Rory Thomas (’06, MBA ’09)
Rory Thomas is a native Memphian who graduated from CBU with a BSBA concentration in Finance in 2006. As student, he was an active member and officer of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) Memphis Student Chapter and also served as a student career advisor. “Really getting to know and build relationships with your professors is something that sets CBU apart from most other universities,” he says. “My senior year, there was a major internship opportunity at Morgan Stanley that I knew nothing about. My professor, Dr. Bevalee Vitali, shared it with me and believed I could do a great job. She wrote an awesome recommendation, and I got an internship at a Fortune 500 that really helped jumpstart my career.”
As a new college graduate, Rory began his career at the Mid-South Minority Business Council (MMBC) as a financial analyst and went on to positions as a Strategic Business Advisor, helping to create new strategies for minority and women-owned businesses. During this time, Rory also returned to CBU and earned his MBA. He went on to become the Director of Corporate Consultive Services at the MMBC, in which he advised and assisted local corporations in institutionalizing diversity and inclusion. This led to his position as Executive Director of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center at Southwest Tennessee Community College, which provides free small business assistance to individuals starting and growing small businesses. He was a special invited guest to Google headquarters in Mountain View, CA to share about the success of helping Memphis small business owners establish an online presence. During this period of his career, Rory was also widely recognized for his leadership and success, including being named a Memphis Business Journal “Top 40 Under 40,” receiving the “State Star” Award for Tennessee from America’s Small Business Development Center, and being selected as a Special Red Carpet Guest for the NAACP Image Awards in Pasadena, CA. He also received a scholarship award from the National Black MBA Association and earned his second master’s degree in Management from the University of Phoenix.
In 2021, Rory became the President of the Memphis Medical District Collaborative, a community development organization working with its anchor institutions — Baptist Health Sciences University, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare. Regional One Health, Southern College of Optometry, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Southwest Tennessee Community College, and University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center — to strengthen the connections, communities, and campuses in the Memphis Medical District.
Outside of his work career, Rory is an active member of Lindenwood Christian Church and serves on its Board of Directors. He also serves on the Community Development Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the Board of Directors of the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change, the Community Leadership Council of Vitalant, and the Alumni Advisory Council of the CBU School of Business. He and his wife, Nicolette Thomas (who works at ALSAC/St. Jude), have two children, Jackson and Harper — and he describes them as a “blessing and a great family that inspires me each day to be my best.”
Embracing and being intentional about diversity is a lesson learned at CBU that has helped me in life. As a student, I enjoyed meeting people from all different backgrounds and hearing diverse perspectives on subject matters. As a professional, diversity and inclusion is a core value I strive for in whatever I do.