Meet Vanderbilt’s Owen MBA Class of 2017

Vanderbilt University, Owen Graduate School of Management

Vanderbilt University, Owen Graduate School of Management


Nashville is sometimes referred to as the “Silicon Valley of health care.” Why? For starters, according to the Nashville Health Care Council, over half of the country’s investor-owned hospital beds are operated by Nashville-area companies. The largest is HCA, ranked 75th in the 2015 Fortune 500. Overall, over 400 health care companies are based in the Nashville metro, generating over $73 billion dollars in revenue. And that doesn’t even include the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, ranked among the top medical facilities by U.S. News & World Report.

To help drive this growth and expertise, Owen offers a Healthcare MBA that arms students with the integrated management and medical tools to capitalize on this booming market. Mary Van Meter is scheduled to earn her medical degree the same year as her MBA. Through this program, she plans to explore the non-clinical side of healthcare to prepare for an eventual career in administration. “Nashville has a huge healthcare industry so the Owen School has lots of opportunities to expand my knowledge of medicine on a more systems-based level.”

Aside from its synergies with healthcare, Owen is also differentiated by its module-based structure. Using this approach – where ethics are stressed early-and-often – students are freed up to begin taking electives in the later fall, giving them a jumpstart on their summer internship. The school is also renowned for its Human and Organizational Performance (HOP) concentration, as well as its distinctive Leadership Development Program (LDP).

Nashville's Music Row

LDP, in particular, has grown increasingly popular over the years. A custom-tailored, two year experience, LDP takes the best from famed corporate development programs, with students receiving intensive coaching, completing team projects, attending workshops, and executing a person development to prepare for an executive leadership role. Not coincidentally, Owen MBAs are among the highest paid over their careers, with a joint Poets&Quants-PayScale report finding alums earning $2,334,000 within 20 years of graduation.

Despite such exclusive offerings, it is the Owen’s culture that sets it apart according to members of the 2017 Class. Chief among them is collaboration says Keiffer Garton, previously a senior consultant in the healthcare industry for Navigant. He touts the program’s “big emphasis on teamwork.” Patrick Bailey, a Duke grad and former special teams ace for the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans, echoes Garton’s sentiments. “The personalization of a small class size and the personality traits of its students drew me in to Vanderbilt. The students are people who put their egos aside, are dependable, and aren’t afraid to work hard to become great. In football, these traits win championships.”

At the same time, Hao Zhang, who comes to Owen after climbing the ranks of the State Grid Beijing Electric Power Company, is already raving about the school’s deep resources and constant attention. “I already feel that the faculty from my academic program, career management center, leadership development program and all the divisions are always ready to help me…For example, during the past two months, I have already talked with my career coach about my resume and career path three different times. Besides that, Owen provides a lot of unique resources, such as a leadership skill coach and a communication skill coach, which are all helpful for me.”


According to Taylor Force, a U.S. Army Artillery Officer, every graduate he spoke to “described their time at the Owen School as the most productive and enjoyable two years of their lives.” And the Class of 2017, with their clear and ambitious goals, should expect the same. For Caroline Collins, who left Capitol Hill for Nashville, the next two years are about adding polish to substance. “I would like to perfect the arts of networking and public speaking and presenting, she states.”

Aaron Dorn made a similarly bold move, leaving his job as a chief strategy and marketing officer for a Nashville bank to pursue his passion for entrepreneurship. His strategy: Soak in the knowledge and wait for the right moment to apply it. “I plan to pursue that vision in the form of a start-up or an acquisition. This serves as a two-year window in which I can crystallize and improve the management skills I have used in my career, gain new tools for evaluating and leading businesses, and identify the right opportunity for me to run a company.”

Others like Coca-Cola’s Ellison Glenn plan to live day-to-day, conscious about their own needs – and those of their classmates. “I want to strengthen my weaknesses and grow, daily,” Glenn shares. “I would love to help people around me reach their full potential as well.”

To read profiles of incoming Owen students – along with their advice on tackling GMAT, applications, and interviews – click on the student links below.

Patrick Bailey / San Antonio, TX

Caroline Collins / Bloomfield Hills, MI

Aaron Dorn / Nashville, TN

Eric Everstine / Gaithersburg, MD

Taylor A. Force / Lubbock, TX

Keiffer Garton / Castle Rock, CO

Ellison Glenn / Mount Pleasant, SC

Mary Van Meter / Lexington, KY

Hao Zhang / Beijing, China

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