2023 Best & Brightest Executive MBA: Amy Jantz, Baylor University (Hankamer)

Amy Jantz

Baylor University, Hankamer School of Business

Age: 49

“Devoted to loved ones, passionate about making the world better, and disciplined around achieving life goals.”

Hometown: Born and raised in Redmond, WA and currently live in Double Oak, TX

Family Members:


Daughters-Erica (19) & Emily (17)

Fun fact about yourself: I was in high school when I accepted my first job in the optical industry as a cashier for Lenscrafters. Over the years, I worked in every store position before being promoted to multi-unit management. During this time, I worked full-time to help pay for my education. I’m an only child and the first person in my family to graduate from a university with an advanced degree. Fast-forward to today, I’m a Senior Vice President and believe that my story is inspiring. When I travel the field and meet our front-line associates, I tell them about my journey and that they too can achieve anything they set their mind to.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, WA – Associates Degree

Eastern Washington University in Cheney, WA – Bachelor of Science

altMBA – Udon cohort –Seth Godin

Where are you currently working?

National Vision, Inc. (2nd largest optical retailers in the nation)

Senior Vice President, Store Optimization & Implementation

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: Throughout the years, I have been involved with many organizations working to solve our global vision crisis. It all began years ago when I served as the Secretary for my local Lions Club chapter. I’ve traveled nationally and internationally on mission trips where patients are examined and provided free eyeglasses, a large majority for the very first time. I’ve also been involved in countless community health fairs, elementary school screenings, and more. I had the honored privilege in January to travel to Bangladesh with Visionspring on behalf of National Vision, Inc. to celebrate the 2 millionth pair of dispensed reading glasses under the RGIL program (Reading Glasses For Improved Livelihood). You wouldn’t believe the amount of unlocked earning potential and freedom a simple pair of glasses can provide. I will continue working & volunteering with organizations that serve our underserved populations giving the gift of sight.

Optical Women’s Association and ACHE member

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I would have to say being nominated for ‘Best & Brightest’ is the biggest highlight for me, next to graduating with my MBA! There were some really intelligent people in the program that blew me away on the regular with their deep knowledge and understanding of material. My undergraduate degree focused on public health, which lacked classes like accounting or economics. The EMBA program was truly my first exposure to many new subjects which challenged me in ways I didn’t expect. To be recognized in this manner is a tremendous surprise knowing the caliber of our cohort. However, I do know that I learned from them, they learned from me, and we brought the best out of one another.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I would have to say winning ‘District Manager of the Year’ in 2014 for the first time is an achievement I’m very proud of. That was the year I opened 15 retail locations in Dallas/Fort Worth and led our brand expansion into Texas. To this day, every new market is compared to DFW as the record holder of being the most successful market opening in company history. I certainly didn’t achieve the results on my own and surrounded myself with very talented leaders to support the effort. I had never opened a market larger than 4 locations, so taking on the TX expansion was a leap of faith. However, I knew I was capable and willing to put in the work to be successful. To complicate things even further, I lived in Arizona for the first 9 months and commuted into TX. The undertaking wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my family because 2014 was filled with challenges but lined with rewards.

It was the Texas market opening that launched my career at National Vision, Inc. and propelled me into larger roles of responsibility. Every time I look at the award, I think back to the dinner I hosted the night before our first store in TX opened. I toasted the team with this challenge, “Run a successful business and we’ll open more stores, potentially creating thousands of jobs for your fellow Texans”. Fast-forward 10 years later, we now operate 125 locations in TX and continue to grow every year. Many of the associates I hired are still working in stores and hundreds have been promoted from within. And yes, we ended up creating thousands of jobs!

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Making the choice to select a favorite MBA professor is an extremely difficult task. The level of instruction, expertise of professors, and supportive learning environment really makes it hard to choose just one. However, a definite stand out is Glenn Robinson. With my concentration in healthcare, our paths crossed multiple times during the course of the program. Glenn infuses his faith into instruction and embodies a man of integrity. He is passionate about inspiring the next generation of leaders to tackle the complex and fragmented healthcare system. The open classroom discussion was rich and interactive under Glenn’s direction. I’m inspired by his personal story and how positive he remains under stressful situations. He openly leans on his faith and spreads the message to keep chasing what matters. I plan to stay in touch with Glenn and hope he knows how impactful knowing him has meant to me personally.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? I chose the EMBA program at Baylor for two main reasons. First and foremost, I was very impressed by the reputation of Baylor and was looking for a school that aligned with my principles and values. Baylor University hit the nail on the head as a faith-based school that created diversity among the cohort to bring out the best of the team. Second, the classroom schedule and location fit nicely with my work schedule. I knew that I wanted to have an interactive classroom setting and one weekend a month felt about the right amount of time I could dedicate to in-class learning.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? There is no doubt that you learn so much while in pursuit of an MBA. While I have grown in my career in the same industry for over 30 years, I feel well-versed in the business and day-to-day operations. What I felt I lacked was the ability to make analytical and interpretative decisions from a basis of higher-level business knowledge. I have earned my seat at the table in which I sit but with that comes a great deal of responsibility.

Throughout my studies, I learned how to analyze and interpret data, financial statements, and understand the implications or why behind differing business decisions. I improved upon my leadership skills, more specifically the importance of collaboration, team building, and the art of negotiation. As a person of integrity, I’ve always made decisions based upon my ethics and studying at Baylor enhanced that trait along with understanding the delicate balance between meeting financial goals and social responsibility. However, the most important lesson learned was the importance of networking and learning from alternate industries. In our company, we always say, “We’re in the people business, we just happen to sell contacts & eyeglasses”. Having the exposure to my peers, and representing companies like Honeywell, 3M, Microsoft, and American Airlines really opened my eyes to the fact that similar challenges and solutions exist across the business spectrum. Building strong relationships and having a network of professionals to lean on and gain advice from is invaluable. In addition, the professors I met represent industry experts and are another avenue in which I can continue to learn from and lean on.

How have I applied my key learnings at work? Honestly, I can’t point to one thing I’ve changed or implemented as I believe the work application has been all encompassing. Spending the past 21 months completing my EMBA has awoken a more curious version of my former self. I ask more questions, seek to understand, develop solutions at a higher level, and collaborate with more people and departments. I think about long-range impact more than ever before and feel inspired to take on new challenges that I may not have felt equipped to handle prior to graduating.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? I have two bits of advice for anyone looking to enter an EMBA program. First, do not attempt this alone! There were several assignments that challenged me in ways I didn’t expect. However, someone else in the class might perform similar tasks in their daily work routine. Aligning yourself with a diverse study group is key and asking for help doesn’t represent weakness. As busy professionals with demanding work and home life schedules, you will burn out quickly if you don’t lean on your peers for guidance.

Second, contribute as a productive team member on group projects. Show up to scheduled meetings and bring with you the designated material. There is nothing more frustrating than working with a group member who doesn’t deliver on promises. It’s understandable that ‘life happens’, but communication is key. Bottom line, you don’t want to be the reason the group doesn’t perform well.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? The biggest myth about going back to school is that you don’t have the time. I’ve always worked hard and once I set my mind to a certain goal, there is no stopping me. Since it had been over 25 years since I’d stepped into the classroom as a student, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Many years ago, I began thinking about pursuing a masters level education. However, my career was growing and I was being promoted to advanced positions. Life was good! However, the voice inside my head kept nagging that my ‘bucket list’ had an MBA listed on it. With years of double tuition on the horizon the time was now or never. The financial component is one thing, but the time investment is the bigger hurdle to overcome. Loans can be repaid, but time is our only equalizer.

Don’t get me wrong: the time wasn’t easy to find. but I can assure you, it’s there. I will say that there are sacrifices endured by loved ones. You aren’t able to be present for all the events you used to attend so it’s so important that your family understands the goal you’re working towards. It’s not just the student going through the program but your family as well. That was the part I didn’t expect but was so thankful for the encouragement and support when I doubted myself.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The classmate that I admired most was Freddy Jackson for so many reasons. As a retired military veteran, Freddy spent 20+ years of his life serving our country and fighting for our freedom. He successfully transitioned out of the military and has risen in his career at Otis elevators. Freddy has a quick wit and uses sarcastic humor to either get a point across or lighten the mood. He was always thoughtful in discussion and showed up as a teammate. Freddy is someone who was always willing to go the extra mile, help when and where he could, and humble enough to know when to ask for help. I know this program didn’t come easily to Freddy and he put in the work to graduate with a 4.0 GPA. Did I mention Freddy and his wife had baby Olivia during all of this? I admire people like Freddy who don’t make excuses, work hard, contribute every step of the way, and celebrate the wins as a team.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? When I began researching different programs, I started from a place of little knowledge. What I did know is that my job was very demanding and as a mother of two teenage girls plus a daunting travel schedule, I was leaning towards an online platform. In fact, when I originally reached out to several schools, it was the online programs I inquired about. However, when I spoke to several directors and became more educated on the differences, I knew the EMBA program in conjunction with live instruction alongside a cohort was the setting for me. Now looking back, it was the in-class discussion and learning from the experiences of our cohort that I’ll cherish the most. While I’m disciplined enough to have studied online, I don’t believe I would’ve been as fulfilled at the end. As for a part-time approach, I never even considered it. I’d rather put in the work for a shorter period of time rather than drag out the process over 3-4 years.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal?

I plan to rise to a COO role of a publicly traded company.

I would love to be a keynote speaker at a leadership conference or Ted Talk.

I want to be a published author.

What made Amy such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“Amy was a standout from the first day of class. Her enthusiastic approach to learning was evident in how she engaged with her classmates and especially our guest speakers. I could always count on Amy to have great questions that led all of us to more insightful discussions and learning. In addition to her sharp mind, Amy always brought her excellent leadership skills into the classroom. Her ability to share her professional experiences with the class was impressive. Whether it was an individual assignment – or a team project, I always knew Amy would be the first to submit her work. In addition, I knew Amy would also complete her assignments filled with creativity and diligence. It was no surprise to me as to how well Amy performed in both of my classes.”

Glenn A. Robinson, FACHE
Adjunct Lecturer, Baylor University
President & Founder, Pacer Consultants, LLC

“Amy has a deep curiosity, which is a characteristic that has made her both an impressive student and a talented executive, and one that became evident on her first day in our program. She thinks critically about course material and in-class discussions, often prompting her to ask challenging questions that enrich the classroom experience for everyone. Amy’s deep curiosity is joined by a strong work ethic; a willingness to lead and contribute to all aspects of our program; a great sense of humor; and a positive, can-do attitude that is infectious. These are just a few of the reasons that Amy has been such a successful student. These same qualities will propel her career to even greater heights.”

Dr. Patricia Norman
Associate Dean of Graduate Business Programs, Associate Professor, Baylor University


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