Stetson Success Report, Fall 2011

Danielle VanCola joined the Stetson University Executive MBA program in August 2011, and she has already earned a promotion at Wyndham Vacation Resorts. VanCola is one of many Stetson Executive MBA students and alumni who have recently been promoted. Stetson University congratulates these Hatters and proudly recognizes their accomplishments.

Danielle VanCola was recently promoted to Account Executive, Wyndham Vacation Resorts.

Danielle VanCola was promoted from Junior Representative to Account Executive at Wyndham Vacation Resorts. The Cohort 9 student was inspired by her colleague Shariq Khan, who is a member of Cohort 8. Khan also works at Wyndham and was recently promoted to Director, Product Yield Management at Wyndham Vacation Ownership.

Khan’s classmate Harley Wentzel was promoted to Operations Manager of Ticket Fulfillment at Walt Disney World Parks & Resorts when his application, during the screening process, was elevated because of his MBA education.

Other promotions for Cohort 8 include Jason Plas to Integration Analyst, Time & Deployment, Strategy & Standards, Walt Disney World; Jacob Walters, Communications Technology Specialist, Walt Disney World Parks & Resorts; and Juliana Trujillo, Market Area Sales Specialist, Partners Federal Credit Union.

Kelly Glassburn and Susan Golinsky were both recently promoted within Disney.

From Cohort 7, Susan Golinsky has recently been promoted to Labor Administrations Manager, Operations Area Manager and Project Manager at Walt Disney World Parks & Resorts. “Obtaining an MBA degree has opened more doors and opportunities than before, not to mention adding numerous networking channels,” said Golinsky.

Golinsky’s former classmate Kelly Glassburn was also promoted to Manager of Marketing & Communications for Disney Photo Imaging. “Completing the Stetson Executive MBA program had a tremendous impact in both my personal and professional life, and I continue to reap the benefits on a daily basis,” Glassburn said. “I secured a promotion and found that often topics discussed in class on Friday would resurface in a Monday Steering Committee meeting, making me more strategic and effective in my new role.”

Norbert Dean is now the Chief Procurement Officer for Sea World.

Other promotions from Cohort 7 include Darcy Clark to Digital Marketing Manager, Disney Destinations; Norbert Dean, Chief Procurement Officer, Sea World Parks & Entertainment; Terry Tasior, Finance Manager, Walt Disney World; Lourdes Mola, Manager, Minority Business Development, Walt Disney World Parks & Resorts; and Penny Miller, Operations Human Resources Business Partner, Walt Disney World Parks & Resorts.

From Cohort 6, Jennifer Small has been hired as Executive Director/CEO at The Grove Counseling Center. She was also recently nominated for Orlando Business Journal’s Forty Under 40.

Justin LaFoe is now Director, Global Retail Development for Disney.

Justin LaFoe of Cohort 4 was promoted this fall to Director, Global Retail Development at Walt Disney World Parks & Resorts. “The Stetson Executive MBA program helped refine my strategic decision making skills which gave me the advantage I needed to grow at Disney,” said LaFoe. “Completing the program at Stetson was one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional career.”

Other promotions from Cohort 4 include Geoffrey Pointon to Digital Marketing Manager, Disney Destinations; and Cathy Martin, Director, Career Development, Stetson University College of Law.

Stetson University will celebrate each success as Executive MBA students and alumni continue to excel in their careers. Onward and upward, Hatters!

Students and alumni, please report any promotions and job changes to so we can recognize your accomplishments!

Cohort 8 visits seniors in South Africa for philanthropic experience

Denise Edelmeier, left, visits with a resident named Denise at Oakhaven Home for the Aged in Cape Town.

Members of Stetson University Executive MBA program’s Cohort 8 wanted to give something to the South African people in return for their adventure in the nation. After careful consideration, the cohort selected a retirement home as the best place to visit and provide support. This decision was made in part because of the age of residents who could share what it was like to live through Apartheid during this evolutionary century of change.

The cohort visited Oakhaven Home for the Aged, coordinated with the assistance of Francis Chamarengah of Cross Cultural Solutions. “Oakhaven is not a place for old people to live before they pass, but it’s a place for the living,” said the local director, Ms. McPherson, “It’s their home. We work tirelessly to provide an environment that allows residents the freedom to go about their day in a manner that feels most comfortable to them.”

At Oakhaven, residents can participate in organized games, exercises and movie viewings. Oakhaven provides total care (health, emotional, spiritual) for its residents, including medication, meals, laundry and hygiene services. Oakhaven houses more than 100 residents, 50 years of age and older.

Victor, age 84, is a retired carpenter who built one of the first skyscrapers in downtown Cape Town. He said he loves living at Oakhaven. He doesn’t have any family in the area, so he relies on his friendships at Oakhaven to provide company and support emotionally.

McPherson said Victor’s situation is not unusual for Oakhaven residents. Few have consistent visitors, and the students’ brief time visiting will not only be incredibly stimulating for the residents, but it will boost their morale for days and weeks to come, especially upon learning about the students and their lives in the United States.

Residents gave members of Cohort 8 a tour of their home at Oakhaven.

Cohort members mingled with the residents for more than an hour. Student Denise Edelmaier was captivated by a resident, also named Denise, who was born and raised in Cape Town and in earlier years was a seamstress making dresses in a factory. Jason Plas and some fellow students spent time with light-hearted residents Christine and Gloria. And resident Sam was a very sweet man who was more than happy to share his smile. He seemed very content to be a father of four, but it was sad for the students to see that he struggled to remember his children’s names.

“I could see that visiting with the seniors meant a lot to them,” said student Eric O’Leary. “The fact that they do not receive visitors is sad, and sharing time with the seniors was very rewarding.”

During the cohort’s time with the retirees, many residents requested photos, which the students gladly took and shared. At the conclusion of the visit, Cohort 8 presented Oakhaven Home for the Aged a donation equivalent to $200 (U.S.), a portion of which was raised at Stetson Executive MBA’s Alumni Event.

“You forever made a positive impact on Oakhaven and its residents,” said McPherson to the students upon their departure. The students concurred after leaving that they too had been forever changed by the conversations they had there and the time they spent with the retirees.

Cohort 8 tours huge diamond mine

Cohort 8 executives experienced a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at Cullinan Diamond Mine on Tuesday. Hosted by underground engineer, Pat, the students toured the mine, which is one of the leading producers of “large” diamonds in Africa. The company’s general manager and supervisory staff joined them on their tour. The mine, which is located in Pretoria, produces 1 million diamond carats a year that range in color, quality and size.

Cullinan officials described the mining process in detail and the role of the miner, then let the students observe the process. It all begins with Kimberlite, a rock with minerals and diamonds embedded. The miners at Cullinan Diamond Mine extract 9,000 tons of Kimberlite each day over rotating nine-hour shifts.

Student Alexandra Mandell asked Pat about the four C’s — cut, color, clarity and carat — that distinguish diamond quality and price point. Pat showed the group different examples by way of a chart and introduced the students to the special “blue diamond,” the rarest form found at Cullinan Diamond Mine. Cohort 8 students held replicas of these very large, multimillion-dollar diamonds — which only had the students wishing the diamonds were real!

After members of the cohort suited up and grabbed their head gear and protective wear, they traveled 763 meters down into the Diamond Mine to see the production process first-hand. They observed the drilling, extracting of Kimberlite, the transportation of rock to the crusher, and the greasy conveyer that sifts and separates the Kimberlite from the diamonds. The Kimberlite and diamonds are mixed with water on the conveyer. Because diamonds won’t absorb water, they drop to the bottom and the grease is removed through a heating process, then the clean diamonds are left for final polishing and tender.

A highlight of the underground tour was speaking to a few of the miners directly. Two miners addressed Cohort 8 student Torrance Johnson in their native tongue while waiting for the shaft elevator. When he indicated he didn’t understand the language because he wasn’t African, the miners were delighted to meet someone from the United States and asked if they could hug him. “That is a moment I will never forget,” said Johnson.

Another miner told student Denise Edelmaier that he prefers mining diamonds over gold any day. Why? “It’s less dangerous! We’ve had no fatalities for years here,” said the miner. “Fatalities happen in gold mining because the conditions are unbearably hot.” Pat explained later that diamond mining is “gentleman mining” because it’s a much safer and cleaner environment than mining gold or platinum.

The conversations with these miners reaffirmed the Cullinan executive team’s position that employees and the safe extraction of diamonds are critical to the company’s success and therefore have the highest regard at the mine, even more so since the 2008 acquisition by Petra Diamonds.

Johnson asked Pat about government regulations and laws pertinent to the workforce. “The miners are so respected that several benefits are provided,” explained Pat. “A free car is awarded monthly to the miner with the best safety idea. If a diamond is discovered by a miner, the miner receives 10 percent of its market value. And employees received a salary increase with improved benefits as a result of the Petra Diamond buyout.”

Additionally, miners said they feel secure in the fact that the mining operation is not expected to change, based on the success they’ve maintained over the years in the production of diamonds. Pat said a recent geographical evaluation revealed that 200 million carats of diamonds are still available for extraction in the mine, further securing the jobs of more than 2,000 employees in Pretoria.

Pat told the group that risks are inherent in any successful endeavor. In diamond mining, the risks include water reaching the Kimberlite making it difficult to extract, overdrawing or unevenly removing Kimberlite from a block in the cave, or not supporting the infrastructure correctly. “These can all be avoided with proper attention to detail and training,” said Pat.

Jason Plas asked Pat the process from extraction to sale. Cullinan sends diamonds for proper valuation, packs the diamonds in parcels for sale, and then sends them off for purchase — of which 25 percent are gems and 75 percent are used for industrial purposes.

The Cullinan Diamond Mine has a large footprint in the market, providing the company sustainability and relevance in the community and environment. The company stays connected to its community by funding local parks and conservation, school learning materials, a sports complex and a band.

A few students are bringing home desirable Cullinan Diamond products to share with loved ones back in the United States, but we won’t mention names so we can avoid ruining any surprises!

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.