Executive MBA offers insight, perspective

Articles that explain what an Executive MBA is often focus on how entering a program is an investment in your future, or how it’s an opportunity for a professional to work and go to school at the same time, or how you will gain a competitive edge over your peers.

An Executive MBA classroom serves as an incubator for real-world experience and business thought leadership.

But for Aaron Wright, the experience was much more.

“I look at the way I work differently and with more insight,” said Wright, who is a graduate of the Stetson Executive MBA Cohort 7. “I listen a lot more and try to understand everyone’s point of view before expressing my own opinion or offering advice. I contribute more and can provide a perspective that wasn’t there before getting my MBA.

One of Wright’s classmates, Penny Miller, agreed, and said that the program taught her different ways of seeing the world. “I knew before end of first year how much had changed for me and the way I think and balance and juggle,” said Miller, who works as an HR business partner.

In general, Executive MBA programs attract a diverse group of professionals who want to expand their knowledge and skills. Many use their degree to enter a new field or gain expertise in a new area. Most students have at least 10 years of professional experience under their belts by the time they enter a program, with a significant portion of this experience at the managerial level. (Traditional MBA students usually average three to five years of work experience.)

An Executive MBA helps move along a student’s or graduate’s career. Susan Golinsky, another classmate of Wright’s, said the pursuit of her education at Stetson helped her get ahead of her colleagues. “The fact that I was in school helped differentiate me from others who were applying for jobs,” said Golinsky, “because I was balancing a full-time job and school. I got some promotions that I believe were attributed to my increased business acumen from the Executive MBA program.” Golinsky said the program was a confidence builder, and she learned an incredible amount from her professors and from members of her cohort.

A powerful feature of a typical Executive MBA program is the collective professional experience of its participants. This feature greatly enriches the educational environment, and a team approach is often used on projects that encourage the sharing of diverse perspectives on specific topics.

“My education has allowed me to better understand everyone’s motivations within a project or team environment,” explained Wright. “Where I was previously financially weak, I am now strong enough to ask tough targeted questions to ensure that my partners and clients are all able to accomplish their goals.

Members of an Executive MBA cohort learn from each other and form a professional network that can last throughout the graduates' careers.

“The cohort style of learning and phenomenal support from faculty and staff was the most important highlight for me,” Wright continued. “My experience felt like ‘service-oriented learning.’ We got such great support on a daily basis that it allowed us to focus on a rigorous curriculum and course of study. This really sets Stetson apart from other programs, and I am much better for it.

Many students say they are often able to take what they learn in the classroom and apply it immediately to their current job. Lofton Barnes, a student in the Stetson Executive MBA Cohort 8, is a perfect example.

“The transfer of knowledge is extremely fast,” said Barnes, who co-owns Ladybird Academy in Winter Springs/Oviedo, Fla. “The concepts that we’re learning I can go play with immediately. I can tell a difference already, many months before I graduate.

The Executive MBA is much more than a classroom with a highly educated professor, a textbook and students. The Executive MBA classroom is home to discussion among highly engaged professionals with a facilitator who has real-world experience. It is a place for managers from diverse businesses to work side-by-side throughout the program. Students learn from other students not by chance; it’s woven by design into the very fabric of the program.

Other direct, practical benefits of an Executive MBA program include:

  • Increased confidence and motivation
  • Ability to identify and apply best practice
  • Improved critical thinking skills
  • Clear understanding of the theory behind best practice
  • Greater ability to lead a team and to work within a team
  • Enhanced communication skills
  • Incisive and durable competitive edge

Learn more about Executive MBA programs at the Executive MBA Council, The Princeton Review and the Graduate Management Admission Council. Learn more about the Stetson Executive MBA program here.

Dr. Belcher wins EMBA Outstanding Professor award

Dr. Larry Belcher holds the plaque naming him the EMBA Outstanding Professor as members of Stetson University School of Business Administration’s Executive MBA Cohort 7 surround him. Students presented Belcher the award at the March 19 reception following the cohort’s last class of the 19-month program.

Many of Stetson’s veteran professors left lasting impressions on Stetson EMBA’s Cohort 7, but when it came to choosing one to receive the EMBA Outstanding Professor Award, the overwhelming choice was Dr. Larry Belcher, a finance professor at Stetson since 1990. Students said he has a knack for putting complex academic concepts into understandable real-world terms, connected with every student, espoused a centered approach to life and that his sense of humor helped lighten stressful classwork.

“You have to love a guy who answers to Dr. Doom,” said student Norbert Dean.

One highlight of Cohort 7’s studies was a trip to Vietnam and Hong Kong last summer where they not only met business leaders and toured factories and cultural sites, but also decided to perform a service project in Vietnam. The cohort worked in the kitchen of a small Buddhist monastery in Ho Chi Minh City preparing a meal for monks and played games  with children who also practiced their English on the students.

EMBA students in the past have visited Ireland, the Czech Republic and Dubai, and later this spring, Cohort 8 will embark for a tour of businesses and cultural sites in South Africa.

“I am forever changed because of this program,” said Darcy Clark, a Disney marketing manager. “I believe in myself more than I used to.  I’m more confident.  And most importantly, I’ve developed relationships that will far outlast my 19 months at Stetson.”

Walter Kurlin, a Disney facilitator of Orlando, agrees: “I have recommended and will recommend the program to others.”

EMBA graduates will receive diplomas at Stetson University Commencement ceremonies on May 7. Graduates include Penny Miller, Gillian Cady, Chuck Rivas, Norbert Dean, Aaron Wright, Terrence Tasior, Kelly Glassburn, Darcy Clark, Joshua Speed, David Ulloa, Kenyon Langford, Lourdes Mola, Alicia Matheson, Wael Alfattani, Susan Golinsky, Kimberly Ruggiero, Walter Kurlin and Joel Foreman.

Six Cohort 7 students inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma

These six members of the Executive MBA’s Cohort 7 will be inducted into the Stetson University chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma because of their high grades. Back row: Aaron Wright, Terrence Tasior and Norbert Dean. Front row: Kelly Glassburn, Charles Rivas and Darcy Clark.

The seventh cohort of Executive MBA students ended 19 months of study — which had taken it halfway around the world — with a festive reception of accolades that produced touching testimony of their experience.

“I expected a good curriculum and great professors when I enrolled, but I did not expect the powerful relationships that we have developed,” Norbert Dean, a sourcing officer at Sea World, told his classmates. “The love and feeling of family as we went through the program was truly moving.”

Six students’ grades were in the top 20 percent of university graduate students and were tapped to join Beta Gamma Sigma, the highest recognition a business student anywhere in the world can receive in a baccalaureate, post-baccalaureate or doctoral program accredited by AACSB International. They are Norbert Dean, Chuck Rivas, Aaron Wright, Terrence Tasior, Kelly Glassburn and Darcy Clark.

These Beta Gamma Sigma honorees and other EMBA graduates will receive diplomas at Stetson University Commencement ceremonies on May 7.