2015 Best EMBA: Kevin Smith

Kevin Smith

Kevin M. Smith

Georgia Institute of Technology, The Scheller College of Business

As a manager in Coca-Cola’s financial arm, Kevin Smith was facing a crisis all too common to seasoned professionals. His window was closing and if he didn’t head to business school soon, he would probably get left behind. Described as the “ideal EMBA student” by Brian Jennings, associate dean of the program, Smith made his mark by his “willingness to go the extra mile, put in the extra hours, and help his fellow cohort and team members to excel with him.” Those are a few reasons why his classmates nominated him to receive the school’s Executive Leadership Award (along with being a school ambassador). A CPA and a Six Sigma green belt, Smith is also a decorated member of Toastmasters International and a volunteer with the Boys & Girls Club of Atlanta.

Age: 36

Location: Atlanta, GA 

Family Members: Tracie (wife) and Brennan (son) 

Undergraduate School: Pepperdine University 

Undergraduate Degree: Accounting 

Where are you currently working? The Coca-Cola Company, Commercial Leadership Finance Manager III

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I had this epiphany: it was of a window gradually closing and I knew if I didn’t apply in the coming months that window may never open again. Luckily, I was able to catch that window before it closed – thankfully.” 

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…kicking myself, knowing that I missed a great opportunity to expand my education and leadership potential.”

What are your long-term professional goals? My goals are to continually progress in my career by taking on challenging assignments; work internationally for a few years in an emerging market; and serve as a Vice President – Finance and CFO for a multi-national company. 

Favorite Courses: Strategic Management, Marketing and Consumer Behavior,Leadership and Organizational Behavior, and Global Supply Chain & E-Commerce

Which academic or professional achievements are you most proud of?

  • Being selected for individual and team accolades in the EMBA Program
    • Team: Global Strategy Project (GSP) Award:
      • Selected 1st Place by Professors
    • Individual: Executive Leadership Award
      • Selected by graduating class for displaying executive leadership qualities in and outside of the classroom

Who would you most want to thank for your success (and why)? Without a doubt – I would like to thank my parents, Dave and Ann Marie. They have instilled in me the philosophies that there is no substitute for hard work and to treat others as they would like to be treated. Having two great models in my life, who are the most selfless people I know, has given me a pathway to make success a possibility in my personal and professional life.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? I chose Scheller College of Business at Georgia Tech for three reasons. First, working for an iconic brand and Company such as The Coca-Cola Company, I wanted to affiliate myself with a University that has a strong brand, not just regionally, nationally, but also globally. Second, I aspire to work internationally and the University offers a program that focuses on Global Business. Earning these credentials will make me even more prepared to take on this challenge when the opportunity presents itself. Lastly, the Capstone Project that was part of the Global Business program was extremely appealing for me. Having the opportunity to bring together all the learnings from the program into one project that was global focused was a great way to culminate my MBA experience.

What did you enjoy most about the executive MBA program? I enjoyed the fact that I could learn a new concept in class one week and find myself applying the concept the following week. In addition, the students that were in my class had very diverse backgrounds and in many instances could share their on the job application of a concept. This made classroom learning very active. Lastly, I enjoyed expanding my leadership capabilities. Working in teams throughout the semester offered challenges and opportunities to hone in on the leadership skills that are critical in business.

What is your most memorable moment from business school? Presenting the Capstone project to the faculty and sponsors and having this euphoric feeling afterwards that – We Did It! After two semesters and many late night meetings – we delivered a product that we could be proud of.

Second was graduation day – being on the floor and walking into the auditorium and looking up to see my family who supported me through this whole journey.

What was the most surprising thing about B-school? The most surprising thing about EMBA was how fun and enjoyable it all ended up being. After the first few weekends, there was a sense of community that developed which translated into going to class on the weekend much less arduous.

Fun fact about yourself: I have moved a lot in my life: lived in seven different cities and 5 different states. I have covered all the main parts of the Continental US, except the Northeast.

Favorite book: Good to Great, Author Jim Collins

Favorite movie: The Shawshank Redemption

Favorite musical performer: Mat Kearney

Favorite television show: Modern Family

Favorite vacation spot: Hilton Head

What are your hobbies? Running, golfing and Toastmasters (Public Speaking)

What made Kevin such an invaluable addition to the class of 2015 for your executive MBA program? 

“Kevin was an outstanding student and an excellent addition to the Georgia Tech Executive MBA program. He brought a number of strengths to the cohort and was able to successfully leverage them to the benefit of the entire learning community. Kevin possessed outstanding collaboration and teamwork skills and he was well-respected by his peers. During the program, Kevin and his team truly excelled during the Global Strategy Project capstone. Their hard work and perseverance helped drive actionable recommendations for a Fortune-class company’s “live” strategic issue, while simultaneously accelerating their own global business acumen. Kevin exemplifies the ideal EMBA student—he brought his acquired business knowledge, skills and experience to an accelerated academic program that provided him the growth opportunities to excel and acquire the additional skills and acumen necessary to achieve whatever career goal he chooses. Kevin’s willingness to go the extra mile, put in the extra hours, and help his fellow cohort and team members to excel with him speaks not only to his caliber as an EMBA student, but his caliber as a leader.”

Brian Jennings, Associate Dean of MBA Programs

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