B Yourself: Anthony C. Hood

Name: Anthony C. Hood
Age: 42
Hometown: Birmingham
Profession: Associate Professor of Management, Collat School of Business at UAB
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”  –Serenity Prayer
Something most people don’t know about you?
My crazy adventure of a career! After three and a half years of studying electrical engineering at 2 different universities (Tennessee State University and the University of Alabama), I decided to drop out. Compared to the blast I was having hanging out with my friends, college was incredibly boring. It wasn’t that I couldn’t do the work (I had been a straight A student my whole life). I just wasn’t in to it—and my grades reflected my boredom. I left Alabama with a 1.9 GPA. For the next 4 years I worked hard to build a career without a degree. I worked for Walmart, AmSouth Bank (now Regions) and American General (now AIG). During that time I also started 3 different business ventures and found my passion for entrepreneurship. I eventually landed an entry-level coding job at BellSouth and AT&T and worked my way back into engineering and network design. While working for the phone company, I re-enrolled at UAB and set a goal of completing my undergraduate degree before my 10 year high school class reunion (because there was no way I was going to that reunion without my degree!). I completed my bachelors just in time! Since then I have continued to work and conduct research at the intersection of entrepreneurship, network design and engineering.
Being such a contribution to our city, it seems you have changed many lives and have been the academic asset we dream for our leaders of the future. What is one of your most rewarding moments in academia?
I’ll give you two. The first was going back to Alabama to complete my PhD 15 years after dropping out. I always felt like I had unfinished business at Alabama; I was extremely grateful for the opportunity to finally close the loop.
 The second was receiving the official letter signed by President Watts last year informing me that I had earned promotion and tenure at UAB. That was the culmination of many years of hard work, sacrifice and dedication.
Why do you do what you do…
Gratitude. I believe deeply that we all have a responsibility to give back. Statistically, I should not be where I am today. The man that I am today is the sum total of the efforts of countless people who have supported and encouraged me along the way.
What makes Birmingham so attractive?
The quality of life and low cost of living are clear competitive advantages for our city. Where else can you buy a house near the city center for less than you make in a year? Our growing tech and entrepreneurial ecosystem shows a lot of promise for attracting and retaining residents.
Also, with the recent successes of UAB, Alabama and Auburn, it’s a great time to be a college football fan in Birmingham!
What is the next big thing for you?
That’s a great question! I honestly don’t know. I feel like I’m back at square one trying to answer the question “So, what do you want to be when you grow up?”  In academia, a whole new world of opportunities opens up once you achieve promotion and tenure. Not to mention, I had my best year of my career in 2017 and 2018 is quickly shaping up to be better than last year. I’m in that wonderful place in my career where I’m secure and thriving in my current position while also being presented with a steady stream of new opportunities. It’s forcing me to do a lot of soul searching about what I want to do next, where I want to do it and with whom.
Your current agenda?
Promoting inclusive innovation. As an academic and practitioner, I get an opportunity to engage with a lot of people in the public and private sectors who are engaged in the theory and practice of innovation. Sadly, I am oftentimes one of the few, if any, people of color present in these spaces. I am the father of two little black girls—my eldest wants to be a professor and my youngest wants to be an OB/GYN. As a father, I don’t want my daughters to experience the feelings of isolation and exclusion that my colleagues and I often experience. They need to be affirmed and encouraged by the presence of role models who look like them as they advance in their careers. As a result, I dedicate a lot of my efforts to building and expanding pipelines for people of color to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and entrepreneurship.
Your personal role model?
President Barack Obama. Despite your political affiliations, one must be in awe of the example he continues to set as a husband, a father, a scholar and servant leader.  I don’t think we fully appreciate how exceptional he had to be in these areas of his personal life in order to win 2 terms of the presidency. As noted by Senator John McCain, “He is a good man”.
How can readers find you?

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