2017 Ends in Gratitude for UA EMBA

If there was ever a time when everyone in our EMBA office gets all mushy, sentimental and nostalgic — it’s right before The University of Alabama Holiday break. It also doesn’t hurt to have snow blanket the campus, even though it may last only one day in December, to signal good cheer, Christmas tidings, Roll Tide and gratitude.

I have so much to be thankful for this year, beginning with an EMBA team who are so passionate about what they do and how much they care about others. To the ladies of EMBA — you have become family and dear friends and it is an honor to work with you.

Our EMBAs traveled to Saigon, Vietnam, Singapore and Koh Samui, Thailand this year. It is always wonderful to experience a new country with our EMBAs. We rode elephants, traveled the Mekong River, visited companies, sampled exotic cuisine and braver souls (braver than I) drank snake wine. Vietnam was my 39th country to visit with EMBAs.  I am looking forward to making it 40 next year when we visit Ecuador.

We celebrated the graduation of our 2017 class and ushered in our 34th TEMBA and 10th HEMBA class. Our EMBA Alumni Network had record-setting attendance at all of their events from Family Day at Regions Field, the Roll Tide Tailgate and the EMBA Alumni Network Annual Conference. We ended the year of celebrations with a 10th Anniversary HEMBA Luncheon in Huntsville. Seeing so many alumni from all the HEMBA classes made the day incredibly special.

2017 has been amazing and we look forward to 2018 with an emphasis on giving.  The EMBA Alumni Network Board, headed by our new President Jennifer Thomas (EMBA 2014), along with Board members: John Nettles, Russ Chambliss, Russell Shamburger and Russ Elrod (or, as we like to say in our office, Russ to the third power), are focusing on giving back and paying forward. We ask our EMBAs to join with us in taking part in mentoring, building our women’s initiatives, promoting the program and giving to the The Brian A. Rankin Executive MBA Endowed Scholarship.

Thank you to all our EMBA students, alumni, staff, faculty, friends and corporate partners.  We are grateful to have you as a part of our UA EMBA family.

Happy Holidays and Roll Tide!

Donna Blackburn, Director, EMBA Program

The University of Alabama will be closed for the Holiday Break from December 21, 2017 to January 2, 2018.  For more information on the UA EMBA Program contact Cheryl Altemara at caltemara@cba.ua.edu or call 205.348.4501. To request information now, click here. 

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TEMBA Orientation and the Magic of Disney

With a bit of magic and a few chants of “Roll Tide”, The University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Commerce welcomed the 28 men and women of the 34th Tuscaloosa Executive MBA Class for orientation. During the two-day event, students were introduced to their fellow 2019 classmates, faculty and staff. Engaging in a bit of friendly competition during the EMBA Scavenger Hunt gave them the opportunity to explore campus. Students also learned about program expectations.

TEMBAs take part in Scavenger Hunt with a Disney pal (L-R) George Tutt, Ryan Baldwin & Jason Kennedy.

“One of my dreams has always been to earn my MBA from The University of Alabama, but I never had the opportunity because my job often required me to relocate,” stated Jason Kennedy. “Now I’m back in the southeast and I feel honored to be here. It’s a dream realized.”

The TEMBA Class of 2019 ‘s average age is 39. It has 15 years of work experience on average. The class 82% managers, 14% vice president (C-level or owners of companies), 4% professional, and 31% military (defense or veterans).

“Its always exciting after an intensive recruiting season to finally see the group together for the first time,” said Donna Blackburn, Director of EMBA Programs. This year’s EMBA 2019 class represents a great cross-section of industries and backgrounds, and we look forward to working with the new class.

The events of the first day eased students into their new roles as teammates and class leaders. Students also took part in a collaborative exercise generating connections, strengthening networks and building social capital. During the second day, they were treated to a Disney Institute workshop.

Magic filled the room as teams from the newest Huntsville EMBA class joined in on the fun to learn about Disney’s Approach to Employee Engagement. The two groups explored the four aspects of Disney’s culture (employee selection, training, communication, and care) that foster employee engagement.

In addition to Walt, Mickey and Minnie, the EMBA Alumni Network board members Jennifer Thomas (TEMBA 2014), Russell Shamburger (TEMBA 2004), and John Nettles (TEMBA 1993) welcomed the incoming classes.

2018 T-EMBA class members are:

  • Ryan Baldwin, HCA
  • Tony Berenotto, US Army
  • Mary Margaret Carroll, Fine Geddie & Associates
  • Darrin Chatham, Darrin Chatham, Financial Advisor
  • Yolanda Coleman, Vincent’s Health System
  • Alix Connor, The Sanders Trust
  • Doug Cornelius, US Air Force
  • Lance Ezelle, Alabama Farmers Cooperative
  • Jason Frase, Symcor/Pier Associates, LLC
  • Gifford Haynes, A. Renfroe
  • Robert Henry, Plexus Technology Group
  • Chris Howard, Valmont Coatings
  • Jordan Jaggers, The Distribution Point
  • Jason Kennedy, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
  • Pamela Laffitte, Mobile County Sheriff’s Office
  • Josh Lawley, Birmingham Alabama for Rent
  • Mia Simpson, Consultant
  • Cory Skipper, Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc.
  • Tamara Smoot, Dean Foods (formerly)
  • Ray Snead, Snead Group LLC
  • Jeff Stewart, (retired)
  • Ric Sweatt, Cox Communications
  • Rob Terry, Par Pharmaceutical
  • Josh Thompson, Cascades Sonoco
  • George Tutt, The University of Alabama
  • Shaun Williams, Tuskegee University
  • Colby Wilson, Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc.
  • Frederick Windham, Bayer Healthcare

For more information on how you can enroll and join the UA EMBA family, contact Cheryl Altemara at caltemara@cba.ua.edu or call 205.348.4501. To request information now, click here. 

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Learning to Walk

[Reprinted with permission. This LinkedIn article, published August 7, 2017, was written by Sean O’Brien, UA EMBA Class of 2017. O’Brien is Platform Strategist at UPS.]

As I watch my one-year-old daughter begin her journey toward mobility, I am mesmerized by how she, as an infant, has so many lessons to offer an adult.

In the new global e-economy, companies and professionals find themselves frazzled when trying to respond to the emergence of this new commerce. From company boardrooms to collegiate classrooms, adults are confounded as to what they should do and how they should do it. I believe my fifth (and last!) child may provide some answers:

  1. Be Inquisitive

Childhood psychologists have suggested that cognitive and motor skill development could stimulate a child’s ability to start walking. Research revealed that a child’s investigation of her environment (and the verbalization of what is understood) could catapult these first few steps (Walle, E. A., & Campos, J. J.). For any professional or company to win in the e-economy, an inquisitive core is a prerequisite. Comprehending the global environment, customer pain points, opportunities for value creation, how to speak the lingo, and how to keep score; yields the clarity needed to launch forward into the market.

  1. Be Attentive

Anyone who has seen a child learning to walk knows that face – the look of being acutely fixated on the object of his or her short journey. Children succeed in taking those first steps because their focus is unwavering. Many of us are familiar with the child who stumbles and wobbles, but succeeds while repeatedly saying “mama” and reaching out for her hand.

For many companies pursuing digital transformations and winnable strategies, less is often more. If a strategy requires 250 PowerPoint slides and lacks an end goal, companies will fall hard from stumbling and wobbling across the e-economy. Clear messaging is often overlooked as a minor and generally inconsequential piece of the organization. However without it, a company will be unclear about what success looks like and why they should keep pressing forward in the midst of disruption.

  1. Be Positive

Have you ever heard an adult scold a child for attempting those first few steps? Have you ever seen a child learning to walk pessimistically with self-criticism? Have you ever seen a parent grade a child’s walking based upon a set of older rules such as how they should be sitting? A child and the rightful bliss that surrounds them is oftentimes a motivator for their continuation in this new venture.

Too often companies attempt to apply the old rules and scoring systems toward the brand new model of the e-economy. This has always been puzzling to me given the way in which the market (institutional and retail investors) have “scored” and rewarded those playing aggressively to win. Applying old standards to the new order of commerce will always lead to skepticism – but transforming a company to view competitiveness so that it aligns with the e-economy, can lead to a realistic set of criteria and an infectious positivism that motivates the firm to create success. Companies and professionals should not be blindly positive nor positive for positive’s sake, but should offer encouragement through words, incentives, and outward persuasion. They should create an atmosphere that facilitates continual optimism toward digital victory.

  1. Be Active

The number of times a child attempts to take his or her first steps increases exponentially until “walking” is actually realized. Reaching the walking phase demands ever-increasing activity, which is followed by additional activity once one foot has been successfully placed in front of the other. We are probably all familiar with the saying: “Oh, you want that baby to walk now, but once that starts, you will never be able to contain her!”

There have been times in my career when I was asked to “slow down”. Such direction is rarely the correct move, given the fruits of the decision. When someone suggests that professionals or companies slow down, they are often saying – “I can’t contain you!” In the e-economy, companies and professionals have the responsibility and the opportunity to be continuously active – and anyone who orates otherwise should signal a red flag.

One additional point is called for within this idea of being active – there will be some who will recognize the need for activity and the perception of it. They will oftentimes be misguided and become overly active in the wrong areas. Anyone can be active just to proclaim they are active, but being active in the right things means being attentive and positive with the right things.

  1. Be Adaptive

Learning to walk is somewhat easy on a flat, non-slippery surface; however, as a child continues to grow in their mobility, new terrains and circumstances arise. Challenges such as walking on uneven surfaces, turning corners, and avoiding obstacles create the need to learn how to adjust. A child learns how to walk by being adaptive!

In my Executive MBA Program at the University of Alabama, my cohort had many opportunities to engage and participate in (both real and situational) executive committee and boardroom scenarios while being critiqued by our instructors. I will never forget the one group that presented the future outlook of a firm that was greatly challenged by the circumstances of the e-economy. After essentially stating there was nothing to be worried about regarding the company’s future given the past performance of the firm, our professors jumped into action and directly challenged this approach. We were then trained on the essentiality of “Second-Level Thinking” as provided by Howard Marks in his book The Most Important Thing Illuminated: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor:

“First-level thinking is simplistic and superficial, and just about everyone can do it (a bad sign for anything involving an attempt at superiority). All the first-level thinker needs is an opinion about the future, as in ‘The outlook for the company is favorable, meaning the stock will go up.’ Second-level thinking is deep, complex and convoluted.” (Marks)

Wife Hannah and family enjoying the UA campus before Sean’s EMBA class.

I will never forget to discount those who claim they are qualified to lead based on a history of unchallenged, non-adaptive behavior. Anyone is capable of claiming success based on an easy road of mitigating risk – but the leaders needed in the e-economy are those who are second-level thinkers with a track record of recognizing risks, studying them, planning around them, experimenting with them, and adapting to the future – I will follow those leaders into battle every time!

To learn more about the UA EMBA Program and how you can become a part of the next incoming class, contact Cheryl Altemara at caltemara@cba.ua.edu or call 205.348.4501.

To request information now, click here.

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EMBA Alumni Return to Tuscaloosa for Networking Conference

(L-R) EMBA alumni David Lyles, Ben Paulk, Allyson Cooper, Chris Hatcher and Brad Gannaway at 2017 EMBA Alumni Network Conference Kick-off Reception.

Members of The University of Alabama’s Executive MBA program returned to Tuscaloosa for the fourth annual EMBA Alumni Network Conference, October 5th – 6th. Alumni from the very first 1986 class to recent 2017 graduates were in attendance. The conference commenced at Heat Pizza Bar in downtown Tuscaloosa, AL with a networking reception. It was exciting for alumni to reconnect with classmates and professors.

The second day of the conference took place at the Bryant Conference Center where attendees reunited to discuss innovative ideas and connect on future work and passion projects. The conference opened with speaker Dr. Greg Michaelson, Director of DataRobot Labs. His illuminating presentation on data science covered the four keys to building a competitive advantage.

Matthew Lawrence, Advanced Analytics Consultant for Slalom Consulting, followed Dr. Michaelson’s presentation as he challenged attendees to explore the application of agile methodology to analytics projects.

In the afternoon, Dr. Brian Gray, Associate Dean of Manderson Graduate School, provided alumni with updates regarding the Culverhouse College of Commerce’s 2017 rankings. Forbes ranked the MBA Program 43rd overall, 21st public, and 2nd in the SEC (moving us up 6, 4, and 2 spots, respectively) as having the best return on investment for students.

Gray also reported the 1st place finish of the full-time MBA case team at the 2017 National Black MBA Association Conference Case Competition in Philadelphia, PA.

Donna Blackburn, Executive Director of the EMBA program, presented the 2017 EMBA Alumni Survey results with 26% responding to the survey. The surveyed alumni reported a 51% salary increase on average after graduating from the EMBA program. Program satisfaction rate increased to 99% this year (a 4% increase over the last survey conducted in 2015).

(L-R) Outgoing Board Member Ben Paulk and 2016-17 President Russell Shamburger.

The president of the 2016-2017 EMBA Alumni Network, Russell Shamburger (TEMBA 2004), recognized outgoing board member Ben Paulk (TEMBA 2012). An active member of the board, Paulk has served as Communications Chair and 2015-2016 President. During his acceptance speech, Paulk stated, “The EMBA Alumni Network has been incredibly valuable to me and I encourage everyone to get involved and continue to help grow the network.”

Shamburger also introduced the 2017-2018 EMBA Alumni Network Board President, Jennifer Thomas (TEMBA 2014), who shared her goals for the upcoming year, including mentorship and career development initiatives.

With a final sendoff, the conference closed with a “Roll Tide” and reminder of the November 4th Alumni Tailgate for Alabama vs. LSU.

To learn more about the UA EMBA Alumni Network and how you can become a part of the next incoming class, contact Cheryl Altemara at caltemara@cba.ua.edu or call 205.348.4501. To request information now, click here.

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Get Ready for the EMBA Alumni Network Conference

On October 5-6, The University of Alabama Executive MBA Alumni Network will host alumni, students and guests for their annual conference. The focus of the conference includes learning from great speakers and each other, networking and uniting to foster and grow the EMBA Program that brought them together.

The conference will kick-off with an opening reception on Thursday, October 5, at Heat Pizza Bar from 5:00-6:30 p.m.  The conference begins at 7:30 a.m. on Friday, October 6 at the Bryant Conference Center, 2nd floor, Lackey Room.

If you have not registered, NOW is the time to reserve your spot! Click here to register!

Great Speakers

This year we have two speakers that will inspire you with their own approaches to solutions and improving outcomes.

Update Your LinkedIn: You Can Be a Data Scientist
Greg Michaelson is Director of DataRobot Labs
Advanced tools have automated the process of building and deploying predictive models from credit scoring to customer churn to marketing response models.  Technology is forcing business people to learn and adapt to AI solutions to standard business problems.  In this talk, Greg will give a gentle introduction to some common terminology in data science, help you differentiate between hype and substance, and demonstrate the power of machine learning automation through a live demo of DataRobot.

Applying an Agile Methodology to Analytics
Matthew Lawrence is Advanced Analytics Consultant for Slalom Consulting
Many analytics projects begin with great vision and end with disappointment. Managing expectations, getting stakeholder buy-in and participation, integrating business needs with the IT departments strategy are all necessary to being successful in larger organizations. Often, these areas create hurdles to successfully developing analytics solutions that are both technically sound and useful to the business. CRISP-DM and SEMMA tend to follow a more traditional waterfall approach to analytics development. We at Slalom have developed our own approach to using agile in our analytics development that has greatly improved our outcomes.

EMBA Review & What’s Ahead
Hear from the president of the EMBA Alumni Network, associate dean of Manderson Graduate School and director of the EMBA Program as they reveal the results of the EMBA Alumni Survey and discuss future goals.

Networking, Reconnecting and Food
There’s more to the UA EMBA Alumni Network Conference than just great content—it’s also a lot of fun! Reconnecting with classmates, forging new friendships and business relationships, and enjoying local Tuscaloosa dining.  How could it not be an amazing event? It’s your University of Alabama Executive MBA. Roll Tide!

Register now. You do not want to miss the EMBA Alumni Network Conference. See you in Tuscaloosa.

For more information on the Executive MBA Conference contact Donna Blackburn at 205.348.8748.

To learn more about the UA EMBA Program and how you can apply contact Cheryl Altemara at caltemara@cba.ua.edu or call 205.348.4501. To request information now, click here.

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A Community of Champions

Andy Maguire (HEMBA 2018) flies over Bryant-Denny en route to Nashville.

Just a few days before Hurricane Irma was set to make landfall in the U.S., Executive MBA student (2018) Andrew “Andy” Maguire, sent an email that read: “There is a good chance that I will not be able to make it to class this weekend…We will be supporting disaster relief preparation and actual relief from now through the next few weeks.” Signing off with a sincere “Andy”, the Murfreesboro, Tennessee native removed the script ‘A’ embroidered crimson cap and replaced it with the regalia of the Tennessee National Guard.

For the past few weeks, Director of Operations/Aviation Commander Andy Maguire and his unit have been involved in relief efforts throughout Texas, Georgia and Florida. The unit is currently housing the aircraft from those states and presently packing planes with much needed medical supplies and food. “Right now we are breaking down our helicopters to go in C-5 and C-17 jets to support relief in the U.S. Virgin Islands, which have suffered greatly during the hurricane (Irma),” Maguire stated.

National Guard loading cargo jets with helicopters and support equipment bound for U.S. Virgin Islands.

In the EMBA Program at The University of Alabama, our definition of family reaches beyond classroom walls. It encompasses the states, cities, towns and neighborhoods that our students call home. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, we know that now, more than ever, community is important. We want our students and alumni to know that their homes and their communities are important to us.

To those impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, we want to know that you and your family are okay. Please check in with us on the UAEMBA Facebook page.

To learn more about the UA EMBA community and how you can become a part of the next incoming class, contact Cheryl Altemara at caltemara@cba.ua.edu or call 205.348.4501. To request information now, click here.

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UA EMBA To Visit Peru and Ecuador in 2018

The University of Alabama Executive MBA Class of 2018 will be visiting Cusco, Machu Picchu and Lima, Peru and Guayaquil, Ecuador Feburary 23-March 3, with an optional post trip to the Galapagos Islands March 3-6.

The UA EMBA Program has been taking students abroad since 2003. We have visited 20 countries, 35 cities and over 135 companies. The trip is a requirement of the International Business course taught in the final semester.  A benefit for our EMBA alumni is that trip is always open for them to attend.  A guest package is also made available with many students bringing a family member.

The trip is considered a highlight of the program including visits to a wide range of industries and a consulting project focusing on a social enterprise and a community project in Lima, Peru. No trip is complete without exploring the culture and sights of the cities we visit.  The upcoming trip begins with Machu Picchu, located 7,972 feet high in the Andes Mountains showcasing an impressive five-mile and 3,000 stone step man-made wonder. A tour of Cusco, the “Archaelogical Capital of the World” and an afternoon at a Hacienda in Guayaquil are included.

A special tradition for our EMBAs has been the optional “Bucket List” location.  In 2018 the post trip is to the Galapagos Islands.  This once in a lifetime location will allow students to observe the fragile ecosystem and get up close and personal with the unique animal species that populate this magnificent archipelago and surrounding waters.

More than half of all American Fair Trade Partners are in Latin America, making the choice of these countries simple. The selection of Peru and Ecuador allows us to compare and contrast between the two Latin American countries.

According to the U.S. State Department, “Peru has had two decades of pro-growth, yielding unprecedented economic expansion, low inflation, investment-grade status for the country’s debt, significant foreign investment in mining and manufacturing and a dramatic drop in poverty rates. The U.S. and Ecuador share a history of partnership and cooperation, and have mutual interests in reducing poverty, fostering Ecuador’s economic development, increasing trade and addressing environmental conservation and biodiversity.”

Our travel agency for 2018 is The Austral Group. Austral has been conducting trips for Executive MBA programs for almost a decade. Headquartered in Santiago, Chile they have an international staff of 47 organizing programs throughout the U.S. and Latin America. Austral is focused on creating an extraordinary international education experience for students. Dynamic, energetic and truly passionate about what they do.

For more information on the international trip and how you can enroll in the UA EMBA, contact Cheryl Altemara at caltemara@cba.ua.edu or call 205.348.4501. To request information now, click here.

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