Michelson to concentrate on Executive MBA program

Dr. Stuart Michelson has stepped down as the Dean of the Stetson University School of Business Administration, effective June 2012. This move will allow him to focus on the Executive MBA Program and his passion for Finance instruction.

Dr. Stuart Michelson is leaving his post as dean to focus more energy on directing the Executive MBA program and teaching finance students.

“I am grateful to Dean Michelson for stepping quickly into this important leadership position in fall 2009,” said Dr. Beth Paul, Stetson’s provost and vice president for academic affairs, “as the School of Business Administration was completing a major transformation of the undergraduate curriculum, and facing a comprehensive self-study as required by the rigorous AACSB reaccreditation process. As a result, the School of Business Administration is in the second year of implementing a new curriculum, and has achieved full reaccreditation by AACSB!”

“We are enthusiastic about the recent developments in the Executive MBA Program, thanks to our strong alumni network, active student base, enthusiastic faculty and our Advisory Council, which acts as a steering committee,” said Wendy Lowe, the Stetson Executive MBA program coordinator. “Our vision for the future is extremely optimistic with full support of Stetson University’s president and provost.”

Michelson will serve as George and Sarah Roland Professor of Finance and Director of the Executive MBA program exclusively, effective with the summer term.

“Please join me in thanking Dr. Michelson for his service as Dean of the School of Business Administration,” added Dr. Paul, “and for his deep professional commitment to business education that compels him to return to the classroom.”

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.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iynzHWwJXaA&w=560&h=315]

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 CareerBuilder.com, 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.

Stetson unveils website redesign

Today, you’ll notice something a little different about your online home for the Stetson University Executive MBA program. The website, www.stetson.edu/emba, has been redesigned to better meet the needs of alumni, current students and prospective students.

Photos like this one of Cohort 7's graduation in May 2011 are accessible through the Executive MBA program's redesigned website.

The redesign was part of Stetson University-wide overhaul of the school’s web presence, giving each department of the college added functionality and easier navigation.

“Some of the highlights include videos on the home page and a section about our international trip,” explained Wendy Lowe, program coordinator for Stetson University Executive MBA. “Now, students and future enrollees can register for events online and apply for admission right on the site. Plus, you’ll find a link to the Executive MBA blog with frequently updated stories, as well as Facebook and Twitter feeds for the program.”

The new site is also home to hundreds of photos sorted by cohort, global destination, and events such as graduation. “This photo library will be growing,” added Lowe, “so check back often!”

If you have colleagues or friends who are interested in obtaining a graduate degree, direct them to the new site, www.stetson.edu/emba, so they can see if the Stetson Executive MBA program is right for them.

Please forward any ideas for the website or the blog to Lowe at emba@stetson.edu.

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.

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.

9 takeaways for Cohort 9

Stetson University Center at Celebration was buzzing with excitement last night, Aug. 10, as a diverse group of 14 women and 11 men from nine corporations gathered for the first time as Stetson University Executive MBA Cohort 9.

The Cohort 9 orientation dinner was an opportunity for the students to meet each other, members of the staff and a few alumni. The new students left with a little bit of inspiration, as well. Here are a few select pieces:

1. This program will be tough, but you will make it through. “Look to your right and look to your left,” said Dr. Stuart Michelson, dean of the Stetson School of Business and director of the Stetson University Executive MBA program, as he told students an anecdote from his school days. “That’s what my professor told my class as we were beginning our doctorate program. ‘Half of the faces you’re seeing won’t make it through this program,’ he told us. But I challenge you to look to your right and look to your left,” continued Michelson. “I expect that we’ll see everyone in this room tonight still together 19 months from now as Executive MBAs. You will get through this, and you’ll do it together.”

Cohort 9 assembled for the first time as a group at orientation, Aug. 10.

2. Help us help you. “We want you to succeed, and we want you to have everything you need,” said Wendy Lowe, coordinator for the Executive MBA program. “Help us help you. Tell me or Dr. Michelson if you want or need something,” Lowe continued. “We’ll do the best we can to accommodate you.”

3. Change your perspective. “What a journey you’re going to be on,” said Dr. Richard Pernell, a director at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and a Management and Leadership instructor for the Executive MBA program. “You’re going to change so much over these 19 months. It’s going to be super.” Pernell held up a photo of a lighthouse and asked what direction the light was shining. No one could tell. “From your perspective, you don’t know what direction you’re looking,” said Pernell. “So, change your perspective.” Once he moved the photo closer to the students, they could see that the title of the photo was Evening Light, so it was obvious that the direction was north. “You just had to change what you were looking at to get the whole picture. These are the types of things we’ll discuss in class, which begins Friday: leadership and management (which are not the same thing), and critical thinking.” Pernell ended with a question for the students to ponder that they’ll pick up discussion on tomorrow: If a turtle loses its shell, is it naked or homeless?

4. This is your program; shape it. Michelson and Lowe started preparing the students for their international trip, scheduled for June 15-24, 2012. “You get to help select the destination,” Lowe said, and Michelson asked for a quick vote by the students on where they’d like to go. Among the top spots were Brazil, Chile, Shanghai and Morocco.

5. You are more capable than you think. Denise Edelmaier, an executive in Cohort 8, told the new students that time management and prioritization are extremely important, and sometimes your three “buckets” (personal life, work and school) require a demanding juggling act. But, she said, “You are way more capable than you think you are. You can do this. I realized I had a lot more strength than I knew before I started this program.”

6. Use technology to your advantage. Shariq Khan, a classmate of Edelmaier’s, said it’s best to relax and enjoy the program. The best way to do this, he proposed, was to organize yourself and manage your time. “Use technology to your advantage,” said Khan. “Use Blackboard and Skype for meetings. Manage your schedule online. Make sure you make time for all the parts of your life.”

7. Pay attention to those who matter. Walter Kurlin, a graduate of Cohort 7, said to be sure to pay attention to the needs of your significant others and spouses. “They’ll be one of the most important parts of your program,” said Kurlin. “You’ll need their support.” Cohort 8 student Khan agreed, adding that students should be sure to not neglect their families during this rigorous program. “If Mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy,” Khan said, joking about the stress of keeping everyone in his home comfortable while also maintaining his duties at work and in school.

8. Focus on the concepts, not the grades. Whereas you may have focused on getting good grades in undergraduate studies, spend time now on learning the context, said Tyler Reed, a graduate of Cohort 4. “I would have done better in the beginning of my program if I had worried less about getting a good numerical grade and more about understanding the meaning and application of what I was learning,” she said. “I did figure it out, though, and then the program was much more fulfilling.”

9. Enjoy the routine. “You’ll find yourself planning your life in two-week increments,” said Craig Feldman, a graduate of Cohort 5. “It’s like a video game, with each weekend being a new adventure and progressing through stages to reach a new level, earning knowledge and gaining success along the way.”  Feldman also echoed Dr. Pernell’s sentiments about change: “The experiences you’ll share with your cohort are life-altering, and you’ll come back from the international trip a different person with a more global view and with more business confidence.”

In less than 24 hours, members of Cohort 9 will begin their journey. As they build their network, strengthen their leadership skills and increase their career versatility, these students will change their perspective on business, life and their day-to-day work. And one year from now, some of them likely will be giving pointers to the incoming Cohort 10.

Stetson’s donation to help Oakhaven residents open hair salon

Residents at Oakhaven plan to use Cohort 8's donation to set up their own hair salon.

Today, the residents of Oakhaven Home for the Aged will formally accept the check donated to them by executives in Stetson University Executive MBA program’s Cohort 8.

With $73 collected at Stetson’s Executive MBA Alumni Event in May, plus contributions from Cohort 8 and Stetson University, the students were able to present the residents of Oakhaven with $200 to use as needed. On July 3, the residents will be presented with the check during a special service at their church, New Apostolic Faith.

Francis Chamarengah helped coordinate the executives’ visit at the home. “The church and the home both have expressed their sincere gratitude for your visit and donation,” said Chamarengah to Wendy Lowe, Stetson Executive MBA program coordinator.

“They have been trying to open a small hair salon for the seniors at the home,” continued Chamarengah, “and the church will assist them in getting more equipment and items to get this salon going. Your donation will definitely go a long way in making this a reality.”

Cohort 7 performed the first philanthropic visit as a part of the international trip last year when the group prepared a meal for monks in Vietnam. Cohort 8 continuted the tradition this year at Oakhaven, and based on the enthusiasm expressed from the students in both cohorts and the groups they visited, this type of experience may become customary for the Stetson Executive MBA program’s international trips.

Cohort 8 reflects on trip to South Africa

The Cohort 8 executives from Stetson University’s Executive MBA program have been returning in waves over the last several days from South Africa. The business portion of the trip ended last weekend, but many of the students opted to stay extra days to enjoy more of the culture and — for some — shark diving!

“It was an incredible trip,” said Wendy Lowe, Stetson Executive MBA program coordinator. “I would really like to go back again sometime. The students had a great time and we all learned a lot!”

Apartheid was the most riveting aspect of South Africa’s culture and history for most of the students. For Raul Herrera, the highlight of the trip was visiting the Apartheid Museum.

“I am so amazed how far the people of this country have come in the last 15 years when it comes to race relations considering where they were,” said Herrera. “Apartheid was one of the most oppressing forms of government mankind has ever seen.”

Dr. Stuart Michelson, director of Stetson’s Executive MBA program and dean of Stetson’s School of Business, concurred. “It was remarkable to learn about apartheid and how much this country has changed in such a short period.”

Herrera found inspiration in the plight of Nelson Mandela, who spent three decades in one of the most brutal prison in the world, Robben Island. “He insisted on reconciliation, not retaliation or revenge — in marching toward a unified South Africa instead of a South Africa that will sulk in its past,” Herrera said. “Whoever thinks one man cannot affect change is sadly mistaken and should read about this man and his struggle for freedom.”

The business visits were very professional and organized, said Michelson. “Vodacom, especially, was so first-class. The top leaders of the company took the time to meet with us, and after having just unveiled the company’s new marketing campaign, they were eager to share their strategy and findings.”

“At all our business visits, our speakers were very candid about the country’s dark past and how they are all working toward the future,” added Herrera. “No one tried to sugarcoat anything about what happened, nor were they trying to condone it.”

In addition, experiencing wildlife and nature was icing on the cake. “The safari was great,” said Michelson. “Seeing the leopard that has only been seen three times this year was incredible!” Cohort 8 executives enjoyed getting close to many animals on their trip, including elephants and penguins.

The bike ride through Soweto was Lowe’s highlight. “It was a three-hour ride, up and down hills, and it was vigorous! The sights and the people made every minute worth it,” said Lowe. Lowe said she and Michelson would consider future visits to South Africa based on their recent positive experiences. “We are confident that our weeklong visit just scratched the surface of what the nation has to offer,” said Lowe.

“South Africa has an amazing power to forgive and move forward,” Herrera said. “It’s an amazing country with amazing people.”

Cohort 8 does some sightseeing before heading home to Orlando

Stetson's Cohort 8 executives visited Cape Point on their last full day in South Africa.

Students in Stetson University Executive MBA program’s Cohort 8 departed a bit after sunrise Friday, June 24, to go to Table Mountain National Park and see Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point, the farthest tip of the Cape Peninsula, a protected reserve that horns its way into the ocean.

“The coastal drive was absolutely breathtaking,” said Wendy Lowe, Stetson Executive MBA program coordinator. “It was mountainous, the water had rolling waves, and the area was full of wildlife, including baboons, elands and ostriches.

A rainbow greeted the students as they reached the Cape of Good Hope. The vehicle pulled over at various scenic stops, where students’ cameras flashed nonstop. “We strolled up and down nature trails, leading to cliff views of the ocean or to the lighthouse. It was a picturesque setting in all directions, and baboons were running all around!”

“Seeing the natural beauty of South Africa was awesome and breathtaking,” said Jacob Walters, an executive in Cohort 8.

Penguins covered the beaches at Boulders.

The students’ next stop was Boulders, where penguins scattered the beach and roamed freely. “They weren’t the nicest smelling bird,” said Lowe, “but they were incredibly cute as they waddled to and from the ocean and frolicked in the waves.”

A gift shop owner told Cohort 8 executive Larry Flory that in the summer months, locals swim in the ocean with the penguins. “That I would like to see,” said Flory, “but not today! It’s winter here in South Africa in June.”

Dr. Michelson and the students all got their faces painted at the farewell dinner.

The group’s last cultural activity was the Farewell Dinner at Moyo in the Winery Region at Spier, which means Heart. The buffet was spread around the outskirts of a large tented area. Inside the tent, entertainers danced, played the African drums and painted each student’s face in a local design.

“The dinner and African ambiance was a perfect way to end our week-long international trip,” said Lowe after the dinner was over. “The cohort has memories of a lifetime and can’t wait to share the South African way with others.”

The students left South Africa Saturday afternoon and are scheduled to return to Orlando on Sunday morning. A handful of cohort members have made a pact that they will return to this country with their families because of the hospitality the students received and all of the educational opportunities.

SPAR executives teach Cohort 8 how efficiency keeps the company competitive

Cohort 8 students visited wholesaler SPAR in Cape Town on June 23.

Members of Cohort 8 from Stetson University’s Executive MBA program visited wholesaler SPAR Western Cape for their second business tour of the day, June 23. The executives who guided the students through SPAR were Solly Engelbrecht, distribution director; Brenton van Breda, finance director; and John Warren, IT director.

“The entire SPAR company was gracious during our entire visit,” said Wendy Lowe, Executive MBA program coordinator. “We walked the distribution floor. We saw first-hand how inventory is stacked five stories high, and how produce is kept at temperatures to ensure freshness and quality. Brrr … the below-25-degree Celsius cooler was frigid, but it does keep the perishables in the best condition for the stores.” After the tour, the directors treated the students to a light lunch and a bottle of Cape Town red wine.

SPAR’s core business is wholesale and distribution, with the buying power directly at the store level. SPAR has had a successful run in the retail market for more than 45 years. It has 850 stores across South Africa and beyond, servicing more than 60 million customers per month.

SPAR purchases goods in bulk and uses state-of-the-art technology to distribute these items to various store locations based on specific requests. SPAR is driven by relationships; therefore the distribution centers have a vested interest in delivering first class service and products. SPAR store owners remain 85 to 90 percent loyal to SPAR distribution centers for the acquisition of items to sell.

One of SPAR’s competitive advantages is that one truck delivers both frozen and dry goods, rather than various trucks delivering based on product type. Each SPAR store allocates 70 percent of its retail space to product displays and only 30 percent to storage of extra stock.

Student Raul Herrera asked if new items are picked up based on geographic or cultural needs. “Absolutely,” said van Breda. “We track items carefully, and once the thresholds reach a level that sensibly we can buy for multiple stores, we do.”

“Technology is a critical piece,” added Warren. “The stores use the SPAR technology systems to place orders, track progress and communicate with the distribution center actively.”

Students learned about SPAR's efficient product delivery system, which sets it apart from its competitors.

SPAR invests in its stores’ success, including helping finance new stores, assisting with store design, employing and training workers, and collaborating on marketing efforts. SPAR does not set franchise fees; instead, store owners select their pre-approved location and join the SPAR “family” like a one would join a golf club, explained Engelbrecht.

SPAR is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and has six regions in South Africa. The Western Cape distribution center, the site of Cohort 8’s visit, is the company’s third-largest. SPAR offers different types of stores, such as the Super SPAR (Kroger) with aggressive pricing, SPAR (neighborhood-based) with competitive pricing, Kwik SPAR (convenience-based), TOPS (liquor-focused), Build-It (building materials-focused) and Pharmacy at SPAR (in or near SPAR stores).

Although SPAR can start out in a less populated area, SPAR remains competitive even when the area’s density grows, and it is not being pushed out by its larger rivals. In the West Cape region, Checkers/Shop Rite has 34 percent market share, Pick & Pay has 32 percent market share, and SPAR comes in at 29 percent, which is an astounding figure compared to overall corporate size.

Student Denise Edelmaier asked the executives if they were concerned about Wal-Mart coming to South Africa. “We don’t anticipate a major effect,” answered Engelbrecht. “We don’t underestimate Wal-Mart’s overall power; however, we are far ahead logistically in South Africa, and our focus again is being a wholesaler and delivering to the retail market.”

When student Wesley DuBose inquired about SPAR’s efforts in reducing its carbon footprint, Warren said SPAR has quietly participated in many cost-saving and environmentally friendly initiatives, such as starting a school recycling program, which has recycled 500 tons of plastic combined from all SPAR stores in the past year, recycling cartons used in their distribution center, and obtaining oil from all store locations to reuse in trucks for future deliveries.

Stetson students asked about the corporation's relationship with its employees. The executives said the employees love working at SPAR, and SPAR makes it worth their while.

Engelbrecht said his goals for 2011 and the near future are to enhance the skills of SPAR’s employees, increase the use of technology, obtain a closer cooperative with suppliers, reduce lag time across the total supply chain, and build trust in processes and controls that focus on cost-drivers. Student Lofton Barnes asked if these goals support the South African “human-model” of a life-work balance. Engelbrecht commented that SPAR employees have great pride and ownership in the company’s success. “Employees who stay two years retire here,” he said. SPAR provides competitive salaries, training and excellent working conditions for its employees.

This visit provided the cohort a clear understanding that unique business models can be extremely successful and that creativity and openness to provide service and support to a company’s “internal” members and “external” customers can reap rewards both in the short-term and the long-term.