Category: UA EMBA Latest News/Events

EMBA Alumni Network Hosts Conference

Ahmad Ijaz, Associate Director of the Center for Business and Economic Research & Director of Economic Forecasting, prepares for his presentation.

On Saturday, November 1, the Culverhouse College of Commerce Executive MBA Alumni Network hosted the second annual EMBA Alumni Network Conference in Mary Hewell Alston Hall at The University of Alabama. The conference featured various informational sessions and updates on the EMBA program as well as the announcement of the newly-elected Alumni Network Board.

One benefit of becoming a Culverhouse EMBA alum is the option to accompany students, faculty, and staff during their annual international trip. Conference attendees learned the spring 2015 destinations: Panama City, Panama, and Bogotá, Colombia.

Session topics included Preparing to Face the Media, Alabama Economic Outlook, Promoting Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn, and Dealing with Difficult People. Kent Darzi, 2013-2014 Alumni Network President, shared updates and accomplishments with attendees, such as the network lunches in Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Mobile, and Boston; their first annual tailgate reunion; and the creation of the website.

2014-2015 EMBA Alumni Network Board (L-R): Vice President Jennifer Thomas, President Michael Ross, Secretary-Treasurer Beckie Crawford, Communications Chair Ben Paulk, and Past President Kent Darzi

Please join us in congratulating the members of the 2014-2015 Alumni Network Board: President Michael Ross, EMBA 1989, Vice President Jennifer Thomas, TEMBA 2014, Secretary-Treasurer Beckie Crawford, TEMBA 2013, Communications Chair Ben Paulk, TEMBA 2012, and Past President Kent Darzi, HEMBA 2010.

The new Board has several fresh faces, but Ben Paulk and Kent Darzi are returning from the Network’s inaugural year. With Paulk and Darzi’s experience and the completed organizational infrastructure, the new Board has plenty of underlying support to put their plans into action. We are excited to witness the growth and prosperity of the Alumni Network. Under its new leadership, President Ross announced that the Board will engage in several initiatives, including the 30th anniversary of the Culverhouse Executive MBA.

For more information about the Culverhouse College of Commerce Executive MBA Program at The University of Alabama, contact Cheryl Altemara at 205.348.4501 or request information here.

Culverhouse EMBA Welcomes Huntsville-EMBA Class of 2016


HEMBA Class of 2016
HEMBA Class of 2016

The Culverhouse College of Commerce Executive MBA Program at The University of Alabama welcomed 22 new students into the Class of 2016 at orientation in Huntsville last Thursday, August 7, 2014.

The average age of the new class is 37 with 14 years of work experience, 8 years of management experience, and 23% women. While slightly over a quarter of the students studied business for their undergraduate degrees, a whopping 55% studied science, math, or engineering.

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Kathi Dawn (TEMBA 2014) and Erika Hailes (HEMBA 2016) at ADTRAN Thursday night.

Our staff made sure to leave no question unanswered at orientation – sessions were held with information about the program, college, and university as well as tips for studying and career development.

Students met their teammates and got to know each other with fun team building exercises and a scavenger hunt. The new students were also given an opportunity to connect with alumni over dinner at ADTRAN, hosted by Executive MBA Alumni Network President Kent Darzi.

HEMBA 2016 Orientation Team Building Exercise
New students Nicholas P. Ward, Onisa Allen, and Dorthea Yarbrough at orientation Thursday.

HEMBA 2016 is the first class with the new blended format, which will meet one weekend a month for 21 months. With a combination of courses in both online and traditional settings, the new format is more flexible and accessible for citizens of Huntsville as well as commuters from nearby states and metropolitan areas. This year, we have five students joining us from Tennessee, one from Atlanta, and another from Kentucky.

Please join us in welcoming the following students:

Aaron Adams, Alabama A&M
Onisa Allen, Verizon Wireless
Rodney Bilbrew, US Army
James Boyd, US Army
Justin Brown, Modern Technology Solutions, Inc
Jeffrey Coker, Coker, Wolfe, & Associates
Erika Hailes, Qualitest
Donald Hersh, Teledyne Brown Engineering
Zeph Isom, Universal Lighting Technologies
Shannon Lewis, Princeton Baptist Medical Center
Heather Martin, Community Health Systems
John Mathison, Booz Allen Hamilton
Ryan McDaniel, Nissan of Smyrna, TN
Jamie Mckinley, UAB-Huntsville Medical Center
Jeremy Phelps, Nissan North America
Jordan Reynolds, Missile Defense Agency
Eric Satterfield, Neptune Technology Group
Richard Spears, DRS Technologies
Michael Starnes, Heidelberg USA
Edward Stringfellow, Stringfellow Technology Group
Nicholas P. Ward, Westlake Chemical, Inc.
Dorthea Yarbrough, AMRDEC

For more information about the Culverhouse College of Commerce EMBA Program, contact Cheryl Altemara at 205.348.4501 or fill out an interest form here.

Summer Travelogue

As always, the sunny season has been filled with memories, smiles, and interstate miles. Our inner wanderers led us to several destinations throughout the South on our summer recruitment tour. We put together this “travel-blog” in honor of our journey.


We launched our adventure in Rocket City with a presentation by DRS Test & Energy Management President Tim Smith, HEMBA 2000, and a tour of the DRS-TEM facility.

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Next, we met potential students and caught up with alumni at a recruitment luncheon overlooking gorgeous views of the Atlanta skyline at the City Club of Buckhead.


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We stopped at The Chattanoogan Hotel for a luncheon with alumni, potential students, and corporate partners. Before leaving, we also paused to enjoy the scenery by the Tennessee River.
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After leaving Chattanooga, we made our way to Music City where we enjoyed the company of alumni and potential students during a luncheon at Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant. This time, we had a celebrity guest – Elvis!June 16-19 photos 038



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Our last stop was the Port City for a presentation by Southern Medical Health System’s VP of Finance Beckie Crawford, TEMBA 2013, and a tour of Springhill Memorial Hospital’s da Vinci Robotic Surgical System. We also ran into Erica Kemmer, TEMBA 2012, at Pie Lab in Greensboro on the way back to Tuscaloosa. You never know where you’ll see a UA EMBA!

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If you missed our recruiting events, don’t worry – you can find out more about the Culverhouse College of Commerce Executive MBA Program by contacting Cheryl Altemara at 205.348.4501 or filling out an interest form here.

UA EMBA Hosts “An Evening at DRS Test & Energy Management”

The Culverhouse College of Commerce Executive MBA Program at The University of Alabama hosted “An Evening at DRS Test & Energy Management,” on Thursday, May 8. The event featured a presentation by the Huntsville facility’s Vice President and General Manager, Tim Smith, followed by a tour of the facility and a networking reception.

Mike Underwood, President of SCI, with Tim Smith
Mike Underwood, President of SCI, with Tim Smith

Tim Smith began his tenure with DRS Technologies Test & Energy Management in 1983. Before earning his current role, Smith served in several positions for the company. In 2000, Smith graduated from the Executive MBA Program at The University of Alabama and began working in the DRS Program Management Office. He was promoted to Director of Programs and Vice President of Programs Management before becoming Vice President of the Test & Diagnostics Line-of-Business and Site Manager 2013. Earlier this year, Smith was appointed Vice President and General Manager of DRS Test & Energy Management in Huntsville.

DRS Test & Energy Management, LLC is a DRS Technologies, Inc. company. DRS is a leading developer of defense and sustainment technology used by American and allied military and intelligence agencies. The company’s focus on research and development in multiple fields allows DRS to assist in the modernization of a variety of defense equipment, including combat and tactical vehicles. By regulating each vehicle’s diagnostic, electric, and energy management systems, DRS improves their mobility, readiness, fuel efficiency, stealth, and survivability.

Smith, who earned recognition from the US Army for his significant contribution to the initial M1A1 Abrams Tank fielding at Fort Polk, Louisiana and Camp Casey, Korea, delivered a presentation about the company’s embedded diagnostics in combat vehicles. Smith also commented on his time as a UA EMBA student and how it has impacted his career.

Connie Chambers, Director of Corporate Partnerships for Manderson Graduate School of Business, with Jon Guertin (HEMBA 2013), Director of Engineering Services for 5 Stones Research Corp., and Donna Blackburn, Director of the Manderson Executive MBA Program
Connie Chambers, Director of Corporate Partnerships for Manderson Graduate School of Business, with Jon Guertin (HEMBA 2013), Director of Engineering Services for 5 Stones Research Corp., and Donna Blackburn, Director of the Manderson Executive MBA Program

After Smith’s presentation, the DRS staff gave a tour of the Huntsville facility. The tour included demonstrations of tactical systems and a visit to the facility’s testing area. The event also featured a networking reception, which proved to be the perfect opportunity for EMBA alumni, faculty, and staff to reconnect with each other and for current and prospective students to discuss the many benefits of an Executive MBA from The University of Alabama.

For more information about the UA EMBA Program, contact Cheryl Altemara at or (205) 348-4501.

Congratulations, Class of 2014!

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Executive MBA 2014 Graduates

Thirty-eight graduates from the Culverhouse College of Commerce Tuscaloosa and Huntsville EMBA programs at The University of Alabama walked the stage on the morning of Saturday, May 3rd. Surrounded by stunning views of the Walk of Champions and the field,

Children and adults alike enjoyed cookies, stickers, and coloring sheets on the Kid’s Table.
Children and adults alike enjoyed cookies, stickers, and coloring sheets on the Kid’s Table.

EMBA staff and faculty joined the graduates and two hundred and sixty-five of their closest friends and family for a banquet in the North Zone of Bryant-Denny Stadium directly after commencement. The event was filled with pride and fond memories as families reconnected over the success of their graduates. After the luncheon and award ceremony, the graduates and their families were given a tour of the stadium including the home team’s locker room, tunnel, and skyboxes.
One of our graduates, Nag Padur, was noticeably absent. His wife was giving birth to their daughter, Eaksha.  Born on her father’s graduation day, Eaksha’s name means “sight,” and can be loosely translated as “knowledge of soul.” Congratulations to the Padur family.

Awards were given to recognize each class’s President, Vice President, and MVP, as well as each student that completed the program with a 4.0 GPA. Recongnized were HEMBA’s President Staci Woods, Vice President Dana Runager, and MVP Matthew Brent Gardner and TEMBA’s President Christopher Jones, Vice President Sonya Ogletree, and MVP Paul Mongeon. Graduates that earned a 4.0 GPA include Huntsville’s Patrick Ellinger, Matt Gardner, and Nag Padur and Tuscaloosa’s Matt Bogue, Mrinal Dhar, Jeff Leroy, and Paul Mongeon. We are extremely proud of our graduates for these outstanding achievements.

Both the Tuscaloosa and Huntsville classes delivered a Dr. James F. Cashman Faculty Award as well as an EMBA Faculty Excellence Award. The Dr. James F. Cashman Faculty Award honors the memory of the late EMBA Strategy Implementation professor who lived by high standards of integrity and served as a pristine example for his students. The award, given to a faculty member that reflects Dr. Cashman’s positive influence, was presented to Dr. David Mothersbaugh (HEMBA) and Dr. Ronald Dulek (TEMBA). The EMBA Faculty Excellence Award was presented to Dr. Ronald Dulek (HEMBA) and Dr. Brian Gray (TEMBA).


A tour of the locker room and the tunnel followed the award ceremony.
A tour of the stadium followed the award ceremony.

Once again, congratulations to the Executive MBA Class of 2014:

Sam Barall, Havis, Inc.
Matt Bogue, The Dutch Group
Karen Braxton, Clear Channel Media
Tim Brown, Flexco
Myers Bruso, Farmco Builders Inc.
Ray Chowdhury, Missile Defense Agency
Jason Cochran, League of Southeastern Credit Unions
Brandon Cole, Sanmina – SCI, Technology
Will Coulter, High Rock Group International
Kathi Dawn, Genesis Healthcare LLC
Mrinal Dhar, DCH Regional Medical Center
Patrick Ellinger, Emerson Network Power
Edward Eskridge, Honda of America Manufacturing, Inc.
Corey Farris, Walter Energy
Ed Galvin, Sandvik Mining & Construction LLC
Matt Gardner, International Fire Protection
Emmett Garrett, USA Aviation Flight Test Directorate
Ted Gryska, Two Men and a Truck
Daayge Harvil, Wee Care Academy
Ashley Jackson, UAB Medicine
Christopher Jones, Southern Light
Robert Justice, Scientific Research Corporation
Scott Knighton, Blastcrete Equipment Company
Jeff Leroy, Central Garden and Pet
Marshall Liles, Nissan North America
Josh McGill, Applied Chemical Technology Inc.
Paul Mongeon, North America Coal – Red Hills Mine
Gary Morrison, Regions Financial Corporation
Janet North, Nucor Steel
Sonya Ogletree, Tempest Global Consulting, Inc.
Nag Padur, ADTRAN, Inc.
Dana Runager, River City Center
Sunil Singh, IBM
Krystal Swann, Raycom Media
Jennifer Thomas, Alabama Power
Brad Wood, US Air Force
Staci Woods, Oracle
Tamaria Yarbrough,  Alacare Home Health and Hospice

Regions CCO Barb Godin Speaks at Women’s Leadership Luncheon

Barb Godin, Chief Credit Officer for Regions Financial Corporation, addressed the Women’s Leadership Luncheon on March 19, at the Summit Club in Birmingham. Godin was recently named among the 25 Most Powerful Women to Watch in Banking and Finance by American Banker. Speaking on “Knowing Your Customer’s Customer – A Paradigm Shift,” Godin brings over 40 years of experience in the banking industry. As CCO, Godin oversees credit policy, credit administration and problem asset management.

Daayge Hendricks (TEMBA 2014), Barb Godin, Donna Blackburn and LaJuan Jones (TEMBA 2013).
Daayge Hendricks (TEMBA 2014), Barb Godin, Donna Blackburn and LaJuan Jones (TEMBA 2013).

Godin spoke about Regions focus on building relationships with their customers. She shared with the audience her guiding values: curiosity, adaptability and passion which has guided her career. “Success demands curiosity,” said Godin, “Never stop evolving and improving your processes.”

The Women’s Leadership Luncheon is an annual event established by The University of Alabama Executive MBA Program. “The WLL started in 2011, to bring professional women together to network and discuss business and leadership issues,” said Donna Blackburn, Director of EMBA Programs in the Culverhouse College of Business. “We were also fortunate to partner with the Women’s Exchange for our annual event. The WE is a great forum for businesswomen to connect, build relationships, and share information while showcasing the success and contributions of women. It was a perfect fit for what we were trying to achieve with the Women’s Leadership Luncheons,” said Blackburn.

Connie Chambers and Iesha Smith
Connie Chambers and Iesha Smith

The WLL is open to Culverhouse College of Commerce graduate students, alumni, members of the Women’s Exchange, and to any woman who would like to join our discussion of issues that support and promote women leaders in business.

CEO John Ferriola of Nucor Corporation Speaks to UA EMBA Class

On Saturday, March 15, John Ferriola, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Nucor Corporation, flew in from the company’s corporate headquarters in Charlotte to meet with the Tuscaloosa Executive MBA Class of 2014. The EMBA class has been studying Nucor both through case analyses and through examination of data presented in the IBISWorld Industry Report 33111: Iron & Steel Manufacturing in the US.  Nucor and affiliates are manufacturers of steel products, with operating facilities primarily in the U.S. and Canada. It is the most diversified steel products producer and North America’s largest recycler.

UA EMBA Class 2014“It was an honor having Mr. Ferriola answer questions and discuss the company in depth with our class,” said Christopher Jones, TEMBA Class 2014 President. “It gave us great insight into the critical decision making process, issues and strategies from the CEO point of view.”
“I was especially pleased,” added Dr. A.J. “Lonnie” Strickland, the John R. Miller Professor of Strategy, “that Mr. Ferriola went beyond the domain of talking about Nucor and its strategic initiatives. He also offered excellent career advice and shared amazing insights about how to succeed as a professional and as a person.”

Mr. Ferriola joined Nucor Corporation in 1991 as Manager of Maintenance and Engineering, progressing up the corporate ranks to become CEO and President January 1, 2013. He also currently serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Steel Manufacturers Association (SMA) and is on the Board of Directors of the American Iron & Steel Institute (AISI). He has also been active for more than 20 years in the Association for Iron and Steel Technology (AIST) and has served on its board of directors as well as on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).
UA EMBA-Dean Hardin.John Ferriola“It was a great honor to have John so willingly accept an invitation to a visit with our class,” added Janet North, a Nucor employee and member of the TEMBA Class of 2014. “Early in my career with Nucor, as an intern out of Charlotte, I recognized what a special place Nucor is. And I quickly realized what a special role John plays in maintaining that valuable culture. His passion for Nucor, the steel industry, and for each and every employee is amazing.”

Mike Hardin, Dean of the Culverhouse College of Commerce, attended John’s presentation as well. “It was a thrill to witness John’s perceptive insights regarding the role of the CEO, the importance of communication and the strategic alignment of teams,” Dean Hardin observed. “Mr. Ferriola’s words obviously reflect the beliefs that have made Nucor a prized, valuable and innovative leader in the steel industry. To have him interact with our students so personally made it a wonderful experience for everyone present.”

EMBA Class and Alumni Meet P&G CIO Filippo Passerini

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

Dean Mike Hardin, Drs. Fillippo Passerini and Brian Gray


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

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


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

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

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



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

Strategic Thinker + Technology Geek = Hottest Hiring Commodity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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