All posts by Wendy Lowe

Dr. Ram Subramanian

Ram Subramanian is professor of leadership in the management department in the School of Business Administration, where he teaches courses in strategy both at the undergraduate and at the M.B.A. levels. Dr. Subramanian’s academic background is in strategic management. In addition, he teaches courses in a variety of areas in the broad field of management including international management, family business, entrepreneurship and organizational behavior.

His research interest is in examining various facets of the organization-environment relationship and has published papers related to market orientation and environmental scanning in Harvard Business Review, Journal of ManagementJournal of Business Research and Management International Review, among others.

Ram makes extensive use of the case method in his classes. In 2016, Ram was invited to serve on the editorial board of Case Research Journal, after he won an award from the journal as its “Most Outstanding Ad Hoc Reviewer.” He has published teaching cases in Case Research Journal, Business Case Journal and Asian Case Research Journal. He has more than 15 cases in the Ivey Publishing depositary that distributes cases worldwide.

In 2016, he was a Fulbright specialist scholar in case methodology and taught case writing and case teaching to faculty at Windescheim University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. His cases have won more than $25,000 in prize money in global competitions organized by Canada’s John Molson School of Business and by Oikos in Switzerland.

AAC Textiles

Written by: Amy Watts

            Olá from the beautiful city of Porto!  Situated along the Douro River and the second largest city in Portugal, there is a breathtaking view in every direction!  After an evening of exploring the city, Cohort 16 traveled to AAC Textiles in nearby Vila Nova de Famalicão.  With 30 years of experience in the textiles industry, AAC Textiles works with high-end luxury brands from all over the world to support the design, sampling, and production process of quality made Portuguese textiles.  The textile industry accounts for 10% of Portugal’s exports with 95% of the industry located here in the northernmost part of the country.

            What sets AAC apart from other manufacturers is their ability to work with companies specializing in specific aspects of textile production in order to create a high-quality product.  They focus on delivering smaller quantities with a quick turnaround time and work with many high-end designers from all over the world.  Products produced here are sold across the globe including Europe, Asia, and the US.

            Paulo Pereira, CEO of AAC Textiles, gave the cohort a tour of the facility where we reviewed various aspects of the textile making process.  We visited the sample library where all of the various fabric and embroidery samples are available for clients to review, met pattern makers who turn a designer’s sketch into real life, and visited the prototype department where articles are first created for clients to review.  Clients visiting the facility can get a true understanding of the textile making process starting from their idea to the completion of a finished piece.

            The textile industry is focused on how manufacturers and designers can produce quality products using sustainable materials, while creating less waste and reducing their carbon footprint.  AAC Textiles encourages clients to use organic cotton and recycled plastic whenever possible and encourages eco-friendly printing techniques.  They lead by example with their commitment to working in a sustainable work environment themselves.  They do not use plastic at their office, and their space has been designed to minimize electricity using radiant heating and cooling in their floors.  AAC Textiles operates with a belief that clothing brands and their producers should promote sustainability in a way that one day will become the industry standard.

            In order to keep the textiles industry thriving in Portugal, AAC Textiles believes in investing in people and a continued focus on sustainability.  From artists and designers to pattern makers and factory workers, hiring, training and keeping skilled workers is important to their business.  Focusing on sustainability is not only a responsibility to them, but it is also a differentiator they have made for themselves in the industry.  After today’s visit the cohort had a greater appreciation for textiles made in Portugal.

Put A “Natural” Cork In It!

Written by: Dennis G. Serrette

Did you know it took 43 years to make the cork top in, what is likely, your favorite bottle of wine? Today, Cohort 16 visited Corticeira Amorim, the world’s largest producer of natural cork. Our adventure began almost immediately upon meeting Ines who took us on a tour of the plant; she walked us through the entire process of how cork is made. Well, almost all!  You see, cork oak (Quercus Suber L) takes 25 years before it can be stripped of its bark for the first time and then another nine years before it can be stripped again, but only the third time can it reach the high standard of quality required for cork production.  That’s over 40 years for that one cork top you’re about to pull.  Can you believe that??? 

Amorim, a fourth generation company, traces its roots back to the 19th century in the beautiful country of Portugal. It is the largest cork and cork derived company in the world, generating more than 763 million Euro in sales (2018) from more than 100 countries through their network of dozens of fully owned subsidiaries.  With a multi-million Euro R&D investment per year, Amorim applied its special knowledge to this centuries-old industry as diverse and demanding as wines & spirits, aerospace, automotive, construction, sports, interior and fashion design.  Amorim strongly feels that their responsible approach to raw materials and sustainable production illustrates the remarkable interdependence between the industry and a vital ecosystem – one of the world’s most balanced examples of social, economic, and environmental development.

After an amazing plant tour, we had the pleasure of meeting Carlos Jesus who treated the team to a fantastic presentation on Amorim’s history, corporate strategy, and global positioning as well as its perspective on the future of cork. As a cohort, this visit was very significant since we had come to Portugal having researched this company for our class project.  This visit presented the opportunity for us to confirm our research, learn new facts, and explore answers to new questions to support the cases we were all expected to present in the coming days. You can guess the energy level of the group!  Mr. Jesus was an incredible presenter who exhibited vast knowledge while providing candid thoughts of not only Amorim, but also the industry and its future. 

So, the next time you pop one of the 31 million corks made every year in your favorite bottle of wine feel good about the responsible partner in Amorim fighting to support our planet and environment!

Let’s go on a road trip!

Written by: Mimi Palm

It was 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, and our bus arrived at our final stop of the day, the headquarters of Brisa Auto-Estradas de Portugal (Brisa Portugal Highways). Two tall men in navy suits were standing outside ready to greet us as we approached the building. We were welcomed by Eduardo Costa Ramos, Head of Business Development, and Frederico Lobao Melo, Deputy Head of Brisa Business Development. They walked us into what seemed like a mini auditorium with stadium seating and a projection screen in front of a black-curtained wall. The presentation started almost immediately, beginning with the company profile.

Brisa played a key role in bringing Portugal’s once neglected transportation infrastructure up to date. The company holds the largest road concession granted by the Portuguese government, and it operates the country’s main network of tolled motorways.

Brisa Auto-Estradas de Portugal is a mobility company; however, the business model of Brisa is a combination of partnerships with other companies, including Via Verde, Colibri, and A-to-be Company. The largest segment of the company is highway management, overseeing six concessions, road services, and vehicle inspections. They operate in the United States, India, and Holland in addition to Portugal. Their focus now and in the future is on their customers and efficiency. Eduardo stressed the importance of continuous talent development and the workforce challenges transportation and the mobility industry face. The IT segment is in need of programmers, developers, and technology orientated individuals. Talented IT professionals tend to go to Silicon Valley and/or other industries, and it has become a challenge to attract talent to the automotive industry.

According to Eduardo, Brisa is using predictive analytics via A-to-be tech business, and leveraging their artificial intelligence tools to improve and safeguard road safety. In addition, their angle for future deployments is “Smart Cities”.  They want to continue their transportation model in which they integrate buses, trains, and highways, but it’s imperative that both auto manufacturers and mobility companies collaborate. Consequently, smart transport infrastructure and smart transport are key components of the “Smart City”, and more knowledge is needed concerning those issues.

After their PowerPoint presentation, Eduardo asked that we put away our phones for a behind-the-scenes look. The projection screen rose up and the black curtains began to slowly open. A command center was revealed with multiple TV screens where their highway operations team was actively monitoring and identifying any accessibility issues or accidents. They relayed as much of this information as possible to the people of Portugal for commuting purposes. Fredrico stepped in to speak on the operations, given that this was his wheelhouse. According to Fredrico, there are 70 vans on continuous routes monitoring the highways specifically in their blind spots from the cameras. There was one representative, known as the ‘voice of command’, a police officer who had the authority to divert traffic and make the decision to close highways. It was so interesting to see this command center and learn how they will continue to push sustainable mobility in their market areas. Eduardo made a great point during his presentation in that cars will continue to exist, whether or not they are called something else in the future, but this form of transportation will continue to occur and so will the need to improve the mobility canvas.

Maze: Decoding Impact

Written by: Paige Funk

Homeless people lost to our society, children living in extreme poverty, plastic overfilling landfills and oceans… issues facing our society.

“Social Impact” is the act of taking deliberate actions to create a significant change that positively alters a social issue impacting our world.

Today our cohort started our day with a volunteer organization, CAIS, which was established to help people of extreme poverty or those socially excluded.  This group has trainers who lead a team of people they serve to compete in the Homeless World Cup of Street Futball.  We had the opportunity to play soccer with this group of amazing people.  It was fun, insightful, and humbling.  I loved that our cohort and professors jumped right in and played street futball.  While playing, I realized that this sport is a great equalizer; it didn’t matter if you were a Senior Vice President, a volunteer trainer, or a homeless person; all were equal on the field.

Following futball, we visited the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation on its beautiful campus in Lisboa, Portugal, which serves to elevate humanity through Art, Science, Education, and Charity.  The foundation was created in 1956 and has served the people of Portugal ever since.  The foundation identifies significant issues impacting socially excluded groups, solves them in a localized manner, and then works to institutionalize the solution within the public sector.  Some of the foundation’s projects include Art for Inclusion, Hip-Hop for Underprivileged, and Hack for Good.  The foundation currently has three key areas it is working to address:  sustainability, knowledge, and cohesion & social integration.

In 2013, the Calouste Gulbenkian foundation developed a program called Maze, which is a company established to aid entrepreneurs committed to making a social impact as a result of doing business.  Maze assists qualified entrepreneurs with market intelligence, strengthening ventures, and advising on capitalization.  To be eligible, the start-up needs talented teams with solid technical and managerial skills, a unique and innovative product, tech-enabled solutions and a strong and clear business idea with impact potential.

Maze has an acceleration program known as Maze-X and a venture capital company known as Mustard Seed: Maze. Mustard Seed: Maze is an Impact Capital company that serves as an investment group for venture capitalists with the goal of reorienting capital toward impactful incomes. Mustard Seed: Maze wants to use social investments to help solve the most pressing social challenges of our time. They have two endgames: government adoption and corporate adoption. Mustard Seed: Maze is working to have 1.4B (euros) in annual contracts between Portuguese government and impact entrepreneurs and between 250M (euros) and 400M (euros) in annual funding for impact entrepreneurs with private capital.

The cohort enjoyed learning more about the potential of impact investing and the role of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in making lasting, socially impacting changes.

Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho, it’s Off to AICEP We Go…

Written by: Yamila H. Harris

On the heels of an incredible weekend exploring Lisbon and learning about its rich culture and history, Cohort 16 of Stetson’s EMBA program kept the momentum going with an insightful visit to AICEP. AICEP is a government agency in Portugal focused on trade and investment, whose mission is two-fold: to encourage foreign companies to invest in Portugal and to aid Portuguese companies abroad with their internationalization processes. 

It was fascinating to interact with diplomats like Francisco Calheiros Manezes, Sebastiao Silva and Frederico Batista, as they shared insights about Portugal’s current economic revival, evidence of which appears to be everywhere we look. From innovation hubs and incubators like Hub Criativo do Beato and Startup Lisboa, to the mass influx of tourists and local tour providers like Keep It Local Tours (Lisboa), and the plethora of new, trendy shops and restaurants like those found at the LX Factory, there’s no denying that Portugal, and Lisbon in particular, is experiencing a major boom.

Given my particular proclivity for technology and STEM advocacy, it was also incredibly encouraging to hear that more than 26% of degrees in Portugal are in STEM…and that number is growing. It was equally exciting to hear that the Web Summit, one of the most coveted technology conferences for Fortune 500 companies and startups alike, will be hosted in Lisbon for the next decade. This is a huge win for the city and for Portugal’s economic future.

All in all, it was a great start to the official ‘work’ week, with AICEP formally kicking-off our business visits in Lisbon. Thanks again to the AICEP team for taking the time to meet with us.  Muito Obrigada!!

Making Magic with my MBA

Shared by Sarah Culver, Alumna of Cohort 12

Completing the Stetson EMBA has enriched my personal and professional life in ways that I could not have imagined. When I was considering MBA programs, I chose Stetson because it was complementary to my full-time job at The Walt Disney World Resort, and I was really intrigued by the cohort experience. I knew that no matter what master’s program I selected, it would be a challenge and come with trying times, so I liked the concept of going through the whole program with a cohort that would be a great support system. I learned it was much more, as the cohort quickly became part of my family.

Sarah Culver


The technical knowledge I gained during my EMBA gave me the depth of understanding and the credibility to be someone my team could count on to analyze financial reports and data, as well as the ability to see unconventional ways to improve efficiencies, save costs, and improve workplace safety. The varied subjects we studied gave me many lenses to look at the workplace with and a better concept of the “big picture”. This knowledge helped me as I got promoted during my program to being a Restaurant Guest Experience Manager in Magic Kingdom Park.


While the technical knowledge was an extremely important part of gaining my EMBA, the concepts that we learned about the difference between being a leader and a manager have been very relevant throughout my leadership journey at Disney.


One of the most valuable parts of the EMBA program for me was the coaching sessions and the focus on self-reflection and being intentional about how you approach each area of your life to be the best leader you can be. My advice to anyone considering this program would be that to reap the benefits of this approach, you have to be vulnerable and “all in”. Like most things in life, it will be what you make of it, and you will only gain what you are willing to put in. The result for me brought about a positive shift that allowed me to better align my personal and professional life and not only be a better employee and leader, but also be a better friend, partner, daughter, and sister.


Reflecting on my Stetson experience, I have taken away so much more than 18 months of intensive studying, learning concepts, and developing skills; I realize now that it was a platform to catapult me into a lifetime of learning. I am humbled to have had the opportunity to participate in this program because it would not have been possible without support from leaders, coworkers, family, friends, and Disney’s commitment to continued learning. Since graduation, I have had the opportunity to work and learn from different restaurants at Disney and most recently have had the opportunity to join a leadership team supporting Disney Internships and Programs that aligns with my values of ongoing education and development.


My personal life has also had some exciting changes since graduation; I met my forever partner, and we recently got engaged and bought our first house! I can’t wait to see what my next chapters hold; I’ve got a lot of learning and adventures ahead!

Britteny Freemyer, Jessica Zaucha, and Joe Iglecia (fellow Cohort 12 classmates) help Sarah Culver and Andrew Bosko celebrate their recent engagement!

Greetings from The Land of Smiles!

S̄wạs̄dī (Hello) and greetings from Thailand-The Land of Smiles! After our tour of Anythiam, we boarded the Wonderful Pearl for a lunchtime cruise down the Chao Phraya River for breathtaking views of the Bangkok area (Ko Kret, Nonthaburi, and Bangkok). We loved being able to rest our feet and enjoy our first authentic Thai meal while taking in the views. Among the delicious cuisine offered, my personal favorites were the spicy chicken with cashews and shrimp stir-fry-Thai style!

Once lunch was finished, we took to the top deck and then to the bow of the yacht to fully immerse ourselves in the city. Our view included Buddhist temples galore, houses of all shapes and sizes, barges, businesses, and unique architecture of buildings (hotels, businesses, condos, etc.) unlike any other international city I have been to. The city skyline, The Grand Palace, and various forms of Buddha were my favorite sights from our cruise. It’s still hard for me to believe after weeks and months of planning, we are halfway across the world! I cannot wait to see what the rest of the week brings!

Shared by Nicole O’Reilly

 

Leading Business Development Influencers Share Their Expertise in Hong Kong

Shared by Dr. William T. Jackson, Sr., Director of Stetson University’s Joseph C. Prince Entrepreneurship Program

Our last day in Hong Kong was anything but a boring “bag drag” to the airport. We ended our stay with an insightful panel discussion composed of leading experts in business development within the region. Panelists’ backgrounds included corporate law (Wai Zee), Public Relations (Adrian Warr), and legal strategies for startups (Astor Chan). The presentation continued to reinforce the importance of, and need for, entrepreneurial activity for the region. From the depth and quality of questions (during and after the panel presentation), it was obviously a hit with Cohort 14.

After arriving in Bangkok students (and faculty) quickly set the bar in fashion for future cohorts. A local tailor was kept busy late into the evening “sizing up” this dandy group.

Stetson EMBA Students Network with Hong Kong Business Leaders

Networking in Hong Kong – shared by Hakim Lucas

The Monday evening networking event was held in the Lion’s Rock of the Royal Plaza Hotel and provided an opportunity for Cohort 14 to meet and greet 4 Hong Kong business leaders, 1 of which was a 2000 Stetson alumni. Each had their unique perspective on the future of Hong Kong’s economy. Anna, the founder of a woman’s entrepreneurship platform called female entrepreneurs worldwide; a physician turned businessman, Dr. Hanif Kanji, CEO and co-founder of Sinophi Healthcare Limited, and, Glenn Susyin Green, the alum who works for a local battery company, GPI International Limited.

A healthy discussion was had around the importance of relationship building when doing business in Hong Kong. Important aspects of the business culture are: the positive and negative influences of Chinese culture (copy, buy or destroy your ideas), the drinking culture in business deal making, religious and Confucian values, emergence of a new generation, and real estate as the hidden tax.

The feelings around entrepreneurship were mixed, as the potential growth in the Hong Kong market was debated. On the one hand, a presumed increased pace of China’s economic growth could create access to wealth and other opportunities, while on the other hand Chinese policies or the lack thereof could stifle Hong Kong’s residents ability to uses its innovative spirit.

Much of our time spent were in discussion of the issues that will determine if Hong Kong is successful in the future.