"The global spin and challenging nature of the classes really helped get me ready for my first job.”
Astrid Emkes (HCB ’13) grew up all over the world. “It’s in my blood,” she says. “We always had an international perspective in my family.”
Emkes’ father was a senior executive for Bridgestone, the world’s largest manufacturer of tire and rubber products, and his job led the family to live in Mexico for Astrid’s first seven years and Brazil for the next three. At the Haslam College of Business, she found a similar focus in the Greg and Lisa Smith Global Leadership Scholars program.
“Of course, we had the experience in London which was great,” she says. “But the global spin and challenging nature of the classes really helped get me ready for my first job.”
Emkes joined ExxonMobil after graduation as a business analyst in procurement. Since then, she held two other positions within the company and recently received the college’s first Smith GLS Alumni Achievement Award.
“Astrid was an easy choice for this award; she epitomizes everything the Smith GLS program is about,” says Lane Morris, associate dean of undergraduate studies and student affairs. “She was a leader as a student and is now a leader in the work place, an exceptional ambassador for UT, and embraces the international spirit in her work and personal life.”
In her current role as a planning analyst, Emkes builds the budget and head count plans for a supply chain organization doing $70 million in operations, including more than 500 employees and contractors across a multitude of countries. She says her undergraduate experience in international business prepared her to take challenging responsibilities early on in her career.
Since graduating, Emkes has travelled to Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, the Czech Republic and Argentina for work. She advises current Smith GLS students to commit themselves to learning about other cultures and to do so as much as they can during their London experience.
“Take advantage of this time in your life when you can literally travel to another country every weekend,” she says. “At the same time, don’t be afraid to get out and explore London. You can go broad or go deep when learning about different cultures, but definitely dedicate your time to it.”
Outside her job, Emkes dedicates her time to international education by pursing a master’s degree in global management with the Thunderbird School of Management. She travelled to Peru with the program and has plans to go to Dubai. Her favorite destination for pleasure, however, is Thailand.
“I’ve done seminars there and spent time in Bangkok, Chang Mai and Hua Hin,” she says. “I love Southeast Asia, especially the traditional markets. My fiancé and I are about 90 percent sure we’ll be going there on our honeymoon.”
In his research, Haileab Hilafu aims to make it easier to extract actionable knowledge from large datasets