2019 Best EMBAs: Israel Askew, University of Texas (McCombs)

Israel Askew

University of Texas in Austin, McCombs School of Business

“Passionate, curious, people-oriented, executive who loves all things related to finance and technology.”

Age: 42

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Family Members: Wife Allison, Son Isaac (15), Daughter Eden (11)

Fun fact about yourself: Raised on ten acres in Tumalo, OR that was once a pioneer garbage dump

Undergraduate School and Degree: Portland State University, BS, Finance

Where are you currently working? CFO, EMSI

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: Teacher of 5th- and 6th-grade students at Church, Golfer

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Role as president of the class coordinating committee and winning the New Venture Creation competition with my team

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Leading a finance and accounting department that supported the doubling in size of the organization

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Dr. Burrows: He taught in a way that forced us to think deeply and incited us to make personal contact with leaders we’ve respected from a distance.

What was your favorite MBA course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? My favorite course was Financial Statement Analysis. The insight was that by reading carefully and seeing both numbers and the written management discussion one can uncover truths about a company that are not directly communicated.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? I chose this program for four reasons: the emphasis on leadership, the opportunity to learn about entrepreneurship, the culture of the program, and the enthusiasm of the alumni.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? The best part was building relationships with other bright people with whom I could dialogue about what we were learning and how we were applying it in the context of our various roles and organizations

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? The very simple lesson that strategy is about tradeoffs. A business leader must be able to make choices about what his or her company or division will be about to the exclusion of other good things. Then, he or she must align the organization with that strategy.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family, and education? At 3 p.m. on the Thursdays of each class weekend, I leave my home for the campus in Austin. For about 60 hours, I maintain 100% focus on my studies and my peer relationships. When I return home at 8 p.m. Saturday night, my books are closed, and I give 100% of my attention to my wife and kids.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? If you are ready to devote a large amount of your time and energy for two years, it is one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have in your life.

What was your biggest regret in business school? My biggest regret is that I missed a couple of hours of one of the New Venture Creation classes.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I most admire my classmate Felicia. She almost didn’t get into post-secondary education institution at all, but she overcame obstacles, moved on her own to Austin, Texas, and got an MBA.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I knew I wanted to go to business school and get a graduate degree the same summer I earned my bachelor’s degree from Portland State University. 19 years later, I’ve accomplished that goal.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My goal is to be the CFO of a technology company that goes public.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you?

I’d like to be remembered as an authentic, passionate person who’s a good listener and slow to speak.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Play Augusta National and die at a ripe old age has been the husband of one woman.

What made Israel such an invaluable addition to the class of 2019?

“Israel has approached his EMBA experience with a heightened level of accountability and commitment that has immediately identified him as a leader among his peers. He displayed an admirable level of executive presence that has served as an example for his class, and which he has utilized to further enhance classroom discussion and make a positive impact in career and other co-curricular events. Israel was both a valued and active member of the McCombs Ambassador Committee, serving as a point of contact for potential students in Houston and Austin. He volunteered his time to speak on panels at information sessions and host campus visitors on class weekends.

Israel brought with him to the program an extensive amount of leadership experience, yet he understood that there is still much to be gained from listening and learning from his classmates, a rare show of humility and self-awareness that I immediately admired in him. Israel actively participated in all the opportunities for professional enhancement that McCombs has to offer, always ready to ask insightful questions or offer a perspective based on his own experiences. Israel showed a strong commitment to polishing his professional presence and understanding how to weave authenticity into his business communication. I believe that the depth of this self-awareness will pave the road for Israel’s many future successes. I am excited to watch Israel apply all he has learned in the program in his future career steps, and I am honored to have been a part of his EMBA experience at McCombs.”

Alma Moore

Career and Talent Development Consultant

Executive MBA Program

McCombs School of Business

Sharon Barrett

Director of MBA Recruiting and Admissions for Working Professional and Executive Programs

McCombs School of Business


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