Baylor EMBA, 2014 Chief Operating Officer, Triumph Business Capital
"How an Executive MBA Can Improve Leadership on the Path to the C-Suite"
From her earliest days on the playground, Amber Roy was always picked to be the leader, even if she didn’t raise her hand. Those around her said she would be a CEO or COO someday.
They were right. In April, Roy became chief operating officer of Triumph Business Capital, a financial services firm. She said earning an MBA was a big part of getting there.
For a long time, Roy didn't see herself in the C-suite—despite advancing steadily in her career. After she earned an undergraduate degree in business administration from Baylor University in 2004, she joined Countrywide Financial as an efficiency consultant. She moved up quickly, switching from mortgage originations to the servicing side of the business where she became a project manager leading a team of analysts working on IT projects.
When Bank of America acquired Countrywide, she was again picked to lead. This time it was a big role she was reluctant to take – leading the loss mitigation and collections efforts for the conversion. The job tested both her technical and leadership skills during a time of dramatic change in the company.
“That was really a pivotal point in my career,” Roy said. “It was not a project I wanted to do, I was concerned it would take me off my career path—I think a lot of us have those hesitancies—but I will tell you it helped set me up for so many other opportunities. I learned so much about myself, managing and leading a team, navigating a significant organizational change, as well as a technology.”
After that experience, Roy became a utility player, managing projects in reporting and analytics, organizational effectiveness, site strategy and communication. Her team supported the growth of a business employing 10,000 people. As her responsibilities and expertise grew, Roy took a moment to consider her next step carefully.
“That was the point in my career where I said, ‘OK, where do I go from here? What’s next?’” Roy recalled.
The MBA’s Big-Picture View
That next step—enrolling in the Dallas Executive MBA program at Baylor—was a strategic move that gave her a wider view of business and readied her for an executive role.
“Jobs can come and go, bosses can come and go, but when you put the work in to obtain a degree, it’s for yourself and nobody can take it away from you. The Executive MBA program played a critical role in helping me to understand the business as a whole. Having the ability to see the bigger picture helps you be a more strategic leader,” Roy said.
The EMBA program fit her schedule. With a busy job at Bank of America, she didn’t want to step away from work to attend a full-time program. And as a self-described people person, Roy also knew that she would prefer the smaller, in-person classes of the EMBA program over an online MBA.
“The smaller class sizes allows you to focus on relationships and learning from each other,” she said. “The executive program facilitates this by attending classes on weekends for almost two years.”
Soon after starting her coursework, she took what she was learning in class and put it into play at the office. The experiences classmates were having at work—solving problems, creating strategies—enhanced the guidance and knowledge they were getting from expert-written articles and case studies.
Earning an EMBA opened doors to high-level positions outside the mortgage industry. After holding senior VP roles at another mortgage company, in 2021 Roy became COO at Triumph Business Capital. The broad business overview of the Executive MBA program has been key in her role at C-level.“A significant part of the COO role is connecting the dots across the departments—with IT, finance, sales, HR—to make sure that the business is running efficiently,” Roy said. “An executive MBA program provides you a deeper understanding of what all those departments do, allowing you to make those connections.”
Preparing a Path for More Women in the C-suite
As a woman with an office in the C-suite, Roy is a rarity. Male executive officers outnumber female executive officers seven to one, according to a 2021 report by Morningstar. At the CEO level, there are almost 17 times as many men as women. More than half of companies in the study did not have a single female executive officer.
Studies have shown, however, that having a diverse leadership leads to diverse thinking—opening up opportunities and insights no one in the room has ever thought of.
“When building a leadership team, we often rely on existing connections where you have an established relationship, there is opportunity in assessing and identifying what does your leadership team need, and how do you bring that to the table,” Roy said. “A lot of times a woman is needed as a key player. Women have a different approach to things; we think differently—there’s science that supports this.”
All leaders should look honestly at what their teams need and hire people who fill those gaps.
“You have to be intentional about the way you go about it. As a female leader, I continuously pull up that chair for that other female leaders, or up-and-coming, potential leaders, to sit next to me, to be able to have a seat at the table,” Roy said. “Showing you can have great strategy, thought, execution, just as a male counterpart could, and then encouraging other women is really what’s going to start turning the page.”
Younger women with their eye on the C-suite have to be bold, Roy said. “Use your voice. There are times that I look back and wish that I had taken more risks and been bolder. I was cautious, given that I was working with a lot of male executives, and wondering, ‘how do I navigate through this space being a female?’. I have had many wonderful female mentors that helped me to think differently about how I approached things. When you’re younger in your career, take the risks – put yourself out there.”
A Laboratory for Business Problem-Solving
In an MBA program, you can hone the skills to take those risks—skills in leading, communicating, negotiating, and thinking strategically. With its demanding coursework and emphasis on working in teams, an EMBA is a great reflection of the business world, Roy said. It’s also a great place for everyone—regardless of gender identity—to learn how to lead with intention.
Professionals considering an MBA should remember they are in charge of their own careers, Roy said. No one else can make those decisions for you. Getting an MBA is not easy and requires strong commitment. But anyone aiming for the C-suite should seriously consider it.
“When thinking about your career goals and where you want to be in the future, you don’t want to be in a position where the other candidate is selected because you didn’t have an MBA,” she said. “If you have the means, opportunity, support and the drive to go get an MBA to better yourself and your community, then I definitely recommend doing it.”
Amber Roy on "The Bear Beat"
Wondering if an Executive MBA program could help you become a leader at the highest level? Baylor University offers an executive Master of Business Administration at the Hankamer School of Business in two of Texas’ key business and cultural hubs—in Dallas and in Austin. Reach out for a one-on-one consultation with our admissions advisers. Complete the form below, and our team will contact you directly.