2020 Best & Brightest EMBA: Sam Jordan, Texas Christian University (Neeley)

Sam Jordan

Texas Christian University, Neeley School of Business

Age: 35

“Quiet yet passionate leader committed to human flourishing so the future is brighter than today.”

Hometown: Fort Worth, Texas

Family Members: Patricia (wife), Isabella (3), and Sophia (8 mos)

Fun fact about yourself: I ran the Boston Marathon shadow run sponsored by the Boston Athletic Association on Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan while deployed during Operation Enduring Freedom. Few people get the chance to run a marathon in a combat zone with a fan section consisting of helicopters and Humvees providing overwatch.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Texas A&M University, Bachelor of Business Administration

Texas Tech University School of Law, Doctor of Jurisprudence

Where are you currently working? Electro Acoustics Inc., General Manager. Electro Acoustics is a commercial audio/video (AV) and lighting company serving North Texas. Electro Acoustics inspires people to entertain, educate, and edify by crafting exceptional communication tools.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: I am a Judge Advocate General (JAG) officer in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. As a major, I provide leadership and mentorship for junior officers at Goodfellow Air Force Base’s legal office as well as advise on military justice matters. While on Active Duty, I opened the first office among the northern-tier bases providing legal services to victims of sexual assault for North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana. As a Reservist, I elevate the Command response to sexual assault by bringing my prior experiences of prosecuting sexual assaults and supporting survivors to the legal office and unit commanders.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Towards the end of the program, the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce selected my company as the Small Business of the Year. The changes and investments I was making in Electro Acoustics and our team were the immediate application of what I was learning in class. Our class discussions about strategy, statistics, and innovation all equipped me to guide Electro Acoustics through a pivotal year of incredible growth, culminating in the Small Business of the Year Award. TCU’s program truly is where “class starts on Friday, and ROI starts on Monday.”

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? My brother and I began buying out our parents in the business they founded 36 years ago. Transitioning the business to the second generation is an incredible feat, something that very few family businesses achieve. I am proud of my parents for building a robust and growing company, and for instilling in me the character I need to carry on their work. Signing the purchase agreement was an emotional moment for us as a family. Now I am focused on stewarding the business for my daughters and nephew.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? This is not a question that can be answered. There are two professors, however, who most challenged my thinking in the program: Dr. In-Mu Haw (Managerial Accounting) and Dr. Mary Uhl-Bien (Complexity Leadership). Dr. Haw’s unique insights about understanding where value comes from redefined how I look at financial statements and budgets. His groundbreaking work was a fresh approach to a subject that has dogged me since undergrad. Dr. Uhl-Bien likewise challenged my perspective with the distinction between leading through complex challenges versus complicated challenges. Her innovative work prepared me to lead my team through the coronavirus pandemic. Both of these professors, as was true for the entire TCU EMBA faculty, created an engaging, discussion-focused environment.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? TCU’s EMBA program has a reputation for developing strategic leaders. Even though I lead a small family business, the leadership challenges I face are the same ones larger companies face. TCU also recruits many veterans each year for its program. I believe graduate schools should invest in equipping service members making the transition from military service to civilian service. The alumni network is very active and strong in Fort Worth, which is a testament to the program’s strength.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? The cohort was the best aspect of the program. TCU did a masterful job of assembling a high-caliber group (despite the fact I slipped in at the last minute). I learned so much from my colleagues’ experiences. They offered me valuable insights into how I can grow. We all cared about each other and invested in each others’ success. Our lively in-class discussions made the learning environment the best I have encountered over my academic career. Of my three degrees, this was the most engaging experience.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? One of our last classes focused on the emerging body of work around complexity leadership. Right as classes concluded, COVID-19 disrupted everything I had been building. I am presently using Dr. Mary Uhl-Bien’s Complexity Leadership Model as my blueprint for pivoting my company from serving large venues to small spaces and individuals. With this model, I am choosing my path forward instead of merely reacting to the latest COVID-19 order. TCU’s EMBA program has prepared me to lead Electro Acoustics through the greatest challenge I have faced in my professional life.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? My wife is the secret to my success—in life, work, and school. Without her support (and cooking), I probably would have starved. Can she get a degree, too? Perhaps with the distinction “coniunx cum laude”? Connection with family was a blessing throughout the program. We took trips to Colorado and Costa Rica to be with family. Those breaks were vital in sustaining our family—giving us some together time—and my sanity. Even though school came with me, the work seemed less taxing when I was working on a patio overlooking a trout stream in the mountains.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Be intentional with your time, your goals, and your family. There are easier ways to get plaques on a wall—the EMBA will push you (in a good direction). You will get the most out of the experience when you are intentional with your time. Carve out time to focus on your family. Carve out time for your studies. Carve out time for yourself. Have a reason for pursuing the EMBA because knowing “why” you are making the effort will sustain you through the more challenging courses or those times where you feel overwhelmed.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? I heard that math and calculations were not an emphasis in an EMBA program—the focus was theory and application. While that is generally true (especially in contrast to a finance or accounting MBA), I did have to run the numbers and perform the calculations. Maybe the math was not an emphasis, but it was certainly a requirement that made me more capable.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I regret not investing more in the relationships with my colleagues during the program. Fortunately, now that we have finished the program, we all have more time to develop our relationships.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? All of my colleagues were outstanding, though I would highlight Jason Roberson. In addition to providing great insights during class, Jason navigated two career transitions (including starting his own marketing firm) and co-authoring a book. Jason is an optimistic, thoughtful, humble, and caring leader, husband, and father. I hope to impact others as he has.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…in my first week at my company, after leaving the Air Force and the practice of law, I knew I needed help. I was an expert at cross-examination and the intricacies of search and seizure rules. But I had not seen an income statement since college. I struggled to grasp the bigger picture. If I was going to lead the family business as a second-generation owner, I needed to develop better business acumen quickly—30 families depended on me being prepared for the challenge. I was reading 2-3 business books a month, but I needed to accelerate the learning process. And that is what TCU’s EMBA did for me.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My goal is the same as my father’s: build the business so that my daughters can take over the business from me and carry it forward for another generation.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I want them to remember that I care deeply about their success and that I am here to support them in any way I can—personally or professionally.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Attend all four tennis grand slam events with my wife (because who doesn’t want to go to London, Paris, Melbourne, and New York City)! Visit the Guinness Brewery in Dublin to see with my own eyes what a family business can achieve over centuries of diligent effort.

What made Sam such an invaluable member of the Class of 2020?

“Sam Jordan was very excited about everything he was learning. He frequently shared stories about how he applied a topic from class in his business throughout the semester.”

Dr. Ray Smilor
Professor Emeritus in Entrepreneurship

“He was applying what he was learning in each class to his own company and see how it worked and how much it helped. He generously helped other students who had less quantitative backgrounds.”

Dr. In-Mu Haw
Accounting Professor


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