Our Stories

Finding the Right Time to Go Back

Veteran project manager returns to school

Kimberly Barboza
Account Executive at Urban Science

Vanderbilt Executive MBA 2015

As one of the first wave of female officers to serve aboard U.S. warships, Kimberly Barboza learned a thing or two about managing projects — and diverse teams (who, in her case, included a division of men). Her time as gunnery officer on the USS David R. Ray in the Pacific was “a difficult experience,” she says, but “also an amazing leadership experience that provided great value to those willing to accept change — including myself.”

After leaving active duty, Kimberly joined a consulting firm and spent the next decade as a senior project manager, moving from company to company in engagements ranging from automotive to health care, retail, manufacturing, government and education. Later, she joined Urban Science, which provides business solutions to support sales and marketing functions in the auto industry.

While she had a strong foundation in leadership, team management and project management, Kimberly realized that “I was lacking the business language and skills needed to drive my career and improve my team’s success.” She was already sold on Vanderbilt: in the 1990s, the Navy had sent her there to earn a Masters degree in Computer Science after she finished near the top of her class at Annapolis.

She’s pleased that she made the choice to return. “It transformed me into a better business leader,” says Kimberly, who has been playing and writing music since she was a child, and reveals her creative side when she sits in front of a baby grand piano or plays guitar for a circle of friends.

“You cannot wait, as there is never an ideal time to come back to school. Owen’s program fit my lifestyle and gave me some flexibility on how I wanted to manage those two weeks between classes. As a working mother, the program wasn’t easy, but it was definitely do-able.”