2023 Best & Brightest Executive MBA: Timothy Freeman, Notre Dame (Mendoza)

Timothy Freeman

University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business

 Age: 35

“Family man, Avid football fan, Food enthusiast, and Traveler.”

Hometown: Savannah, Georgia

Family Members: Michelle (Wife)

Fun fact about yourself: I have three younger sisters, am a Buffalo Bills fan from South Georgia, and played club roller hockey for Armstrong Atlantic State University in 2006.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Armstrong Atlantic State University (Now Georgia Southern University) Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Where are you currently working? Evans Memorial Hospital, Chief Nursing Officer

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: I enjoy cooking, watching movies with my wife, and currently serve on the Board of Directors for Hospice Savannah, President of the Greater Savannah Area Chapter of Critical Care Nurses (2020) during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Completing two different climbing events! The first one was during a residency weekend on campus as a class we participated in climbing the steps inside the upper bowl of the Notre Dame football stadium. The climb was 110 flights of stairs to mirror the climb faced by the firefighters and police officers who responded to the World Trade Centers in New York on September 11th, 2001. The second was in Santiago, Chile, during our international immersion week. Classmate Brent Seibert and I with a tour guide hiked the foothills of the Andes Mountain range (Lo Barnechea).

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Achieving Critical Care Registered Nurse Certification (CCRN). My sister Amanda, who is also a nurse, encouraged me to pursue CCRN certification and thus launched me into the beginning of my leadership journey in nursing, which has led me to where I am today.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Dr. Mike Crant and his class, Leadership and Decision Making. Under Dr. Crant’s teaching, this was a pivotal point for me in my leadership journey, not only in learning about leadership but gaining confidence in making decisions. In one of our classes, we as individuals and then as a group worked through an exercise entitled “Diffie Racing.” Working through this case, learning more about my own decision-making logic and then learning of Dr. Crant’s rationales is a moment in time I will always be able to point back to that shaped my leadership.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? No borders. Going to Notre Dame was always a dream and considered out of reach, especially for someone like me working in a full-time position as a nurse manager. When I received a call to interview and Nick Farmer asked me that same question, my answer then and now is still the same. The University of Notre Dame is different and unique, there is no place like it. It’s the only school that can compete with every other university in its home state and not just in the United States but around the globe. My Dad instilled in me from an early age that the reputation of the school, its standards, its students and its graduates, brings with it an expectation for excellence that is known internationally

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? The biggest lesson I gained from my MBA experience is to share as much working knowledge as you can. Once everyone on the team both in class and at work is on equal footing with knowledge, each person can begin to contribute in a valuable way to add exponential insight to the team.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? E.I.L. For me, Notre Dame began our program with a week-long Executive Integral Leadership residency that set the tone for the next 22 months. At the start, you have an idea of what you think you’ll encounter and how to plan. However, the EIL week helped put focus on the holistic approach of who you are as an individual at home, at work, and at school learning. I learned to be intentional every day, and plan to help balance completing assignments. If Saturday is the day to spend with the family, be there and engaged; don’t think about school. If Sunday is your schoolwork catchup day, know that you need to give it 100% during that time and stay focused.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Don’t delay. It is true you can always plan to pursue an MBA at any future date; however, the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll begin to take advantage of putting your MBA credentials to work and advancing your career or starting a business.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? The biggest myth for me was that an EMBA program was all finance math and accounting. Without a doubt, it is heavy in the fundamentals of business and practical math concepts. However, what I found is that with classes in leadership, technology, business law and corporate governance, the EMBA cultivates a much more well-rounded approach to understanding many of the essential concepts of running a successful and sustainable business.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I think the biggest regret from business school is not having enough time to spend with everyone individually. In our class, every student is absolutely incredible, smart, talented and interesting, with many of us traveling from all over the county for each weekend residency. With the once-a-month on-campus classes Thursday, Friday and Saturday, you are left with the desire to stay and grow with people when we all have to head back home for work on Monday morning.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The Mendoza College of Business selected such incredible people for the Class of ’23 with such a variety of experiences. It is impossible to measure the classroom value from such diversity. Of the peers in my class, I would say there are two that helped me when I needed it, Dave DiFalco and Jordon Thompson. As with many EMBA programs, career change can approach you at times when you least expect it and I looked to Dave as a mentor who has been through exactly what I was facing midway through the program. Walking and talking on campus and having his support steered me in the right direction when I felt uncertain about my career transition. This program prepared me ahead of time with accounting fundamentals; however, Jordon’s experience and patience in helping walk me through accounting concepts (as he was both a CPA and CFO) was what got me through the accounting and finance classes. These are two of the most amazing men I have had the opportunity to meet and will continue to learn from long after the program is over.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? When interviewing for the Operating Room Nurse Manager position in 2021, Dr. Edward Richards, who earned his EMBA at the University of Michigan Stephen M. Ross School of Business, pushed me to continue my education in the Executive MBA realm. Many conversations later with Dr. Richards lead me to this conclusion: I did not want to miss the chance to pursue the EMBA. I wanted to experience this program in person. Being on campus in South Bend, IN, during all the seasons of the year, gives a feeling of belonging you can’t find in other program formats. Gianna Bern, the academic director of the Executive MBA program, opens every residency weekend class with “Welcome home!” Notre Dame feels like home from the moment you step on campus.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Currently, my professional goal is to continue to help people, which is the same goal I had fifteen years ago when I chose nursing as a career path. Recently, a Notre Dame EMBA graduate came to our class and presented on board governance. Listening to their experience along with my time as a board member for Hospice Savannah, I would like to be a director on the board of a publicly traded company and to continue to learn how to make the most positive impact I can for as many lives possible.

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

“I have been a faculty member at the University of Notre Dame since 1990 and taught in our EMBA program since 2006. I have taught 26 EMBA courses and over 1,300 EMBA students during this time. In this context, I write this letter supporting my former student Timothy Freeman’s nomination as one of the best and brightest EMBAs of 2023.

Tim was a student in my Leadership and Decision-Making course last year. He was a standout student. He had a unique administrative role among his classmates, serving as a leader in the nursing profession. Tim has enjoyed a fascinating career in this profession, holding increasingly responsible positions and serving in different capacities at diverse healthcare organizations, including non-profits, trauma centers, and rural healthcare hospitals. He has worked his way up the ladder to the job of Chief Nursing Officer. This rich and distinctive set of experiences led to many interactions with his classmates and me during the class, pushing our collective understanding of leadership forward. The students always paid attention when Tim had something to say about a particular topic.

Tim was interested in my class because he lived the concept of leadership daily in the dynamic healthcare arena. He was interested in the material because it helped him perform his job better, as well as provide insights into things that happened in the past. I remember his comments about leading the Intensive Care Unit at a hospital during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic. I cannot think of a more critical laboratory for displaying sound leadership than this difficult and complex situation. Tim embraced the concept of servant leadership. He believes that being a leader is not solely about playing the role of a boss but instead relates to what a leader does to place others in a position to succeed.

With Tim, it was more than hyperbole. In class, he told stories about things he did for his direct reports and others under his leadership in the subunit. I was always impressed with Tim’s genuine caring toward people; this is a hallmark of effective leadership. Tim was particularly interested in the material about tools for providing more effective and actionable feedback. I recall some of the stories he told the class about using these techniques to soothe someone’s bad attitude or to overcome their resistance to change. Tim put the material to use right away in his leadership role, which made him better at his job. That is precisely why I enjoy teaching EMBA students; they need to think about ways to become better leaders.

I expect even greater things from Tim as his career continues to unfold. He very much appreciates the opportunities associated with obtaining an EMBA degree and the associated responsibilities. Tim deserves the honor of being included on the “Best and Brightest EMBAs” list for Poets and Quants.”

J. Michael Crant
Professor of Management and Organization
Mendoza College of Business
University of Notre Dame


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