2020 Best & Brightest EMBAs: Adam Kost, University of Texas (McCombs)

Adam Kost      

The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business

“Passionate, hardworking, humorous, kind, helpful, compassionate, adventurous, risk-taker, creative, competitive, and high integrity.

Age: 40

Hometown:  Austin, TX

Family Members: n/a

Fun fact about yourself: I have lived in eight states. 

Undergraduate School and Degree: Johnson and Wales University, BS Hospitality Management

Where are you currently working? Waterloo Sparkling Water, Vice President of Marketing

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: Surfing, skiing, cooking; Guest Lecturer: Johnson and Wales University and The University of Texas at Austin; Strategic Business Advisor to local consumer packaged goods startup companies

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? During business school, I was able to apply the knowledge I learned in real-time as I worked for my prior organization, Dulce Vida Tequila, making a direct impact on growing the brand into one of the top 20 tequila brands in the country over two years.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? While working on the brand Dos Equis, my team and I were able to build one of the most recognizable marketing campaigns of all time —the Most Interesting Man in the World. The knowledge and skills that I attained from collaborating with those involved in that success are invaluable and are among some of the key learnings that I deploy in my career today.

Who was your favorite MBA professor?  Dr. Ken Wiles. He brought his keen personal experience in the private equity sector into the classroom, creating a multifaceted academic environment. Ken had the ability to teach through storytelling and life experience versus delivering canned content. He made the course personal and amongst others were able to connect to that.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? The alumni network is unmatched at the University of Texas and our faculty are some of the foremost in the industry. McCombs is also located in Austin, TX and plays an active role in the thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? The knowledge I gained was immeasurable. However, the friends, professional relationships, and experiences that I take with me have also been instrumental to both my enjoyment and success at the University of Texas. I hope to continue learning from my peers for years to come.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA, and how did you apply it at work? The biggest lesson I learned was how valuable building teams with diverse perspectives could be. Having been in one industry for so long, you begin to apply groupthink to problems. I made it a point during my time at UT to surround myself with people with diverse backgrounds and skills. By doing this, we were able to solve problems using unique perspectives and approaches.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family, and education? Before joining the program, I underestimated the workload and assumed I could manage it all. After the program started, I realized that some of my hobbies had to be put on hold. Leading a fast-growing startup still required long hours, so I would wake up early and exercise each day, find a couple of hours each night to study, and then use my weekends to bear down and focus on schoolwork. Your personal life takes a backseat, but my friends and family were supportive and understanding.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Go in with an open mind, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. The MBA environment at UT is very free, and it is a great place to test and learn the ideas you have. Also, don’t forget the social aspects. The relationships you are going to build will bear as much fruit as the knowledge. Let your guard down, don’t be too competitive, and learn from the wealth of knowledge your peers and faculty provide.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? That getting an MBA at 40 with a stable career was unnecessary. I disagree with the previous statement because I was able to take the work experience I have had over the past 15+ years and validate the good and bad through the program. I was able to use academic content in real-time to make a positive impact on my business.

What was your biggest regret in business school? With Covid-19 taking hold of the US during the last few weeks of the program, I will regret not sharing the final moments of the program with my cohort. The faculty and staff at UT did an incredible job keeping the program at a high level as we transitioned to Zoom courses, but there was just something bittersweet about clicking “Leave Meeting” at the end of it all.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Sean McGuire. Sean is a beast. He is one of the most dedicated, hard-working, curious, positive, and collaborative people I met in the program. He took on every challenge with ownership and brought an element of fun to projects we worked on together.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I set the goal of starting my own firm in the future.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I want to join/start a Private Equity firm where I can add value to the group’s portfolio through my operating and academic experiences.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Adam did what he wanted to do, he lived up to his values, he improved the lives of others, and he is a true original.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  1. Build a successful company that leaves a positive impact on the lives of its employees, vendors, and customers.
  2. Live a life full of family, friendship, and purpose.

What made Adam such an invaluable addition to the class of 2020? 

“A passionate traveler, alpine hiker, surfer, skier, martial artist, beer brewer, and coffee roaster, in Adam’s spare time he built a successful career leading marketing campaigns and strategies for both national and global brands. As a Texas McCombs Executive MBA student, Adam was equally driven and recently accepted a role as VP of Marketing at a national beverage company.

From the start of the program, Adam displayed an exceptional capacity for self-reflection and an insatiable desire to challenge himself beyond his already extensive experience both at work and in the classroom. Unafraid to take risks, he has shown an admirable amount of flexibility and resilience in his professional growth. Adam has worked tirelessly towards exceeding set expectations, a motivation driven by the high standards he envisions for himself. Adam is a highly creative leader who brings fresh, positive energy not just to his business endeavors, but to his classroom environment as well.”

Jamie Bandy, Sr. Advisor, Executive MBA Student Affairs
Sharon Barrett, Director of Working Professional & Executive MBA Recruiting & Admissions
Alma Moore, Career and Talent Development Consultant, Executive MBA Program
Joe Stephens, Sr., Assistant Dean & Director, Working Professional & Executive MBA Programs


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