EMBA graduate takes leap of faith into pharmacy business

Photo of EMBA graduate Valerie Trang and her capstone project team.

TWU EMBA graduate Valerie Trang (seated) with her capstone project team.

12/10/15

Executive MBA graduate Valerie Trang’s entrepreneurial drive and the support she received from Texas Woman’s University faculty have kept her barreling toward her goals and her new title: small business owner.

The 48-year-old single mother isn’t waiting until graduation to start the next phase of her professional life, either. She said she never thought twice about taking the leap into a new career, while juggling a fulltime course load and raising two teenage daughters.

Trang, as all EMBA students do in the TWU School of Management, completed a capstone project, which can take the place of a written thesis in some graduate programs. Hers focused on a five-year plan for her pharmacy business.

Trang will earn her EMBA from TWU on Dec. 12, with construction on her Irving business space already complete.

She plans to open Pharmacy Toi early next year.

“Receiving an MBA from TWU just opens up another world for me,” Trang said. “People listen to you when you have those three letters behind your name, and it really sets that tone for success.”

Along with her studies for classes, Trang has spent countless hours at work on everything from locking down a good location to business practices specific to the pharmacy industry, like compounding. Not to mention the significant investment required to build the business from scratch.

Associate professor John Nugent called Trang “the student all professors want to have in the classroom.”

“She digs deep to grasp all the nuances of the subject matter, and to see her apply what she has learned so successfully in the marketplace is exactly what we want for our EMBA grads,” Nugent added.

Pharmacy Toi will offer retail prescriptions like most chains, but also will offer compounds for patients whose needs are not specifically met by one drug or another. Compounding sometimes means taking specific dyes out of drugs due to patient allergies or converting a drug that only comes in pill form to a liquid for patients who are unable to swallow pills.


Before opening Pharmacy Toi, TWU EMBA graduate Valerie Trang has had to master more than business. She has also received off-campus training in pharmaceutical compounding. 

"I want to serve the community,” Trang said. “That’s what it comes down to. That’s my vision for Pharmacy Toi.”

‘Toi’ is the French word for ‘you,’ and ‘Tôi’ becomes Vietnamese for ‘I,’ encompassing Trang’s passion to serve and the entrepreneurial drive that has kept her going through all the bumps in the road.

“It’s me, serving you,” Trang said.

To that end, Trang also plans to incorporate prescription delivery into her business model to ensure every patient receives his or her medications as efficiently and conveniently as possible.

In a competitive business segment like pharmacy, differentiating her shop from the rest will be important for Trang, and it was a big part of her capstone project.

Trang’s faculty mentor, Michael Raisinghani, identified her early on in classes like project management and E-business as both driven and conscientious. He said Trang’s knack for spinning all the plates in life and business, and her developing negotiation chops, would serve her well in the next phase of her career.

“Her positive attitude and strong will to succeed will help her overcome the challenges that come up in business,” Raisinghani said. “She has a lifelong commitment to learning and embodies the words from Mahatma Ghandi I try to emphasize in all my courses: ‘Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.’”

TWU is receiving $2.2 million in state funding over the next two years to launch a Texas’s first Center for Women in Business which will provide leadership opportunities and encourage even more students like Trang to start their own businesses.

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