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A Weekend In The Life Of A Vanderbilt Executive MBA Student

May 15, 2024
Kory Robinson (EMBA‘24) takes you through the life of an Executive MBA student as he talks about juggling juggling work, school, and family

By Eigen Escario

Pictured: Headshot of Vanderbilt Executive MBA student Kory Robinson

Kory Robinson

The Vanderbilt Executive MBA (EMBA) is a 2-year graduate program for working professionals that bolsters their management skills and promotion prospects in their respective companies. Kory Robinson (EMBA‘24) shares some insight into the life of an Executive MBA student, discussing his routines to optimize his responsibilities for work, the EMBA program, and his family.

Friday

Morning

Back in Memphis, Tennessee, Robinson wakes up bright and early to mentally prepare himself for the day through mindful practices and advanced planning.

“I set my alarm for 5:00 AM, and I try to spend the first 30 minutes just kind of sitting, meditating, maybe reading scriptures for the next hour,” Robinson said. “It’s great to start getting the blood flowing, and then I drink alkaline water, take my vitamin shots, and exercise to decompress before the day gets started.”

As the morning goes on, Robinson situates his family life and his work schedule for the day in order to stay on top of his work-life balance.

“Before I leave, I spend about 30 minutes working with my kids, getting them prepared for school,” Robinson said. “After that, I’m getting ready for work by running through my phone to check my email and action items for the day on the work side. I typically try to lay out a pre-schedule for the next day of things that are open and try to figure out how to prioritize my agenda.”

Work Day

Robinson talks about his position as an Engineering Manager in the Memphis Light Gas and Water Division and the everyday duties and meetings he has to oversee.

“I’ve recently been promoted to this position, so I’m in charge of running our electric distribution system,” Robinson said. “My responsibilities mostly deal with reliability planning and systems, our Right Away group, as well as large distribution customers.”

Currently, Robinson’s company is researching energy generation and conservation technology to build sustainable infrastructures in urban areas like Memphis.

“There are a lot of these technologies being deployed throughout our territory now, whether it’s on a consumer or commercial basis with battery storage, solar energy, and other things that prevent our electric systems from being strained,” Robinson said. “It is a very interesting time for Memphis as we haven’t seen a lot of the growth and development like we’re about to see now.”

Robinson adds that the tools and strategies he gained through the EMBA program have increased the value for his individual position, his team, and his company as a whole.

“The program has really helped in positioning my team in a way where we can hedge against a lot of risks and propel the company to the next level,” Robinson said. “My team and I are thinking outside of the box more and creating innovative solutions, which is ultimately putting us in a great space to be competitive for years to come.”

Afternoon

Following his lunch break at work, Robinson gets ready to make the 3-hour drive to Nashville.

“On Friday after lunch, I’m getting ready to wrap things up at work so I can leave before 4:00 PM,” Robinson said. “I typically get all my books, bags, and everything situated so I can hit the road heading to Nashville before 5:30 PM. On the way, I may stop and get something to eat, typically at Whole Foods.”

The night before a full day of classes, Robinson makes sure to prepare his mind and body once getting into the city.

“I usually get into Nashville around 10:00 PM on Fridays,” Robinson said. “I take my vitamin shots, drink alkaline water, and eat fruits so I’m able to get up early in the morning on Saturday ready to roll.”

Saturday

Morning

Robinson gets ready bright and early on Saturday mornings, energized for the day ahead.

“Before I head out of the door, I get everything together by eating my fruits and vitamins, maybe getting a quick workout in before heading to campus by 7:50 AM,” Robinson said. “I have an apartment in the city, and the beautiful thing about it is that I don’t live far off campus, so I can stretch my time a little bit if I get close to oversleeping.”

Robinson also talks about the structure of the classes in the EMBA program, which meets every 2 weeks on the weekends to accommodate students with full-time jobs.

“We get all of the classes at all 3 times throughout the day—in the morning, the afternoon, and the evening. They send out a schedule every 2 weeks to inform students about the classes they’re taking in which time blocks,” Robinson said. “There’s not one set time for each course in the semester schedule since our classes rotate, but we end up having each class at least once in these time blocks.”

Statistics with Professor Sowell

From 7:50 AM to 10:30 AM, Robinson studies Statistics with Professor Rita Sowell where he and his cohort learn technical skills about data-informed decision-making.

“I really enjoyed this class because it was about reenvisioning how we utilize the theories and tools in making key business decisions,” Robinson said. “A lot of people hear statistics is very daunting and stressful, but Professor Sowell did a great job with integrating our lectures into real-world applications.”

Operations Management with Professor Kurtulus

In the next time block from 11:00 AM to 1:30 PM, Robinson learns from Professor Mumin Kurtulus about Operations Management, which he describes as a valuable resource for his job.

“In this class, we learned about streamlining the workflow process, eliminating bottlenecks, becoming more efficient, and putting up tracking mechanisms to determine our productivity,” Robinson said. “This course really stood out to me throughout this program since Professor Kurtulus did a great job applying the principles and theories, so I can take what I learned on Saturday and come back on Monday to instantly integrate them and see the difference.”

Robinson also highlights the value of these classes in his full-time work, mentioning the skills and frameworks that elevate his contribution to his company.

“A lot of these classes that you may see on paper may seem difficult as you’re combing through your interests in different things,” Robinson said. “However, I could truly say that from day one, every single class is highly valuable and has been very instrumental in getting me to the point where I’m beginning to elevate and make impactful changes within the company.”

Marketing Strategy with Professor Iacobucci

Despite initial skepticism, Robinson discusses the value that he found in his Marketing Strategy class with Professor Dawn Iacobucci from 3:30 PM to 6:30 PM.

“Every class holds a special place in my heart because certain classes like marketing, which I didn’t think I would like, changed my whole perspective in seeing the value of this tool when I got into the class,” Robinson said. “I think about things like branding now when I go into meetings, not just from a company perspective externally, but also internally with the department that I’m running.”

Evening

Finishing off a long day, Robinson takes some time to relax and enjoy Nashville before heading home to Memphis.

“By the time I finish my classes at 6:30 PM, I’m usually drained, so I just stay in Nashville to decompress,” Robinson said. “Before I go to bed, I’ll try to review notes and start planning for the upcoming week by laying out deliverable dates and timeframes on my calendar to help me get through this program while maintaining my responsibilities at work as best as possible.”

Taking advantage of his proximity to other students in the EMBA program as well as the Nashville scene, Robinson goes out to eat in the city to end an eventful day.

“My favorite spot is probably Del Frisco’s Grille in Brentwood, and I spend time with some of my cohort members to reconnect and decompress,” Robinson said. “There are times when my wife comes along with me, so that’ll be a time where we’ll just get away and reconnect.”

Sunday

Morning

As a foodie in Nashville, Robinson loves to enjoy the culinary scene that the city has to offer, especially for brunch right before he hits the road back to Memphis.

“I like to try new restaurants throughout Nashville; one of my favorites is Milk and Honey,” Robinson said. “I tried the Nashville hot chicken and waffles one time, and I was like wow! I also like Sun and Fork by the Vanderbilt Bookstore, and my go-to order there is the Trifecta with a belgian waffle, chicken sausage, and eggs with a side of fruit and orange juice.”

Before going home, Robinson also dedicates time to sightseeing around Nashville, using his specialized background to appreciate the ingenuity of the energy infrastructure in the area.

“I’ve had a thought about relocating to Nashville, so I try to drive around different neighborhoods to explore,” Robinson said. “Also, because I work for a utility company, I have this interesting ability to just drive around and look at the power infrastructure in Nashville to see how things are done here.”

Robinson expresses his appreciation for the different opportunities Nashville has to offer in terms of building connections within his field of work.

“I’ve also cultivated relationships with some of the engineers and managers that work at Nashville Electric Service now because I’m seeing things that they’re doing,” Robinson said. “When I get back to Memphis and I run into an issue, I can call some of those guys at NES and pick their brain on a situation. I didn’t expect this before I entered the program, but now that I’m finishing up, I can see the true value of being in the city and learning how Nashville is developing a lot of businesses and residential properties.”

Personal Time

After getting home in Memphis, Robinson takes some time to reflect on and appreciate his support system that motivates him to get the most out of his busy life as an Executive MBA student.

“You need buy-in and support from your family to get through this program while balancing a personal and a professional life,” Robinson said. “So for me, I try to have more intentionality in creating family time in the weeks that I don’t have to go to Nashville.”

As a student with a full-time job, Robinson dedicates quality, family time to balance his priorities with his home life.

“I schedule a family night where we may go to the movie theater, stay home and play board games or Nintendo Switch with my daughters,” Robinson said. “During the times when I’m not traveling or in school, I try to have at least 2 days when I don’t think about school at all.”

Having successfully juggled work, academics, and family, Robinson offers some advice on how to approach a balanced and fulfilling lifestyle.

“It’s highly important to have some time solely dedicated to you and your family because if you don’t, you’re gonna get burnt out really quick,” Robinson said. “When you look at it in the grand scheme of things, you’re talking about just one day out of each week where it is no schoolwork, no after hour calls, no nothing. It’s just a hundred percent whatever it is you want to do—that has helped me tremendously to get through this program.”

To learn more about the Vanderbilt Executive MBA program, student experience, outcomes, and career paths, click here.

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