All posts by Lauren Fecteau

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!

C15 Marketing Presentations

As a final presentation, members of Cohort 15 worked in groups of four or five to develop a marketing plan for an organization in the community. Their plan was to include a summary of the research and analysis of the organization’s current situation, including the markets and consumers, and development and documentation of the organization’s marketing objectives, strategies, and programs. 

This semester, the selected organization was Lighthouse Works! out of Orlando, Florida. “Lighthouse Works! is a social enterprise non-profit company whose businesses exist to forward and fund their mission of living, learning, and earning with vision loss. The goal of Lighthouse Works! is to be the number one provider of call center sourcing solution and fulfillment services for both for-profit companies and publicly funded agencies (http://www.lighthouseworks.org/WhoWeAre). ”

From left to right: Dr. Ram Subramanian, Kaleb Stunkard, Kyle Johnson, Ramzy Spencer, and Dr. Tod Cox.

Each of the groups presented their marketing idea s to a guest panel.  Dr. Tod Cox and Dr. Ram Subramanian of Stetson University were joined by Kyle Johnson (VP, Chief Sustainability Officer), Kaleb Stunkard (VP, Chief Information and Operations Officer), and Ramzy Spencer (Call Center and Technology Services Manager) of Lighthouse Works!.

From left to right: Jessica Bundy, Nic Gonzalez, Greg Lucas, Lilian Kaares, and Sophia Huger Baldwin.

Group 1 consisted of Cohort 15 members: Jessica Bundy, Nic Gonzalez, Sophia Huger Baldwin, Lilian Kaares, and Greg Lucas. This group’s marketing plan targeted universities and increasing customer relations. Their ideas consisted of attending web designing conferences, partnering with eye-drive, creating a socialmedia video, and distributing surveys about satisfaction.

From left to right: Elena Outlan, Kris Sahadeo, Nicole Amero, and Eddie Molina.

Group 2 consisted of Cohort 15 members: Nicole Amero, Eddie Molina, Elena Outlan, and Kris Sahadeo. This group’s marketing plan targeted government involvement with an objective of driving urgency and pursing compliance. Their ideas consisted of attending monthly meetings forpress, and using Lighthouse Works! current employees as the face of the campaign and as speakers at city council meetings.

From left to right: Natalie Ferrer, Aziz Ndiaye, Kate Kroll, and Laurie Warfield.

Group 3 consisted of Cohort 15 members: Natalie Ferrer, Kate Kroll, Aziz Ndiaye, and Laurie Warfield. This group’s marketing plan was aimed at web developers. Their main idea was to target companies where there are many lawsuits (on behalf of someone who is visually impaired). Their end goal was to turn this idea into a national movement toward accessibility and inclusion.

From left to right: Nicole O’Reilly, Brian Vann, Kristie Jones, Ryan Gorman, and Juan Yang.

Group 4 consisted of Cohort 15 members: Ryan Gorman, Kristie Jones, Nicole O’Reilly, Brian Vann, and Juan Yang. This groups marketing plan focused on visibility through a subscription service. Their main idea was to offer three different product packages as a way to gain access to auditors. They also stressed the importance of making the Lighthouse Works! website more searchable through re-designing so that it could be found more frequently through web searches.

All of the groups did a terrific job! The guests from Lighthouse Works! were thoroughly impressed with everyone’s marketing ideas, as were we!

Congrats to Cohort 15 on completing another course and being one step closer toward the end of the program! 

For more information about Lighthouse Works! please visit www.lighthouseworks.org.

Image result for lighthouse works

Cohort 15 Reflects Inward in Completing a Professional Development Plan

One of the transformative aspects of Stetson University’s EMBA Program is our unique Leadership Development courses placed strategically throughout the students 18-month experience. In the first course, students develop a Professional Development Plan (PDP), designed to be their roadmap for leadership growth and skill development. The PDP is viewed as a living dynamic document that will be enhanced and altered as a result of their academic and collaborative learning environment and personal journey. Ideally, the PDP will become an indispensable archive of reflection during the program and should provide documentation of student’s professional and personal growth.

Cohort 15 is currently developing their PDPs and a few members shared their experience with our team.

Juan Yang shared that she learned was “priceless to [her] and [her] family.” She found that the progress helped her discover and find out “who [she is] and what [she wants] to do the most to develop [her] career goal”. In exploring herself and her family, she also believes that her mother has taught her resiliency from a young age.

 

Elena Outlan found that “developing the PDP was quite a bit of work.” She found that her approach was more systematic, which she was glad of – it was a fine line to follow the steps of the assignment “or you would quickly realize that you are in trouble.”

Elena spoke volumes towards the EMBA program here at Stetson as she discussed the impact her classes had on her ability to complete her initial attempt at her PDP.

I believe the discussion topics and reading materials we had during and outside class were also extremely important in shaping our thinking around the PDP document.

Though Elena finds she “cannot state that [her] PDP is close to perfect”, she thanks Dean Neal and Dr. Kelly for their teachings, as they provided a “solid roadmap” to continuing her professional development throughout the duration of this course.

 

Aziz Ndiaye stated that he “enjoyed writing the PDP” and found it to be an extremely useful tool with regards to his personal and professional growth. Aziz noted that he intends to “lean on the talented professionals from [cohort 15] to strengthen [his] leadership skills.”

Aziz reflected that he has enjoyed the experience of writing a PDP before, as he has compiled many versions of this throughout his career, as well as S.M.A.R.T goals. He therefore did not find this assignment challenging, but instead embraced the task and was “very excited to work on this critical project”.

I can assure you that Dr. Mero and Dr. Hall have made this Leadership and Management Class very interactive and entirely meaningful.

The Newest Cohort in Celebration

On August 18th, Cohort 14 welcomed Cohort 15 to Stetson’s Executive MBA Program. Adam Swiatek from Cohort 14 shares some great highlights from Orientation weekend. Our new students are eager and enthusiastic to begin classes and we are excited to have them!

Each year, the Stetson EMBA admits a tight-knit group of students to the program. The group takes classes together, travels abroad, creates group projects and socializes together. Through the structure and the experience that the EMBA provides, students are able to take relationships to the next level – creating bonds that are unparalleled and unmatched.

Since the program is selective, there is extra special attention given to each student and the relationships that form as a result of the program. Cohort 14 (affectionately called the “Legion”) welcomed Cohort 15 last weekend. These are the new eager students who will be sharing the Center at Celebration with the “Legion” – and more importantly, the snack room! They are the next generation and the next wave of EMBA learners coming through the program prepared to receive a transformational experience.

Cohort 14 paved the way for strong relationships and close bonds. Over this past summer, those relationships were strengthened as the cohort traveled to Hong Kong and Bangkok as part of their International Field Experience course. Through in the moment scenarios, that could only come up when traveling, the cohort bonded and learned more about each other. They were already close – but, the trip experience really solidified the deal.

When they returned back to the Center, they were excited to keep the memories of their time together going with the new wall décor in Celebration featuring their travels and experiences of our Cohort 14 students on the walls for all to enjoy!

Cohort 15 was welcomed to the EMBA program by Cohort 14 students with open arms. Returning students could not wait to meet the new students for breakfast. And, the meeting of new friends continued at lunch at Happy Hour after class. Returning students interspersed with new students during meals – as they told the tales and shared their personal experiences of the journey the next 18 months ahead.

Following the first weekend of class, some Cohort 15 students already started using the study rooms and taking advantage of the resources that Stetson provides. This won’t be the only opportunity that they have to use the study rooms. There will be 18 more months of coursework and small group work ahead. While some of it will be relatively easy, some of it will really take the mental power and support of the whole cohort. They will discover their strengths – some strengths that they might not even know they had – and band together to make the educational experience truly amazing.

Cohort 14 undoubtedly will continue to be great mentors and supporters of our new executive students as they learn to balance professional and personal priorities with being a student in a progressive master’s program. As these two cohorts collaborate, naturally skills will be transferred and networks will be broadened heightening each individual’s experience.  Later this fall, Alumni will be added to the mix with our Tailgate Mixer at the Stetson vs. Brown football game in DeLand and then in the spring at our annual Alumni event. Pairing emerging leaders in Central Florida has been a highlight for all involved.

Some Final Top Tips From Cohort 14’s Lyndsey Denton!

As Cohort 15 embarks on their EMBA journey, Lyndsey Denton from Cohort 14 shares some final tips before this semester takes off! It’s all about balance, strengthening current relationships, and making new lifetime connections!

Lyndsey with husband.

One of the best parts about this program is its ability to transform you. Be prepared for that! If you are willing to be honest with yourself and be vulnerable to the rest of the cohort, it can be life changing! With that being said, don’t forget that you do have other obligations to uphold besides school. Everyone has a life outside of school, so it’s important to remember to take the time to relax and unwind! Take a day or 2 (I like the Sunday after a class weekend best!) to not do homework if you can and just relax with family or friends. You can find balance if you just make sure to use time wisely with the rest of your days until next class time. As many fellow cohort members have said, take a couple hours each day doing homework. It’s easy to procrastinate with 2 weeks between classes typically, but I would recommend just carving out a little time each day. There’s a lot of reading and coursework to do between each class weekends, so you can get it all accomplished without feeling too stressed if you do a little every day.

Lyndsey (second row, third from the right) with friends from Cohort 14.

Embrace Group work: When it comes to group work, I’ve found it works best for me when I’ve physically met with my group. While this may not always be available, it is a good idea to try to accomplish such a couple of times. I was a little afraid of group work at first, because much of my undergrad had been done so individually focused. I’ve grown to enjoy group projects because more ideas are formed and more can be accomplished together. Everyone in the group has their own strengths they bring to the projects.

Another tip I would recommend is to take time to build relationships with your cohort. You are all on this journey together, and know what the others are going through. I’ve found being vulnerable and open with everyone to be a great experience and is helping me to grow in so many ways. Share your wins and losses with each other, things in and out of the classroom. This may include going out with the other members of the cohort after class, this is a great way to get to know everyone and let loose. Building relationships with these people has been awesome, and I could not be more proud to be a member of this group of individuals.

“Your Cohort Is Your Family”

With less than 2 weeks left until we welcome Cohort 15, current students continue to share their advice from their journey thus far. Julie Billy, Cohort 14 shares what she wishes she knew before beginning Stetson’s EMBA program last August. 

Tips, Tricks & Insights

If only I knew what I know now…

  • One word. SYLLABUS. Once you receive the syllabus, study it in detail and break up the assignments into manageable tasks so you’re not waiting until the last minute. 

What I’ve learned thus far…

  • Plan to set aside time for focused studying. Make it a ritual. Schedule this time in your calendar and repeat each week for consistency. It takes 21 days to create a habit, this is a habit you want to achieve early on.
  • Your cohort is like family…scratch that, they ARE your family. You will lean on them and they will lean on you. Everyone has something they’re good at it, learn from them and willingly share your talents with the cohort.
  • Communication is key. If you’re having trouble with any particular
    Julie (third from the right) with friends from Cohort 14.

    concept or assignment, DO NOT wait too long before you seek assistance. The professors are more than willing to help you and answer any question you have. There is no such thing as a stupid question.

International Trip!!!  

  • Enjoy yourself. Take advantage of this opportunity to the absolute fullest.
  • Bring a notepad with you to your business meetings. It’s exciting to go overseas, so it’s easy to forget the little things.
  • Business is important. But take the time to hang out and decompress with your cohort members. It has been an enlightening experience and by far these relationships have been the highlight of the program for me.