An Executive MBA was the next right thing for 1 Huntsville marketer—here’s why


woman at Big Spring Park in Huntsville, Executive MBA
Emily Nicholas at Big Spring Park. (E. Elise Photography)

Emily Nicholas has lived in Huntsville since she was born. After earning a BA in Marketing, she figured she was done with formal education. But during the pandemic, she decided it was time to go back—this time for her Executive MBA at University of North Alabama (UNA). Here’s her story. 

Meet Emily Nicholas

woman and her husband, Executive MBA
Emily Nicholas and her husband. (Emily Nicholas)

Emily Nicholas currently lives near Madison with her husband of five years, one Goldendoodle puppy and a cat. 

In 2015, she graduated from The University of Alabama in Huntsville with a BA in Marketing and a minor in extracurriculars. Just kidding—sort of. While she was there, she did intramural sports, was in a sorority and lots of different clubs. 

She’s still active in her Delta Zeta alumni chapter, which puts on a lot of community events in Huntsville.

Nicholas and her husband are avid gym-goers. In her spare time, she plays co-ed, intramural slow-pitch softball. “We’re not that great,” she said, “but we have a lot of fun.”

sotfball team, Executive MBA
Slow pitch softball. (Emily Nicholas)

For four years now, she’s been working at Hexagon, formerly Intergraph. Her role: Global Marketing Manager, where she builds out campaigns, manages programs and creates content—all focused on a select group of engineering and 3D-design-related solutions for the company’s industrial facilities.

Hville Blast: What made you decide to go into the Executive MBA Program?

woman in front of a red door in Huntsville
Emily Nicholas. (E. Elise Photography)

Nicholas: “Over the last couple of years, I’ve been promoted several times. I started thinking how I’d like to be in a marketing director or VP role where I can help build a team and lead a community of people striving for the same goal. 

My mentors and people I look up to in the company said an MBA could make that transition faster. 

I went with the Executive MBA concentration because I wanted to learn more about how to be a leader, how to be a manager, how to run a team and how to be someone who delegates.”

Hville Blast: What made you choose UNA?

Leo the lion
Leo the lion at UNA. (UNA)

Nicholas: “Since my company offers continuing education reimbursement, a couple of people on my immediate marketing team were already getting their master’s or MBA from UNA. 

My coworkers who were already at UNA in the MBA program said they really enjoyed it.” 

Here are some reasons Emily listed for why so many enjoy it: 

  • The program is virtual and requires zero face-to-face courses.
  • The professors are flexible. 
  • They felt like they could do it on their own time, while working a full-time job.

Hville Blast: How far along into the program are you?

Nicholas: “I only have four classes left: two in the summer and two in the fall. Then I should be done.”

Hville Blast: How has it actually been in the MBA program?

Nicholas: “It’s been really good. I was a little nervous when I first started because I hadn’t been in a university environment for a while. I was also balancing that with work, and the ebbs and flows of my job. 

With all that in mind, I dipped my toes in the water during my first semester. After that, I had the same opinion as my coworkers: 

  • The professors are very helpful and always open to communication—they understand that we have other priorities in our life outside of getting the degree. 
  • I really appreciate the flexibility of the program.
  • I’ve learned a lot, and the classes have been really interesting. 
  • A lot of the classes for executive management concentration paralleled a lot of the things I’m already doing, and they gave me a lot of ideas for what could come in the future.”

University of North Alabama’s Executive MBA: the nuts + bolts

fountain at UNA
Fountain at University of North Alabama. (Matthew Niblett / Bham Now)
  • Cost: $19,550—less than half the average national tuition
  • Financial aid + scholarships: both are available
  • Accreditation: AASCB—held by fewer than 5% of business schools worldwide
  • Who it’s for: rising managers and career professionals with five years of business experience
  • Format: 8-week and 16-week course formats, with five starts a year
  • Program length: graduate in as few as 12-24 months
  • Concentrations: 10 to choose from or you can create your own

Interested in pursuing an Executive MBA at UNA? Request more information today.

Sponsored by:

North Alabama - Sanders College of Business and Technology
Sharron Swain
Sharron Swain
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