Category Archives: Executive MBA

EPIC Spotlight: Angela Darnell

Angela Darnell has always been in the business of helping people.

For 14 years, she was the voice who assisted people dialing 411 for directory assistance. While at her job, she led her coworkers in a food drive to help Northwest Arkansas’ homeless population. Continue reading EPIC Spotlight: Angela Darnell

Tiffany Jarrett: Executive MBA Class of 2017

The pursuit of higher education is a value Tiffany Jarrett learned from her father. She remembers watching her father work toward his master’s degree when she was a teenager. She hopes her decision to pursue a graduate degree at this point in her life, with a demanding full-time job and four young children at home, will similarly inspire her own children.

“My family is a constant reminder of why I need to succeed and do my best in this program.”

This thought keeps Tiffany motivated as she makes the drive to Fayetteville once a month for classes, and occasionally to meet with classmates for study groups. She lives in Jenks, Oklahoma, about 2 hours from Fayetteville.

tiffany_Jarrett_and_sonsBalancing a full-time job with graduate school and family responsibilities is a challenge that Tiffany meets by scheduling study time on a daily basis and being clear with herself and others about the demands of the program.

“When taking part in a program like this you have to be ok with the fact that your life will be a bit unbalanced. It is a two-year sacrifice that yields a lifetime of success. Before starting the program, my loved ones had a clear understanding of my new responsibility and they also hold me accountable for balancing my time.”

Even though Tiffany lives in Oklahoma, she has strong ties to the University of Arkansas. She completed her bachelor’s degree here in Elementary Education and was a Razorback cheerleader during her time as an undergraduate student.

After graduating, instead of going into education she went to work in business where she gained extensive sales experience. Tiffany now works as a Government Account Executive with Verizon Wireless, where she provides technological solutions for government entities.

After a combined 16 years experience in medical, pharmaceutical, and technology sales, she is ready to challenge herself and advance to the next level. She found that, without a business specific degree, her advancement opportunities were limited. She decided it was time to pursue a graduate degree in business. The Walton College was her top choice.

“I am an Alumni of the University of Arkansas. It was always my first choice. The standards set by this organization are exceptional. The reputation and the experiences that I am gaining from this program are priceless.”

The Walton Executive MBA program (EMBA) provides the perfect opportunity for Tiffany to gain the advanced knowledge she’s seeking. This part-time program is designed for working professionals and allows students to pursue higher education without giving up their full-time jobs. Classes meet in-person once a month and the remaining work is completed online.

Tiffany appreciates the approach her professors take toward teaching. Students are encouraged to come up with novel solutions that work within business and environmental constraints. She’s found that working from this perspective has given her a new level of confidence.

“The program encourages free-thinking and holds you accountable for being original and studious. It’s inspiring me to become an expert and spark change in whatever marketplace that I’m working in.”

Despite a schedule that is packed full, Tiffany finds time to enjoy cooking, lifting weights, dancing, shopping, and watching her kids play sports.

She is committed to advancing her career and eventually may apply her business knowledge to the field of education. Her dream job is to work at a university as a business school professor or university diversity director.

Stephanie Esau: EMBA Class of 2012

It was a 650-mile commute from Chicago. But once a month, Stephanie Esau hopped on a plane to the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport, then continued on to the Sam M. Walton College of Business. Once there, she attended two Saturday classes as she worked toward her master’s degree.

Then there was life in the Windy City. By day, Stephanie worked full time as a category sales planner for the Grocery Business Unit of Kraft Foods Inc. At night, and on those weekends when she didn’t commute, she skyped with her Walton College classmates and shared ideas on Internet discussion boards as they worked together on projects.

Stephanie says she had always planned to attend graduate school after earning her bachelor’s degree in economics at the University of North Carolina in 2006. Though she spent her first years working for Kraft in Charlotte, N.C., about two hours from UNC in Chapel Hill, it wasn’t until she was transferred to Kraft’s Walmart office in Rogers that she acted on her plan. A coworker there raved about a program at the Walton College where students can earn their master’s degrees in two years by attending class, usually from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., one Saturday a month. One objective of her higher education pursuit was to strengthen her finance and strategy skills.

When I found the Walton College program with one Saturday a month, and I could travel throughout the week and still do what I need to do professionally, it was perfect.

Only three months after arriving in Arkansas, she enrolled, was ready to balance her career and school. She says she also knew that in all likelihood, she would relocate to Chicago to work at Kraft’s corporate headquarters before finishing her degree. That move happened in December 2011. She works as associate director of sales planning at Kraft Foods Group in Chicago now.

She says she has been applying what she learned at Walton College in her new position.

I took a corporate finance class. It was a great class. There was a lot of really tough material, but it helped me a lot to prepare for my current position.

Stephanie’s duties at Kraft include leading and collaborating with a cross-functional team that includes her counterparts in marketing, finance and production, to drive sales and grow the company’s products such as Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and Velveeta. “It’s a really fun job with a lot of team work and collaboration,” she says.

She says her father’s profession as a salesman with Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. served as an inspiration for her to pursue business. Her family often moved every couple of years, living in various locations across the nation. After graduating from high school in Sacramento, Calif., she enrolled at the University of North Carolina, where she studied economics. When Kraft came to campus to recruit potential employees, she was hired.

Balancing a full-time job while completing her master’s degree wasn’t easy, she says. She says she couldn’t have done it without her husband, Matt. “He was very supportive, patient and understanding with my time demands,” she says. “The key part of it was having a good support system.”

There was also just plain, old-fashioned dedication, too. “It was being very diligent with my schedule and saying ‘no’ to stuff on the weekends sometimes,” she says.

It’s a great program. I’m definitely happy with the decision I made. I think it’s made me a better employee, too.

Andrew Miles: EMBA Class of 2017

Andrew Miles enjoys exploring new ideas and experiences. From wanting to pursue novel business opportunities, to joining the Army reserves, to envisioning a future that includes extensive travel, he is always up for a challenge.

When he is not working at his full-time job or doing coursework, he trains for his hobby, adventure racing. These races take place around the country in both wilderness and urban environments, and involve multiple activities, such as biking, canoeing, and running.

Originally from the Dallas area, Andrew moved to Fayetteville to pursue his undergraduate degree in Political Science. While in Fayetteville, he joined the military as an Army Reserve member and completed military training.

After completing his degree he went to work for the Green Cab Company, a local company founded four years ago. Andrew currently serves as Green Cab’s Operations Manager.

He enjoys that the company culture has maintained a start-up feel even as they’ve become more established. “I love being able to accomplish operating tasks and spend my time developing new optimization ideas for the company to evolve and continue to prosper.”

Not only does the start-up aspect of the company appeal to Andrew’s entrepreneurial side, but the eco-friendly nature of the business model is a perfect fit for Andrew’s interests as well. The organization’s business model focuses on providing clean energy transportation though the use of hybrid vehicles and sustainable business practices.

Andrew’s dream job is to continue working in a similar field or even create his own opportunities. “I want to build and run a multinational sustainable energy conglomerate.”

Enrolling in graduate school was the logical next step for Andrew. The business side of clean energy initiatives is especially appealing to him. He has always been interested in business and frequently picks up related texts on his own to explore ideas and enhance his understanding of the field.

Andrew chose the Walton Executive MBA program (EMBA) because it allowed him to further his education while continuing to work full-time.

I chose the EMBA program for the structure to compliment my work-life balance. I loved my time as a full-time undergrad more than anything, but now that I am a productive adult (with adult bills), I could never see myself dropping my employment and living off student loans again. The Walton EMBA is beautifully structured and the week-to-week online layout lets me pace the workload around my schedule.

The Walton EMBA program is a part-time program that meets in-person one Saturday a month. This face-to-face classroom setting is combined with online coursework to allow the flexibility required by students’ work responsibilities.

Andrew appreciates the opportunity to network with other students in the program. He also sees a clear link between what he’s learning in the program and the skills needed for his current job and future goals.

I am figuring out new perspectives of looking at the same circumstances that are broadening my abilities to tackle everyday business problems.