Stellar group of Gatton MBA grads to speak at UK on Dec. 13

By Ann Mary Quarandillo

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Executives and University of Kentucky MBA alumni from Tempur Sealy International, Messer ConstructionPepsiCo and UK HealthCare lead a standout panel of speakers at UK’s Gatton College of Business and Economics at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13,in the Gatton College Building on campus.

This professional panel will include Jill Johnson, marketing director at Tempur Sealy International; Mary Beth Wright, business development executive at Messer Construction Co.; Sarah Rediford, sales senior zone supervisor at PepsiCo, and Dr. Zaki Hassan, medical director of Clinical Simulation and professor of anesthesiology and surgery at UK HealthCare.

These business leaders will discuss their graduate school experiences in the MBA program at UK’s Gatton College, as well as their own experiences navigating today’s business climate. Their talk is hosted by the Gatton College Professional MBA program, as part of Gatton’s Professional MBA Open House event. This event is open to UK employees, working professionals and executives in Central Kentucky. The event has limited seating and registration is required at www.gatton.uky.edu/MBA-RSVP.

Jill Johnson is director of marketing, Stearns & Foster at Tempur-Sealy’s Headquarters in Lexington. Prior to her employment at Tempur, she was a process engineer at Ceradyne Inc. in Lexington where she developed, optimized, monitored and maintained manufacturing processes for their ceramic body armor operation. Johnson graduated with her MBA and bachelor’s degree in materials engineering from UK.

“I really enjoyed learning and interacting in class with other working professionals from many different industries and organizations in Central Kentucky,” Johnson said. “Although you learn a lot from the MBA coursework, you learn valuable things from your classmates too.”

Mary Beth Wright, who earned both her MBA and civil engineering degrees at UK, has been with Messer Construction for 16 years, and will speak about how her MBA helped her lead many Messer projects, including the recent $241-million contract bid to build the new and expanded Lexington Convention Center.

As the business development executive, Wright grows Messer’s business in Lexington and Central Kentucky by securing new projects and growing relationships with existing clients. Some previous Messer projects with which Wright has been involved include Shriners Hospitals for Children Medical Center, Pikeville Medical Center’s 12-story medical office clinic and parking garage, Berea College’s Deep Green Residence Hall and Margaret A. Cargill Natural Sciences and Health Building, and UK’s Don and Cathy Jacobs Science Building, College of Pharmacy and residential renewal.

“My time at the Gatton College gave me the tools I need in my job to be successful,” Wright said. “From group projects to our capstone project, my MBA experience taught me how to effectively work with a team of people to accomplish a common goal. I also learned the importance of effective project management skills which helped with this very complex project pursuit.”

Current Professional MBA student Sarah Rediford joined PepsiCo in 2011 as a part-time summer merchandising intern. She quickly advanced to district sales leader, senior business analyst at headquarters and into her current position as the sales senior zone supervisor, where she partners with human resources and finance functions to forecast, lead, and achieve people and financial measures for Frito Lay’s Lexington Zone which includes 11 district territories and 200+ employees.

“I chose to pursue an MBA to gain a deeper understanding of various business functions to prepare me for executive leadership roles at my current company and beyond,” said Rediford. “My MBA has allowed me to handle real business issues with different approaches and consider the impacts to the business with a broader perspective. The MBA program has also expanded my professional network with colleagues in other industries that impact the decisions made in my role.”

Dr. Zaki Hassan is the current enterprise director of simulation, professor of anesthesiology and surgery, medical director of Comprehensive Simulation Center and director of Liver Transplant Anesthesiology at UK HealthCare. He also ran a clinical practice with over 45 locations and over 600 cases per week from all over the state of Kentucky. Hassan trained at the Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School at the University of London, and recently earned his UK MBA.

“As a physician, learning the language of business was important to me,” Hassan said. “The world of health care is changing and having the business knowledge to face today’s health care management challenges is critical.”

Gatton’s Professional MBA Open House event will provide the opportunity for community members to find out more about Gatton’s Professional MBAProfessional MBA (For Leaders in Healthcare) and applicable dual degree programs.

The Professional MBA is a part-time, evening program that brings together a diverse network of working professionals from various work experiences, companies and industries such as engineering, law, health care, agriculture, transportation, manufacturing, technology, banking/finance, government and military.

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