Category Archives: Finance Education

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.

Dr. Matthew Hurst

Matthew Hurst, Ph.D., a tenure-track assistant professor of finance, comes to Stetson from the University of Central Florida in Orlando where his family has lived since the 1930s. He was attracted to the School of Business Administration at Stetson because of its focus on student learning and low student-to-teacher ratio where he could really make an impact on learning. Some of his previous students boasted that he is “the best finance professor at Stetson” and complimented the “practicality of his class.”

Since 2008, Hurst has taught investments, real estate and corporate. He has made presentations of his co-authored research papers at the American Real Estate Society symposium and the Southern Finance Association conference.

Dr. Hurst’s willingness to forge creative instruction with relevant applications in the Executive MBA program has significantly increased overall confidence with financial related matters. EMBA students engage with meaningful activities and projects that equip them as leaders within their businesses to direct and stimulate meaningful discussions, strategic projects and initiatives.

Climbing Mount Everest: A Simulating Experience

On Friday September 22nd, Cohort 15 participated in a number of stations, one of which focused on leadership and teamwork. This particular station involved groups of five completing a web-based simulation of a team climbing Mount Everest! Our graduate assistants Jenny and Lauren share their and their teammates’ experiences of working together in an attempt to reach the summit.

Last weekend we had the pleasure of spending roughly two hours with a few of our members from Cohort 15 in a simulation that focused on problem-solving and decision-making challenges. Each person in the group was assigned an individual position (either: leader, marathoner, environmentalist, physician, or photographer). However, they had one group goal in mind: make it up the summit of Mount Everest together. The group faced obstacles along the way that forced them to make decisions as a team in a way that would not only benefit an individual, but would also benefit the group as a whole and thus increase their chances of making it to the top together.

Jenny’s Group –

Jenny’s team took some time to explore the program together and read aloud the goals for the climb. It was quickly noted that individual goals would contrast with each other, and there were going to have to be decisions made along the climb in the interest of the group and not the individual. With each stage, the group discussed pros and cons, always only proceeding with everyone in agreement.

Nicole, Sophia, Abdoul, Kristie, and Jenny (GA) during their teamwork task of progressing to the summit of Mount Everest.

There were sacrifices made for the group, which all members were more than willing to make. Individual goals and points were forgotten, and the overall climb and health of each member quickly became the main concern. The interesting aspect of a struggle with oxygen was that everyone had pieces of information with regards to calculations, but it was only by putting the information together that the answer could actually be found.  Though the team did not make it to the summit – as two individuals had to be rescued – it was considered an overall success for coming so far and working so well as a team.

Discussion/Feedback –

Jenny enjoyed the time to bond with the group and work together to reach their goals, and liked how team members were becoming more and more concerned for each other’s health as time went on, even though it was just a simulation. Abdoul said that though he felt exhausted after the experience, he felt that with a lack of information, mistakes were inevitable, but that it was a good lesson that making mistakes is a big part of leadership and teamwork. Sophia felt that the team became more confident in each other and were going with gut feelings, which is also a big part of teamwork and leadership. Kristie very much enjoyed that the efforts and concerns for the group as a whole took preference over individual goals. She also appreciated that though there was an assigned leader, everyone had equal input into the decisions that were made. Nicole noted that the survey during the simulation asked questions regarding to disagreements and contrasting opinions during discussions, but she found that in each decision we made, we were all unanimous and united as a group.

Abdoul, Jenny (graduate assistant), Nicole, Kristie, and Sophia, after an (almost) successful journey up the mountain!

Lauren’s Group

On day four, Lauren’s group had successfully made it to camp three. However, they were all starting to have critical health conditions both physically and mentally, with some team members also having frostbite and breathing issues. They were faced with the decision of whether to remain at camp three and let everyone rest for the day or move forward to camp four before resting, which was recommended by experts as well as earned them more ‘team points.’ Lauren’s group decided to try and make it to camp four despite everyone being in critical health conditions. Unfortunately, this was not the best choice for them, and both their photographer and physician had to be rescued and brought back to base camp. The next day, the three remaining members made the trudge up the summit, but unfortunately two members ran out of oxygen and had to be rescued and returned to base camp. Because of this, the leader was the only one to make it to the top of the summit successfully.

Discussion/Feedback –

After the stimulation, everyone in Lauren’s group agreed that they had worked really well together despite not making to the top of the summit together. Everyone in her group had decided to disclose any health related issues they had, which they could have kept to themselves. The group felt that this benefited them as they were all aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

One of the students in Lauren’s group described this experience in her own words: “This stimulation was a lot like life: it throws random obstacles at you and you just have to learn and adapt to the curve balls.” The group also agreed that again, like life, it is important to take risks, but it is also important to be conservative sometimes. They took a risk going to camp four to earn more team points, but perhaps they should have been a little more conservative with this decision considering the critical condition of all the team members. Everyone in Lauren’s group had a blast doing this stimulation! They all agreed that it was a great way to get to know their cohort members more through a team building process which took them out of their comfort zone and forced them to make decisions as a group rather than individually.





How Finance Education can Transform You into a Better Leader.

by Dr. Matthew Hurst

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 12.06.16 PMProfessionals always seek to develop more comprehensive leadership skills and extend their participation in companies’ decisions, resulting in becoming more and more valuable to their corporations. For that purpose, either new leaders, or those who are less current in their studies, should consider the importance of not only reviewing, but also  developing their understanding and their abilities within the finance topic. Business leaders in all industries use finance knowledge when making crucial or even simple decisions that affect the results and the profitability of companies all over the world. Having the skills to look ahead and make decisions based on previous trends, market history or market probable movements can help improve decision-making outcomes and leadership careers.

Leadership is about determining a path, inspiring others to action, and making sound and sometimes difficult choices. Learning finance can help with forecasting, motivating, and decision making at the individual and firm levels. Leaders who are well versed in finance have a tool-kit which they can use to help them navigate new ventures, analyze problems through the use of data, and make value increasing decisions.

A financial mindset is a way of thinking about how to model performance, account for uncertainty, evaluate between alternative choices and examine consequences. Being adept in finance gives a leader a concrete way to present strategy, evaluate performance, and set goals. The clear communication of objectives with financial rationales can align interests and motivate value-enhancing behaviors. Understanding the financial ramifications of previous decisions and comparing actual to predict performance allows managers to reevaluate, reassess, and take corrective actions.

Currently, and from another point of view, as globalization evolves there is a huge concern about customers becoming more active in demanding performance ratings from the companies they might include in their investment planning. It is crucial to any leader to understand and develop some insights into how their customers should invest their own profits. It means to understand the balance between micro and macro economic forces, to build responsible and ethical investing.

Finally, today’s business leaders need more advanced skills if compared with those from past generations. They need to keep up with fast global changes, and with a diverse and complex marketplace. They need to develop wide and deep knowledge so that they can be able to determine their career paths, and to perceive the intricate business environments they will lead. None of those is possible without a clear understanding of global, local and even personal finance.

About the author  (Source:

Dr. Matthew Hurst, a tenure-track assistant professor of Finance, comes from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. Hurst, whose family has lived in the Orlando area since the 1930s, said he was attracted to the School of Business because of its focus on student learning and low student-to-teacher ratio. “Small class sizes and personalized attention really fit my style of teaching,” he said.

Hurst will teach Real Estate Principles and Corporate Finance at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Since 2008, he has taught investments, real estate and corporate finance as a teaching assistant and instructor at UCF, where he was recognized for excellence in graduate student teaching.

In addition to his teaching subjects, Hurst’s research interests include executive compensation, mutual funds, real estate investment trusts and corporate governance. He recently published articles in two professional journals, made several presentations and has six working papers or works in progress.

“My primary interests for research are in real estate and investments as they relate to taxes,” said Hurst, who earned an undergraduate degree in Economics from the University of North Carolina. “Investments and the market have always been a passion of mine.”