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Finding Her Push

Tech executive redirects her career during pandemic

Tess Dominey
Consultant to CEO, Swell

Vanderbilt Executive MBA - Global Immersion Track 2023

Tess Dominey says she “needed to find a push” to continue growing her career. After joining Lyft prior to the company’s first public offering, she found herself ready for a new challenge as the organization matured.

Working from home in her native Nashville during the pandemic also made her realize that she wanted to remain there instead of returning to New Mexico, where she was previously based.

After conversations with the staff at Vanderbilt, Tess concluded that the Executive MBA’s global immersion track was the best fit for her needs and interests. During the program’s first year, she was part of a C-team of Nashville-based colleagues who met for class on weekends. “I work great in project-based sprints that allow me to immerse myself for shorter periods of time and then step back and reflect,” Tess says. “For me, it was absolutely the right choice to come to class on Saturdays for really long, immersive days. Having the same group of people every step of the way allowed us to lean on each other, and I learned at least as much from my classmates working through the material as I did from my professors.”

During that year, Tess and her classmates created a nonprofit, the Foundation for Global Impact, to leverage their EMBA alumni networks to support people needing assistance in Ukraine. Now, the group is expanding its original mission to create impact on an even broader scale.

During the second year, which includes a global immersion and an international C-team, Tess was part of a capstone consulting project for a Canadian pharmaceutical company’s market entry into Chile. As the diverse team planned projects, she says, sometimes they opted to play to their strengths and particular areas of expertise; other times, Tess says, “we gave someone space to learn and grow by taking on an unfamiliar role.” For their Launching the Venture project, Tess served as CFO—“not a strength of mine,” she says. “I was so grateful to my team to give me the space to try something new and hard.”

Tess had another breakthrough during her second year: She took on a new role as head of brand for a company focused on bringing mental health services and support to active-duty military personnel and their families. “I’m proud of bringing Swell from zero to its first 10 customers, with a product the world really needs,” she says. “The first week on the job, I was able to apply concepts from Dawn Iacobucci’s marketing class to create a framework for establishing a website and brand presence for a startup, and a customer acquisition strategy to land our first set of customers.”

Fun Fact: Tess believes that many of her hobbies—including yoga, knitting, cooking, and watercolor painting—stem from her desire to understand how things work.

“I learned at least as much from my classmates working through the material as I did from my professors.”