2023 Best & Brightest Executive MBA: Caleb Messer, Southern Methodist University (Cox)

Caleb Messer

Cox School of Business, Southern Methodist University

Age: 37

“Relentless optimist focused on helping others find joy in personal and professional growth.”

Hometown: Camdenton, MO

Family Members: Kendra Carpenter (spouse), Julien Messer (son)

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve been obsessed with European Football for nearly 20 years, and recently had the privilege of meeting the owner of the club I support.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Missouri State University and University of Missouri

Where are you currently working? GME Supply – CEO

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: Alpha Chi; Beta Gamma Sigma, Mentor – Great Circle of Central Missouri; Regional Liaison – NATE Wireless Industry Network; Co-Chair of Emerging Leaders Network – Affiliated Distributors; Product Committee – Affiliated Distributors; Recreational Soccer

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I’m proud of my performance in my Decision Modeling class. I entered the course with limited quantitative modeling experience and was able to make top marks while helping colleagues who were struggling. I have since leveraged the lessons I learned in class to improve decision-making processes at our company.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Becoming the CEO of a high-growth, Private Equity backed business at the age of 37 is my proudest professional accomplishment to date.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Harvey Rosenblum’s class has had a lasting impact on me. As the former executive vice president of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, he is able to use stories and real-time events to bring complicated macroeconomic concepts to life. I left his class feeling like I understand the cause-and-effect relationship of the things I read about in the news better than I ever imagined possible.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? The Cox School faculty members are highly engaged in and passionate about their academic fields. When considering options, the experience with the admissions team felt personal. I felt that everyone was committed to helping me level up.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? My advice: have a solid understanding of what you are hoping to accomplish by joining a program. The program is a significant investment and will require sacrifices. You will be more successful and engaged if you have a good reason why you’re there.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? “It’s been too long since I’ve been a student, I don’t know if I remember how to do that.” The faculty understands that EMBA students have demanding careers and structures the curriculum to ensure that you can be ready to participate in class by leveraging flexible asynchronous content.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I regret not putting greater emphasis on networking with cohort members beyond my immediate study group earlier in the course. Everyone is busy, but a big part of the value of the program is the growth in your professional Rolodex. I should have made more time to focus on that.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Christina Oliver is an exceptional classmate. Christina was elected as the President of our Student Advisory Board. She is the perfect person for that role. Christina is one of the most naturally empathetic people that I know. Beyond that, she is a natural motivator and an outstanding communicator. This skill set helps her connect deeply with those around her and to provide the nudges they need when they need them to enable them to push through challenges and execute. Every team she has been a part of has benefited, and those that get to work with her in the future are fortunate.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? You learn as much from your colleagues as from your faculty in the program you select. The EMBA students’ collective experience and ongoing ambitions reflect my own. The class timing also worked well with my schedule.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I would like to continue leading an organization with a mission and vision worth doing. I would also like to put myself in a position where I can help people uncover and leverage their strengths. I feel joy when I see others thrive.

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

“All of the students in our 2023 Executive MBA cohort are intelligent, but Caleb Messer has an emotional intelligence that informs his perception and decision-making and sets him apart from his colleagues. While highly influential in his position as head of his company, Caleb seeks to find the best in others, while at the same time seeking to become the best version of himself. He has a keen understanding of his own personal values and works diligently to ensure that he operates from that base in both his personal and professional life. Caleb’s unassuming demeanor puts others at ease and encourages his fellow students to seek the best in themselves as well. He is a servant leader who, by example, helps others seek a higher standard of caring for others, especially in circumstances when they are the ones with the power to make a difference. He remains teachable, an essential quality for a leader, and because he sometimes sees himself as an outsider to the C-suite, he understands the importance of representation in establishing best practices. We are overjoyed to endorse this humble, compassionate and powerful visionary, Caleb Messer, to represent the SMU Cox School of Business as the Best & Brightest Executive MBA Class of 2023.”

Emily Newsome
Associate Director of SMU Cox Executive MBA Programs   


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