Predictive Modeling and Data Mining Trends Highlights EMBA Alumni Network Conference

This year the Executive MBA Alumni Network held its Annual Conference in conjunction with the Culverhouse College of Commerce’s Business Analytics Symposium.  EMBA alumni and students joined over 200 attendees on October 13-14 at the Bryant Conference Center at The University of Alabama. Two keynote speakers and 10 sessions at the 2016 Executive MBA conference offered insights on exploring analytics in today’s corporate world as well as emerging trends in forecasting and predictive modeling and their implications for business. Sessions also covered operations research, data mining and statistics and their usage in fields including sports, healthcare, weather and finance.


James Spann addressing attendees at UA EMBA Conference.

Peter Keating, a senior writer at ESPN kicked off the symposium sharing stories from his “Numbers” column covering statistics which rate pro teams, NCAA tournament upsets and his pioneering work on concussions exposing how the National Football League deals with brain injuries.

Martha Hoover Crombie of The Crombie Group, a leading healthcare data consultant exposed the participants to RealTime Medicare Data where you are able to virtually walk with people as they progress from the doctor’s office to the emergency room, and from the operating table to the hospital bed.

Keynote speaker James Spann transported us back to the tragic Super Tornado Outbreak of April 27 in Alabama that claimed 64 lives including six University of Alabama students. Spann’s words were powerful as he cautioned to never forget that “there are people behind the numbers.”


TEMBA 2016 graduates (L-R) Erik Spencer, Aaron Craddock and Pritha Powell.

The annual conference is an excellent way for our alumni to recommit themselves to their educational development and collegiate network. Seeing all the people, feeling the energy and learning about everyone’s success stories, as well as their challenges, can energize and motivate. According to Pritha Powell (TEMBA 2016), Vice President, Corporate Marketing Strategist at Regions Financial Corporation, “The Business Analytics Symposium was an informative event that I would highly encourage others to attend. The sessions were led by forward-thinking and inspirational leaders from a wide-variety of industries. It was also a great opportunity to reconnect with classmates and meet other EMBA alumni and current students. I look forward to attending it again next year!”


2015-2016 EMBA Alumni Network Board members Ben Paulk and Beckie Crawford.

In addition, there were tracks on data science and how to build a startup, analytics leadership, applications in banking, marketing and sales, and results from the Dow Challenge and MERCK National Student Competitions winners. The conference also featured the Executive MBA Alumni Network Dinner highlighting the “Year in Review” of alumni events held throughout 2016 by outgoing President Ben Paulk, and our 2017 Plans for the Future by incoming Board President Russell Shamburger.

The 2016 Board members were recognized as well as board members transitioning off this year: Beckie Crawford (TEMBA 2013), Vice President-Finance with Southern Medical Health Systems, who served as Secretary-Treasurer and Michael Ross (TEMBA 1989), Central Region President & Chief Commercial Officer for Renasant Corporation and Past President of EMBA Alumni Network Board.


EMBA alumni enjoyed seeing their faculty at the evening reception. (L-R) Russ Elrod, Dr. Lonnie Strickland and Jennifer Thomas.

The 2017 Board Members:

Russell Shamburger (TEMBA 2004), President

Ben Paulk (TEMBA 2012), Past President

Mike Brost (HEMBA 2015)

Russ Elrod (HEMBA 2013)

Jennifer Thomas (TEMBA 2014)

The EMBA Alumni Network’s annual conference is still a key event that our alumni find great value in attending. We continue to think strategically about the educational and networking events that we hold throughout the year. These programs are not something we take lightly because we understand it has potential implications and huge benefits for our members. So for those of you who attended this year’s conference, I hope you find a way to sustain the excitement, the vibrancy that you felt, and use it as motivation to make the 2017 conference an important event to attend and to encourage classmates to join us next year. For those of you who could not make the conference this year, we look forward to seeing you next year. Roll Tide UA EMBAs!


Roll Tide UA EMBA Alumni at the 2016 EMBA Alumni Network Annual Conference and Business Analytics Symposium.

Donna Blackburn, Director, Executive MBA Program

For more information on the UA EMBA Program and the EMBA Alumni Network, contact Cheryl Altemara at or call 205.348.4501.

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