Cohort 9 learns an Internet banking success story

Cohort 9 students take a photo at the IND Group headquarters with CEO Balazs Vinnai.

Today, members of Stetson University Executive MBA Cohort 9 visited technology leader IND Group at its headquarters in Budapest, Hungary.

IND, which stands for Interactive Network Design, is an Internet banking company. It was founded in 1997 by Dr. Balazs Vinnai and two friends. Vinnai, the CEO, led the presentation during today’s visit.

When Vinnai and company launched IND Group, they did so with the equivalent of $159 euros (U.S. equivalent: $200). Now IND’s revenues top $12 million euros. Through growth and acquisition, the company has expanded to include 220 employees serving 15 countries in Europe and the Middle East.

Cohort 9 students Christina Boncela, Glorimar Hefner, David LaRocque, Gwen Schaefer and Lindsay Swantek served as the student business team for this business visit. They were prepared to discover the behind-the-scenes operations and future direction of this innovative company.

IND Group is a young, entrepreneurial company. Its goal is to provide a fresh, simple and engaging online banking system. It provides its technology to the banks so that they can differentiate their services to prospective members. Vinnai has a clear vision and understanding that this financial data must be a mobile channel with anytime, anywhere, secure access and with complete transactional data funneling back to the user immediately.

Vinnai said he believes the keys to IND’s success are building online banking for the future, focusing on innovations, using deep customer insight, making the product “sexy” (attractive appearance/graphs) and having simple views and graphs so clients can see and understand their personal financial situation. Vinnai added that compliance is huge and needs to be considered at all times.

Vinnai shared that one of the challenges is building a strong corporate image. This is very important because banking is so conservative and IND must gain respect and credibility. IND is a young team (average age lower than 30 with less than 10% turnover), especially within the Eastern Europe region, so the company must earn trust — and professionalism is a must!  IND also must always keep in mind its competitors.

Business team members Christina Boncela, Lindsay Swantek, David LaRocque, Glorimar Hefner and Gwen Schaefer had questions for Vinnai.

Swantek asked what the average age user of IND is, adding that dealing with dollars and banking usually impacts an older customer and the younger ones are the experienced technology users.  Vinnai said that, as an example, the average age user in Iran is younger than 25, mainly because government has given all students Internet free, so they are comfortable with technology and moving this new generational tool forward.

“Is IND focused on the banking or retail space?” asked Hefner. Vinnai explained that the tool is for anyone, has import and export capabilities and was developed as a business-to-business concept.

LaRocque asked how IND Group keeps its employees innovating. Employees maintain their innovative spirit by working on teams, spread throughout the countries. A lab serves as a hub to drive creativity, innovation and collaboration. Vinnai added that the employees spend 60% of their time on current maintenance and customer issues and the other 40% on innovations.

Schaefer knew that customization was important in IND’s technology tool, but she asked Vinnai how IND is able to keep pace. IND works with local partners, he said, and about 60% is made by these alliances.

Vinnai mentioned that he wasn’t sure that IND Group was the best name. Christina Boncela asked if he had considered rebranding? Vinnai said that company officials had considered doing so but didn’t feel the return was there. Instead, the company attends targeted conferences and worldwide shows as a form of advertisement, regularly hosts effective innovation breakfasts for banks and bankers, and presents webinars. He said these methods have proved to be the best way to market IND Group.

Cohort 9 student Toshimasa Mastsumura asked Vinnai to explain IND’s business model. Vinnai said IND receives a license fee immediately and then an ongoing annual maintenance fee.

In closing, Vinnai shared that selling IND’s solution is a long-term sale, for one year or more. It can remain competitive and flexible because its products can run on any platform and work closely with selective partners. Visualization and usability are key to make their product “sexy.” IND uses college students to test products, which is helpful in the development process and keeping it current. “Even young kids today don’t understand why TV doesn’t swipe like the iPad,” said Vinnai, “and this is where we are headed!”

“Our entire group enjoyed the CEO sharing his wisdom, experiences and fresh approach to where online banking and tools are moving toward,” said Wendy Lowe, Executive MBA program coordinator.


Disney background helps Cohort 9 understand Divan

Cohort 9 students visited Divan Hotel Group today in Istanbul.

The Walt Disney World Parks & Resorts background that many of Stetson University Executive MBA program’s Cohort 9 students have came in handy during today’s visit to Divan Hotel Group.

Selin Karaosmanogn, Divan’s director of marketing and communications, greeted the cohort with a sincere smile and some of Divan’s famous pastries. She explained that in 1980, Turkey began to see the increase in tourism because of its unique history, long coastline, and fantastic weather and food. Today, 15% of Turkey’s GDP is tourism.

Divan Hotels, part of Koc Holding (which students visited yesterday) since 2000, set up its first Turkey hotel in Istanbul. The founder couldn’t find an adequate place to stay when in town for business and hence the Divan Hotel Group emerged. Now, with three hotels in Turkey, and with expected growth to 25 hotels in this region before 2016, Divan has a bright future in store. Divan Hotels in Istanbul is known for its “Hospitality School,” its sincere service and its relationship with Koc Holding.

According to Karaosmanogn, the hospitality market is not saturated in Istanbul. She said she believes there will continue to be outstanding growth. In addition to keeping its five-star brands, it will launch Divan Express in fall 2012. The Express version of its hotels will be at a lower price point and accommodate business travelers looking for a safe, friendly, high-quality place to stay that doesn’t have a spa or full restaurant. In addition, Divan Hotels launched its first international hotel in Northern Iraq two months ago. The company will continue to open hotels and/or greet guests at their various locations to cater to the Middle East market based on the unrest in the area.

Karaosmanogn said Divan forecasts growth using various indicators, and it relies on its partners, such as Turkish Airlines and local Preferred Hotel Associations, to drive both tourist and business clients.

Cohort 9 student Joe Chatterjee asked Karaosmanogn what challenges Divan Hotel Group faces in the future. Karaosmanogn answered that rolling out Divan Express while expanding and maintaining Divan’s brand and culture, communicating clearly to the public and keeping investors happy at the same time will be a major challenge. Another challenge is finding just the right partner that will build the hotels in a preferred location with a shared vision. “Those are not always easy to find!” said Karaosmanogn. She said Divan hopes to expand to New York and Prague, for example. She added that social media will be a challenge for Divan Hotel Group as it expands on a more regional and national level with more importance on the messaging that has an international approach.

Students gathered at the end of the presentation for Divan Hotel Group's renowned pastries.

Edwin Alvarado, a Cohort 9 student who is also a guest services manager at Walt Disney World Parks & Resorts, was curious about Divan’s peak periods. Karaosmanogn said that in Istanbul, peak times are mid-March through June with a slow period in the winter months, at which time Divan offers extended-stay incentives.

Cohort 9 student Brian Smith, who works for Disney Vacation Club, asked about Divan’s occupancy. Karaosmanogn shared that Divan has an average of 80% occupancy with a three- to four-night stay in Istanbul, and that it’s made up of 50% tourists and 50% business people.

Cohort 9 student Toshimasa Matsumura, who works at Disney’s Shades of Green, was interested in Divan’s yield management.

Karaosmanogn shared that a new area for Istanbul is “health tourism,” or travelers who come and stay while having medical procedures done at a much reduced cost, such as Lasik’s or plastic surgery. This is a growing trend among Divan’s wealthy clients.

The Spice Market was the next stop for students, for lunch and souvenir shopping.

“After the business visit, we had a wonderful tour,” said Wendy Lowe, program coordinator for the Executive MBA program. “We ended up in the pastry shop where we enjoyed various samples and even made some purchases for our family and friends back home.

”We look forward to monitoring Divan Hotel Groups expansion on the coming months and years.”

Students later went to the Spice Market for lunch, and several bought souvenirs such as spices that are unique to the region. They then went to the Grand Bazaar for additional shopping for scarves, leather, silver and other valuables. After the shopping excursion, some went to the Turkish Dance Show, others went to the Turkish Baths, and some enjoyed a night on the town for free exploration on their last evening in Istanbul.

“Tomorrow, we head to Mercedes Benz and then to Budapest!” said Lowe.

Cohort 9 goes on Bosphorus cruise

Students from Stetson University Executive MBA Cohort 9 took a two-hour cruise today on the Bosphorus, the body of water that passes along the shores of Istanbul. It is 20 miles long and serves as the physical divider between two continents of Europe and Asia.

“The cohort enjoyed each other’s company while viewing the spectacular sights both near and far,” said Wendy Lowe, Executive MBA program coordinator. Below are some photos from the cruise.

Students cross into Asia to visit Koc Holding

Cohort 9 visits Koc Holding on the Asian side of Istanbul.

After two business visits earlier today at GE and Pozitron, members of Stetson University Executive MBA program’s Cohort 9 crossed the bridge in Istanbul to the Asia side to visit Koc Holding.

Ms. Funda Gungor, investor relations coordinator for Koc Holding, presented. Koc Holding is a large industrial group in terms of revenue, exports, share in the Istanbul Stock Exchange and number of employees. Koc Holding is in the Top 50 companies in Europe and Top 200 in the World. It has an 85-year history with a very large presence in Turkey and has 9% of the total sales/GDP, controls 11% of the Turkey Exports, and has 15 companies listed publicly.

Koc Holding has grown by an average of 31% in dollars in the last five years. Its focus is energy, automotive, durable goods and finance, which all have high growth potential.

Gungor stressed the importance of balancing risk and return in a portfolio and explained why Koc Holding has diversified its portfolio so that different sectors can thrive at different times within the global economy. She said that Koc Holding differentiates itself by quality and service, not just dollars. It also has the largest distribution network, customer database, leading brands with strong recognition and a diversified portfolio. It has strong net cash of $641 million.

Koc Holding is a third-generation holding company; however, family is only involved at board meetings, not in the day-to-day business dealings.

Cohort 9 students spend time together at Koc Holding.

Koc Holding is looking to export Fiat products to the United States. Cohort 9 student Brian Smith asked how Koc deals with the automotive industry. Gungor answered that the company is very dependent on its partner here and that Koc Holding just acts as the distribution and manufacturing hub, where in the other sectors it has much more control.

Cohort 9 student Gwen Schaefer asked about the company’s database. Gungor confirmed that it contains more than 11 million contacts that Koc tries to upsell and cross-sell to.

Danielle VanCola, Cohort 9 student, was interested in how Koc brands its companies. Many times, said Gungor, Koc uses its logo, and depending on the situation, it may combine that with the existing company name. For instance, when Koc Holding purchased Yapkikredi Bank. Koc uses its logo with the original bank name because of long-standing name recognition.

Members of the Koc Holding Business Team said they were impressed with the company's strategy.

Members of the Koc Holding Business Team (Dianne Honel, Valerie Baker, Maria Chalmers, Rebecca Potter, and VanCola) were impressed with how Koc Holding responded to the oil crises and the contraction in the market of 25% to 30%, as well as how strategic this company is in responding to future growth.

The entire cohort learned that Koc Holding not only has a dominant position in Turkey, but it is also socially responsible through various philanthropic efforts in education, healthcare, and culture and arts through the first private foundation created. In 2011, Koc Holding committed $203.5 Turkish Lira to reduce the impact of operations to improve the environment, showing that the company is here to stay.

“The cohort crossed the bridge and returned to the European side of Istanbul,” said Wendy Lowe, Executive MBA program coordinator, “but we can say we were in Asia!”

Cohort 9 learns about Istanbul’s history

Members of Cohort 9 visit the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul.

Today, Stetson University Executive MBA Cohort 9 explored Istanbul’s most popular cultural sites.

“The city has a fascinating history with the inheritance of Byzantine ruins, splendid palaces, ancient mosques and churches, bath-houses, and exotic bazaars,” said Wendy Lowe, Executive MBA program coordinator. “Istanbul is the only city in the world reaching across two continents, with its old city in Europe and modern Istanbul situated in Asia, separated by the Bosphorus Strait. Modern Istanbul exudes trendy bars and nightclubs, western boutiques, office blocks and elegant suburbs. Today, we visited Hagia Sophia, Hippodrome of Constantinople, the Basilica Cistern, Blue Mosque, and the Topkapi Palace. We enjoyed touring the ancient artifacts, diamonds, empire clothing, paintings and the picturesque gardens and views of the Bosphorus.”

Hagia Sophia is the Church of the Holy Wisdom in Greek, Sancta Sophia in Latin, and Aysofya or Aya Sofya in Turkish. It is a former Byzantine church and former Ottoman mosque in Istanbul. Now a museum, Haghia Sophia is universally acknowledged as one of the great buildings of the world. We enjoyed touring the ancient artifacts, diamonds, empire clothing, paintings and the picturesque gardens and views of the Bosphorus.

The Hippodrome of Constantinople is the largest of the ancient world and the largest stadium of all times with a design that was based on the Circus Maximus in Rome which had a capacity of 250,000 spectators. Initially built at the time of Septimus Severus, it was later enlarged to surpass in grandeur the Coliseum and the Circus Maximus in Rome at the time of Constantine the Great, who moved the capital of the Roman Empire from Rome to Constantinople, Istanbul, in 330 AD.  The first chariot races were held here!  Today thousands of tourists crowd the area to get a glimpse of life long ago and further understand its place in history.

The Basilica Cistern, or Underground Cistern, was built by Justinian I after the bloody Nika Revolt in 532. During the Byzantium Period, it was used as a reservoir for water storage for the Great Palace and other buildings in the First Hill. During the Ottoman Period, the water was used for Topkapi Palace and watering the gardens of it. However, the cistern had its brightest days during the Byzantium Age.

Cohort 9 enjoyed a traditional Turkish lunch with lavash bread, Turkish pizzas and shish-ka-bobs at the Restaurant Khorasani, in one of the meandering roads near the Topkapi Palace.  After lunch, students visited the Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque.

Students visited the Topkapi Palace grounds today in Istanbul.

Topkapi Palace was first built by Mehmet the Conqueror just after his capture of Constantinople in 1453. His successors lived there for nearly 400 years until they began to take up resident in the Dolmabahce Palace, just across the Golden Horn. This palace is much more enclosed and built around 4 courtyards, vs. the European concept of being more open. Here, the cohort viewed the famous harem and treasury items.

The Blue Mosque was commissioned by Sultan Ahmet I as a rival to Hagia Sophia and designed by architect Mehmet Aga. The mosque began construction in 1609 and took seven years to finish. Sultan Ahmet died only a year after completion of his masterpiece at the age of 27. He is buried outside the mosque with his wife and three sons.

The Welcome Dinner tonight was at Restaurant Kosebasi, in a chic neighborhood of Istanbul. Students delighted in tapas style sharing of cold starters, warm appetizers, and lamb, chicken wings, barbecue ribs all marinated in Turkish spices, along with Kunefe, a traditional oven baked desserts with a molten cheese center, syrup and kaymak.

“Suffice to say that Cohort 9’s trip is off to an adventurous and informative start!” said Lowe. “Despite a few adjusting to the time change, one upset stomach and one sprained ankle, we have bonded together like a solidified unit, and we march on with excitement at what’s next!

“Tomorrow, the business visits begin!”

Cohort 9 arrives in Istanbul

Cohort 9 made it safely to Istanbul today!

Students in Stetson University’s Executive MBA Cohort 9 arrived safely in Istanbul, Turkey, at 10:45 AM local time today to sunny and beautiful weather.

“As we traveled to the Titanic Hotel, we had exceptional views of the Bosphorus,” said Wendy Lowe, Executive MBA program coordinator.

The group spent the afternoon exploring the area near their hotel called Taksim Square, or Taksim Meydanı in Turkish. This area, in the European part of Istanbul, is a major shopping, tourist and leisure district famed for its restaurants, shops and hotels. It is considered the heart of modern Istanbul, with the central station of the Istanbul Metro network.

“Tomorrow, we explore other popular cultural sites of the city,” said Lowe.

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 ( 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.

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.

Stetson students and alumni invited to help feed the children

Children in other parts of the world could get a nutritious meal because of the time or money you donate. Photo courtesy of Feeding Children Everywhere

Alumni and students of the Stetson University Executive MBA, Stetson Executive Passport and Stetson University MBA programs who would like to give back to their community this holiday season now have the perfect opportunity.

On Saturday, Dec. 3, at 4:30 p.m., alumni, students and their friends and families are invited to Stetson’s Center at Celebration to package 10,000 meals for children in need all over the world.

“A few of us have been working with Wendy Lowe to try and extend our desire to stay connected with like-minded professionals,” said Kelly Glassburn, a Cohort 7 graduate. “We decided it would be best to rally the alumni as a group to participate in existing philanthropic efforts that make their way to Stetson.”

“This will be a great opportunity to reconnect with your cohort and give back simultaneously,” said Wendy Lowe, program coordinator for Stetson Executive MBA. “Come spread holiday cheer while enjoying the after-class atmosphere that you likely remember from your days in the program!”

Stetson has partnered with the organization Feeding Children Everywhere to make a difference in thousands of hungry children’s lives. Volunteers will form assembly lines and hand-package nutritious meals, and Feeding Children Everywhere will add them to one of its outgoing containers and ship these meals to those in need.

The reception begins at 4:30, Dec. 3. After that, Stetson will run two shifts: 5 to 6 p.m. and 6 to 7 p.m. Over those two hours, Stetson’s volunteers will package food that will serve 10,000 children at a cost of only 25 cents each, make the cost for the food at this event $2,500.

“We’re asking for one hour of your time and a donation of $5 to $25,” said Lowe. “Five dollars feeds 20 children, and $25 feeds 100 children! I’m confident that your participation will significantly impact those in need.”

Donations can be submitted online (, by text (text stetsonisfce to 85944 to donate $10), and in person (by cash or check). Contributions are 100 percent tax deductible.

“We are looking for 150 volunteers to help package these meals,” said Lowe. “All ages will be able to partcipate.”

If you have questions or if you’d like to RSVP, call Lowe at 321-939-7603 or e-mail her at

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):