All posts by Eric Patrick

Tips For What’s To Come

In just a few short weeks, new students will begin their journey as members of Stetson’s Executive MBA program. Cohort 14 student, Adam Swiatek offers his own thoughts on how to be successful in this demanding, yet incredibly rewarding, experience! 

Meet-up with Skype for Business! You all lead busy lives with work, school and your family. Meeting up face-to-face at Stetson may not always be in the cards. Do a video meet-up on Skype. Add in a little screen sharing and you’ll have that Accounting project finished in no time!

Gear up for the time of your life during the International Experience! Find a travel buddy in the cohort and chart your adventures. Get out and explore as much as you can – who knows when you’ll be half way around the world again! Socialize and eat like a local. Find the gems that make the cities you visit top destinations.

Stay connected. Even though you may not have class every week, stay connected with your cohort mates and school on Stetson email. Make an Outlook Group and keep your conversations going, even when you are not at school.

It’ll be rewarding; it’ll be challenging! The Stetson EMBA has been one of the most rewarding and enriching experiences for me. It has also been a challenge. Balancing school, work and real-life is not always easy. But know that you’ve got so many people in the same boat with you – your cohort! Talk to them, or talk to Cohort 14. We’ve “been there” so we might have some advice.

In a group, use your talents: divide and conquer! Discover what you’re “good at” and bring those skills to the table. Chances are, in your group, you’ll have all of the skills you need to make one phenomenal project!

They’re there for you. Know that the Stetson EMBA is supported by some of the best. If you have a question, need help, want to share a laugh… the Stetson EMBA support team is world-class, and why I think the Stetson EMBA is so special.

Achieving Balance

In just four short weeks, students in cohort 15 will begin their Stetson Executive MBA program! In anticipation of their arrival, several students in cohort 14 have offered their advice on achieving balance in their careers, family lives, and academic commitments. Today’s tips are from Janice Trew:

  • Do a little every night. I found that even one hour a night alleviated weekend stress.
  • There is no such thing as a week off. Always plan for 1.5-2 weeks to get the assignments done.
  • That being said, give yourself a day! I always took the Sunday after class off. It was my personal day, to enjoy life again, whether with family or with friends!
  • Plan study sessions with cohort friends. It builds amazing bonds and it helps to have others who understand the stress of the commitment! ?
  • Don’t hesitate to reach out to the professors! They may not be “based” in Celebration, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t available. Many make time to help you understand. And some even teach other night courses in Celebration, so they might be able to meet on the weekdays to help.

Alumna Valerie Drebsky Reflects On Her Transformative Experience At Stetson

In just a few weeks, yet another cohort of driven and energized students will begin their Stetson Executive MBA experience. As such, alumna Valerie Drebsky of cohort 12 recently took some time to reflect on her own journey before, during, and after the formative EMBA program!

What tangible impact has your Executive MBA experience had on your life?

Friendships & Partnerships- I was part of a cohort of 20 likeminded individuals where we learned, grew, explored, pull through course work, etc. together. We became very close and I learned as much from them as I did the professors. From that we have a network of alumni that continues to grow and there is nothing more exciting than that!

What makes Stetson University’s EMBA program unique?

I went to school originally to get smarter in business. I was in meetings where I wasn’t sure what they were talking about – sounded like another language. It got to a point that “faking it till you make it” wasn’t going to work anymore. For this, business knowledge I could have gone to any university to pursue an MBA. I went to Stetson because I found something I didn’t even know I was looking for. I found a program that invested in me both personally and professionally. I became better-rounded in business as well as learning things about myself I never took the time to get to know.

What professional outcomes have you noticed after receiving your degree?

I learned awareness is so valuable and that is exactly what I got during my time at Stetson. The EMBA program had us dig deep into two major areas- business and ourselves. Graduating from the program and reflecting back I am so grateful for what I learned and continue to learn about both subjects.

Have you traveled post-EMBA trip?

 I have- on our international trip we went to Thailand and from there some of our cohort extended our trip and ventured off. We visited Hong Kong and Tokyo in addition to Thailand. Exactly a year later the company I work for sent me to Shanghai for the opening of two hotels there. I was there for 5 weeks and explored the city of Shanghai as well as Beijing and a return to Hong Kong. Asia was never on my list of places to visit but Stetson pushes you outside of what you think you know. Because of these pushes I have tried things, learned things and had adventures I never imagined.

When did you see members of your cohort last, and do you stay in touch?

 We do! We regroup every other month- open invitation to anyone that can come. We also have other get together like a yearly holiday celebration or a spontaneous- “Hey I miss you – Let’s meet up!”

What do you enjoy outside of work?

Four months ago my wife gave birth to our first child- a baby girl. Today what I love most is hanging out with my little family and watching our daughter see things for the first time! Outside of family I love to run and have recently gotten into workout videos like beachbody. I love trying new things and exploring as well.

What would you like to see included in our next EMBA alumni event?

I love the alumni events – it’s a great way to reconnect with people you may not have seen in a while. What I would love even more is to connect with people there I have never met before such as from other cohorts – etc.

Student Gives Firsthand Account of Bangkok’s Healthcare System Efficiencies

Authored by Julie Billy 

Hong Kong and Thailand: two places you dream about visiting and soaking up the atmosphere and the culture. I’ve had the pleasure to see the beautiful and developing country of Thailand. However, I was most impressed by the great strides in their healthcare system after an impromptu visit to the Bumrungrad International Hospital.

Let me start by saying that getting sick in a foreign country can be scary, especially one that you’ve never been too and better yet where English is not the primary language. Luckily, I had Bumrungrad International Hospital – a premier medical facility in the heart of Bangkok.

Imagine your whizzing in and out through the typical traffic consisting of motorcycle taxis, tuk tuks (similar to motorized golf carts), food carts, clothing carts, carts selling items you couldn’t even imagine, and amongst this organized chaos stands this beautiful building.

When you walk into Bumrungrad International Hospital you glide from one kiosk to the next. I say glide because the process couldn’t be any smoother. On the first floor your typical medical records facts are taken and your instantly placed into their database. Then you move up to the 10th floor where you’re met with desks full of nurse’s ready to sign you in. Moments later you’re brought to doctor’s office where the doctor is already there going over your chart (imagine my surprise) next your vitals are checked and diagnosis are made and your sent a few feet to the right where you pay and pick up your prescribed medication. Afterwards your directed to the lobby where attendants hail you a taxi (numbered tickets are given out, deli style) while you wait.

Next thing you know you’re comfortably in your bed waking up to the morning after feeling more refreshed than ever.  I honestly have to say this was the best medical experience I’ve ever had in my entire life. I’m just glad I had Bumrungrad International Hospital there to help me when I needed it most.

Farewell From Afar: Cohort 14 Enjoys Last Evening In Bangkok

Authored by Adam Swiatek

The International Experience for Cohort 14 is drawing to a close. Come next week, the cohort will be back in the United States and back to their day-to-day routines. No more waking up early to catch the tour bus. And, no more dressing up for business visits and cultural excursions.

To celebrate a phenomenal experience had by all, Cohort 14 closed their International Experience with dinner at Vertigo Skybar in Bangkok. A favorite from cohorts past, Vertigo provides stunning 360 degree views of Bangkok, the city below.

During dinner, the cohort reminisced about their experiences and the countless good times during their time aboard. There were so many tales to tell about experiencing the best of Hong Kong and Bangkok. The cohort enjoyed the mix of business and cultural experiences. Although there were some light sprinkles of rain, the celebration continued inside.

At the end of dinner, Dr. Jon Carrick awarded some cohort members to recognize their contribution to the trip. The Biggest Trooper Award was given to Lyndsey Denton and Desi Warner. Both of these cohort members persevered through the experience and showed tremendous growth along the way. The Most Adventurous Award was given to Adam Swiatek, also known as the Caffeinated Crusader. Running on very few hours of sleep and Matcha & Espresso Fusion lattes from Starbucks, Adam was always ready to explore.


Some cohort members were part of the “night crew.” The night crew continued the evening at a local jazz bar on Soi 11 in Bangkok closing out the evening in the wee hours of the morning. Cohort 14 grew in ways that they couldn’t even imagine during this International Experience. Vertigo Skybar was the perfect way to end the trip, overlooking a city that we came to know and love so much.

Students Visit Elephant World Thailand

Authored by Lyndsey Denton

Pattaya Elephant Village

Our cohort had an experience of a lifetime riding elephants through the Pattaya Elephant Village on our last day in Thailand. Our travels began with a bus ride to Pattaya, an emerging city south of Bangkok along the Gulf of Thailand. Elephants are considered as noble and regal in Thailand, as the image of the elephant is so prevalent wherever you look. They were also one of the main forms of transportation in Thailand many years ago.

Inside the Elephant Village, they also had several other animals; birds, rabbits, monkeys, carp fish and even a snake. Our brave Rachael Faircloth was even so bold to hold the snake! After the short walk through the animal viewing area, we were ready to embark on the elephant ride. Everyone grabbed a partner to ride with, and climbed the stairs to the boarding platform. Our ride lasted about 30 minutes; which consisted of walking through water and down some local roadways and paths to the far side of the Village. Riding an elephant is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before; this is coming from someone who grew up riding horses for much of my life. Elephants are so different because they are so massive, their walk is slow and fairly jarring. Yet, I can see why they used to be one of the main forms of transportation in Thailand because of the rough terrain. We then jumped into some old land rovers to ride back to the main gate. On the way, we stopped by an outbuilding where we learned about how silk is made. We even got to witness a local woman who was weaving silk fabric, which would take her 1 month to make 1 meter of silk fabric!

Overall, this encounter was something that will be a once in a lifetime experience for most of the cohort. It was difficult for many of us to see the guides handle the elephants with a stick that had a metal hooked blade at the end, which they would use to hit the elephants on the top of their heads. While they had signs posted justifying the use of these sticks and the chains around their legs, it was still difficult to see these seemingly gentle creatures being controlled this way. When we disembarked from the elephant saddles, we were lucky enough to give them a pet, and look into their gentle eyes. They truly are an amazing animal that the Thai people love, and that our cohort loved too.

Students Visit McDonald’s Thailand To Study The Role Of Culture In International Business

Authored by Dave Pickens
On Friday, June 30th, we had to opportunity to spend the morning with several leaders representing McDonald’s Thailand.
We were warmly welcomed and began our meeting in the People Development Center. Our first presentation was Marketing.
The presentation began with interesting facts as well as the vision of the marketing team. The overall strategy was strategic and clear and was focused on several different customer needs.
In addition, there was a broad overview of how technology was being leveraged to increase awareness and trial. My takeaway from the discussion was that McDonald’s is clearly focused on the customer.Our second presentation was Human Resources.
There was a clear belief that McDonald’s is in the people business! The presentation was energizing and interesting. There were many strategies that were shared with us that demonstrated a clear focus on training, development, career pathing. The senior leadership is also very involved as evidenced by their in-store training programs which is a big part of their culture.
It is clear that employee engagement and development is a strong part of their business plan.

Our final presentation was focused on restaurant operations.
The plan that was shared with us was their “Plan to Win”. It is crystal clear that the leadership team sets very high operational standards. They have many systems in place and they have clear drivers of guest satisfaction. Their food safety standards are clearly important throughout the company.

We appreciated the energy and passion of all three presenters! I was struck by a quote that was posted in the training room. “The goal of training is not just knowledge, but action!” I do see this as a universal truth for many business.

Thanks to the McDonald’s team for their time and their hospitality.

Task World: 21st Century Project Management Solutions

Authored by Janice Trew

Imagine a One-Stop shop for all your project or event planning needs? A cloud where you can invite co-workers or friends into a project, to make sure all bases are covered. A platform that significantly reduces emails, increases instant IM exposure, tracks all attachments, exposes who has viewed messages and enhances accountability.

TaskWorld currently operates in Bangkok with 42 staff members, with goals to expand to 80. They compete head-to-head with major Silicon Valley companies for users and talent. They are incorporated in Delaware, listed as a New York company but operate in Thailand because the owner Fred has 20 years of history, other company interests in the area.

The office promotes a very casual, free working style with plenty of room to move around but stay close to the “work family” for idea sharing or team work projects. Private office rooms are available and meeting space is plentiful. However, an open concept with a clean lifestyle is important and supported.

One major topic, in relationship to location, surfaced over and over: Talent, Recruitment. With unemployment really low, the challenge to find good help in Bangkok is extremely difficult. Then, layer on the added skill-set of a programmer/engineer AND the cultural stigma of not being well-known for programmers, it’s a challenge that has greatly affected the growth of the company. They are also competing with Google, who happens to be located just floors down in the same building. BUT….this will not stop TaskWorld from being successful. They have recruited major, recognizable talent who present and recruit at universities. Much of there success for talent will come from recruiting, at universities, for internships which turn into part-time roles and eventually full-time opportunities.

Look forward to many successes with this Globalized Project Management Application company. With clients such as Amazon, AT&T, Netflix and more, they are boldly stepping into the market and making a name for themselves.

Exploring Thai Culture at Bangkok’s Grand Palace

Authored by Zineb Sands

June 28, 2017, the fifth day of Cohort 14’s exciting journey.  We visited one of the 10 must- see spiritual and historical places in the world: Bangkok. Bangkok is also known as the City of Angels. It has over 400 Temples and people from all over the world rush to visit the most famous temples such as: Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Arun.

Cohort 14 spent time exploring Wat Phra Kaew where the Grand Palace is. Wats are not just for tourist’s attractions, but also play an important part in Buddhist traditions. Monks live in Temples. They are dressed in saffron colored robes. In fact, none of us saw a Monk while sightseeing the Grand Palace, however, our tour guide shared with us that Monks usually wake up very early in the morning, usually around 4 am to attend to prayers, their daily duties and then collect food along with their necessities form ordinary people on the streets. The tour guide also shared that 90% of Thailand practice Buddhism and the minority are Muslims.

Thai Temples are sacred places so everyone must dress appropriately. No shorts or revealing tops are permitted, otherwise you will not be allowed inside and this applied particularly to Wat Phra Kaew inside the Grand Palace.  It was a great opportunity for some of us to purchase Elephant pants.

Despite the overwhelming crowds and endless lines, Cohort 14 managed to enjoy every moment of the experience.  We were impressed and astounded with the beautiful architecture and the glittering decoration. It takes at least 7 years to complete one structure. It was hard to see everything due to crowds, but all of us appreciated and were amazed by the close look at the sleeping Buddha.

It was not enough time for us to explore every corner of the Grand Palace, but the short time cohort 14 spent was well worth the life time experiences.

In Thailand, Childhood Educational Experiences Translates To Big Profits

Authored by Matthew Wierenga
After a long day sightseeing at the Thai Grand palace taking in the lavish and ornate architecture, we enjoyed a riverfront lunch with a spectacular view of Wat Arun, a Buddhist temple built in 1656. We then ventured over to Wat Pho, the largest reclining Buddha in Thailand. This magnificent gold plated marvel did not disappoint, so much so that we ended up staying longer than anticipated, leaving us to battle the grueling Bangkok traffic at rush hour. With our bus at a standstill in Bangkok traffic and motorbikes weaving in and out, we began to adjust plans for our upcoming business trip. We would have a total of 25 minutes to get ready in order to arrive in time. We arrived at our hotel and we were off to the races! Our cohort of 12 quickly changed out of our tourist elephant pants and prepared for our business meeting with the Thailand Kidzania C.E.O.
At Kidzania we were able to learn about a remarkable new learning amusement park concept first created in Mexico.  More locations continue popping up around the globe, with two United States locations slated for next year. The Kidzania concept offers an immersive educational experience for children ages 8-14, all starting off in a kid sized airport. At Kidzania, children walk through an Air Asia sponsored terminal and clear a make believe customs. They begin with 50 Kidzos, which is the Kidzania currency, and from there they are able walk the Kidzania city. The attraction is filled with its own fire and police department, news room, university, manufacturing plants, and court room. Throughout this experience, children are able to interactively learn trades and act as adults. Children may become firefighters and ride around the Kidzania fire truck while earning Kidzos to be used throughout the park. They can take courses at the Kidzo university to help increase their wages throughout the park or even store their Kidzos in the bank earning 1% interest monthly.
The concept has corporate sponsored locations, all geared towards educational play for children.  There is a milk factory sponsored by a Thai dairy company, Meiji, allowing kids to learn how to bottle milk. It is remarkable how much is packed into the location – a Honda dealership, McDonald’s, Sushi restaurant, Hospital, Coca Cola plant,  and peanut factory just to name a few. At Kidzania, children are able to enjoy themselves while gaining valuable life lessons. Our Cohort had a chance to be reporters and create a Kidzania news cast with a green screen, sound crew, and camera operators. This was a phenomenal experience to see how globalization is at work, spreading positive ideas and businesses, allowing for education, fun, and profitability.