Skip to Content

Darla Moore School of Business

Professional MBA program provides skills for alumnus to acquire role of chief operating officer with growing beverage company

Moore School alumnus Chad Webb (’19 MBA) has utilized the skills and knowledge that he gained while in the Professional MBA program to advance in his career as the chief operating officer of Island Brands USA, producers of premium beer.

Webb has spent the past 25 years in the beverage industry and recently became the COO at Island Brands in February 2021. He said he felt prepared for the role because of the business acumen he developed while in the Professional MBA program.

“Most of my previous work was based on learning on the streets and by trial and error,” he said. “The USC PMBA program provided me with the formal training I needed to compliment my work experience and fill in knowledge gaps. The program touches all sides of business and beyond so when this chief operating officer opportunity was presented to me, I was confident I could handle the demands and the depth of the position.”

While in the Professional MBA program, Webb said he was able to learn not only from his professors but also his fellow classmates. Having other students from a variety of industries allowed Webb to broaden his skillset and knowledge of other fields.

“The PMBA program sharpened all of my skills,” he said. “I simply cannot pick one skill I use more than another because working within a small technology company with plans to scale, I have to use all of my old and new learnings to achieve our lofty goals. Each professor covered relevant material and challenged me to go outside of my comfort zone, which will benefit me for the rest of my life. I also have to give credit to my fellow PMBA students because they created a great learning atmosphere, and we all helped each other succeed in the program.”

Since starting his new position at Island Brands, Webb has been able to directly apply these teachings in his duties and responsibilities as COO.

“I will help us navigate through the established beverage systems and enhance our partnerships throughout the industry,” he said. “As COO, I will oversee all aspects of the business so the co-founders can keep pushing the limits of where we can go, which is global in my opinion.”

Webb said he looks forward to using his business skills to help Island Brands further develop and expand as a company. Last year, Island Brands’ two flagship beer brands grew over 70 percent to hit $1.9 million, and those numbers are expected to quadruple this year with the launch of new products. Webb said another major factor in this growth is Island Brands’ technological approach.

“We are approaching the beer industry from a technology angle; no one is focusing on the pull part of the business and using technology to get to their customers,” he said. “Besides the big breweries with deep pockets, the industry norm is to put beer in the market and hope it sells. We are using data to make decisions, linking our products to the end consumer and having them pull the beer through the system. There is no hoping our beer will sell and guessing where it might sell, which is the industry norm now. Much of the technology we use to achieve these results has been developed, bought or in the process of being created.”

Webb understands the need to capitalize on data analytics because, as part of its curriculum, the Professional MBA program trains students to apply analytics to real-world business problems and teaches them how to translate data into actionable insights for companies and organizations.

As he begins his journey at Island Brands, Webb said he is thankful for the relationships and knowledge that he attained during his time in the Professional MBA program. He said he hopes to see more talented Moore School alumni working with Island Brands in the future.

“The PMBA program provided knowledge but also grew my social network with the strong group of men and women who were my cohorts,” he said. “I know some of my relationships at USC will grow into working relationships. There is a high level of talent within the Moore School’s Professional MBA program, and I hope to bring some of those talented individuals to Island Brands. I have a high level of respect for the staff and my fellow alumni within the PMBA program and look forward to crossing paths with them in the future.”

-Claire McGrath

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.