Our Stories

Taking the Surer Route to the Executive Suite

For career changer, Vanderbilt was a door opener

Jonathan Connor
VP, Strategic Partnerships, Office of Partnerships, HCA Healthcare

Vanderbilt Executive MBA 2014

When doors to new career directions open, Jonathan Connor has a history of walking through them. He progressed from studio production with ESPN to marketing and PR with Ketchum Sports and Entertainment in New York to a health care marketing role in Nashville.

When he was interviewing for his previous job, in which he was responsible for the strategic direction for oncology services in a regional network of eight affiliated facilities, he received a clear indicator that it was time to pursue additional education. “The division president circled a blank space on the bottom of my resumé,” Jonathan recalls, “indicating that I lacked the business pedigree he expected." 

Jonathan immediately committed to enroll in the Vanderbilt Executive MBA program. “While I had excellent corporate experience, I knew I lacked true business sense in finance and operations.” He credits his Vanderbilt education with teaching him how to combine strategy and operations with financial decision-making.

“Given my history of changing industries, I realized that the Executive MBA program at Vanderbilt would continue to open doors for me rather than solidify where I am in my career. I’ve always been comfortable knowing I may be doing something completely different in five years. Now I’ll be confident in my business acumen as opportunities present themselves.”

Just as Jonathan hoped, when doors to those new opportunities opened, he was ready. After completing the program, he received a promotion from his employer, HCA, to AVP for Strategy and Development in Chicago. And in early 2019, he returned to Nashville, this time as Vice President for Strategic Relationships, Payer Contracting and Alignment — a post for which the finance, operations and strategy skills he once lacked were essential.

“Being able to apply a detailed business sense to a complicated health care industry,” he says, “propelled me into an executive role.”