2023 Best & Brightest Executive MBA: Rogers Thweatt, Vanderbilt University (Owen)

Rogers Thweatt

Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management

Age: 38

Hometown: Nashville, TN

Family Members: Christina (wife), Caroline (Daughter – 10), Mary (Daughter – 8), George (Son – 5)

Fun fact about yourself: I have the same name (“Steve Rogers”) as Captain America and used to be a Captain in the Army.

Undergraduate School and Degree: United States Military Academy at West Point, B.S. in Management with a Computer Science Engineering Track

Where are you currently working? HCA, Sr. Director, Expanse Technical

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: Founding Co-Chair of the HCA Corporate Veteran Colleague Network

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Founding Co-Chair of the HCA Corporate Veteran Colleague Network. Myself and the founding chair worked for years to take our idea from a grassroots movement to a recognized network that is now the standard bearer for the company.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? It would be my two company commands in the military and deployments during those times.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Brian McCann. He was so engaging and dedicated. I learned a lot not just in the content, but through his skill as a conversation mediator.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? I wanted to be local, but I also wanted to challenge myself with a top tier program. Vanderbilt has a great reputation for the quality of its program and graduates.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? To me, it was about creating systems. Already in my life, anytime I was doing something, it was in spite of something. Throwing schoolwork and class on top of that forced me to be more disciplined with my time and create systems. That way, I could not only get done what needed to be done, but also be present for my family, friends, and co-workers. I plan to continue to use these systems to meet my full potential going forward.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? For one, if you’re married or have people in your life that depend on you, make sure it’s a team decision. You will need their support. My wife deserves almost as much credit as I do for all the missed soccer games, rehearsals, and other family activities she had to take on herself.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I won’t say it’s a regret, but I’ll warn anyone who is considering an executive program that you’ll really miss the people. Spend time with them as much as possible (within reason) and really work to get to know them. I joke that programs like these are “an expensive way to make grown-up friends,” but the friendships are very real and impactful.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? I honestly had no choice. I was blessed to have the GI Bill available to me, but still needed to keep my day job to support my family. That being said, I chose to do it so I could finish my career knowing that I had done everything I could to open as many doors as possible. I dreaded the thought of nearing retirement knowing that I had an uncashed check wasting away. I looked at my life and realized it was a terrible time to start, but there were only worse times ahead.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I work in technology, but my passion is people. My hope is to rise to the level where I can have the most possible impact on the most people. I hope to have the influence where my legacy is not just in those I led directly, but rather in the “third generation” of leaders that my leaders developed.

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

“Getting to know students like Rogers is one of the best parts of my job as a faculty member; he is certainly one of the standout members of the class of 2023. To begin, his fellow students have a great deal of respect for him, and he is one of the top academic performers in the class. I know I certainly appreciated having Rogers in my strategic management class. He brought a unique mix to the classroom of an analytic approach and inquisitive attitude that allowed him to connect experiences in the real world to the academic ideas discussed in class. Some students try to dominate a class discussion with the sheer volume of their comments while other students pick particular times of high leverage when their comments or questions can add an unusual amount of value. Rogers was definitely in that second category, and I knew that I would hear something interesting whenever I called on him in class.

Rogers’ time at Vanderbilt has been a continuation of the tradition of excellence reflected in his military background. From his time at West Point to his progression to a Senior Commander recognized for his outstanding service, Rogers has blazed a trail of continued success. Veterans enrich our program in so many different ways; they definitely raise the level of everyone around them. We are fortunate to add Rogers to the list of Owen MBA veterans. He succeeded in the program while also excelling in his career (receiving a substantial promotion in the middle of the MBA program) and maintaining a genuinely friendly, low-key manner. I look forward to seeing all that Rogers will accomplish from here!”

Brian McCann
Professor of Strategic Management


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