2021 Best & Brightest EMBAs: Sanford Duke, Emory University (Goizueta)

Sanford Duke

Emory University, Goizueta Business School

Age: 50

I am a healthcare executive who is passionate about transforming the business of medicine.”

Hometown: Macon, GA

Family Members: Jennifer Duke, MD, Samuel Duke, Katherine Duke, Benjamin Duke

Fun fact about yourself: I practiced as an Ear, Nose, and Throat Surgeon for 20 years.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Duke University, BS; Medical College of Georgia, MD; Wake University Baptist Medical Center, Otolaryngology Residency

Where are you currently working? Atrium Health Navicent, Executive Vice President, Chief Clinical Officer Extracurricular Activities

Community Work and Leadership Roles: AOA Medical Honor Society; Boy Scouts of America – Assistant Scout Master, Board of Directors for Central Georgia Council, Wood Badge; Macon Civic Club; Macon Shield Club Order of St. John

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Selection for membership in the Beta Gamma Sigma honor society

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Leading our health system’s COVID response including development of virtual critical care platform, leading our incident command emergency response, and serving as the executive sponsor of our COVID vaccination program targeting vulnerable citizens in our community.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Omar Rodriguez – beyond being and fantastic professor and teacher, he led candid conversations around racial injustice last summer during the social unrest following George Floyd’s killing. He shared his research and a construct for affecting change within our corporations that has been invaluable as an executive trying to respond in a meaningful and lasting way.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? I chose Emory because of reputation, networking opportunity, and location.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? I have developed as a servant leader in large part due to the leadership classes at Emory

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? During the pandemic, much of work and classes were done from home. I was able to squeeze family time in during breaks, before classes and after work. We were able to spend a week at the beach together while I read for class and had team meetings. My children loved that I had homework, exams, and deadlines just as they did.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? The decision to return to school will certainly come with sacrifices, but these will be far outweighed by the rewards. Lean into the challenge. You will not regret the decision.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? You won’t have enough time. You can always find the time. The sacrifices that are required will seem small when balanced against the achievement.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I regret not having the time to take more electives from a broader array of subjects.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I most admire Paula Harmon. She is a testament to strength and character, juggling her roles as physician, wife, mother, entrepreneur, and African American leader.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? I chose the modular EMBA program at Emory because I value the opportunity to interact with my colleagues in person, and learn from their rich experiences.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I aspire to lead a healthcare system.

What made Dr. Duke such an invaluable addition to the class of 2021?

“Dr. Sandy Duke is a top-notch Executive MBA student. To complete an MBA degree during the perils of COVID-19 has been challenging for all, but especially for our students in the healthcare field. Despite all of these challenges, Dr. Duke has continued to be a stellar student contributing to his classmates and our school. Dr. Duke served as a cohort class officer representing his cohort for the entire duration of the program. He also served as a student representative during the school’s accreditation review. He has performed well in his courses and will be the recipient of many graduation awards. He is an asset to the Goizueta Business School community through his scholarship, commitment to business and society, and the improvement of healthcare for all.

When the students needed a representative to be the voice for the group, Dr. Duke didn’t hesitate to step up and speak out. His cohort values him as a trusted confidant and the program office appreciated his sincerity and candor. He is an outstanding individual and a great contribution to our graduate program.”

Jaclyn Conner
Associate Dean, Executive MBA




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