Our Stories

Applying Lessons Every Day

EMBA experience helps shape direction of healthcare startup.

Chris Kinney
Chief Business Officer, CareEco

Vanderbilt Executive MBA 2022

Chris Kinney isn’t kidding when he says he can apply lessons from the Executive MBA program to his work every day. As the Chief Business Officer of a healthcare startup—a position he began while in the program—he is drawing on what he learned not just to advance his own career but to secure the future of his company.

When he began the program, Chris was a manager of digital marketing at HCA Healthcare who aspired to eventually run a business. He was looking to gain the knowledge and skills “to be the type of leader that people can trust” and “to be equipped to make the tough decisions, taking all factors into account.”

Given his learning style and desire to build a network of lasting relationships, the in-person learning format at Vanderbilt was essential. “Vanderbilt is known for drawing high achievers with aims of changing the world,” Chris says. “I wanted to be among that group, to learn from them and stretch myself to be more than I could be on my own.”

The C-team structure, in which groups of students with complementary skills work together to learn and take on projects, was just the kind of peer experience Chris was seeking. He also valued the opportunity to be part of the Vanderbilt Center for Entrepreneurship and to take Professor Michael Burcham’s class in Launching the Venture— Burcham has launched several successful healthcare startups.

“The whole class was dedicated to thinking about how we create and build actual businesses around an idea,” Chris says. “And as we went through Dr. Burcham’s class, he challenged us to think not just about the what, but the how. How are we going to make it happen? Who's our customer? What's the pricing structure? What's the target market? I thought that this was one of the most beneficial things of the whole program, because it really made you think holistically about what a business needs in order to succeed.” 

Now, as part of the C-suite of CareEco, a fast-growing healthcare technology firm, he is taking knowledge from the program to work with him every day. “I’m having to chart my own course and make a lot of decisions that are crucial for the business,” Chris says. “My education has helped me think about not just the short-term decisions but the implications of the long-term decisions. I am going back to things that professors have said to think about how we structure our business, how we treat our people, and how we build our processes, to create a strategy that achieves a goal. I do not think I’d be as confident in where we’re going without the experience I’ve had at Vanderbilt.”

I do not think I’d be as confident in where we’re going without the experience I’ve had at Vanderbilt.