Dr. Ram Subramanian’s Thailand Reflection

Dr. Ram Subramanian, Professor of Strategic Management in our Executive MBA Program, ventured to Thailand with our Cohort 15 students, and shares his experiences.  

“We’ll Always Have Sukhumwit”

My colleague, Jon Carrick, was in full drill master mode on our first day in Thailand.  I, like most others in Cohort 15, had landed late Saturday at the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok and the nearly 20-hour flight had left me, as I am sure the others, in a groggy and disoriented state.  Jon, a veteran of several trips to Thailand, had anticipated correctly our discomfiture and had the perfect antidote for it!  A 6:00 a.m. wake up call and a day long bus trip was just the panacea for jet lag!

The beauty of Ayutthaya more than made up for Jon’s tough love approach! Ayutthaya, Thailand’s variation of Ayodhya, the historic city in northeast India, putatively the site of Ramayana, the ancient Indian epic, hit its peak in the 14th-18th centuries, when it was a leading city in Asia, and a center of both commerce and culture. By then, Buddhism was widespread, and Ayutthaya was replete with numerous statues of Gautama Buddha.  What we saw, however, was the strange sight of statue after statue with Buddha’s head chopped off.  Our intrepid guide, Crystal, told us that the Burmese were to blame for the beheadings.  Regardless of what the Burmese did, Buddha’s influence permeates even today in a country where 97 percent of the people are Buddhists.  Buddha got his enlightenment while meditating by a tree and so I thought it fitting that an interesting feature of our visit was the sight of a Buddha statue embedded in a tree.

While Sunday was the cultural tour of Ayutthaya, the rest of our hectic week was filled with business visits, each of them distinct and interesting in its own way.  At McDonald’s or McThai, we saw how the famed American restaurant chain succeeded by adapting its menu to fit local market needs.  An interesting presentation at Taskworld showed us how coding and start-up skills can be found anywhere.  Our visit to Kantor gave us a fine-grained glimpse of Thai market conditions from the perspective of a market research firm. Kidzania allowed us to be kids once again, albeit for a brief while. And at Hangar we saw a replica of Silicon Valley’s vaunted entrepreneurial culture as our presenter told us that the search was on for Thailand’s first unicorn!  Every day was exhausting but interesting and informative.  At the end of each day, we looked forward to coming back to the luxurious confines of Westin Grand Sukhumwit, our hotel, which as our resident hotel expert Aziz pointed out is part of the worldwide Marriott group. Suffice to say, I wouldn’t be wrong if I paraphrase Humphry Bogart in saying, no matter what, we’ll always have Sukhumwit!

Getting to Know You: A Q&A with Jessica Kozlowski

As Cohort 15 prepares to return and Cohort 16 prepares to begin their EMBA journey, we wanted to take the time to get to know our new Assistant Director of Graduate and Professional Programs, Jessica Kozlowski!

 

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in the U.S. Virgin Islands on the beautiful island of St. Croix. You should visit if you haven’t been there before. It’s a great place to kick back and relax with stunning beaches and lots of historical sites to explore.

Tell us about where you worked prior to Stetson

Most of my career has been spent in higher education. Right before joining Stetson, I worked for the University of Notre Dame with the Alliance for Catholic Education. It was a remote position in which I worked with four Notre Dame ACE Academies in Central Florida as the Regional Advancement Coordinator. I also worked at Valencia College as Director of Transition and Enrollment Services and Chestnut Hill College as Assistant Director of Admission and Coordinator of On-campus Recruitment. In addition, I have experience in the staffing industry as an Executive Mortgage Recruiter at ABTSolutions and Director at CareersUSA. I’ve also worked part-time at Walt Disney World for seven years.

What are you most excited about working at Stetson?

Meeting new amazing people, the opportunities for growth and making this a life-long career.

Are you married?

Yes, two years to my loving and supportive husband Tommy. He’s my rock, very handsome and I couldn’t imagine life without him.

Do you have any children?

I have two awesome stepsons, Karter and Tommy Jr., who are totally into sports and enjoy going on adventures with me.

Who inspires you, or is your hero?

Oh boy, this is a hard one for me. My parents were my first heroes and they always will be. I have also really admired Harriet Tubman, but there are many people that inspire me. I am inspired when I see random acts of kindness, good deeds and people bringing hope to others.

What are you passionate about at work?

Building relationships and finding ways to bring new levels of success to the institution.

What is your favorite type of cuisine?

I really enjoy all types of food but, if I really had to pick, it would be a tossup between Latin and Caribbean.

What are some of your secret talents?

I have danced since the age of two and became part of the Caribbean Dance Company and the Contemporary Dance Company in St. Croix so needless to say, I love to dance. I also competed in gymnastics, though I can’t tumble the way I used to anymore – bad wrists. I’ve been told I’m great at event planning, crafts and DIY projects.

Tell us some of your pet peeves?

Injustice, bullies, lies and people who don’t do what they say they are going to do. In general, I truly value integrity.

Where is your alma mater?

Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, PA where I earned both my bachelor and master degrees.

What are some of your hobbies?

I enjoy going to the beach, hiking, Geocaching and just about anything outdoors. I love adventure and like to experience and try new things from skydiving to new restaurants.

What impression do you want to leave on EMBA students?

It is my personal mission to positively impact those I meet and I would hope to do that for our EMBA students.

Cohort 15 Explore Chiang Mai and Krabi

Nicole Amero from Cohort 15 shares with us the added experiences she had alongside cohort members Kate Kroll and Sophia Baldwin as they explored the “New City” Chiang Mai and the beach town Krabi.

Once Cohort 15 wrapped up our time in Bangkok, many of us took off to different parts around Asia. After a week in the hustle and bustle of the city of Bangkok, it was nice to see the other parts of Thailand. Kate, Sophia, and myself extended our time in Thailand to visit Chiang Mai meaning “New City”, (founded in 1296) and Krabi (founded 1872). Chiang Mai is in the mountains and the largest city in Northern Thailand. It is home to many ancient Buddhist temples. Krabi is on the West Coast of Southern Thailand. Krabi is a beach town and just a short long boat ride to a plethora of islands. These islands are dotted with large rock formations with greenery on them, making them the perfect backdrop for a photo. The towers, called karsts, have been formed from limestone over time. They were originally coral reefs that changed over thousands of years of being exposed to carbon dioxide and acidic water. The two main highlights from our time in Chiang Mai and Krabi were visiting the Elephant Nature Park and a long boat island tour.

Elephant Nature Park was one of the coolest things I have ever experienced. We were greeted at our hotel at 8 AM and driven to the mountainside in Chiang Mai where the sanctuary resides. On our trip there we were shown some informational videos on how to properly treat elephants. We also learned about the founder of Elephant Nature Park (ENP) and her passion for saving the gentle giants.

Once we arrived, we were given clothes to change into. Then we filled bags and buckets full of bananas to feed each of the four elephants at this location. By feeding them first, the elephants get to sense you and feel comfortable with you. Once we finished feeding them at this location, we walked alongside them, still feeding them bananas as we trekked up the hillside. At the top of the hill we stopped to feed them greens. Next, we led them down to a running river to splash them. After the river we were treated to a traditional Thai vegetarian meal. It was DELICIOUS. Once we finished our lunch we walked back up the hill to help bathe the elephants in the mud pit. It was dirty and loads of fun. I felt like I was a kid again, running through the mud and getting splashed by the elephants. Finally, we all went down to a small pond and washed off the sweat and mud from the day. Elephants love to play in the water. It was a great day!

Our time in Krabi was cut short by a day due to a missed flight, but we were still able to get in a half day long boat tour when we flew in. After dropping off our bags at our Villa, we headed down to Krabi Town on Ao Nang Beach.

There we met two girls who were traveling from Austria. The five of us paired up and rented a long boat to tour four of the islands. The views were jaw dropping. The water is crystal clear blue and aqua, the islands are lush with greenery, and the beaches are gorgeous. Our long boat guide gave us an hour to explore each island. Many of them are protected as National Parks and are frequented by tourists as well as locals. Tourism is a huge benefit to the economy in Krabi.

We loved our extended time exploring the different parts of Thailand outside of Bangkok! Kop-khun-kha (Thank You) Thailand!

Shared by Nicole Amero.

A Farewell Night to Remember

Cohort 15 now reflects on their time in Thailand and all of their unique experiences in the beautiful city of Bangkok.

Our final night in Bangkok was truly cause for celebration. Cohort 15 spent an enriching and captivating week in the capital, Bangkok. Between meeting with some of the most interesting companies in Thailand and putting together some amazing work for the CCF the students were ready for a night to unwind. Luckily for us, Stetson University gave us the perfect place to do it! 

 

Vertigo and Moon Bar at the Banyan Tree hotel provided the students with some of the most excellent service,

food and views that we’ve ever seen. We started our experience with a bit of a climb, because you cannot see the top of the world with out some stairs!

We then made our way to the 61st floor to witness some of the most spectacular views the city had to offer. I think most of us could a agree that the views alone were enough for the team to enjoy but we were greeted by the excellent staff who were waiting to provide us with an excellent meal! 

 

We started off the meal Caesar Salad but this was your not your typical Caesar salad, the chef elevated this dish by adding smoked salmon! Being that seafood is so typical in Thailand this was no surprise. We continued our meal with a delicious corn and crab chowder. The sweet corn and the fresh crab created and rich and flavorful creamy broth. We were then treated to a refreshing palette cleanser, a lychee sorbet. The team then had a choice between a fresh Cod or Angus beef. The meal was then capped off with a delicious lemon and raspberry dessert. 

 

Vertigo truly summed up our week in Bangkok, it had breathtaking views, bold flavors and wonderful people. 

 

Blog post shared by Natalie Ferrer

A Bittersweet Goodbye in Thai

Cohort 15 bid farewell, or Kār xảlā to Bangkok as their international business trip comes to a bittersweet end.

The day finally came, when we pressed our palms together in a prayer-like fashion to say, sà-wàt-dii or farewell. From business visits to cultural tours, Thailand and its capitol city of Bangkok, showed the utmost hospitality; including unique and delicious cuisines.

Now you’re probably already drooling over your keyboards, wondering “where can I get a bite of that!” I’ll tell you where, but you’ll have to be comfortable with heights. You will travel up 61 floors to the rooftop of Banyan Tree Bangkok to a restaurant famously known as Vertigo Grill and Moon Bar. This rooftop dining experience not only comes with incomparable desserts like you see above, but is also one of the only places to get a 360-degree view overlooking the dazzling cityscape of Bangkok.

With 18 students plus spouses and faculty, it was no surprise we needed to have the rooftop reserved exclusively for us. We had a dedicated staff and never-ending house wine and locally brewed beer—have you started packing yet? All jokes aside, the best part was simply being in the company of colleagues that I have come to know as my family. We laughed and reminisced together on a once in a lifetime experience in Thailand. This week, we truly demonstrated what being a Cohort is all about: only if we work together can we achieve academic success.

Thank you for staying connected with us, and following our stories as we traveled through Southeast Asia. We hope you join Cohort 16 next year on their international embarkment and I am sure Cohort 16 can’t wait to start their journey at Stetson University this fall.

Blog post shared by Nic Gonzalez.

Teen Entrepreneurs of Community Children Foundation (CCF)

Cohort 15 had the unique and unforgettable opportunity of visiting the Community Children Foundation (CCF) to learn about their Teen Entrepreneurs initiative

Community Children Foundation (CCF), under the patronage of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, is a highly-respected organization in Thailand. CCF is dedicated to creating a quality life and a prosperous future for youth. Most recently, CCF has expanded its reach through the CCF Teen Entrepreneurs initiative, which teaches business and financial skills to young adults ages 15-24.

The CCF Teen Entrepreneurs Program (TEP) promotes income-generating and financial management skills to Thai youth. The program includes student-organized business clubs and a business training camp. The goal is to introduce youth to the many dimensions of business, the importance of financial and vocational skills, and entrepreneurial opportunities in Thailand.

On Friday morning, four groups of Stetson University EMBA students presented their ideas for expanding the CCF Teen Entrepreneur Program (TEP) and securing additional funding for the upcoming year.

Jessica Bundy, Greg Lucas, Sophia Baldwin, Nic Gonzalez and Lilian Kaares comprised Group 1. They suggested a new fundraising philosophy that includes a dedicated fundraising gala, corporate partnerships, school sponsored fundraisers and an alumni engagement strategy to increase participation in the CCF Teen Entrepreneur program.

Group 2, composed of Kris Sadeho, Elena Outlan, Eddie Molina and Nicole Amero, created a promotional marketing video to spread the message of the CCF Teen Entrepreneur program and suggested partnerships with the American Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club in Thailand. Students were especially enthused by Group 2’s suggestion of student-hosted luncheons to raise funds and promote the CCF Teen Entrepreneur program to a greater audience.

Members of group 3, Kristie Jones, Brian Vann, Nicole O’Reilly, Sophia Baldwin and Juan Yang, proposed a multi-step fundraising and engagement strategy that included the formation of an advisory board specific the the TEP. This board would consist of experts from different fields who serve as mentors for the youth. In addition, Group 3 suggested hiring three interns from local universities to focus on fundraising, youth mentoring and principal/administrative engagement.

Group 4 consisted of Aziz Ndiaye, Kate Kroll, Natalie Ferrer and Laurie Warfield. Their proposal included a progressive curriculum strategy for students, including guest service and leadership training, and a strategic philanthropy partnership with both local and international hotel brands in Thailand. To carry out this initiative, they suggested organizing a committee of experts to partner with parents, administrators, local community members and hotel experts to increase and sustain engagement.

With over 60 people in attendance, including principals, administrators, teachers and at least 25 students from various CCF Teen Entrepreneur Clubs, the presentations provided valuable ideas and insight for future endeavors and achievements. For some students, this was their first trip to the City of Angels, coming from as far as Chiang Mai to participate in the presentation and subsequent work sessions.

To conclude our morning session, we heard from Dr. Kanchada Piriyarangsan, the National Director of Community Children Foundation. Dr. Piriyarangsan founded the Teen Entrepreneurship Program and has dedicated her work to improving lives for youth throughout Thailand.

After lunch, members from Stetson University EMBA Cohort 15 had the opportunity to talk to CCF students in small groups to learn more about their diverse business ventures, including fish farming, ice cream making, baking, making artisan crafts and more. We also answered questions about entrepreneurship in America. While the students seemed inspired by our discussion, it was clear from the exciting buzz among Cohort members that we were changed by our interactions with these impressive and driven youth. They reminded us all to dream big.

Blog shared by Laurie Warfield and Sophia Baldwin

DTAC Accelerate: Taking entrepreneurs to the next level

A trip to DTAC Accelerate is a must for all entrepreneurs in Thailand

Starting a business in a developing country can be an exciting yet confusing task to manage on our own. A company based in Bangkok, Thailand called DTAC Accelerate, allows individuals who have promising business ideas, take them to the next level. When dtac reviews the potential of a company, they have three main criteria’s. They make sure the company can be mobile, it can be accessed through the internet, and lastly, that the company is awesome!

Of course, bringing your business idea to another company can be scary however, DTAC has over a 75% success rate. DTAC has a full team of mentors, lawyers, IT specialists and startup funding. Another advantage the company provides is the unlimited use of their office space. This reduces the potential over-head cost of seeking an office space for your startup on your own. Additionally, DTAC only receives a small percentage of equity in each company. All of these contributing factors allow DTAC to remain the No. 1 startup accelerator house in Thailand.

So what is DTAC looking for? Well in Thailand there still remains no company who has a billion dollar valuation. These companies are called Unicorns, and DTAC is actively searching for their next “Unicorn”. DTAC hosts a ‘Demo Day’ every year in an effort to search for promising start-ups. Last year, their demo day had over 600 registered participants, 100 investors and 200 news reports and they plan to exceed those numbers this year.

Blog post by Kris Sahadeo and Juan Yang

Kantar Group: A Leader in Market Research

Today, we in Cohort 15 were lucky enough to meet with Kantar Group, one of the world’s largest insight, information and consultancy groups. They are a leader in market research and a division of the larger company WPP. Kantar works with clients to launch products, improve marketing efforts, innovate their strategies, create brand equity, lead communications and more. They shared with us the unique perspective they have by focusing on insight rather than just providing information and looking into the “why”, rather than just describing consumer behavior. They consider themselves a “people” company that tries to be the voice of the consumer in Thailand.

We learned that advertisements in Thailand could be described through the three S’s: Sanook, Sabai, and Suay! Sanook refers to humor, Sabai means happy and Suay means beautiful. Thai people love very emotional commercials that play on feelings, we also learned that celebrities in advertising are extremely popular. Another unique insight we had into the Thai consumer was the changes in retail Kantar has observed over the past few years. Convenience stores have been exploding in popularity due to their convenience of course, but also the ability to be cost-effective by buying smaller quantities of products.

Another major difference was that Thai consumers have a hesitancy to purchase things online due to fraud, so they typically pay for items after they have already received them from Internet purchases, quite different from what we do in the U.S.! We also learned about how globalization has made Thai consumers more materialistic and has given them a tendency to “live for today” to the detriment of their savings and financial futures. Our presenters from Kantar Group shared so much valuable knowledge with us throughout our visit and gave us a unique insight on the experiences and behaviors of consumers in Thailand.

Shared by Jessica Bundy

Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights

A Visit to the Museum of Counterfeit Goods

Intellectual property rights are nothing new, with the concept having existed since the late 1800’s. However, advances in technology and the expansion of global markets have made it easier for would be creators to mimic original creations and therefore disrupt the benefits that would otherwise be afforded to the original creator. Intellectual property consists of many different creative avenues such as creations of the mind, expressive works and inventions. It would seem logical that as more of these ideas are brought to fruition the harder it will be for new and original ideas to be presented. Many forms of intellectual property are used to form the basis for new ideas and there is a fine line as to whether these deviations constitute infringement or original works that were merely inspired by others. These intricacies have influenced many forms of legal representation throughout the world. With each country typically enforcing property rights in its own way or, in some cases, not at all. Copyrights, Patents, and Trademark laws all have specific areas in which they govern but the way they are governed all rely on the origin of the original work and the country in which it is being enforced. 

Creators in any form are ultimately responsible for the enforcement of their individual intellectual property. As businesses develop products they must understand the inherent risks of doing business worldwide and their ability to maintain control of how they generate revenue. It is almost inevitable that counterfeits or altered versions of original work will be made. Although governments have made efforts to make these practices illegal it is up to individual owners to police their products and pursue legal action against those who infringe them.  

 Shared by Eddie Molina

Cohort 15 visits the Land of the Cool Kids

Welcome to the Land of the Cool Kids!

KidZania is where kids in Thailand (and a number of cities all over the world) come to learn about careers through play.

   After finishing our visit to McDonald’s, we headed over to KidsZania for some Edutainment. KidsZania means “Land of the cool kids”.

Located in Bangkok, Thailand, KidsZania, a unique concept mixing education and entertainment, allows kids to learn about career options, money management and social responsibilities while building self-confidence and independence.

You start the adventure like many trips, via an airplane.  When you land, you enter a tiny city containing stores, hospitals, banks, fire and police stations, gas stations, government offices, tv studios and etc…. The entire “city” is run by kids.  The parents observe but don’t participate.  There is an airport lounge for parents to relax while their kids have fun.

The “city” has its own economy and currency.  The kids earn money by working at gas and convenience stores, as firemen and women, DJs and veterinarians.  Depending on the experience, the kids either earn money or spend money.  Kids earn money buy performing a job or they spend money on a University degree.  Each job pays a different amount based on role.  In addition, if you have a degree related to the job you earn more money.  Kids can even save their money in the bank and earn 1% interest per month.  Kids can also pass a driving test and earn a driver’s license.

 

 

The iconic experience is the Junior Pilot Program. The kids become certified pilots by passing a flight simulator.

 

 

 

We had the opportunity to be “kids” again, at least for an hour.  We role played as news anchors, cameramen and women and producers.   We also pretended to be pilots in the real airplane.

Shared by Brian Vann

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