Category: EMBA

Celebrating the EMBA Class of 2020

UA EMBA 2020 Huntsville Class
UA HEMBA 2020 Class
UA TEMBA 2020 Class in Tuscaloosa
UA TEMBA 2020 Class








Although The University of Alabama Executive MBA Class of 2020 Graduation Ceremony, scheduled for May 2, is postponed until August contingent on how the summer health outlook progresses, we celebrate their achievement today as they finish their final semester.

We will also celebrate again in August so that they receive the recognition they so richly deserve. We look forward to honoring our EMBA graduates along with their families, faculty, and staff at the EMBA Ceremony. The ceremony will honor the achievement of our graduates who have earned their degree from one of the most prestigious universities in the world, during one of the most challenging times in recent history.

Congratulations UA EMBA Class of 2020

  • Alanna Aaron, Infomedia
  • Brandon Barnhill, Pilot Catastrophe Services Inc.
  • Chad Brennan, Dynetics, Inc.
  • Jeremy Chism, Aerojet Rocketdyne
  • David Coleman, Hunt Refining Company
  • Mike DeWerff, Motion Industries
  • Cynthia Dempsey, Decatur Morgan Hospital
  • Danielle Devaney, The Boeing Company
  • Shane Gandy, Pratt & Whitney
  • Lonnie Golightly, BF Goodrich/Michelin
  • Gilbert Goscicki, BASF
  • Pamela Harris, The University of Alabama, AL-PTAC
  • Joey Holdmeyer, Sonoco Products Company
  • Jake Horner, Unison Environmental Services
  • Bob James, Social Security Administration
  • Gabe Lewis, Mobius
  • Julie Mathis, Futaba Corporation of America
  • Brian McCormick, Parker Hannafin
  • Phil Monkress, All Points Logistics, LLC
  • Jared Murray, The Reprieve
  • Candace Padgett, Southwire Company
  • Justin Padgett, DRD, LLC
  • David Ramirez, Seimens
  • Jennifer Ridgeway, PPG Aerospace
  • Stephen Schlanger, Walt Disney World
  • Robert Smith, Trustmark
  • Adam Stephens, OYO
  • Amanda Suddath, FirstGroup America
  • Patrick Talley, o2ideas
  • Wilson Townsend, Schneider Electric
  • Tim Ware, Anheuser-Busch
  • Mandy Watts, B.Braun Interventional Systems
  • Stephan Williams, GAF – Tuscaloosa
  • Ted Yonke, ThyssenKrupp Materials

The Power of the UA EMBA Network

Destin Sandlin with contributing writer Cynthia Dempsey (HEMBA 2020)

I wanted to share with everyone the power of The University of Alabama Executive MBA network and what it has done for North Alabama to save lives. I am the Business Manager of Surgery for Decatur Morgan Hospital in Decatur, Alabama.

At the beginning of April, I reached out to my HEMBA 2020 cohort asking for donations consisting of personal protective gear to use in my hospital. I asked the cohort to check within their network to find those who would be willing to donate supplies.

By taking advantage of the vast UA HEMBA network I was connected to Destin Sandlin, a local engineer that offered to print face shields for us through the use of a 3D printer. Much to my surprise, Destin has a YouTube channel with nearly 8 million followers. He made a video calling for everyone in North Alabama with a 3D printer to join us in our efforts to facilitate the fantastic work that our healthcare professionals are performing day inCOVID-19 Face Shield and day out.

Destin acquired local warehousing space and set up operations for the mask bands to be received from the community, sterilized, and then sent to Huntsville Hospital Logistics as a donation. We are expecting to receive thousands of these in the coming weeks which will surely save lives. To be honest, when I reached out and asked for donations, I was expecting a few hundred masks or gloves, certainly not thousands!

Throughout this process, Destin has been meeting with our supply chain team and the Chamber of Commerce. He is now looking to see if he is able to engineer and print culturettes for our lab and protective gear for our anesthesia team. Thanks to the connections within our cohort, our medical staff on the front lines will have proper protective gear. It’s so great to see our community come together to help!

Additionally, our cohort is working to raise money to buy meals for hospital staff at Huntsville Hospital, Madison Hospital, Athens Hospital, and Decatur Morgan. The idea is to help our local restaurants by purchasing the food from them and then to treat healthcare professionals to a warm meal. We are still working on the vast logistics of such an operation and then we will move into a funding phase generously provided by the Huntsville Hospital Foundation. We are also planning on raising funds for our friends in South Korea at Teach North Koreans Refugees (TNKR) once we are through the COVID crisis. Our EMBA class visited companies in Cambodia and South Korea, including TNKR during our EMBA international trip as part of our global business course.

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

Article contributed by Cynthia Dempsey (HEMBA 2020), Business Manager of Surgery for Decatur Morgan Hospital

EMBA Spotlight: Chris Overstreet, TEMBA 2018

Chris Overstreet, UA EMBA 2018
UA EMBA 2018 Alumnus Chris Overstreet

We want to start off this blog post by wishing everyone well and hoping that you and your families are staying safe during this trying time. The EMBA staff at UA knows that life has changed unexpectedly with events that have transpired over the last month and a half with the COVID-19 outbreak. Despite this adversity, there is a lot to be said about turning our eyes to the future in expectations of a better tomorrow.

To assist with helping you stay at home and not going completely stir crazy, we recently interviewed Tuscaloosa EMBA Class of 2018 alumnus Chris Overstreet,  Vice President and Director of Client Services for Doster Construction in Birmingham. A strong supporter of the EMBA program, Chris found solace in the rigorous environment at UA. Chris delves into the nuances of the program that enabled him to break out of his shell and emerge with unparalleled business acumen.

Can you provide a general overview of your career path thus far?

I have worked with Doster Construction Company, Inc., a general contractor headquartered in Birmingham, since 2003. We build healthcare, institutional work, higher education, commercial, industrial, and multi-family projects. I am currently the Vice President Director of Client Services for Dostor’s Multifamily Group which concentrates on building apartments, student living, and senior living developments. More specifically, I head up preconstruction which means budgeting and pricing for owners and clients.

What was happening with your career prior to EMBA?

I started in the 2016 EMBA program (TEMBA 33 class). My title at that time was the Director of Preconstruction Services for Doster Construction. I managed six to eight individuals and was in charge of budgeting and pricing multifamily projects. A friend of mine enrolled in another graduate program in 2015 and shared with me some of his experiences and how it was an eye-opener for him.  An M.B.A. has always been something that had interested me. I knew that I didn’t have the business background that I needed. While I was knowledgeable about construction, I was less comfortable when it came to business topics (revenues, profit/loss, etc.), and it started to feel past due. Up to that point, I had very much enjoyed staying within my comfort zone but my friend’s energy was infectious.

Why was The University of Alabama EMBA program a fit for you?

Cheryl Altemara, Assistant Director of EMBA, made it seem that much more welcoming. She was patient and helped talk me through the process. I was also able to sit in on two Saturdays in the Bryant Conference Center. One of the classes I attended was Professor Lonnie Strickland’s strategy course. It really intrigued me! I spoke with other schools and was even accepted at another university as well. The major difference for me was the in-class element. I did not want to enroll in a program and sit behind a screen and not develop a rapport with the other classmates and professors. It was a huge deal to have to be present in class. I am a natural introvert but the preparation for the classes and in-class presentations helped me gain confidence. Plus working on projects and studying with classmates who work in different industries added to my experience while I was in the program. I feel as though I was able to learn a little bit from everyone, regardless of their work discipline, and maybe use that knowledge in my own life.

Can you describe a UA EMBA project or assignment or a particular class that you considered pivotal to changing your professional readiness?

My classes had more of an impact on how I think. There are some examples that come to mind. Definitely statistics with Dr. Gray. His class helped me look at data more objectively. Also, the accounting class with Dr. Taylor gave me a lot more confidence regarding the basics of accounting and the fundamentals of financial statements. I can now look at a potential business partner and see how prepared they are to do business with me. Finally, there was Dr. Dulek’s communication class. We learned how to effectively communicate with people which is just as important as the technical skills we learned in some of the other classes.

What’s it like after graduation? As an alumnus of UA EMBA, what opportunities keep you connected to the program, college, classmates and alumni network?

I still try to stay in touch on social media and with Cheryl Altemara. I attend recruiting events because I believe in the program, degree, and what UA is doing. I have also been to our EMBA Alumni Network events: A-Day, annual tailgate, the socials, and the Family Day Barons game. I stay in touch with people from class with texts, phone calls, dinners, etc. Some of my classmates have moved on to other cities, but we still stay in touch. There is a great network of people from both a business and a personal perspective.

What advice would you give others who are considering whether or not pursuing a graduate degree is the right decision?

Don’t be afraid to do it. To be honest it is not an easy program especially for those with both families and full-time jobs. You have to view it as an investment and the decision to enroll needs to consider both family and work obligations. However, I guarantee it will dramatically alter one’s perspective on life. You will do things you didn’t think were possible time-management wise. I still don’t know how I did it with all the class deadlines, full-time job, work travel, family, etc. I would recommend it to anyone. Don’t be afraid to try it and don’t be afraid if you’re someone who’s older. I started the program at the age of 43 and one of the biggest adjustments for me was going back after being out of school for 19 years. Yet, I was able to get into it very quickly and there were people that helped me including my fantastic team members.

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

Spotlight: Hayley Ray Hallmark and Her Life After EMBA

UA EMBA Alumnus
Hayley Ray Hallmark

There is no time like the present! It can often be difficult to choose between continuing one’s higher education and working as an industry professional. Fortunately, in this case, all or nothing is not in the EMBA’s vocabulary. We hope to provide an experience that is both inclusive and flexible for all of our students.

This week we are spotlighting an alumnus who has traveled far and wide after her EMBA experience. Beginning with performances at the happiest place on Earth and culminating in her present position as a Workday software consultant with Collaborative Solutions, Hayley Ray Hallmark (TEMBA 2017) has certainly turned balancing responsibilities into a lifestyle. Let’s wave our wands and explore how Hayley has met with so much success in her time after pursuing an MBA.

Can you give a brief overview of your work experience so far?

Sure – I will say it has been interesting! After I graduated, I became a parade/show performer and trainer for Walt Disney World. I am still a seasonal performer there now! Then I became a recruiter in different capacities for The University of Alabama (including EMBA!) for five years, while I was enrolled in the Tuscaloosa EMBA cohort. I am now a Workday software consultant with Collaborative Solutions, and I absolutely love it.

You worked in higher education and have recently transitioned to an IT company. What was that transition like?

Although the recruiter’s life was fast-paced, being a lead on a software implementation project is entirely different. I had to pass a couple of Workday certifications which were definitely difficult before I could get started on a project. With the quantitative and methodical thinking that I had developed while in the program and a lot of hard work, I aced the exams. I create branded presentations, configure the Workday software, lead workstream meetings, and present a lot. Coming from an extremely unique background (an imaginative and engaging software consultant) I see things in a different light than most, but I have found that that’s what makes me offer distinctive solutions to problems.

UA EMBA graduates
TEMBA 2017 graduates Katie Askew and Hayley Hallmark

With an undergraduate degree not in business, what challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?

Oh man – it was tough! I had never taken accounting or finance, and the one statistics class that I took in college was one of those where I never wanted to see or discuss standard deviations again. It was also difficult to have a full-time job where I traveled often and be a full-time student every other weekend. Something I really appreciated was that my team members (Shout out to the Five Forces!) and really any of my classmates would take time to work with me when I was struggling. When a professor would be explaining something and I just could not get what they were saying, I remember Doug from our class would say to me, “Hayley, think of it like this…” and he would present it in an alternate way. All of our minds work differently and sometimes all it takes is to look at it from a different perspective. As a class, we all pitched in where we could with our strengths. Presenting is my jam – so I helped others with their presentation style.

My team had a weekly meeting where we would discuss who was doing what for our team projects. We also would talk about what was due for the upcoming week and what we needed to start working on now for the future. After class on Friday, several of us would get together to go over material for the next class. Teamwork makes the dream work!

How has the EMBA program at UA helped you in your job roles thus far?

EMBA has “rewired” my brain to think in an entirely different way. With Statistics and our OM (Excel) class, I’m able to use data to support my decision-making process. When I was an EMBA student, I was able to convince my boss to allow me to overhaul our grant-awarding system of $430,000 in order to fund 20 more students.  Now when I write emails or briefs, I think of Dr. Dulek’s strategic communications class. How should I deliver this news? It also made me more aware of the way that I connect with others – and that at times I need to change my delivery. Dr. King’s Leadership & Ethics class broke my perception of what motivates others and our discussions on identifying and analyzing our audiences have aided me so much when it comes to software consulting.

Do you have any tips or advice for prospective students looking at EMBA programs?

There is never going to be the perfect or ideal time to do an EMBA program. Work, family, health, and life, in general, can all be worthy excuses to not enroll, but those 17 or 21 months are going to blaze by. My family, friends, and coworkers were hesitant about me doing the program – especially because I had to have ACL surgery in the first semester. But if you ever wanted to advance to that next level, or change industries, or just go on a completely different path than the one you’re on, I’d recommend an EMBA. It didn’t apply to me at the time I was a student, but it has assisted me in finding a flexible job as a military spouse. You get out of it what you put into it – but for me, it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.

Any other thoughts or comments?

UA EMBA International Trip
EMBA Assistant Director Cheryl Altemara and Hayley on EMBA Trip to South Africa

I’m so thankful for all of the fascinating people that I have met through the EMBA program- while I was a student, a recruiter, and now as an alumna. From racing down the streets on the back of motorbikes in Vietnam as a student on our international trip, or doing a safari as an EMBA alumna in South Africa, to cheering at Alabama football games, to celebrating my friends reaching the goals that they told me about when they joined the program, the EMBA has added so much color to my life. I miss everyone so much, but I know that they are only one phone call or alumni event away. You should do an EMBA program for the experience and knowledge that you get out of it. However, it’s with my EMBA family that although we move often (every year with the army recently!), I feel like I always have a home.

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


UA EMBAs Begin Their International Trip in Seoul

The University of Alabama Class of 2020 EMBAs have arrived in Seoul to begin their international trip. The eight-day trip will take them from Seoul, South Korea to Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  The international experience is part of the global business course taught in the final term of the program. Students are immersed in business and cross-cultural experiences.

Considered transformative by our students, the trip includes visits, tours, presentations by senior executives of local and global companies, exposing them to how business is conducted in those countries and the region.  Also, our students will be consulting with Friends International, applying their expertise and business knowledge to work on critical issues in growing their opportunities in international markets.

Ranking 12th among the world’s largest economic powers and 4th in Asia, South Korea is famous for its spectacular rise from one of the poorest countries in the world to a developed, high-income country in just one generation. During the global financial crisis, the country maintained a stable economy and even experienced economic growth during the peak of the crisis.

Cambodia is among a few economies in the East Asia and Pacific region that continues to perform well. The economy is projected to remain robust, although the average annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth decelerated to 7.0 percent in 2019 it continues to be driven primarily by the expansion of exports, investment, and internal demand.

Following the trip, students may elect to do an optional post-trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia to visit Angkor Wat.  Students return after the trip to complete their spring term classes before graduation in May.

For more information on The University of Alabama Executive MBA international trip and how to apply for the program, visit the UAEMBA website or contact Cheryl Altemara at 205.348.4501 or

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.


Tuscaloosa EMBA 2021 Class Begins Orientation With A Little Disney Magic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rebecca Bonner, Tyndall Federal Credit Union

Suzanne Boozer, Studio by the Tracks

Suzanne Braden, Encompass Health Corporation

Sydney Burns, Lou and Company

Robert Dobson, Mossy Oak Properties

Adam Finefrock, The University of Alabama

Austin Hudgins, Otis Elevator Company

DJ Jackson, The University of Alabama

Mitchell King, Altec Industries

Pamela Laffitte, Mobile County Sheriff’s Office

Ronald Powell, City National Bank – An RBC Company

Matthew Preskitt, Morris-Shea Bridge Company

Angela Quick, Wells Fargo

Chad Smith, Stifel

Michael Spears, Deloitte Consulting/Missile Defense Agency

Micah Sutton, CCS Medical

Valerie Watts, Dal-Tile Corporation

Jesse Wheeler, Stillman College

Valencia Winston, Tuscaloosa City Schools/SkyPop Gourmet Popcorn

Bryne Zuege, CenturyLink

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

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

EMBAAN Honors Kent Darzi as Alumnus of the Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EMBA Alumna Uses Podcast To Explore Contemporary Issues

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

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

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

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

What is your most important takeaway from the podcast?

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

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

How do you balance your podcast and your current job?

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

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

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

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

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

For more information on The University of Alabama’s Executive MBA Program, contact Cheryl Altemara,, 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.