EMBA Student Gleans Real-World Insights from Residency

August 31, 2023

Shawn Williams, a Dallas-based EMBA student, credits his program’s residency program with broadening his perspective on practical issues that impact his career in medical equipment manufacturing.

EMBA Student Gleans Real-World Insights from Residency

Shawn Williams

Shawn Williams never planned to pursue an MBA. His preference for practical, hands-on learning made him feel like he was “rubbing against the grain” as an undergraduate student. “I have always learned best when I can get out there in the field, do something with my hands and gain some practical experience,” he said.

He was skeptical that an MBA program would be any different from his undergraduate experience, but he begrudgingly enrolled in Baylor’s Dallas-based Executive MBA program at the urging of the president of the HuFriedyGroup, the dental division of STERIS, a leader in medical equipment manufacturing where he serves as a senior manager for North American operations.

Not long after joining Baylor’s EMBA program in January 2023, his tune began to change. “The program is much different than I thought it would be,” he said. “It is heavily focused on practical insights and application, and most of the assignments and exams involve real-world scenarios. I am thriving in this environment. It has completely exceeded my expectations.”

Notes from the Capital

Nowhere is Baylor’s practical, experiential approach to learning more evident than in the residency portion of the EMBA program.

Throughout their program, EMBA students participate in hands-on learning in three distinct environments: Waco, Washington, D.C., and an international location. In early June 2023, Shawn and his cohort kicked off their residency experience with a week in the nation’s capital, where they engaged in a series of meetings and visits that illustrate how the public policymaking process shapes the business environment.

“Baylor’s EMBA residencies allow students to immerse themselves in the complexities of innovation, legal and regulatory issues and global business,” Patsy Norman, associate dean of Graduate Business Programs, said. “The in-depth exposure provided across these three different, but complementary, areas equip our students to successfully lead and build resilient organizations.”

For five action-packed days, Shawn and his EMBA cohort learned about the inner workings of Washington from public officials, business leaders and lobbyists.

“This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet people I never would have been able to meet and hear perspectives I never would have heard otherwise,” Shawn said. “The trip provided an inside look at the dynamics that impact our companies.”

Shawn found a meeting with Brad Figel, vice president of public affairs – North America for Mars Incorporated, particularly impactful.

“’Policy, not politics,’ was the primary message Brad had for us,” Shawn said. “He challenged us to remember that colleagues and clients hold a wide range of opinions, and raising political issues that are not in the company’s ‘nexus’ only serves to divide and distract. These three words were simple yet grounding.”

HuFriedyGroup must navigate a complex web of regulations and approval processes, primarily at the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), to manufacture and sell state-of-the-art dental instruments.

“By focusing entirely on the policy environment surrounding the decision-making process at the FDA and other regulatory bodies, our team can move toward a common goal in a unified way,” Shawn said.

Another memorable meeting immersed Shawn’s EMBA cohort in the world of cybersecurity with Edward Buckley, senior vice president of global cyber public policy for Bank of America. For Shawn and his cohort, the behind-the-scenes details Ed shared were a “true wakeup call” to the threat posed by cybercrime and malware to companies in every industry.

“Our meeting with Ed highlighted specific conversations that needed to be happening at every level of an organization,” Shawn said.

Overall, he shared, the advice he gleaned over the course of his five days in Washington put him on “much stronger footing” to navigate regulation, security and other dynamics that impact his company.

New Perspectives

Shawn and his EMBA cohort will soon embark on the next phase of their residency—a 10-day trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Singapore, where they will undertake another series of meetings and learning modules that provide insights into conducting business on a global scale. Then, to finish the residency component of the EMBA program, they will participate in a five-day Waco Week that is centered on evaluating and improving leadership capabilities.

“I am really looking forward to adding more perspectives during these two trips,” Shawn said. “I have lived internationally before, but I have never had the opportunity to travel with a group of people from across industries. You get a diverse set of people into a new environment and a spark is ignited. I think these trips will shatter our expectations.”

Patsy Norman has watched students like Shawn experience both immediate and long-term benefits from the EMBA residency program.

“The broader perspectives spur our students to think differently about their current positions, companies and industries,” she said. “This can accelerate, and sometimes change, their career trajectories.”

As Shawn envisions future roles, he is confident that the real-world learning he has encountered at every stage of the EMBA program, particularly the residency, will serve him well.

“The practical insights and applications I continually take away from this program are keeping me engaged and challenged,” he said. “I started this degree to gain a credential. Now, I am doing it for me.”

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