MBA Degree Transformed Restaurant Exec's Life

Entrepreneurship Class Was Pivotal for Marketing VP at Abuelo's Parent Company

Jan. 14, 2008

Renée Underwood, EMBA 2007, knew that enrolling in The University of Texas at Dallas School of Management’s Executive MBA Program would enhance her career; she just didn’t realize it would change her life.

“By the end of orientation, I could already feel the beginning of a totally new mind-set,” she says. “Things happened every weekend that continued to change my perspective, week after week.”

Ms. Underwood began classes in September 2005 and graduated in May 2007. Along the way, a funny thing happened.

“The summer [2006] semester was pretty intense,” she says. “We had a very challenging entrepreneurship course. I had never even thought about running my own business, but that course made me realize that I had spent my whole career making money for other people. Now, I wanted to use what I’d learned to make money for myself.”

She took a leave of absence from her job to re-evaluate her priorities. She also took full advantage of the program’s unique executive coaching opportunity.

“Before I knew it, I was talking to [executives from the restaurant chain] Abuelo’s and negotiating an equity position in the company.”

Today, she is vice president of marketing for Food Concepts International, Abuelo’s parent company.

“It wasn’t just an education, it was a transformation,” she says. “It made me realize I’m the driver for my own career.”

Media contact: Patricia Schoch, UT Dallas, (972) 883-6298, [email protected]

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Renée Underwood is vice president of marketing for Food Concepts International, the parent company of Abuelo's restaurants.

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May 20, 2018