Balancing an MBA with fatherhood

As the Chief Financial Officer at AdventHealth Wesley Chapel, Ryan Quattlebaum found UF MBA while looking for a program to help him make the next step in his career.

The rigorous academic experience hasn’t come without challenges, especially with a young family. With the help of his wife of 11 years, Cristina, Quattlebaum has been able to grow through the Executive MBA program while also making sure he prioritizes time with his daughters Sofia, 7, and Emily, 2.

Q: Why did you choose to enroll in the UF MBA program? 

Quattlebaum: “We moved from California to Florida in 2020 for my career as the CFO at Wesley Chapel. Upon arriving, I built a rapport with my CEO, Erik. One day he walked into my office and asked me if I wanted to, one day, be a CEO of a hospital. I said of course, so he said, “Then go get your MBA.

“I spoke with coworkers, researched online, and discussed with many campus recruiters. It became clear that the best education would be from the University of Florida. UF excels in providing cutting edge research, expert faculty, and a network that is top tier, not just regionally but nationally. And being two hours from my home in Tampa, the executive program has proved to be a great fit for me personally and professionally. It doesn’t hurt that my daughters love the Gator Chomp!”

Q: What are the biggest challenges of enrolling in an MBA program while being a dad? 

Quattlebaum: “The biggest challenge is balancing the assignments while also being attentive to my family. At times, it feels like I am walking a tight rope, but the challenge has been worth pursing, as the lessons learned in class and from my classmates have been immediate.”

Q: How have you been able to balance earning an MBA while being a dad? 

Quattlebaum: “For me, the balance comes with being clear and intentional about what the priority must be. I have a post-it note on my bathroom mirror that says “1- Family, 2- Career, 3- UF MBA”. Every day I look at that note and am clear on my objectives. From those clear objectives I break down the day into pieces but tackle one thing at a time. Prioritization occurs on a regular basis, but the process has prepared me to be a more effective leader in my organization.

“Additionally, the MBA journey is a team effort. I’ve received tremendous support from my employer who has been accommodating with my class schedule. My cohort team is cohesive, so we all rely on the greater support from each other. Finally, my wife has been an incredible support throughout this process. Every day, it feels like I have 10 balls juggling in the air, and 20 more being kicked around on the floor, but I am blessed with an amazing group of friends and family to make it possible.”

Q: What have been your biggest takeaways from your time in the UF MBA program? 

Quattlebaum: “I’ll list two that have set the program apart. First, the professors are truly world class but also pragmatic. There have been elements from every class that I took back to my job as the CFO of a Hospital and implemented immediately, so the ROI has been real-time. Second, I truly believe my cohort peers are the best executives I’ve come across. We challenge and push each other, and many of them are no longer classmates but friends that I’ll maintain for the rest of my life. At the beginning of our program, John Gresley, assistant dean for the program, told us that to be a Gator, we needed to be transformational. I believe this group will transform the business landscape both at our companies and in the market.”