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Moving Beyond Learning by Doing

EMBA helps propel Bratcher to the corporate boardroom

Stacie Bratcher
Board Chair, GripAble

Vanderbilt Executive MBA 2023

A physical therapist by training, Stacie Bratcher advanced to become an executive in therapy and rehab companies and then, during the second decade of her career, a healthcare CEO. As she describes it, she “learned the business space by doing.”  

After she became CEO of Jet Health—a home health, hospice, and personal care provider—Stacie decided to pursue a formal business education. “I never had a finance or accounting or marketing class,” she says, “so the formal training was both a validation of what I had learned through experience and an expansion of it. I have always been confident in my industry knowledge, but this degree gives me the tools to be a more well-rounded businessperson.”

Pursuing a graduate degree on top of leading a company with locations in four states might seem daunting, but managing her time and tasks was one skill Stacie had learned by doing. “It was a challenge, especially as a business leader who already commutes cross-country weekly,” she says. “But scheduling specific time to focus on assignments and using travel time productively was essential. It was all about planning.”

The weekend class schedule in particular offered a rhythm that met her needs. “It allowed the work week to progress as usual with the class rotation posted in advance for planning,” she explains.

Along with the formal knowledge and skills she gained, Stacie found the Leadership Development Program especially helpful. “The LDP coaches were great and supportive,” she says, “and identifying leadership style, along with strengths and weaknesses, is extremely important in moving forward with communication and growth.”

“Invigorating” is how she describes the peer interaction in the program. “Interacting with a new group of people from various sectors and an expanded understanding of relevant topics,” she says, “creates an eagerness to apply them and to work to build something.”

Looking back, as she neared the completion of her degree, Stacie says that the Executive MBA “has given me confidence in my decisions as a leader to pursue advanced opportunities in board assignments and advisory roles.” Successfully pursuing one of those opportunities in May 2023, she became board chair of GripAble, a UK-based, mobile platform for assessing and training hand and arm functions.

Fun Fact: In total, Stacy has run more than 50 marathons or half-marathons.

I have always been confident in my industry knowledge, but this degree gives me the tools to be a more well-rounded businessperson.