2023 Best & Brightest Executive MBA: Joshua Lewis, University of Georgia (Terry)

Joshua Lewis

University of Georgia, Terry College of Business

Age: 38

“An ambitious, multifaceted servant leader with an energetic and relentlessly positive outlook.”

Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia

Family Members: My wife, Megan Lewis, and 3 adorable cats

Fun fact about yourself: I didn’t follow the traditional path out of high school and instead pursued a career in the arts (ballet, to be specific) before transitioning into healthcare administration. As a result, I didn’t obtain my undergraduate degree until I was 35, 8 months before starting the executive MBA program.

Undergraduate School and Degree: BS in Political Science from Kennesaw State University

Where are you currently working? Vice President of Operations for TeamHealth

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: At work, I currently serve on the committee for patient safety and quality, helping spearhead initiatives to implement updated ERAS (enhanced recovery after surgery) protocols and ensuring we are keeping up with advances in the practice of anesthesia. I also like to donate my time to a local ballet studio to help them set ballets and provide coaching for the performers.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? In our negotiations class, I managed to secure a result that no other student had been able to accomplish in the five years that the professor had been teaching the class. This was a remarkable outcome, because at the beginning of the class I was a mediocre negotiator at best. I knew, though, that negotiating would be a skill I would use for the rest of my life, and that meant I needed to improve. From week-to-week, I read the materials, absorbed the lessons and feedback from each of our negotiations, and made the most of the pre-negotiation prep materials we were given. As a result, I dramatically improved my skills and managed to shock everyone, including the professor.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? There are two things I’m most proud of doing. First, it is developing staff and seeing them move up into new roles. My favorite example of this was in my last position before I joined TeamHealth. When I came into the role, I was counseled by my CFO that the team lead for the department I was taking over had ambitions to move up, but company leadership felt like that would never be realistic. I was told to manage her ambition and maybe we could keep her around for a few more years. Once I started, I realized that what she really needed was the ability to focus and some direct coaching. In my time with the company, I was able to promote her twice and recommended her for another promotion when I left.

My second achievement happened shortly after finishing my negotiations class. I went up against the largest insurer in the state to secure a contract increase and rectify some contract violations they had committed. I managed to secure a rate that increased total revenue by 6% and used an informational asymmetry (something I knew that they didn’t) to get a settlement that was twice what they should have paid.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? The professors at University of Georgia are world class, so choosing a favorite is a genuinely difficult task. That being said, my favorite would have to be Dr. Scott Graffin. Dr. Graffin manages to find the perfect balance between rigorous academic scholarship and real-world solutions. He also has an uncanny ability to challenge assertions in a way that makes you think through what you’re saying without feeling like you’re wrong.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? When I began looking at executive MBA programs, I had a mentor tell me that one of the most important aspects of my MBA would be my peers. That made the choice easy. I knew that UGA’s Terry College of Business would have the best, most diverse mix of career professionals of any other program I was considering. For me, the reason for getting this degree was to learn as much as I possibly could about business while also forming a new network of relationships. That made my cohort vitally important, and in my mind, there was no better choice than UGA to make sure I had the best cohort possible.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? Preparation in all things is the key to success. Being prepared for class, team meetings, and presentations made all the difference in what I was able to contribute and my overall success. The reality at high levels of business is that you can’t just wing it and hope everything turns out okay. This has pushed me to make sure that I review presentations ahead with everyone who will be presenting, or that I do my research before joining a meeting. As a result, I’m informed, prepared, and far more successful as a professional.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Push yourself and step out of your comfort zone as much as possible. An executive MBA is a controlled environment where you can take the lead on a project that is out of your area of expertise and stretch yourself professionally. It’s the perfect opportunity to go beyond your core competencies and develop new knowledge and skills that you wouldn’t have room to develop at your job.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? The biggest myth is that it’s going to be too hard or take too much time. The reality was that it was difficult, but the program is designed to be completed by working professionals. By leveraging your group, it’s not only possible, but it’s easier than you expect to fit everything in.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? My classmates were a truly fantastic group of professionals who had achieved incredible levels of success across a wide range of industries. We had a CEO of a pharmaceutical manufacturing company, an SVP of finance with a major national bank, a president of a division with a chemical company, and so many more high-level professionals. Ultimately, the classmate I most admire is Salena Barnes. As an executive with Cricket Wireless, Salena brought invaluable perspective on sales, market segmentation, leadership, and staff development. She inspired me to give my staff dedicated personal development time they could use each week to pursue their own personal and professional goals, helping me as a leader to demonstrate the importance of setting and achieving goals. Salena is also an inspiration to others. As a female with a black father and Japanese mother, she strives to bring a diverse voice to the executive levels of Cricket and AT&T, and her unique worldview is a huge benefit to her organization. In addition to her professional success, Salena is simply a wonderful person to be around. She’s someone who is warm and welcoming, but able to challenge you in a way that is not confrontational, but thoughtful. I’m thankful for the opportunity to have gone through this program with her.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? For me it was the cohort that I would be going through the program with. No other program could offer a cohort with the level of experience, knowledge, and breadth of industry that the executive MBA could. I wanted to learn not only from my professors, but from my classmates, and it was vitally important to me that those classmates be at a similar place in their careers.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I want to fundamentally change the world of hospital-based services in healthcare. Everyone thinks that health care is ripe for disruption, but they keep waiting for an outside company to do it. The reality of healthcare is that it is so complex, and so highly regulated that any real disruption will have to come from an established player. This is why I’m so happy to be a part of TeamHealth. As a company that is a leader in the provision of perioperative, emergency, and hospital medicine services, we are well positioned to be the tip of the spear in helping bring change to healthcare. My goal is to continue to bring experience and insight in my current role, and to hopefully lead the company one day as we chart the path forward in innovation.

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

“Josh is an outperformer everywhere he has worked in healthcare, in the classroom and on the ballet stage. Whether he is actively participating in events, offering valuable suggestions to help us improve our program, being an ambassador for the college, or welcoming potential new students, Josh is truly one-of-a-kind. This past year has been an exciting one for Josh, as he was recognized by his classmates as the Class Speaker for the Executive MBA program. This coveted award is voted on by his peers for whom they feel best reflects the character and goodwill of the program. Josh brings energy, participation, and knowledge to the classroom and is well-liked and respected by his peers, faculty members, and staff. He is a leader among his teammates and the cohort, and the work experiences he shared benefited all of us. In addition, with his professionalism and can-do attitude, Josh started a new position with TeamHealth while he was pursuing his MBA. Josh is self-motivated, high-performing and a great representative of the quality of students in the University of Georgia Executive MBA program.”

Susan Brown
Director of the University of Georgia Terry College of Business Executive, Professional, and Online MBA Programs


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