2017 MBAs To Watch: Robert Rowe, North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)

Robert Rowe

University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School

“Someone who seeks balance between hard work and fun, finding satisfaction in both.”

Age: 33

Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia

Fun fact about yourself: I am a one-man a cappella group. I record all of the voice parts myself and layer them on top of each other.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

  • Tuskegee University – Bachelor of Science
  • Wake Forest University School of Medicine – Medical Degree

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center – General Surgery Resident

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? Johnson & Johnson: Biosense Webster; Irvine, California

Where will you be working after graduation? Currently applying to house officer positions in teaching hospitals to continue my surgical training

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Elected Executive Vice President of the MBA Student Association
  • Elected Legacy Representative: Behrman Legacy
  • Member of the Career Services Advisory Board
  • Southern Africa Global Immersion Experience Fellowship recipient

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Our 16 career clubs are focal points of student leadership and influence. During my tenure as executive vice president of the MBA Student Association, I focused on the clubs, developing a systematic way of assessing them. Creating an organized feedback process, I gathered valuable information from the club members themselves and discovered areas of strength and areas of needed improvement for each club. Using this information, I worked with club leaders to make improvements and foster inter-club relationships. This process will be continued next academic year and has an opportunity to become a staple for student leadership. Throughout my time at Kenan-Flagler, the career clubs have been extremely helpful to me and this was a way I could help make them even stronger for future students.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? When I was 3 years old, I told my parents that I wanted to be a doctor. I never wavered from this goal and while I have since set new ones, including earning an MBA and using both degrees going forward, I will always be most proud of the ability to help people through medicine.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Deborah Stroman was my favorite professor. I have taken two of her classes: The Business and Economics of Sports and Race, Power and Influence in Organizations. Professor Stroman is a brilliant, kind, and dedicated individual who is a fiercely loyal advocate for her students. Not only is she a terrific teacher, but she encourages her students to maintain open minds while following suit herself.

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? My favorite MBA course was the Global Immersion Experience, which included in-class sessions where we learned about the countries in Southern Africa, their economic climates, business cultural norms, and the effect of businesses on the people of the those countries. We concluded the course by visiting Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and South Africa. The course opened my eyes, allowing me to think more globally considering business opportunities in the future.

Why did you choose this business school? When choosing a business school, I looked for a community-driven atmosphere similar to my medical school experience. It was evident that Kenan-Flagler was that place for me as soon as I stepped on campus for my interview. The students are driven, but extremely friendly and collaborative. This is evident in and out of the classroom.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? I enjoyed meeting and becoming friends with my classmates the most. Business school has given me the opportunity to get to know people from very diverse backgrounds and lifestyles. I now have a unique and eclectic set of future colleagues, contemporaries and friends, and I am excited to see what we each of us will become.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? The most surprising thing about business school for me was the career background diversity of my classmates.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Be honest. Explain how your strengths can add to the culture and community of the program, but don’t be afraid to understand and describe areas in which you would like to improve. Explaining exactly how Kenan-Flagler can help you make these improvements is just as important.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth about school is that we sacrifice competition for collaboration. I’ve learned during my time at Kenan-Flagler that they are not mutually exclusive and there are times where one improves the quality of the other.

What was your biggest regret in business school? My biggest regret was that I could not get to know every single one of my classmates. I wish I had more time to meet and learn from all of them.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I most admire my study group mate, carpool buddy, and great friend, Charles “C.J.” Overly. He exemplified what it means to be an active yet balanced MBA student. He was the president of the Real Estate Club and also helped lead the transition process between first- and second-year student leaders all while excelling in the classroom and always finding time to be an advocate and trusted friend.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I observed the need for healthcare professionals who understand the business side of patient care.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…completing general surgery residency.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? While there is some inter-program collaboration between MBA programs, I believe there could and should be a lot more. If I were dean for a day, I would reach out to other deans in hopes that MBA programs and their students can learn from others rather than solely compete against them.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Once I have completed my medical training, I would like to continue to treat and take care of patients while working in administration and operations for a major medical center. I want to help bridge the gaps between hospital administrators and healthcare providers to ensure the best and cost-effective treatment for all patients. I would also like to consult and educate other healthcare providers on the business of healthcare.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I could not ask for a more supportive family. My parents sacrificed greatly to provide opportunities for me to improve and extend my education while my extended family continued to encourage me to purse medicine. Without them, I would never have become the first medical doctor in our family or have the confidence to take time from my medical training to pursue my MBA full-time.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Someone who worked hard to improve an already strong student experience

Favorite book: Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist by Michael J. Fox

Favorite movie or television show: Glory

Favorite musical performer: Prince

Favorite vacation spot: Rome, Italy

Hobbies? Running, singing

What made Robert such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

 “Dr. Robert Rowe began the UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA Program immediately after he completed two years of a five-year surgical residency program.

Robert emerged as a student leader in the MBA Program in his first couple of weeks of school and has remained one throughout his time here.

Within days of arriving on campus, he ran to serve in the key role of Legacy Representative. He was one of eight students selected to represent their Legacy or cohort, at weekly meetings throughout the year with staff and administrators. Legacy Representatives provide updates and feedback on ways that the MBA Program can become even better and communicate key information about academics, career and extracurricular activities to their classmates. The Legacy reps also work on a three-month project geared at improving a major component of the School. Robert served as the leader for a project that made actionable recommendations for stronger engagement between the MBA Career Clubs and the Career Management Center.

Robert also was elected executive vice president of the MBA Student Association, next in line after the president and responsible for the major task of overseeing the 16 Career Club leaders. He implemented many recommendations generated by the Legacy Representative project, and led a process that enabled career club leaders to share best practices and form greater connections with Career Management Center associate directors to better prepare students for their career searches. Throughout his tenure, Rob remained positive, open to various ideas, and committed to continuous improvement.

Robert might be best known for his lead singing roles in the annual Karaoke Legacy Cup Competition. This event, possibly the most anticipated of all of the social events, has 8 Legacy teams competing in a singing-and-dancing competition. While extremely fun, the competition is taken very seriously by the students, with teams often practicing their acts for weeks prior to the big event. Staff and faculty judges determine which team had the best overall performance and for two years in a row, Rob’s amazing singing and performing skills led his team to victory! While his amazing musical talent was a surprise to some, others had heard him sing as part of the MBA a capella group, The Confidence Intervals.

Rob interned with Johnson & Johnson’s Marketing Leadership Development Program last summer and will complete his surgical residency program following graduation.

When Robert was nominated for a Core Value Award by his classmates and staff, most focused their nominations on his tremendous work ethic, his relaxed leadership style, and his ability to achieve balance in his life. This combination of attributes has made him a strong student leader and will assuredly bring him success as a surgeon and hospital administrator.”

Meghan Kelley Gosk

Associate Director, Career Consulting, Career & Leadership for MBA & Alumni



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