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Alumni Panel Recap: “The best time to do it is yesterday.”

Every preview luncheon features a panel of alumni who offer their personal insight into the benefits, challenges and experience of the TCU Neeley Executive MBA program. Here are some of our favorite soundbites from the November 8 luncheon.

November 20, 2017

The Panel

Kevin Grace, ’15
General Partner, Agile Management Enterprises
Kevin decided to pursue the program during a period of personal growth after selling his previous business.

Jeff Montgomery, ’13
Vice President of Lending, Cendera Bank
Jeff felt he had reached a glass ceiling in his industry, and needed ammunition to break past it.

Dr. S. David Lloyd, ’15
Medical Director, North Texas Specialty Physicians
A medical doctor who had recently taken an administrative position, David realized he needed to learn more about business – and how to avoid the common mistakes of an industry in turmoil.

Nov alumni panel


“Once, my wife got sick and said, ‘Take care of me like you’d care for your patients.’ I said, ‘So, you want me to write some orders?’ Because that’s all I did. So a big part of the program for me was understanding people, learning how to lead the day-to-day operations as well as how to lead change.”

“My transformation was twofold. I learned a completely different vernacular to interact with the people in my organization that really added respectability. Second, through the teams in the program, you’re always either leading or following on class projects, and sometimes following is the best way to learn to lead.”

“I had a great experience with my team. In the challenging environment of mergers and acquisitions, you see exceptional leaders shine. Most of my business partners today graduated from the program; it’s been amazing to see how well they lead in challenging environments.”


“Definitely, you make lifelong connections. I just spent time on Monday with a group of alumni, I’m spending time with alumni today, and will be again Thursday and Saturday. The program is an incredible process, a trial by fire that forges relationships in a pressure cooker.”

“It’s changed my life in terms of business relationships forged in the program. I don’t know if I would have found that elsewhere.”

“You know, it’s easy to forge relationships in your own industry, but here you have this vast, broad variety of people who become valuable connections.” 


“I started a business with three other alumni, so our team had an interesting opportunity, applying everything we learned in the program every day. The ROI has been tremendous. We’re the same team, we speak a common language, so there’s less legwork to get things done.”

“I report to a physician who has even less business training than I did. We have some part time physicians who are paid by the hour, and he asked if we needed to hire another person. I was able to sit down and do a source vs. outsource analysis and make an informed recommendation.”

“I find my capacity expanded. Going to work full time, going to school full time, having a kid, being social and being a friend full time. A huge ROI for me was expanding confidence in myself and my ability to manage my time. I became a much better employee even though they gave me every other Friday off.” 


Sean Carr (Partner, Stoneborough Management) asked, “What did you learn from each other?”

“You get such a diversity of experience in the room. In my first group, I had executive director at ADP, a project manager at Bell, a hospitality management executive, a serial entrepreneur, and I was a banker.

At a high level, we didn’t have much in common with each other. But in that TCU EMBA environment, when you’re spending lots of time together, learning their unique business perspectives, you start to see ways you can apply their experiences to your current and future experience. You learn as much from each other as from the faculty.”

Ayotunde Gibbs (director, GameStop) asked “What about the cost and the time commitment? What changes did you make?”

“Well, my wife and I had a child mid-program. There’s just no ‘good time’ to go through the program. You’re always going to be busy. But if you put it off, you might miss the opportunity that’s going to have the greatest impact on your career. The best time to do it is yesterday. As far as the cost, the potential it unleashes within you is well worth what you borrow to go. I had mine paid off in three years, and I borrowed every penny.”

“I set aside two hours every evening during the week to study, whether I thought I needed to or not. Then I reevaluated where I was on weekends.” 

Alumni around the room started to chime in on this question.

Kim Speairs, ’14:
“I’m a single mom, and I understand the challenges with family. My advice is to learn to ask for and accept help. I leaned on teammates, family, friends. And plan accordingly. Eighteen months does go by fast. There’s always a guilt factor, but it can be an amazing inspiration for your children; a great way to motivate them to pursue higher education.”

Neal Shields, ’08:
“When you get out of the program, you won’t just know things you didn’t know before; you’ll pay attention to elements you didn’t even notice before, and you’ll ask questions that you wouldn’t have known to ask about the elements you didn’t pay attention to before.”

The panel shared much more insight that we didn’t list here. Join us for the next preview luncheon and don’t miss a word.