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Zach Burdine

Price College of Business, Executive MBA in Energy, The University of Oklahoma website wordmark
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EMBA in Energy Alumni Spotlight: Zach Burdine

Headshot of Zach Burdine

Zach Burdine earned his EMBA in Energy in 2018 as a member of Cohort 7. Based in Austin, he works as area president of Risk Placement Services, an Arthur J. Gallagher company that is a managing general agent/underwriting manager and nationally focused wholesale insurance broker.  

What was your favorite aspect of the EMBA program and why? 

There were so many amazing memories and relationships made during the program and an absolute wealth of knowledge gained. But, without a doubt, my favorite aspect of the EMBA program was seeing the absolute quality of each individual at the beginning and how much personal growth there was as we journeyed together. 

As I look back on the program now, I realize as students we were put in positions we may never have been in before. We also were placed on teams with people of various backgrounds, skills and knowledge with the expectation we would perform at a high level as a group almost immediately. Those are real-life circumstances in a lot of companies. The modules not only forced us to grow individually, but also emphasized two critical components of the business world: communication and teamwork. It was a fun journey and looking back at my own personal growth reminds me that the program and my classmates had a hand in where I am now. 

How has earning your EMBA affected your career? 

Through this program, I was able to distinguish myself from my peers in terms of knowledge and credentials. When you talk about an industry-focused program, the deep dive we did in so many areas can’t be understated. The knowledge and teaching style of the professors and Dr. Ghosh as our captain is impossible to replicate, I believe. 

Since our cohort finished the program, I was fortunate to be heavily recruited into a move to a new company. I was asked to start a division that didn’t exist in its current state prior to my arrival. After that, another door opened in my company and I transitioned into a leadership role while taking on strategic and development-focused projects. I’ve been featured in industry magazines, written over a dozen articles for different blogs and periodicals, and spoken to large and small crowds alike on various topics within the energy sector. 

I don’t believe these opportunities are a coincidence at all. Sure, some of it is the timing being right, but there is no question in my mind that a portion of my success is the knowledge I gained and having the experience of this MBA program to fall back on. 

What piece of advice do you have for emerging energy executives? 

I believe early on you need to create dominant priorities, both professionally and personally. These will be the foundations of who you are as a leader, your team’s culture and how you’re going to achieve the goals that are set forth. I’d spend a lot of time on these and ask mentors or peers for input. But also keep in mind that this industry is full of dynamic and creative minds that will undoubtedly bring about new technology, decisions and opportunities for you. There will be adjustments, you may have to be bold, and you may even have to revamp your roadmap based on an industry change outside of your control. My advice is don’t be a prisoner to things you cannot change, but make sure you control your controllables in every situation.