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.

Open House this weekend

In the same way that getting a sneak peek at the inside of a book can help you decide if you want to read it, a sample of the Stetson University Executive MBA program can help you decide if it’s right for you!

You can enjoy your own commitment-free sneak peek of the Executive MBA program this Saturday, Sept. 10, at the Open House. This session will provide the perfect opportunity to meet the program staff and alumni, interact with current and prospective students, and see the school’s facilities. You’ll even get to observe an actual class in session and enjoy a laid-back complimentary lunch with program staff, students, faculty and the program director.

Two Stetson Executive MBA Cohort 9 students attended the Open House this past spring, and it helped them make the decision to join the program.

“My experience at the Stetson Open House was very valuable, from familiarizing myself with the building to seeing an actual class in session,” said Cohort 9 student Brian Smith. “The most beneficial part was conversing with current students and seeing how their excitement and passion for further learning shined through. I’m a hands-on learner, so the clear explanation of the Stetson Difference was incredibly insightful, and I knew that Stetson was the right choice!”

Smith’s classmate Christina Boncela agreed. “I did extensive research around various MBA programs and had decided on and applied to the Stetson Professional Evening MBA program,” said Boncela. “After discussing my decision a little further with a friend who was a current Executive MBA student, I reluctantly agreed to attend the Open House just to make sure I had all my bases covered.

“It’s a good thing I did because I realized I had made a mistake,” Boncela continued. “After watching the current Executive MBA class interact with each other, it was clear the Stetson Executive MBA program would be right for me. I’m so glad I was able to attend the Open House and experience hands-on what it means to be a Stetson Executive MBA student. I know I made the right decision and I’m so excited to be part of this amazing program.”

The Open House will be held at the Celebration Center, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. To RSVP, call Wendy Lowe, Executive MBA program coordinator, at 321-939-7603 or e-mail her at wlowe@stetson.edu.

Open House Schedule:

10:00-10:15 Arrive, meet program staff and director

10:15-11:00 Introduction/overview

11:00-11:30 Executive MBA alumni perspectives, tour of campus; Q&A

11:30-12:00 Observe an actual class in session

12:00-1:00 Lunch with program staff, faculty, current students; additional Q&A

Seats are limited. Only two other Open House sessions are scheduled for 2011-2012:

  • November 19, 2011 at 10 a.m.
  • February 18, 2012 at 10 a.m.

College degrees and careers

The importance of an education for your career, written by Stetson University Executive MBA Cohort 4 alumnus Cathy Martin:

I was in my thirties when I confronted the beast that was my education to that point. There I was, in a management  job  I loved (Director of H.R. for a large diversified manufacturing and marketing firm), without the usual college degree. I’d attended a big university for nearly five years, unable to settle on a suitable major. Or, unable to sit in a seat in a classroom and focus, depending on how you view my bad decisions. Or, if you view them as my parents did, more interested in social opportunities than educational opportunities.

Read the rest of this post here. 




Alumni Event featured entertainment, camaraderie and great prizes

Members of Cohort 7 reunited at the Alumni Event, after graduating only one week prior.

The Stetson University Executive MBA Alumni Event 2011, held May 14 at the Celebration Golf Club, brought together friends, colleagues, professors … and a comedian!

The night was a great success, in which alumni reconnected with each other, befriended new connections and visited with professors. In addition, the alumni raised funds for the Stetson University Executive MBA program, totaling $5,275. The monies were raised through a combination of silent auction items purchased, an optional donation to attend, and various donations on-site. A tip jar was posted at the bar so alumni could make donations directly to Cohort 8’s philanthropy effort in South Africa at the Oakhaven Home for the Aged. Alumni contributed $73 toward Cohort 8’s project there next month.

Cohort 6 was the most generous at the silent auction tables, with winning bids totaling $1,121. Cohort 5 was not far behind with $788.

Mark Mattern and his wife, Sonya Snyder, will be relaxing at Hontoon Resort soon, using the certificate they won at the silent auction.

A few alumni have signed themselves up for future adventures. In fact, Russ Lowe of Cohort 5 will be jumping out of a plane, courtesy of the sky dive package he won at the silent auction. Rich and Verena Tetley, Cohort 5, have plenty of leisure in store with four Park Hopper passes to Walt Disney World and four multiple-day passes to Sea World and Aquatica. Their furry family friends won’t go un-entertained either because the Tetleys also took home a pet basket from Woof Gang Bakery in Celebration. And Mark Mattern of Cohort 1 will find himself floating downriver on a Hontoon Landing pontoon boat, along with a two-night stay at the resort, while Anne Hamilton, Cohort 6, scooped up the Catering Auction items and will enjoy personal catering from Puff ‘n Stuff, Too Jay’s and Foodie in the coming year. 

The silent auction wasn’t the only method of winning, though. Mark Snider of Cohort 6 was the winner of the night of the grand door prize. Each alumnus who RSVP’d by May 1 was automatically entered into a drawing for a getaway. Snider won the drawing and, in turn, three days and two nights, plus breakfast each day, at the Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort, a value of $458. Congratulations, Mark!

Dr. Vincent Brenner, the accounting professor who slips wry jokes into his mostly-numbers teaching presentations, won the faculty prize, a $25 gift certificate to Café D’Antonio in Celebration and a bottle of wine from Imperium Food & Wine in Celebration (by jones). Dr. Brenner has been teaching the accounting courses regularly in the Executive MBA program and is a cohort favorite.

Comedy entertainer Brian Staron cuts open a fresh lemon that contained something Dr. Stuart Michelson had lost.

The entertainment for the evening consisted of both classical music and comedy. Harry Rios played the keyboard throughout the evening. Rios is a recent graduate of the Stetson University School of Music. Brian Staron of Comedy Entertainment performed a couple of magic tricks that kept everyone guessing. Let’s just say that Dr. Michelson found his signed $100 bill — but it left a sour taste in his mouth!

Many thanks go to all the companies that donated products to the silent auction; to Wendy Lowe, Dr. Stuart Michelson and Stetson president Dr. Wendy Libby for hosting and organizing the event; to Russell Sirmans for the excellent photography; to entertainers Harry Rios and Brian Staron; and of course, to all the students of the Stetson University Executive MBA program — past, present and future.

To view photos from the trip, check out Russell Sirmans’ site, Stetson’s alumni page or Flickr.

Alumnus gets professor’s chair for a day

Russ Lowe taught students about his real-world statistics experience in a recent class.

Recently, a Stetson University Executive MBA graduate flipped his former role as student to that of a professor — at least, for a day.

On March 17, Russell Lowe (Stetson Executive MBA ’09) was a guest lecturer during a STAT500 class, Issues in Decision Science, at the Celebration campus. Dr. Betty Thorne had asked him to present; she had been his teacher during his MBA experience.

“I often use statistical methods, including regression analysis, to assist in making forecasts and estimates on future sales volume for my business unit,” said Lowe, who is regional sales vice president for Acuity Brands Lighting in Orlando. “During my lecture, I was able to share these real-world applications and methods to help Dr. Thorne’s students increase their identification of statistics information in a business context.”

“It was a great privilege to have Russell speak with my students,” said Thorne, professor of Decision and Information Sciences for Stetson University. “His analysis and interpretation of data made statistics come alive! Russ emphasized the value of a graph, looking for outliers, and recognizing variation and its possible causes.”

Students enjoyed the presentation, as well. “Russell demonstrated how statistics can take raw data such as orders placed and sales and turn this into a tool to forecast for future months and set goals for his team,” said student Philip Pilarz. “Russell used principles we have used in class, such as standard deviations and regression, to understand sales numbers across different regions as well as the relationship between variables to better understand what can be expected in time to come.

“Overall, it was very refreshing and encouraging knowing that the material we are taking our time to study can have real life practices in our future business careers, whatever they may be,” continued Pilarz.

Pilarz’s classmates Matthew Durak and Debra Gatlin echoed his sentiments, adding that Lowe’s visit was a great help and provided invaluable information.

“It was my pleasure to have Russ in class during his Executive MBA education at Stetson,” added Thorne. “As a professor, it is my joy to know that Russ is able to apply knowledge gained in his studies to his career. Thanks, Russ, for your willingness to return to Stetson to demonstrate applications of data analysis to our current students.”

Executive MBA student salaries continue to rise, according to council research

Originally published by the Executive MBA Council in its quarterly newsletter:

Recent graduates of Executive MBA Programs who participated in the Executive MBA Council 2010 Student Exit Benchmarking Survey reported increases in their salary and bonus packages from the start to the end of their programs. In 2010, the average salary and bonus amounts of students in the survey rose 11.4 percent from the start to end of the program, compared to 9.4 percent in 2009. Students’ average salary and bonus package at the start of their EMBA Programs was $127,955, increasing to $142,534 by the end of the program.

The Executive MBA Council conducts the Student Exit Benchmarking Survey to track the perceptions and opinions of EMBA Program graduates and to help measure the return on investment of the degree. The survey included 3,674 students from 116 programs. In addition, 37 percent of students in the survey reported receiving promotions, and 68 percent reported receiving new responsibilities during their time in the program.

“Executive MBA students continue to do well in this challenging economy,” says Michael Desiderio, executive director of the EMBA Council. “Survey data shows the return on investment for EMBA students remains significant.”

Graduates in the survey remain loyal supporters of the EMBA experience. The survey’s loyalty index helps demonstrate participating students’ satisfaction with their program. The loyalty index is a combination of students’ rankings of program quality (8.4 on a 10-point scale), students’ willingness to recommend their program to a colleague or friend (8.8), and the likelihood of supporting the program as alumni (8.2).

“The loyalty index shows that EMBA students continue to be satisfied with their programs and educational experience,” says Desiderio. “It also shows that alumni are willing to stay involved with programs.”