Category Archives: Cohort 14

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.

Cohort 14 Presentations

One of the culminating efforts for Cohort 14’s, 18-month experience was to research and identify an innovative product or service (or redesign an existing product or service) for the bottom of the pyramid. As a team, they were to select the product or service and be prepared to present the target market, service concept, operations strategy and service delivery for your offering. Below is an overview of each groups presentation.

Good Turn

Good turn was created by Cohort 14 members Matt Wierenga, Dave Pickens, Desi Warner, and Adam Swiatek.

From left to right: Dave Pickens, Desi Warner, Matt Wierenga, and Adam Swiatek.

Their concept was to create a network of skilled individuals who have the opportunity to pay it forward with an act of kindness. Professionals fill out a survey identifying their skill set which then are added to a broader network list. These services would be beneficial to those in need or who may not be able to afford to pay for these services otherwise.

This company runs off of a give and take concept; looking at our community alone, there are 350,000 people who are in need, and 3.17 million with the skills to help.

These services would be accessed through a phone application or through the internet, and would work on a token system. Some of these e-tokens would be donated to charity, others sold to businesses that would gain promotion and online marketing from the experience. The e-tokens would then be distributed to those in need, who could exchange an e-token for a service they are in need of in the community.

The Kin~nected Hearts Foundation Empowering Families

This company was created by Cohort 14 members Julie Billy, Hakim Lucas, Lyndsey Denton, and Christy Reynolds.

From left to right: Julie Billy, Christy Reynolds, Lyndsey Denton, and Hakim Lucas.

Their concept was a company with a social enterprise focus and directed at those at the bottom of the World Pyramid, focusing specifically on single mothers of young children in Central Florida. A significant 68% of single parent households are living below the poverty line. Meanwhile, 85% of brain growth occurs in the first 3 years of life, yet 45% of center-based child care facilities do not offer infant and toddler care.

A social enterprise is an organization that has a mission that benefits the public or community; they utilize trade, of which a substantial portion of income comes from; and reinvest the majority of their profit into their mission.

Their mission statement is:

To serve the single mothers of young children in Central Florida by providing education, job placement, and support services, while providing high quality, on-site child care in a nurturing environment.

The company would offer support services, with a mentorship program, child care, job training, and job placement. This is an extremely unique offering as all of these services are provided in one location vs. what traditionally these single mothers face and that is having to go to individual agencies one by one to get their issues resolved.

Ms. Keeter Beater

This company was created by Cohort 14 members Jason Mejeras, Rachael Faircloth, Zineb Sands, and Janice Trew.

The goal of this company is to reduce the spread of diseases in the rural, southeast Asia region. Preventing illness and death from diseases is done through affordable sanitation and proper protection. They target families with school-age children 5-17, school teachers, healthcare providers, and those at the ‘bottom of the pyramid.’

A hygiene product combined with a bug protectant is used to reduce illness. It is made up of liquid citronella soap dried on paper which dissolves when water it is applied. This is then sold in small, local marketplaces. This is a unique offering as it is a solution that provides hygienic car

From left to right: Zineb Sands, Jason Mejeras, Rachael Faircloth, and Janice Trew.

e plus insect repellant all in one. Also, they address sustainability as there is no waste of any kind or footprint left behind. The box the product initially comes in, is returned to the distributors for reuse, and the soap dried paper dissolves and disappears.

All three teams presented their very different products with passion, knowledge, and enthusiasm; however, our guest Alumni panel selected Ms. Keeter Beater as the company with the overall Most Innovative Product or Service. A huge congrats to their company for their creative and well-thought out plan which we all agreed could be implemented and solve a looming problem in this region!

We are so fortunate to have watched our students transform professionally and personally over the past 18 months. We can’t wait to see what the future has in store for all of them! 

Top photo: Cohort 14 on their first day of classes 18 months ago. Bottom photo: Cohort 14 on their last day of classes!

Cohort 14 Reflection on their Professional Development Plans

 As Cohort 15’s deadline for submitting their Personal Development Plan (PDP) approaches, we asked Dave and Jason from Cohort 14 for their tips and reflections with regards to their experience with this assignment.

Dave reflected that the assignment “was more work than [he] expected”; however, he “learned a lot about [himself].” Through his experience, he had the realization that a personal development plan is “a document that is a work in progress. It is not done when you turn it in. In fact, it may never be done!”

After handing in his assignment, he felt free to focus on his next project. It did, however, afford him the opportunity to get feedback from others and, more importantly, helped him realize that the assignment “is wholly owned by yours truly,” lamenting that it is more of a commitment he made to himself.

The net of it is that I can’t let myself down, or others that depend on me.

The point that Dave found most beneficial to walk away with, is that he had a tendency “to use [his] head when working through challenging issues”, and yet through the assignment, he learned through “the encouragement [he] received in [his] leadership journey was to “listen” to [his] heart”. He finds that he has since made decisions in this regard, and been all the better for it.

Dave hopes to find the time in the future to share more of his journey, and choices made, thanks to experiences and opportunities relating to this assignment.

Jason reflected that he knew “if [he] wanted to be successful with this paper and subsequently the program, [he] would need to assimilate the knowledge learned with real life application”. He reflects on theories learned in the classroom that could help shape students into becoming leaders. He found that he was able to “introspectively consider [his] character as it related to [his] strengths, weaknesses, and blind spots.” This allowed him to gain greater insight into how others viewed him as a leader also.

Jason found, similarly to Dave, that his PDP needed to be approached more as a “work in progress, which then became a map” to aid him in navigating his EMBA. Jason also included a SMART goal in his PDP, as he determined that it would help him “lean out of [his] comfort zone by including some personal character challenges.”

Part of our learning was how to grow through understanding the unknown aspects of ourselves and embracing them. This notion resonated with me and was one of the main pillars of my PDP.

One tip Jason had for the PDP assignment was that students should look at their current situation, and what led them to where they are at that moment. Using the PDP like a road map as he did, the project could be used to help each individual aim beyond their “target growth and challenge [themselves] to the extent of [their] capabilities.” After all, each individual is looking to obtain personal growth through the program. All in all, Jason summed up the assignment – and the program – in this:

You will be surprising yourself in ways you did not think possible throughout your program, and you will be humbled by your experiences.

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.

Tips For What’s To Come

In just a few short weeks, new students will begin their journey as members of Stetson’s Executive MBA program. Cohort 14 student, Adam Swiatek offers his own thoughts on how to be successful in this demanding, yet incredibly rewarding, experience! 

Meet-up with Skype for Business! You all lead busy lives with work, school and your family. Meeting up face-to-face at Stetson may not always be in the cards. Do a video meet-up on Skype. Add in a little screen sharing and you’ll have that Accounting project finished in no time!

Gear up for the time of your life during the International Experience! Find a travel buddy in the cohort and chart your adventures. Get out and explore as much as you can – who knows when you’ll be half way around the world again! Socialize and eat like a local. Find the gems that make the cities you visit top destinations.

Stay connected. Even though you may not have class every week, stay connected with your cohort mates and school on Stetson email. Make an Outlook Group and keep your conversations going, even when you are not at school.

It’ll be rewarding; it’ll be challenging! The Stetson EMBA has been one of the most rewarding and enriching experiences for me. It has also been a challenge. Balancing school, work and real-life is not always easy. But know that you’ve got so many people in the same boat with you – your cohort! Talk to them, or talk to Cohort 14. We’ve “been there” so we might have some advice.

In a group, use your talents: divide and conquer! Discover what you’re “good at” and bring those skills to the table. Chances are, in your group, you’ll have all of the skills you need to make one phenomenal project!

They’re there for you. Know that the Stetson EMBA is supported by some of the best. If you have a question, need help, want to share a laugh… the Stetson EMBA support team is world-class, and why I think the Stetson EMBA is so special.

Achieving Balance

In just four short weeks, students in cohort 15 will begin their Stetson Executive MBA program! In anticipation of their arrival, several students in cohort 14 have offered their advice on achieving balance in their careers, family lives, and academic commitments. Today’s tips are from Janice Trew:

  • Do a little every night. I found that even one hour a night alleviated weekend stress.
  • There is no such thing as a week off. Always plan for 1.5-2 weeks to get the assignments done.
  • That being said, give yourself a day! I always took the Sunday after class off. It was my personal day, to enjoy life again, whether with family or with friends!
  • Plan study sessions with cohort friends. It builds amazing bonds and it helps to have others who understand the stress of the commitment! ?
  • Don’t hesitate to reach out to the professors! They may not be “based” in Celebration, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t available. Many make time to help you understand. And some even teach other night courses in Celebration, so they might be able to meet on the weekdays to help.

Student Gives Firsthand Account of Bangkok’s Healthcare System Efficiencies

Authored by Julie Billy 

Hong Kong and Thailand: two places you dream about visiting and soaking up the atmosphere and the culture. I’ve had the pleasure to see the beautiful and developing country of Thailand. However, I was most impressed by the great strides in their healthcare system after an impromptu visit to the Bumrungrad International Hospital.

Let me start by saying that getting sick in a foreign country can be scary, especially one that you’ve never been too and better yet where English is not the primary language. Luckily, I had Bumrungrad International Hospital – a premier medical facility in the heart of Bangkok.

Imagine your whizzing in and out through the typical traffic consisting of motorcycle taxis, tuk tuks (similar to motorized golf carts), food carts, clothing carts, carts selling items you couldn’t even imagine, and amongst this organized chaos stands this beautiful building.

When you walk into Bumrungrad International Hospital you glide from one kiosk to the next. I say glide because the process couldn’t be any smoother. On the first floor your typical medical records facts are taken and your instantly placed into their database. Then you move up to the 10th floor where you’re met with desks full of nurse’s ready to sign you in. Moments later you’re brought to doctor’s office where the doctor is already there going over your chart (imagine my surprise) next your vitals are checked and diagnosis are made and your sent a few feet to the right where you pay and pick up your prescribed medication. Afterwards your directed to the lobby where attendants hail you a taxi (numbered tickets are given out, deli style) while you wait.

Next thing you know you’re comfortably in your bed waking up to the morning after feeling more refreshed than ever.  I honestly have to say this was the best medical experience I’ve ever had in my entire life. I’m just glad I had Bumrungrad International Hospital there to help me when I needed it most.

Farewell From Afar: Cohort 14 Enjoys Last Evening In Bangkok

Authored by Adam Swiatek

The International Experience for Cohort 14 is drawing to a close. Come next week, the cohort will be back in the United States and back to their day-to-day routines. No more waking up early to catch the tour bus. And, no more dressing up for business visits and cultural excursions.

To celebrate a phenomenal experience had by all, Cohort 14 closed their International Experience with dinner at Vertigo Skybar in Bangkok. A favorite from cohorts past, Vertigo provides stunning 360 degree views of Bangkok, the city below.

During dinner, the cohort reminisced about their experiences and the countless good times during their time aboard. There were so many tales to tell about experiencing the best of Hong Kong and Bangkok. The cohort enjoyed the mix of business and cultural experiences. Although there were some light sprinkles of rain, the celebration continued inside.

At the end of dinner, Dr. Jon Carrick awarded some cohort members to recognize their contribution to the trip. The Biggest Trooper Award was given to Lyndsey Denton and Desi Warner. Both of these cohort members persevered through the experience and showed tremendous growth along the way. The Most Adventurous Award was given to Adam Swiatek, also known as the Caffeinated Crusader. Running on very few hours of sleep and Matcha & Espresso Fusion lattes from Starbucks, Adam was always ready to explore.

 

Some cohort members were part of the “night crew.” The night crew continued the evening at a local jazz bar on Soi 11 in Bangkok closing out the evening in the wee hours of the morning. Cohort 14 grew in ways that they couldn’t even imagine during this International Experience. Vertigo Skybar was the perfect way to end the trip, overlooking a city that we came to know and love so much.