This local entrepreneur balances internal consulting with a new business—you can too


The University of Alabama’s Executive MBA program means Clark doesn’t have to choose between his family and advancing his career. Photo via Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

Being an entrepreneur requires a lot of hard work and dedication, but so does raising a family. We caught up with someone who’s doing it all and then some. Local businessman Clark Roper is a student enrolled in the University of Alabama’s Executive MBA Program at Huntsville (HEMBA). He gave us the inside scoop on juggling education, family commitments and work.

War Eagle Roll Tide

Who would want to leave this adorable fam? The HEMBA program is close by, so this trio doesn’t have to split up often. Photo via Clark Roper, taken by Forbes Photo

Fast Facts:

  • Occupation: Internal consulting for Piggly Wiggly, but he’s always working on entrepreneurial ventures, including teaming up with his wife to sell/rent real estate in Birmingham.
  • Family 👨‍👩‍👦: Clark and his wife and have one daughter and another child arriving by June.
  • Favorite Huntsville Eats: The Camp for meeting up with his class teammates. Chick-fil-a is never out of the question during a busy day, though.

Clark may have attended a rival school for undergrad, but when it came to his EMBA he swapped “War Eagle” for “Roll Tide.” Football preferences aside, Clark was anxious to start becoming a better leader.

“My pursuit of the EMBA was more tied into the phrase of, ‘When the leader gets better everybody gets better.’ It’s about developing myself personally. Whenever I do have opportunities to be in leadership, the people around me will get the benefits of what I learned through this program.”

Clark Roper

You are the company that you keep

So close to Birmingham, the HEMBA program was a convenient option and it quickly turned into the best decision for him and his family.

Not only is the straight shot up I-65 appealing to Clark, but the faculty and classmates speak to the quality of Huntsville’s program.

“The Huntsville cohort is really what drew me to the University of Alabama. It was the way they conducted themselves—the way they were prepared.

It set the stage for me of ‘That’s who I want to be engaged with for the next 17 months.’ They seem like they’ve really got their act together and that’s what my experience has been throughout the program.”

Clark Roper

From the classroom 👉 to the boardroom

Using what you learn in the classroom in real life? We love to see it. Photo via Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

We’ve all sat in classrooms and thought “When will I ever use this?—a fair question if you’re studying the Pythagorean theorem in anticipation of becoming a journalist.

However, Clark doesn’t have to wait until he graduates in December to take what he’s learned from the program and apply it to his day-to-day.

“I wake up every day excited to either dive into the work that I’m doing at my employer or our schoolwork. The difference is that everything we’re learning right now is so applicable.

Either I can start using it at work, or I can see how the things that we’re learning will be foundational to something else down the road.”

Clark Roper

Take his negotiations class, for example. Lately, he’s spent time learning about different techniques throughout the month. From there, he and his cohort prepare for real-life scenarios.

“One thing, in particular, that’s been fantastic is our negotiations class. We sit down across from somebody in our class and we negotiate and get the opportunity to learn real-life scenarios in an environment where I can make mistakes.

I can learn from them and then take the skills with me out into the real world and feel more prepared. That’s been the piece that’s probably been the most impactful to me—real-life implementation.”

Clark Roper

Maybe you want to be a TV executive, or maybe you want to start your own business—find out how the HEMBA program can help you get there.

This biggest flex of HEMBA? The flexibility

Clark says meeting one weekend a month is a perfect balance. The program gives about a month’s worth of work to do at your convenience online. Once the foundational work is complete, you’re prepared for your monthly meet-ups with other classmates.

When Clark and his classmates gather on the weekends, they meet for around eight hours of class two days in a row.

It flies by because we get to be interactive and engaged. We get to apply a lot of the things that we’ve done the work on in our own time. Then we get to come in and put the pieces together in person.”

Clark Roper

Ready to take a page out of Clark’s playbook?

If you’re feeling excited about your future, learn more about UA EMBA at upcoming interest sessions.

  • Application overview: Thursday, May 13, 2021 | 11AM | Register
  • Information Session: Tuesday, May 18, 2021 | 7:15-7:45AM | Register
  • Information Session: Saturday, May 22, 2021 | 8:30-9AM | Register
  • Alumni chat: Thursday, May 27, 2021 | 11:30AM | Register

Application Deadlines:

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

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

Sponsored by:

Irene Richardson
Irene Richardson
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