Category: EMBA Alumni Network

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

2019 EMBA Alumni Network (EMBAAN) Year in Review

As we enter the New Year, it is sometimes helpful to take a deep dive into the past and relive some of the EMBA Alumni Network activities/events that made our year truly so special. They say hindsight is always 20/20, and indeed it would be hard to miss some of the moments that served to propel the EMBA program at The University of Alabama towards a bright future. Feel free to sit back and relax as we share some of our favorite memories from 2019!

You Can’t Spell EMBA Without Expansion

2019 was brimming with opportunity for EMBAAN as it extended its reach by providing alumni events in Orlando, Florida, and Nashville, Tennessee. These new locales provided even more ways for us to stay connected with our program.

All For One And One For All

We often find ourselves with so many responsibilities and so little time to accomplish them all. Whether it is remembering to complete our old New Year’s resolution before making a new one or balancing work and personal time. Every one of us has been there before, and it is important to recognize what we have accomplished. We are so thankful to our EMBA alumni for making a terrific showing at both our annual EMBA conference and our family day at Regions Field with the largest attendance to date!

It is also wonderful to celebrate our many alumni successes.  This year we honored Mspark’s CIO Jamie Adams (EMBA 2013) at our Women’s Initiative luncheon for being named the 2019 Alabama CIO of the Year® ORBIE® Enterprise Award winner.  We also recognized at our alumni conference in October, Kent Darzi, vice president of quality at ADTRAN and EMBA Class of 2010 graduate, as the EMBA Alumnus of the Year.

New Year for EMBAAN. Get Ready for 2020!

2020 UA EMBAAN Board
EMBAAN Board (L-R) Justin Brown, Ryan McDaniel, Angie Sandritter, Lacey Schoff, Russ Chambliss, and David Lyles


2020 means the end of a decade but also the start of a new one. With so much accomplished last year, the EMBA program is excited to see where this new year will take us. To assist us in this endeavor, we are proud to introduce our new EMBAAN Board members:

  • President Ryan McDaniel (HEMBA 2016), Director, Manufacturing and Strategy Office, Nissan North America Inc.
  • Past President Russell Chambliss Jr. (TEMBA 2006), Chief Financial Officer, Precision Grinding Inc.
  • Vice President Angela Sandritter (HEMBA 2011), Vice President of Global Services, HAUFE Inc.
  • Board Member Justin Brown (HEMBA 2016), Senior Analyst, DESE Research
  • Board Member David Lyles (TEMBA 2012), Tuscaloosa Area Local Transportation Manager, Alabama Department of Transportation
  • Board Member Lacey Schoff (HEMBA 2018), Director of Marketing, Oral Arts Dental Laboratories

Events, Events And You Guessed It More Events!

2020 is full of new people, places, and things to meet and explore. Why not get a head start with the EMBA program at the following events:

Jul. 19 – Family Day @ Regions Field

Oct. 22-23 – Annual Conference

Additionally, stay tuned for updates on alumni events we have in store for the new year: Women’s Initiative in Birmingham, A-Day, Football Tailgate, and events in Nashville, Mobile,

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

Article was 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,, 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.

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

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 or call 205.348.4501. To request information now, click here. 

EMBAs “Roll” Back to Tuscaloosa for Networking Conference

By Laci Williams

Alumni of The University of Alabama’s Executive MBA Program made the journey back to Tuscaloosa on October 4th-5th, 2018 for the fifth annual EMBA Alumni Network Conference. In attendance were alumni from the 1986 class through to our current EMBA students, along with a host of guest speakers, EMBA faculty and staff. The EMBAAN conference was a two-day event filled with excitement, scholarship, and of course, that unforgettable Crimson Tide spirit!
The conference kicked off with a reception at the beautiful River restaurant overlooking the Black Warrior River. Alumni, faculty, and guests reunited and enjoyed the amazing view from the terrace.

Dr. Brian Gray welcomes Andy Maguire (HEMBA 2018) back to campus.

The second day of the conference was held at the Bryant Conference Center where attendees met to discuss innovative ideas, entrepreneurship, and the future of the program.
The conference began with a warm welcome from Dr. Kay Palan, dean of the Culverhouse College of Business at The University of Alabama. Addressing the attendees with a short overview of herself, her family, and her diverse career path, she ended with exciting new updates for the college and the announcement of the construction of a new building to be named for one of Culverhouse’s most prestigious alumni: Marillyn Hewson, chairman, president and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corp.
Following Dr. Palan, Russell Chambliss, a TEMBA 2006 Alumni and the 2018-2019 EMBA Alumni Network president addressed all of the attendees with some exciting, yet bittersweet news. Dr. J. Brian Gray, associate dean of Manderson Graduate School of Business, will be stepping down from his daily duties as Associate Dean to spend more time in the classroom teaching EMBA and MBA students. He will focus on his research, and of course, relaxing with his family and grandchildren. Russell presented Dr. Gray with an award from the EMBAAN to commemorate his dedication and service to the program.

Russell Chambliss (TEMBA 2006) and presenter Mary Drennen, Nourish Foods.

The themes for this year’s conference were entrepreneurship, innovation, networking, paying it forward, and giving back.
Keynote addresses and speakers gave enlightening presentations and focused their energy on providing the attendees with the good, the bad, and the ugly regarding the processes behind starting your own business and keeping it up and running, and most importantly, profitable!
Alumni heard from leaders of G Momma Cookies, Nourish Foods, International Crating & Assembly, Atlas Senior Living, Stringfellow Technology Group and Blue Dawg and Financial Imaging.

DSC_2728 (1)
Ben Paulk and Russell Shamburger

In the afternoon, EMBAAN Past President Russell Shamburger (TEMBA 2004) presented Ben Paulk (TEMBA 2012) the first EMBA Alumnus of the Year Award.
In his acceptance speech, Paulk expressed his overwhelming joy for being in the EMBA program and stressed the importance of remaining active and involved even after graduation.
In addition, outgoing EMBAAN board member and secretary, Russ Elrod (HEMBA 2013) and Past President Russell Shamburger were recognized for their service to the Board.
After some important updates about the program and alumni activities from Donna Blackburn, director, and Cheryl Altemara, assistant director of the EMBA Program, Chambliss presented his closing remarks and his goals for the EMBA Alumni Network for the 2018-2019 academic year focusing on network growth, strengthening initiatives like mentoring, and assisting with recruiting.
To learn more about the UA EMBA Alumni Network and how you can become a part of the next incoming class, contact Cheryl Altemara at or call 205.348.4501. To request information now, click here.

UA EMBA Alumni Network Conference To Focus on Business Owners

It’s fall at The University of Alabama, and for the EMBA Program that means our students along with our alumni are returning to campus.  The EMBA Alumni Network will be holding their annual conference October 4-5 in Tuscaloosa.

Entrepreneurship, innovation, networking and paying forward/giving back will be the themes covered at the conference.

Hear the stories from owners who are passionate about their companies. Learn how they created and built their businesses, the roadblocks, successes, and strategy for continuing success.

Featured speakers:

  • Founder and Owner Robert Armstrong whose company G Momma Cookies took honors this year in the Alabama Launchpad Competition.
  • Co-Founder and President Mary Drennen began Nourish Foods in Birmingham featuring Southern-inspired meals and now ships to 40 states.
  • A panel of UA EMBAs who are owners representing International Crating & Assembly, Atlas Senior Living, and Stringfellow Technology Group.

It is more than just a day of learning and inspiration. It’s also an opportunity to network and catch up with classmates and faculty.

We’re proud to bring together our community of EMBA alumni, students and prospects to learn, get inspired, and grow better together.  Welcome Back, Alumni, and Roll Tide!

To register for the UA EMBA Alumni Network Conference click here or call Donna Blackburn at

EMBA Alumni Return to Tuscaloosa for Networking Conference

(L-R) EMBA alumni David Lyles, Ben Paulk, Allyson Cooper, Chris Hatcher and Brad Gannaway at 2017 EMBA Alumni Network Conference Kick-off Reception.


By Kate Hampton

Members of The University of Alabama’s Executive MBA program returned to Tuscaloosa for the fourth annual EMBA Alumni Network Conference, October 5th – 6th. Alumni from the very first 1986 class to recent 2017 graduates were in attendance. The conference commenced at Heat Pizza Bar in downtown Tuscaloosa, AL with a networking reception. It was exciting for alumni to reconnect with classmates and professors.

The second day of the conference took place at the Bryant Conference Center where attendees reunited to discuss innovative ideas and connect on future work and passion projects. The conference opened with speaker Dr. Greg Michaelson, Director of DataRobot Labs. His illuminating presentation on data science covered the four keys to building a competitive advantage.

Matthew Lawrence, Advanced Analytics Consultant for Slalom Consulting, followed Dr. Michaelson’s presentation as he challenged attendees to explore the application of agile methodology to analytics projects.
In the afternoon, Dr. Brian Gray, Associate Dean of Manderson Graduate School, provided alumni with updates regarding the Culverhouse College of Commerce’s 2017 rankings. Forbes ranked the MBA Program 43rd overall, 21st public, and 2nd in the SEC (moving us up 6, 4, and 2 spots, respectively) as having the best return on investment for students.

Gray also reported the 1st place finish of the full-time MBA case team at the 2017 National Black MBA Association Conference Case Competition in Philadelphia, PA.

Donna Blackburn, Executive Director of the EMBA program, presented the 2017 EMBA Alumni Survey results with 26% responding to the survey. The surveyed alumni reported a 51% salary increase on average after graduating from the EMBA program. Program satisfaction rate increased to 99% this year (a 4% increase over the last survey conducted in 2015).

(L-R) Outgoing Board Member Ben Paulk and 2016-17 President Russell Shamburger.


The president of the 2016-2017 EMBA Alumni Network, Russell Shamburger (TEMBA 2004), recognized outgoing board member Ben Paulk (TEMBA 2012). An active member of the board, Paulk has served as Communications Chair and 2015-2016 President. During his acceptance speech, Paulk stated, “The EMBA Alumni Network has been incredibly valuable to me and I encourage everyone to get involved and continue to help grow the network.”

Shamburger also introduced the 2017-2018 EMBA Alumni Network Board President, Jennifer Thomas (TEMBA 2014), who shared her goals for the upcoming year, including mentorship and career development initiatives.
With a final sendoff, the conference closed with a “Roll Tide” and reminder of the November 4th Alumni Tailgate for Alabama vs. LSU.

To learn more about the UA EMBA Alumni Network and how you can become a part of the next incoming class, contact Cheryl Altemara at or call 205.348.4501. To request information now, click here.

Roll Tide Celebration for the EMBA Class of 2017 Graduates

UA Executive MBA Class of 2017

Celebrating the completion of their Executive MBA Program at The University of Alabama on May 6, forty-two graduates received degrees, accolades and an immediate welcome as the newest members of the UA EMBA Alumni Network.
Graduation kicked off with the formal University of Alabama Commencement at Coleman Coliseum. Line up for our EMBA Class of 2017 graduates in the Hank Crisp facility means donning caps, gowns, hoods on the indoor football practice field. And, as has become our tradition, the EMBA staff cheered the graduates’ processional with shouts of Roll Tide!
Following Commencement, the graduates and their families joined faculty and staff for the EMBA Graduation Awards Ceremony at the North Zone of Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Dr. Kay Palan, Dean of Culverhouse College of Commerce, addressed the crowd of 240 attendees. Dean Palan recognized the dedication and the hard work the Class of 2017 went through to earn their M.B.A. She also thank the families for their support.

EMBA 2017 graduates (L-R) Anuraag Malaviya, Monte Green, EMBA Director Donna Blackburn and Matt Hartley.

“When I started the program,” said graduate Anuraag Malaviya, “I was unsure how I would manage family, job and this demanding endeavor but with each class weekend that passed I gained that extra bit of confidence to complete the program.” Throughout the graduation celebration, faculty and staff were thanked by the graduates for the support and care that was given to make sure they would succeed.
Receiving special awards this year were Dr. Rob Morgan and Professor Jim Brown who won the James F. Cashman Faculty Award. This award is given by the students and recognizes a faculty member for their advice, counsel, positive influence on students and the high standards of integrity they exemplify.
Drs. James King and Don Minyard were honored with Executive MBA Faculty Excellence Awards for outstanding commitment to the EMBA Program through their exceptional instruction, generating a positive learning environment and creating a significant impact on student understanding.
Class MVP awards were presented to Will Stinson (HEMBA) and Rich Winstead (TEMBA) for reflecting the high ideals and standards of their class, as well as being supportive of class and teammates, and showing integrity and leadership ability.
Nine EMBAs received 4.0 GPA recognition:  Christie Davis, Monte Green, Billy Helmandollar, Jamie McKinley, Lilly Setiawan, Ryan Stallings, Will Stroup, Dustin Whited and Rich Winstead.

Jimmy Hassan (EMBA 2017) and son Easton visit the Alabama Football locker room after graduation.

After receiving their EMBA Awards of Completion, the EMBA Alumni Network President Russell Shamburger (EMBA 2004), officially welcomed the Class of 2017 as alumni. Shamburger encouraged the new graduates to stay involved and to consider running for Board positions later this fall.
Following the ceremony the students, faculty, staff and family members took an EMBA Class of 2017 family portrait, followed by a tour of the Bryant-Denny Stadium locker room and tunnel.


Congratulations, EMBA Class of 2017!  Well done and ROLL TIDE!
UA EMBA Class of 2017 Graduates:

  • Ruqayyah Abdullah, BBVA Compass
  • Michael Adams, Randall-Reilly
  • Katherine Askew, The University of Alabama
  • Brady Baird, Summerville United Methodist Church
  • Jay Brooks, Tag Grinding
  • Felicia Craig, Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation
  • Christie Davis, Northport Police Department
  • Jason Deane, Lincoln Financial Distributors
  • Sierra Earle, USAmeriBank
  • Chuck Freind, Amerex Corporation
  • Monte Green, McLeod Software
  • Sonya Harner, Nissan North America
  • Matt Hartley, Chemetall
  • Jimmy Hassan, Dayton Superior Corporation
  • Billy Helmandollar, DCH Health System
  • Mary Scott Hunter, Intuitive Research and Technology Corp.
  • Shane Jackson, AMRDEC
  • Natasha Johnson, Reckitt Benckiser Manufacturing
  • Doug Lafont, Premier Tech Chronos
  • Walt Long, U.S. Air Force, MAFB
  • Anuraag Malaviya, Tata Consultancy Services
  • Frazer McCurdy, ServisFirst Bank
  • Jamie McKinley, Poarch Band of Creek Indians
  • Hayley Ray McNeill, The University of Alabama
  • Barry Navarre, Southern Telecom
  • Gaurav Negi, ADTRAN, Inc.
  • Sean O’Brien, UPS
  • Nicole Reynolds, Appleton Talent
  • Josh Rountree, Nissan North America
  • Bryan Sanders, Otis Elevator Company
  • Lilly Setiawan, The Dutch Group
  • Dane Shaw, Arsenal Place Accelerator
  • Ryan Stallings, First South Farm Credit
  • Will Stinson, TotalPrint, DEC Company
  • Will Stroup, The Brogdon Group
  • Joe Taylor, PPG Industries
  • Bhuwan Thakur, Infosys Limited
  • Josh Vinson, Parallon Business Solutions
  • Beth Webster, Small Business Development Center, UA
  • Dustin Whited, MDA/ECM
  • Rich Winstead, U.S. Navy
  • Matt Zepp, Department of the Army

For more information on The University of Alabama Executive MBA Program, contact Cheryl Altemara at 205.348.4501 or