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Jamie Adams has been named the 2019 Alabama CIO of the Year® ORBIE® Enterprise Award winner. A graduate of The University of Alabama Executive MBA Class of 2013, Jamie is the CIO of Mspark in Helena, Alabama.
The Alabama CIO Leadership Association (Alabama CIO) is the preeminent professional association for Alabama chief information officers, and the ORBIE award honors chief information officers who have demonstrated excellence in technology leadership. Finalists and winners are selected by an independent peer review process, led by prior ORBIE recipients. This selection process is based upon leadership and management effectiveness, business value created by technology innovation, size and scope of responsibilities, and engagement in the industry and community endeavors.
According to Steve Mitzel, Chief Executive Officer at Mspark, “In less than three years at Mspark, Jamie has transformed our IT team, implemented value creation projects, and brought great leadership to Mspark.”
Mspark is a leading national media distribution company delivering advertising solutions to a portfolio of more than 3,000 clients across the United States. For additional information, visit mspark.com.
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.
Graduation is a special achievement to share with family. On Saturday, May 4, The University of Alabama Executive MBA Class of 2019, celebrated the completion of their graduate program with over 200 family members, faculty, staff, and the UA Mascot Big Al.
Beginning with the tour of Denny Chimes Stadium, the day-long event included a Brunch, EMBA Graduation Ceremony, and finally the University Commencement.
“The graduation ceremony at the stadium was wonderful. Getting my MBA was a great experience and I am so grateful I had the opportunity. The staff support of the program and our class is outstanding. The program was even better than I expected,” said graduate Ray Kolis, Senior Manager, Nissan North America.
In addition to recognizing the graduates and class leaders, awards were given to class MVPs Mia Simpson, Scott Staples, and Denise Vickers. The James F. Cashman Faculty award for counsel, positive influence on students, and high standard of integrity was presented to Dr. Ron Dulek for both the TEMBA and HEMBA classes.
Drs. Ron Dulek and Brian Gray were awarded the Faculty Excellence Awards from the HEMBA and TEMBA respectively, for exeptional instruction and significant impact on student understanding.
Ryan McDaniel, Vice President of the EMBA Alumni Network, welcomed the graduates into the Network of now 965 members.
Congratulations EMBA Class of 2019
- Ryan Baldwin, Consultant
- Tony Berenotto, Delta Air Lines
- Yolanda Coleman, St. Vincent’s Health System
- Alix Connor, The Sanders Trust
- Doug Cornelius, U.S. Air Force
- Lance Ezelle, Alabama Farmers Cooperative
- Rodrigo Gallegos, Electrolux Major Appliances, North America
- Diana Goss, Dekalb County Economic Development Authority
- Gifford Haynes, E.A. Renfroe & Company
- Rob Henry, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama
- Stephen Hutchings, Torch Technologies
- Jordan Jaggers, The Distribution Point
- Jason Kennedy, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman
- Ray Kolis, Nissan North America
- Josh Lawley, BAFR Properties
- Jonathan Lewis, Kord Technologies
- Stirling Macfarlane, PPG Industries
- John Malloch, Motion Industries
- Taylor Nelson, Yates Construction
- Nichole Parker, PPG Industries
- Shane Peek, Heil Environmental Company
- Custis Proctor, Synovus Corporate Banking
- Mia Simpson, DS Smith
- Cory Skipper, Mercedes-Benz US
- Tamara Smoot, Stryker Sustainability Solutions
- Ray Snead, Snead Group LLC
- Scott Staples, Fidelity Investments
- Ric Sweatt, Comcast Cable
- Rob Terry, Cosmetics Essence Innovations
- Joe Thomas, Orascoptic
- Josh Thompson, Cascades Sonoco
- Denise Vickers, WFXG Fox 54
- Cyndi Vigil, Army Material Command/US Army Reserves
- Johnathan Waltz, Ecolab
- Tamara Washington
- Shaun Williams, Tuskegee University TUCEP-Co
- Colby Wilson, Mercedes-Benz US
- Freddy Windham, Bayer Healthcare
By Denise Vickers
There are few places in the world where on one day you can be holding a rough diamond worth $11 Million, and the next be canvassing the streets of a township where a family of five subsists on less than $11 a day.
One minute you can be strolling the halls of a high-tech innovation hub where an entrepreneur seeks success by developing an animated safari video game and the next be navigating the bumpy roads of the bush stalking real-life wild game.
Simply put. Southern Africa is a land of extremes.
- Wealth and poverty.
- Modern and primitive.
- Stunning and deplorable.
During its final semester, the 2019 University of Alabama Executive MBA class traveled to South Africa and Botswana as part of their International Business course. “The goal of the trip is to experience other cultures and to get [the students] a little bit out of their comfort zone,” said Dr. Sharif Melouk, Associate Dean of the Manderson Graduate School of Business. “Coming to areas of emerging markets and economies is a good learning experience. The students see other people, alternate perspectives, and how they live. It is quite valuable and gives everyone fresh perspective when they go home,” Melouk added.
The Tuscaloosa and Huntsville EMBA cohorts began the first leg of their trip in Cape Town on February 23 with a high-altitude excursion to Table Mountain, reaching the summit via a revolving cable car. The next day they toured the spectacular scenery of the Cape Peninsula with its gem-like blue water and impressive views from the lighthouse at the Cape of Good Hope. From there, the students delighted in observing the playful personalities of the endangered African Penguins that have colonized on the beach in Simon’s Town.
The students applied their newly-acquired business skills-strategy, marketing, economics and global business-by delivering a consulting project to Adri Williams, owner of Khayelitsha Cookies. Williams wants to export her all-natural, handmade cookies to the United States, and the student presentations focused primarily on marketing channels to successfully do that. “I’m standing here and I can tell you, I feel with every single fiber in my being that today was the day that we got a breakthrough into the American market. And, I know with the help of this group of students we are going to start supplying America very soon,” Williams proclaimed.
Apart from the cookie business, Adri inspired the students with her passion for helping unskilled, uneducated and previously unemployed women of the Khayelitsha township. They had the opportunity to work alongside the women in the cookie factory rolling cookie dough and performing various production tasks. Others helped plant vegetables in the staff garden and paint a mural in the breakroom. HEMBA 10 student Jonathan Lewis described it as sobering, “To see some of those women in situations that they wouldn’t be able to make the wages or have the jobs, if not for Khayelitsha cookies, that was something that welled my spirit. I’d like to hope that there would be more organizations that would put it all on the line like she (Adri) did. Sell everything. Buy it. Take on all the risk in order to turn an organization like that into something that really impacts the community. It was definitely an inspiration and one I won’t soon forget.”
That evening, the group walked the unpaved, litter-lined streets of the Khayelitsha township where they learned about the realities of living in makeshift homes. Families welcomed the students into the small structures constructed of sheet metal where in most cases a single pipe provided cold water but no other indoor plumbing for basic needs like bathing and bodily functions exists. A row of community portable toilets services dozens of families.
For the second leg of the journey, the students flew north to Gaborone, the capital of Botswana. There they met with entrepreneurs at the Botswana Innovation Hub and also learned about the diamond supply chain and valuation process at De Beers Group Sightholder Sales; as well as how the partnership between the government of Botswana and De Beers has transformed Botswana from one of the poorest nations in the world to one filled with economic vitality.
Perhaps the most memorable part of the trip was the evening spent at the Mokolodi Nature Reserve. The group boarded open-air vehicles and guides trekked them across the African bush spotting a variety of indigenous game animals like impalas, kudu, zebras, giraffes, rhinos, and warthogs.
They capped the evening off with an unforgettable bush braai (barbecue) that featured a feast of grilled meats, chakalaka (a spicy dish of onions, tomatoes, and beans) and roasted butternut squash. The percussive beat of traditional African song and dance arrested everyone’s attention and united everyone in a celebratory spirit. At that moment, there’s no doubt many of the students realized the richness of the African experience, the value of their UA EMBA education and the pricelessness of the relationships they made along the way.
Denise Vickers is General Manager at WFXG Fox 54 in Augusta, Georgia. She is also a student in The University of Alabama’s Executive MBA Program. She will graduate in May 2019. Before joining WFXG, she was Vice President of News for WHNT News 19 in Huntsville.
By Laci Williams
Students who have earned their MBA degrees from The University of Alabama’s Executive MBA program have a history of establishing themselves as industry leaders in the corporations and businesses they serve. Tommy Walker, Tuscaloosa EMBA (TEMBA) 2016 graduate, is a prime example of putting his MBA to immediate use and exploring one’s place in the entrepreneurship realm.
In a very short conversation with Walker I was able to see his vision. I learned a lot about his experience in the EMBA program and how it shaped the creation of S(w)ervice, an on-demand automotive maintenance service for automotive repair shops. As an entrepreneur, businessman, and a two-time graduate of The University of Alabama, he has put his own, unique spin on the automotive maintenance industry and continues to add to the list of all of the amazing things UA EMBA alumni are involved in, professionally and personally.
S(w)ervice is a one-stop system designed with auto maintenance in mind. With scheduling, a convenient mobile app, and valet vehicle services, S(w)ervice aims to increase the overall productivity and efficiency of auto shops, while also directly making the experience for the consumer better. Ultimately, this app is not only beneficial for the automotive maintenance shops, but also for the customers who frequent those shops for all of their auto care needs. A goal for S(w)ervice is to help traditional auto shops move away from traditional marketing and provide customers with a digital, technological solution to their problems. According to Walker, S(w)ervice provides consumers with, “accessibility right at your fingertips.” Walker and his partner plan to expand their service and scale of the application so that it can be used by larger dealerships and national enterprise retailers.
You might be wondering where the idea for S(w)ervice came from; it turns out auto maintenance is in Walker’s blood. Walker and his family have three independent auto service locations. Walker has both mechanical and managerial experience within his family’s shops, so if anyone knows the ins and outs of the automotive maintenance industry, it’s him! Walker also has some post-undergraduate experience working with Goodyear in their headquarters.
Tommy is an extremely active member of the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) and is a member of the Charlotte, NC chapter of NBMBAA. His involvement in this organization has been very valuable to not only Walker’s development as a professional, but also as his company begins the process of establishing S(w)ervice. Tommy and his partner have also participated in the NBMBAA Scale-up Pitch competition, encouraging members of National Black chapters across the nation to create startups that are scalable. Tommy and his partner have had tremendous success with participating in and gaining investments and advice from professionals around the nation. The very first competition that Walker participated in was the Rise of the Rest National Competition in Birmingham, AL in May 2018, where S(w)ervice competed as a finalist. Most recently, S(w)ervice was accepted into the Velocity Accelerator cohort for 2019 and was able to secure at $50,000 investment!
Overall, the EMBA program was very influential to Walker and his experience as an entrepreneur. Having classes in the program that taught practical skills, Walker was able to transform the knowledge he gained in the classroom into immediate action with his own business. In addition to courses, an international trip, outside speakers, and diverse, high-achieving classmates, Walker was able to have many different experiences and learning opportunities. Congratulations Tommy and we look forward to seeing where S(w)ervice takes you!
By Laci Williams, January 18, 2019
Now that the holidays are over and we’re back in full swing to finish out the Spring 2019 semester, Manderson Graduate School of Business and the Executive MBA Program would like to share some exciting news! Please welcome Dr. Sharif Melouk as the new Associate Dean of the Manderson Graduate School of Business.
Dr. Melouk has been with Culverhouse College of Business since 2007 as a faculty member in the Operations Management program. He has taught the Business Spreadsheet Analytics course in the EMBA program since Spring 2013. Dr. Melouk also served as the doctoral program coordinator for the Operations Management program.
Melouk earned his M.B.A. and B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Oklahoma State University and his Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from Texas A&M University, but his path had some interesting bumps and turns. Dr. Melouk considered medical school but ultimately decided that academia was where he wanted to be. His research primarily employs simulation, modeling with applications in healthcare, transportation, emergency response, and production operations. Dr. Melouk is driven, passionate, and excited to continue the legacy of Manderson and all of its successes.
He is married to Dr. Burcu Keskin, a professor in the Operations Management program and who is also an alum of Texas A&M University. Dr. Keskin also teaches in the HEMBA and TEMBA programs at UA. They have two children, and Dr. Melouk is not only an Associate Dean and father but also coaches his children’s sports teams.
Dr. Brian Gray stepped down as Associate Dean on January 2nd of this year and returned to teaching. He is loving being back in the classroom and engaging more with students and faculty! He is actively working on his research and is enjoying having the extra time with his family and grandchildren.
Benjamin Paulk (TEMBA 2012) received the first EMBA Alumnus of the Year award from The University of Alabama Executive MBA Alumni Network at the annual conference on October 5. He is a Senior Product Manager at BBVA Compass Bank. He is responsible for supporting strategic direction and execution of business plans focused on the evolution and delivery of Commercial Card products.
Ben served in several positions on the EMBA Alumni Network Board from 2013-2016. During his tenure as President of the board (2015-2016), he championed the family day event at Regions Field in Birmingham, pushed for more alumni events, and promoted the EMBA Alumni on-line store, where alumni can purchase branded apparel while supporting the program.
The award recognizes graduates of the UA EMBA Program who have had, or continue to have, a significant impact on the program. In selecting the recipient, the EMBA Alumni Network Board consider overall contribution and promotion of the EMBA Program, efforts to help other EMBA alumni, the longevity of engagement and involvement in enhancing the program experience for students and faculty.
We were fortunate to have an interview with Mr. Paulk and chat with him about his experiences in the EMBA Alumni Network and his new award.
Some people get overwhelmed with performing the duties of their jobs and having families. What piece of advice would you give someone who is wanting to get more involved with the EMBA Alumni Network but doesn’t think they have the time?
I understand the constant demands that we all have on our time. And I know that everyone who has been through the program is capable of managing competing and worthwhile priorities. For me personally, I like to think of where I can have the most significant impact with my time, and I cannot think of a more worthwhile endeavor than promoting this program. The EMBA Program literally changes people’s lives. It’s not only transformative regarding people’s careers, but I have talked to many alumni who share my sentiment, that it has changed the way they view the world.
Another thing to note is that there are multiple ways to be involved. If you cannot serve on the board, you can share ideas with the board. They are always looking for ways to strengthen the network. You could mentor a current student to help them through the transition process, helping them to remain in the program. You could also give to the Brian Rankin scholarship fund, which will help a student struggling with the financial decision to enroll. In place of those options, simply attending an event during the year helps us to generate excitement and promote the program, while networking with classmates and other alumni. If nothing else, place some promotional material on your desk. I have had countless conversations about the program because I keep a copy of the latest view book on my desk.
What are some hopes that you have for the future of the EMBA program?
I envision the EMBA Program growing over the coming years with the highest caliber students. I believe the faculty and staff have created a world-class program that creates meaningful value for students. I think we also have a unique opportunity in the future to leverage the substantial growth of the University and the Culverhouse College of Business. All of this should create a robust and active alumni network, where we add value to the program by creating networking opportunities, recruiting the best students, and providing career enhancement opportunities. All of this generates a virtuous cycle where the alumni network enhances the program, and the program builds up the alumni network.
Were you surprised about receiving the award?
This was a humbling experience. Beyond being the first recipient and not knowing about the award, when I think of all of the accomplished alumni that I have met and heard of, I count myself lucky just to have been part of the program and this group. It was a complete shock.
What motivates you to be so active in the program?
I believe in the power of education to change lives. When I think about the arc of my life, which really begins with my parents and now extends to my children, I clearly see the impact of education. This program has helped me in my career, and the effects on my livelihood cannot be overstated. However, it has helped me think about the way I see the world in a whole new light. I had experiences that changed me in a profound way. I have met so many wonderful people through the program that have helped me develop, professionally and personally. When you experience something like that, how could you not want to share it? What motivates me, is that I know other lives are waiting to be changed.
What brought you to the program?
Initially, it was a degree that I felt I needed to advance in my career. As I looked at job postings, I saw MBA preferred listed on most of the positions I was interested in. I have talked to others who enter the program for the credential, while others really need to fill a gap in their formal education. When I began the program, I was surprised to see people with medical or law backgrounds, and entrepreneurs that need particular skill sets to run their business. But I have found that no matter why someone enters the program, invariable they feel it was worth it in the end. In fact, I have never met anyone who has completed the program that regrets it.
What does this award mean to you?
When I received the award, I thought about all of the wonderful people I have met and worked with since graduating. I cannot say enough about all of the hard work that Dr. Gray, Donna, Cheryl, Hayley, and Linda have put into making this program what it is. I have also worked with great professionals on the Alumni Network Board who have created something meaningful out of ideas. I have also had the opportunity to see recruits enter the program, graduate, and become involved in the alumni network. I just feel grateful to be a small part in all of this.
What is one of your greatest highlights while in the program and participating in the Alumni Network?
While I had many great and unforgettable experiences in the classroom and on the international trip, the thing that sticks out most in my mind are the indelible relationships that I have formed. One of my classmates is a very close friend. I have gotten to know so many people, and we are watching each other’s lives unfold, and children grow up. We see each other’s careers advance and celebrate each other’s successes. That’s not something I had set out to do in the program but is a natural consequence of being involved.
Where do you see yourself in the future and how will you utilize your MBA to get there?
The MBA has helped me in my career in a myriad of ways, but the most visible are the advancements, promotions, and opportunities it has opened up for me. I don’t know precisely what I will be doing 5-10 years from now. But I recall on the day of orientation, we were asked to write down professional and personal goals. I have achieved most of them, but I am not finished yet. This program has given me the tools and skills needed to attempt and pursue greater ones.