2019 MBAs To Watch: Michael Bailey, Southern Methodist University (Cox)

Michael Bailey

Southern Methodist University, Cox School of Business

“Every successful and professional thing I do in life, I am on stage for.”

Hometown: Arlington, Texas

Fun fact about yourself: I love performing opera, and I’ve run four marathons.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Oklahoma – Bachelor of Arts in Vocal Performance with a Secondary Emphasis in Business

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? The American Choral Directors Association

This organization is the largest of its kind for choral directors throughout the country. I was honored to be a part of their work. Through this arts administration role, I focused heavily on divisional, national and international festivals, planning and marketing conferences for over 30,000 attendees in Minneapolis, Chicago, Chattanooga, Seattle, Sioux Falls, Pasadena, and Boston. My favorite festival project was working on an international festival called America Cantat 8 in Nassau, the Bahamas at the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort. Ultimately, this festival was attended by participants from sixteen countries and four continents. This was a very rewarding experience for me.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, TX.

Where will you be working after graduation? Undecided

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Professional development officer for the SMU Cox Graduate Real Estate Club; SMU Cox Admissions Team Ambassador Captain (Digital Outreach); Global Leadership Program Asia team leader; Urban Land Institute Young Leaders Committee member; Urban Land Institute University Outreach Committee member; AT&T Performing Arts Center Social Committee member

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I would say my proudest achievement in business school would be my networking confidence and drive to build connections through this program. These connections have ultimately helped me in landing the various committee opportunities I serve on with the Urban Land Institute and the Center Social Committee at the AT&T Performing Arts Center.

In March, I will be moderating a conversation with Tom Leppert, former mayor of Dallas, and Rob Kaplan, President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas discussing market trends and important information for young professionals to know today. Without the emphasis that SMU places on the value of a network and my drive to achieve a stronger connection base, I would not have the opportunities to speak with honorable and influential people such as these.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of my work at The American Choral Directors Association, which was very heavily operations and project management related. Specifically, the project I was most involved in was the 2017 ACDA National Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This conference was attended by 15,000 people and featured an expo of over 500 companies. So much work was put into the overall product leading up to the conference, and it was extremely rewarding to see the hard work pay off and the conference come to life in Minneapolis.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Kumar Venkataraman, my professor for the Portfolio Theory and Asset Pricing course, was my favorite professor in the MBA program. His expertise on the subject and dedication to ensuring we understood the material made the class very enjoyable and rewarding. I believe this course was the main reason I decided to pursue a concentration in finance. Professor Venkataraman brought in highly experienced guest speakers who helped provide applicable real-world examples of how the course is applied in industry.

What was your favorite MBA Course My favorite MBA course would have to be the Financial Modeling course taught by Professor Stacey Jacobsen. For me, this was an area that I knew going in was not my strong point. Professor Jacobsen taught the class in a way that was manageable for all levels of understanding. I truly feel that the course exceeded my expectations, and I grasped a very strong understanding of the material.  

Why did you choose this business school? For me, Dallas has been where I have always wanted to call home. Networking is the most interesting activity for me to do and SMU Cox places a massive value on providing students with the connections that will help them be successful through their alumni network and corporate relationships. The quality of the faculty and small class sizes allowed for much more interaction and relationships between students and faculty. Dallas is an exciting and incredible city and I love being able to learn in the heart of everything.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Just like a company looking for a fit within their culture in the candidates they interview, so does the MBA program at SMU Cox. My best advice would be to start talking as early as possible to the admissions team. They are ramping up their outreach to prospective candidates and they are always very excited to talk to those interested. They will be happy to meet with you and even arrange a coffee conversation between you and a current student with similar interests. If you want to sit in on a class, they will make sure to arrange that for you as well. Overall, they want to see in their candidates someone who is driven and puts forth the effort to show their interest in the program and what they bring to the table.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Coming in, I would hear how important it is to know where you want to concentrate and focus in on it early on. While it is helpful to come in knowing this, I definitely think you should take your first year exploring various concentrations and seeing what interests you the most. Doing this, I believe, will only help you enjoy the work you pursue after graduation even more.

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? The one phrase I heard countless times during orientation week was that the MBA program is like drinking through a firehose. This could not be truer. The truth is, you can’t do everything in these two years. However, I would highly recommend you spend this time exploring as many areas as you find interesting and allow yourself an open mind to learn new topics and understand new ideas. Looking back, I wish I would have made more room to take additional classes that were not necessarily in my core concentration course lists. Take advantage of the countless resources that SMU Cox provides and enjoy every bit of this incredible program. When you near the end, you will truly realize how much you have grown and changed because of the opportunities and experiences this program provides.

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? Transformative could not be truer regarding an MBA program. However, this program is only as transformative as you allow it to be. It is very possible just to take the required courses and graduate with an MBA, but by doing so, you are missing out on the true value that this program has to offer if you do. For me, I came in telling myself that I was going to be as open-minded as possible. Because of this mindset, I have been able to explore areas I would have never thought I would enjoy, and some have even helped me in career choices I never imagined. At SMU Cox, the resources, connections, and opportunities are there. I am very thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the program here, and I am a completely different person today than when I began.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Our Real Estate Club President, Alex Shapiro, is someone I admire and regard very highly in this program. It is evident that commercial real estate is still a very male-dominated industry, but she does not let that be a barrier to her success. Not only is she a great friend, but her work ethic and ability to manage multiple projects through school and work at the same time is impressive and inspiring.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? The credit for my decision to pursue business in college goes to my parents. When I decided that opera performance was not the long-term career path for me, I knew I needed a career that would continue to allow me to be a performer in a sense. My parents would always tell me that being in business is just like a performance, and that is the main reason I am where I am today.

What is your favorite movie about business? My favorite movie about business is Wall Street. While this movie is a thriller, it’s important to take the lessons provided in it lightly. Money isn’t everything, and it can change your views in a negative, detrimental way if you aren’t careful.

What was the goofiest MBA term or acronym you encountered – and what did it mean? The goofiest MBA term I encountered is “Herbie.” In my operations management course, the “Herbie” was basically another term for a bottleneck, the slowest part of a process that ultimately slows down the entire process as a result. I understood the concept much better on our Global Leadership Program trip to Asia, where I learned I was most likely the “Herbie” of my friend group when it came to understanding the transit systems and navigating maps.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…moving to Germany to perform German lieder (art song) and becoming fluent in German.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? I absolutely would justify every dollar spent on the MBA program at SMU Cox. The quality of education taught through professors with practical and applicable real-world experience has been invaluable and the connections and ability to network have been incredible. I also believe the SMU alumni network is an extremely valuable resource. The investment of an MBA at SMU Cox is worth more than what I paid, in my opinion, and I believe this program is only going to become stronger each and every year going forward.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? I would love to train and complete a full Ironman competition one day. If I don’t achieve that, however, I would also like to retire somewhere close to a beach. That seems like a much more comfortable alternative.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like for my peers to remember me as someone who always looked for the best in others, found a way to laugh, and valued hard work and a passion to improve the world around him.

Hobbies? I am continuing my marathon training and plan to run my fifth this year. I continue to take voice lessons with a professor on campus, and I host recitals for my friends to see what I like to do in my free time and expose them to the arts. I would like to host benefit recitals in the future supporting organizations that I care the most about. I love to cook, especially Mexican food, and I enjoy walking my dog, Duke, a German Short-haired Pointer.

What made Michael Bailey such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“Michael Bailey stands out as an exemplary student for many reasons. He is a positive role model, highly engaged in the Cox community, and academically-driven. Michael comes to the Cox School of Business with a unique background as a classically trained opera performer. He has chosen to pursue one of Cox’s dual degree tracks, specifically the Master of Arts Management/Arts Entrepreneurship and the Master of Business Administration (MAMBA). In addition to a full-credit load, Michael is completing a double concentration for his MBA degree in finance and real estate. Through these concentrations, he has chosen to become heavily involved in the Adam Smith Society and the SMU Real Estate Club, where he works to connect students with top real estate organizations in Dallas. Michael also serves on multiple committees with the Urban Land Institute (ULI), including the ULI Young Leaders Committee and the ULI University Committee, where he helps to build strategic models to help other universities build their real estate programs through alumni engagement and student participation. In addition to his class load, club and committee commitments, and social engagements, Michael will also be moderating a conversation between Tom Leppert and Rob Kaplan at the AT&T Performing Arts Center, discussing market trends and pertinent information for young professionals. Lastly, Michael served as an ambassador captain on the MBA admissions team, working on digital outreach and connecting current MBA students with newly admitted MBA students to ease the transition. Michael has leveraged all resources at Cox to support his peers, enrich his own development and give back to his community. We feel lucky to count him as one of our students, and soon, as a valuable member or our alumni community.”

Julie Maass
Director, Cox Graduate Student Services

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