Accelerating into Senior Leadership: How the EMBA-GSC Benefitted Smita Davis

June 2, 2023

In 2020, when she met with her boss at Brink’s Inc for her annual performance review, Smita Davis (EMBA-GSC ’21) knew she was ready to jump into a more senior leadership role at the company.

She had thrown around the idea of getting another degree after entering the world of procurement largely through happenstance. Davis’s academic degrees were in finance: an MBA from Dallas Baptist University and accounting and banking degrees from the University of Calcutta and the London School of Economics and Political Science. But after she completed her MBA, a recruiter identified a procurement analyst at Brink’s that she thought Davis would be an excellent fit for.

“In sourcing, you don’t just use your financial acumen,” says Davis, now director of strategic sourcing for Brink’s Center of Excellence. “But you need to understand finance and be able to do advanced analytics to do your job well.”

Learn more about our recently launched SCM Finance Academy, designed for supply chain leaders to develop financial skills to grow in their careers.

Davis applied to the Haslam College of Business’s Executive MBA for Global Supply Chain in 2020 and was accepted. One big draw was the program’s flexibility—Davis wanted a top-notch education that fit around her work and family priorities. Another was the ability to develop an Organizational Action Project (OAP).

“It was so clear on the website that what I worked on in the program was going to be directly connected to my real work at my company,” Davis said.

“I wanted an opportunity to showcase my executive skills, and the program allowed me to break silos and meet with people at my company I normally wouldn’t have interacted with.”

Davis worked on the direction and details of her project with Tom Goldsby, co-faculty director of the Global Supply Chain Institute and Dee and Jimmy Haslam Chair in Logistics.

“Smita came in with a head full of steam and lots of ideas and enthusiasm for learning and making a difference,” Goldsby says. “Over the course of the program, she developed the means and methods to convert those ideas into actions that would transform her organization.”

At the time, sourcing at Brink’s was not involved in air freight, and Davis saw an opportunity. Her plan was ambitious. But with the guidance and support of Goldsby and other faculty, she developed a comprehensive strategy that engaged operations in more than a dozen countries and ultimately resulted in significant savings for the company.

“I was trying to conquer this new area in sourcing,” Davis says. “By gathering requirements, engaging internal stakeholders and suppliers, doing the spend analytics, developing the strategy, and selling it to the executives, I was able to pull it off.”

Midway through the program, Davis was promoted. Months after graduating, she was promoted again. She currently leads a small global team that implements technologies and processes for making sourcing operations more efficient. She calls them the gatekeepers and analytics engine for Brink’s sourcing globally.

“The impact of my time in the program is showing now in my current role,” Davis says.

Beyond the OAP, Davis benefitted from the leadership focus of the program. During each residency period (RP), students work with faculty on an Individual Leadership Plan. Davis had taken leadership courses yet wasn’t convinced it could be learned from a textbook. “I thought, you either have it, or you don’t,” she says.

Then she sat in a class with Mike Grojean, a GSCI Fellow and adjunct professor of strategic leadership for executive education. He got her to think about the larger impact of her work beyond sourcing, how she could influence strategy at the C-suite level, and the recruiting and talent she’d need to do that. “Those were things I may have tangentially been thinking about, but he really broke everything down and then brought it to life for me,” Davis says.

Two years after completing her EMBA, Davis continues to share a close connection with her cohort. Even though international residencies were suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they created a WhatsApp group they regularly update with news. “I can tell you that I found something remarkable in every person I met,” she says. “They were people of all different ages and industries, and they all brought so much to the table.”

Since graduating, Davis has spoken with prospective students to share about her time in the program. “She’s been a wonderful ambassador,” says Izabela VanDeest, program manager for the EMBA-GSC.

Davis had always been drawn to advanced education. But when she chose to study at UT, she knew she needed a program that bridged the gap between academia and industry. She wanted something achievable. Most importantly, it had to provide results.

“The EMBA-GSC certainly did that for me,” Davis says. Learn more about the EMBA-GSC Program, including key dates, testimonials from graduates, and registration information. Fill out the form below to request more information.

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