Category: EMBA

Culture Shock

First time in South America, first Pisco Sour, first time in the Andes and for some, first time in a non-English speaking country. You expect a certain amount of culture shock, but the truth is the amount and the type are completely unpredictable. For me there were two distinct types of shock, one of differences and one of similarities.
Language was an obvious and expected difference. Like broken words coming through radio static, my ears started to tune to the few words of the local dialect I understood. Anytime I heard a conversation in English it automatically seems louder than the others around. As differences go, everything is smaller; Coffee cups, bathroom stalls, cars, elevators, stores and even people.  Traffic alone is shocking. As our tour guide said “Lanes are only a suggestion.” Trash along the roadsides, graffiti and shanty slums were also surprising.
Traffic in Lima, Peru.
Traffic in Lima, Peru.


As I said before, there were two types of shock. For me the second was “similarity shock.” In Santiago, cottonwood, sweet-gum, mimosa and willow trees grew around the city, just like home. In Lima, the streets near our hotel were lined with small parking garages, spiked top wrought iron fences and stucco walls capped with broken bottles. As class mate commented, “This could be Charlotte(SC) or New Orleans (LA).” Wandering into a shopping area one night I was again shocked by the view; Brooks Brothers, a bowling ally, TGI Friday’s, and Victoria’s Secret.  It could have been in any city in the U.S.
– Corey Farris
UA EMBA Class of 2014 with Renzo Rossini, General Manager of the Central Bank of Peru
UA EMBA Class of 2014 with Renzo Rossini, General Manager of the Central Bank of Peru

Banco de Centro del Peru: Today we had a very interesting presentation from Renzo Rossini, manager of the Central Bank of Perú, the equivalent of our Federal Reserve Chairman. Mr. Rossini explained the very aggressive changes in fiscal policy that have turned their economy around. In 1990, inflation was near 400 percent. However, during the peak of the global economic crisis of 2008, in spite of three consecutive quarters of negative GDP, the country was able to maintain a annualized average GDP of 1 percent growth! This very quick recovery is just one of the highlights that demonstrates the strengths of Peru’s economic policies.

 – Matt Gardner
Team: Ironmen Consulting
Paul Mongeon, Myers Bruso, Corey Farris, Matt Gardner and Scott Knighton

Santiago’s Scenery

Flying into Chile was an awesome experience for our team.  The Andes mountain range enveloped Chile in a way that seemed to protect the country like a giant looking over it.  Upon entering Santiago, what we found interesting was the separation from the “haves” and the “have-nots,” not unlike big cities in the United States, just more noticeable due to proximity Screen shot 2014-02-28 at 2.41.49 PMto the major highway.  The area before entering the tunnel was a poverty stricken shantytown, much like one would imagine in a third world country.  The water source for that part of the city was a river that flowed from the ice caps high on the tallest mountaintop in Chile.  Though it was the main water source, the river was littered with debris, as if the residence in this part of the city had no pride in the appearance of their city.

Chilean Mountain Pass
Chilean Mountain Pass

Immediately upon exiting the tunnel and entering Santiago, it seemed as if we entered another world.   The ramshackle hovels were replaced with beautiful high-rise buildings, designed by the best architects.    The streets of this part of the city were very clean, and the waterway was pristine.  Yet one item caught our eye—graffiti painted on the walls of every building.  It provided a sad continuity to the previous sentiment—that some residents did not take pride in their city.  In discussions with our hosts, we learned that there is no penalty for defacing property—even historical monuments.  Apparently most of the offenders are 8-9 year old kids from broken families, and the public sentiment is that prosecution of their crimes would serve no purpose.

Chilean Parasite Bush

On Sunday, we were able to visit the Andes Mountains.  Some individuals hiked the mountains, while others took in the scenery via horseback.  The view of the mountains was absolutely amazing.  The drive to the mountains was a bit scary, as the roads were winding with very deep drop offs.  However, this did not detract from the experience.  The trip to the mountains made us appreciate what a beautiful world God has given to us.

On Monday, we started the day with a trip to the Proctor and Gamble plant.  Being from America, we expected to see a plant that needed a lot of work to get up to the American standards.  We were pleasantly surprised to find an extremely clean and well-organized plant that met the highest standards of cleanliness and organization.  It was evident that they used many of the techniques we discussed in Operations Management.  The plant received its operating standards from the global corporation, which provided standardization and continuity across its worldwide operations.
We all agreed that our time in Chile was well worth the trip.  The country is absolutely beautiful, the local cuisine was great and the people were extremely nice and grateful to host us.   Our team is extremely grateful to the University of Alabama for giving us this opportunity to see such a beautiful part of the world, and to blend into a different culture.

Team: Crimson Express
Brad Wood, Ray Chowdhury, Brandon Cole, Emmett Garrett and Robert Justice

Experiencing Chile

There was an air of excitement in the Atlanta Airport, the Huntsville and Tuscaloosa EMBA classes coming together to learn about the emerging markets of Chile and the culture. As we flew in, we saw the Andes Mountains seem to almost hug the entire country of Chile. As we drove into the city, there was a dramatic transition from run down shacks to the very metropolitan city of Santiago. In the afternoon, we had a tour of the city and there was a blend of old historic, to modern buildings. Our group seemed to be curious about the local fare and what is typically eaten in the Chilean culture. Mote de Husillo was a wheat, tea, and pear drink sold on the streets. Thankfully, it was a drink nobody got sick on.
After our tour, we all had a lovely welcome dinner at a steakhouse, where the two classes really bonded over great food. In the United States, everyone is in a hurry to eat and get to where they are going. Dinners in Chile are a bonding experience, the servers are in no hurry to serve you, and the people truly make it a relaxed moment. You cannot expect to go to any restaurant and be done in less than three hours.

Chile is truly a unique country with the Andes Mountains. Having the opportunity to drive into the countryside, go on a horseback ride, and see the country from a mountainside, just reminds you of how beautiful the world can be and what a blessing it is. The people in the lodge were truly gracious hosts and provided us with a meal fit for kings. They slow cooked lamb over an open fire with their traditional side dishes including roasted vegetables, salads, and the red and brown quinoa. Along with this local fare, we also learned Chileans love cookies and coffee. When hosting guests it is traditional to provide cookies and coffee. The coffee is very different from the US, it is very smooth without a bitter after taste and is served in espresso cups.

On our last full day in Chile we did our company tours to Proctor and Gamble, Banco Estado, and Marinetti. The big surprise was coming into the manufacturing companies and finding out they already had implemented lean production and were incorporating the latest technology to improve efficiency. The other big surprise was learning BancoEstado being a state run bank had no interest in being ahead of their competition. They wanted to have the image of being a safe and stable bank. Their competitive advantage was if macroeconomic conditions should change in a negative way, they would be able to remain more stable over the publicly traded banks. It is a reminder to the customer by saying we are here for you when times get tough. BancoEstado reminded me of how 90% of the Americans conduct their money business, most go into the major banks because technology is up to date and they do mobile banking. On the other hand, BancoEstado is comparable to that of a credit union in the United States because they are slower, but also provide rates lower on loans and are more willing to lend to a higher risk customer. The experience with each company was so neat because each company rolled out their own red carpet for us by providing cookies and coffee at each stop.

Team: Meridian
Will Coulter, Edward Eskridge, Daagye Harvill, Gary Morrison and Jennifer Thomas


The fruit demand worldwide is growing rapidly and Chile is uniquely positioned to satisfy the “growing” need. To the outsider, one may only think of Chilean wine and grapes, but in fact they are a major exporter of a plethora of fruits. We anticipate that they will leverage their position in this industry to become a new world leader.
The Chilean culture is one of service and hard work. The people appear to love their country and are committed to preserving the environment. They appreciate that a global economy exists and they are growing reliant on the global demand for goods and services. Their entrepreneurial spirit welcomes investment and ideas from around the world. Vast amounts of natural resources and an open business climate are also attractive features.20140225-215213.jpg

It is a long, slender, beautiful country that enjoys being surrounded by the Andes on the east and the Pacific Ocean on the west. Because of the vast latitudinal space that Chile occupies, deserts exist in the North and the Patagonia in the south. This unique diversity of climate and landscape attracts tourists from all over the world – and for good reason.

– Marshall Liles, TEMBA 2014, The University of Alabama

Team: Flying Pachyderms
Sam Barall, Tim Brown, Ed Galvin, Josh McGill and Marshall Liles


Chile’s 9/11

UA EMBAs in front of Presidential Palace in Santiago, Chili.


It was sunny and breezy. In fact, the weather could not have been more beautiful. We sensed this was a special place from the green-uniformed guards at each corner of the sprawling lawn. We posed in front as classmates and as friends to remember our International trip for UA EMBA class of 2014. But this space is remembered in Chile for other reasons.

We were in front of the Chilean Presidential Palace, a newer building with old-style architecture. That’s when our guide Ignacio told us the story of Chile’s September 11, in 1973. Shortly after being named Commander in Chief of the Army, Auguste Pinochet overthrew the government and this presidential palace was the site of the takeover.
“Imagine your navy seals and fighter jets assaulting your White House and the US Army taking over the country. That’s what happened that day to my country,” he shared.
Imagining the contrast between the perfect, peaceful afternoon and that day in 1973 provided my first lessons of the trip:

  • no matter how different the culture may seem, the human experience of tragedy and patriotism, and a hundred other experiences, unite us
  • as divisive as our political scene is today, we are blessed to have never experienced the attack of our own government by our military… this puts our political problems in a much different perspective
  • even after the toughest of times, beauty returns and life goes on

The world makes an exceptional classroom, and this photo will hold for us both memories and lessons.

Staci Woods
HEMBA Class of 2014

Team: Prestige Worldwide
Sonya Bailey, Matt Bogue, Christopher Jones and Staci Woods

UA EMBAs Arrive in Santiago

UA EMBAs enjoying the Los Artisan Fair in Santiago, Chili.
UA EMBAs enjoying the Los Artisan Fair in Santiago, Chili.


The Executive MBA Class of 2014 at The University of Alabama arrived in Santiago, Chile to begin their seven day international trip. The trip is a required part of their Global Strategy course taught in their final semester.

The international trip began today and will continue on to Lima, Peru. Today 53 students, alumni, faculty, staff and guests did a sightseeing tour of Chile and had a welcome dinner to kick off their visit.

The EMBA class toured the National Cathedral, La Moneda (the Presidential Palace) and the Los Artisan Fair. The students learned a little about Chilean history and politics. They also shopped for lapis lazuli, art work and sampled the local cuisine.

The students will be visiting 10 companies, including Banco Estado, Proctor & Gamble, Marinetti, Subsole, and Vina Veramonte in Chile. In Peru the students will meet with the Central Bank of Peru, Clinica Ricardo Palma, Grupo Grana y Montero, Hunt Oil Peru and Compania de Minas Buenaventura.

EMBA Class and Alumni Meet P&G CIO Filippo Passerini

Dr. Filippo Passerini, CIO of Procter & Gamble and President, Global Business Services of P&G, presented a full-day seminar on “Staying Relevant in a VUCA World” on Saturday, February 15, to the T-EMBA Class of 2015 and EMBA alumni.

Dean Mike Hardin, Drs. Fillippo Passerini and Brian Gray


In the morning session, Dr. Passerini discussed the VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) faced by businesses.   Afterwards, he talked about the solutions to these issues, which is also VUCA (Vision, Understanding, Clarity, and Agility).

Dr. Passerini spent the rest of the morning session describing how P&G operates in a VUCA world through the use of business analytics for decision making, in particular the visualization of big data with decision cockpits and Business Sphere environments


In the afternoon sessions, Dr. Passerini covered a variety of interesting managerial topics including leadership characteristics for success, the five situational leadership styles that managers must employ to be successful, the importance of storytelling for business leaders, a framework for business models, and frugal innovation in developing markets.  The students and alumni in attendance also participated in several managerial role-playing sessions.

024Bringing in such profound leaders of industry is just one of the ways the University of Alabama Executive MBA creates value for both students and alumni.

“I think the session went very well,” said Ben Paulk, Sr. Product Manager at BBVA Compass and TEMBA Class of 2012. “It was great to hear from such a profound leader in industry, and it was a great opportunity for alumni to return for a refresher, get updates from faculty and network with current students.”



For more information about Dr. Filippo Passerini, please see
For more information on the EMBA Program at The University of Alabama, contact Cheryl at 205.348.4501.

Career Development Series: Online Job Applications

It is affectionately referred to as the “black hole,” making it only slightly more popular than the flu. If you guessed the online job application process, you are correct. In the last ten years, the first step to almost any full-time position involves completing an online application. As with all things related to the era of the Internet, there are myths and truths.

Myth: All online applications are scanned and are never reviewed by a human. In most cases, there is human contact with your application. In many cases, especially in situations where an employer may receive thousands of applications for a position, scanners are first used to look at word content/connections, before being reviewed by a set of human eyes. Using a tool like a word cloud can give you some guidance on key words that an employer may be looking for in your application, cover letter, and resume. Check out is a free word cloud.

Truth: A cover letter that gets to the point in the first sentence, gets noticed. If your online applications aren’t getting noticed, maybe it’s time to change the rules. Instead of a traditional cover letter that starts with what you do and where you are, start with three or four bullets that match your skills, expertise, and experience, to fit exact requirements in the job description/requirements. Companies are trying to fill openings with people who match the requirements-make it easier for them.

Myth: If it’s online, it doesn’t matter if words are misspelled or my grammar isn’t that good, because they probably don’t care. Wrong. Playing fast and loose with the English language tells a potential employer that you you are sloppy and have an aversion to details.

Truth: It’s okay to contact the company to see where they are in the hiring process. If you can find someone to update you on the status of your application, it shows you are industrious and are willing to take initiative, both qualities of successful employees.

Myth: Companies don’t ever look at my application again once a position has been filled. There is too much anecdotal information out there that indicates companies do keep and recheck their electronic files as positions open.

Truth: It’s a very competitive job market and the slightest thing can make a difference. Your resume and cover letter can set you apart, but don’t forget to manage your image when it comes to social media. The “slightest thing” can be only one negative post on a social media site. Diligence, Diligence, Diligence.

Gary Ward, Director of Graduate Career Services for Manderson Graduate School of Business at The University of Alabama


Online applications are here to stay. Analytics will continue to grow and assist companies use to determine what makes for a “successful” employee. Online applications will morph into being more detailed. It will always come back to what you can do to set yourself apart from the crowd.

For more information on Manderson Graduate School of Business academic programs, EMBA, M.B.A., online and specialty Masters programs, visit our Web site at

EMBA Elite Spotlight: Kathi Dawn

Our first EMBA Elite student spotlight for 2014 is Kathi Dawn, a member of UA’s Huntsville EMBA class of 2014. Kathi received a Bachelor of Arts in Gerontology from the University of South Florida in Tampa and has been working for Genesis Healthcare as an assistant administrator at River City Center in Decatur, Alabama for the past year and half.

Kathi with classmate, Ed Galvin

“I absolutely love it,” Kathi said. “A month into the EMBA program, Dana (Briley) Runager, another MBA classmate, and I were discussing being busy at work because we were both doing two jobs. After inquiring more, I learned that she was looking to hire an assistant administrator. One month later, I had toured the building, had an interview, and was hired. I ended my seven-year public health career to accept a position in healthcare management, and since then have completed a 1,000-hour administrator-in-training-program and acquired my Alabama Nursing Home Administrator license.”
Kathi says her purpose for pursuing her MBA degree was to find a new career with room for vertical growth. “Joining the EMBA program is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and has had a powerful impact on my career,” she said. “The biggest benefit I have received is my career change, and therefore my ROI. I loved my career in public health, but at the end of the day, there wasn’t much room for growth.”

Kathi is engaged to her fiancé, Kevin, and together they have a 3-year-old son, Kameron. According to Kathi, a supportive family is crucial to being successful in the EMBA program.

Kathi with her fiancé, Kevin, and their son, Kameron.

“Balancing work, home life and school definitely has its challenges,” she said. “To help manage the balance, I try to get as much work done for the next class session as soon as we finish up with the current weekend of class. That way I don’t have to worry about what comes up during the week at work or home.”

Kathi believes that success is in the eye of the beholder. “I feel it’s important to note that success truly is one’s own idea of possibilities, and it is within that framework that we either declare success or failure.” She says that for her, it’s the idea of success that drives hard work, creativity and perseverance.
“I believe Orison Swett Marden had it right: ‘Success is not measured by what you accomplish, but by the opposition you have encountered and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds.'”

HEMBA 2014 classmates, Marshall Liles, Emmett Garrett and Kathi Dawn


Kathi’s immediate goal upon graduation from the EMBA program is to advance within the Genesis Healthcare system as an administrator. Her favorite inspirational quote is one from Elizabeth Edwards, lawyer, author and wife of 2008 Presidential candidate and U.S. Senator John Edwards, just days before she passed away from breast cancer in 2010.

“The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered. We know that. And, yes, there are certainly times when we aren’t able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like. It’s called being human. But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful.”

Strategic Thinker + Technology Geek = Hottest Hiring Commodity

MBAs in the 90’s were groomed to be strategic thinkers. The following decade netted technology geeks. Today, the two have merged to integrate into the hottest hiring commodity. Extracting information from vast amounts of corporate data is crucial for companies to enhance the ability of an organization to make better decisions.

EMBA Alumni 109
Dr. Burcu Keskin, associate professor of operations management, addresses UA EMBA alumni on “Big Data”

How is the Manderson Graduate School of Business at The University of Alabama addressing the analytical career explosion?

According to Denise McManus, associate professor of management information systems, “To stand apart, our MBA students have stepped up to meet the rising needs of the corporate world of big data.” Technology advances allow individuals to analyze larger and more diverse data sets very quickly to answer information intensive questions. “It is important that managers understand the ‘why’ behind the request,” said McManus.

“Employers ranging from insurance companies, financial institutions, big box retailers, consulting firms, basically any and all businesses that benefit from data driven answers are looking to recruit analytical talent,” said Connie Chambers, director of corporate and alumni relations.

The Manderson Executive MBA Program at The University of Alabama emphasizes critical problem solving skills, concise communication delivery and strong intellectual curiosity – skill sets that are crucial in the area of data mining and data analytics. EMBA students begin their first semester with a statistics data analysis project that produces return on investment back to employers and skill sets that our alumni tell us they use every day.

For more information on the EMBA Program at The University of Alabama, contact the EMBA office at 205.348.4501.