Our Stories

Building Foundational Knowledge

Digital marketer gains academic expertise to add to work experience

Heather Floyd
Senior Manager, Media Operations, Gap, Inc.

Vanderbilt Executive MBA 2023

Though she had never taken a business class, Heather Floyd was succeeding in business. She led an initiative to take a primarily B2B company directly to the consumer via e-commerce, managing two brands on two websites.

“I was able to create a profitable new sales channel from scratch, with a skeleton crew,” she says in retrospect. “I learned a ton about myself. I learned how to push my capabilities and skills.”

At the same time, Heather says, the experience “uncovered some real gaps in my business acumen. I knew I needed a deeper understanding in finance and accounting. Plus, I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it.”

The Vanderbilt Executive MBA program met her need for a prestigious program that enabled her to continue working full-time. For someone with no academic background in the subject matter—“the only context and background I had prior to the start of classes was from my time on the job,” she says—the program was notably different from her previous school experiences, both as an undergraduate and as a master’s student in mass communication. In her master’s program, she says, “I had a deep understanding of the content. [At Owen], I approach my classes thinking about what I can learn and how I can apply it to my work.”

Juggling school, work, and family responsibilities with two boys at home has not been easy. But she learned what to expect by speaking with program alumni. “They were always very positive about their experience,” she says. “I am proud of myself for taking the initiative to further my education.

“I believe the program is providing me with more confidence and know-how when establishing and pitching new strategies, as well as how to show whether an executed strategy was effective. I believe I will be more confident in my skills, having gained more foundational business knowledge. Digital media has been an important strength I’ve been able to flex, but I am excited to be able to expand my skills since the digital ecosystem touches every single part of the business world.”

Fun Fact: Heather has bungee jumped in Costa Rica.

I approach my classes thinking about what I can learn and how I can apply it to my work.