Multiple viewpoints and group dynamics

Cohort 9 student Duane Trumble said he learned how to better manage teams, thanks to the Organizational Theory & Behavior class.

Members of Stetson University Executive MBA program’s Cohort 9 successfully completed their 12th course of 17, Organizational Theory & Behavior.  The students said they appreciated the intense discussions regarding “soft skills.” They participated in various assessments, group and individual presentations, and individual activities, which enabled the cohort to study preferences, strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for development as a person and leader.

“The Organizational Behavior course had a great impact on me,” said Duane Trumble, a Cohort 9 student who works for The Walt Disney Co. “Company organizational behavior is complex because it involves human behaviors. This course helped us learn how to utilize tools to better understand and manage teams and the organization, as well as help us with a structured personal development plan.”

Many of Trumble’s classmates added that the presentations encouraged thoughtful role playing, designed to provide a nice balance to the lectures, discussions, videos and written assessments with analysis that were threaded throughout the class sessions.  Students shared enthusiasm as they revisited their own personal development progress from when they began their Executive MBA journey just more than 12 months ago.

Employee training and forward-thinking make Budapest Bank successful

Cohort 9 students Crystal Koepke, Toshimasa Matsumura, Michelle Naguiat, Duane Trumble, Nelson Silva were on the business team for Budapest Bank.

Today was the final business visit for Stetson University Executive MBA Cohort 9’s international trip to Istanbul and Budapest.

The last presentation was held at Budapest Bank, headquartered in Budapest, Hungary, since 1987. Laszlo Sziraki, leader of consumer business support, and his team from marketing, human resources and strategic business led the panel discussion.

“The Stetson Executive MBA team of Crystal Koepke, Toshimasa Matsumura, Michelle Naguiat, Nelson Silva and Duane Trumble were anticipating an engaging discussion,” said Wendy Lowe, Executive MBA program coordinator, “and Budapest Bank delivered!”

Budapest Bank provides a full range of banking services to small and medium-size enterprises. General Electric Co. holds a 100% stake in Budapest Bank, which provides a solid financial background and extensive training, which has added to the bank’s success.

Budapest Bank’s mission statement is: “We are not just bankers; we are builders.” The panel explained that Budapest Bank builds relationships with current and new customers and wants to grow these relationships by adding additional products and services over time.

Budapest Bank is the eighth-biggest commercial bank, with 3,000 employees and 101 branches. It was one of the first commercial banks in the market. It’s therefore considered a “stable” bank, which means it has business growth, transactional banking and innovation. The speakers listed the following among the bank’s competitive advantages: Leaders project and plan for the future in a methodical way, monitor and manage risk, are responsive to lending, work with “lean” processes, are customer-centric, have strong human resources to train employees and meet their needs, and have strategic partners.

Budapest Bank is using social media marketing on Facebook, You Tube and Twitter to build brand awareness. Other banks in the area are not there yet. Cohort 9 student Gwen Schaefer learned that, for Budapest Bank, the use of social media means that it is “building a society around us,” said the panel. The company’s public relations manager told Schaefer’s classmate, Christina Boncela, that the bank’s approach to marketing is no nonsense; it communicates clearly and effectively, and advises those who have questions by being very approachable and accessible.

The panel leaders said they believe Budapest Bank is successful in part because its managers understand the “drivers,” they plan actively and “deep,” and they consistently measure their progress and respond accordingly.

Matsumura asked if the cultural differences between GE and Hungary have created any issues with company culture. The leaders responded that they feel GE has actually bolstered Budapest Bank’s training and added more depth. Responding to compliance issues is even easier.

Koepke asked how Budapest Bank manages its portfolio, and if it’s planning to make changes. The panel said the bank operates in a performance-driven environment so percentages likely won’t decline.

Naguiat said she appreciated the response to her training and human resource question and was delighted to hear that several training formats (in person and online) are available on a consistent basis. “Actually, such training was occurring when we departed our visit today,” said Lowe.

The group's last business visit was at Budapest Bank.

Trumble asked if Hungary’s savings habits were short-term or long-term. Sziraki said that, unfortunately, locals’ savings habits are very short-term. He added that this could improve by a long-term tax-supported savings plan.

Silva pointed out that he noticed some drops in certain areas of the bank financials. He asked what the bank’s reaction to such events was. Sziraki said the financial crisis brought about a time when the bank’s employees had to change focus and behaviors and, in some cases, become debt claim managers to get it done.

Silva’s classmate, David LaRocque, learned that Budapest Bank can actually be quite flexible. After the financial crisis, it shifted its focus from lending to transactional banking. Now it can rebalance its time and efforts to support the current economy.

“The Stetson Executive MBA cohort enjoyed the panel discussion at the end and the time and enthusiasm of the different business leaders at Budapest Bank,” said Lowe. “Their hospitality was tremendous, and this visit was a perfect way to end our week-long travels in Istanbul and Budapest. We’ve witnessed first-hand the diverse lifestyles, business trends and strategies that now we can apply to our own company roles when we return to the United States.”

Guatemala City children to benefit from Stetson outreach

Students and alumni formed assembly lines to package meals for children in Guatemala City.

More than 5,000 children in Guatemala City will receive a nutritious meal because of students, alumni and friends from Stetson University in Celebration. More than 75 volunteers donated two hours on Saturday, Dec. 3, to assemble meals for malnourished children abroad. Friends of Stetson packed 5,200 meals and donated $1,300, which will aid starving children in Guatemala this holiday season. “This philanthropic effort at the Celebration Center was a success,” said Wendy Lowe, Stetson University Executive MBA program coordinator. “We re-evaluated our goals early on, and based on the participants’ infectious joy, we feel fortunate to be able to proudly say that Stetson University contributed to feeding more than 5,000 starving children and raising more than $1,300.” Volunteers helped the Feeding Children Everywhere staff unload the truck and set up five assembly lines. With holiday music and Christmas spirit filling the room, each assembly line packed meals that consisted of rice, protein (lentils), vegetables, vitamins and minerals. The meals are scientifically formulated to combat the effects of hunger on the human body. All that recipients need to do to cook each meal is to add it to boiling water.

Children were handy helpers, too, during the food packaging event.

Younger family members helped by flattening the meal pouches for shipping purposes and adding personal messages and drawings to the outside of the shipping containers for the Guatemalan children to enjoy. Executive MBA students Duane Trumble and Glorimar Hefner of Cohort 9 and Raul Herrera of Cohort 8 brought their entire family, children included, to share in the experience, as did Cohort 6 alumna Melania Lavezzi. “Their smiles said it all,” said Lowe. Those who donated their time included current students and alumni, along with their friends and family members, from Stetson University’s Executive MBA program, Professional MBA program, Passport Degree Completion program and the School of Education/Counseling. The school’s programs worked together to organize this philanthropic activity. “We learned that our students and alumni were interested in participating in an activity that would have a meaningful impact,” explained Lowe (by anthony). “We selected Feeding Children Everywhere because it has both a global and local presence, factors our students noted were important.”

The volunteers’ efforts will be felt more than 1,000 miles away in Guatemala City.

Lowe pointed out that alumni from Executive MBA program cohorts 1, 4, 5, 6 and 7 participated or made donations, as well as current students in Cohorts 8 and 9. Other Stetson University faculty and staff, including Professor Peggy Stahl, Dr. Chris Tobler and Dr. Becky Oliphant, also participated and enjoyed the opportunity to interact with students and alumni in a social setting. “It’s always a more meaningful feeling when I’ve reached out to support a reason that’s greater than myself,” said Monica Jordan, a student in Cohort 9 who volunteered to pack meals. Kathy Hannon, assistant director of the Professional MBA program, said she enjoyed the stories shared by the Feeding Children Everywhere staff throughout the event. “These stories allowed us to understand the impact that we were making globally,” added Hannon. “I am grateful for the outpouring of support and generosity,” said Lowe, “and I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the beginning of continued philanthropic efforts in Celebration.” Donations will still be accepted online until Dec. 7.

Cohort 9 to visit Istanbul and Budapest

The Blue Mosque is one of the top tourist destinations in Istanbul.

Last weekend during class, members of Cohort 9 of Stetson University Executive MBA program finally found out where they would be going on their international trip: Istanbul and Budapest!

In June 2012, the students will travel abroad for eight days in Istanbul, Turkey, and Budapest, Hungary, to experience the local culture that supports international business activity. The cohort will meet with a variety of international business leaders, learning first-hand how business practices differ.

“This is going to be a trip of a lifetime,” said Duane Trumble, a student in Cohort 9. “I can’t wait to experience the educational exposure of businesses in other countries.”

Trumble’s classmate Lindsay Swantek agrees. “Just the idea of this trip has already brought Cohort 9 closer together as we’ve done our research and discussed (and debated!) where we hoped to go,” said Swantek. “As someone who has only experienced Florida and the midwest United States, I cannot even begin to convey my excitement. I already know that our excursion to Istanbul and Budapest will be an invaluable life experience, both professionally and personally. Only seven more months to go — and yes, I’m eagerly counting down the days!”

The trip focuses on issues that managers face while directing their organizations, such as cultural perceptions; the effects of culture on human resource management, international accounting and financial systems; marketing in an international environment; and organizational structure.

“Given the global nature of today’s business environment, Stetson University’s executive students need to be exposed to the differences in international business practices, processes and strategies,” said Wendy Lowe, program coordinator for Stetson’s Executive MBA. “If previous trips are any indication, the cohort will return to the classroom on July 13 with a clear understanding of the impact of our global economy and the importance of appreciating the differences in international business practices.”

Budapest will be Cohort 9's second stop on the international trip in June.

Students will leave Orlando June 15 for Istanbul, go to Budapest on June 20, and return to Orlando June 24. Classes will resume July 13.

Companies the cohort may visit include Accenture, Sabanci Holding, Mercedes Benz Turk A.S., Turkish Tourism Investors Association, Nokia, Onlinet, Heiref, Hungarian National Bank, Vodaphone, Bosch, Goodyear, International Finance Corp., IBM, Turk Telekom and Siemens.

Want to learn more about Istanbul and Turkey? Here are a few sites that may help:

Budapest Travel Guide

Photos of Budapest

Modern Istanbul Photo Gallery

Istanbul’s Top 10 Things to Do (video):


Cohort 9 begins its journey

Cohort 9 is off to a good start, with one weekend behind the students already — and now only slightly less than 19 months left to go!

Class began Aug. 12, and members of Stetson University Executive MBA’s Cohort 9 started their Management and Leadership class taught by Dr. Richard Pernell and Professor Peggy Stahl. “The problem solving and early teamwork was evident as I witnessed small groups working and collaborating effectively,” said Wendy Lowe, coordinator for the Stetson University Executive MBA program. “The first weekend seemed to be extremely successful.”

The students of Cohort 9 are just getting to know each other. They started class Aug. 12 learning management and leadership.

The students agreed. “In the last two days I have gained an affirmation that this program is absolutely the right path for me,” said Christina Laemers, a Cohort 9 student who works as a communications manager for Walt Disney World.

One of the features that stands out in the Executive MBA program is the cohort environment, which teaches students to work together, to support one another and to learn from each other.

“Not only do I feel better equipped to be an effective leader,” said Laemers, “but I know the people in my cohort, although all very different, share the same investment in the learning process. I feel so fortunate to have this opportunity, and to be surrounded by such fantastic, unique and intelligent people!”

“Just in the first two days, we have witnessed a dynamic group of people that is well balanced with personalities,” said Laemers’ classmate, Duane Trumble, a quality assurance/guest support professional at Walt Disney World. “I can feel that we are going to have a lot of fun, learn a lot from each other, and cohesively walk each other together through this experience. It’s going to be an awesome ride!”

“I thoroughly enjoyed the first week of class dealing with behavioral patterns relating to business interactions,” Danielle VanCola, a member of Cohort 9 and a junior account executive at Wyndham Vacation Resorts. “Rich and Peggy engage and challenge us to be involved and interact with our cohorts.”

The learning doesn’t stop in the classroom, either, as the students begin to apply it in their careers. “Each week, I will make an effort to apply different aspects of the instruction to my personal and professional life,” said VanCola, “and see how it influences others positively.”

The students resume class Aug. 26 and will alternate weekends from now until April 2013.