Adam Shumake
EMBA | 2015
Sr. Manager, Purchasing
Nissan North America

Twelve years ago, Adam Shumake began working as an engineer at Nissan’s manufacturing plant in Smyrna, Tennessee. Though he received a promotion in 2009, he realized he needed to improve his financial acumen to advance further. “I couldn’t read a balance sheet,” he says.

Within months of starting the Executive MBA program, Adam’s newly acquired ability to analyze a contribution margin provided a breakthrough to a multi-million-dollar negotiation. Not long after that, Adam was promoted to Senior Manager in the Renault-Nissan Purchasing Division, leading two teams (including one in Mexico) with a total of 17 buyers and managers who are responsible for sourcing fuel and exhaust components.

Adam agreed to share with us a sample of his experience from the two weeks between Saturday EMBA class sessions.

Week 1


Church with my family. After lunch, everyone but me enjoys a great nap. I review the assignments due for the next class, download all the PDFs so I can read from my iPad during any downtime in the week and focus on knocking out a problem set, quiz or case reading. If it’s a light week, I’ll scan work emails around 8:00 PM and watch a crime drama with my wife after the kids are in bed. If it’s a heavy week, I’ll work on a case until about 11:00 pm.


I’ll visit with my eight and six year-olds during breakfast before leaving for work by 6:45 AM. During my commute, I’ll make 
a mental to-do list so I hit the ground running in the office. My days are full of costs, quality and delivery topics that let me constantly apply concepts I’ve learned from Vanderbilt.


I try to schedule meetings a 
bit later on these mornings so I can alternate driving my kids to school. I’ll read a case during lunch, follow up on an open email thread with my C-Team or check out an article someone else has shared. I’ll be home by 5:00 PM and have an evening call with Japan around 8:30 PM before working on school assignments again.


Work, then I’ll finish my team deliverable for Thursday night’s C-Team meeting and go to bed.


If you’re going to give up two years of your life for something, let it be Vanderbilt.


My most productive day: I’ll be at work by 7:00 AM and on campus at Vanderbilt by 6:30 PM for a team meeting that lasts two to four 
hours, depending on the week’s assignments. You’d think, with such
 a long day, that I’d dread it, but I look forward to it all day. We’ll text jabs back and forth deciding who will bring what food that night. Some of our best nights have involved surprising each other with something extra to celebrate a birthday, promotion or accomplishment. Our night of indoor go-kart racing was definitely a highlight!

An Executive MBA student balances school, work and family


I focus on ending the workweek strong and set aside that night strictly for family.


We use non-school Saturdays to give our family the breathing room we need to connect with each other: soccer games, gymnastics clinics, cookouts, visiting a park. If the day happens to be quiet, I’ll read ahead on an additional case or assigned chapter.

Week 2


Sunday morning is spent with my family. The afternoon is a key time for school work.


On campus at 6:30 PM after work for our follow-up, face-to-face C-Team meeting. We strive to have our assignments 95% completed by tonight so we have a smooth path toward class and can polish any group work or complete individual assignments. If we need to meet to have a longer discussion, you may find us enjoying the latest in Nashville taste at The Farm House.
In the Executive MBA program, your family is our family.

Tuesday - Friday

I try to be a regular husband and father
 on Tuesday and Wednesday, then spend extra time Thursday and Friday nights just before class finishing my assignments. When I started the program, I thought I’d be most productive by engaging one or two hours every night, but life seems to demand more flexibility than that, so I’ve learned to dig in intensely on a few key evenings.


Up at 6:00 AM so I can drive the 40 minutes from my home in Murfreesboro to campus in time to get an easy parking spot and enjoy breakfast with my classmates.

This may be the busiest time
 of my life, but even if I had 100 chances to do it differently, I would never change my mind about joining the Vanderbilt community.