From physical therapist to regional VP—how a Birmingham healthcare executive accelerated his career with the Auburn Executive MBA


Jay McDiarmid
Jay McDiarmid alongside Aubie the Tiger. Photo via Auburn EMBA

Looking to boost your career, but don’t have the ability to press pause on your work and personal life? With an Executive MBA, you don’t have to. We spoke with Jay McDiarmid, a 2019 graduate of the EMBA program at Auburn University, to learn how he was able to balance his work life with the program.

Auburn EMBA at a glance

Auburn EMBA
In this pre-COVID photo, Executive MBA students gather in classes on campus for residency week at the Harbert College of Business in Auburn, Ala. Photo by Julie Bennett for Auburn EMBA

An Executive MBA, like the program at Auburn, is a unique way for working professionals to update their skillset and add new credentials to their résumé without sacrificing their work or personal life.

Just like a traditional Master of Business (MBA), an Executive MBA is an incredibly versatile degree that teaches students how to make informed business decisions, regardless of which field they are in.

However, unlike a traditional MBA, an Executive MBA is tailored to fit the life of a working professional with more than eight years of experience. At Auburn, the Executive MBA program utilizes their students’ broad range of knowledge and business experience to blend real-world experiences into the classroom.

Want to learn more about the Auburn EMBA program? Click here to discover opportunities.

Meet Jay McDiarmid, 2019 Auburn EMBA Graduate

Jay McDiarmid
Jay McDiarmid, a graduate of Auburn EMBA. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

In order to learn more about the benefits of the Auburn EMBA program, I spoke with recent graduate Jay McDiarmid. Before attending at Auburn, Jay worked as a physical therapist and moved to Birmingham in 2012. While practicing physical therapy and taking on more responsibilities, Jay realized that he needed an educational background to expand his knowledge of business strategy and finance.

How did you know the Auburn EMBA program was the right fit for you?

Jay: “As I started taking on more responsibility and digging into the financial aspect of business, I got to a point where I recognized that I needed more experience in finance and management of a business. So, I started looking for a local MBA program. Since I was working full time, I couldn’t fit a traditional MBA into my schedule. Then, I found Auburn’s EMBA program. It fit my lifestyle perfectly. I met a few professors and knew that it was the right opportunity for me.”

Jay first met his fellow students during the immersion week on campus at Auburn. During that time, the entire cohort had the chance to get to know each other and complete group projects together. After the immersion week, they were able to keep that camaraderie going by continuing to work on group projects online.

Jay: “My cohort brought to the table their experiences in very diverse backgrounds. We had people who came from the casino industry, consumer goods, law enforcement, military, human resources and more. Hearing their different perspectives was an incredible learning opportunity, and allowed me to take their knowledge back to MY world.”

When you look back on your time at Auburn, what experiences stand out?

Jay: “One of my favorite experiences in the program was our international business course. We flew out to South Africa and spent two weeks in Cape Town and Johannesburg, touring places like the BMW headquarters of South Africa.

Jay McDiarmid
Jay McDiarmid and his Auburn EMBA cohort, standing atop the Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. Photo via Auburn EMBA

While in South Africa, the Auburn EMBA cohort was split into smaller groups and paired up with small local businesses. Each group was tasked with finding a solution to the businesses’ issues. In Jay’s case, his group was paired with a local distribution company that aimed to scale up their business outside the South African borders.

Jay: “My group’s task was to analyze the markets, check on international trade restrictions, identify any problems and determine the viability of scaling up. As a physical therapist, it was WAY out of my wheelhouse—but, it allowed me to take my knowledge from the classroom and apply it in a real-world situation.”

How have the skills and experiences you gained at Auburn EMBA affected your career since graduation?

Jay: “With Auburn EMBA, I’ve learned to analyze data from new perspectives. I can be much more productive and efficient, and take on larger projects than I was able to before. Now, I have 10 clinics in my region and over 300 people who report, directly and indirectly, to me.”

“Auburn EMBA is an outstanding program. I highly recommend it to anyone who would like to elevate their performance and career to the next level.”

Learn more about Auburn EMBA

Jay McDiarmid
Jay McDiarmid and the cohort of 2019 outside the Gordon Institute of Business Science. Photo via Auburn EMBA

Just like Jay, if you’re looking to expand your professional horizons, the Auburn EMBA program may be the right fit. If you’d like to learn more about the program, schedule an appointment with their program admission advisor today.

Since the Auburn EMBA program considers professional experience rather than standardized test scores, applicants are NOT required to take a GMAT or GRE test.

If you’d like to be part of the class of Fall 2021, you can apply to the Auburn Executive MBA program online

Want to learn more about Auburn’s Raymond J. Harbert College of Business? Check them out on FacebookInstagramTwitterYouTube and LinkedIn!

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Nathan Watson
Nathan Watson

Senior Content Producer + Photographer

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