2021 Best & Brightest EMBAs: Amanda Brewer, UC Irvine (Merage)

Amanda Brewer

The Paul Merage School of Business, University of California, Irvine

Age: 43

“Wife, Listener, Optimist, Eternal Student.”

Hometown: Dayton, Ohio

Family Members: Husband – Joshua Brewer Dog- Mykonos

Fun fact about yourself: I was a competitive gymnast most of my childhood

Undergraduate School and Degree: California State University, Fullerton. Bachelors of Arts in Psychology, with honors.

Where are you currently working?

Employer: Veris Manufacturing, an Emerald EMS Company. Veris is a world class electronics manufacturer of printed circuit board assemblies servicing high reliability and complex technology in the Aerospace & Defense, Medical, and Space industries.

Role: Executive Vice President

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: Golf, Gardening, Irvine Animal Care Center volunteer and  supporter, Vistage Member, Psi Chi Member (Honor Society of Psychology), Project  Management Certificate – UCI, AS9100 Auditor, Innovation Award, Top Workplace  Award 2019


Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during  business school? The achievement I am most proud of in business school is that I have redefined how to measure my success. When I came into the program, I was adamant that upon completion I would be included as a Magna Cum Laude when the program concluded. However, what I learned in this program was much better than the Magna Cum Laude designation. What I grew into, was that I don’t always have to hold myself to the highest external outcome possible. It is more about the journey my teammates and I go through together rather than the highest-grade outcome. Instead of maneuvering my standards and ideals onto the group discussions, I was able to listen more, be open to new ways of approaching situations and problems, and able to focus on the intricate group dynamic and experience. This new way of learning, coupled with allowing more self-acceptance, adjusted my  performance, and inevitably changed me, for the better. I found I learned more from the less-than-perfect outcomes than the perfect outcomes. Business school has taught me that it is more important to be proud of myself and support my teammates learning experience instead of just achieving the highest external academic grade, as that is truly immeasurable. This self-acceptance and the satisfaction of knowing that I put my teammates and our combined experience first, is now the new mark of my success and the achievement that I am most proud of during my business school tenure.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I have worked at Veris Manufacturing for almost 19 years to date. We have grown from a very small mom-and-pop shop when I started as an AP clerk to a world class manufacturer. We are now part of a worldwide footprint with the Emerald EMS merger in 2020. This steep incline has provided many proud moments and challenges over the years and has been an amazing ride. However, the achievement I am most proud of in my career thus far is achieving the Orange County Top Workplace Award in 2019. Achieving this award at Veris shows me that dedication to our employees’ health, wellness, and education creates a vibrant and appreciative workforce that produce quality products and an overall fun place to work. This honor speaks volumes

about the intentional culture we created and purposely foster at Veris Manufacturing.  For that, I am eternally proud to be a part of this milestone and accomplishment.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? My mentor and the President of Veris Manufacturing, Jay Calder, completed the UCI EMBA program 20 years ago. He has attributed his initial leadership style and business knowledge to this program. I am humbled to learn from him and honored to follow in his footsteps.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? The biggest lesson I gained during my MBA is there will always be changes, problems, and opportunities we have to face. It is then our choice how we harness and approach these situations that define us. Things can change very quickly in business and in life. As leaders, we need to be able to react and pivot at a moment’s notice to care for our teams and the prosperity of the business. Going through business school during COVID was an imperative example of how a worldwide issue demanded immediate implementation of one particular learning exercise. I used a well-timed class project to embrace the newly-learned power of inspirational speech to galvanize our leadership team and get a first-mover advantage in the beginning

stages of COVID. Due to this motivation and my team’s exquisite planning and execution, we were able to seamlessly keep our workforce safe and our business operating without a hiccup despite the global pandemic.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? I don’t think I have one specific story for this, as every day since enrolling has been a high wire act. I do know that my capacity to manage stress through living in balance has increased exponentially. The ability to plan and use every minute wisely has been a deliberate necessity.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? The biggest myth about going back to school is that you can use the same study  tactics you learned in your undergrad years. I found that this was not the case in the graduate program. The courses are intended to build on one another. It is imperative to have a conceptual understanding of each and every concept to be successful in the  next phase. This ensures a smooth transition from one quarter to the next.

What was your biggest regret in business school? My biggest regret in business school was not connecting as much as I wanted with the faculty. There is such an  amazing teaching pool at UCI. Due to COVID, the opportunities to learn and  connect with them outside of the classroom were somewhat limited.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The classmate I admire most is Mike Raths. He has a wonderful combination of intelligence, leadership, tenacity for seeking understanding, and a dedication to  learning. He was an inspirational teammate and I expect he will accomplish extraordinary success in all of his future endeavors.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? The cohort and the networking possibilities were second-to-none.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My long-term professional goal is to be a supportive and successful leader who is a role model for others. I will know I have achieved this goal when members of my team and those I have mentored start  eclipsing my career.

What made Amanda such an  invaluable addition to the class of 2021?

“My name is Christopher Schwarz. I am an Associate Professor of Finance and Faculty Director of the Center for Investment and Wealth Management (CIWM) at UC Irvine. Amanda Brewer was a student in my Spring 2020 Executive MBA Managerial Finance Course.

Amanda is such an incredible asset to the Class of 2021.She brings all of the attributes to the class that make not only herself successful, but those around her. She is intelligent, hardworking, and driven. Not only that, but she has a wealth of experience that she can share to demonstrate how the knowledge in one particular class is used practically as well as how that knowledge fits into the broader picture of the MBA program and business management. For an instructor in an applied, high level course, that is the description of your dream student.

The most remarkable part of her impact is that she did this during the COVID pandemic. Starting the quarter I taught Amanda, UC Irvine moved to a fully remote teaching setup like most schools. Generally, these settings make it much more challenging to have a significant impact in a program, but yet Amanda was able to continue her leadership as the world was turned upside down.

Her resume speaks for itself. She has been at Veris for almost 20 years, working up from her starting role as a program manager to her current position as executive vice president. At each level, her accomplishments are mind blowing. She has continuously improved her skill set with new certifications, training, and so forth. Her resume reflects her drive and ability.”

Christopher Schwarz
Associate Professor, Finance

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