I was absolutely humbled by the talent of my fellow students. They were so smart, so accomplished. Listening to these amazing people—who were VPs, entrepreneurs, and physicians—I knew I had made the right program choice.
Why he pursued an EMBA degree at WashU
Sparks worked for a company that held its leadership meetings at the university’s Charles F. Knight Executive Education & Conference Center. Olin Business School professors spoke to the participants, so he got a preview of the EMBA faculty.
During a WashU seminar in Denver, Sparks met Director of Discernment Edie Varley. He told her he aspired to be a hospital president or service-line leader. Varley outlined the benefits of the EMBA program.
“She piqued my interest,” he says.
“All of my company mentors said an MBA would open my eyes. An advanced business degree is expected, here.”
First impression of the EMBA program
“I was absolutely humbled by the talent of my fellow students. They were so smart, so accomplished. Listening to these amazing people—who were VPs, entrepreneurs, and physicians—I knew I had made the right program choice.”
Biggest takeaways from the program
“In the Marine Corps, leadership is easy. Senior enlisted marines and officers give orders, and troops do what they say without asking why.”
The program’s Leadership Residency “helped me see leadership differently,” Sparks says. He still uses the power pyramid presented during the residency, “and I constantly ask myself how I can build on this foundation and refine my leadership skills, keeping the pyramid strong.
“The Managing the Innovation Process course taught us to think way outside the box, focus on what customers want, and ask, ‘What are the pain points we’re trying to solve?’”
Sparks is applying what he learned in the class at SCL Health.
What he would say to veterans who are considering the program
“You definitely have a friend in Washington University.”
Ronald Sparks, EMBA 2015
Chief audit executive, outpatient/specialty pharmacy executive leader, SCL Health, Broomfield, CO
Pre-EMBA: vice president, CHAN Healthcare, Denver; audit director, CHAN Healthcare, Wichita; audit manager, CHAN Healthcare, Baltimore and Sacramento
Military: staff and senior auditor, US Marine Corps; administrator, US Marine Corps
Education: BS, managerial accounting, Park University
Hometown: Chillicothe, Ohio