Category: EMBA

Entrepreneurs and MBAs: Is it worth it?

Waiting Game Publications co-founders Robert Parfitt (right) and Bill Zapf.
Waiting Game Publications co-founders Robert Parfitt (right) and Bill Zapf.

 

If you ask Robert Parfitt, “Was it worth it?” His answer would undoubtedly be “yes.” Robert graduated from the Culverhouse College of Commerce Executive MBA program at the University of Alabama in 2002, and is now CEO and co-founder of Waiting Game Publications.

Robert, along with company President and co-founder Bill Zapf, was recently featured in a CEO profile in Franchise Canada Magazine. You can read the full article here. The Waiting Game is a free, full-color, interactive, incentive-based monthly publication distributed to waiting rooms.

It offers low-cost advertising with extensive local reach to small businesses. Waiting Game Publications launched in 2009, began franchising in 2011 and now has 23 franchise locations with 15 more in the works for the coming year.

Many working professionals decide to break out on their own and become entrepreneurs AFTER they earn their MBA degree. But what about those aspiring entrepreneurs considering an MBA while trying to start a business? Is it a good idea? Would it be worth it in the long run? Here are some reasons why entrepreneurs selected the UA EMBA program:

  • To fill in knowledge gaps and combine formal business education with on-the-job experience
  • To connect ideas with other professionals in class to market and grow their business
  • To become better negotiators
  • To better understand financial aspects of business and become a more strategic leader
  • To network

“The UA EMBA program gave me the tools and confidence to take my career to the next level. After graduation, I obtained a new position that doubled my previous salary. I then put my education to work by crafting out a plan to launch Waiting Game Publications, and I know this could not have happened without everything I learned from my fellow EMBA grads and the professors at Alabama.” – Robert Parfitt

 

Announcing New Format for University of Alabama EMBA Program in Huntsville

The Culverhouse College of Commerce Executive MBA Program at the University of Alabama announces a new change in the schedule format for our Huntsville location – One Weekend A Month, beginning August 2014.

The new schedule features a blended program in which classes are held one weekend per month over the course of 21 months. A blended program combines the benefits of face-to-face classroom interactions with flexible, online learning.

According to Donna Blackburn, director of EMBA Programs at The University of Alabama, “We are finding that managers who want to pursue an MBA are today juggling family and longer work hours.  A blended program will give our students more flexibility in learning material on their own schedule while enriching the in-class time for greater discourse and learning from their peers and faculty.”

Classes in the Huntsville EMBA Program offered by the University of Alabama are held on the UAHuntsville campus.  The five semester program will begin with an orientation/immersion week in August.  In addition to taking three classes per semester a leadership component will begin at orientation and continue throughout the program. The program also includes an international trip as part of the Global Business Strategy course in the students’ last semester. Emphasis is placed on enhancing leadership and business skills in preparing  students for navigating corporate challenges.

The University of Alabama has offered the EMBA program in Tuscaloosa since 1984. In 2008, UA established the Huntsville EMBA in cooperation with the UAHuntsville. For more information or to apply to the program, go to www.emba.ua.edu, or call 205.348.4501.

UA Executive MBA Named to 2014 Military Friendly Schools List

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For the fifth year, Victory Media — the premier media entity for military personnel transitioning into civilian life — has named The Culverhouse College of Commerce Executive MBA program at the University of Alabama to the coveted Military Friendly Schools list. The 2014 Military Friendly Schools List honors the top 20 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools in the country that are doing the most to embrace America’s military service members, veterans, and spouses as students and ensure their success on campus.

“Inclusion on the 2014 list of Military Friendly Schools shows UA EMBA’s commitment to providing a supportive environment for military students,” said Sean Collins, Vice President at Victory Media and a nine-year Navy veteran. “The need for education is growing, and our mission is to provide the military community with transparent, world-class resources to assist in their search for schools.”
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The Military Friendly Schools media and website, www.militaryfriendlyschools.com, features the list, as well as interactive tools and search functionality to help military students find the best schools to suit their unique needs and preferences. The 1,868 colleges, universities and trade schools on this year’s list exhibit leading practices in the recruitment and retention of students with military experience. These schools have world-class programs and policies for student support on campus, academic accreditation, credit policies, flexibility and other services to those who served.

This year’s Military Friendly Schools list was based on a survey of more than 10,000 schools nationwide approved for VA funding. Currently, 36 percent of students enrolled in the EMBA program at the University of Alabama are veterans or active duty military, an increase of 11 percent from last year. “Once again, we are greatly honored to be recognized for our continued support of the military as they pursue their academic career,” said Donna Blackburn, director of Executive MBA Programs.

EMBA Elite Spotlight: Joel Druxman

This month, our student spotlight is Joel Druxman, a member of the Culverhouse College of Commerce Tuscaloosa EMBA class of 2009 at The University of Alabama. Joel received his undergrad in mechanical engineering from New Mexico State University. He has been married for almost 10 years, and he and his wife, Dr. Vlada Groysman, have two children, a 4 year old daughter and 1 year old son.

When Joel entered the EMBA program at UA, he was working as an operations manager for Commercial Metals Company. Since completing his EMBA, Joel and his wife have recently started their own medical practice, Cahaba Dermatology, located in Hoover, Alabama. “My wife practiced in the department of Dermatology at UAB for 4 years and decided she was ready to go solo. We are somewhat of a husband/wife team. She’s the doc, and I’m managing the business,” Joel said. “I have always had an entrepreneurial drive, and the EMBA program helped to better channel that drive.”
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Working with a spouse or significant other could be challenging for some, but Joel and his wife are enjoying the dynamic. “It’s probably not for everyone, but it has strengthened our relationship in many ways. It’s very easy to get hurt feelings when disagreements arise, so we try to engage each other more as co-workers rather than husband and wife in these instances.”

For a husband and father of two, finding a balance between work and family can certainly prove to be difficult.  To add in the startup of a new medical practice just screams the word “chaotic.” Although it has been a challenge, Joel and his wife have found a “method to the madness” that works for them. “When you own and operate your own business, it’s not always possible to turn things off when the garage door opens, so you just have to find a balance and timing that works. We try to put our kids first and find the time with what’s left.”

Owning and managing a medical practice has really given Joel an opportunity to cash in on his EMBA degree. According to Joel, the general knowledge of how a business is run and what metrics are key are some of the most helpful things he learned from the program. “I feel the knowledge helps us to ask the right questions of those advising us and keep ourselves ahead of the curve. Knowledge of marketing and operations philosophies has been a big ROI for us.”
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Joel’s advice for current or upcoming EMBA students is to learn from the program and then be flexible as you apply your knowledge to your own pursuits and goals. “Don’t think you know everything, and make sure you build a good team around you. Work on your networking and communication skills in the program as these are critical.”

You can check out the medical practice Joel and his wife started by visiting www.cahabaderm.com.

For more information about the EMBA program at UA, visit emba.ua.edu.

True or False: EMBA programs are only for "Executives"

The answer to this question is FALSE. Although the “E” in EMBA stands for Executive, it does not mean that students are required to hold executive positions within their companies. However, most EMBA programs do require that students have at least 5 years work experience. EMBA students are “successful and looking for an education that will broaden his or her knowledge base in order manage more efficiently.” (Roos, “How Executive MBA Programs Work”) 

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EMBA programs provide those in middle management positions with the knowledge and leadership abilities needed to advance in their career. According to the 2012-2013 class profile for the University of Alabama EMBA program, 57 percent of students held middle management positions. About 82 percent of UA EMBA alumni received promotions upon completion of the program, and the average salary increase was 23 percent.

EMBA students represent a variety of industries as well. Last year, UA’s EMBA class was made up of students working in defense, technology, government/nonprofit, manufacturing, healthcare, service/retail, financial, telecommunications, and other industries. This diversity allows students to gain a totally different perspective and learn from a broad range of experience levels and backgrounds.

"I learned the most from accounting, as I'd never had accounting classes before. It's helped me look at my small business differently." - Robert Justice, Program Manager at Scientific Research Corporation (Defense and Space Industry)
“I learned the most from accounting, as I’d never had accounting classes before. It’s helped me look at my small business differently.” – Robert Justice, Program Manager at Scientific Research Corporation (Defense and Space Industry)

Faculty, staff, alumni and classmates from diverse business backgrounds and industries also provides an EMBA student with an excellent networking opportunity. Students from different industries can share their knowledge and experiences, and benefit from the knowledge and experiences of others as well.

Any experienced business professional from virtually any industry can benefit from an EMBA degree, even if your title doesn’t include the word “executive.”

Always remember that the best way to determine if a program is right for you is to VISIT! Talk with current students, faculty, staff or alumni, tour the campus and get a feel for what it would be like to be a student. You can also learn a lot about a program and connect with other students via social media.

Connect with the University of Alabama EMBA program on Facebook and LinkedIn.

To learn more about the program and application requirements, visit emba.ua.edu or fill out the form below to request more info, attend an information session or open classroom, or to schedule a personal interview.

4 reasons why women and EMBAs are a good match

WW4gAUhMOCALc-d4uBTaM8dypfXaYjX94S2BHJxDMNsAn average EMBA classroom consists of 25.4 percent female students, according to the Executive MBA Council. At The University of Alabama Culverhouse College of Commerce Executive MBA our female/male ration is 37 percent for women in the latest 2014 class.  Although we continue to grow our female numbers we are often asking why such a large gap between the number of men and women? In talking with prospects, our top reasons include the added responsibilities of starting or caring for a family, securing support from an employer and time commitment required by work and family.

However, an EMBA program could be the perfect match for women who are looking to expand their business knowledge and professional development. Here are four reasons why:

1.) Convenient class schedule
One of the biggest benefits of an EMBA program for women is the convenience of the class schedule. The classes for EMBA at The University of Alabama meet every other weekend (Friday evenings and Saturdays). Not only does this schedule format reduce time away from work, but time away from home and families as well. Most women have an innate ability to multi-task. An EMBA program can improve on these skills and help women achieve a balance between work and home life.

2.) Female sponsors and role-models
In a Time Ideas post by Sylvia Ann Hewlett, “Women with sponsors are 27% more likely than their unsponsored female peers to ask for a raise. They’re 22% more likely to ask for those all-important stretch assignments, the projects that put them on the radar of the higher-ups.”

Female EMBA students have the opportunity to meet and learn from other business women professionals, and build strong networks. They also become role-models themselves, and are able to show other women that it is possible to successfully balance work, home, travel and study.
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3.) Break through the “glass ceiling” 
In Bloomberg’s 2013 Gender Gap in Earnings, men in the U.S. continue to out earn women by 23% and hold greater number of leadership positions. An M.B.A. does not guarantee a C-level position but it can lead to more opportunities, higher salaries, promotions, and gain the confidence to take on greater responsibilities at work.

4.) Taking time for yourself
Let’s face it by nature, women are nurturers who tend to put the wants and needs of others before their own; however, it is important for women to take time for themselves and pursue their dreams as well. The decision to pursue an M.B.A. is a huge step toward career development and improvement, and is a big investment in the future as well. By earning an M.B.A., women can prove to themselves as well as others that they are capable of achieving any goal they set for themselves.
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For more information about UA’s EMBA program visit emba.ua.edu.
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Returning to Grad School – Tips to Prepare

It’s that time of year again.  Can you feel it?  Summer turning to fall, football season just around the corner, back to school sales screaming at you from the TV, and anticipation from everyone in the household — it’s time to return to school.

It may have been awhile since you were in college, but you have finally made the decision to return for your graduate degree.
For some EMBA students it has been awhile since they received their undergraduate degree.

The average age of an EMBA student is 37 with an average of 15 years work experience. What can you expect? How can you prepare to make the transition back into academia.  Here are some tips from current EMBA students at The University of Alabama.

PREPARING FOR CLASS

  • Without a doubt, the number one tip from students (past and present) is to stay on top of your coursework! Seventy percent of EMBA students spend 11-15 hours per week outside of class studying. 30% spend up to 20 hours. It may be helpful to make a study schedule and designate a specific place and time for studying. Are you an early riser or a night owl? Know when you study best, and plan accordingly.
  • It is important that you share your experiences in class, failures as well as successes. You will learn as much from each other’s failures as you will your successes. Share your resumes, academic and professional backgrounds, and skills with fellow classmates. Make every networking opportunity count!
  • Organize a study team. MBA programs generally have students work in teams. Study teams serve as an emotional support system, as well as a means of teaching group dynamics and developing effective group processes. Coursework is generally split between team work and individual assignments. When forming the team, you should look for diversity of academic, professional and cultural experience when forming your group. Make sure to clarify roles and responsibilities for every group member. Establish a method of communication, meeting times, and an assignment schedule to ensure all work is completed on time. A team charter is also important to establish roles, values, goals, commitments, rewards, and work distribution.
  • Ask for help! Don’t wait until you are too far behind. Faculty, team members and classmates can be very helpful.

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PREPARING FAMILY AND FRIENDS

  • Although you will have to cut back on family time, it is important that your family does not feel neglected. They will be your strongest support network. Make sure to discuss your busy schedule with your family.  Set aside special times each week to spend with your children, as well as your spouse. Some suggestions include date with your spouse, family movie night, breakfast with the kids, a church service or family picnic.
  • Designate a study area at your home. This can be a quiet room or office, or you could set aside time each night to study at the kitchen table with the kids. Either way, this sets a good example for your children that education never ends!

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PREPARE THE WORKPLACE

  • Be sure to discuss your return to graduate school with your employer. Some MBA programs require a letter of recommendation from employers showing support. Make sure they understand the amount of work and time the program requires. Share your class schedule with your employer and coworkers.
  • It is very important to demonstrate ROI while enrolled in the program. Use the principles you learn in class at your job as much as possible, and teach your coworkers what you’ve learned as well. You will learn more by explaining rather than by hearing alone!

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NOW THAT YOU’VE DONE ALL THE PREPARATION, DON’T FORGET THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON…YOU! 

  • Grad school is tough and can be very stressful. You will find that you have very little free time when balancing grad school, work and family life. Be sure to take advantage of these small pockets of free time and do something for yourself! Although you may not be able to go play a round of golf or spend the day at the spa, there are little things you can do such as jogging around the neighborhood, shooting some hoops in the driveway, or even a quick 30 minute pedicure! This will help reduce stress and give you an opportunity to take a deep breath and relax, and before you know it, you will be graduating with your new degree!

EMBA Elite Spotlight: Paul Mongeon

This week we will be posting our first EMBA Elite Spotlight. These articles will help share more about the EMBA program at The University of Alabama from an insider’s point of view, as well as some EMBA alumni and student success stories.
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Our first student spotlight is Paul Mongeon, a member of the Tuscaloosa EMBA class of 2014. Paul is originally from Beulah, North Dakota, but has lived in Mississippi for the past 15 years. He has been married for 12 years, has two kids, and works as the Engineering Manager at North American Coal Red Hills Mine in Ackerman, MS. Paul is a current EMBA student at UA, and is preparing for the upcoming international trip to Santiago, Chile and Lima, Peru in February, as well as his graduation from the EMBA program in May.

Paul has an undergrad degree in civil engineering from North Dakota State University. His favorite book is Good to Great by Jim Collins, and he is currently reading up on South American culture to prepare for the international trip.

Balancing work, family, and graduate school is always a concern when considering an EMBA degree. As a father, husband, and engineering manager for his company, Paul Mongeon had the same concerns. “I have always enjoyed business, and I realized there is never a good time to go back to school,” Paul said.

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Pictured: Paul Mongeon (right) with classmate Jason Cochran (left)

One of Paul’s favorite EMBA team stories involves the negotiations class. “It started with an easy negotiation and ended up with two groups upset with each other because of a communication problem!” According to Paul, communication is vital when participating in the EMBA program. “My advice to someone starting the EMBA program is to communicate to everyone that you will be changing your life – so expect a major transformation!”

Paul defines success as learning and teaching as much as possible and says that the best business advice he has ever received was to live below your means. “I honestly think the negotiations class has changed my life the most. The skills I learned in this class have helped me deal with many difficult situations without unneeded stress.  I learned to never be caught without a backup plan and always anticipate tactics that others will use in negotiations.”

Check back for more spotlights on current EMBA students and alumni! For more information about the EMBA program at UA, visit emba.ua.edu.
 

How to convince your company to pay for your EMBA

According to The Executive MBA Council, approximately 60 percent of students receive partial or full funding for their EMBA degree. Although more EMBA programs are offering scholarships or fellowships (46.2 percent in 2012), students may also receive full or partial sponsorships from their employers.

EMBA programs offer many benefits to students, as well as students’ employers. Here are some benefits to point out when discussing your plans to pursue an EMBA degree with your employer and negotiating potential funding and sponsorship options:

1.) Sponsoring an employee’s participation in an EMBA program is a company investment. 
When an employer decides to sponsor an employee’s participation in an EMBA program, they are not only making an investment in that employee, but in the company as a whole. It is an opportunity for the employer to increase retention of top performing employees. By investing in and improving the existing talent within the company, employers will encourage their employees to stay with the company, and ultimately save money by eliminating the need for recruiting outside talent.
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2.) Companies receive instant return on investment. 
EMBA students will gain new skills and knowledge from the course content that can be immediately applied to the workplace. Such skills include the ability to think strategically, analyze complex problems, integrate information, and make tough decisions. Students will be able to better identify opportunities for improvement within their company and apply creative and effective solutions.

3.) EMBA sponsorship can improve in-house succession planning. 
While participating in an EMBA program, students will develop leadership and communication skills that will enable them to advance to the next level within their company. Students learn to work well with a team, as well as how to successfully lead a highly performing group of individuals. Employers will feel confident when developing a succession plan, as students will gain a better understanding of business functions from an organizational standpoint.

4.) Companies will gain access to the latest business trends, management strategies and techniques, as well as the experience and knowledge of other business professionals.
EMBA students will broaden their perspective by learning about the latest business management techniques and gaining insight from other working professionals with diverse backgrounds. Students can draw from this information and bring new ideas and strategies into their workplace.

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5.) EMBA students can bring a new global perspective into their workplace. 
Many EMBA programs take an international trip as part of their curriculum. Students will develop a deeper understanding of different economies, businesses, and cultures worldwide. Through company visits, meetings with business professionals and government officials, and tours of cultural and historical sites, EMBA students will gain a new global perspective, and can build an international network that can be very beneficial for the companies they work for.

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6.) The actual payback period has been reduced from 23 to 17 months. 
An article in The Washington Post states that reports show the actual payback period for an executive MBA has been reduced from 23 to 17 months over the past year, despite the rising average of program costs. The important thing for employers to remember is that the benefits from sponsoring an EMBA student are long term, reaching far and beyond the time it takes to fully recover the costs of their investment.

When discussing an EMBA sponsorship with your employer, it is important to point out these benefits and demonstrate how funding an EMBA degree is a sound investment in the future of your company.

The University of Alabama’s EMBA program offers an outline to assist students in developing a proposal for corporate sponsorship, which you can access by clicking on the link below:
UA-EMBA Corp Sponsorship Proposal

For more information about the EMBA program at UA, please visit www.emba.ua.edu.

If you read one article about MBA Information Sessions, read this one.

You have been looking at various graduate schools, searching different programs, talking with friends, colleagues, and even random people you meet.  You have narrowed it down to a few schools.  Now is the time to attend an information session or an open classroom.  Before you go, here are some things you should know:

1.) Information sessions generally start off with a check in and a reception with some time to mingle.  This is a good opportunity for talking privately with the staff, faculty, alumni and current students.  For open classrooms, arriving early will allow you to talk to students before they must focus on the class lecture.
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2.) During the reception or open classroom, be prepared to talk about yourself.  At the beginning of the session guests are sometimes asked to introduce themselves to the group. Sharing information about yourself, your position, your company and why you are pursuing a graduate degree will be helpful for those who are attached to the school. It will also help them in relating your background and experiences with others who are similar to you and the benefits they received.

3.) Personal interview – you may also want to arrange for a one-on-one meeting with the admissions person either before or after the event.  The personal interviews usually cover the program in more detail and allow you to ask questions pertaining to your own issues and goals. It also gives the admissions officer an opportunity to get to know you.

4.) Be professional! The staff, alumni and students will notice your dress, conduct, and interest, so be prepared and make a good impression.

5.) Check out the campus and classroom.  While at the open classroom take some time either before or after the lecture to check out the campus.  Also note the parking and lodging if you may be staying overnight to attend classes.  How long did it take you to drive to the location, and what restaurants or shops are located nearby?

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6.) Questions – go prepared with questions. You will find that during the reception or at any point in the information session, you will have the opportunity to ask a question.  During open classrooms, it is best to hold questions until a break period.
Some typical questions are:

  • How has the program benefited you (or your company)?
  • Did you receive a promotion, change jobs, change positions while in the program?
  • Since graduation, how has the program helped you with your career?
  • Is career counseling available?
  • How did you juggle work, school and home?
  • How much support did you receive from your company (financial, time off)?
  • Looking back, what would you say were the best courses in developing your career and why?
  • Does the program require team assignments and if so, how often do teams meet outside of class?
  • Could you tell me how study teams are formed?
  • What is the ratio of individual to group assignments?
  • How much time outside of class do you spend preparing for class?
  • Is there an international trip involved in the program? How is the country selected? What companies do you visit? Who do you meet with at the companies?
  • Is there a masters’ project?
  • How did you secure funding? Are scholarships available? Is there a VA office on campus?
  • How active are alumni? Are there alumni programs and events?

7.) At the end of the event, be sure to exchange contact information.  You should also receive a follow up email from the University. At this point, feel free to ask for names and contact information of anyone you met but did not secure a business card.  Also, ask additional questions or if you did not have time to set up a personal interview, do so now.

Graduate school is a BIG investment.  EMBA Programs offer many benefits like a schedule that does not interfere with working professionals, a lock-step program where classes are set, a definite graduation date of 17-24 months from the start of program, and classmates who have extensive work and management experience.

Do not take this investment lightly!  Attend an event. Be prepared.

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The University of Alabama EMBA has many events throughout the year.  We encourage you to attend an information session and an open classroom. To RSVP, or for more information about upcoming information sessions, open classrooms, or to set up a personal interview, please contact Cheryl Altemara at caltemara@cba.ua.edu or call 205-348-4501.

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