Category: EMBA

You’ve Heard the Lecture, Now Read the Book

Sitting with Elephants

Dr. Ron Dulek’s newest book, Sitting with Elephants: Lessons in Humility from the African Bush, has just been released.  The book shares lessons Ron and his wife, Sally, learned while spending fifteen summers living in an African bush house.  As we would expect from Ron, the story tugs at both your heart and your funny bone. The book’s content includes significant content from Ron’s opening day lecture to EMBA’s in Huntsville and Tuscaloosa.

Proceeds from the sale of Sitting with Elephants will be directed toward an educational trust fund for African students desiring to attend the University of Alabama.

Dr. Dulek is the John R. Miller Professor of Management in the Culverhouse College of Business at The University of Alabama. Dulek teaches management communications in the EMBA Program. He is a devoted teacher and has received numerous awards and honors by his students, the college, and the university.

The book is available on-line at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, and Waldorf Publishing.

To become a part of our upcoming EMBA programs, contact Samantha Vasey at or 205-348-0954 to request more information and attend a virtual information session.

UA Executive MBA Announces New Format For Tuscaloosa and Huntsville Programs

The Executive MBA Program offered by The University of Alabama’s Manderson Graduate School of Business announces new features to its format to better accommodate the schedules of busy working professionals.

Student at whiteboard“When considering adjustments to how we deliver the EMBA Program, we had a strong desire to preserve the valuable in-person classroom experience our programs offer. We recognized a need to make the required in-class session schedule more manageable for our students who have busy careers, plus active family and social commitments,” said Donna Blackburn, Director of Manderson Executive MBA programs.

What is new about the EMBA program is significant. Now professionals who choose the Tuscaloosa location will attend class sessions on Friday from 12:00 to 8:00 PM, and Saturday from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM one weekend each month during the 17-month program. EMBA students were previously required to be on campus two weekends per month.

Student at homeEach course provides online instruction and content to support monthly in-person class meetings. This blended-instruction model aims to allow students more control over their busy lives while growing their business acumen through a meaningful and academically rigorous degree experience.

The Huntsville EMBA location adopted the one weekend per month, blended-instruction format in 2015. As a result, enrollment for that program has steadily grown, and students appreciate the flexibility the blended format offers.

About the blended format EMBA format in Huntsville, Lakota Holder, current EMBA student, and Regional Service Sales Director for The Bailey Company, said, “I can’t image earning my MBA any other way.  The class sessions in Huntsville provide the face-to-face engagement with my classmates and faculty I wanted, and because it’s just one weekend each month, my performance and travel schedule for work doesn’t suffer.”

Additionally, students in the EMBA Huntsville location can now earn their MBA in four semesters rather than five.  The program previously spanned 21 months but will now cover 17 months, or four semesters, like the Tuscaloosa location. In both programs, students work through 16, three-hour courses to earn an MBA.

UA EMBA in Macchu Picchu
UA EMBAs visit Macchu Picchu.

Furthermore, the immersive international study trip is now optional to allow students to save on their EMBA experience. Previous study trips have taken EMBA students to South Africa, Peru, Ecuador, and other locations to meet with and learn from local entrepreneurs and executives and to gain an understanding of business as it applies to international settings.

UA EMBA enrolls twice each year.  Huntsville location students start the program in August and graduate in December 2021. Tuscaloosa location students begin in December and graduate in May 2022.  Application deadlines are July 6 for Huntsville and October 19 for Tuscaloosa.

Successful applicants generally have a minimum of five years of professional work experience and must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university.  We typically do not require a GMAT, GRE, or Executive Assessment entrance exam score for applicants meeting or exceeding our work experience minimum.  EMBA prefers a 3.0 undergraduate grade point average but does offer conditional admission for some candidates with a strong professional profile.

To become a part of our upcoming programs, contact Samantha Vasey at or 205-348-0954 to request more information and attend a virtual information session.

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