Our Stories

Experiencing Change for the Better

EMBA program transforms Emmely Duncan’s career (and life)

Emmely Duncan
Regional Area Director, National Seating & Mobility

Vanderbilt Executive MBA 2019

Emmely Duncan recalls how, during her admissions interview at Vanderbilt, she was asked if she was ready for change. It took a year before she really appreciated the scope of that question. “I had no idea,” she says, “how much this program would change me on professional and personal levels.”

Emmely was similarly surprised by her C-team experience with fellow students from different backgrounds and disciplines. “At first, I wasn’t sure how we all fit,” she confesses. “I thought they made a big mistake by putting us together. There were big personality differences, different academic expectations, varying communication styles, and scheduling constraints that challenged us on many levels.”

However, she adds, “By the end of the program, we had such great give-and-take of shared responsibility, camaraderie, and respect for one another. We each took on roles that fit us best and learned how to communicate in a way that allowed everyone to shine. When we started trying to socialize and work together, that’s what ultimately built the trust that made us successful.”

And as her team succeeded, Emmely succeeded, too. “I can see the bigger picture and how various decisions have impact across organizations,” she says. “Being able to see that and explain it and talk to other leaders is a special language that you get out of an Owen education.”

That fluency she gained in her first year is what led her CEO to trust that she could take a sabbatical and let Emmely run the organization as interim CEO for three months. “It was a unique opportunity to put to use everything I had learned so far and take that perspective with me into my second year,” Emmely says.

And that success, in turn, led to another one. Soon after, Emmely received a promotion, becoming the organization’s chief operating officer. Most recently, Emmely transitioned to a new company and role she learned about from an Owen classmate.

Being able to see [the bigger picture] and explain it and talk to other leaders is a special language that you get out of an Owen education.