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Forté Fellow Spotlight: Abby Shue

Abby-ShueAbby Shue

Butler University, Integrated Business Communications, Dance Performance 2009
Executive MBA, Vanderbilt Owen School of Management, 2016
Hometown: Louisville, KY
Pre-MBA Work Experience: (Current) Vice President, The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts

Life can change in an instant. For me, that instant came in 2007. It humbled, challenged and motivated me. It reconnected me with friends and family members. It unexpectedly halted my plans and redirected my trajectory.

Doctors discovered multiple blood clots in both lungs when I was 19 years old. I was studying ballet at one of the nation’s leading programs, on track for a professional career as a performer. Doctor’s orders were to refrain from all physical activity for a year of recovery.

Though I never returned to performing, the power of live performing arts experiences continues to drive me and has led me to a career in nonprofit arts administration. The field is primarily populated by artists with limited management training.

Yet, art is business. Arts centers rely heavily on corporate citizens to fund programs and fill board positions. Like every other business, arts organizations need to operate efficiently and effectively, while maintaining focus and tackling complex business issues.

I want to help re-imagine the business model and the role of performing arts organizations, and I know business school is the best guide. As technology proliferates, process efficiency, customization, and instant gratification pervade society. One thing that defines a community is shared experience and authentic culture. A business degree will allow me to merge the community-building force of the arts with the business acumen necessary to foster cross-sector collaboration and form strategic partnerships.

Successful business leadership will depend increasingly on creativity and the capacity to build empathy – things inherently rooted in the arts. The role and significance of the arts in society is greater now than ever before, and I long for the business acumen to make a more viable plan to use the force of the arts to build community.

My path to business school has been winding. As my journey continues in my first year of the Executive MBA program at Owen Graduate School of Management, I look forward to learning from the “other side.” Corporations are valuable partners when meaningfully engaged in the mission of a nonprofit organization.

Business school will help me understand what makes companies tick, learn to speak the language and tailor messages for a business audience. In an age of accountability and transparency, an MBA teaches the analytical skills necessary to hold nonprofits accountable for quantifiable results, building a stronger social sector.

I appreciate the generosity and vision of Vanderbilt in providing a scholarship opportunity for employees in the nonprofit sector to participate in each Executive MBA class.

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