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That college degree is just the start of your learning, says Bo Patel, principal at Axion US and a 1998 Harbert graduate. It’s an ongoing process in the business world. And that process won’t be “lollipops and unicorns” all the time, he says. There’ll be fear and failure along the way, but it’s important to keep that in perspective: “Fear is a great motivator. It can stop you, but it also can keep you going because you don’t want to fail.”
Meghan Michel, a real estate manager for Whataburger, says algorithms and other forms of technology are helpful, but there’s no substitute for seeing a property firsthand. In this podcast, she discusses the complex business of finding and acquiring commercial restaurant property. Michel is a 2016 graduate of Harbert’s Master of Real Estate Development program and co-chair of the MRED Alumni Council.
Kella Farris, who has a degree in finance and an MBA from Harbert,  sees the creative and the financial sides of the music business. In this podcast, she discusses how her company helps recording artists and songwriters deal with the business side of music as their streams of creativity lead to streams of income.
As chief commercial officer of Play Monster Group, Scott Flynn has serious responsibilities, but he also enjoys his title of Chief Fun Monster at the toy company. The 1985 Harbert management graduate discusses the intersection of sales and marketing and the healthy development that toys can provide for children.
Before founding the craft brewer Wild Heaven Beer, Nick Purdy was founding publisher of Paste, a music magazine nominated four times for a National Magazine Award. The 1993 Harbert marketing graduate made his move into the craft beer business and has seen the industry grow significantly, despite the competition from major national brewers. It’s a long-term business model that requires investors to be patient.
The data-driven approach Andy Garlington followed in the for-profit sector still applies in his new job as CFO of Centerstone, a not-for-profit behavioral health care system. Because “what gets measured gets done,” he said, it’s important to consider data even in a not-for-profit organization that uses its revenue to sustain and further its mission rather than to generate profits paid to individuals. Garlington holds dual bachelor’s degrees in accounting and finance from Harbert. 
An emphasis on “work, workers, workplace” helps Steelcase focus on the business office of the future, says Ron Martere, vice president and leader of the company’s North Business Group. The 1987 Harbert graduate expects a hybrid model – work in the office and at home – to become even more common as businesses transition from pandemic operations into a changed marketplace.
As vice president and chief medical officer of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare in Memphis, Dr. Latonya Washington has gone from helping “the patient in front of me” to helping improve care for hundreds of patients served by the system. Her Harbert MBA prepared her to move from the clinic to the executive level, caring for people through the business side of medicine.
People don’t live in buildings, they live in communities, says Gizman Abbas, principal at Direct Invest Development. His sustainable real estate development company works to create opportunity in communities by providing services such as job training and early childhood education along with residential space. And it does so profitably. “We do really well by our investors, but we also do good in the community,” says Abbas, an Auburn engineering graduate who expanded his business horizons by shifting careers into investment banking and development. 
Tara Wilson’s latest venture, Fierce Lab, aims to give women insight and information in a variety of business and life areas. Owned by her agency, Fierce Lab offers networking, conferences and an app.The 1997 graduate was named Harbert College’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2018. In this podcast, she outlines the thinking behind Fierce Lab and discusses how hard work and innovation have shaped her career.
For Parker Duffey, chairman and co-founder of Tailgate Guys, having “your back to the wall” isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, it can lead to creative thinking and that mindset is useful even when your business is operating successfully.Duffey also advises seeking business partners who are different from you and know how to do different things than you. Overlapping skill sets can create conflict and impede a company’s growth.
Kurt Ford says he “still looks up when an airplane flies overhead.” He follows his passion for the aviation industry as international network planning director for Delta Air Lines.When the COVID pandemic halted many of Delta’s international routes, Ford was part of a management team that sought ways to keep the airline’s employees and passengers safe while looking for opportunities to begin restoring service and opening new markets. Ford has a degree in aeronautical science and is a 2005 MBA graduate of the Harbert College of Business.
Matt Pierce describes Immediate as a “financial wellness company.” His company partners with employers to allow employees to access earned but unpaid wages ahead of the usual payday schedule, thereby avoiding high-cost short-term loan options for pressing financial needs.Pierce says thinking beyond the ordinary can be critical in moving a business forward. “In order to get deals done, in order to make things happen, sometimes you’ve got to be creative.” Before founding Immediate, Pierce worked in business development leadership roles at multiple established  companies and startups.He is a 2004 finance graduate and earned a Harbert MBA in 2005.
One of the best ways to prepare for corporate leadership early in your career is to serve on non-profit boards, advises Linda Rebrovick, president of Impact Corporate Consulting in Nashville, Tenn. The experience of working with a leadership team and achieving organizational goals is invaluable as you move into the corporate board orbit later in your career.It’s also important to remember that everyone in the company is in sales, she says. Even if they’re not calling on potential customers, they still represent the company and can affect its prospects for success.Rebrovick is a 1977 Harbert graduate in marketing.
Bringing the advantages of new technologies to traditional business models is a hallmark of Kinetic, founded by Harbert alumnus Jay Brandrup. In this podcast, he discusses the value of flexibility in business and the importance of balance in work and life.When he began his business in the mid-1990s, he said, a lot of business people thought the internet was a fad. That was a lot to overcome, but he learned that even if you’re starting out in tough times, that’s not a bad thing because it forces you to build a business model that works in tough times.Brandrup, an honors graduate in Finance, serves on the Harbert College of Business Advisory Board.
Connie Berardinelli majored in entrepreneurship at Harbert. Her minor in sustainability studies gave her an educational combination that blends well with her work at Trove. The San Francisco-based company offers retail brands such as REI and Patagonia a system for taking back and reselling items previously purchased from them, allowing them to retain customer contact with the brand while reducing the use of materials required to produce new items.As she explains, this circular shopping approach not only benefits consumers and retailers, but also has significant benefit for the environment. 
Leah Jones, a 1992 accounting graduate, is a veteran of the health care technology field. Armed with her Harbert degree, she gained increasingly higher levels of responsibility and is currently Senior Vice President and General Manager – Ambulatory at Allscripts.The phrase on her LinkedIn  profile, WE SAVE LIVES, reflects the impact of technology in the effective delivery of health care and is a daily inspiration, Jones says. In this podcast, she discusses the value of broad-based knowledge in management and the importance of internships for students preparing to enter the business world.
John H. Roth is vice president and chief compliance officer for Nassau Asset Management, a multi-strategy investment management platform managing more than $19 billion.  He holds a B.S. in finance from Harbert. While at Auburn, he was treasurer of the Student Government Association.Roth has also practiced law and served as chief compliance officer at two other capital management firms. He recently earned a doctorate in leadership and innovation from New York University.
Damon Duncan oversees the Montgomery, Ala., Housing Authority’s $400 million real estate portfolio. MHA’s core business is planning, building and administering affordable housing.Over the course of his career, Duncan has been involved in developing more than 1,250 units of housing. He holds a Master of Real Estate Development from Auburn and is current president of the MRED Alumni Council.
Kelly Baltes, former President of Maggiano’s Little Italy restaurants, discusses how to create a formula for a successful business and how brand strategy plays an important role in the process. Kelly began his restaurant career bussing tables. Since then, he has worked in almost every position within the restaurant industry, working his way to positions such as President, CEO and Chairman of the Board for a variety of restaurant groups.Kelly earned his Executive MBA from Auburn University in 2005 and was later named to the Auburn University Harbert College of Business 40 of 40, an honor recognizing the top 40 alumni to graduate in the first 40 years of the college’s formation. 
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