2023 Best & Brightest Executive MBA: Brittany Davies, Brigham Young University (Marriott)

Brittany Davies

Brigham Young University, Marriott School of Business

Age: 36

“Boy mom, lifelong learner, and the most awesome HR leader you know.”

Hometown: Payson, Utah

Family Members: I live with my husband Alex and our two young boys, Hank and McCoy. Hank is five and McCoy is nine.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Bachelor’s degree in business administration from Stevens Henager College and master’s degree in human resources from University of Phoenix.

Where are you currently working?  I work for Purple. (Yes, the mattress company. And yes, I know their products are amazing!) I was recently promoted to vice president of people operations and talent acquisition.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles:  Between school, work, and my boys, I don’t have many extracurricular activities. As I approach finishing up school, I intend to get more involved with a few groups where my passions align. For example, my nine-year-old is type 1 diabetic, and we would like to get more involved with juvenile diabetes.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? One of the best components of BYU Marriott’s program is the course EMBA 595: Razor’s Edge: Intentional Principles for Leading and Thriving. This class is interspersed throughout the entire program. It focuses on building a life of passion, meaning, and joy. This class sets the program apart from other EMBA programs.

During our epic learning adventure in Moab, I struggled a lot with the mountain biking. During our first ride, I crashed into a ravine. I was not majorly injured, but I walked away with bumps, scratches, and some gnarly bruises on my knees. You could actually see the imprint of the peddle into the bruise on my knee.

On the second ride, I was nervous about going through the same ravine. I looked at our guide and told her that I should probably walk. She encouraged me to try to ride it. I took her advice and rode it successfully. It was the highlight of my trip.

When I returned from the trip, my nine-year-old asked about my bruises. I explained to him that I’d just come home from a school trip where I went mountain biking, canyoneering, and water rafting. I showed him pictures of the giant arch that we repelled from and proudly lifted my leggings to show him the gnarly bruises from the mountain biking accident. He was shocked and said, “Mom why would you do those things?” My response was, “Because sometimes in life you have to learn to do hard things.” This statement has become a mantra for me. And I wore those bruises as a badge of honor for several weeks.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of my implementation of paid parental leave at my last organization. Within the project, we were able to fully fund the policy and save the organization over 100 thousand dollars per year as well as provide an essential benefit to parents. I’m passionate about supporting women and parents within the work that I do.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Too many amazing people to choose from! As a person, Colby Wright was such an incredible human being. While I have little passion for corporate finance, he inspired me as a person in almost every class.

Other amazing professors include: Troy Nielsen, who genuinely builds relationships and cares about the success of his students; John Bingham and Mark Widmer, who teaches EMBA 595 and has made such an impact in my journey; and Jake Thornock and Michael Drake, whose class was the perfect balance of financial reporting and analysis—sprinkled with stand-up comedy.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? I’ll be honest, I applied for the two most reputable programs in Utah. I was accepted by BYU Marriott and rejected by the other program.

Growing up in Utah as someone who is not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I was nervous about attending a faith-based school. Further, being a female in the program was another concern. I can honestly say that I felt incredibly supported by people in my cohort, and being a woman and not a member of the Church became a valued part of my identity within the cohort.

I am so grateful that BYU Marriott chose me. When you attend a faith-based university, it gives space and permission for classes like Intentional Principles for Leading and Thriving, where you can explore spiritual concepts, discuss raising healthy children, learn mindfulness and health, etc.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA, and how did you apply it at work? As mentioned above, “I can do hard things.” I remember this when I’m tired and struggling to complete my homework, when I walk into an executive presentation at work, and when my children are challenging my patience.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family, and education? I remember the first-year managerial accounting class. I had just started a new job with Purple, and I was struggling through the most challenging part of the program. I started my day at 5:30 a.m. to do homework, had a jam-packed day of meetings, and then ended my day with more homework and school team calls. I was exhausted.

I was able to juggle everything because I had a great support system. My husband is amazing and completely supports me, as do other people around me.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? You will be amazed at what you are capable of when you focus, work hard, and surround yourself with the right support system.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? “You’re too old to go back to school.” I was 34 when I applied for the program. The average age of our cohort was 40. Going back to school later in life is such a blessing and incredibly rewarding. When you’re older, you have more life experience to grasp concepts and frameworks. You’re also surrounded by people who genuinely want to learn and will cheer for your success.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I don’t believe in regrets. I believe that everything that happens in life is an opportunity to learn.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Again, so many! If I can only choose one, probably Cassandra Monds. She is a brilliant, beautiful, caring person and a wonderful mother. I was lucky to have her in my group during the second semester.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives?  I chose BYU Marriott because of its reputation within the Mountain West.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I would like to be a Chief People Officer. Human Resources (HR) gets a bad rap. I’ve seen it and experienced it. I want to change the persona around HR people.

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

“Brittany is an authentic, engaging, and motivated people leader who genuinely puts people ahead of profits. She always provided great insights as a student in our EMBA program and is well-respected by her peers in the EMBA program and by her company coworkers. She shared her experiences with our undergraduate HR students and was so impressive to them because of her inclusive, innovative approach to her leadership responsibilities and shaping a strong company culture.”

Troy Nielson
Professor of Organizational Behavior and Human Resources at BYU Marriott

“Brittney Davies was a joy to have in my class. Her unique blend of professional experience, leadership skills, and academic excellence made her a standout student who brought a valuable perspective to class discussions and group projects. Brittney’s presence in the EMBA classroom was an asset to the program. I am confident that she will continue to excel in her career, take on new and important roles, and make valuable contributions to her field.”

Jake Thornock
Professor of Accounting and John and Nancy Hardy Chaired Professor


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