Samuel Gude sees Asia in the big picture for his Atlanta-based business, Gude Management Group.
Recently recognized by the Atlanta Business Chronicle for running one of Atlanta’s 50 fast-growing private companies, Gude wants to extend the reach of his construction project management firm into China and India.
He believes his Global Executive MBA (GEMBA) education at Georgia Tech will help take him there. “We’re learning the lay of the land and what it takes to do business on a global scale,” says Gude, who started the 17-month GEMBA program in July 2007.
Designed for rising professionals who want to shift their career toward international business and/or understand global issues, the GEMBA program enhances traditional MBA coursework to provide perspectives on global trade, markets, organizations, and supply chain.
Dreams Come True
For Gude, earning his MBA is a long-deferred dream. “One part of my dream was having my own business and growing it,” he says. “The other part, in terms of my professional development, was getting my MBA.”
A graduate of Mercer University who spent some of his undergraduate years at Georgia Tech, Gude didn’t get around to earning his MBA during his 25 years working for Beers Construction (later acquired by Skanska). He felt too busy, rising to executive vice president and running Skanska’s government and education division for his last eight years there.
He says that by 2005, “all the stars had lined up,” enabling him to start his own business. Earning an MBA became a priority to help him maximize the company’s potential.
As founder and CEO of Gude Management Group, he led the growth of his company’s staff from four people to 30 and its revenues by more than 5,000 percent within two years. He expects growth of about 30 percent in 2008.
Specializing in government and education construction projects, Gude Management Group has been hired to oversee public transportation (MARTA), airport (Hartsfield-Jackson), and sewer improvements in Atlanta and building programs for multiple school districts in Georgia and Alabama.
“We have relationships with clients and partners who work around the world, so we feel like it’s just a matter of time before we’re invited to go to other countries,” Gude says.
He says his GEMBA education has definitely helped ready him for that day. In particular, his Global Strategy class was an immense help as his company went through its strategic planning process during his first semester.
Experiencing the business and cultural environment of Argentina during the class’s first international trip was a great experience for Gude. He’s even more excited about visiting India and Dubai in July because those are target areas for his business expansion.
The countries visited by GEMBA students vary from year to year. Entering students begin the program in late July or early August with one week of classes at Georgia Tech. They return to campus every two weeks for Friday evening and Saturday classes, taking the overseas trips in the second and third semesters. At the end of the fourth semester, they complete another full week of classes at Tech before graduating in December.
“I really appreciate the interactive learning aspect of the program, being able to drawn upon the experience of my classmates,” Gude says. “My class is a great group of people.”
Gude isn’t far from family at work or at school. His wife, Lynn Jarrett-Gude, is executive vice president and director of human services for his company, and the youngest of their three children, Brian-Paul, is a junior industrial engineering major at Georgia Tech.
“I feel a lot of loyalty to Georgia Tech,” Gude says. “Coming here was an easy choice.”