2021 Best & Brightest EMBAs: Caitlin Maddox, Southern Methodist University (Cox)

Caitlin Maddox 

Cox School of Business, Southern Methodist University

Age: 35

I’m on a mission to be the best version of myself while building others up.”

Hometown: Dallas, TX

Family Members: Husband, Michael; son, Dillon (7); daughter, Ellie (4)

Fun fact about yourself: I went skydiving the day I turned 18!

Undergraduate School and Degree: The University of Texas at Austin, Bachelor of Business Administration

Where are you currently working? As I complete the program, I am exploring businesses to buy or start.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles:

SMU Cox Distinguished Business Leader, inducted Fall of 2020

Beta Gamma Sigma, Business Honor Society

Genesis Women’s Shelter: Young Leaders Board Member, 2019-Present

Lakewood Early Childhood PTA: Board Member, Auction Party Chair, 2019-Present

Lakewood Elementary PTA: Room Representative, 2020-2021

Board Member, Marketing and Communications, 2021-present

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Academically, I am proud to have maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout the entire program.  From an extracurricular standpoint, during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in the summer of 2020, I organized an effort for my class to donate meals to a local women’s shelter, given the increase in domestic violence survivors seeking help during stay-at-home orders.  We were able to deliver more than 700 catered meals over the course of five weeks.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In 2009, I received a Challenge Coin from U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates for public affairs work on Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jet program.  My grandfather was a military pilot, which made this honor even more meaningful.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Dr. Don Vandewalle was my favorite professor. He does an excellent job engaging students and facilitating productive and educational conversations during his lectures.  Vandewalle, a management professor, embraces the fact that EMBA students have a lot to offer in a classroom discussion.  He fosters an environment in which students build off one another when discussing professional experiences, enabling them to learn from each other as well as from him.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? I was attracted to SMU Cox’s Business Leadership Center (BLC), which develops MBA students by fostering conversation and addressing leadership challenges through seminars, its executive speaker series, experiential leadership programs, and coaching.  Also, SMU’s Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship equips students to launch entrepreneurial ventures, which is my ultimate goal.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? Establishing trust within a team is critical to its success.  This lesson can be applied to any team at work or in your community.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? During the COVID-19 pandemic, homeschooling my two young kids was an unexpected twist!  I juggled teaching my kindergartener how to tell time while watching asynchronous economics lectures in our backyard in the spring of 2020.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Make sure your spouse is 100% supportive of your decision to enter the program, especially if you have young kids.  My husband was very supportive. Without that, it would have been difficult.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I wish I had done it sooner, but it’s never too late.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? There are so many I admire!  I definitely admire Katy Wittig.  Our children are around the same age, but she has three kids whereas I have two. I always found myself thinking, “If she can do it, I can!” I also admire Jon Lee.  He owns a small chain of fast-casual restaurants which were inevitably impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic, but he maintained a positive attitude throughout.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? The Cox Executive MBA program offers more networking opportunities to connect with professionals from your peer group as compared to online or part-time programs.  These networking opportunities, as well as the on-campus resources and seminars, led to my decision to pursue SMU’s EMBA program.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My ultimate goal is to build and scale an organization that makes a positive impact on people and the community.

What made Caitlin such an invaluable addition to the class of 2021?  

“When Caitlin Maddox applied to the Cox EMBA program, she wrote in her application essays that when people “have the bandwidth to help people succeed, it creates opportunities for them.” She is an admirer of Angela Duckworth, author of Grit, which extols the value of persistence. Caitlin, the mother of two young children, is graduating with a 4.0 GPA after having persisted through the COVID crisis and reached out to help not only her classmates, but the community beyond campus.

In a 2018 performance review, Caitlin shared that her boss wrote, “She (Caitlin) always looks for problems regardless of where they are and who “owns them”. This sums up Caitlin’s time in the Cox EMBA program—-looking for opportunities to help others. One example of this occurred when students went virtual in March of 2020. Students in the EMBA Program still had the opportunity to have their meals delivered to their homes since they were not in the classroom. Caitlin sits on the Board of Directors for the Genesis Women’s Shelter in Dallas. Working with Scott Fernandez and his catering company, Caitlin decided to donate her prepared Executive Education meals to the Shelter during COVID. I invited the entire class to do the same and received an incredible response. In the end, our EMBA class donated more than 600 meals.

One of Caitlin’s classmates shared that Caitlin has been relentless in her pursuit of excellence. He told me that “She pushed and drove all of us to be our best and put forward our best.  We happened to have a group of really high achievers already, and even still, Caitlin always encouraged us to go a step beyond. She was always willing to go the extra mile and step up to do whatever was needed for us to be successful as a team – Caitlin would carry whatever load was necessary for our success! She was always there to encourage us and often the first to recognize our success as a team!  I’m grateful for her contributions but most of all her friendship.

Obviously, Caitlin has been true to what she wrote in her application essay, and we’re all the better for it.”

Tom Perkowski
Assistant Dean, Cox Executive MBA Program



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