We continue our spotlight on Executive MBA students with a Q&A with second year student Briana Apgar (Class of 2022).
Briana is based in Roanoke, Virginia where she works for Carilion Clinic as a Diversity and Inclusion Consultant. She recently joined us on The ExecMBA Podcast to talk about how servant leadership has informed her career approach – including her work at Carilion.
In addition, like previous student spotlight-ee Lorchi “Chi” Lo, Briana is a member of the Executive MBA program’s Diversity Committee. Read on for additional insights about Briana’s story and be sure to keep an eye on the blog in the coming weeks for more Executive MBA student profiles.
Q: What is your background?
A: I am a health equity professional and advocate. I work hard to bridge the gaps between generation and lifestyles to achieve the vision of a healthy, thriving community. I genuinely believe that most people want this, but we differ (and often extremely) on how this ultimate goal can be achieved.
In this work, I look at the intersections of the social determinants of health and involve healthcare professionals, business leaders, community agencies, educators, parents, politicians and neighbors to drive change with real collective impact. This process can be slower than desired, but it yields results that are much more sustainable as we work to achieve common ground from the very first step.
In my new role as a DEI Consultant for Carilion Clinic, I also hold some internal duties with our organization’s Human Resources initiatives. I enjoy having both an inward and outward lens because of the balance it provides to my perspective.
Q: How did you decide to pursue an MBA?
A: Though my career is in healthcare, my choice of an MBA over an MHA (Masters in Healthcare Administration) was very intentional.
Most of my experience is in non-profit institutions, and I personally feel we must challenge the fallacy that you cannot be mission-driven and make money. I believe an organization can both seek to improve our world and also generate revenue.
A non-profit business still needs cash flow in order to continue fulfilling its mission. I knew an MHA would be a more traditional route given my chosen career path, and I wanted a stronger focus on business. I also wanted to see what I could learn from other firms and industries and take these lessons to improve and build upon the non-profit model.
I was drawn to Darden because of the tagline “purpose driven leadership” and also because of my undergraduate degree and Master of Public Health from Virginia Tech. I always try to reach across the aisle to broaden my scope and challenge my mind. So, to attend a rival institution while also getting a degree from a highly-ranked business school was an enticing opportunity. The Darden ‘Hoos welcomed me with open arms, and I am very proud to be among them. However, I am also very pleased to remain a friendly foe for college football’s Commonwealth Cup!
Q: What is your best piece of advice for prospective students?
A: To hold grace for yourself and become comfortable in the space of “good enough.” I understand that for driven individuals, “good enough” hardly seems good at all. Its connotation feels inferior, maybe even insulting or a bit lazy.
However, as you balance the demands of work, academics, and personal life, you have to remember that you are a whole human. For me, this is most important lesson from my time at Darden. As a leader, you cannot be an in-touch, relatable human if you are dividing yourself into too many pieces.
Decide what initiatives and responsibilities are worth your whole self, then decide what initiatives can be achieved through a “good enough” means. Challenge this stigma to lead for the better. Additionally, be willing to change your mind when you feel called to do so.
If we are unwilling to first change our minds, how could we ever change our workplace, our community, and our own lives? Growth mindset is so important to leadership, and, I think, to our overall happiness and satisfaction.
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