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Hello! My name is Samantha Vasey, and I recently began working in the position of Manager of New Lead Development and Recruitment for the Executive MBA Program. I am originally from Phoenix, Arizona, where I earned my undergraduate degree in Business Management and subsequently, my MBA from the University of Arizona. While I miss authentic Mexican food and the beautiful desert, Alabama has been a wonderful place to call home! My husband and I decided to take a leap of faith and move to Alabama when he was offered a position with the UA Athletic Department. Since moving to Alabama, we have enjoyed getting plugged into the community, meeting new people, and exploring the South!
I am passionate about empowering others to pursue their career goals and aspirations, and I am looking forward to assisting prospective and current students through their MBA journey. The decision to pursue your MBA while working full-time is an ambitious and demanding commitment, but also an investment in your future. Yes, the studying is hard, the hours are long, and the classwork is rigorous, but the outcomes will be life-changing!
From my MBA experience, I have gained a solid network and community with my class cohort that has helped me throughout my professional career and personal life. The MBA program allowed me to form strong bonds with many of my classmates that I still maintain today. Several classmates were guests at my wedding, a classmate was a reference for my first job in Alabama, and my former accounting professor is co-teaching an online accounting class with my husband this summer.
The best advice I was given while pursuing my MBA was to learn how to become comfortable with the uncomfortable, and to take advantage of every situation. Think outside of the box, meet as many people as possible, and take time to learn and read about topics and subjects that may be foreign to you.
When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with my husband Kyle and our two rescue dogs, Zoey and Sadie! You may also find us going to a concert at Tuscaloosa Amphitheater, trying a new restaurant around town, or cheering on the Crimson Tide at Bryant Denny Stadium.
Additionally, I serve as the Director for Church and Community Relations for a local non-profit called Tuscaloosa Angels. We are one out of fifteen chapters of National Angels which is based out of Austin, Texas. The heart of our mission is to walk alongside foster children and their caretakers through intentional giving, relationship building, and mentorship. Starting a non-profit from the ground up has been an amazing journey and learning experience. It is truly an honor to serve the local community in hopes of making a difference in the lives of others.
I look forward to meeting all the wonderful students, alumni, faculty, and staff that make up the Executive MBA family, and I am eager to help build a successful future. Please feel free to contact me at email@example.com or stop by our offices and say hello! I’m also happy at any time to grab a cup of coffee with you and hear about your background, experiences, and stories! Thanks again and ROLL TIDE!
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.