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Balancing School, Family (and Babies)

Health care exec Tripp Salem finds rigor makes him stronger

Tripp Salem
Senior Director, Development at Surgical Care Affiliates

Vanderbilt MBA 2018

In his native Birmingham, Tripp Salem quickly built a successful career in the health care business. With four promotions in four years, he had become Senior Director for Development for Surgical Care Affiliates. Then he moved to ProxsysRX, a startup that partners with hospitals to integrate outpatient pharmacy into the continuum of care, as the company’s Senior Vice President for Finance.

While he had always had a strong sense of the career path he wanted to follow, Tripp also had long intended to pursue an MBA as part of that journey. “It was an ideal way to further sharpen my skill set and leapfrog into a position that would have taken much longer to achieve without an MBA,” he says.

“Personally, it was important to me to have an MBA from a top school. I wanted to see how a rigorous program would change me as a person.”

He found that rigor in the classroom right away — and loved it. “I’ve been able to take classes I never really expected to be available in an academic setting, such as Corporate Valuation, Mergers & Acquisitions, Derivative Securities, Spreadsheets,” he says. “These are all interesting topics and ones that I find incredibly applicable for my career. I’ve been thrilled to study them in depth.”

The program also involves a rigorous challenge in other ways, too. Tripp and his wife (he married his high school sweetheart) had a three-year-old son when the program began, with another child arriving during his summer internship.

“I have been challenged before, but never in so many ways at the same time,” Tripp says. “I’ve never been forced to manage my time so well as I have had to do here. There are times when it feels overwhelming, but this in and of itself may be one of the most valuable outcomes of the program. I have developed additional skills and acumen, but more than anything the experience has proven to me just how capable we all are, that our limit is our own willingness to act."

Fun Fact: In sixth grade, Tripp won a school talent show with his performance as Sporty Spice and his rendition of the Spice Girls’ “Spice Up Your Life.”

“I wanted to see how a rigorous program would change me as a person.”