Shardra Scott, Alabama Power’s Systems Operation Manager, on why she’s pursuing an EMBA

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Shardra Scott, Alabama Power's System Operation Manager in the Birmingham Control Center
Shardra Scott, Alabama Power’s Systems Operation Manager inside the Birmingham control center. Photo by Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

Challenging job? Check! Good income? Check!  Big responsibility? Check! But, despite a highly successful career in the energy industry, Birmingham’s Shardra Scott always knew she wanted to earn an advanced degree. Taking the step to enroll in the Executive MBA program offered by Culverhouse College of Business at The University of Alabama took a lot of thought and courage.  Here’s what we learned from Shardra and why she did it.

Meet Shardra Scott

Shardra Scott, Alabama Power's System Operation Manager outside the Birmingham headquarters
Shardra Scott undertook an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering at The University of Alabama before joining Alabama Power. Photo by Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

We met up with Shardra in the atrium of Alabama Power’s downtown Birmingham headquarters and were taken to the ultra secure room from where the electricity transmission grid for most of the state is controlled.

Upon undertaking an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering at The University of Alabama, Shardra enrolled in the Cooperative Extension Program where she was connected with Alabama Power.

“They offered me a spot in their Engineer in Training (EIT) program, the role of Junior Engineer on the power distribution side of the business things (in Mobile) as soon as I graduated college. It was a wonderful opportunity to gain lots of work experience in the field”, said Shardra.

Shardra Scott in discussion with a colleague at Alabama Power's Birmingham Control Center
Making sure the lights are kept on in Alabama. Photo by Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

5 years after joining the company, her first role on the transmission side of operations began at the control center in Birmingham.

“I worked in Birmingham as a control center power system coordinator (operator) and later as a transmission project coordinator for five years before I left the company for ten years. I relocated to Pensacola to work for one of our sister companies and gained more operational, general business and engineering experience. The opportunity to come back to Alabama Power and manage the control center in Birmingham was a dream come true. I get to work with a talented group of power system coordinators, analysts, engineers and leaders crews that make sure we keep the lights on for the people of Alabama”.

Shardra Scott, Alabama Power's System Operation Manager, walks through the Birmingham Control Center with a colleague
Walking through the control center at Alabama Power. Photo by Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

Why did Shardra Scott want to further her education?

Shardra Scott at Alabama Power's headquarters in Birmingham
Shardra Scott at Alabama Power’s Birmingham Headquarters. Photo by Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

Shardra explained she had always wanted to get an advanced degree but each time it was a serious consideration, she had been in the midst of taking on a new role which came with relocation.

“Now seems like the right time. Had I been able to undertake an MBA before now, I just don’t know that I would have appreciated it nearly as much as I will now. I have so much more experience under my belt that I can’t wait to use on the program”.

How Shardra chose Culverhouse College of Business at The University of Alabama

Shardra Scott outside Alabama Power's headquarters in Birmingham
Shardra Scott will be undertaking an EMBA with University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Business. Photo by Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

Shardra told me it was fate! She had traveled to see her family over the holidays last year and came back to a pile of mail.

I found a flyer advertising the EMBA program and thought it sounded fascinating. I then attended an overview of the program in January to hear a little more about it. The program offered at the Huntsville campus immediately jumped out to me as something that would be flexible for my schedule. It’s a once-a-month in-class format at Huntsville and there are online classes, over 5 semesters”.

What is Shardra looking forward to the most about going back to school?

Shardra Scott, Alabama Power's System Operation Manager in the Birmingham Control Center
Shardra Scott will undertake an EMBA in addition to her day to day work commitments. Photo by Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

Shardra explained that she would be looking forward to learning a lot of new skill sets that she can use in the workplace while also being able to share her knowledge and experience with others.

“I’m really fascinated by the different classes that we’ll study but also the opportunity to meet professionals from other industries that I might not know much about. I’m looking forward to the international learning trip as well. They’ve not revealed where we’ll be going yet – but I’m sure it will be good!”

Sharda shared that it will be very exciting but at the same time it is intimidating,

“I’m going into the unknown – a lot has changed since I did my undergrad degree. I have a lot more work responsibilities. It will be a case of trying to figure out what works for me in terms of managing everything, but the program is structured to be flexible and there will be a great support network between the faculty and other students”.

What has the reaction been from family, friends and colleagues?

Shardra Scott
Shardra Scott is looking forward to pursuing further education. Photo by Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

“They have all been really supportive ”, Shardra said, “They are very proud and excited for me and some have said they are inspired by my desire to continue to grow and better myself. Though I appear to have been successful in my career I always wonder about what else I can learn that I can share with the people I work with”.

Executive MBA Program

Culverhouse College of Business at the University of Alabama
UA Culverhouse College of Business offers the Executive MBA program. Photo via University of Alabama

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

The Executive MBA is the same degree, it’s just a different way of doing it.

Applications for the Huntsville EMBA program are closed for 2019, however you can register your interest to receive information about the 2020 intake by contacting Cheryl Altemara at caltemara@cba.ua.edu or 205-38-4501.

A preview day, much like the one Shardra attended in January, is scheduled for Friday, September 13.  Check out the details and register here.

Apply for the Executive MBA program in Tuscaloosa now!

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 caltemara@culverhouse.ua.edu 

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


  • 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.