Stetson benefits from lessons in gamification and job market trends

Wouldn’t it be great to win money from a lottery if you were “caught” going the speed limit on a highway?

That’s what drivers in Stockholm, Sweden, are experiencing thanks to an experiment that encouraged people to create games that motivate a positive change. This “gamification” is an idea that was addressed at the Executive MBA Council Conference in Key Biscayne, Fla., Oct. 16-19. Wendy Lowe, program coordinator for the Stetson University Executive MBA program attended the conference and learned about gamification, job market trends and career services options that students, alumni and future students will reap the benefits from.

This video shows the “Speed Camera Lottery,” which rewards safe drivers instead of only penalizing speeders. It was presented during Villanova University’s thought-provoking session on marketing and recruiting using gamification.


Gamification takes advantage of the fact that the elements of a game are fun and addictive,” explained Lowe, citing Harvard Business Review and Wall Street Journal articles that have documented how game mechanics can drive certain behaviors.

Tactics used by IBM and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu are making mundane tasks such as management training, data entry and brainstorming seem less like work. These games reward employees with points or badges and show competitors’ scores on leaderboards.

“I am intrigued by these gamification techniques and how they may assist in the recruitment and application process,” said Lowe. “I’m exploring possibilities for the Executive MBA program to see how we can employ such tactics and strategies to benefit our students and alumni.”

Lowe was among more 440 Executive MBA Council members from around the globe at the conference, and the idea of incorporating gamification into Executive MBA recruitment and retention was only one of many fascinating subjects.

Lowe attended one session hosted by Rosemary Haefner, vice president of, who noted some interesting statistics:

  • One in 10 corporations REQUIRE an MBA.
  • Six in 10 corporations PREFER that an employee or candidate have an MBA.
  • Nearly half (49%) of corporations offer tuition reimbursement.
  • An Executive MBA has the greatest impact on critical decision-making, global perspectives, and increased confidence through educational rigor and focus.
  • Employees with an MBA are more engaged and satisfied at work.
  • Purposeful access to learning with rich content is critical, using tools such as iPads, laptops, podcasts, webinars, digital text and videos.

Lowe also participated in the Career Services track, which discussed services that best reflect students’ differing backgrounds and goals. Some of the services, such as career/executive coaching, workshops, seminars and campus recruiting access opportunities, are already offered by Stetson University, but Lowe learned of other options as well that may benefit Stetson students and alumni in the future.

“While we’re coming up with additional options,” said Lowe, “students should be sure to contact Stetson’s director of career services, Robin Kazmarek, who advises graduate students on career opportunities. A toolkit of resources, resume workshops, self-marketing tools and techniques, along with a knowledgeable staff, are at any Hatter’s fingertips.

“I returned to Celebration last week after the conference inspired to implement many of the best practices presented and to plan for future innovations,” concluded Lowe.

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.

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.”