A pair of leaders in their medical fields represent the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business in Poets & Quants’ Best & Brightest Executive MBAs from the Class of 2022.
Maryland Smith’s Aimee Smart and Sira Duson are among 101 EMBAs from the world’s top business schools, who, according to P&Q, “personify excellence – be academic performance, extracurricular involvement, or professional achievement.”
Duson, a vascular surgeon and co-director of the Limb Salvage Program at WakeMed Health in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Smart, vice president of clinical development and regulatory processes for Lung Biotechnology PBC, both graduated this year from Smith’s Executive MBA Program and fit the ‘Best & Brightest’ profile.
P&Q describes such as “the go-to student leaders who are admired – if not adored – by classmates and faculty alike. That’s because they are invested: they pour their hearts into everything – be it work, learning, or family. Ever reliable, they step up to ask the best questions – the ones that spark conversations and enrich the experience for all. More than that, they value different views, always looking to connect and build consensus. Over time, their classmates can’t help but follow their lead.”
Smith’s Judy Frels, clinical professor of marketing and senior fellow for executive programs, told P&Q: “Sira is a surgeon and a medical school faculty member, yet she doesn’t wield her credentials as a reason people should listen to her or follow her. People follow her because she’s done the quiet, relentless, hard work of earning every single person’s respect. One could almost say she’s surgical in her approach.”
Smart is “a truly remarkable person,” says Smith Research Professor and Academic Director of the Center for Global Business Kislaya Prasad. “I had the chance to personally witness her focus, hard work, and determination to learn an initially unfamiliar subject.”
For Smart, Prasad’s Data Modeling class exemplified the value of her Smith experience. “I had not taken a data analytics class before, so this was impactful. I learned how to explore data and ask different questions.”
But broader perseverance further defined Smart, Prasad told P&Q: “During the course of my class, Aimee faced much personal adversity, including the loss of her father, and still pushed herself to do well because, she said, she loved the class and wanted the quality of her work to express that. A true professional!”
Smart, likewise, lauded to P&Q the Smith EMBA program’s “focus on leadership and personal development.” The program – “through executive coaching and the mastery sessions covering topics from mindfulness to blockchain – goes beyond traditional business coursework.”
Regarding Duson, P&Q recognized her in its main feature story for establishing the Society of Black Vascular Surgeons after entering Smith’s EMBA program. Duson describes the group as “crucial in providing a sense of community and belonging within a field that only 2% of practitioners are from similar backgrounds.” In a short period, she added, “we have established a mentoring program for medical students and general surgery residents to generate a pipeline for trainees interested in the field of vascular surgery.”
Duson, like Smart, cited the mastery sessions (seminars held throughout the course of the program that focus on specific leadership skills) as the source for “the biggest lessons” of her MBA experience. “The ability to practice and apply new skills in real-time have been invaluable,” she told P&Q. “At work, I used to put my head down and do my job. Now, in addition to performing my job proficiently, I actively engage in activities that result in greater visibility and opportunities for leadership.”
For prospective EMBAs, a successful experience begins with the fundamentals, as Smart described: “Really think about the lifestyle changes needed to accommodate the class schedule, studying, and doing group work and homework. Start setting new routines before the program starts, to prepare your family and work colleagues. During the program, ask for help and accept the help offered by supportive friends and family.”
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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business
The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.