Recent Haslam Alumni Share Insights on Executive MBA Experience

February 15, 2024

Working professionals often return to higher education to build on their skill sets and advance their careers. The Executive MBA (EMBA) programs offered by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Haslam College of Business provide the opportunities to advance through high-quality education, hands-on training, career development coaching and networking opportunities. However, it is often more than ambition that drives professionals to further their education. Some recent graduates reflect on their reasons for pursuing their MBAs with Haslam.

Personal and Professional Motivations

Brack Henderson, an assistant director in the UT Health Science Center’s College of Medicine in Memphis, has more than 25 years’ experience in contracts and negotiation. He wanted to augment his professional portfolio with an MBA, but a personal reason also spurred his return to college.

“As a non-traditional student, one of the factors influencing my decision to undertake this effort was to demonstrate to my sons it’s never too late to pursue and achieve your academic aspirations,” Henderson said.

While setting an example for his children was one reason to pursue his MBA, Henderson found his experience in Haslam’s Executive MBA – Strategic Leadership (EMBA-SL) program rewarding in its own right.

“The curriculum is rigorous but academically fulfilling — and I learned so much!” he exclaimed. “The professors are absolute intellectuals with so much knowledge right at their fingertips, and they are tremendously supportive of the participants.”

Seeking Ways to Improve Healthcare Delivery

Nate Richards is a general surgeon and the interim medical director at Intermountain Medical Center in Utah. He also participates in humanitarian healthcare work abroad, and he sought an MBA to help him better facilitate these efforts. He found that and more in Haslam’s Physician Executive MBA (PEMBA) program.

“The learning, relevance of the material, support staff and curriculum exceeded my expectations,” Richards said. “The faculty are fantastic, dedicated and truly seem to enjoy teaching us. I applied what I was learning in real time with my health system, and I have continued to leverage that knowledge and experience since graduating.”

Richards also was impressed by his fellow cohort members and considers the program the perfect mix of serious work and flexibility.

“Bottom line, I would recommend PEMBA to anybody,” he said. “I would do it again, 100 percent.”

Revving Up for Workforce Reentry

With his two young children nearing daycare age, U.S. Air Force veteran and stay-at-home dad John James “JJ” Lieber was preparing to explore a professional career in the private sector. To jumpstart that pursuit, he sought an EMBA program that would equip him with the most current business knowledge and applications, as well as provide him perspective on his work. Haslam’s EMBA-SL delivered for him.

“The EMBA – Strategic Leadership had the right balance of academic challenges, personal growth and professional relationship building that I was looking for when choosing this journey,” Lieber said. “While increasing my knowledge of all business areas to the next level, it allowed me to also reflect on the impact to society in a positive way, with a genuine focus on the human component of business.”

Lieber also praised the program’s accommodating structure and the support for veterans from UT and Haslam.

“It was a great program that allowed me to reintegrate into the civilian sector while also getting my academic cap back on,” he said. “UT’s superb support of veterans, combined with the program being one year online with four residency periods, worked out very well for my family requirements.”

“One-Size-Fits-All” Doesn’t Fit Here

According to Amy Cathey, associate dean for Graduate and Executive Education, Haslam’s EMBA programs are designed with the recognition that a “one-size-fits-all” approach won’t meet the needs of working professionals.

“Each student has unique reasons to be in one of our MBA programs, and each is coming from unique circumstances as well,” she said. “We structure our offerings to work with different schedules and job commitments while aiming to satisfy the educational aims of every student. We strive to deliver a curriculum that allows students to use the knowledge and skills gained in our MBA courses to simultaneously advance their careers and help their organizations improve their performance.”

About the Haslam College of Business Graduate and Executive Education Programs

At the master’s level, Haslam offers the following programs: the Haslam (full-time) MBA, Online MBA, Professional MBA, Executive MBA (Global Supply Chain, Healthcare Leadership, Strategic Leadership), Aerospace and Defense MBA, Physician Executive MBA, Master of Accountancy, Master of Science in Management and Human Resources, Master of Science in Marketing, Master of Science in Business Analytics, Master of Science in Business Analytics for Working Professionals, Master of Statistics, Master of Arts in Economics, Master of Science in Supply Chain Management Tri-Continent, Master of Science in Supply Chain Management Online and Master of Science in Business Cybersecurity. Doctoral program areas include accounting, business analytics and statistics, economics, finance, marketing, strategy, entrepreneurship and organizations and supply chain management.

Haslam’s graduate and executive programs address real-world challenges through an interdisciplinary approach that supports development of analytical and leadership skills. Its faculty are industry thought leaders, seasoned practitioners and accomplished researchers who ensure the learning experience applies directly to each participant’s current or future career.


Scott McNutt, business writer/publicist,