International Trip Summary

By Dr. Jon Carrick

VietnamThe trip was even better than I would have hoped it would have been. We got to feel the global economy on the ground-level of two of the most exciting economies in the world. Vietnam is a developing country with a war torn past and incredibly bright future. And although it is still very poor, we felt the economic development all around us; we felt not only the excitement that development brings, but saw first-hand how American companies can prosper from this development. While Singapore showed us the opportunities and challenges of operating in a highly developed country – arguably the most advanced economy in the world. In Singapore we also saw the prosperity that comes from an innovative country with a government that is committed to stability and economic growth.

Sing3 - China Town ShoppingThe range and impact of the visits in the two countries was superb; from a nonprofit that touched the hearts of all of us, to a meeting with a high-level executive with a major multinational investment bank, and everything in between. What impressed us the most was the open access that we got; it is not often that you get high level directors giving you three hour tours of multi-billion dollar projects – like we did at both Universal and Marina Bay Sands.  Closely related, the variety also helped the experience. We had a great mixture of lecture, Q&A, and operational tours. Furthermore, the Center for Creative Leadership provided some great insight on leadership and the hands-on activities we did with them was a nice change of pace from the business visits.

Although getting to Southeast Asia took 26 hours, it was well worth it. There is no region ofMaureen Pic1 the world that could have better brought to life what we learned in the classroom: the challenges of doing business with vastly different cultures; the impacts of fluctuating financial markets; the importance of efficiency in the global marketplace; and the challenges of adapting products for overseas markets. But not only did the trip provide a great learning experience, it also helped us in our own personal development; the trip pushed us out of our comfort zones and gave us new perspectives on life. Cohort 10 could not have picked two better countries to visit.

Sing2 - Sing Flyer

This last photo was taken inside the Singapore Flyer, the largest of three in the world.  From the 25 minute ride, the cohort had a spectacular 360 view of the city, the amazing architecture, and the Marina Bay Sands Hotel.  This activity was one that the entire group will remember and cherish as part of our Singapore visit.

Final Day – Thoughts & Summary on a Wonderful Trip

  Mayra Santiago, Maureen Karkovice & Ray Harpel

Sing4 - Dinner3This international business trip has been an experience to remember in so many ways. I hope it’s not a “once in a lifetime” opportunity, and plan to travel back this way in the future!

As someone who is not in the business world (but obviously looking to transition), this trip – as well as the entire Stetson EMBA program – has provided me with a wealth of knowledge and information. The coursework prior to the trip prepared me with the information necessary to get the most out of the business visits and to be able to identify and analyze culture and how it impacts business practices. The speakers varied, which provided learning experiences in many areas, and which I personally value since I am so eager to learn as much as I can as I look toward a new career path. The quality of the speakers, the great hospitality shown to us and the in depth knowledge and experience imparted during each visit was incredible!

Sing4 - Dinner4It was not only the people and places we visited that made this trip great… the support team of Stetson University and International Study Programs staff, and out wonderful Vietnamese guide, Dwayne made this trip and enjoyable experience. The never ceasing organization, support, and wisdom provided by Wendy has been and she a huge asset to this program; she is a beacon, a guide, a life-saver- truly a gift during a rigorous, challenging, stressful period of! Dr. Carrick provided a perfect blend of focus and fun – he did a wonderful job preparing us for the journey. Michaela, our tour leader from ISP did a great job planning our visits and cultural activities with fabulous attention to detail, to make sure we got the most out of our short time in each location. And lastly I’m sure we would all like to send a big thank you to Dwayne, our guide in Vietnam. Dwayne had made the journey educational and enjoyable, and really made our visit to Vietnam memorable. From the history he shared to the jokes he told, to the time he took out of his day to make an unscheduled trip to the Presidential Palace for us. Dwayne was a fabulous addition to the trip!!

Sing4 - Dinner1We finished our international field trip with a bang! We started our evening with a cable car ride to the top of a mountain to a special place called The Jewel Box. This amazing restaurant is a hidden gem with a breathtaking 360-degree view of Singapore. A relaxed “al fresco” dinner experience was exactly what the cohort needed to unwind after a successful, but intense trip that was shortly coming to an end. We enjoyed chatting about all that we had accomplished in the last eight days and all the wonderful people we met along the way.


This cohort is SO special to me- I honestly cannot imagine going through this EMBA experience with a different group of people. I learn from each of them everyday! I love that each one of them offers different strengths that sharpen and develop me in many ways. Thank you all for an amazing trip and I look forward to the last 10 months of learning together.


This trip was beyond my expectations and was certainly eye-opening and life changing!



Country #2 – Singapore

After 4 days in beautiful Vietnam, we have changed pace and moved on to Singapore. The differences between these two countries are vast in terms of infrastructure, opportunities and business, however as one of the newly industrialized countries of the 1970’s Singapore is a fabulous example of a country which has gained economic stability and global business recognition in a very short space of time – becoming a global leader in IT, finance and shipping. Singapore’s success is due in parts to its business friendly government policies, its small size, and a focus on education and training. Singapore provides good examples of best-practices for business and it will be interesting to experience the difference between the two countries first hand.


Lauren Hall – Globecast

Sing1 - Globecast1

On Thursday morning, we spent our first business visit in Singapore with Darby Sanchez, CEO of GlobeCast, Singapore. Sanchez runs an exciting operation, providing media content management and transmission services for major networks around the world.  One of the most exciting parts for us being that she is a native Floridian!


While touring us around her facility, Darby was able to provide us with deep insight into conducting business in Singapore and elsewhere around the world, as she had also previously been based in Latin America and Asia throughout her 20 year career in the media industry. She talked about how Singapore has been highly successful because of the way they have tackled the issue of corruption, likely better than any other Asian country. While they have strict laws and low tolerance for breaking these laws, this rigid structure has allowed the country to flourish.

In addition, Darby shared what she believes to be crucial to conducting business internationally today – the need to deeply know how a country thinks and runs, in terms of politics, sociology, culture, etc. Along with this international awareness, the next key is people management: being able to spot talent and assess who is good at what, and giving them opportunities that are cultural aspirations. We also discussed the need to anticipate what is going to happen in your business or industry, and that if this is not done it can be deadly for a company.

Sing1 - Globecast2 with CEOFinally, Darby encouraged us to take risks in our careers, saying that there is no gain without risks, and the only way she has made it to her position today has been by seizing opportunities that have sometimes been risky. Taking risks is crucial for both individuals if they want to be top leaders, and for companies if they want to be market leaders. She strongly believes that opportunities are there for those who are willing to take risks and not put limitations on themselves.

Our visit was fabulous, and highlighted that as current MBA students, we can strive to pursue a successful career in international business and work around the globe. We all left amazed by Darby and her passion, and hope to cross paths with her again the future.


Angela Stevens – Singapore Night Safari

Sing1 - Night Safari5bThursday night we ventured to the Singapore Zoo for a night Safari. We boarded a tram and off we went into the jungles of the Singapore zoo. The animals and their habitats were amazing. We saw animals from 7 different regions of the world. After the tram ride we ventured back out on the walking trails to see the animals even closer and some additional animals we could not see from the tram. The exhibits were amazing. Some animals such as lions and hyenas felt like they were only about 5-10 feet away. I was very impressed with the visibility of the animals. As mentioned before some of the animals were 5-10 feet away while others were either laying right at the viewing glass or had not barriers at all. Such as the Wallaby who could wander right in front of you if they choose. Some of the other amazing animals were saw were Asian elephants, giraffes, zebras, tapirs, sloth bears, and sugar gliders.


Sabrina Singleton – Singapore by night

On Thursday night, while some of the group were doing the Singapore Night Safari, Pablo and I explored the city. We took the MRT  to the Marina Bay Sands and back. The trip was fabulous – the whole area was like one giant mall/amusement park!  One thing that stood out to me was the friendliness of the people we encountered who helped us navigate ourselves there and back as we got lost a lot.  For example, someone behind us helped us buy our tickets. In addition, the MRT security and gate keepers  were incredibly patient and helpful.  When I went out of the wrong gate at the train the gate keepers let me back in through the right gate without scolding me or making me repurchase a ticket.
For a large city, Singapore is welcoming and doesn’t feel unsafe. I saw a lot of women and children out in the city late at night. Because of this and the friendliness of everyone we encountered, I felt a lot more conformable walking around Singapore than I would in Vietnam or in any large US city. Such a fun night out exploring!


Lasting Impressions – The Beauty of Vietnam

imageby Raymond Harpel

At the start of this trip I was a bit wary of our time in Vietnam given the stories I have been told it being unclean, not very friendly… The people telling me these stories were 100% incorrect!!

While at first glance of the country does give an impression of uncleanliness, when you take a deeper look and focus on what is going on, people are always cleaning. From city workers that adorn their orange jump suits to local store owners out with their handmade straw brooms, at further glance it seems that everyone cleans, everyone moves.

HCM2 - Food tour20


Now while the physical attributes of the country from the city streets and buildings to the countryside and jungles are quiet appealing to the eye, I feel the true beauty of the country comes from its welcoming and fascinating people. The people of Vietnam truly do seem to have a smile on their face at all times and despite any given adversity. From seeing the employees at the Garment factory who smiled even while completing the laborious tasks of sewing and counting to the people on the side of the street or in the rural areas that seem to have very little, but continue to smile. The beauty of the people continues in their openness and willingness to communicate with foreign tourists – their eagerness to meet, speak to and learn more about others is amazing.

A personal example of this occurred at the Presidential Palace. As we walked down the stairs and in the direction if the alace, I saw a young boy studying my every move (also while smiling). The boy’s father turned around, smiled at me and eagerly followed with a very welcoming “Hello”. I replied with a “Hello” in returned and in my American ignorance thought that this was the conclusion of the interaction. Nope, the man followed with a question “where are you from?” “The USA” “Oh, I am from Vietnam”, “Great” I replied. Still the conversation continues as he tells me “I go to Hanoi State”. At this point we reach the bottom of the stairs and he concludes with a cheerful “Goodbye”. At first I though “how random was that” but I thought further about it and started to feel very welcomed and more open to future conversations like this.

HCM2 - Food tour10(2)The Vietnamese people are very inquisitive and very curious, and are not afraid to stop and ask you a question. To some this may seem weird, and to me at first it came across this way being so unlike the behavior we are used to the in US. But as our travels continued, I started to see that this quality really added to the beauty that underlies the Vietnamese culture and its people. I am very lucky to have been given the opportunity to make this visit, to meet people and experience this amazingly beautiful culture first hand.

Last Day in Vietnam – Saigon Children

Saigon Children

by Judy Ashbrook & Mayra Santiago

Today, we had the great pleasure to visit the students and administration of the Saigon Children’s Charity (SCC) – a very worthwhile local charity which focuses on poverty reduction through education and training.

After a very informative presentation by the Communication Development Manager, Do Thi Xuan Phuc, we got an opportunity to talk to a group of students, ages 14-22, about why higher education is important, potential career opportunities they can consider, as well as sharing personal stories in order to get to know one another.  There was a 20 minute dialogue back and forth sharing the importance of education, learning how it can help them in their life, and the students were very interested in learning about us and what we do! They heard about Margo’s work with the Disney internship program and learned that they could dream to be an intern and work at one day.  Mayra spoke about coming from Puerto Rico and choosing to immerse herself in the American cultural and way of life, becoming a leader in Disney Company. We also enjoyed interacting with the students and staff through an ice breaker in which we broke up into 3 groups, had 5 minutes to create a team name, brand slogan and how we’d promote ourselves, and then present to the group. Three distinguished teams emerged based on commonalities between Stetson students and Saigon students.  Our team was Magic Saigon – Magic to represent Magic Kingdom and Orlando Magic blended with their Saigon.  We pictured fireworks over the Saigon skyline, and decided we would sell ourselves by promising magic through creativity, education, and innovation.

The students in this school have the opportunity learn skills in many areas such as hospitality, beauty, IT, English and photography.  In order to fund their programs, SCC has many fund raising initiatives. For example, recently they have published a book of photographs taken by the students themselves reflecting Vietnam daily life. With proceeds from this book, SCC will be able to continue support the children of Vietnam with initiatives such as scholarship programs, school construction and training and educational development programs.

To end a wonderful time with this organization, we were able to show our support by purchasing several of the ‘coffee table’ books displaying this impressive collection of photographs  taken by students and compiled over 5 years.  We discussed on the bus to look for ways we could give back to them, and with 90% of the profits going directly back in the form of aid & scholarships these seemed perfect!  Our total donation came to around US$500 which we will be used to help the kids of Ho Chi Minh City to be empowered and self-sufficient. This visit was an extremely rewarding and apt way to end our time in Vietnam!


Saigon Children’s Charity is truly making a difference in the lives of the children in Vietnam every day.  We encourage you to follow this link below so that you can too can learn more about the Saigon Children’s Charity.

Day 2: First day of Business Visits

Judy Ashbrook & Pablo Chavez – US Commercial Service and Lowe & Partners

HCM2 - Lowe AdvertisingThe few days that we have spent in Vietnam have gone by really quickly, with so many things to see and do.  Today, we had the opportunity meet Frank Joseph, a Commercial Officer with the US Commercial Service, and Indraneel Guha, Director of Strategic Planning Services at Lowe & Partners.  Both visits gave us insights into both how to do business in Vietnam, and the Vietnamese culture and what it is like to work in Vietnam personally.  What stood out about two of the visits was the differing perspectives between the two presenters.  The US commercial service focuses primarily on providing assistance for US company’s to export to Vietnam, and his point of view was mostly small business oriented. Although Vietnam provides opportunities as an emerging market, Frank Joseph was realistic about the challenges of entering the market, such as government red tape, infrastructure, financing and education.  From a Marketing perspective, the presentation at Lowe & Partners looked more closely at the local culture and implications for marketing products as well as the potential of the country as an emerging market.

Overall, the presentations gave the impression that there is a market to be developed in Vietnam, which has great potential, but there is considerable risk due to the cultural trends and political stability of the country.

HCM2 - PhoIn the evening, we had a choice to explore the city on a motorcycle tour or by ourselves.  We traveled by foot from our hotel to the Ben Thanh Market, where the sights and smells were amazing.  As you travel up and down the streets you see all sorts of items for sale such as souvenirs, luggage and Vietnamese delicacies to eat.  The city is fascinating at night, lots of movement happening all around, with taxis and scooters.  Truly an experience just to cross the street! We ended up going to Pho2000 where we experienced Phở – a delicious  bowl of chicken, beef or vegetables served with rice noodles and broth. It was so good, we are all considering going back for seconds!


Margo Haines – Food Education: Moving Through the Streets of Ho Chi Minh City

HCM2 - Food tour17For our first optional night Angie, Cody, Lauren, Wendy, our trip guide Michaela and I chose to see the city from the back of bikes, joining Moggy’s Mekong Madness, a motorcycle food tour of Ho Chi Minh City.

The tour began at the hotel and continued on through 5 of 7 districts of Ho Chi Minh City. The group were introduced to weird and wonderful local cuisine from the traditional phở to frog legs and local beverages. As the tour went through the city the guides were able to share local information and the history of Vietnam with us. The culture is so rich and to have the exposure to the districts and the differences between each of them was eye opening. The tour provided a feeling of safety while being able to immerse ourselves in the local culture. The experience of riding through the city on motorbikes, which is the main mode of transportation in Vietnam, and taking in all of the sites while eating the local cuisine was an experience of a lifetime!

Travelling to Vietnam & Day 1 enjoying the local countryside

Krista Scimeca – Arriving in Saigon:

Arrival in Vietnam2What a trip! After about 21 hours in the air on three separate flights – our travel time totaling well over 24 hours with layovers, we’ve finally made it over to Ho Chi Minh City.  Overall, Cohort 10 faired pretty well through our travels!  We’re a little tired and groggy, but adjusting to the time difference, and we’ll push through the jet lag in no time.  We’ll be arriving at the Sheraton Saigon with nice, big, comfy, warm beds in hopefully about an hour.  I know I won’t have trouble sleeping tonight.

Tomorrow we’re looking forward to a full and exciting day of Vietnamese culture, starting with a tour of the Mekong Delta region and ending with a beautiful dinner cruise.


Wendy Lowe – Day 1: Mekong Delta & Dinner

HCM1 - Mekong Delta5Today we viewed the scenic countryside just outside of Ho Chi Minh City as we headed towards the Mekong Delta for the day.  On the journey there we saw local farmers hard at work, taking care of their crops including fruits and rice.  The students were amazed by the non-stop motorbike activity that served all the purposes of an actual car; including carrying furniture, babies, and supplies for their businesses on the back.

At the Mekong Delta, we traveled by boat, debarked at an Island where a local village resides.  Here we witnessed daily life and the means by which the villagers sustained their families.  Very talented craftsmen, the villagers made items out of every part of the coconut from northern hats, to keychains, to an actual home – roof and all. We were amazed by this ingenuity and by their economical use of this resource.  We also sampled local fruits, honey tea, and coconut candy while on the island and traveled thru the village on a horse and buggy and on a sampan boat.

Angie Stevens said the day was eye-opening.  This wasn’t a simulated place like we often see in a touristy area like Orlando, but the actual “real thing”.

HCM1 - Bonsai Dinner Cruise GroupWe concluded our day with a Welcome Bonsai Dinner aboard a boat that had musical and dancing entertainment, a magician, and a masseuse!

Vietnam has amazing charm; friendly people.  You can walk everywhere and take in the markets along with the sights and sounds of every day living here.  This was a wonderful way to spend our first day in Vietnam, immersing ourselves in the country’s rich cultural heritage.



Tomorrow the real work begins, with business visits to the US Commercial Office and Lowe Advertising.

Preparing for the International Trip

Mekong Delta - Vietnam

Mekong Delta – Vietnam

By Dr. Jon Carrick

The world has become highly globalized and we now must interact with companies from all over the world. Throughout the past term, we have been studying how to interact and conduct business with other countries and cultures. It is beneficial to study these things in the classroom, but there is no substitute for experiencing it first-hand. This is why I am so excited about our EMBA trip to Vietnam and Singapore.

We will get to experience two of the most dynamic economies in the world. Singapore rose from the ashes of conflict in the 1950’s to become one of the strongest economies in the world; it was literally one of the poorest countries in the world and it is now among the richest. The Singaporean economy has grown at an average of 8% p.a. since the 1960’s, and its impressive growth continues.

Vietnam has also recently experienced great growth, but is still a developing country. It will be an interesting contrast to see countries in vastly different stages of economic growth. It will also be interesting to be welcome in a country that, less than 40 years ago, we were at war with. If you had told people 30 years ago that Vietnam would be an important trading partner with the U.S., people would have thought that you were crazy. But here we are getting ready to visit an open and friendly Vietnam.

Between the two countries, we have nine great business visits planned. These visits are to an array of small and large organizations and will really bring to life what we have been learning in the classroom. Stay tuned, as the students and I will blog about each of our visits and our other experiences in Vietnam and Singapore.

Cohort 10 Marketing Simulation Success

Mkting Sim2

A few weeks ago Cohort 10 experienced a highly interactive simulation, in which students define and execute a business-to-business marketing strategy. The aim of this group exercise was to develop an understanding of the link between marketing strategy formulation and effective execution, and using segment and customer needs analysis to make product marketing and design decisions. “The simulation helped students experience the interconnectivity of each of the marketing mix elements in making strategic business decisions.” according to the course professor Dr. Michelle DeMoss, Ph.D.
Mkting Sim1

Successful marketing strategies require consideration of a variety of factors, which may impact realization of goals. In this simulation, the students need to identify market segmentations, set a product price and discounts. They then allocate sales and marketing resources for each targeted segment including setting the level of spending on marketing communications and market research. Customer feedback is then provided by the program through dynamic video interviews so that students can gain important insights into the effectiveness of their marketing strategies. The simulation can be relayed a number of times, adjusting factors such as price and marketing investment to see changes in the results.

Mkting Sim3Dr. DeMoss was thrilled with the outcome of the exercise, stating that “the class performed very well, with one group achieving the highest simulation score yet!  Students were so engaged in the exercise that they requested that the simulation be available to play for the rest of the semester on their own time.”

Cohort 10 Prepares For International Residency

Ho Chi Minh CityWith just 7 weeks to go before they leave for Vietnam and Singapore, Cohort 10 are beginning to prepare for their 10-day international experience.

Today in a Skype call with our International Study Programs program manager, Michaela Vokounova, the students got a first glimpse at their full itinerary and the events that will dominate their trip. There is so much to see in the 10 days away, that the itinerary is filled with cultural events, sightseeing and business consultations – this will be an immersive experience, which allows the students to appreciate the differences of doing business in both countries, and deepens their understanding of different cultures, people and perspectives, to reinforce the importance of a global mindset.

The trip will consist of visits to 8 different small and large businesses in a range of industries, daily cultural events – including a boat cruise on the Mekong Delta and day at Sentosa Island – and a philanthropic activity helping disadvantaged people in Ho Chi Minh City.

Singapore skyline at nightMekong Delta - Vietnam

We are very excited about what promises to be an amazing residency!!

Keep an eye out for future updates and watch Facebook and our blog for stories of our travels when we leave in 7 weeks.