Category Archives: Career Development

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.

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.

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!

Honeymoon Hats by Megan Griffin

Honeymoon Hats by Megan Griffin

Honeymoon Hats™ was founded and designed by one of our very own Stetson EMBA students, Megan Griffin in early 2016. She wanted her sun hat to stand out on a cruise, so she added sequin writing to a store-bought hat. While on the cruise, she received many compliments on the hat, and noticed many couples on their honeymoon. When she returned home, she decided to start selling her handmade hats, and realized she could customize them with the bride’s last name as a perfect gift for all the honeymooners.

The scope of the business has rapidly expanded since then, but the hats are still made by hand in sunny Florida today at Honeymoon Hat HQ. Each hat is customized at the time of purchase for a treasured keepsake that is also a practical vacation accessory.

 Honeymoon Hats™ has received industry recognition in many fashion websites and blogs, including Inside Weddings Magazine, Racked.com, Yahoo Style, and Shape Magazine. They have become the new essential honeymoon accessory and expanded the bridal gift market. Their success has inspired many imitators, but their hats still remain a testament to quality, luxury, and their signature hand-applied sequin script.

Check out their packages for Bachelorette and Bridal parties.

Honeymoon hats can also be found on Etsy as well as Facebook and Instagram.

For all inquiries, press, or blog collaborations, please email info@honeymoonhats.com.

An Alumna’s Journey – Julie Muckerheide

An Alumna’s Journey – Julie Muckerheide

My career path has been far from conventional.  Being raised in the restaurant business, I was not really sure what I wanted to be when I grew up. After earning my Associate of Arts in Political Science, I began working for a commercial construction company initially doing project accounting but quickly moving up and into training and HR.  While I loved the work, I knew my lack of education held me back.  I decided to go back to school to study one of my passions, Culinary Arts.  After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Culinary Arts, I moved to Orlando to follow a dream of working for the Walt Disney Company.  I was hired as a Sous Chef at Disney’s Polynesian Resort where I worked for 4 years and then moved to Disney’s Old Key West Resort for 3 years.  It was there that I met my Front of House peer, Kim Tuttle.  Kim decided to start the Stetson University EMBA program, and I watched as she blossomed as a Leader and in her life.  It was inspiring, and I wanted that for myself.

It did not take long to convince me that I needed to look at the Stetson EMBA program.  I never thought I would go back to school at 40 to get a Master’s Degree in Business.  No one in my immediate family had advanced degrees, and my background and education did not include in-depth accounting and finance. I knew it would be a challenge for this Chef!  I thought I could manage attending school two days per week, and the Cohort program appealed to me.  I am so glad I stepped WAY out of my comfort zone to go to Stetson.  The EMBA program was life altering.  The Leadership component of the program alone is worth the price of admission.  The knowledge and growth I experienced was tremendous.  Here I was travelling to Thailand, to present a business case to an international technology company on how they could expand their business into the United States.  I came back a very different, and more confident, person.  Several people in my Cohort became like family, and we made memories that I will cherish forever.

Armed with additional experiences and increased knowledge, I took a chance and applied for a brand new role at Walt Disney World while I was finishing my MBA.  The role would move me out of the kitchen and was a considerable promotion.  I was offered the Labor and Training Integration Manager role starting in September 2016.  While my Professors and cohort were a source of support and encouragement throughout the program, they were especially there for me during this job transition, at which time I was also experiencing some health issues. These health issues resulted in a hospital stay and prescribed bed rest, so I very much appreciated my professors and cohort helping me remotely, allowing me to still get all my necessary work for the courses completed. It felt like one of the greatest accomplishments of my life when I walked across that stage for my diploma.

No matter where you are in your career or life, you should definitely take a chance on yourself and participate in this EMBA program!

Nicole O’Reilly Gives Back

 

At a young age, Nicole O’Reilly, a current student in Cohort 15, learned about the importance of giving back from her mom.Kate O’Reilly, mother of Nicole, shared “When our daughter Nicole was born, I was so thankful that she was healthy. Listening to the radio one day that September when she was just a few months old, the opportunity to become a Partner in Hope for St. Jude Children Research Hospital presented itself. Four and a half years later, our son Sean was born, so I upped the ante.” She participates each year in a national campaign, Thanks and Giving®, created by Marlo, Terre, and Tony Thomas, children of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital founder Danny Thomas. Their motto: “Give thanks for the healthy kids in your life, and give to those who are not.”

While giving each year, Kate never had an opportunity to visit the facility. “28 years later, I was finally able to see this amazing place,” said Kate. Due to stringent security clearance requirements, she was not able to drive on property when she visited in March 2018. Though she was not able to go into the building, she stated, “I’m proud to be part of something that gives and asks nothing in turn.”

Continuing in her mother’s footsteps, Nicole shares, “I’m grateful to my mom for making my brother and me aware of such an incredible organization that does so much for families going through the unimaginable. In the future, when I have my own family, my goal is to have my kids make the biggest list they can think of: books, movies, toys, etc., go shopping, and then personally take all the donations to St. Jude’s!

Currently, I use an app called Charity Miles as a means to give back. Through corporate sponsors (like Johnson & Johnson, SwapPet, Marriott, etc.), for every mile you walk, run or bike those companies will donate a certain amount of money to the charity of your choice. There are over 40 charities to choose from including St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Even though each mile doesn’t earn that much, (I think 10 cents per mile or something along those lines) it adds up! Charity Miles is free to download, and then you just start working out.

I use Charity Miles daily on my lunchtime walk with my friend (and Stetson Hatter MBA ’18 Graduate) Sarah Zambrano, and we used it back in February of this year while I completed my first 5K.

This app can even be used for a fun scavenger hunt day, like my fellow Cohort/SqUadron members Brian Vann, Natalie Ferrer, Nicole Amero, and I did back in April 2018.

Pictured left to right: Nicole O’Reilly, Kate Kroll and Laurie Warfield (Cohort 15)

My fellow Cohort/SqUadron members Laurie Warfield, Kate Kroll, and I have started to walk weekly in Celebration before a homework session. You guessed it, I use the app then too. It’s great to see my daily accomplishments and know that I am making just a small difference to families that are experiencing some of the most difficult times in their lives.”

While balancing the demands of work, school and family, Nicole found her way of supporting those in need. We look forward to seeing the many contributions Nicole will share in the future!

To learn more about/sign up for Charity Miles visit: https://charitymiles.org/

To learn more about or donate to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, visit: www.stjude.org

 

 

 

 

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

Bright Beginnings for Cohort 16

Stetson’s EMBA program officially congratulates Cohort 16 for completing their first module in this 1 ½ year experience. In a sheer 45 days, an inquisitive group of professionals have met and developed strong new friendships with their cohort-mates who have already become instrumental partners in one another’s learning and Professional Development plans.

Cohort 16’s own Megan Griffin shares with us that she is “loving the program so far and can’t believe [their] first classes are almost over already!” She especially loved the scavenger hunt around Celebration, saying that it gave her a chance to not only become more familiar with the Celebration area, but also to bond with her cohort.

Indeed, Cohort 16 has already had significant exposure to many of the program’s components.  “I loved the first few days of my cohort life! The previous cohort is so friendly and inviting, and the classes have been engaging and great,” stated Joe Styron. They began their journey in mid-August with Orientation, their team-building Scavenger hunt, and an immersive Station Day filled with EMBA alumni, current students, faculty, and an executive coach who helped them grow both individually as leaders and collectively as a cohesive unit.

Our EMBA Alumni Steering Committee gathered members from six cohorts to welcome Cohort 16 and reunite with Cohort 15 after class for a Happy Hour. What a wonderful nightcap to an action-packed day!

Cohort 16 can be extremely proud of their diligent efforts and successful completion of 2 of 17 courses, a fulfilling accomplishment that each student handled with flying colors, as the pictures reflect!

We know they are ready for the ride ahead and look forward to participating and tracking their progress throughout their program.