Category: EMBA

Tuscaloosa EMBA 2021 Class Begins Orientation With A Little Disney Magic

UA TEMBA Class of 2021The University of Alabama football Coach Nick Saban likes to say, “A process guarantees success and a good process produces good results.” November 13-15 future legends met at The University of Alabama to begin the EMBA Program. The EMBA Class of 2021 participated in a variety of orientation activities to get to know their classmates and define what a good process should look like to produce good results from their EMBA experience.

The Class of 2021 has twenty members with an average of 16 years of work experience.  Students represent a variety of industries including education, financial, nonprofit, health care, technology, government, defense, and retail services.

EMBA 2021 Case ChallengeOn the first day, former strangers now found themselves among friends as they learned more about the program and about the classes that would start them on their journey to graduation.

On Thursday the students were divided into their teams to test their business acumen in the Executive MBA Case Challenge. Each team was asked to develop a SWOT analysis on a company, then develop and propose a budget for one game-changing recommendation. Each team presented to a panel of judges, University of Alabama alumni: Managing Director Garey Morrison (BS Acctg 1977) of GPM Advisory, Corporate Controller Lilly Setiawan (EMBA 2017) of The Dutch Group, and CEO Mark Sullivan (EMBA 1986) of the Bank of Tuscaloosa.

Following lunch, the Class of 2021 learned more about the values that take a team from good to great. They also learned how influential a “paying it forward” culture, and handling hot button issues are in making exceptional leaders. Finally, the day culminated with a Disney themed scavenger hunt meant to familiarize the class with UA’s campus and inject a healthy dose of competition into the spirits of everyone present.

The orientation ended with the Huntsville EMBA 2021 Class joining the incoming TEMBAs to take part in a workshop from the company labeled the “Happiest Place on Earth.” Holly Hoffman, an instructor from the Disney Institute treated the Class of 2021 to a behind-the-scenes glimpse in Disney’s Creating A Culture of Employee Engagement and Quality Service program. Students learned how Disney selects its cast and crew members and how they instill the Disney culture. Students also learned how excellent service is the result of understanding your customers’ expectations and exceeding those expectations through their customer “Touch Points.” In the end, the class realized that making their team feel more like a family was crucial to success, and starting the process was as easy as saying, “You’ve got a friend in me!”

Congratulations to our incoming TEMBA Class of 2021. Roll Tide!

Rebecca Bonner, Tyndall Federal Credit Union

Suzanne Boozer, Studio by the Tracks

Suzanne Braden, Encompass Health Corporation

Sydney Burns, Lou and Company

Robert Dobson, Mossy Oak Properties

Adam Finefrock, The University of Alabama

Austin Hudgins, Otis Elevator Company

DJ Jackson, The University of Alabama

Mitchell King, Altec Industries

Pamela Laffitte, Mobile County Sheriff’s Office

Ronald Powell, City National Bank – An RBC Company

Matthew Preskitt, Morris-Shea Bridge Company

Angela Quick, Wells Fargo

Chad Smith, Stifel

Michael Spears, Deloitte Consulting/Missile Defense Agency

Micah Sutton, CCS Medical

Valerie Watts, Dal-Tile Corporation

Jesse Wheeler, Stillman College

Valencia Winston, Tuscaloosa City Schools/SkyPop Gourmet Popcorn

Bryne Zuege, CenturyLink

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.

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

EMBAAN Honors Kent Darzi as Alumnus of the Year

Kent Darzi, ADTRANKent Darzi, vice president of quality at ADTRAN and EMBA Class of 2010 graduate, was named this year’s EMBA Alumnus of the Year at the EMBA Alumni Network (EMBAAN) Conference on October 4. In an interview after winning the award, Darzi talked about the various nuances of the EMBA Program that enabled him to be successful and why he continues to stay involved in EMBAAN and work with undergraduate and graduate students at UA.

From 2013-2015 Darzi served on the EMBAAN Board and was the first EMBAAN president, where he ensured that alumni could continue forging the legacy they had started in their pursuit of an M.B.A. in the form of various networking and alumni events. Darzi has been an active promoter of the EMBA and STEM programs, and the Culverhouse College of Business. He sponsors EMBA students, hosts opportunities to promote the EMBA program to ADTRAN employees, and recently worked with UA STEM students on a senior design project using artificial intelligence (AI) to advance ADTRAN solutions.

Darzi joined ADTRAN in 1995 and has been advancing within the company ever since, culminating in his current position as vice president, quality.

Kent Darzi, EMBAAN Alumnus of the Year 2019
Kent Darzi (L) accepts EMBAAN Alumnus of the Year award from 2019 EMBAAN President Russ Chambliss

How has the EMBA Program had an impact on your career?

I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a design engineer at ADTRAN and have always looked for ways to bridge both our technical and business needs. At ADTRAN, we are leading high-speed telecom solutions that are both best in class as well as expand our business presence. Right after completing my M.B.A. at The University of Alabama, I was asked to be part of the team that worked on one of our company’s largest acquisitions: integrating the R&D teams from Nokia Siemens Networks into the ADTRAN family.

Everything we learned in the EMBA Program was always practical. What I learned in class on the weekend, I was able to put it into practice on the following Monday. I know you hear this from a lot of different EMBA programs, but I could see it, especially in the UA program. To have colleagues compliment you on how you increase business by what you are learning in the UA EMBA Program is incredibly satisfying.  

What challenges did you face when deciding to enroll in an EMBA Program?

One of the hardest parts of the EMBA Program is committing yourself to enroll. Once you make that decision, you realize that balancing your school, home, and work schedules are possible. Once I decided to pursue my M.B.A., I never had second thoughts.

What drove you to become the EMBA Alumni Network President, and what does it mean to you?

The class before mine wanted to launch an alumni network, and when I was approached to help create and lead this effort, I thought this was an excellent way to keep connected with my UA professors, students, and peers. EMBA’s are a select group of industry leaders and professionals. The EMBA Alumni Network was an opportunity to continue to interact with former students and leaders across various industries. I was humbled and honored to become the first president and help solve some of the unique challenges of developing our network.

What do you envision for the future of the EMBA Program?

The program continues to expand and adapt to the fast-paced changes that impact all our respective industries. For example, within the financial and technology sectors, we are looking at how data analytics and artificial intelligence will become significant influencers over the next few years. I was so pleased to see that Alabama held its 2019 Business Analytics Symposium with hundreds of students, EMBA alumni, and faculty talking with leaders from companies like Intel, Disney, and ESPN, about the challenges of these business-changing technologies.

Additionally, I am proud that the EMBA Alumni Network holds to our goal of wanting to keep our alumni current on the latest ideas in business and technologies. For example, Tom Edwards, a technology futurist, shared his vision of industry changes during our October 2019 EMBAAN Annual Conference. Many futurists cannot always provide a clear picture when it comes to an understanding of what’s next. Tom was able to show in the next three years how much-augmented reality and AI will become a critical business catalyst. 

What would you say to those considering enrolling in an EMBA Program?

The UA EMBA experience was one of the best things I have done for my career and my pursuit of lifetime learning. I was able to meet and interact with top executives from across the country in our classroom and online settings. Plus, I was able to gain incredible knowledge, professional networks, and personal friends, and it all started because of the UA EMBA Program. 

For more information on The University of Alabama’s Executive MBA Program, contact Cheryl Altemara, caltemara@cba.ua.edu, or call 205.348.4501.

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

EMBA Alumna Uses Podcast To Explore Contemporary Issues

Mary Scott Hunter, UA EMBA graduateAre you looking to stay ahead of the curve? Look no further than a podcast started by EMBA alumna Mary Scott Hunter, a TEMBA 2017 graduate, and a lawyer working in house with Intuitive Research and Technology Corporation. With extensive experience in the legal world, serving ten years as an Air Force attorney, and a penchant for exploring contemporary issues in hopes of finding solutions, Hunter uses Belle Curve as a platform to spread her insights to others.

With her co-hosts Rachel Bryars and Liz BeShears, Hunter works to educate her audience. They use a variety of experts, sourced resources, and friendly banter on everything from the science behind football fandom to the #MeToo movement. For a behind the scenes look at Belle Curve, we asked Ms. Hunter about her experience with the podcast and in particular, how she leverages her M.B.A. to create an experience for her viewers.

How has the EMBA program had an impact on your work? Have you been able to incorporate what you learned in the program into creating the podcast?

The impact has been significant. It has given me the confidence to spread my wings as a lawyer at Intuitive and in my side hustles.  In addition to my podcast, I started a real estate investment company with Vickie Gesellschap (2010 HEMBA graduate).  We just closed on our first property. My husband is an entrepreneur and owns his own business, Resolution LLC.  I find that I put the knowledge I gained to work every single day for Intuitive and definitely in my side businesses. I had Dr. Mothersbaugh for marketing, and I pull my notes, and his lecture slides out all the time.  I did my SWOT before I started the podcast, so I knew what I was getting in to.

What is your most important takeaway from the podcast?

I went into the podcast, knowing it was both a passion project and a business. To that end, my partners and I went on a retreat and determined what were our mission statement and values. A decently produced podcast can make enough money to cover expenses but won’t generally make enough to really profit. But, it can be a backdrop for other projects. Staying in a creative vein is important to me. As with any business, make sure to do your mission, purpose, vision, and values and approach podcasting with discipline. The most important part is knowing your audience, and their interest. Knowing where both your interests and your audience’s interests synergize is where you create your best show.

UA EMBA Teammates
Hunter (far right) with her UA EMBA Team Fidelity Five teammates.

How do you balance your podcast and your current job?

The EMBA Program was really good for that because I was forced to work on a team! I’ve always disliked and even hated working in teams. I suppose I am a typical Gen Xer that way. However, I loved my team members.  We called ourselves Team Fidelity Five, and I am still in touch with all my teammates to this day.  I learned from that experience that you need partners to do big things. For my podcast, for instance, Rachel Bryars handles production, and Liz Beshears works on the social media aspects of the podcast. Everyone struggles with work-life balance, so you have to spread out responsibilities. 

What has been your most challenging moment producing the podcast so far?

High-quality production, email marketing, social media, and the general pressures of producing a show every week, are all challenging. The most challenging piece has been finding out who’s doing what and showing grace when you realize everyone has other responsibilities. You can’t get angry with each other because it shows on the podcast. You have to hold everyone to deadlines and be accountable while also being flexible. 

Additionally, I remember one tough podcast. In the EMBA Program, we did an activity called “eat the frog” or do the hardest thing first, so early on, we did a show tackling the #MeToo movement. There were no easy answers, and it was divisive enough to roll the second show back a week because the team felt unsteady about it.

On a side note, while interviewing Hunter, I was encouraged to look at one of her shows, which discusses the psychology behind why we enjoy football so much. Many in Alabama (excluding Auburn) would say it’s because they know that whenever the Tide rolls, the scoreboard generally rolls with it. However, during the interview with Dr. Matthew Goldenberg, a picture quickly emerges that might startle most. Are human beings hard-wired to enjoy the sport of football? To hear more of the podcast along with other topics, check out Belle Curve!

For more information on The University of Alabama’s Executive MBA Program, contact Cheryl Altemara, caltemara@cba.ua.edu, or call 205.348.4501.

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

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. 

X