Michelson returning to teaching

Dr. Stuart Michaelson is returning to teaching after three years of serving as director of the Executive MBA program.

Dr. Stuart Michelson, Roland & Sarah George Professor of Finance, announced he will be stepping aside from the Stetson University Executive MBA director role effective July 1, 2012, and is excited to get back to the classroom after spending the last three years as the dean of the School of Business Administration.

He will return to pursue his passion in educating undergraduate and graduate students in corporate finance and investments. During fall 2012, Dr. Michelson will be on sabbatical, continuing his academic research in behavioral finance and portfolio theory and serving as an editor for the academic journal, Financial Services Review.

Under his leadership, the academics, organization and structure of the program were enhanced and strengthened. Students on the Celebration campus not only increased their business acumen, but they also traveled the world: Dubai, Hong Kong/Vietnam, Johannesburg/Cape Town, and Istanbul/Budapest. Immersion in such destinations increased the students’ understanding of international business and its application to their own corporate careers. The cultural experiences and opportunity to bond with the cohort have made a lifelong impact. Stetson Executive MBA cohorts continue to thrive as they collaborate and partner in their Executive MBA journey.

Dr. Michelson, while serving as director, notes his fondness of all those involved in the program and expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to work with the talented executive students. His dedication will be missed but not forgotten.

The new dean of the School of Business, Thomas Schwarz, will be meeting with our current Executive MBA students on July 13, 2012, and eagerly awaits the opportunity to continue the Stetson Executive MBA brand of quality, service and unparalleled support.

Schwarz to visit Celebration

You're invited to meet Dr. Schwarz during a special lunch, July 13.

Dr. Thomas Schwarz, the new dean of the Stetson University School of Business, started on June 1. He will be visiting the Celebration campus and Cohort 9 on July 13. Alumni are invited to join Cohort 9 for lunch and to meet him. Simply RSVP to Wendy Lowe, Stetson University Executive MBA program coordinator, at wlowe@stetson.edu. Schwarz will also be invited to our next Advisory Council meeting.

Below is an article posted by Stetson University when Schwarz’s appointment was first announced.

Schwarz to join Business School in June

March 08, 2012

Stetson University has selected Dr. Thomas V. Schwarz, professor and the Rick Muth Family Endowed Chair in Family Business at California State University Fullerton, as the new dean of Stetson’s School of Business Administration, effective in June.

Schwarz has extensive professional experience in both higher education and business. He has held an endowed professorship in Family Business at Cal State Fullerton’s Mihaylo College of Business Administration since 2009. Before that he was director for nine years of the Family Owned Business Institute (FOBI) and the Center for Entrepreneurship at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Mich. Since 2002, he has also served as a visiting professor of entrepreneurship at the Athens University of Economics and Business, Decision Sciences Graduate Program, in Athens, Greece.

“Dr. Schwarz will focus on advancing excellence and defining distinction in our business programs,” said Dr. Elizabeth “Beth” Paul, Stetson provost and vice president for academic affairs. ”Tom brings national and international knowledge, experience, and reputation, as well as strong strategic leadership skills and compelling vision for 21st century business education. We are thrilled to have him join our dynamic learning community.”

Schwarz earned a Doctorate of Business Administration in finance from Florida State University and also attended FSU for his MBA and undergraduate degrees. He completed post-doctoral studies in international business at the University of South Carolina and in family business advising at the Family Firm Institute.

“I couldn’t be more excited to join such a prestigious institution both for its outstanding history and its bright future,” Schwarz said. “Stetson lies at the center of growth and opportunity, and along with its staunch alumni, students, staff and faculty, its future is very bright indeed. It’s clear that these people care, and their desire is for excellence.”

Prior to joining Grand Valley in 2000, Schwarz worked in senior management and as treasurer for a family-owned manufacturing business and as an entrepreneur/owner of several other family firms. He taught finance at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and also held positions with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and in the futures industry in Chicago.

Schwarz is recognized nationally and internationally as a leader in the fields of family business and entrepreneurship. His excellence and regard in the field resulted in the prestigious award of Fellow Status from the Family Firm Institute in 2010. He previously served on the Body of Knowledge Committee of the Family Firm Institute and was the Research Program Co-Director for the Boston 2004 and the Chicago 2005 conferences. He is also a founding co-editor of the organization’s publication, the Family Firm Practitioner. He has been a member of the Strategic Planning Committee for the Family Firm Institute since 2009. He has served with the Family Enterprise Research Conference (FERC) since 2007 and was 2011 Conference co-host. Schwarz also received the Teaching Excellence Award 2003, 2004, 2006 from Athens University of Economics and Business; and an Honorable Mention Award from the 2007 Family Enterprise Research Conference.

His research interests include international family business, entrepreneurship and finance. His publications have appeared in the Journal of Finance, Family Business Review, International Journal of Emerging Markets, Journal of Banking and Finance, The International Small Business Journal, Journal of Asian Business, as well as others.  He is co-editor of the recent release of an 11-volume set titled, “Culturally-Sensitive Models of Family Business: A Compendium using the GLOBE Paradigm.”

Schwarz will succeed Dr. Stuart Michelson, who plans to return to the Stetson classroom in his position as the Sarah and Roland George Professor of Finance.

Stetson invites alumni and guests to Istanbul and Budapest

Travelers on the Alumni/Guest trip will take a cruise on Istanbul's Bosphorus. Photo courtesy of GoToTurkey

Dublin, Johannesburg, Dubai and other cities invoke happy memories or warm feelings for alumni of the Stetson University Executive MBA program. Now, alumni have an opportunity to relive their international travel experience with the first Alumni/Guest Executive MBA International Trip!

You are invited to travel to Istanbul, Turkey, and Budapest, Hungary, with Stetson University Executive MBA program’s Cohort 9, this summer, June 17-23, 2012.

Enjoy guided tours of the two cities, a culinary expedition, a visit to Parliament, a Bosphorus cruise and a full day on the Danube Bend. Plus, you can sign up for additional excursions visiting the Turkish or Szechenyi baths or the House of Terror.

While Cohort 9 is busy learning about company operations, economic challenges and cultural considerations for international businesses, travelers on the Alumni/Guest trip can be taking in the view from Galata Tower, haggling for souvenirs at the Grand Bazaar or sipping wines at Castle Hill.

This trip is the first time since the program’s inception that Stetson University has included alumni and guests as part of the experience. Dr. Stuart Michelson, Executive MBA program director, and Wendy Lowe, program coordinator, chose to add the alumni/guest component because of the relationships that are built during adventures like these.

Students and alumni on international trips form bonds that can last a lifetime.

“Each year, Executive MBA alumni have the opportunity to gather at the annual Stetson University Alumni Event to reconnect, establish new relationships and hear from like-minded professionals shaping business in Central Florida,” said Lowe. “The camaraderie at these events is always a plus, and many alumni reveal that learning from other cohorts is extremely valuable.

“This trip will provide several opportunities for students, alumni and guests to spend quality time with one another, further strengthening the Executive MBA bond at Stetson University,” added Lowe. “For Cohort 9 to be able to share cultural experiences with Stetson Executive MBA program alumni will be extremely meaningful and further enrich their learning.”

Two years ago, Michelson added a second destination to each international trip. “Visiting two countries allows our executive students to see the polarity in cultural and business operations first-hand,” explained Michelson, “and provides an exciting way for our students to analyze how these different countries grow their business operations and resolve challenges that exist.”

“Incorporating alumni into the 2012 International Trip will provide our current students with program mentors, will provide hearty discussions and will allow all participants to be exposed to the Istanbul and Budapest way of life,” said Lowe. “These findings will shape our executives professionally and personally as they continue to grow and prosper.”

People gather in the streets of Istanbul for food and fun. Photo courtesy of GoToTurkey

If you are interested in joining the Alumni/Guest International Trip, contact Wendy Lowe by phone (321-939-7603) or e-mail (wlowe@stetson.edu). Also, note the following details:

  • The package costs $3,000 per person and includes cultural events, four-star accommodations, the welcome dinner, three group lunches, the farewell dinner, and daily continental breakfast.
  • Space is limited, so be sure to sign up soon!
  • The trip must have at least 15 people signed up in order for plans to move forward.
  • Travelers must submit a $500 refundable deposit by Feb. 10, 2012. Final payment is due May 4, 2012.
  • You can choose whether to book your international flights with Air Treks or separately (by anthony). The flight from Istanbul to Budapest is included in the package price.

Princeton Review lists Stetson among the nation’s best

Stetson University’s School of Business Administration has been named one of the nation’s best business schools in a new guidebook released Oct. 11 by The Princeton Review.

Stetson's business school is among the top in the nation, according to The Princeton Review.

The education services company compiles its guidebook of top business schools annually based on input from more than 19,000 students in Master of Business Administration programs accredited by AACSB International, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, as well as statistical data received from the institutions.

The new 2012 edition of the book, The Best 294 Business Schools, includes a profile of Stetson’s School of Business Administration that includes information on academics, student life and environment, the admissions process, statistical data and career placement services. Students highlighted Stetson’s small class size, personalized education, accessible and supportive faculty, modern facilities, flexible schedules for working professionals, and global focus, including opportunities to study business abroad during short or semester-long trips.

It highlights Stetson’s traditional MBA, Executive MBA and accelerated MBA/Juris Doctor (law) degrees. The profile notes the proximity of the university’s Central Florida campuses in DeLand and Gulfport/St. Petersburg and satellite center in Celebration to metropolitan areas including Orlando, Daytona Beach and Tampa Bay.

“Stetson University’s School of Business Administration graduate programs are designed to bring post-graduate professional academics to the highest level,” said Dean of Business Administration Stuart Michelson. “Designed for both current and future business professionals, the curricula are focused on the real-world challenges and opportunities facing businesses today.

“The graduate faculty is committed to delivering the highest quality instruction in an active-learning, engaged environment. Small class sizes and professors who provide insight and an academic focus are key features of the Stetson experience,” Michelson said. “The international focus of our curriculum prepares the business professional to succeed in today’s rapidly changing global business environment.”

The Princeton Review profile on Stetson includes comments directly from students. “The atmosphere is collaborative, as most students are also ‘interested in diversifying their skills in both business and networking,’” the guidebook said. “For professionals the atmosphere is supportive, and students find they ‘can relate with classmates, since many also have full-time jobs.’”

Of the more than 13,000 business schools worldwide, Stetson’s School of Business Administration is one of only 177 that hold AACSB accreditation in the fields of business and accounting, and one of only 37 private colleges and universities that hold the accreditation in both fields.

Read the full press release here.

9 takeaways for Cohort 9

Stetson University Center at Celebration was buzzing with excitement last night, Aug. 10, as a diverse group of 14 women and 11 men from nine corporations gathered for the first time as Stetson University Executive MBA Cohort 9.

The Cohort 9 orientation dinner was an opportunity for the students to meet each other, members of the staff and a few alumni. The new students left with a little bit of inspiration, as well. Here are a few select pieces:

1. This program will be tough, but you will make it through. “Look to your right and look to your left,” said Dr. Stuart Michelson, dean of the Stetson School of Business and director of the Stetson University Executive MBA program, as he told students an anecdote from his school days. “That’s what my professor told my class as we were beginning our doctorate program. ‘Half of the faces you’re seeing won’t make it through this program,’ he told us. But I challenge you to look to your right and look to your left,” continued Michelson. “I expect that we’ll see everyone in this room tonight still together 19 months from now as Executive MBAs. You will get through this, and you’ll do it together.”

Cohort 9 assembled for the first time as a group at orientation, Aug. 10.

2. Help us help you. “We want you to succeed, and we want you to have everything you need,” said Wendy Lowe, coordinator for the Executive MBA program. “Help us help you. Tell me or Dr. Michelson if you want or need something,” Lowe continued. “We’ll do the best we can to accommodate you.”

3. Change your perspective. “What a journey you’re going to be on,” said Dr. Richard Pernell, a director at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and a Management and Leadership instructor for the Executive MBA program. “You’re going to change so much over these 19 months. It’s going to be super.” Pernell held up a photo of a lighthouse and asked what direction the light was shining. No one could tell. “From your perspective, you don’t know what direction you’re looking,” said Pernell. “So, change your perspective.” Once he moved the photo closer to the students, they could see that the title of the photo was Evening Light, so it was obvious that the direction was north. “You just had to change what you were looking at to get the whole picture. These are the types of things we’ll discuss in class, which begins Friday: leadership and management (which are not the same thing), and critical thinking.” Pernell ended with a question for the students to ponder that they’ll pick up discussion on tomorrow: If a turtle loses its shell, is it naked or homeless?

4. This is your program; shape it. Michelson and Lowe started preparing the students for their international trip, scheduled for June 15-24, 2012. “You get to help select the destination,” Lowe said, and Michelson asked for a quick vote by the students on where they’d like to go. Among the top spots were Brazil, Chile, Shanghai and Morocco.

5. You are more capable than you think. Denise Edelmaier, an executive in Cohort 8, told the new students that time management and prioritization are extremely important, and sometimes your three “buckets” (personal life, work and school) require a demanding juggling act. But, she said, “You are way more capable than you think you are. You can do this. I realized I had a lot more strength than I knew before I started this program.”

6. Use technology to your advantage. Shariq Khan, a classmate of Edelmaier’s, said it’s best to relax and enjoy the program. The best way to do this, he proposed, was to organize yourself and manage your time. “Use technology to your advantage,” said Khan. “Use Blackboard and Skype for meetings. Manage your schedule online. Make sure you make time for all the parts of your life.”

7. Pay attention to those who matter. Walter Kurlin, a graduate of Cohort 7, said to be sure to pay attention to the needs of your significant others and spouses. “They’ll be one of the most important parts of your program,” said Kurlin. “You’ll need their support.” Cohort 8 student Khan agreed, adding that students should be sure to not neglect their families during this rigorous program. “If Mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy,” Khan said, joking about the stress of keeping everyone in his home comfortable while also maintaining his duties at work and in school.

8. Focus on the concepts, not the grades. Whereas you may have focused on getting good grades in undergraduate studies, spend time now on learning the context, said Tyler Reed, a graduate of Cohort 4. “I would have done better in the beginning of my program if I had worried less about getting a good numerical grade and more about understanding the meaning and application of what I was learning,” she said. “I did figure it out, though, and then the program was much more fulfilling.”

9. Enjoy the routine. “You’ll find yourself planning your life in two-week increments,” said Craig Feldman, a graduate of Cohort 5. “It’s like a video game, with each weekend being a new adventure and progressing through stages to reach a new level, earning knowledge and gaining success along the way.”  Feldman also echoed Dr. Pernell’s sentiments about change: “The experiences you’ll share with your cohort are life-altering, and you’ll come back from the international trip a different person with a more global view and with more business confidence.”

In less than 24 hours, members of Cohort 9 will begin their journey. As they build their network, strengthen their leadership skills and increase their career versatility, these students will change their perspective on business, life and their day-to-day work. And one year from now, some of them likely will be giving pointers to the incoming Cohort 10.

Warwick Winery international trip presentation

Executives from Stetson University Executive MBA program’s Cohort 8 just returned from South Africa for their international trip. Part of their assignment from the trip was to do a presentation about one of the companies the group visited in Johannesburg or Cape Town. The team of Raul Herrera, Harley Wentzel and Jacob Walters produced a video showcasing Warwick Winery. Here it is for your viewing enjoyment!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPrFSpxhk0Q&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&version=3]

Cohort 8 reflects on trip to South Africa

The Cohort 8 executives from Stetson University’s Executive MBA program have been returning in waves over the last several days from South Africa. The business portion of the trip ended last weekend, but many of the students opted to stay extra days to enjoy more of the culture and — for some — shark diving!

“It was an incredible trip,” said Wendy Lowe, Stetson Executive MBA program coordinator. “I would really like to go back again sometime. The students had a great time and we all learned a lot!”

Apartheid was the most riveting aspect of South Africa’s culture and history for most of the students. For Raul Herrera, the highlight of the trip was visiting the Apartheid Museum.

“I am so amazed how far the people of this country have come in the last 15 years when it comes to race relations considering where they were,” said Herrera. “Apartheid was one of the most oppressing forms of government mankind has ever seen.”

Dr. Stuart Michelson, director of Stetson’s Executive MBA program and dean of Stetson’s School of Business, concurred. “It was remarkable to learn about apartheid and how much this country has changed in such a short period.”

Herrera found inspiration in the plight of Nelson Mandela, who spent three decades in one of the most brutal prison in the world, Robben Island. “He insisted on reconciliation, not retaliation or revenge — in marching toward a unified South Africa instead of a South Africa that will sulk in its past,” Herrera said. “Whoever thinks one man cannot affect change is sadly mistaken and should read about this man and his struggle for freedom.”

The business visits were very professional and organized, said Michelson. “Vodacom, especially, was so first-class. The top leaders of the company took the time to meet with us, and after having just unveiled the company’s new marketing campaign, they were eager to share their strategy and findings.”

“At all our business visits, our speakers were very candid about the country’s dark past and how they are all working toward the future,” added Herrera. “No one tried to sugarcoat anything about what happened, nor were they trying to condone it.”

In addition, experiencing wildlife and nature was icing on the cake. “The safari was great,” said Michelson. “Seeing the leopard that has only been seen three times this year was incredible!” Cohort 8 executives enjoyed getting close to many animals on their trip, including elephants and penguins.

The bike ride through Soweto was Lowe’s highlight. “It was a three-hour ride, up and down hills, and it was vigorous! The sights and the people made every minute worth it,” said Lowe. Lowe said she and Michelson would consider future visits to South Africa based on their recent positive experiences. “We are confident that our weeklong visit just scratched the surface of what the nation has to offer,” said Lowe.

“South Africa has an amazing power to forgive and move forward,” Herrera said. “It’s an amazing country with amazing people.”

Cohort 8 does some sightseeing before heading home to Orlando

Stetson's Cohort 8 executives visited Cape Point on their last full day in South Africa.

Students in Stetson University Executive MBA program’s Cohort 8 departed a bit after sunrise Friday, June 24, to go to Table Mountain National Park and see Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point, the farthest tip of the Cape Peninsula, a protected reserve that horns its way into the ocean.

“The coastal drive was absolutely breathtaking,” said Wendy Lowe, Stetson Executive MBA program coordinator. “It was mountainous, the water had rolling waves, and the area was full of wildlife, including baboons, elands and ostriches.

A rainbow greeted the students as they reached the Cape of Good Hope. The vehicle pulled over at various scenic stops, where students’ cameras flashed nonstop. “We strolled up and down nature trails, leading to cliff views of the ocean or to the lighthouse. It was a picturesque setting in all directions, and baboons were running all around!”

“Seeing the natural beauty of South Africa was awesome and breathtaking,” said Jacob Walters, an executive in Cohort 8.

Penguins covered the beaches at Boulders.

The students’ next stop was Boulders, where penguins scattered the beach and roamed freely. “They weren’t the nicest smelling bird,” said Lowe, “but they were incredibly cute as they waddled to and from the ocean and frolicked in the waves.”

A gift shop owner told Cohort 8 executive Larry Flory that in the summer months, locals swim in the ocean with the penguins. “That I would like to see,” said Flory, “but not today! It’s winter here in South Africa in June.”

Dr. Michelson and the students all got their faces painted at the farewell dinner.

The group’s last cultural activity was the Farewell Dinner at Moyo in the Winery Region at Spier, which means Heart. The buffet was spread around the outskirts of a large tented area. Inside the tent, entertainers danced, played the African drums and painted each student’s face in a local design.

“The dinner and African ambiance was a perfect way to end our week-long international trip,” said Lowe after the dinner was over. “The cohort has memories of a lifetime and can’t wait to share the South African way with others.”

The students left South Africa Saturday afternoon and are scheduled to return to Orlando on Sunday morning. A handful of cohort members have made a pact that they will return to this country with their families because of the hospitality the students received and all of the educational opportunities.

Cohort 8 visits Warwick, a family winery in South Africa

The students visited Warwick Winery on their final business visit in South Africa.

After a week of business visits, Cohort 8 students visited Warwick Winery, their final stop on their business tour of South Africa. A tour of Warwick Winery was actually suggested by student Raul Herrera, who is the general manager at Jiko at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. “We carry the Warwick Winery label at Jiko,” said Herrera, so he thought it would be a great experience to see the company make its wine firsthand.

Warkwick Winery started in 1912 when a farm was purchased from an Army general. In 1964, Stan and Norma Ratcliffe put in grape vines on the farm land and in 1984, Norma was the first female in South Africa to release a wine to the market.

The Ratcliffe family created a logo that has to do with a love story and a wedding cup. The logo and packaging over the years has not changed because the Ratcliffes said they believe it helps build their brand loyalty.

In 2003, Norma stepped down from everyday operations, but she continues to provide vision and guidance to the family and workers. Her son, Mike, is currently the managing director. He studied wine marketing and is poised to take Warwick Winery and a new wine company, Vilafonte, into the next century.

Upon the students’ arrival, they were treated to a gourmet lunch followed by an exclusive wine tasting and presentation by Nick, Warwick Winery’s winemaker. Nick explained the wine-making process in detail, including how different wines (red or white) are fermented to reach a desirable flavor. The cohort tasted Sauvignon Blanc and enjoyed the delicate fruity flavor that was caused by the cold fermentation process. The Chardonnay had hints of tangerine, orange and pineapple. It is fermented in barrels and the yeast is broken up to add to the flavor; it does well in cooler weather.

After sampling the white wines, the students moved on to the reds. “We are the king on this one,” said Nick, when he served the students First Lady Cabernet Savignon. “The flavor is approachable, it’s a good value, and it’s a blend of Cabernet Blanc and Cabernet Franc.” The wine is named after Norma Ratcliffe.

Raul Herrera, left, and Nick, Warwick's winemaker, shared their knowledge of wines with each other.

The next red wine was a Pinotage which ages well and has a hint of eucalyptus and a fruit smell. “This wine is my favorite so far,” said student Juliana Trujillio. Students also tasted winery favorites Three Cape Ladies and Trilogy, which is available at Jiko. “At Jiko, the label reads Warwick Winery only,” said Herrera, “but it’s this wine. It’s one of my all-time favorites, and I am bringing a couple of bottles back home with me so everyone can see the Trilogy label first-hand.” Trilogy is a blend of Cabarnet Savignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.

After the wine tasting, Mike Ratcliffe spoke to the cohort. He talked about his other winery, Vilafonte, which is a 50-50 partnership with Zelma Long in the United States. Long is a well-known California winemaker, who manages her family vineyard, Long Vineyards. Long lives in South Africa 150 days a year to make the wine. Vilafonte has a third partner, who is a doctor with extensive knowledge in soil microbiology, agriculture and human-movement science. The partners use virgin South African soil called Vilafontez, the oldest soil type in the world and the inspiration for the company name.

Student Wesley DuBose asked Ratcliffe if the company makes any sweet wines. “No, we do not,” answered Ratcliffe. “We have tremendous success with our current blends and want to stick with our core beliefs of what makes Warwick Wines unique.”

Ratcliffe said the future of Warwick looks promising. Wine is in higher demand with the baby-boomers, as well as the middle-class population in China who are just discovering wine and its value. According to Ratcliffe, the consumption increase in China is attributed to the cultural beliefs that the color red equates to good fortune. Doctors have also discovered tremendous health benefits by drinking up to 1 1/2 glasses per day.

Student Jacob Walters asked if the global economic downturn impacted Warwick’s business. “During the hard times, we exported 65 percent, and 35 percent of our sales were domestic,” said Ratcliffe, pointing out that Warwick wines are distributed to more than 25 countries. “Now, with many currencies being weak, 65 percent of the sales are domestic and 35 percent are exported. The blend is different, but sales are still going strong and growing.”

The cohort stands in front of wine barrels at Warwick Winery.

Student Harley Wentzel asked Ratcliffe the recipe for Warwick’s success. “We like to touch our customers directly,” explained Ratcliffe. “The personal touch makes all the difference. We listen to our customers, share our wine expertise, and provide an unparalleled level of service.”

“Selling is not a passive sport, it’s an active sport,” continued Ratcliffe. “South African wines perform very well in blind taste tests. The key is confidence in marketing and promoting our wines to consumers.”

The members of the cohort really enjoyed their tour of the winery and hearing about the company philosophy. “It’s evident that Warwick Winery operates with the highest integrity and has a superior team to get the job done today and into the future,” said Dr. Stuart Michelson, Stetson University Executive MBA program director.

Cohort 8 learns commodities, stocks and bonds in South Africa

Cohort 8 students learned the differences between U.S. and South African stock exchanges when they visited JSE.

The Stetson University Executive MBA program’s Cohort 8 visited the Johannesburg Stock Exchange today and got great insight into how the JSE’s operation works in the global economy.

South Africa is a major agriculture export earner of maize, wine, fruit and wool, said Chris Sturgess, Director of Commodity Derivatives. Infrastructure plays a major role in getting the goods from their origin to their final destination. Agriculture is so important in the country that 40% of South Africa’s population is dependent on it and its economic impact.

Dealing with stocks and bonds is always managing risk. Graham Smale, Director of Interest Rate Products, shared the bond market operation and strategy with members of Cohort 8. He explained that working with agents, dealers and interdealer brokers is very complex. “Personal relationships and direct contact with users is still a fundamental aspect of doing business in South Africa,” said Smale.

The cohort learned that South Africa is not a market for retail. However, after viewing several statistics, Dr. Stuart Michelson, director of the Stetson Executive MBA program, pointed out the buyer has changed in recent years and the pie is getting larger. Smale explained that, fundamentally, the job of exchanging and facilitating the price point between buyer and seller hasn’t changed.

Denise Edelmaier, a Stetson Executive MBA student, asked Smale if the recent economic crisis had an impact in South Africa the same way real estate took a tremendous hit in the United States. Smale said the GDP is spread across the board, so nothing hit a toxic zone, but some securities just dried up. “My role,” said Smale, “is to help keep the Johannesburg Stock Exchange locally relevant in a global game.”

Students Jason Plas, Juliana Trujilio and Shariq Khan worked in tandem to address questions they had after reading about JSE in recent media reports and in the company’s financials.

The cohort embraced the differences between the stock exchange system in the United States and in South Africa. Students will compile their findings for class upon their return.