The Baylor in Texas Residency: Strategy, Innovation, and Dreaming Big
By Suzi Morales
The Baylor in Texas Residency immerses students in all the Dallas Executive MBA (EMBA) program has to offer. The four-day program includes visits with entrepreneurs and established businesses, discussions with classmates, and intensive coursework, all with a focus on strategy and innovation.
Taking place on Baylor’s Waco campus and on-site with innovative companies around the state, the Baylor in Texas Residency also welcomes students into the Baylor community, which serves as an important foundation for networking during the program and beyond.
Beyond the classroom
The Baylor in Texas Residency takes classroom discussions into the real world.
“If you're sitting in the classroom, it's easy to read and discuss ideas, which you might assume are easy to implement,” Patsy Norman, associate dean of graduate programs at the Hankamer School of Business who leads the Texas residency, said. “But when you actually go talk to executives who are living what you're talking about, you see the challenges and you can talk about what might not be brought up in the academic literature.”
The 2023 Baylor in Texas Residency started out right on campus, at the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative (BRIC). The BRIC is a state-of-the-art research facility where Baylor faculty and staff collaborate along with industry partners on innovation in a variety of fields.
At the BRIC, students were impressed by not only the technologies they saw but also by the level of collaboration and community involvement. For example, the Central Texas Cyber Range, a joint venture between Baylor and McClennan Community College, opened in 2023 to provide cybersecurity training, research, consulting, and community engagement. One unique aspect of the Cyber Range is the emphasis on bringing together communities for the common good, such as building a diverse cybersecurity pipeline through the education of high school students.
“It was very refreshing to hear that the core idea was not purely technology commercialization but to also help mankind better communicate and capture the wonders of this beautiful planet,” Shravan Devarakond Bala Venkat Vamsi, an EMBA student, said. “This was a humbling experience as I realized that not everything should be viewed from a purely monetization lens.”
Students in the residency also traveled to Austin to visit Tesla’s Giga Texas and Amazon Web Services. While there, students heard from a panel of artificial intelligence experts from AWS and AI startups in a discussion around both the excitement about potential applications and concern with the fast pace at which AI is developing.
Students noted how the Tesla visit helped them see the importance of questioning how and why things are done and knowing when to challenge the status quo. For example, Tesla leaders challenged the common impulse to automate processes, encouraging students to instead first consider whether the process is necessary at all.
“Innovation comes from questioning the commonly accepted,” EMBA student Morgan Conque said. “In my industry, the answer is usually automation, but we shouldn’t assume it is automation of a process as it currently stands. An assessment and design of a ‘happy path’ for the most optimal process automation is necessary.”
Throughout the residency, students also work on group projects like presentations and case studies. Norman encourages students to talk to each other about their own jobs.
“By the end of the residency, they know the jobs that other people have and some of the challenges and they actually start talking offline about it,” Norman said. “They're staying at the same hotel, they're working, they're going to dinner together, so by the end of this class they really have developed that bond.”
The Baylor experience
The residency at the Waco campus solidifies the connection to the entire university.
“Being able to feel like they're a part of Baylor, and a part of the campus, is really important,” Norman said.
The 2023 residency included visits with Baylor Bears mascots Bruiser and Marigold, as well as the live black bears at the Baylor Bear Habitat, an accredited zoo on campus. Students also met with Hankamer School of Business Dean Sandeep Mazumder, representatives from the Career Center, and others who will support them throughout the EMBA program and beyond.
The Baylor in Texas Residency is one of what Norman calls “a trifecta of residencies” in the EMBA program. The Baylor in Washington, D.C., Residency focuses on government and society, while the international trip is part of the Global Strategic Management course. Norman notes that the Texas residency and the international trip serve as bookends for the entire EMBA program, each helping students to bond with their classmates and synthesize lessons about business strategy.
At the end of the Baylor in Texas Residency, students were asked how the trip would change what they did when they went back to work the following Monday.
“Now that we’ve returned from Waco Week, I’m feeling so many emotions including excitement, exhaustion, anxiety, yet confidence,” EMBA student Tasha Smith said. “The information shared was more applicable to my role today than I imagined it would be going into this trip. When I returned to work, I immediately shared what I learned and how it applies to two of my senior leaders.”
As they completed the residency and embarked on the EMBA program, students shared a sense of optimism. Several discussed how they would like to implement new technologies at their companies. Others said they saw the importance of cross-disciplinary collaboration.
“The world is ours to explore, learn from, and improve with new creations,” EMBA student Jennifer Adams said. “I will never stop dreaming.”