Brent Hooks describes himself as a “driven and creative entrepreneur.” In Memphis, he co-owned a professional services firm that specializes in civil engineering and construction management. Within six years, the company grew from four to nearly 50 employees, and the Memphis Business Journal named it “Small Business of the Year” in 2017.
Brent, who serves as the company’s Chief Administrative Officer, realized he needed new and different skills for his organization’s (and his own) next stage of development. “I chose to go back to school to enhance my business acumen and develop a more analytical toolkit,” he says. “I chose Vanderbilt because I wanted to be challenged and surround myself with high achievers. I chose the Global Immersion track because I was impressed by the opportunity to travel and immerse myself in foreign cultures by collaborating in a team environment.”
He and his wife knew the logistics would be difficult, but she “was very supportive,” Brent says. “She always encouraged me to get the most out of the experience.” And once he developed a travel routine, he says, the commute from Memphis to Nashville (where classes took place during the first year) was “not a big issue.”
When he completed the program, Brent realized that he had gained even more than the skills he had sought to develop. “I have learned strategic frameworks that will allow me to organize tasks and priorities,” he says. “I have learned the specific criteria to speak effectively with investors. I have specifically learned how critical it is to build relationships in order to develop a solid team. When time is taken to learn each person individually, you are able to establish trust. I learned to be mindful in every situation. And I learned the world is small, and although cultures differ, we are very similar in many ways.”
I was impressed by the opportunity to travel and immerse myself in foreign cultures by collaborating in a team environment.