Jennifer Dempsey shares her personal story of juggling a career at Hibbett Sports with completing an EMBA

Jennifer Dempsey of Hibbett Sports, a graduate of The University of Alabama’s Executive MBA Program. Photo by Matthew Niblett for Bham Now


Do you dream about getting a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) but worry about your job getting in the way? Jennifer Dempsey gave us the inside scoop on how she juggled both a successful career and completed the Executive MBA program offered by Culverhouse College of Business at The University of Alabama. Find out more.

Meet Jennifer Dempsey, graduate of the Executive MBA Class of 2013

Jennifer Dempsey, Class of 2013 Executive MBA Program. Photo by Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

After several years working in sporting goods merchandising, Jennifer Dempsey, an Auburn University undergraduate, and now Buyer of Men’s Branded Apparel & Headwear at Hibbett Sports, found herself wanting to further develop her skill set to keep up with her advancing role within the organization.

“It was a degree that I really felt I needed to advance myself professionally and personally. I saw this not only as a personal goal to better myself, but something that I could also use to support and develop my current teammates and company”, Jennifer said.

Jennifer wanted to gain an MBA while continuing full-time work. In 2011, she sought out the Executive MBA program offered by Culverhouse College of Business at the University of Alabama, which would allow her to pursue both goals. She graduated in 2013.

“The Executive MBA program focuses on mid-to-senior-level managers and professionals who are looking to broaden their knowledge base. The ability to attend classes every other weekend over 17 months allowed it to fit in with work”.

Learning from classmates and working as a team is a BIG part of the Executive MBA program

A large element of Executive MBA teamwork. Photo by Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

Jennifer enjoyed the traditional structure of classroom/lecture based learning, case studies, and a boardroom format as the classes evolved, but found that learning from other students is also a big part of the Executive MBA Program.

“My classmates came from very diverse backgrounds, averaging 10-15 years of work experience. Their work areas include finance, health care, legal, technology, manufacturing, defense, sales, marketing, and engineering”, explained Jennifer.

Jennifer noted, “It’s great how the program is so well rounded and balanced, and that you can have discussions based around each others work experience”.

Jennifer Dempsey uses her EMBA skills on a daily basis. Photo by Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

Balancing home life, work, and the Executive MBA program

Jennifer Dempsey, juggled daily life work, and undertook the EMBA program. Photo by Matthew Niblett for Bham Now.

I was curious to know how it’s possible to balance day-to-day life and work, with such a huge personal challenge of undertaking an MBA. Jennifer told me her family and friends played a huge part in supporting her, “We joked that the whole family had gone back to school!”

Life was certainly busy when Jennifer enrolled in the EMBA program. She’d recently been promoted to a brand new role at Hibbett Sports and was busy planning her wedding, which took place during the middle of the program.

“When I made the decision to go back to school, everyone was positive and ready to help. It was an adjustment to give up a lot of my weekends to study, but I had a very understanding fiance’, now husband. We did decide to postpone our honeymoon though as I refused to study while on it!”

Jennifer’s top tips for balancing life, work, and the EMBA

  • Be 100% committed to completing the program.
  • Make time to enjoy the experience and things outside of the program and work.
  • Share what you’re going through with friends, family, and colleagues.
  • Get to know your professors
  • Socialize with your classmates – they understand exactly what you’re going through.

Jennifer’s rise at work following completion of the Executive MBA Program

Jennifer Dempsey, Class of 2013 Executive MBA Program. Photo by Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

Since graduating from the Executive MBA program offered by Culverhouse College of Business at The University of Alabama, Jennifer’s professional career has blossomed, advancing in roles within the buying team at Hibbett Sports.

After completing the EMBA in 2013, Jennifer was promoted to an Assistant Buyer role for Women’s Branded Apparel and further advanced during 2015 to a role as a Buyer of Women’s College and High School Apparel. This year, Jennifer’s advancement, using skill areas covered by the EMBA, lead to being promoted to Buyer of Mens Branded Apparel & Headgear.

Jennifer’s purchasing and distribution role is responsible for the financial performance of sales, margins, and inventory of the lines she plans. Negotiation with suppliers, and working collaboratively across channels within the company are day-to-day activities the EMBA program prepared her for.

“The EMBA has helped me in my career by preparing me for promotions and advancement. You can really use what you learn in class within your actual day-to-day work, such as communication, negotiation, marketing, and leadership skills .I have no doubt the program gave me the tools and skills I will need to pursue other opportunities in the years to come”.

It was great to meet Jennifer at the Hibbett Sports Headquarters in Birmingham, where I sat in on a meeting that highlighted the skills covered on the Executive MBA program.

Executive MBA Program

The University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Business offers two convenient formats for experienced managers to further their studies and juggle daily life and work.

  • The Executive MBA program meets every other weekend in a face-to-face format on the main campus in Tuscaloosa.  
  • For Huntsville area residents, a once-a-month blended in-class/online format in Huntsville, Alabama is offered.

This allows busy professionals, managers, and executives across a broad spectrum of industries and job positions, to pursue an MBA. The Executive MBA is the same degree, it’s just a different way of doing it.

The fun thing is, what you learn in class can be immediately transferred from classroom to work.

Deadlines to apply for the Executive MBA program are coming up quickly!

Huntsville EMBA

Classes are held in a blended format with online instruction and face-to-face meetings one weekend a month in Huntsville for 21 months (5 semesters).

Deadline to apply: July 5, 2019

Orientation: August 7-8, 2019

Program begins: August 9-10, 2019

Tuscaloosa EMBA

Classes are all held in-class every other weekend for 17 months in Tuscaloosa (4 semesters).

Deadline to apply: October 21, 2019

Orientation: November 13-15, 2019

Program begins: December 13-14, 2019

Get more information about the Culverhouse College of Business Executive MBA program, at The University of Alabama

Read more about the Culverhouse College of Business Executive MBA program.

Request further information about the Executive MBA here, call 205.348.4501, or email

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Jon Eastwood
Originally from Wales (UK) and a fluent Welsh speaker. Longtime sustainability and recycling champion. Former county recycling manager in the UK. Career highlights include introducing innovative recycling systems and achieving a point where households throw out trash just once a month. Competed in international coastal rowing championships and followed Wales throughout Europe in their Rugby and Soccer endeavours.
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