The Value of Relationships in Baylor’s MBA Program

April 23, 2020
News Feed - Matt Clark

When software developer Matt Clark, BBA ‘00, MBA ‘15, began the Baylor MBA program in Dallas in 2014, he expected the program to bolster his business acumen. What he didn’t anticipate was the significant change it would cause to his career trajectory.

“It really was the perfect storm of events,” said Matt. “I knew I enjoyed entrepreneurial activities and I thought the Baylor MBA would be a natural way to help me take the next step--whatever that might be.”

Little did Matt know that in the midst of pursuing his MBA, he’d reconnect with fellow Baylor alum, Chris Heckler, BBA ‘02, and start Valify, a Frisco, Texas-based company that provides a web-based platform for purchased services, analytics and benchmarking for the healthcare industry. Even more surprising was that five years later, Valify would be acquired by HCA Healthcare (NYSE: HCA), one of the nation’s largest healthcare organizations.

“During my MBA program, I began actively looking on LinkedIn for people who had experience working with Group Purchasing Organizations in healthcare to help with issues we were facing at my company,” said Matt. "At the same time, I had begun to feel like I needed a new challenge. Coincidentally, Chris was looking to start a software company, so he, too, was on LinkedIn and noticed that I’d looked at his profile. When he saw that my title was ‘VP of Software Development,’ he reached out.”

While Matt and Chris had been in the Beta Theta Pi fraternity at Baylor as undergrads in Baylor’s Business School, their paths hadn’t crossed since graduation.

“But we met for lunch at Kenny’s Burger Joint in Frisco, and as they say, the rest is history,” said Matt.

“I had high hopes for Valify, but we really didn’t know if it would take off,” said Matt, Valify’s CFO/CTO. From initial funding rounds in 2014 and 2016, Valify went on to post a three-year growth rate of 2,276%, vaulting to 169th on Inc. 5000's 2019 Fastest-Growing Companies list. In 2018, they bought Nashville-based Lucro which offers a marketplace for comparing and selecting vendors. Most recently, Valify was acquired by HCA Healthcare, which owns and operates 180 hospitals and more than 120 freestanding surgery centers (NYSE: HCA).

“HCA is a fantastic company, dedicated to reducing healthcare costs so that more money can be spent on providing care,” said Matt, who explained that Valify will continue to operate independently of HCA. “For the last six years I’ve had a bird's-eye view of how hospitals spend money, giving me a good appreciation of how diverse the healthcare industry is, and how much opportunity there is within healthcare for entrepreneurs to innovate. It’s an exciting time to be involved and to partner with HCA.”

Why the Baylor Executive MBA program in Dallas?

Matt knew that he wanted a cohort-style program for his graduate work. “When I surveyed the programs in the DFW Metroplex, Baylor’s program not only fit my schedule, but it also had the healthcare-focused track that I was looking for.”

He credits many of his professors for their support during Valify’s startup phase and said that he would always be grateful for their help. “Working with them made me feel confident in our decision to launch Valify,” Matt said.

Pat Souter, JD, who teaches a Baylor business law class, reviewed Valify’s founding documents, while Kevin Castello, MBA ‘09, who led the private venture finance class, helped Matt and Chris to negotiate seed-round funding. “The Baylor MBA coursework lined up perfectly as we launched Valify,” Matt said.

How does the Baylor MBA fit into an already busy life?

“It was a challenge,” according to Matt, “but do-able. Not only was I balancing the MBA program, but I was coaching kids’ sports, and working full-time. Then, Chris and I started Valify, which added to the workload. I had to tackle things one day at a time and work on the most important things each day, while making sure to spend time with my family. The relationships I had with my professors and the support from the Dallas EMBA staff certainly helped.”

According to US News and World Report, EMBA programs tend to offer a higher level of discussion based on more real-world experiences. Baylor’s engaged faculty create a collaborative classroom environment where every student's contribution is encouraged.

“Starting a company can be an emotional roller coaster,” said Matt. “I didn’t stop to breathe a sigh of relief until we finally signed the documents to be acquired by HCA. It was an incredible experience and I was grateful for the early partnership I had with Baylor faculty members in the program.”

About Baylor’s EMBA program

Designed for high-achieving, working professionals, Baylor’s 21-month Executive MBA curriculum is delivered in a cohort format one night a week at Baylor’s Austin campus or once a month at Baylor’s Dallas campus. Both schedules allow professionals to balance the demands of working full-time while completing an MBA. To accommodate the growing needs of the healthcare industry, the Baylor EMBA program also offers an EMBA in Healthcare.

Prospective candidates can learn more about the program by visiting the Baylor MBA website.

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