for career opportunities.

What advice do you have for others to start an Executive MBA degree program?  

Clay: No matter where you are in your career or personal life, if this is something you want to do, go for it. There will never be a “perfect time” to start. Make the leap now!

How have you or your family changed as a result of the Executive MBA experience? 

Newton: Another benefit of the program is the change I see in our ten-year-old daughter; she has watched me work very hard these past 17 months, and I believe it’s pushed her to work harder in her studies.  She is very proud of my hard work and witnesses firsthand that a woman can be a mother, wife, student, and have a career all at once, just maybe not all at 100%, and that is okay!  Hopefully, this inspires her in her career as she grows up. 

Clay: My family has grown closer during this program. There were many sacrifices like family events and staying up late to study. The program taught me to take full advantage of the time we have together. I cherish the little things with my kids and try to be more intentional in devoting my full attention to them. 

Clay and Newton with HEMBA 2021 classmates graduating on December 11, 2021.


To request more information and to find out how The University of Alabama Executive MBA Program can impact your career, contact Cheryl Altamara at or 205-348-4501.

UA EMBA Alumnus Ray Curry Attends Historic White House Bill Signing

By Jameson Hollis

Infrastructure Bill Signing
Ray Curry (EMBA 2013), shown standing behind President Biden as he signs Infrastructure Bill.


On Monday, November 8, President Biden signed one of the largest infrastructure bills in U.S. history. Ray Curry, current President of UAW and University of Alabama Executive MBA alumnus (Class of 2013), witnessed the White House Lawn historic signing. The infrastructure bill includes funding to improve roads, public transportation, electric energy, and electric cars.

As President of UAW, which consists of more than 400,000 active members, the infrastructure bill will aid auto workers by allowing Detroit, home of General Motor’s largest car plant, to maintain its status as a leader in mobility in the state of Michigan.

Ray Curry
Ray Curry, President of UAW and recipient of the 2021 UA EMBA Alumnus of the Year Award.

After being elected as the UAW Secretary-Treasurer at the 37th Constitutional Convention, Ray Curry was elected President of the UAW on June 28, 2021, by the International Executive Board. Ray Curry has substantial experience as a labor union leader and has represented countless auto workers across the United States.

During the EMBA Alumni Network Conference in October, Ray Curry was honored with the 2021 EMBAAN Alumnus of the Year award. The award recognized his exceptional career accomplishments and his ability to exemplify what it means to be a University of Alabama alumnus in the workplace and the community.

President Joe Biden acknowledged Ray’s ability to represent auto workers by stating, “Nobody does more to look out for American auto workers than Ray Curry.” Ray also celebrated his 56th birthday, which he referred to as a week of blessings. Once the president thanked Ray Curry for hosting him in Detroit, he made sure to wish him a happy birthday.

The new infrastructure bill could present an opportunity for car companies to promote and expand the electric car business. As auto workers are operating along with this ongoing growth, Ray Curry will be representing a considerable amount of these workers. The bill signing is one of the many great joys in Ray’s role representing the UAW’s 1.2 million active and retired members.

EMBA Alumni Return to Campus for Annual Conference

Tom Leddo, Chief Strategy Office, MD7 addresses EMBAAN Conference attendees.


By Jameson Hollis

Alumni returned to Tuscaloosa on October 7-8 for the eighth annual EMBA Alumni Network (EMBAAN) conference. In attendance were alumni, current EMBA students, faculty, staff, and guests. This year’s conference focused on reframing the workplace: how disruptive companies are navigating the post-pandemic world.

Angie Sandritter (EMBA 2011) Board President, and Bill Schaninger, Senior Partner, McKinsey & Co.

The alumni kicked off the conference Thursday evening with a reception in the new Hewson Hall before heading out for dinner in Tuscaloosa. On Friday, October 8th, the conference began with keynote speaker Bill Schaninger, Senior Partner at McKinsey & Company, discussing how automation impacts the post-pandemic workplace, why workers leave their companies, and workplace values. Next, Tom Leddo, Chief Strategy Officer, MD7, discussed impacting workplace culture through knowing who you are, valuing relationships over transactions, and focusing on teams that create a culture of innovation.

2021 UA EMBAAN Alumnus of the Year Ray Curry (EMBA 2013).

The attendees also heard from a panel of human resource professionals about how their organizations worked through the challenges of COVID. The panel included Brandon Barnhill, Director of Human Resources, Pilot Catastrophe Service; Harry Hobbs, Vice President Employee Engagement, Huntsville Utilities; Warren Wills, Strategy Principal, North Highland, and Co-Founder, S(w)service; and moderator Angie Sandritter, Co-Founder and CEO, RippleWorx. The panel discussed the impact of employee well-being on their organization and offered advice on developing leaders while promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion. They also talked about how they have guided their company through supply chain shortages and touched on the potential long-term impacts of the pandemic on their respective organizations.

Ryan McDaniel, EMBAAN past president, presented the 2021 EMBAAN Alumnus of the Year award to Ray Curry (EMBA 2013), President, United Auto Workers International. He thanked the Board for their leadership and commitment to the EMBA Alumni program. He also commented on how the “UA EMBA program generated an immediate return on investment for him in multiple career promotions and continues to benefit him, as well as the importance of giving back to The University of Alabama and the Culverhouse College of Business.”

Also, at the conference, the 2021 EMBAAN Board President Angie Sandritter recognized outgoing board members Lacey Schoff, David Lyles, and Ryan McDaniel. The annual event concluded with the introductions of the new 2022 EMBAAN Board members.

2022 UA EMBAAN Board Members: Past President Angie Sandritter (EMBA 2011), President Justin Brown (EMBA 2016), Neal DiChiara (EMBA 2015), Edna Felton (EMBA 2003), Jimmy Mauldin (EMBA 2002), Wanda Howard (EMBA 2008), and Tommy Walker (EMBA 2016).


For more information on the UA EMBA Program and our EMBA Alumni Network, contact Cheryl Altemara at

Adventures with August

Adventures With AugustBy Donna Blackburn

EMBA alumnus Ed Fields, Class of 2007, and his son August go on a hike in “Adventures With August” and teach us how to reflect on what is important.

As a long-time walker, I can attest to the importance of a sauntering walk, one that allows you to slow down and listen to birds, gentle breezes, the crunch of rocks under your feet, and pops of tree branches. Ed and August’s adventure is a reminder to find a moment to wander in nature.

In returning to the “reopening of the world,” Ed encourages everyone rushing to get busy to pace themselves and remember to “reserve a little time for space and reflection.” His words of wisdom to his son, and us, as well, is to remember others by “helping someone hike, helping someone build, helping someone grow.”

“I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees,” wrote Henry David Thoreau.

When you take a walk in nature, a change occurs. We are strengthened and renewed, seeing more clearly, and walking taller, with our spirit soaring. From quiet moments come big ideas and just maybe an adventure. We all need more adventures with August and Ed.

For more information on the UA EMBA Program and our amazing EMBA alumni and their families who make the world a better place, contact Cheryl Altemara at


UA EMBA Alumnus Michael Mettee Named FirstBank CFO

Michael Mettee, FirstBank chief financial officer

University of Alabama Executive MBA alumnus Michael Mettee has been named CFO of FirstBank, the Nashville-based lender, and its parent company FB Financial Corporation.

Mettee took over as interim CFO of FirstBank in April 2020 as it was working to finalize its $611 million acquisition of Franklin-based FranklinSynergy Bank (NYSE: FSB). The deal, which closed in August, grew FirstBank to 87 branches across four states and mortgage companies across the southeast and gives it approximately $11 billion in assets.

Mettee graduated from the UA EMBA Program in 2011. “The Executive MBA program at Alabama was instrumental in forming the way I think as a business person,” said Mettee. “The unique structure and curriculum allowed me to learn from classmates, top instructors, and business executives who really set me up to take the next step in my career. Roll Tide!”

Before joining FirstBank in 2012, Mettee managed budget and forecasting for the retail banking operation of BBVA Compass. He also spent a decade in secondary marketing at BBVA, Regions/AmSouth, and Wachovia/SouthTrust.

“I am truly honored to be named CFO of a bank with the reputation and track record for success that FirstBank has built,” Mettee said in the company’s press release. “I am fortunate to work alongside a talented and dedicated team of associates across our footprint that provides unmatched customer service and works together to execute our strategic plan.”

To request more information on the Executive MBA Program and attend a virtual information session, contact Cheryl Altamara at or 205-348-4501.

UA EMBA Welcomes 2020 Incoming Classes

The University of Alabama’s Executive MBA Program is proud to welcome this year’s incoming classes.  The Huntsville EMBA class started in August and will graduate in December 2021.  The Tuscaloosa EMBA class completed orientation on November 20 and will graduate in May 2022. Forty-five students enrolled for the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters.

Our new EMBA students represent diverse industry and functional backgrounds. Industries include manufacturing, government, non-profit, defense, technology, engineering, media, consulting, energy, legal, education, aeronautics, healthcare, agriculture, services, and financial.  The average age is 36, with an average of 12 years of work experience.  Students living in Alabama are joined by classmates from across the U.S. Thirty-six percent have military backgrounds.

Changes to EMBA included taking the Tuscaloosa EMBA (TEMBA) hybrid with students meeting face-to-face one weekend per month for the four semesters. The Huntsville EMBA (HEMBA), a hybrid program, has moved from a five to four-semester program. Both classes will come together in November 2021 to attend the international trip as part of their global business course.

Congratulations to all of our new EMBA students. Roll Tide!

Huntsville EMBA (HEMBA)

  • Eric Chism, Aviagen
  • Desmond Clay, Torch Technologies
  • Aaron Joyner, Department of Justice
  • Kevin Neal, QuantiTech Inc.
  • Emily Newton, The Boeing Company
  • Will Patton, Adhere
  • Clark Roper,  Piggly Wiggly Alabama Dist. Co.
  • Ty Sackett, EOS Defense Systems USA, Inc.
  • Shannon Sullivan, Lockheed Martin
  • Cody Vanderford, Mazda Toyota Manufacturing U.S.
  • Mike Weigart, CAE
  • JD Williams, S3 inc
  • Tyler Wilson, PeopleTec, Inc.

Tuscaloosa EMBA (TEMBA)

  • Brian Albritton, Leidos
  • David Bath, PeopleTec
  • Ben Bourgeois, RJ Mechanical
  • Maleah Cousineau, U.S. Army
  • Michael Emfinger, Accenture
  • Michael Gallant, Halliburton
  • Kelli Gant, Warrior Met Coal, Inc.
  • Peyton Hartzell, Clear Inc.
  • Matthew Hayne, The Valletta Group, Inc.
  • Dr. Jack Heath, Huntsville Hospital System
  • Patrick Hogan, DIPRA
  • Rodney Holmes, Birmingham Fastener
  • Joshua Horton, Meredith Corporation
  • Shannon Kynerd, Hunt Refining Company
  • Katie Masoor, Deloitte Consulting
  • Jayson McConnell, Tronox
  • Mona Lisa Morris, Birmingham Business Resource Center
  • Sudheer Nagam, GEODIS
  • Rob Norris, Southern Nuclear
  • Brooks Padgett, Truist
  • Edward Patton, Phifer Inc.
  • Ryan Pew, Spatial Networks
  • Lily Posey, Altec
  • Natasha Shumpert, Jefferson County Department of Health
  • William Simms, BLOX, LLC
  • Casey Smith, Simulation Technologies (Simtech)
  • Chris Spann, Collins Aerospace
  • Caleb Story, CareView Communications
  • Cade Warner, The Westervelt Company
  • Colin White, Carl W Consulting
  • Flynn Woods, Inteva Products
  • Dominic Yeager, The University of Alabama

To apply for the next UA EMBA program, contact Cheryl Altamara at or 205-348-4501 to request more information and attend a virtual information session

Huntingdon College Dedicates the Black Student Union Center in Honor of Wanda A. Howard

For 40 years, the Black Student Union has been a part of campus life at Huntingdon College. This October, the College community will dedicate a new BSU meeting and event space in honor of trustee Wanda A. Howard ’81, who helped to found the BSU and who has mentored countless Huntingdon students and student-athletes and served as a guiding light on the board of trustees for 11 years.

When did you find out about the Naming?

I was informed during a Friday night meeting with President Cameron West in early September.  He stated that a space had been identified to house the new BSU Center.  I was extremely pleased to hear it.  Thereafter, he asked if it could be named after me, which caught me absolutely off guard.  I ultimately agreed after picking myself up off the floor.

What does it mean to me to receive this honor?

It gives me a greater urgency to continue my commitment, responsibility, and accountability to collaboratively effectuate transformational change for racial equality, justice, and inclusion at Huntingdon, The University of Alabama, and our country in general.

As CEO/Principal Consultant for B.O.L.D. Endeavors, LLC, (BOLDnDev), Howard is currently expanding business activities beyond operational consulting and real estate restoration. She is establishing an enterprise that emboldens (inspires, prepares, and equips) this Generation with Truth, godly wisdom, knowledge, life skills, and diverse opportunities to be courageous and daring leaders spiritually, naturally, and financially as they live the abundant life in Christ Jesus.

BOLDnDev comes after a successful career in diverse healthcare arenas from pharmaceutical sales in Brooklyn, NY to business office management in acute care and physician office settings in Alabama and twenty years of high-performance healthcare project management experience, which included directing the software implementation team at a Fortune 15 company; leading complex, enterprise IT projects in the fifth-largest US healthcare system and orchestrating the UAT for the largest US home health and hospice company’s interstate, data center migration of 100+ applications.

What advice would you give to fellow EMBA alumni in serving on a board and paying it forward?

I encourage them to be servant leaders of unwavering integrity who can lead from the front by valuing all people, having a selfless purpose and a deep desire to tangibly improve the lives/conditions of the people they are serving and to equip them to also live a high impact life that pays it forward for generations to come.

For more information on how The University of Alabama EMBAs are making an impact in their companies and communities, visit the UAEMBA website or contact Samantha Vasey at 205.348.0954 or

Sullivan Named Executive Vice President at Bryant Bank

Mark Sullivan, an alumnus of UA’s Executive MBA Class of 1994, has been named Executive Vice President at Bryant Bank.

After retiring from Synovus at the end of March, he knew he would not stay retired for long.  According to Sullivan, “I still have a lot of energy, and hopefully, a little knowledge to help an organization move forward toward its goals.”  The new role at Bryant Bank will “allow me to expand my focus beyond just the local market while remaining very active and engaged in the Tuscaloosa community.”

“This job will allow me to continue to draw on the overall strategic knowledge and training I received in the EMBA program, but in an even broader way.”

To learn more about Mark Sullivan and his new role as Executive Vice President at Bryant Bank, click on the article below.

EMBA Spotlight: Julie Mathis, HEMBA 2020

This month we are spotlighting EMBA Class of 2020 alumna Julie Mathis, Human Resource Business Partner at Pilot Company. Julie shares with us how The University of Alabama EMBA Program prepared her to move into an executive position.

Tell us a bit more about your company, Pilot, and your new role in the company today?

Pilot is a growth company focusing on innovative solutions across our retail, energy, and logistic operations. Our vast network of more than 900 retail and fueling locations provide travelers with convenient stops offering an incredible variety of amenities and products to make road travel easier.

The Pilot Flying J travel center network includes locations in 44 states and six Canadian provinces with more than 630 restaurants and 35 Truck Care service centers. Our One9 Fuel Network connects smaller fleets and professional drivers to the services they need at a variety of fueling locations. We supply more than 11 billion gallons of fuel per year with the third largest tanker fleet in North America. Our sourcing infrastructure, strong market presence, and expertise in energy and logistics optimize the distribution of fuel, DEF, bio, and renewables.

Our fleet also provides critical hauling and disposal services of our nation’s busiest basins. As an HR Business Partner for the Sales Division, I work with the leadership team to drive company initiatives and business strategies. Essentially my role is to make sure we have the right people in the right places.

You began your EMBA Program in the fall of 2018, what was that journey like for you?

Beginning the EMBA Program at orientation, fall 2018.

At first, terrifying. But I quickly learned that there was nothing in my classes that was “over my head.” The challenge was not in understanding new theories and concepts, rather the volume of work and time management. This is a skill you MUST have in corporate America. There were times where things would get dumped on us last minute and when you think about it—that’s the real world.

How has the EMBA Program at UA helped you in your job roles thus far?

My MBA has made me a more well-rounded professional. I chose the MBA program over an HR Masters program because I wanted to understand the whole business. In doing so, I am not just HR, I am a thought partner to Senior Leaders of the organization and help drive company strategy.

Describe a UA EMBA project, assignment, or a particular class takeaway that you considered
invaluable to you and your company.

Simply stated, this is what I learned from Dr. Ron Dulek that I will remember for the rest of my life: Humility will take you a hell of a lot farther than book smarts. Humility is a life journey. Projects will come and go. It’s about how you change the lives of others that really matter most. That, in itself, is a legacy.

Also, Dr. Larry Baldwin’s negotiation class offered me the most practical knowledge that I use every day. We would work through everyday scenarios and learn how to negotiate the desired outcome. This type of knowledge is something that every professional can put to use right away.

What one piece of advice would you give any aspiring female business professional?

The investment in yourself now is truly an investment in your future self. You’re worth it. The advice is the same as I give my kids: stop whining and be the change you want to see in the world.

What advice do you have for others wanting to start an Executive MBA degree program?

Mathis and her fellow UA HEMBA classmates.

I think this is best given as an analogy. It’s like when you were a kid and you would go to the very back of the diving board and then take a running leap into the pool. You’re a little scared, a little excited, and when you get completely submerged into the water you realize, it wasn’t so bad and totally worth it.

For more information on The University of Alabama Executive MBA Program, visit the UAEMBA website or contact Samantha Vasey at 205.348.0954 or