Executive MBA Alumni Reception, February 5, 2015


Networking opportunities

Stetson University’s School of Business Administration is hosting an Executive MBA Alumni Reception on Thursday, February 5th from 6:30-8:30pm at the Citrus Club – bringing this distinctive group together to meet up with familiar colleagues and make new connections with current Executive MBA students, Stetson University faculty and area leaders.

To enhance the conversation and networking, there will be a panel discussion around what’s to be expected in the New Year within the Central Florida region and beyond. All attendees at the event will be encouraged to participate.


Alumni share their experiences!


Thanks to the feedback provided from previous events, the goal of this event is to provide a platform for engaged dialogue and connectivity for this distinguished group of Stetson University Alumni and area leadership.

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Rekindled cohort conversations

See highlights from the Executive MBA Alumni Reception May 2014

Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida

 Cohort 11: Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida

Stetson University’s Executive MBA Cohort 11 developed marketing plans for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida for their final project in the Marketing Decision-Making course facilitated by Dr. Michelle DeMoss in Spring 2014. Cohort 11 was instrumental in generating ideas for the development of Second Harvest Food Bank’s marketing objectives, strategies, and assisting them with maximizing marketing opportunities to improve their deliverables to the community. The objective of this project was to apply real world learning experiences to benefit both students and the community.

Cohort 11 at Second Harvest Food Bank

Cohort 11 at Second Harvest Food Bank

Second Harvest incorporated some of Stetson’s Executive MBA marketing plan solutions to use in both the short and long term. With September being the Hunger Action month, Second Harvest was dedicated to promote hunger awareness across the US through special events, e-newsletters, blogs as well as their staff and volunteers wearing orange t-shirts in support of their going orange campaign to fight hunger.

During this time, Second Harvest was also competing to receive a Walmart Fighting Hunger, Spark Change $60,000 grant which would help them provide 315,000 meals to the Central Florida community.

pic2Keith Henry, a current Stetson Executive MBA student and search marketing manager at the Walt Disney Company, helped Second Harvest create their first Facebook campaign. Keith leveraged his professional talents, expertise, and shared strategies to increase their fundraising exposure and marketing efforts, during a timeframe well beyond the conclusion of the advanced marketing course offered in the Executive MBA program. Through collaborative efforts of the Second Harvest team and Keith Henry, success was achieved by winning the Walmart grant for $60,000. “Giving back to those less fortunate is a passion of mine, said Keith Henry. I considered this more than just a class project, for me, it was an opportunity to utilize my expertise for the benefit of an organization I truly believe in. I feel privileged to have played a part in Second Harvest being awarded the $60,000 Walmart grant”. Second Harvest is very appreciative of Keith who donated time out of his busy work, school and family schedule to help them achieve this success and contribute to the Central Florida community.

Negotiations Workshop – Cohort 11

Dave Rothfeld - Executive in Residence for Stetson University

Dave Rothfeld – Executive in Residence for Stetson University


Cohort 11 participated in an all-day Negotiations workshop delivered by Dave Rothfeld, Executive in Residence for Stetson University.  During the negotiating session, students were instructed that virtually anything in the business world can be negotiated as long as the negotiator knows exactly what they are trying to accomplish in advance.

The cohort discussed common trends when negotiating professional agreements, salary increases, and extending job offers. Proven negotiation tools and techniques were shared and then modeled group exercises were conducted to practice the application of effective use in future encounters.

The executive students also learned the significance of non-verbal clues and their importance in any negotiating situation, and in fact that sometimes this communication is more impactful than what is actually being communicated verbally when negotiating.

The facilitator, Dave Rothfeld, stressed the importance of both parties in a negotiation walking away with the feeling that they have “won”.  Being creative and flexible is key. Innovative ideas were discussed in how to assist in the process.  The significance of such could result in a continued partnership, references, and an overall level of satisfaction by all involved.  This is the POWER of NEGOTIATING!

Cohort 11 - Negotiations

Cohort 11 – Negotiations

 The workshop concluded by the student teams working through “real” business scenarios and practicing their negotiation learnings.  Many commented that their confidence grew in handling delicate conversation and by their willingness to be open and flexible, sometimes even agreeing with their negotiator, to ensure that the negotiation worked out in their favor.

After successfully facilitating the workshop, Dave stated “In my 20 years of addressing MBA students at a number of universities, I must say that I enjoyed the enthusiasm and participation of Cohort 11 EMBA at Stetson University the most. Everyone was engaged and truly appreciative of the real-world approach to negotiating that I was able to present. I look forward to a future opportunity to address this group of committed executives.”


Leadership and Team Simulation: Everest

Cohort 12 – Leadership and Team Simulation:  Everest

During the Executive MBA Cohort 12 Management & Leadership course, students participated in a simulation exercise called “Leadership and Team Simulation:  Everest” by Harvard Business.

Students explored various group dynamics, the impact of individual vs. team goals, and the significance of clear communication to succeed as an overall team. Dr. Michelle DeMoss facilitated the simulation as student groups navigated various factors and problem-solved in this active learning challenge.Pic1

The overall goal was to summit Mount Everest. The students were assigned a role (photographer, marathoner, environmentalist, physician or leader) in each of their teams.

Each team member had their own personal goals they were trying to achieve throughout each part of the simulation.Team members may have been asked to sacrifice their personal goals in order to benefit the team commented Melanie Johnston and Tom Sharman, but ultimately it was up to the team’s leader to ensure the goals were met in the best way possible.

Complicating the work was the weather, food supply, medical supplies, health and mental acuity of the climbers, distribution of information needed for the ascent.Pic3

 The teams had several “a-ha” moments when information was individually being shared that would impact the overall performance of the team. This is when critical communication and decisions needed to be made for the team to succeed as a unit.

The valuable business lesson was that individual goals don’t always coincide with the team goals.

A valuable lesson that reinforces that each member brings unique strengths to a situation and by sharing them with integral members of the team, the entire group will perform better, whether that is in a virtual world or at work.

Marshmallow Challenge – Cohort 12

Cohort 12 participated in a design workshop facilitated by Dr. DeMoss called the Marshmallow Challenge as a component of their Management & Leadership course.  This challenge has been conducted by tens of thousands of people in every continent, from CFOs of the Fortune 50 to students at all levels.  For more information on Challenge, refer to The Marshmallow Challenge Ted Talk.

Teams of four had to build the tallest free standing structure in 18 minutes out of the following ingredients:  20 spaghetti sticks, 1 yard of tape, 1 yard of string and a marshmallow which needs to be on top of the structure.

Team members were able to use as many of the 20 spaghetti sticks or as few and as much of string and tape as needed to create the structure.  They also had the option of breaking up the spaghetti sticks. No one was allowed to support or touch their structure at the end of the challenge.

After the teams were formed, the atmosphere for the next 18 minutes remained intense and each team was engaged in problem solving. Some students were brainstorming ideas, others prepared some sketches of how they wanted their structures to look like and others rolled up their sleeves and began building the spaghetti sticks into structures.

Members of the winning team: Yoshi Takamura, Marissa Zerbo, Eduardo Vinocur and Heitor Bover from Cohort 12

Members of the winning team: Yoshi Takamura, Marissa Zerbo, Eduardo Vinocur and Heitor Bover from Cohort 12

As the teams engaged in creating their structures, the noise and enthusiasm reached a fever pitch, with five minutes to go most teams were topping their structures with the marshmallow that added additional weight to their structures. Some teams were happy with their structures and had to make a few adjustments while other team’s structures completely collapsed.  There were 2 out of 4 surviving free standing structures in the room.

As the countdown of the 18 minute challenge ended, Dr. DeMoss used measuring tape to measure the height of the surviving structures from the table top surface to the top of the marshmallow to determine the wining team with the tallest structure. The winning team members who built a structure 26.5 inches high were:  Yoshi Takamura, Marissa Zerbo, Eduardo Vinocur and Heitor Bover.

As easy as this activity initially seemed, it was actually very challenging because team members were forced to collaborate and problem solve very quickly. However, it was a fun team building exercise and it was very neat to see the progress of each group as well as the different building strategies that each team followed.

The purpose of the exercise was to reveal very interesting lessons about the nature of the collaboration, understanding how different personality types work together and how each team member contributes diverse skills to the table. The cohort also learned that the teams that incorporated trial and error and experimenting from the start of the challenge did better than the teams that spent time planning and trying to get the structure right from the first time. This indicates that successful organizations foster learning driven environments and risk-taking dynamics rather than ideal solutions/strategies. These students leveraged their learnings of the Myers Brigg’s Testing Instrument and their preferences to best assist their individual teams to reach success!

Cohort 10 Capstone Class

Greg McCann

Greg McCann

Last month, our Cohort 10 finished their Capstone Class – Business Development Leadership – with Greg McCann and Dr. Guy Clumpner.

Guy Clumpner

Guy Clumpner

In this course the students synthesized their learning, personal and professional development from their entire EMBA experience. Now, they are able to demonstrate how they will continue their development practice of life- long learning and aptitude for self- reflection, growth and “working on you”; apply Values Based Leadership (VBL) to themselves (especially the core tools that promote alignment and self- management) and analyze how its application to an organization creates a strategic differentiator; apply, analyze, and synthesize VBL with other tools delivered to you; apply the Situational Leadership as a flagship model for effectively diagnosing and providing required leadership behavior on a predictable and consistent basis; apply effective self-management and influencing tools which promote individual, family, team and organizational excellence via the 21 behaviors of a value based leader.


Cohort 10This course has been incredibly powerful in so many ways! First, the content is something I believe should be a foundation for every business major, undergraduate and graduate level alike.  In this time of exponential change, people truly are the differentiator.  I wanted to make sure to share my experience and thoughts on what I believe to be a ground breaking course. Greg McCann and Mr. Guy Clumpner (as well as John Pullen) are among the “cut above,” innovative geniuses who are decades ahead of those around them. I simply cannot express in words how blessed I feel to have received the instruction and wisdom from such extraordinary leaders! Thank you for your commitment to the Stetson EMBA!” Maureen Karkovice

“Thanks for a great day yesterday and for a great overall class. This has definitely been one of the best classes of the entire EMBA program”. John Cody Hampton

 “Thank you both very much for the class. I deeply appreciate the time and patience that you took to expose me to lessons that will impact my life for the better”. Sabrina Singleton

“THANK YOU for such an amazing learning and development opportunity in this course!  This truly is material that I’m confident I will use and reference for the rest of my career. Thank you again for your time, energy, and effort.  It is deeply appreciated”. Krista Scimeca

“Thank you so much for dedicating your time and energy in our leadership development.   I cannot begin to tell you the impact both of you have had in both my personal and professional life.  Words cannot express. Thank you so much”. Judy Ashbrook

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. 


Melania Lavezzi, EMBA Class of 2010, Releases a Children’s Book

Melania Lavezzi and Melbi, who served as inspiration for the book.

Melania Lavezzi, a Celebration resident and a graduate of the Executive MBA Program in Cohort 6, releases her first children’s book in both paperback and an e-book version available now on Amazon.On December 20th, you can download the Kindle edition for free for 1 day!  Go to www.amazon.com and search “Mom, dad, can we get a dog?” Click on the Kindle edition and enjoy with your family! In addition, the book can be borrowed from Kindle owner’s library until the end of February.

Book Description: “Mom, dad, can we get a dog” is written by a dog trainer and is the story of two children, CJ and Sofia, that want a dog.  Their parents know that owning a dog is a long-term commitment. For this reason, the wise parents try to expose the children to the canine world as much as possible. During their adventures, the family learns how to behave around dogs in order to be safe, how to have fun with dogs and how to be responsible dog owners. At the end of the book there is a quiz that reinforces the learning experience.

Congratulations to Melania for this incredible accomplishment.

Alumni and students, please keep sharing your successes with the EMBA team. Your fellow hatters, cohorts, faculty, and entire Stetson “family” enjoy celebrating with you.

Executive MBA Students Gain a “Coach”

Stetson University launches a mentor/mentee program with Executive MBA Alumna and Cohort 10 executive students, as they engage in a personal and transformational journey.  Mentoring relationships are designed to help and support people “manage their own learning in order to maximize their professional potential, develop their skills, improve their performance, and become the person they want to be.”Eric Parsloe, Coaching, Mentoring, and Assessing (London: Kogan Page, 1992).

As an EMBA student, the goal is to develop not only your skills and abilities, but also you as a person.  Specifically, the unique talents, insights and values you bring to bear in any situation. 

The mentoring program is designed to help develop and refine you as whole person.  Mentors/Mentees will meet this month to set expectations, establish an agreement, set SMART goals, use a conversation model, look for growth and reflection opportunities, and celebrate and come to closure.  Mentor/Mentees will interact at least 2 times monthly. 

The Mentors/Mentees will have a Stetson University facilitator guiding the continuous process.   External Mentoring Professionals will provide targeted workshops and training to the executive group. 

Krista Scimeca gains support, perspective, and a “coach”.

Juliana Trujillo, Executive MBA Graduate in 2012, said “I believe that Stetson’s mentoring program is a great   opportunity as it will allow the current students to share their ideas, experiences, and accomplishments with someone who perhaps is from the outside, but knows exactly where they are coming from.  One of the things that I have learned the most about mentors is that they are someone who can see the talent and ability within people, that perhaps they can’t see for themselves and just helps bring that out for them. I think anyone that is in this type of program has the skill and the will, a mentor will just help them never forget that.”  Juliana is mentoring Krista Scimeca in Cohort 10.  Krista enthusiastically shared that their initial meeting was impactful.  The camaraderie was immediate and the academic guidance was timely. 

Check back often to learn how these relationships provide meaningful impact and accountability towards ongoing professional and personal development.

Chang and Trujillo honored by Hispanic community

Juliana Trujillo, left, and Yvonne Chang are active in Central Florida's Hispanic business community.

Yvonne Chang, an alumna of the Stetson University Executive MBA’s Cohort 5, was a runner-up for the 2011 Don Quijote Award for Professional of the Year. Chang was a finalist with peers José Costa, vice president of Nodarse, a Terracon company, and Jaime Piñero, director of sales for CenturyLink. Costa won the Professional of the Year award.

The Don Quijote Awards are the most prestigious honors within the Hispanic business community in Central Florida, presented by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando and the Hispanic Business Initiative Fund of Florida. The Don Quijote awards are a celebration of success, courage and determination. They recognize the hard-working, innovative entrepreneurs who have exhibited the spirit of Don Quijote — that is, visionaries, dreamers and businesspersons who are willing to take risks in order to achieve their dreams.

In attendance at the awards banquet, Dec. 3, was Stetson University Executive MBA Cohort 8 student Juliana Trujillo.

“It was such an inspirational event surrounded by successful, dedicated and humble professionals,” Trujillo said.

Trujillo was recently appointed president of Walt Disney World’s Hispanic Organization for Leadership Advancement (HOLA), in which she leads a committee that seeks to provide business insight to internal operations through engaging the Hispanic employee community at Disney while providing social, cultural and career advancement exposure for that key workforce segment.