2017 Best EMBAs: Michael G. Fox, University of Virginia (Darden)

Michael G. Fox

University of Virginia, Darden School of Business

“Inquisitive, Industrious, Compassionate, Discerning, Analytical and Driven.”

Age: 48

Hometown: Scottsdale, AZ

Family Members: Katherine (wife); Marie (10), Elizabeth (8), Michael (6), Jonathan (1).

Fun fact about yourself: I visited 4 continents before I was 30.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Missouri – Kansas City. Combined 6 year B.A./M.D. program, 1992.

Where are you currently working? Mayo Clinic Arizona

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles:

  • Participate in children’s school and sporting events.
  • Musculoskeletal Division Chair, Department of Radiology Mayo Clinic Arizona; Served as a reviewer for several international radiology journals

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of achieving a distinguished performance (DP) in the second Leadership Residency (LR-2) that emphasized “leading change.” This was my second DP in a non-quantitative course (business ethics was my first). This DP helped give me the confidence that I could expand my repertoire beyond the quantitative courses which I realize is critical to succeeding in business, medicine and life in general.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of being selected as a Fellow of the American College of Radiology (ACR) in 2015. Being an ACR Fellow is an honor reserved for approximately 10% of the more than 30,000 ACR members.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? As a physician, I considered applying to a program that had a concentration in healthcare. After discussions with several leaders in both business and medicine, I realized that a general MBA would be more useful in helping me achieve my goal of being a future leader in medicine. Darden is nationally recognized for educational excellence, outstanding teaching faculty and general management expertise. I knew that attending Darden would be an amazing experience.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? I enjoyed the interaction with my classmates when discussing challenging business management issues. Many of my classmates are leaders in their respective industries that include banking and finance, the military and government. Others are successful business owners or entrepreneurs. My classmates differing approaches to issues often challenged me to be more open in my thinking. I will now usually seek out the opinions of others when making important decisions or developing strategy.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? There are many stories I could relate as during the MBA program, I became a father for the fourth time, accepted the Musculoskeletal Division Chair position at Mayo Clinic Arizona which required my family to move across the United States, sold a home in Charlottesville, VA, and bought a home in Scottsdale, AZ. However, one moment that required more “juggling” than typical was when my wife was induced with our 4th child on March 16th, the day before one of the Term 4 “on grounds” was to start. She wasn’t due until March 17th, but she requested the induction a day early so I would not miss the in residence portion of Term 4. However, our child was not born until after 3 a.m. on March 17th. After a few hours of sleep and after my in-laws arrived, my wife encouraged me to attend the March 17th afternoon classes. I remember walking into the middle of an operations class on identifying bottlenecks and making capacity decisions which was rather ironic as I seemed to have reached a maximum capacity issue myself. The entire experience was rather surreal.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? I think that the biggest myth for me was that when I went back to school, my home and work life could remain the same. Even though I had previously completed medical school, an internship and a diagnostic radiology residency, it was ~25 years ago and before I was married with children. Completing an MBA through an executive format requires one to make choices and to prioritize various aspects of one’s work, school and family life. In my case, being able to dedicate the required time to my MBA studies was significantly encouraged by my wife as she “picked up the slack” in the other areas of my life.

What was your biggest regret in business school? My biggest regret in business school is that I was not able to attend another global business experience. As an Army veteran, I was very jealous when I learned of the wonderful experiences that some of my classmates had when they went on a global business trip to Normandy. That would have been quite memorable for me, especially since I had written an essay about “Operation Overlord” many years ago.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I most admire Adreain Henry. Adreain is the Chief of the Bowden Eye Care and Health Institute at University of The Incarnate Word Rosenberg School of Optometry. Adreain is always willing to go the extra mile for a colleague. He is hard-working, friendly and driven. We spent time getting to know each other, and he shared with me some of his experiences as an African-American professional. I appreciated his openness and confidence in me by sharing these stories.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…we (my wife and children) were driving back from vacation in March 2015, and my wife casually said that she thought that I should apply to business school and that I would do well. I knew my math skills were strong, but I was nervous about my ability to keep up with people with business backgrounds and currently in the finance and banking industries. She realized that I had a passion for business and financial markets and recognized my strength in analyzing numbers. She also recognized that I could benefit from leadership and general management skills. Finally, with the current trend in medicine, I needed to be able to speak both the medical and business languages fluently.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…currently applying to business school. I realized that I wanted more of a challenge and opportunity than what my prior job offered. Obtaining an MBA from a highly regarded program would provide me with opportunities, many of which I could not even imagine, by placing me in the company of tremendous, accomplished colleagues.”

What is your favorite company and what are they doing that makes them so special? Energy Recovery, Inc. They are on the cutting edge in technology that reduces that amount of energy required for desalination plants among other industrial uses. As a new resident of Arizona, a company that is the vanguard in energy conservation and clean water production should be recognized.

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the executive MBA experience? I would design a system that would better allow for executive MBA students to interact with executives from large private and publically traded companies. Since Darden has robust executive education course offerings, this could be accomplished by simultaneously having the executive MBA students and the corporate executives on grounds and arranging joint dinners and social activities. This would benefit both the companies and the EMBA students.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Ultimately, I would like to be either a senior executive or the Chair of Radiology at a large medical institution.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? Without a doubt I would thank my wife, Katherine. She provided me the encouragement to apply to business school, the support to keep my life on track, and the time to give the program my all. She definitely knew that I would thoroughly enjoy the experience.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would want to be remembered as someone who always searched for deeper meaning in a case in order to encourage discussion and learning; a leader with integrity and a peer who respected his classmates.

Favorite book: His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph J. Ellis

Favorite movie or television show: Top Gun

Favorite musical performer: Rush

Favorite vacation spot: Charleston, S.C.

Hobbies? Travel, Reading, Investments

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

“I had the pleasure of having Michael as a student in two graduate level Accounting for Managers courses during the Fall and Spring semesters last year. Without hesitation, I can say he was one of the strongest students in a group of very talented executives. When he spoke in class, he demonstrated an ability to integrate complex material into workable frameworks that other students could immediately use. He placed near the top of my class based on raw test scores alone, but most importantly he frequently asked penetrating questions or made insightful comments that demonstrated his abilities were not purely about nailing material on exams. Given he came to my courses with very little background in the subject of accounting, while others were CPAs and financial analysts by trade, this was even all the more impressive.

Michael’s performance in his other courses also show consistent excellence. We score no more than 15 percent of the class as “distinguished,” and notably in every quantitative based course (Economics, Finance, Decision Analysis, and Accounting) he reached that level. This is a remarkable achievement, again given the set of students we tend to have in the program. His performance in other business subjects (Leadership, Marketing, and Operations) was also very solid. On the whole he is undoubtedly one of our top students, who is mastering “enterprise leadership.”

On a personal level, I have enjoyed getting to know Michael very much. He gets along with others very well, and he has done an excellent job of balancing his many responsibilities. But you likely know all of those personal qualities already.”

Paul Simko

Associate Dean

University of Virginia, Darden School of Business


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