See how a Birmingham journalist became a television executive producer


Krystal Swann, a UA EMBA grad at her job at Gray Television
Krystal Swann (right) is an executive producer at Gray Television. Photo via Krystal Swann

No matter what field you’re in, there’s always room to grow. Krystal Swann saw an opportunity to take this advice and graduated from journalist to television executive producer after receiving her degree from the University of Alabama’s Executive MBA Program.

An economic downturn opened Krystal’s eyes to a new opportunity

Krystal Swann graduating from the UA EMBA program
Krystal graduating from the UA EMBA program. Photo via Krystal Swann

You’re thinking, “Why would anyone in journalism want to get a business degree unless planning a complete overhaul of their career?” Krystal had no intentions of leaving the field of journalism, but learning new leadership goals interested her.

“We had just come out of the recession of 2008 and it made me realize that, while journalism is an art, it’s also a business. I wanted to become more business savvy about how we survived the recession.”

Krystal Swann, Executive Producer, Gray Television

Krystal didn’t feel the need to start over on the ground level of her education, so she applied to the UA EMBA program. Between the weekend classes and online opportunities, the program aligned with her learning style and busy life.

From writing stories to writing statistics

If you’re a right-brained person like Krystal, the amount of math that comes with a business degree could appear intimidating at first. But through the help of her classmates and professors, what once seemed like a subject she’d never go near soon became easier.

“As a journalist, we don’t often go into things that have a lot of math. Business has a lot of math, accounting classes and statistics—I was in over my head.

But I knew that I needed to learn this. So, the professors were really, really helpful. They knew that they had people from all different kinds of backgrounds and that they were willing to work with us.”

Krystal Swann

Krystal needed these skills when dealing with budgets at work. They factor into decision-making, from determining overtime to the amount of coverage the company can afford to put on an event

Moving up the ladder

IMG 25057855188147 See how a Birmingham journalist became a television executive producer
The friends Krystal made during her time at the University of Alabama are one of her favorite parts of the program. Photo via Krystal Swann

It wasn’t just analytical skills that landed Krystal into her current position. Classes also helped Krystal to learn the “why” behind certain decisions. It this type of information she was seeking out when she joined the program in 2014.

“I think a lot of times as journalists, there are some times we just don’t understand why business people make the decisions that they make.

But with the UA EMBA program, I better understood why we negotiate the way we negotiate. Why we have to make certain accounting decisions to make sure that as many journalists can keep their jobs as possible. So yes, that’s been the biggest part of what the EMBA program taught me.”

Krystal Swann

Then, there were times when the program held classes on communications and Krystal thought, “Oh, now, this I got handled.” But, she said, there was still a lot to learn in the sector when it comes to things like communicating through email, running meetings and creating a positive work environment for your employees.

“I didn’t think of myself as a business leader. I didn’t think of myself as a businesswoman for that matter—I just felt like I was a journalist and I didn’t want to lose my job. If I can do it, anybody can do it.”

Krystal Swann

Confidence is key 🔑

There are many things that stood out for Krystal when looking back on her experience in the UA EMBA program, including:

  • Her international trip to Peru
  • The lifelong friends she made
  • Another level of added confidence that makes her a great leader

“For any young woman that wants more out of her life, even in her personal life, I think that a business degree has helped me more than I would have ever known. I make personal decisions based on what I learned in that program—how to set my own budget at home, how to think about being my own entrepreneur within the company that I’m in and how to be more strategic in my life.”

Krystal Swann

Since business was a male-dominated field for so long, it can still be daunting to enter this career path as a woman. However, the UA EMBA program offers an inviting and welcoming space to pursue these types of jobs.

“No matter how many men are in the room, no matter how many men are teaching you, take the opportunity, learn what you can and then go back and change the world. That’s how we do it. We go out, we get the education and we go back to our respective companies and we change the culture.”

Krystal Swann

Tag, you’re it—sign up for a UA EMBA interest session

We love Krystal, but there’s plenty of room for success out there and we want to see you land a dream role as she did. Learn more about how UA EMBA plays into your future at upcoming interest sessions.

Information sessions:

  • Thursday, March 11, 2021 | 4PM | Register
  • Tuesday, March 23, 2021 | 11:30AM | Register

Application Deadlines:

  • Huntsville EMBA: July 16, 2021 
  • Tuscaloosa EMBA: October 19, 2021

“If I had not had the UA EMBA experience, that teaching academic experience in leadership and in business, then I wouldn’t be in the position that I’m in today. It has made me a much better leader for my team and for my station.”

Krystal Swann

Sign up for an upcoming virtual information session today. Learn more about the UA EMBA program on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Hear from another UA EMBA grad who co-founded this startup with help from the program.

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Irene Richardson
Irene Richardson
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