Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines

From left to right: Ann Ardizzone EMBA 2008, Shannon Alberts EMBA 2005, Brad Tilden EMBA 1997, Joe Sprague EMBA 2007, Kelley Dobbs EMBA 2005, and David Keith EMBA 2003.

In the past 10 years, Alaska Airlines has sponsored six senior managers to the Executive MBA Program, creating a leadership team that shares a unique bond as well as common business knowledge and perspectives.

Brad Tilden, Alaska Airlines’ CFO and executive vice president of finance and planning

Tilden was the company’s first Executive MBA graduate (Class of 1997). He believes there is a “huge benefit” for a company to have several generations of EMBA graduates.

“Our EMBA graduates come back and immediately apply what that they learn. The ‘R’ in the ‘ROI’ is easily recognizable. Having a critical mass of people with common education background helps us to frame issues and more quickly get to the best answer for Alaska and Horizon.”

Joe Sprague,  vice president, Alaska Air Cargo

Sprague reports that the shared Executive MBA experience often comes through during senior leadership meetings. “Our similar academic backgrounds lead to a common and very robust lens from which to consider decisions.”

David Keith, director of vendor heavy maintenance

Mr. Keith says having EMBA graduates in different areas of Alaska Airlines helps everyone intimately understand what each department is accomplishing. “The individuals who complete the program develop a set of skills that allows them to make more informed and accurate decisions to align with the company goals.”

Kelly Dobbs, vice president of human resources, strategy and culture & inclusion

Describing fellow EMBA alumni as sharing a “life-altering experience,” Ms Dobbs believes investing in the right people is important because “the success or failure of a business depends on the people who lead it.”

“We are able to draw upon our collective experiences in the EMBA Program and translate those experiences into the decision-making process which, in the end, drives a better decision.”

Anne Ardizzone, vice president, inflight services

For Ms. Ardizzone, the Executive MBA is especially valuable because it gives executives the knowledge and skills from a range of business disciplines. “The EMBA Program encourages comprehensive problem solving, and we have a greater appreciation for considering relevant perspectives.”

Shannon Alberts, managing director of investor relations

When asked if there is a special connection between Alaska Airlines executives who share the Executive MBA experience, Sharon Alberts replied: “Are you kidding? It’s like having served in the same army. We experience the same terror, sleepless nights, favorite professors, relief that certain classes are over, and exhilaration over finally graduating.”