Category: EMBA

UA’s MBA #1 Over-Performing Program In Nation

A new review by on-line business school website Poets & Quants reveals that the Manderson MBA Program at The University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Commerce may not be ranked as high as it should be and is being undersold. The analysis is based on the U.S. News and World Report 2014 business schools rankings.


UA’s MBA program came in as the top over-performing school on the list, indicating that the school is producing far better MBA graduates than U.S. News peer assessments would indicate.
“For our MBA program to move up 20 spots in the rankings is quite an accomplishment,” Culverhouse Dean J. Michael Harding said. “We just need our peers to take note and understand what we have been doing here at the business school with our undergraduate and graduate programs so our peer assessment is more aligned with our core ranking. My goal is for Culverhouse to be in the top 25.”

U.S. News bases its rankings on objective measures (average GMAT scores, average undergraduate GPA, acceptance rate, average starting salary and percentage of students with jobs at graduation) and subjective measures (assessments by corporate recruiters and peer assessments from deans and MBA directors of other business schools). One quarter of a program’s U.S. News ranking is based on peer subjective opinion of business school deans and MBA program directors. The analysis by Poets & Quants compared the actual U.S. News ranking of a school to its ranking based solely on the peer subjective rankings. Those schools with higher actual rankings (lower peer rankings) were labeled “overperformers” and those with lower actual rankings (higher peer rankings) were labeled “underperformers.”

“Dean Hardin and his staff have been doing an excellent job in making UA’s business school competitive and its reputation known,” said Dr. Robert Witt, Chancellor of the UA System. “This is a another step forward in achieving Dean Hardin’s goal of Culverhouse becoming one of the top 25 business schools in the country. This is excellent news for the entire University of Alabama system.”

Alumni: Get Involved, Get Active, Give Back

As much as Universities are proud of their alumni, Universities need active alumni to promote, to participate, to be a voice for their alma mater. The Executive MBA Program at The University of Alabama is kicking off 2014 with a call to alumni to “Get Involved, Get Active, Give Back.”

EMBA Alumni 032
TEMBA 2012 alumni Ben Paulk and Amanda Akers at EMBA Alumni Association Kickoff party.
  • Give Back. Assist your College in recruiting strong candidates by promoting the EMBA program to your company, co-workers, friends and colleagues. Invite them to lunch or to an EMBA event. Make a donation to The University of Alabama – Roll Tide!

Are you ready to Get Involved, Get Active and Give Back?  Contact Donna or Cheryl today at 205.348.8748 and Get Started.  Roll Tide!

UA EMBA Countdown to End of Year

December is the month of holidays, family and memories.  A time to remember and celebrate.  As the month draws to a close so comes the lists, and believe me, there are lots of lists.  Top 100 songs of the year, best movies of 2013, and top 10 iPhone apps – it’s Candy Crush Saga followed by YouTube. Then there are the strange lists like the ESPN Dallas Cowboys’ Craziest Losses – no matter how heartbroken you may be if your team lost this year the Cowboys take the “smack in the head, I can’t believe that just happened” award. Then there’s the 2013 Google’s top 10 searches that ranges from Nelson Mandela to the Royal baby…the lists goes on and on.

Not to be left out, we decided to present our own countdown for 2013. So here goes – the EMBA at The University of Alabama top five highlights for 2013:

#5 – Social Media reigned in the EMBA office.  We started our UAEMBA blog, University of Alabama EMBA LinkedIn group and company page, and UAEMBA Facebook page.

#4 – Istanbul, Turkey was our destination for the EMBA Class of 2013’s global strategy course.  Students encountered a rich cultural adventure and successful company visits. They were also treated to a warm welcome by chairman and CEO of Istanbul-based Bayraktar Group and UA graduate, Mustafa Bayraktar, at his company’s headquarters overlooking the Bosphorous. This year, we also offered spouse/guest optional packages and a post trip to Izmir. We also announced that alumni may join us on future trips.  The alumni package will include the same accommodations, meals, company visits and city tours as is provided to students. In 2014, we will have alumni on our Chile-Peru trip and encourage other alumni to join us in 2015.

#3 – Our 2013 EMBA Alumni survey yielded many success stories that we will be sharing with you in future blogs.  One of many highlights is that after graduation, 46 percent of our alumni received promotions within their company, 30 percent changed companies for promotions and 11 percent started their own business.

#2 – The EMBA Alumni Association was established.  The EMBA program has graduated 766 students.  In November, we celebrated the creation of the EMBA Alumni Association with a return to campus event that included faculty presentations, networking, updates on continuing education and certification programs that are now available to EMBA alumni, and a Welcome Back to T-Town party at Dreamland BBQ.

#1 – UA EMBA welcomed our sixth class in Huntsville and our 30th class in Tuscaloosa.  In 1985, we enrolled our first EMBA class in Tuscaloosa, and we will be graduating our 30th class in May 2015.
It has been an exciting and thrilling year.  From all of us in the EMBA Program, we wish you Happy Holidays and a bright New Year.
Donna, Brian, Cheryl, Linda, Matt, Courtney and Gary


UA EMBA Welcomes Tuscaloosa-EMBA Class of 2015

Screen shot 2013-12-13 at 11.32.32 AMThe Culverhouse College of Commerce at The University of Alabama welcomed the incoming Tuscaloosa EMBA Class of 2015 on December 3, for orientation-immersion week. Twenty-three students began their 17 month, four semester program in Tuscaloosa. The average age is 39 with an average of 15 years of work experience.  This year’s class is comprised of 33 percent women (according to the EMBA Council, a non-profit association of over 200 universities and colleges from around the world that run EMBA programs, the average is 25 percent).

056The orientation week covers team building and career development. Students also began their first semester classes with accounting for financial control, statistics for business application, marketing and managerial economics.
Companies represented in the EMBA 2015 class include First Partners Bank, Tuscaloosa VA Regional Medical Center, The University of Alabama Office of Information Technology, UA Facilities, Private Law Practice & Miles Law School, CRI Carr Riggs & Ingram, Ricoh USA, Sterne Agee, KBR Inc., Aerotek, Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Nucor Steel Birmingham, JMJ Associates, U.S. Army, Regions Financial Corporation, Rumsey Environment, Pittman Financial Partners, ZF Chassis Systems, Southern Nuclear and Young Medical Associates.
075This class also represents our 30th intake.  The EMBA program at The University of Alabama began in 1985. In addition to the Tuscaloosa EMBA that begins in December, Culverhouse also has an EMBA program in Huntsville, Alabama, that begins in August each year. For more information on the TEMBA and HEMBA programs at The University go to

EMBA Families – Students’ Biggest Supporters

In the midst of the holiday season, we want to recognize the strongest support network for students in The University of Alabama’s EMBA program — their families.

The decision to return to graduate school and pursue an M.B.A affects not only the student, but their family members as well. It is important for students to work together with their spouse and children to maintain a healthy balance between school, work and family time.

According to Susan Maples, having a spouse attend grad school is an adventure for the whole family. Susan’s husband, Sam Maples, graduated from the UA Tuscaloosa EMBA program in May of 2013.

“Be ready to give up many of the things you do together as a family for about 18 months, and be ready to say no to other things and invites that are not as important. That way, the little time you have together will be quality time doing things you enjoy,” Susan said.

Susan and Sam Maples
Susan and Sam Maples

Susan previously worked for 10 years in manufacturing engineering and management for Toyota, but is now a stay-at-home mom. She and Sam have four children — three girls, ages 14, 12 and 10, and their youngest a boy, age 7.

“Seeing their father studying at home had a good influence on the kids. They were able to see it takes time and effort to achieve goals, and they also learned it takes the whole family working together to help each other,” she said. “It wasn’t always fun for them, though. They had to learn that we make choices in life and sometimes the choice made was not always what they desired at the moment.”

Finding a balance between work, school and family time that worked for everyone can be difficult. Susan recommends using study breaks and mealtimes to spend time together and catch up. She also suggests trying to take interest in what your spouse is learning.

“If you are able to help them study, that is still time spent together,” she said. “Get to know the members of your spouse’s team as well. We enjoyed having Sam’s team study at our house and spending time time with them.”

Andrea Elrod agrees that finding a balance between home, work and school is difficult for EMBA students, as well as their families. Andrea is married to Russ Elrod, UA Huntsville EMBA class of 2013.
“It was difficult for everyone, but we all saw that it was the most difficult for Russ to juggle the pressures of work, home and school,” Andrea said. “I was personally amazed at the way he carved out time for the children in the evenings and stayed up late almost every night to read and study.”

Andrea Elrod and husband, Russ, standing in front of the Hagia Sophia in Instanbul
Andrea Elrod and husband, Russ, standing in front of the Hagia Sophia in Instanbul

Andrea is a CPA and Director of Accounting for Davis Lee Companies in Guntersville, Ala. She and Russ have two daughters, ages 7 and 9.
“Russ used his books and study time as teachable moments with the girls anytime possible. He enjoyed his professors and classes so much that the children even enjoyed hearing about them,” she said.

According to Andrea, spouses of EMBA students should expect conversations to revolve around interesting topics in the classroom.
“I found that even though Russ and I had some stressful times during the program, we also grew closer in some ways because he got me involved,” she said. “He even convinced me to read and enjoy some of his books and articles!”

Susan Maples and husband Sam in Ephesus
Susan Maples and husband Sam in Ephesus, Turkey

While the EMBA program requires help and support from the family, it also provides them with new and exciting opportunities. Both Susan and Andrea accompanied their husbands on the 2013 UA EMBA international trip to Istanbul, Turkey.

“Istanbul was not on my list of places to visit prior to Sam starting his EMBA, but it turned out to be an incredible experience,” Susan said. “The optional excursion to Ephesus was definitely a highlight. It was a time where Sam and I could enjoy traveling together since the ‘class’ part of the trip was over, and gave us a chance to enjoy a few stress-free days.”

“The trip to Turkey was a fun and wonderful experience. It was the one point in the entire program where I was truly able to bond with the other students and their spouses,” Andrea said. “My tip for future spouses on the international trip is to research and plan outings with other spouses before your trip. The students have plans all day and night, but the spouses have plenty of time to goof off, so make the most of it!”

EMBA spouses on 2013 international trip to Istanbul
EMBA spouses on 2013 international trip to Istanbul


Another point in the program that is enjoyable and rewarding for all members of the family is graduation.

“We enjoyed the reception hosted by the EMBA department and the graduation ceremony,” Susan said. “We felt it was important for our children to see their dad receive his degree so they could realize it was one of the rewards of completing the program. We also had a graduation party for him at home.”

Russ Elrod at the EMBA graduation reception with his two daughters, Hensley and Aubrey,
Russ Elrod at the EMBA graduation reception with his two daughters, Hensley and Aubrey

“The EMBA office does a great job with their reception before the ceremony, and we enjoyed and appreciated that,” Andrea said. “The most memorable part of the ceremony was when our normally non-emotional 9-year-old looked up during the graduation and admitted that she was so proud of Daddy, she wanted to cry.”
We welcome spouses to attend an upcoming event or an open classroom along with their spouse who is considering the program. For more information on the EMBA program or to attend an upcoming event, contact the EMBA office at 205-348-4501, or

Remembering to slow down and find gratitude

Written by EMBA Director Donna Blackburn 

If you are like me, your days are filled with activity and your mind with an ever growing list of “to do’s” and “things to be done right NOW.”
Every morning as I back out of my garage, I am thinking of the first meeting or project I need to work on, so by the time I get to the end of my street, I wonder, “did I close the garage door?”  I say, “every morning”, because this happens a lot with me backing the car up my street to my driveway to ultimately face a closed garage door.  And no, it is not creeping dementia.  It is, as I like to put it, so much mundane in the brain clouding the wisdom.  In other words, simply too much to do in a small window of time.

So, how to overcome the clouding of the brain?  For me, it was remembering something I read by Arvind Devalia.  Devalia said, “Gratitude is a way of reaching back to your natural state of happiness. Notice what’s right instead of what’s wrong and begin to see every “problem” as an opportunity for growth and development.”

We often find ourselves overworked and second guessing ourselves.  Did we do this? Did we forget something?  Usually because we are looking ahead instead of focusing on the now.  We can fall apart or get frustrated when we miss a step or make a mess along the way, or we can take a breath and take a moment to give thanks for the opportunity to learn and make it right.

The garage door has now for me become a moment of reflection.  No matter what may be racing through my head as I leave in the morning, as I back up my car, I stop. I take several deep breathes thinking of nothing but breathing in and out as the garage door closes. One benefit has been that the mind stops racing, even if it is only for a few minutes.

What is your garage door? What is your problem that will lead to a growth opportunity?

Happy-ThanksgivingThe University of Alabama will be closed the rest of this week for the holiday.  From all of us in the Executive MBA office, we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.

Current EMBA Class Set to Tour South America

International Session 070On Nov. 8, The University of Alabama EMBA class of 2014 met in Birmingham for an international prep session for their February trip to Santiago, Chile and Lima, Peru. Students in the Tuscaloosa and Huntsville groups formed international teams for their global strategy projects.

This class will visit and meet with executives from the following companies:

  • Banco Estado
  • Frito-Lay Chile
  • Viña Veramonte (Winery)
  • Garden House Lab (transnational pharmaceutical laboratory)
  • Central Bank of Peru
  • Hunt Oil Peru
  • Grupo Breca (Conglomerate owned by Peruvian family Brescia-Cafferatta)
  • Clinica Ricardo Palma (Private medical clinic)
  • Compañía de Minas Buenaventura (Peru’s largest publicly-traded precious metals company)

International Session 039The Culverhouse College of Commerce Executive MBA at the University of Alabama includes an international trip as part of a three-hour international business course, IBA 550, Global Business, taught by Drs. Glenn Richey and Chad Hilton, in the final semester of study. This course provides an introduction to the complex world of managing in a global context and provides a country/region specific examination of the challenges that face international managers. Students visit a variety of organizations and have the opportunity to examine strategic management, marketing and branding, the role of business in society, public-private sector relationships, business and economic development, financial and foreign business valuation, and cultural issues germane to the region. Students are formed into international teams that are responsible for an in depth strategic review of one of the companies visited and are required to conduct their final team projects/presentations on the last day of the trip.

International Session 081Preparation for the international trips are very important. Understanding protocol and how to do business in another country begins early in the planning process for the trip. During the information session, the class had the opportunity to hear from Eduardo Cuneo, Latin American sales director for Valley Rubber, who travels extensively to do business in Chile and Peru. Discussion topics included conducting business in Peru, business etiquette, local customs and sightseeing. Afterwards, Drs. Richey and Hilton gave a lecture on cultural differentiation and modern international business practices. Finally, Donna Blackburn, director of the EMBA Program, went over the protocol for the international trip and provided many helpful hints and tricks from her vast travel experience.

International Session 076“The international trip is a highlight of the EMBA experience for our students, providing an opportunity to expose our students to other countries – their business and culture,” said Blackburn.
In addition, UA EMBA alumni are welcome to come on the trip and participate in the business and cultural events. While the signup deadline has passed for the Chile-Peru trip, the 2015 international trip will be decided at the beginning of Fall 2014.

For more information on the EMBA program, please contact Cheryl Altemara at 205-348-4501 or

EMBA Alumni Association Kickoff Weekend

Executive MBA Alumni, from the first class of 1986 to the latest graduating classes, gathered in Tuscaloosa this past weekend to reconnect, meet new contacts, learn what’s happening at Culverhouse and find out about the newly formed EMBA Alumni Association.

EMBA Alumni reunion at Dreamland BBQ.
EMBA Alumni reunion at Dreamland BBQ.

Friday night kicked off the festivities with a reunion at Dreamland BBQ in Northport. Amidst the BBQ ribs and sweet tea, the room was abuzz with introductions, career updates and reminiscing about the program. This type of networking is one of the primary reasons the EMBA Alumni Association has been formed.

On Saturday, attendees were treated to several presentations over a wide range of topics. The event resembled a class weekend – except there were no tests or homework. Dr. Brooks gave an enlightening presentation on the Jefferson County Bankruptcy, followed by a fascinating presentation on big data and analytics by Dr. Gray and Dr. Keskin. Leroy Hurt, Associate Dean of the College of Continuing Studies, gave an overview  of professional certification training that was available through the school. These types of continual learning opportunities will be an integral part of future events.

EMBA Program Director Donna Blackburn (left) and Associate Dean of the College of Continuing Studies Leroy Hurt (right)
EMBA Program Director Donna Blackburn (left) and Associate Dean of the College of Continuing Studies Leroy Hurt (right)

Finally, Kent Darzi, the President of the EMBA Alumni Association, talked about the newly formed chapter. He gave a summary of the chapter’s mission and asked for input from the alumni base present. A discussion ensued where topics such as community service, event ideas and recruitment were raised. Donna Blackburn shared recent survey results, which has helped shape the chapter’s charter. Statistics about alumni career path, salaries, expectations and their view of the EMBA program were shared and discussed.

The overall consensus was that the weekend was a great success. Attendees enjoyed the networking opportunities, the presentations and visiting the campus again. We hope to have even better attendance as more events are held and the Alumni chapter grows in membership.

For details on how to join the EMBA Alumni Association, please contact Cheryl Altemara at 205-348-4501 or

Stop procrastinating and begin your M.B.A.

As most of the students in UA’s EMBA program will tell you, there is never a “perfect” time for graduate school. If you are considering returning to school for an M.B.A. degree, why not go ahead and begin making the necessary steps to achieve this goal!

The benefits greatly outweigh giving in to procrastination and thoughts of “No time, too busy.” Certainly not all jobs require an M.B.A. However, if the next step on your career list does require an M.B.A., or if you are overlooked in a job hunt because someone else has an M.B.A., now is the time to begin an EMBA program.  See how an EMBA can benefit you.

At UA we have two EMBA programs to fit your busy schedule: a four semester, every other weekend program; or a five semester, one weekend a month program.

Check out some of our previous articles to learn more about The University of Alabama’s EMBA program:

Top 10 Benefits of the Alabama EMBA Program
Executive MBA – A Good MBA Choice for Veterans? 
Returning to Grad School – Tips to Prepare
4 Reasons why Women and EMBAs are a Good Match
True or False: EMBA Programs are only for “Executives”

You can also visit our website for more information about the application process, requirements and program costs.
To schedule an information session, open classroom visit, personal interview or to request more information, fill out the form below:

[contact-form to=’’ subject=’Request for EMBA Info – Blog’][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

EMBA Elite Spotlight: Staci Woods

Staci WoodsOur EMBA Elite student spotlight for October is Staci Woods. Staci is the class president of The University of Alabama EMBA program in Huntsville, Class of 2014. She received a Bachelors of Arts in Communication from UA, majoring in journalism with a minor in political science. She is currently working for Oracle as a customer experience sales consultant for marketing and loyalty solutions while pursuing her EMBA degree.
Before returning to graduate school, Staci worked for a company in Louisville, Kentucky. “I was very blessed to be in an organization where I went from an entry-level position to company officer during my 11 years there,” she said. After the  company was sold in 2011, Staci and her husband, Rick, moved back to her hometown of Decatur, Alabama.

Staci’s decision to pursue an EMBA degree came from her desire to expand her knowledge of business beyond what she had learned from the company in Louisville. “Everything I knew I had learned from one company,” she said. “I wanted the opportunity to learn strategy, finance and the big picture of business to broaden my perspective and understand different viewpoints.”

Staci and Rick have been married for five years. Although they have no children at home, the couple opens their home to a group of “new adults” age 18-24 that they mentor through their church.
One challenge EMBA students face is finding the time to balance home life, work and school. “It’s tough!” Staci said. “What I have learned is that it’s important during grad school to compartmentalize life.” By planning her days in advance and scheduling times for school work, Staci is able to get a true mental break each week.
Late Summer 2013-Ray Chowdhury & Staci Woods
“I work hard to have one day a week where I don’t work on school or my career, even if it means late nights other nights of the week. My husband and I schedule dates to make sure we stay close through this process.”

According to Staci, the UA Huntsville EMBA program is impacting her career in powerful ways. “The practice of analyzing business cases in many different courses has been the most helpful. In my job, I have a new company with different processes to learn practically every week,” she said. “It’s my responsibility to learn marketing strategies they employ, their business processes and organizational structure in order to consult them on how Oracle technology can support or improve their performance.”

After completing her EMBA, Staci plans to relax, catch up on reading, enjoy her backyard, host more parties and spend lots of time with her family and friends. Her goal is to retire with her husband while in her early 50s.

For more information about the EMBA program at UA, visit