In this series, we celebrate the truly impressive leaders who recently joined Kellogg’s Executive MBA Program. Today, we’re excited to introduce (from left): Vasu Appalaneni, M.D. (Physician, Dayton Gastroenterology Inc.) and Joshua Davis (President, The Will Group).
What are you most proud of in your professional journey? How did it shape who you are as a leader?
VASU: I am thrilled to take this opportunity to share my professional journey and how Kellogg fits perfectly into it. I was blessed with a career of my choice as a gastroenterologist, and I take pride in taking care of my patients. Earlier in my career working as a chief resident, I had the opportunity to lead, which helped me develop leadership skills, influencing others, educating, and motivating my fellow residents. These skills immensely helped me serve in several leadership roles as a physician as well as in various community organizations.
JOSHUA: Working in a family-owned business is something that I am extremely proud of. It is gratifying to see how being entrepreneurial to help our key partners and grow our family business has allowed others to provide for their families, as well. Growing up, I do not remember my father (our founder and chairman) teaching me things in word, but in deed; he led by example. But then again, maybe because my hard head did not listen? I am most proud that I have become a leader in our organization not in word, but in leading by example over the years by being a solution-oriented entrepreneur.
As an incredibly accomplished and very busy professional, why was now the right time to get your MBA? Why was Kellogg the right school?
VASU: The healthcare industry is changing and the trend for future delivery of healthcare services through consolidation of practices and partnering with private equity firms is evolving. I believed this is the best time to mold myself to be a better physician leader who excels in the management of these cost-effective quality care platforms. This vision made me pursue my long-term goal, an MBA. I chose Kellogg EMBA, as I was determined to pursue my learning from a business school with the maven faculty, diverse student body, supporting alumni, while working full time.
JOSHUA: In short, I want to be better. I want to be a better leader, boss, colleague and executive. Transformative organizations require transformative leadership. With most business travel restricted to virtual, now seemed like the perfect time. Kellogg, with its emphasis on diversity, teamwork and creating high impact, low ego leaders, could not be a better fit for me personally or professionally.
If you’ve made a recent pivot in your career, can you share what drove you to make this pivot? Any advice for those looking to make a pivot or significant change in their career?
VASU: In the recent years, I am extensively involved in practice management, leading a 25-physician single specialty gastroenterology private practice with 200+ employees. The intrinsic management challenges of leading our group are what drove me to make this pivot. My advice for anyone making a pivot is to choose what you look forward to doing daily with passion and dedication, which will reap rewards to you and your team.
JOSHUA: The most recent pivot I have made professionally is learning how to delegate to members of the team instead of trying to do it all on my own. It is still a work in progress, but I have seen teamwork divide the task and multiply the outcome — especially when you have the right team.
COVID-19 has changed how we learn, engage and grow. What have you learned or gained – that you might not have otherwise – during this time?
VASU: Stop and smell the roses. I learned the true meaning of this expression in life. With our busy lifestyle, we tend to forget the small things that bring joy to our lives. I personally started recognizing and appreciating my family, colleagues, patients, and friends much more. Another important thing I learned was not to procrastinate. Do what you want to today, which made me enroll into the EMBA program to fulfill my lifelong dream of achieving an MBA.
JOSHUA: I have learned the importance of finding the competitive advantage. While working through COVID-19 has not been ideal, there are core strengths that our organization has used to continue to operate efficiently during these unpreceded times.
Why did you choose the Miami or Evanston campus?
VASU: I chose the Miami Campus for its diverse cohort, better fit to my weekend on-call schedule, and of course, the weather. Before choosing the campus, I interacted with alumni from both the Evanston and Miami campuses and was surprised to learn the great opportunities at both places, with the same distinguished faculty. After participating in the program for over a month, I can affirm I made the best choice of business school I can invest in.
JOSHUA: Living in Chicago near arguably the best EMBA program in the world has it perks!
What is your #1 application advice for students looking to apply to Kellogg?
VASU: My advice to future applicants to Kellogg is to learn about the great networking opportunities available alongside a strong core curriculum. I was fascinated by how supportive and attentive the administrative staff were during my application process, interviews, and the unforgettable experience during the launch week even in this virtual world. Kellogg’s team was so resilient while staying ahead with the changing daily needs of the ongoing pandemic. Having started this exciting journey and learning the value added by the talented team and cohort members, as well as the extensive global network was so impressive. I strongly recommend Kellogg to any future EMBA applicant.
JOSHUA: Do it afraid. Applying to Kellogg and graduate school, in general, can be intimidating. And it never feels like the right time. You can always come up with a good excuse for why later is more convenient. But like most things, if you trust the process, it is all worth it.