2019 Best EMBAs: Mary Britt Nichols Murphy, Vanderbilt University (Owen)

Mary Britt (“Mamie”) Nichols Murphy

Owen School of Management, Vanderbilt University

“I am honest, positive, a good communicator, creative problem solver, collaborative, passionate and fun.”

Age: 30

Hometown: Nashville, TN

Family Members:

  • Husband – Carl David Murphy
  • Baby Murphy due in August 2019 (first child)
  • Mother – Elizabeth Litterer Nichols
  • Father – J. Donald Nichols
  • Maternal Grandmother – Dr. Jean Gray Litterer

Fun fact about yourself: I was named after my great-grandmother, who lived to be 107 (and lived with our family for 10 years).

Undergraduate School and Degree: Bachelor of Science from Vanderbilt University.

Where are you currently working? Premise Health, AVP of Growth Strategy

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: Beta Gamma Sigma (International Business Honor Society); Chairman of THE LATE PARTY, a fundraiser for 30-39 year-olds, benefitting Cheekwood Fine Arts Museum and Botanical Gardens; served on the leadership committees for events benefitting The Nashville Symphony Orchestra and The Nashville Ballet; I lead the Client Advisory Board and Product Team for Premise Health

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of my work on the ‘Launching the Venture’ project in the fall of 2018. Not only was my idea selected by my team, but I also served as a team leader for the project. We were very excited when we won the competition for best Venture (on four counts), and that our teacher later stated that our project was the best one he had ever seen.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? After working for a consulting firm in New York for two years, I was recruited back to a Nashville-based health care company. The CEO of MRA (Medical Reimbursements of America) felt that my experience and expertise in the field could be the secret to leveraging their sales success, particularly since valuations were based upon implemented sales, not upon sales that had not been implemented. As the goal was to sell the company to a P.E. firm, the role of implementations was key. I led the implementations for MRA for two years to a successful outcome.

What was your favorite MBA course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? My favorite course was Launching the Venture with Michael Burcham. Not only is Professor Burcham an inspiring entrepreneur, but he demands excellence. His class was the most difficult, but also showed me the passion and dedication required to start a company.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? I am a Nashville native and current (and future) Nashville resident and a huge ‘Vandy fan’. Owen was an obvious choice given the networking opportunities in the health care field and the fact that I want to build my career and life in Nashville.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? The peer network that I have developed in the process. Some of my classmates, especially my teammates, have become my confidantes and sounding boards. My relationships will extend far beyond my two years at Owen and I am forever grateful for that. I should add that given I was in the Executive Program, I loved the fact that I was able to apply what I was learning in school to work and vice-versa, in real time.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? Above all, I was forced to become efficient. This has served me well professionally and personally, and it will continue to add value as I take on another important role in life (e.g., becoming a mother) in August, while continuing to pursue a career.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family, and education? From June 2018 to October 2018, I was performing two roles at work: entering my second year as an EMBA student and trying to maintain my sanity at home. During this time, I managed to excel in my two roles (thus leading to a promotion), make straight A’s, and take a (well-deserved) 10-day trip to the South of France with my husband.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? This is a significant time commitment and it is critical that your supervisor, work team, and family are supportive of your choice.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? Many people view continuing their education as a break from ordinary work life and another chance at reliving the fun of their college experience. While extremely interesting, an Executive MBA program doesn’t have the ‘fun factor’ built in!

What was your biggest regret in business school? I was unable to go on our class trip. The location selected was South America, and I, unfortunately, was unable to travel to this destination, per doctor’s orders, given my pregnancy and concerns with the Zika virus.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I most admire my friend and classmate, Madhu Murphy, who spends her days, nights, and weekends at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital working as a pediatric trauma surgeon, while also managing to excel in school. Whenever I think that I have a “high stress” job, I reflect upon what Madhu deals with on a daily basis, which really puts things in perspective.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…When I graduated from college, I knew that I would eventually find myself in business school since Vanderbilt does not offer business as a major.  During my first two jobs, I became more convinced that I should follow this course of action as I felt I would benefit greatly by the learnings and networking that business school would offer.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My long-term professional goal is to start my own business and successfully exit that business. I started a business when I was 13, which I built and operated for 5 years. Although the business vertical was somewhat unsophisticated (a summer kids camp), I enjoyed huge success in this venture and learned a lot. I have had the opportunity in my career to be involved in a number of areas, from operations to implementation to sales and marketing to strategy and innovation. My long-term professional goal is to start, build, and successfully exit my own business and lead a team to enjoy the benefits associated therewith.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? As a dependable friend and/or co-worker who is honorable, innovative and motivational; someone with whom they always want to spend more time.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Starting a family and traveling to Australia/New Zealand.

What made Mamie such an invaluable addition to the class of 2019?

“Mamie has been a standout member of this year’s class in several ways. To begin, her fellow students have tremendous respect for her, and she is one of the top academic performers in the class. I know I certainly appreciated having Mamie in my strategy class. She brought a unique mix to the classroom of a sharp intellect, great attitude, and meaningful industry experience. Her comments in class discussions demonstrated the important, but often rare, ability to meaningfully connect academic concepts with experiences in the work world. Having students like Mamie who can be bringing relevant, real-world experience into class discussions is so essential because it helps everyone else in the class clearly understand conceptual material.

Mamie’s passion for healthcare and entrepreneurship also makes her a noteworthy member of this year’s class. I expect to see her as the founder of a healthcare IT company in the not too distant future. Her team used a business concept of hers to place first in our Launching the Venture class, which requires students to develop and pitch a new venture idea to a panel of outside (real-world) investors. She was a key driver of the team’s success in this challenging exercise. I also know that Mamie has been willing to go above and beyond to take advantage of opportunities offered outside the requirements of the EMBA program to develop her skills. And, she manages to achieve all of this while excelling in her career and maintaining a genuinely friendly and gracious manner. We are very fortunate to have had her as a member of our program for the past two years.”

Brian McCann

Associate Professor of Strategic Management


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