“ Success is all about growing others.” Jack Welch
Since 2015 Stetson University nominates an EMBA graduating student that has demonstrated superior leadership and significant contributions to serving the Stetson community, and rewards him or her with the Theodore Surynt Leadership Award. This award is of extreme importance for both the University, and the nominee.
Theodore Surynt, known as Ted all over the university halls, joined the School of Business Administration at Stetson University in 1983 as an Assistant Professor of Information Systems, after he earned his Ph.D. in MIS from Georgia State University. From that point on, Ted served Stetson University all the way up from a Full Professor of Decision Information Sciences, of which he was also the founding chair, to the role of Associate Dean of the School of Business Administration. Ted was always a leader and brought many credits to Stetson University and to the School of Business Administration itself. “He was a big fellow, the one who had the job done, the one who always had your back”, says Yiorgos Bakamitsos, Associate Dean of The School of Business Administration, remembering all the various recognitions Ted earned during his career at Stetson. With integrity, professionalism and loyalty, Ted devoted great part of his life to teach, to inspire and to help people, both as a faculty, a dean, a volunteer, or a friend. Ted was a leader in every sense of the word, and his name came as a natural indication when Stetson board was first conceiving this award. The nominees of the Theodore Surynt Leadership Award are, therefore, nominated based on his story of life, of integrity, of commitment and of leadership.
The first student indicated to this prominent place in our community was Carl Pfeiffer, from Cohort 11. At first a very quiet and introverted student, Carl showed up as having strong interpersonal and communication skills, and a natural leader amongst his Cohort members.
Carl Pfeiffer is an introvert by nature but a very innovative forward thinker, with wide-ranging interests, including marketing, giving back to the community and creating sustainable projects that can help other people. Carl is also considered very creative and an inventive problem-solver, qualities that only a true leader carries.
He has worked in a variety of industries like the entertainment, hospitality, healthcare, production and marketing industries for almost a decade, and is currently responsible for overseeing all video production at the Florida Hospital Nicholson Center, providing strategic vision and team direction in marketing, as well as assist with developing new digital and audio visual revenue opportunities.
Carl was a focused and committed student, and continues to model these ideals in his company and the community daily. Above all, Carl believes that a true leader is never ready, and always should be trying to learn, and grow. He has devoted himself to be a life-long student of Leadership, and uses that idea to mold a legacy, not just in the work place but at home as well.
“Leadership is not about what you are; it is about serving people, and empowering them to reach their maximum potential,” says Carl with an honest and wishful thinking that companies may develop more on behaviors and character, much more than just technical skills. Quoting Jack Welch, Carl remembers that, “ before you are a leader success is all about growing yourself, but when you become a leader success is about growing others”. This has been the platform of his entire development, and one of the reasons he chose Stetson, almost 3 years ago, to give him the leadership base and learning needed to become more well rounded.
When asked about the Theodore Surynt Leadership Award, Carl mentioned he was surprised and flattered to receive it. “I had no idea that it was coming, and I am sure that all my colleagues from Cohort 11 were as much entitled to this award as I was”, said Carl pointing all the great initiatives that his entire Cohort had had during their EMBA journey. “Our group really pushed ourselves to higher standards, with a belief that business and life can and should be done better.”
For the future, Carl wants to continue his learning about leadership, develop his potential as a true leader, and work as close as possible to his ideals of building a better place to live and to work in. He is also very excited about putting together and bringing to life their EMBA Capstone project, with three other Cohort members, Arden Tilghman-Sedgwick, Jennifer Farb, and Adam Galea. The project, called The Farm at 312, creates an innovative form of eco-tourism and education for kids, young adults and adults in Orlando, FL and around the world. It is a sustainable space where the farm environment will be the bigger interactive attraction, working with animals, sustainable crops, and using technology such as aquaponics to create economic solutions for healthier food. “People will learn from their own experience, and not only from what they hear from their families and friends”, said Pfeiffer. “It is a different lodging and entertainment option in Orlando and we” – meaning him and his business partners – “believe that this kind of learning experience will have impact on families and communities”.
We are crossing our fingers for Carl and his associates. One thing is clear; Carl is the kind of leader that will never walk away from a challenge or from any small impediments. He has the confidence and the compromise needed to go further and to succeed.