Category Archives: Management and Leadership

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.

Scout’s Honor

Shared by Brian Vann


Scouts, BSA offers boys and girls the opportunity to build leadership skills, develop strong character and learn how to provide service to their communities.  These teachings and the Scouts’ philosophy of developing boys and girls led me to introduce scouting to my sons.  Brian, Jr., 10, is a Webelos and Layson, 7, is a Tiger.

I decided to lead my oldest son’s Tiger Den four years ago.  As a leader in the Scouting program, I learned how the organization impacts our young people.  After two years of leadership at the Den level, I moved to lead the entire Pack as the Cubmaster.  As a Cubmaster, I plan the programming for our Pack meetings and help our Den Leaders deliver the Scouting program to our youth. 

Reflecting on my time in Scouts, the program has impacted me just as much as it impacts the youth.  Watching the youth learn and develop character, service attitudes, and honor inspires me.

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.

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.  

Dr. Ram Subramanian’s Thailand Reflection

Dr. Ram Subramanian, Professor of Strategic Management in our Executive MBA Program, ventured to Thailand with our Cohort 15 students, and shares his experiences.  

“We’ll Always Have Sukhumwit”

My colleague, Jon Carrick, was in full drill master mode on our first day in Thailand.  I, like most others in Cohort 15, had landed late Saturday at the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok and the nearly 20-hour flight had left me, as I am sure the others, in a groggy and disoriented state.  Jon, a veteran of several trips to Thailand, had anticipated correctly our discomfiture and had the perfect antidote for it!  A 6:00 a.m. wake up call and a day long bus trip was just the panacea for jet lag!

The beauty of Ayutthaya more than made up for Jon’s tough love approach! Ayutthaya, Thailand’s variation of Ayodhya, the historic city in northeast India, putatively the site of Ramayana, the ancient Indian epic, hit its peak in the 14th-18th centuries, when it was a leading city in Asia, and a center of both commerce and culture. By then, Buddhism was widespread, and Ayutthaya was replete with numerous statues of Gautama Buddha.  What we saw, however, was the strange sight of statue after statue with Buddha’s head chopped off.  Our intrepid guide, Crystal, told us that the Burmese were to blame for the beheadings.  Regardless of what the Burmese did, Buddha’s influence permeates even today in a country where 97 percent of the people are Buddhists.  Buddha got his enlightenment while meditating by a tree and so I thought it fitting that an interesting feature of our visit was the sight of a Buddha statue embedded in a tree.

While Sunday was the cultural tour of Ayutthaya, the rest of our hectic week was filled with business visits, each of them distinct and interesting in its own way.  At McDonald’s or McThai, we saw how the famed American restaurant chain succeeded by adapting its menu to fit local market needs.  An interesting presentation at Taskworld showed us how coding and start-up skills can be found anywhere.  Our visit to Kantor gave us a fine-grained glimpse of Thai market conditions from the perspective of a market research firm. Kidzania allowed us to be kids once again, albeit for a brief while. And at Hangar we saw a replica of Silicon Valley’s vaunted entrepreneurial culture as our presenter told us that the search was on for Thailand’s first unicorn!  Every day was exhausting but interesting and informative.  At the end of each day, we looked forward to coming back to the luxurious confines of Westin Grand Sukhumwit, our hotel, which as our resident hotel expert Aziz pointed out is part of the worldwide Marriott group. Suffice to say, I wouldn’t be wrong if I paraphrase Humphry Bogart in saying, no matter what, we’ll always have Sukhumwit!

Cohort 15 visits the Land of the Cool Kids

Welcome to the Land of the Cool Kids!

KidZania is where kids in Thailand (and a number of cities all over the world) come to learn about careers through play.

   After finishing our visit to McDonald’s, we headed over to KidsZania for some Edutainment. KidsZania means “Land of the cool kids”.

Located in Bangkok, Thailand, KidsZania, a unique concept mixing education and entertainment, allows kids to learn about career options, money management and social responsibilities while building self-confidence and independence.

You start the adventure like many trips, via an airplane.  When you land, you enter a tiny city containing stores, hospitals, banks, fire and police stations, gas stations, government offices, tv studios and etc…. The entire “city” is run by kids.  The parents observe but don’t participate.  There is an airport lounge for parents to relax while their kids have fun.

The “city” has its own economy and currency.  The kids earn money by working at gas and convenience stores, as firemen and women, DJs and veterinarians.  Depending on the experience, the kids either earn money or spend money.  Kids earn money buy performing a job or they spend money on a University degree.  Each job pays a different amount based on role.  In addition, if you have a degree related to the job you earn more money.  Kids can even save their money in the bank and earn 1% interest per month.  Kids can also pass a driving test and earn a driver’s license.

 

 

The iconic experience is the Junior Pilot Program. The kids become certified pilots by passing a flight simulator.

 

 

 

We had the opportunity to be “kids” again, at least for an hour.  We role played as news anchors, cameramen and women and producers.   We also pretended to be pilots in the real airplane.

Shared by Brian Vann

McDonald’s Academy – “C̄hạn Rạk Mạn”

On June 26, 2018 Cohort 15 visited the HQ of McDonald’s Bangkok and were greatly impressed by their “McDonald’s Academy”, a unique and “state-of-the-art” training center for managers, that one would normally expect to find only in the corporate headquarters of a global company.McThai, the sole McDonald’s franchisee in the country from 2006 with 253 restaurants stresses that the McDonald’s business is a people business and therefore gives top priority to their people, as it is they who deliver happiness and satisfaction to customers.

Of course, a company is nothing without its people and the leaders of McThai, Mr. Chew and Mr. Vicha Poolvaraluck were quick to realise that by creating the local McDonald’s Academy.

The Academy develops McThai managers and empowers them to make a difference at work, at home and in Thai communities. It lives the corporate culture called “STEPUP” that comprises S – Sanook at work, meaning happy staff having fun (Sanook) and being enthusiastic about their work. T – Team to Win, meaning all the team sharing objectives and having trust and confidence in every person’s contribution. E – Exceed Customer Expectations, understanding and then exceeding customers’ expectations. P- People, supporting the development of staff and mutually praising success. U – Ultimate Ownership, working as if staff owned the business, daring to solve problems creatively. And P – Passion to Win, having dedication and hunger for success to be the leader.

The strong culture has created high engagement and helps drive the company’s strong values.

The continuous hard work of the McDonald’s Academy has paid off.  McThai was recognized as Best of the Best Employers in Thailand and Regional Accredited Best Employers in APAC in 2013. The award was issued by AON Hewitt and Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration Chulalongkorn University, who looked at employment practices at 182 leading companies in Thailand.

McThai was also recognized as Best Employer in Thailand and in APAC in 2011.

These awards reflect the employees’ trust and engagement towards the company, their praise for the company and their dedication for it to achieve success, consistent with the management policies which result in sales growth indicating business success.

Cohort 15 was convinced that people are the main engine of McThai’s business!

Shared by Lilian Kaares

A City of Play and Possibilities – KidZania

On the fourth day in Thailand, our Cohort 15 members will enjoy a unique experience at KidZania, an interactive city for children where they can role-play over 100 different careers.

Go back to your childhood, between the ages of 4 and 14, and picture yourself in a world where you have access to almost any job you can imagine and act like you worked there in real-time. Truly the best interactive museum you can think of, right? Well thankfully, out of the 19 countries that currently have KidZania, Thailand happens to be one of them. KidZania means ‘Land of Cool Kids’.  Enjoy being a kid again and experiencing this opportunity!

Through role-playing, children are able to learn about concepts such as community, money, and even the diversity of culture. “KidZo” is the currency in KidZania, which can be used for a number of things such as buying food at the grocery store, paying for a visit to the dentist, and even paying taxes. This experience is set up as its own community representing

all aspects of careers such as firefighters, hairdressers, postal workers, chefs, broadcasters, astronauts and health care providers. Additionally, this community is separated geographically to appreciate some careers that are influenced by their culture.

The first KidZania was created in Santa Fe, Mexico City, and has the largest population of children in the world. Over time KidZania has grown to 19 countries, in 24 cities and 10 more countries are opening a total of 12 new locations in the next calendar year or so. The idea stemmed from entrepreneurs who are children at heart, and shared their imagination with the world, giving children a place to create, play, share, learn, and be instilled with a more global perspective of a world full of possibilities.

C15 Marketing Presentations

As a final presentation, members of Cohort 15 worked in groups of four or five to develop a marketing plan for an organization in the community. Their plan was to include a summary of the research and analysis of the organization’s current situation, including the markets and consumers, and development and documentation of the organization’s marketing objectives, strategies, and programs. 

This semester, the selected organization was Lighthouse Works! out of Orlando, Florida. “Lighthouse Works! is a social enterprise non-profit company whose businesses exist to forward and fund their mission of living, learning, and earning with vision loss. The goal of Lighthouse Works! is to be the number one provider of call center sourcing solution and fulfillment services for both for-profit companies and publicly funded agencies (http://www.lighthouseworks.org/WhoWeAre). ”

From left to right: Dr. Ram Subramanian, Kaleb Stunkard, Kyle Johnson, Ramzy Spencer, and Dr. Tod Cox.

Each of the groups presented their marketing idea s to a guest panel.  Dr. Tod Cox and Dr. Ram Subramanian of Stetson University were joined by Kyle Johnson (VP, Chief Sustainability Officer), Kaleb Stunkard (VP, Chief Information and Operations Officer), and Ramzy Spencer (Call Center and Technology Services Manager) of Lighthouse Works!.

From left to right: Jessica Bundy, Nic Gonzalez, Greg Lucas, Lilian Kaares, and Sophia Huger Baldwin.

Group 1 consisted of Cohort 15 members: Jessica Bundy, Nic Gonzalez, Sophia Huger Baldwin, Lilian Kaares, and Greg Lucas. This group’s marketing plan targeted universities and increasing customer relations. Their ideas consisted of attending web designing conferences, partnering with eye-drive, creating a socialmedia video, and distributing surveys about satisfaction.

From left to right: Elena Outlan, Kris Sahadeo, Nicole Amero, and Eddie Molina.

Group 2 consisted of Cohort 15 members: Nicole Amero, Eddie Molina, Elena Outlan, and Kris Sahadeo. This group’s marketing plan targeted government involvement with an objective of driving urgency and pursing compliance. Their ideas consisted of attending monthly meetings forpress, and using Lighthouse Works! current employees as the face of the campaign and as speakers at city council meetings.

From left to right: Natalie Ferrer, Aziz Ndiaye, Kate Kroll, and Laurie Warfield.

Group 3 consisted of Cohort 15 members: Natalie Ferrer, Kate Kroll, Aziz Ndiaye, and Laurie Warfield. This group’s marketing plan was aimed at web developers. Their main idea was to target companies where there are many lawsuits (on behalf of someone who is visually impaired). Their end goal was to turn this idea into a national movement toward accessibility and inclusion.

From left to right: Nicole O’Reilly, Brian Vann, Kristie Jones, Ryan Gorman, and Juan Yang.

Group 4 consisted of Cohort 15 members: Ryan Gorman, Kristie Jones, Nicole O’Reilly, Brian Vann, and Juan Yang. This groups marketing plan focused on visibility through a subscription service. Their main idea was to offer three different product packages as a way to gain access to auditors. They also stressed the importance of making the Lighthouse Works! website more searchable through re-designing so that it could be found more frequently through web searches.

All of the groups did a terrific job! The guests from Lighthouse Works! were thoroughly impressed with everyone’s marketing ideas, as were we!

Congrats to Cohort 15 on completing another course and being one step closer toward the end of the program! 

For more information about Lighthouse Works! please visit www.lighthouseworks.org.

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