2017 Best EMBAs: Robert Alan Probe, Southern Methodist University (Cox)

Robert Alan Probe, MD

Southern Methodist University, Cox School of Business

“Dedicated, mission-driven, triathletic, endorphin-seeking, caring, compassionate, leading Orthopaedic Traumatologist, pragmatic, efficiency-loving, physician executive.”

Age:  56

Hometown: Nassau Bay, Texas

Family Members: 

Wife:              Barbara         Physician                   (1960)

Children:       Austin            PhD Aerospace        (1988)

Travis             Lieutenant USN       (1991)

Kurt                BA Business              (1993)

Victoria          Baylor University     (1995)

Fun fact about yourself: I spent a large part of my youth in the pool playing water polo.  Receiving AAU All-American honors and participating in the Colorado Springs Olympic training camps I’ve maintained the discipline by completing the Kona 70.3 Ironman in 5 hours and 32 minutes and winning the 2015 the Waco triathlon Masters Division.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

BS Medicine Cum Laude   Texas A&M University                   1982

MD Magna Cum Laude      Texas A&M College of Medicine 1984

Where are you currently working? Baylor Scott and White Health serving as their Chief Medical Officer

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: As Chairman of the Baylor Scott and White Board of Directors, I led our local United Way campaign, facilitating the doubling of contributions. I was recognized for these efforts in 2016 by receiving the “Leader of the Year” award.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school?  In 2017 I received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Texas A&M College of Medicine.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In 2012 I served as the President of the Orthopedic Trauma Association.  This professional society is recognized as the world’s leading specialty society in the field of Orthopedic Traumatology.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Dr. Tassu Shervani. His course brought attention to a number of simple frameworks that resided with the macro-environment, industry-environment and management sectors.  He then superimposed complex business situations onto these frameworks enlightening me for a lifetime.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? A valued mentor suggested that I needed the degree to ascend in leadership. After researching EMBA programs within a reasonable commuting distance, the SMU program was the consistent winner in national rankings and reputation. Decision made, application sent and sitting in statistics class within two weeks.  That orientation to action fits my personality.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? It was the opportunity to enhance leadership skills and tackle challenging problems implementing a team approach with class members with diverse work and life experiences was energizing and inspiring.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education?  The Scott & White physician group of 1,100 physicians for which I was the Board Chairman, hosts the “Clinic Club” every twelfth year. It so happened that it was my turn to organize and host this meeting on the very weekend in April 2016 when I was scheduled for our final in Finance class.  I vividly recall closing the three-day meeting and driving as fast as I could to my office to be proctored for this four-hour final.  While my performance on both of these responsibilities may have been compromised, it was a lesson into what people are capable of when challenged.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s executive MBA program?  Be honest with yourself about your ability to commit to the program. The highest potential returns are only recognized by those who put in the time outside of class.

What was your biggest regret in business school?  That I didn’t do it earlier. 

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Kurt Wobler deserves this distinction. As a member of my study group, he showed consistent dedication to excellence.  He strikes me as someone driven to learn and excel because of the joy it brings. Beyond this, he is friendly, affable, dependable and has a sharp intellect.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I was approached with the opportunity to assume the role of BSWH Chief Medical Officer upon completion of an MBA degree. Turned out, that the promotion came much earlier than planned, but things have worked out splendidly.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…in the same position I am now but more limited in my ability to contribute to the organization and grow in national stature.”

What is your favorite company and what are they doing that makes them so special? I may be the first to go here, but I’ll suggest the Japanese earth moving company, Komatsu, in 1985.  That company’s ability to compete with the Catepillar juggernaut through quality introduction and customer responsiveness is a lesson that I am applying today.

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the executive MBA experience?  There are a few professors whose commitment to the students fell below the high standards set by the majority of the faculty.  I am confident that evaluations are closely reviewed and appropriate actions taken.  Beyond this, I have few recommendations.  Through thoughtful reflection, the program has nicely balanced work-load, subject focus and opportunity for electives.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal?  My ultimate long-term professional goal is to improve American healthcareI see today’s system as capable of amazing cures but it resides within a delivery system that is restrictive, wasteful, inefficient, and often of poor quality. I’m driven to improve that environment for all of us whose well-being is dependent upon affordable health. I’m currently in one of the best positions in the country to participate in the needed Renaissance of American medicine.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? That would have to be my wife.  When I was promoted to the position of Chief Medical Officer shortly after starting the SMU Cox EMBA program, I thought the responsible response would be to focus on the new job and drop school. She reminded me that I was not one who ever quits anything and she encouraged me to persevere.  She not only gave me that necessary push, but she was there at every moment over the next 18 months to help me through.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you?  As someone who is willing to work hard for a greater good.

Favorite book:  Jim Collins, Good to Great

Favorite movie or television show:  Fareed Zakaria GPS

Favorite musical performer:  Yo-Yo Ma

Favorite vacation spot:  Crested Butte, Colorado

Hobbies:  Mountain biking, backcountry skiing, triathlon, piano

What made Robert such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“We call him ‘Super Doc’.  Dr. Bob Probe started the Executive MBA program after being promoted to Chief Medical Office of the Baylor Scott and White System in 2015. He commutes from Temple, Texas the home of Scott and White where he lives with his physician-wife. Temple is a three hour commute to Dallas four times a month.

What makes Dr. Bob so super is that on a typical Friday class day, he will leave his home at 4:00 a.m., attend morning class until 11:45, go for a half-mile swim, and get back for a late salad lunch.  After spending Friday evening at his in-laws near White Rock Lake in Dallas, I will see him riding his bike around the lake Saturday morning on my way to work and before class starts at 8:00 a.m.

Dr.  Bob will finish in the top 10 percent of his class academically. He’s been a terrific mentor to a number of younger students in the class.  Always positive and available to help out his classmates, I have never met a more motivated, efficient, results-oriented EMBA student.  That’s why he’s ‘Super Doc’.”   

Tom Perkowski
Assistant Dean
SMU Cox Executive MBA Program