2022 Best & Brightest MBA: Kayla Snipes Vickers, University of Georgia (Terry)

Kayla Snipes Vickers

University of Georgia, Terry College of Business

“Life-long learner in pursuit of improving my local and global community through kindness and action.”

Hometown: Montgomery, Alabama

Fun fact about yourself: I have a fraternal twin sister who received her PhD in School Psychology from the University of Alabama, and I am helping her to start a consulting business soon. Also, I married my high school sweetheart, Jacques Vickers. We are both active-duty Army and we have two beautiful kids, Kayden (7) and Jayden (5).

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University: BS – Chemistry

University of Alabama at Birmingham: OD – Doctor of Optometry ; MS – Vision Science

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school?

United States Army

Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center

Fort Hood, Texas

Clinical Director (Chief) – Optometry

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021?

Cox Communications

Operations and Supply Chain

Atlanta, GA (Virtual)

At Cox Communications, I worked as a direct report to the Vice President of Operations and Supply Chain, gaining valuable insight into supply chain processes and resource/demand planning operations. I specifically worked on eliminating process gaps and erroneous charges in the residential customer equipment return procedures throughout the four mechanisms of equipment returns. At the end of this project, we achieved a 90% reduction in equipment inventory and billing errors.

Where will you be working after graduation? (List Company and Role)

United States Army

Brooke Army Medical Center

Joint Base San Antonio

Healthcare Administrator

Brooke Army Medical Center is the Department of Defense’s largest facility and only Level 1 Trauma Center. BAMC serves over 240,000 military beneficiaries with over 4,000 visits per day and 8,500 staff members.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Canopy Aerial Studio, Board Fellow

I currently serve as a non-voting non-profit board member at Canopy Aerial Studio to better understand the inner workings of board service. I have crafted and authored the organization’s DEI, social media, nepotism, and conflict resolution policies and assisted with grant writing and community outreach.

NBMBAA Fiat Chrysler Case Competition, Participant

Through my participation in the NBMBAA case competition, I was able to analyze and understand the intricacies of marketing and optimizing the customer journey. Through this project, my team and I addressed the declining retail automotive market, the COVID-19 pandemic effects on the economy and the world-wide supply chain, and how small dealerships can reasonably compete with large online retail platforms like Carvana. Our strategy focused on creating personalization through implementing an omni-channel digital playbook introduced at initial customer contact whether online or in-store with seamless transition to home-delivery and maintenance requirements.

NAIOP Real Estate Case Competition, Participant

Through my participation in the NAIOP case competition, I achieved a better understanding of commercial real estate development. With $150,000 in pursuit capital costs, my team and I were tasked with site selection in the greater Atlanta area, estimating acquisition costs, formulating a development plan and budget, and estimating achievable rent and lease-up velocity. This competition proved quite challenging for me, as I relied heavily on my teammates who had backgrounds in real estate development. This was the first time I had no idea where to start and truly understood the benefit of peer learning. This case sparked my interest and I decided to take the Real Estate Investments course.

University of Georgia Terry College of Business – Blacks in Business, Co-Founder

Our mission is to ensure the instruction, conversations, and representations in and throughout the Terry College of Business campus and network are reflective of the interconnected global world in which we live. Our goals include working with professors and staff to increase representation of Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, LGBTQ, abilities, parents, and Veterans in coursework and business cases; to create a course specifically designed to work with and scale minority-owned businesses; expand the cultural representation of Terry instructors through adjunct, visiting, special, guest, and full-time lecturers; leverage the Terry network to create a pipeline from student to professorship; create and leverage corporate, alumni, and community partnerships to increase educational, career, and volunteer opportunities ; work with our local school district to mentor students with interest in business and entrepreneurship; and host formal and informal events and panels geared towards creating inclusive and safe environments for conversation, education, and growth.

University of Georgia – Student Resource Veteran Center, Student Ambassador       

The University of Georgia is an extremely Veteran-friendly institution. Transitioning from active duty to being engulfed into a civilian world of unfamiliar systems, processes, and vernacular can be overwhelming. The Student Veteran Resource Center serves as command central for student-Veterans in being able to navigate both worlds without judgement. I have found community in the SVRC through talks with combat veterans like Jimmy Blackmon, Veteran’s Day flag placement, and gameday tailgating.

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Member

Delta Sigma Theta is a non-profit service organization whose purpose is to aid and support through established programs in local communities throughout the world. I have been an active member for eleven years and my specific areas of focus within the organization are Political Awareness and Involvement (voting rights and registration) and Educational Development (Delta Gems).

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Blacks in Business

Once I started here at Terry, I quickly realized that there was a culture of assimilation and not quite inclusion in and outside the classroom. This prompted me to start a WhatsApp group chat for the black students in my cohort to create a space of community where our voices were not drowned out. From this group, MBA faculty and staff suggested that we formulate a club; however, I was hesitant. Without institutional support and infrastructure, focus groups such as this fizzle out over time.

Fortunately, first year student, Ebun Oguntegbe persuaded me to work with her to start the club and Terry has not only supported the effort but provided infrastructure through appointing a staff advisor to ensure the group’s success over the long-term. This effort has allowed me to recognize my own blind spots and the blind spots of my classmates. I’ve gotten so used to moving in and out of situations of being female, Black, military, and a mom and code switching that I have been complacent in making others who are different from me comfortable, instead of challenging them to move out of their own comfort zone and expand their own beliefs, behaviors, and understanding of the challenges associated with being Black in America. And understanding those challenges that I and others like me face involves having candid conversations. I’ve had conversations with several of my classmates about how often they are compelled to watch shows with Blacks as lead characters, read books that are predominately about people of color, females, or the LGBTQ community. As businesses understand how important inclusiveness is to remain relevant, it is imperative that we have these conversations in and outside of the classroom to prepare and equip our future business leaders with the skills to be able to not just work with people of various backgrounds, (that’s the minimum) but to be able to have authentic relationships.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Seeing my Soldier and Civilian staff receive promotions and recognition is one of my greatest professional accomplishments. It reinforces the fact that consistent daily actions are critical to the success of every business and business decision. Recognizing the individuals and teams who execute these processes propel the mission and vision of the organization into reality. But specifically, my proudest professional achievement is the privilege of being a mentor to so many along my journey. I have a current mentee who I met while stationed at the United States Military Academy. While there, I helped to reactivate the Tau Theta Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. During this process, I met a young lady, Brittany Murray. She expressed interest in optometry, so I placed her in touch with one of my professors from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Upon Brittney’s summer break home to Alabama, I asked my professor to also have Brittany visit the medical school next door and she fell in love. Brittany graduated from medical school in May 2021 and is currently completing her residency in urology. My greatest achievement lies in the exposure that I can afford to those who are coming behind me, lifting as I climb.

Why did you choose this business school? I researched over 70 schools in search of a full-time MBA program with a healthcare management concentration, and Georgia was one of the few that offered such a program. Once I narrowed my choices down to Emory and UGA, I chose Georgia due to the depth and breadth of their network both here in the United States and abroad. Being in the Army, community is critical to being able to sustain and grow and I knew that if I chose Georgia, no matter what industry I entered in the future or where I moved in the world, a UGA alumnus would be close.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Dr. Santanu Chatterjee – Business Economics

Economics is the foundation of all things. Once you understand business economics, you understand the healthcare gap, the education gap, and the wealth gap. Economics is the critical point at which business and improving societal outcomes at the individual and global level intersect and Dr. Chatterjee has a gift for simplifying concepts and applying them across industries and cultures. Using this course as a springboard helped to propel me through the rest of my MBA courses.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth or misperception about Georgia is that it is all about football. And an even bigger myth is that Georgia is a “value” MBA program. UGA and Terry College of Business are so much more! The University is a community of academics invested in higher learning as the flagship university in Georgia and one of the oldest public universities in the United States. I have enjoyed attending the many jewels around campus from the public lectures at the Law School to touring the Bioimaging Research Center as a resource for my international business consulting project. I even had the opportunity to sit one-on-one with Stephen Cannon, the CEO of AMB Sports+ Entertainment. These experiences are not by chance; they are cultivated and intentional. Being from Alabama, I never imagined that I would be able to say Go Dawgs. It is not the football that makes me say Go Dawgs, it is the educational excellence and strong community that I found within Terry and across the entire campus that will keep me involved for many decades to come.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I truly believe my ability to articulate my experience of working with and leading diverse teams across many platforms, including clinical and administrative and fixed and field hospitals, demonstrated the adaptability and flexibility required to be successful in business school. Upon returning to the workforce, it is more critical than ever that students develop this skill in the classroom as business becomes more global and organizations more culturally diverse. This is a great skill I possess and one I have had the opportunity to share with my classmates.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Erin Parks. She has a dynamic background in journalism and marketing, having worked out of NYC and Colorado Springs. Within the MBA program, Erin has reactivated the Net Impact Club, serves as a Board Fellow for Books for Keeps, developed and printed a journal dedicated to the Black experience, and completed an internship with and secured a job offer from FedEx. With her passion, tenacity, and background, she is ‘One to Watch’ and will be the CEO of a company very soon as she explores entrepreneurship and corporate.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My father, David Snipes. My dad grew up in a sharecropper home and his dad, my grandfather, went on to own over 100 acres of land. This allowed my dad, the youngest of ten kids whose mother died when he was five, to be the first person in his family to go and graduate from college. He received his BS in Business Administration from Alabama State University in 1972. When I was a kid, I observed him be the serial entrepreneur from selling insurance, encyclopedias, shoes, and owning a recreational room and bar. Unfortunately, he was never able to sustain and scale and this has fueled in me the desire to continue his legacy as I find my own.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? In my healthcare administrator career path, I would like to serve as a hospital CEO and a policy maker within the Defense Health Agency. In my post-Army career, I would like to find a role, be it through entrepreneurship, non-profit, or corporate, that fuels my passion to propel people of color and those in marginalized communities to their greatest potential.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? It has taught me that my career can look however I would like it to look and being able to pivot is critical to success both personally and professionally.

What made Kayla such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“Kayla Vickers is just an amazing person – driven to achieve in everything she undertakes, and driven to make a positive impact upon everyone she encounters, and every program or event she participates in. Kayla is a servant leader and life-long learner, and will leave the Georgia MBA Program, and the greater UGA and Athens community, so much better off for her time here.

In my opinion Kayla’s most impressive and lasting impact on the Georgia MBA community is her role as Co-Founder of the Georgia MBA Blacks in Business Association. This formal club grew out of Kayla’s initial WhatsApp group chat for black business students. Kayla not only recognized a need for more awareness and discussion around topics of diversity, equity, and inclusion, she took steps to launch this initiative, and worked with administrators to ensure the long-term stability and success of this new group.

Kayla also challenged herself as an active participant in Georgia MBA elective opportunities, applying her strategic thinking and team facilitation skills – volunteering to join teams of her MBA peers and participate in both the National Black MBA Fiat Chrysler Case Competition, and the NAIOP Real Estate Case Competition.

Kayla also took the opportunity to participate in the broader UGA Campus community, as a Student Ambassador, with the University of Georgia Student Veteran Resource Center, which supports US military veterans pursuing undergraduate, master level, and PhD degrees.

Finally, Kayla gave back to the greater Athens Community in her role as a Board Fellow, with a local non-profit, Canopy Aerial Studio. Kayla applied her passion to make an impact, and her MBA studies to write the organization’s DEI, social media, nepotism, and conflict resolution policies, while also assisting with grant writing and community outreach.

Kayla Vickers is a shining example of the lasting impact a motivated and committed person can make to her community and confirms why Kayla is such an invaluable additional to the Georgia MBA class of 2022.”

Paul Allaire
Associate Director, Career Education and Advising



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