All posts by jkozlowski

Culture of Connectedness

Written by: Jordan Blevins

As our time in Portugal began to wind down, Cohort 16 enjoyed two final cultural visits in Porto that continued to teach us new things and solidify the impact of this international experience.

Located directly on the bank of the Douro River in the heart of Porto, the Sandeman wine cellars have attracted visitors for years. Like many successful Portuguese companies, this is a family-run operation, and they have focused on producing port wine and sherry in the Douro Valley for over 200 years. We began with a stroll along the river where we were able to enjoy the beautiful views and watch the boats maneuver the port waters.

After lunch, our guide took us on a visual journey through the history of the company and the process of making port wine. Even though it is a small operation in the global wine market, Sandeman has been credited with many “firsts” especially in the branding arena.

They were the first company in the wine industry to begin iron-branding their barrels for easier identification throughout the trade process. They were also one of the first companies to create and associate a label directly with their wine, hence the creation of Sandeman Don, who is still featured on their port bottles and recognized as their advertising symbol.

The cellars we toured are 100% operational and have been utilized since the founding of the company for storage for over four million liters of wine during the fermentation process. We were able to see three different fermentation methods for the various wines, as well as the required humidity ponds that allow the French oak barrels and wine corks to stay properly hydrated. Pictured are the extra-large barrels used to age the “young” port wines.

At the end of the tour we were able to sample a few of the different port variations in true Portuguese fashion, surrounded with family and friends enjoying priceless moments.

“Sandeman Wines are about making the most of every moment. Choose your mood and enjoy life.”

We learned insights from the businesses we visited, our cultural experiences, and the Portuguese people we got to know during this international experience. Throughout all of the visits, there were two key messages that were continuously referenced. One was an idea of connectedness through familial ties, which are rooted deep in the culture and displayed through the most successful Portuguese businesses and trades being passed down from generation to generation. The second was a feeling of hope for the future displayed in the focus on sustainability and future generations.

On the last day, we presented our final team course assignments to our professors. After, we joined together for a traditional Portuguese farewell dinner at eLeBe Entreparedes to celebrate the completion of another EMBA course.

However, during dinner it became clear that we were all celebrating more than just a great trip; we had inherently learned to embrace the Portuguese sense of connectedness. We were celebrating the bonds that were built and strengthened through this experience, the laughs that were shared, and the memories that were made. We were celebrating the risks we had taken, both individually and as a cohort, the challenges we had overcome, and the success we know is in our future. We were celebrating the “family” this EMBA experience has created.

Obrigada, Portugal!

Sumol + Compal: Refreshing the Beverage Industry for the Modern Portuguese Market

Written by: Megan Griffin

A long day exploring sunny Portugal can work up quite a thirst. Fortunately, there is no shortage of refreshing soft drinks, teas, and juices to rehydrate, while experiencing a part of Portuguese culture at the same time. We met with Julio Gomez, Regional Manager, and Rodrigo Costa, Marketing Manager, at the Sumol + Compal Lisbon offices to learn more about the company’s strategy. Sumol + Compal were two separate Portuguese beverage companies (Sumol, focusing on carbonated beverages, and Compal, juices) that merged together in 2009. They are the largest non-alcoholic drink company in Portugal, amassing even more market share than Coke. In 2018 their EBITDA was 41.9 million euros. The company is divided into three segments: Nutrition – comprised of juices, Refreshing -comprised of soda, waters, teas, and beer, and Other. In addition to uniquely Portuguese products of Sumol and Compal, they are also the exclusive distributor in Portugal for PepsiCo and Lipton. Currently, Compal can be purchased in 62 countries and Sumol in 45 around the world.

The company is currently revamping their marketing strategy due to declining sales and a rapidly changing Portuguese market. In order to expand, they need to target the Saudade Market- Portuguese emigrants in the United States and elsewhere that account for more than 50 million people. It is a nostalgic brand for them and a taste of home that they can pass on to the second generation.

Sumol is also trying to target tomorrow’s consumers today. They create digital marketing campaigns with influencers and micro-influencers to drive engagement and brand awareness. Their new message celebrates authenticity and is lead by a team of co-creators through Instagram posts and sponsored trips such as Sumol Snowtrip.

Compal is also uniquely positioned to target the African market through its Portuguese-speaking nations. They started local production in Angola and Mozambique in 2013, with special editions of Compal made with local African fruits. They also developed new, smaller packaging and cans to make the product more affordable for less-developed nations. In the nine months after they launched in Angola, they had sold more than 52 million cans, thanks in part to Compal’s regard as an essential source of vitamins and nutrition or even a meal replacement.

Another issue Sumol + Compal will face in the coming years is the gap between sustainability and convenience. How will they leverage the responsibility to protect the planet while respecting consumers’ wishes for a cheaper product in plastic bottles? We hope to follow their successes in the future. 

Thank you again to the team at Sumol + Compal for sharing their story with us. Saúde!

Entrepreneurs Welcome!

Written by: Antwane Stavis

Bom dia everyone! It’s day four in Portugal and MadGrad16 is still rolling strong. This morning we were introduced to a wonderful company, Startup Lisboa, that opened for business in February 2012.  The company was founded in 2011 by the Municipality of Lisbon, Bank Montepio and IAPME, but it is a private non-profit association. Office Manager, Nuno Moreno, filled us in on how big his company’s “heart” is. The company’s mission “is to support the creation of companies and entrepreneurs in their first year of activity, to promote job creation, and aid the urban, social, and economic vitality of Lisbon.” Startup Lisboa has helped entrepreneurs from over 35 countries which generated over 2,000 jobs. They help set up residence in Lisbon for those who want to enter the program, and they facilitate meetings with professionals from specific areas of interest in workspaces they created in two historic buildings and a section of the business lounge at Lisbon Airport. For our knowledge and to illustrate how they work, we were presented with four companies that used Startup Lisboa to start their business. We were able to see how the company works, ask questions as if we were entrepreneurs starting out and network, while also sharing our perspectives about how we viewed their company.

The first company, Argeo, could not physically be present, so their representative, Giovanni Spiller, presented to us by a virtual call, showing the commitment that is made when one joins this family. Argeo is an Italian based company that created a community inside a “Pokémon” style app available in both Google Play and the Apple store. Their tagline, “Augment Your World” describes their augmented reality and GPS Geolocation app. When one pulls up the desired items on a smartphone, the app shows a location where the item can be scanned. Upon reaching the location, the camera on the phone turns on to scan the area until the item is found, and then the person is granted with a reward, such as a discount coupon, that can be saved or gifted to friends or family. Argeo would also like to focus on more personalized app ads. For more information, visit .

Next, Kristina presented about Secretcitytrails, an app she created with co-founder Wendy because they believe traveling is broken. Kristina explained that one may download apps when on a vacation or a tour that doesn’t share enough information or expose the great hidden spots worth visiting. Secretcitytrails is a game one can play alone, with a team or to compete with others. Solving riddles in the game takes one off the beaten path and leads to the good local spots. The games are created by locals, tour guides and staff. The games are then reviewed and if found worthy go live for purchase and play. This is an interactive way to take a tour of the city and see some of the not so advertised sights and places of a city. For more information go to .

The third presentation was made by Sention CEO Zan Bridi. Sention developed a new way to see advertisements on live or past sporting events. Advertising at sporting events takes a lot of time and equipment to ensure what is being advertised appears like it was placed on purpose by the sports venue. Bridi’s program uses modeling, programming and cloud server technology to put the advertisement in the best viewing or hard to place areas. This is all accomplished remotely, which reduces the price of using a high-end broadcast booth. For more information go to .

Carlos led the final presentation on a company called BoxToLife. This product is meant to “provide meaningful experiences to visitors who attend museums, archaeological sites, parks, monuments and streets.” A visitor does not need an internet connection to access the box.  The information is uploaded to the cloud and the information is broadcast in whatever language one selects. Its artificial intelligence learns and creates more powerful experiences for visitors. For more information, visit

There are still more days and more fun to come so keep stopping by to learn about our next adventure. Until then, obrigado Ate Logo!

Historical Tour of Lisbon

Written by: Joe Styron

According to our tour guide Miguel, Fado represents the culture of Lisbon and Portugal, always nostalgic and full of pride. With a sense of longing and pride in the past, the people want the present to be more than what it is. Today we got to see the historical beauty and innovation of the country, but we were always brought back to earth with a sense of truth and honesty. Our day started on the shore of the Rio Tejo in Belem (Bethlehem). We were able to spend some time learning about Lisbon. With 500,000 inhabitants, Lisbon is the largest city in Portugal. Including the outlying areas, that number grows to 3.2 million inhabitants. As a country that only boasts a population of 10.5 million, one can easily see how Lisbon, a city older than Rome, can be full of excitement and intrigue.

After our brief lesson, we were able to stop at the Belem Tower.  Miguel pointed out the ornate structures and with pride talked about the construction of the tower. He highlighted that Belem Tower, in its original state, was only meant as a safeguard against unwelcome ships, but the Portuguese king wanted to show off his vast wealth and pride, adding extra towers which then became customs and created the look of the area.

We then traveled to the Monument to Discovery. The idea was to showcase the people that led Portugal to innovate and strive for the unknown, bringing them out of the dark ages. Leading the way at the top was Henry the Navigator, known not for his navigational skills on the water, but for navigating Portugal into an age of exploration. It was here, when talking about the nations that Portugal traveled to prior to anyone else and the grandeur of what once was, that we got our biggest insight into the Portuguese culture. Miguel shared his personal feelings about how prideful he was, despite longing for better present-day conditions. The new museum located next to the Monastery of St Jerome was built using the same limestone used in the monastery and essentially added that feeling of nostalgia to a present-day building.

After seeing the Monastery, we stopped for Pasteis, a local favorite pastry, originated from monks. Pasteis are a delicious treat made with Filo dough, custard and egg, topped with either cinnamon or powdered sugar. As we left, we passed by Pasteis de Belem, noticing the long line of patrons waiting to get one of the local, handmade, historical treats.

We spent another hour exploring areas of Lisbon, and talking about the rich, prideful culture of the people who always yearn for more. It was heartbreaking to hear that the inhabitants of such a beautiful, welcoming, and forgiving culture often do not extend that same notion to themselves, but nonetheless it was an honor that we were given a glimpse of what truly is, extremely Portuguese.

Finding the Culture in Sintra

Written by: Elise Porter

Ola! Today, the MadGrad16 cohort embarked on a cultural tour of Sintra. Our first stop – Quinta de Regaleira! As we climbed the hill to the entrance, the group started to realize something wasn’t quite right…Cabo de Roca had lost its power. Our tour guides at Keep it Local Tours made an impromptu change in plans to head for the coast, but not before stopping at a local bakery off the beaten path for some fresh Bao de Chorizo, which was comparable to a Portuguese Hot Pocket (cheese and chorizo bread).

After taking a group picture, we stopped at Mercado Da Praia Das Macas, a local fish and fruit market, to try tremoço (salty bean with a waxy outer shell).  The group then proceeded down the coast’s narrow streets to reach Cabo de Roca, which is the “most western point in Europe – other than Ireland.”  Cabo de Roca was one of the biggest tourist locations we visited today. When we first arrived, the area was filled with many motorcyclists, but that did not stop us from admiring the views and taking many selfies!

The next stop on our tour was a local family owned restaurant called the Sisudo, where we  enjoyed the daily specials: Octopus rice, pork leg, and green bean soup.  After lunch, we decided to head to the beach where we were able to dip our feet into the very, very cold Atlantic water.

Then, the group traveled to see an actual cork oak tree! We were granted the opportunity of an up-close experience with the same types of trees we were learning about in our course. The tour guide unlocked the gate next to the cork oak to introduce the group to Baloo, a Portuguese Mountain Dog who was extremely excited to see us…and our left-over pork leg bones.

Afterward, we braved the narrow streets back to Quinta de Regaleira, where we toured the summer house of Antonio Monterio, walked the gardens, and climbed to the initiation well. Our day ended with a stop at a local Sintra bakery called Casa Do Preto for travesseiros de Sintra – a Portuguese pillow pastry! Yum!

Janice’s Transformational EMBA Journey Results In Lifelong Opportunities

Janice Trew

Shared by Janice Trew

As a senior in high school, I had an opportunity to join a two-day business session in our regional school district. Our first guest speaker talked to a room full of college-bound high school seniors about the importance of a college degree and more so the importance a Master’s Degree would be 15 years from that moment. I remember thinking I was barely prepared to spend another 4 years in school, yet alone more. His comments stuck with me and here I am today, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Relations and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. And though it took a while to convince me I needed additional education, the choice was based on timing, opportunity and support.

Stetson’s Cohort 14 EMBA students posing for a group picture.

My career path has always been focused on Food and Beverage. From my first job at 14 in a breakfast cafe, to my first professional internship at 21, I have worked all types of food service in many different positions. I wanted a change after 15 years as a Food & Beverage Leader at Walt Disney World. Better yet, I needed a change. An old friend, and alumni of Stetson EMBA, called me up with an opportunity to work in Revenue Management as an analyst, focused on Food & Beverage Line of Business. I was overjoyed to join the analytical workforce where I could use my vast knowledge of the food and beverage industry behind the scenes. Not only was I fortunate to work along side my friend Brian Sward (alumni) and Krista Eudene (alumni), I  also met and became friends with Marissa Condello who was just finishing up her program at Stetson. Along with past F&B peers I’ve had the privilege to work next to, those three spoke so highly of the program, I finally sought more information. I knew I could be more successful in my new role, with additional education. It was the first time in my 15 professional years, I felt the desire to learn more to advance my potential.

The choice to go back to school became a family decision. Both my husband and I worked full-time during the weekdays, and watched over our three young daughters. We analyzed our finances and talked through what a typical week schedule would look like if we decided I was able to go to grad school. Since our daughters were still in elementary school and middle school without after-school activities, the timing was the best it could be. I never wanted to be a “calendar person” but quickly realized my success as a professional, a college student, a wife and mother would depend greatly on a balanced schedule. We made it work. We agreed to keep family movie nights every Friday, but sacrificed family dinners on Sunday to study. We agreed on early bedtimes, so I could study at night and still watch Saturday football every other weekend. Even squeezed three half marathons into the 18months, for added fun.

Cohort 14 at Disneyland in Hong Kong during their International Trip.

I could have never predicted the profound influence the EMBA, and my cohort, would have on me. The leadership course taught me so much about myself, in both a professional perspective and a personal insight. I was taught vulnerability and strength. It allowed me to thrive in my past role, and gave me courage to seek out new opportunities. Half-way through my program, I was promoted into a senior analyst role within the Food and Beverage Pricing and Revenue Management team. Through the business courses, I realized what I passion I had for financial business aspects. Motivated by Dr. Giovanni Fernandez’ classes, I started to look for new roles at Walt Disney World in the financial arena.  Since my last class in Spring 2018, I was offered a role with the  Attendance Forecasting team on a large-scale project with vast scope and challenges. And just recently joined the Merchandise Forecasting team as a Senior Analyst. I truly believe the Stetson EMBA helped create the opportunities for me, through advanced education and leadership.

I graduated in May 2018, as part of Legion 14, with a Masters in Business Administration and 11 life-long friends. We shared ideas, projects, long study nights, and lunches. We bonded in Hong Kong and Thailand but grew roots for those friendships since Day 1. We watched one another grow personally, and professionally. We had each others’ backs; if one of us stressed, we all offered a helping hand. All the late nights, all the weekends studying, all the pressure and all the help: it was worth every minute, every penny, every effort. This program helped me believe in myself and helped me reach my potential.

Janice & family on graduation day.

Dr. Madhu Rao

B. Madhu Rao earned a Ph.D. in Operations Research from the University of Toronto. He started his academic career at the College of Business Administration at Bowling Green State University in Ohio and served as professor, chair of the department of applied statistics and operations research, senior associate dean, and interim dean of the College of Business Administration. During this period, he was recognized for his undergraduate and graduate teaching, research productivity, administrative leadership and service to the university.

He comes to Stetson University from Atkinson Graduate School of Management at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, where he served as senior associate dean for two years. His professional experience also includes serving as a member of the technical staff at AT&T Bell Laboratories, visiting faculty at the National University of Singapore and as industrial engineer for a major engineering firm in India.

Cohort 15 Presents their Integrative Research Projects

Each year students ending their EMBA program have a Capstone Project to complete and present on their last day of class. This year it was Cohort 15’s turn to present their final project before celebrating together that evening at their graduation party.

They were tasked with a research project on launching an innovative product or service, or redesigning an existing product or service for the bottom of the pyramid. Each of the 4 teams were fully responsible for the project from beginning to end. Below is an overview of the companies each team presented on.

Generation Hearts

Pictured from left to right: Juan Yang, Lilian Kaares, Ryan Gormon and Elena Outlan

Generation Hearts is a company whose vision is to enhance the quality of life for lonely, aging, less fortunate individuals by satisfying the basic human need of interaction via an intergenerational safe and caring virtual social network. Their logo which displays connected hearts aims to connect generations to one another to help the aging population who are lonely. Through a downloadable app on your phone, seniors could easily connect to trained individuals that will speak with them and keep them company for some time throughout the day. This company was created by Ryan Gorman, Elena Outlan, Lilian Kaares and Juan Yang.

Block Builders

Block Builders was created by Kris Sahadeo, Kristie Jones, Nicole Amero and Sophia Baldwin to enhance lives by creating high quality places to live. Their mission is to build world-class, affordable residences through up-cycling shipping containers into Minuscule Mansions. Don’t let the fact that they are shipping containers fool you, while they are very affordable, each container is fully outfitted to look like a regular home and redesigned exteriors form beautiful communities.  

GrOtown Greens

Pictured from left to right: Brian Vann, Natalie Ferrer, Kate Kroll, Jessica Bundy and Laure Warfield

GrOtown Greens is dedicated to feeding and fueling Orlando through a vertically integrated model which incorporates school gardens, holistic education, a fresh take on a food truck (for improved access to healthy dishes and increased food distribution) and continued community engagement opportunities. Through their efforts, GrOtown Greens hopes to plant the seeds for a better tomorrow for children and their families in Central Florida. This company was created by Jessica Bundy, Natalie Ferrer, Kate Kroll, Brian Vann and Laurie Warfield.

F3: Food For the Future

Pictured from left to right: Aziz Ndiaye, Nicole O’Reilly, Eddie Molina and Greg Lucas

Food For the Future (F3) was created by Aziz Ndiaye, Nicole O’Reilly, Eddie Molina and Greg Lucas. F3 leverages the organizational advantage of an established non-profit (Meals on Wheels America) to create an in-home delivery option for families who need food during school breaks. Through partnerships with multiple non-profits and civic organizations they bring peace of mind and create “Full Bellies, Healthy Minds” to the underprivileged youth of Central Florida. By working with administrators in local schools with free and reduced lunch populations, families could connect to F3 to receive this service.

With their presentations, final projects and papers submitted, SqUadron 15 can now take some time to relax and celebrate their accomplishments. We can’t wait to see you walk across the stage on Graduation Day!

Alumna Karla Jain Powell ’16

Choosing to do Stetson’s EMBA program was one of the best decisions I’ve made personally and professionally. It was the perfect balance for me to grow business skills and learn deeply about what my drivers are that can be applied to work and my life as a whole.

While in school I worked for the Walt Disney Company in Learning and Development. I knew this was an area I was passionate about and wanted to pursue further when I was done with school. I had lived in Florida for 6 years and though I loved my time there, I always knew it wasn’t my forever.

In my new home state of Colorado.

Shortly after graduation I was recruited to work for a company in Colorado as they were creating a new Learning and Development team. They were very excited to hear about the program at Stetson and how we focus not only on business development but personal and leadership development as well. I took a leap of faith, packed up my life in Florida, and made the move for this new career opportunity.

Most recently I’ve been able to use all facets of my EMBA in a Project Management role. Being able to see something full scope is something I solely credit to Stetson. Seeing the impacts of one decision financially, strategically, and employee focused are all skills I learned in the program.

Earning my EMBA at Stetson was the busiest, craziest, sleepless two years of my life, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I left the program with an education I’m very proud of and lifelong friendships.

Visiting best friends (Cohort 12) back in Orlando. Pictured left to right: Joe Iglecia-Scholl, Jessica Zaucha, Karla Jain Powell, Britteny Freemyer and Sarah Culver.

Thank you Stetson!

Written by: Karla Jain Powell ’16

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