Category Archives: Networking

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.

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

 

 

 

 

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!

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

5 Star Hotel Accommodations for a 5 Star Cohort

The Westin Grande Sukhumvit,

home of SqUadron 15 for the next few days is a 5 Star hotel of 363 rooms located in the Business and Commercial District of Bangkok; one of the emerging cities in the Asia, Pacific Region. The property is part of the Marriott International Group, the largest hotel chain in the world, after the acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts.

We arrived at the hotel on Saturday, June 23, 2018, at around 2330 hours and after settling in our well-appointed rooms, a few of us met in the lobby restaurant where we indulged ourselves in some local Thai food and drinks. It was a great opportunity to decompress and bond after a long and exhausting journey from Orlando, Chicago, and Tokyo.

On the afternoon of June 24, 2018, our Stetson EMBA Cohort #15 met with Mr. Peter Lucas, an Australian Expatriate who has been appointed General Manager in 2016.

Most recently, he held leadership positions at the Four Points Sheraton Bangkok and Hilton Melbourne Australia.

During our briefing, Peter told our group that there are more than forty 5 Star hotels in Bangkok; a city that has become the  #1 tourist destination in the world ahead of London of Paris.

In 2017, Bangkok welcomed more than 30 million guests and visitors.

The main opportunity in the hotel business here in Bangkok is the very low ADR (Average Daily Rate) which is about $95.00 per night for 5 Star Hotels. The ADR in cities like New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco is between $600.00 and $750.00 per night.

The success indicators at the Westin Sukhumvit and in the Marriott Hotel Group are Revenue, which includes Profit and Budget Achievement- Guest Satisfaction- Quality Assurance Audits- Employee & Owner Satisfactions.

Before leaving for Bangkok, Dr. Carrick told us that the breakfast buffet at the Westin are tremendous and we unanimously agree. We always look forward to meeting at the restaurant early in the morning to enjoy the variety of fabulous local and international food served by the friendly and welcoming staff.

Shared by Aziz Ndiaye

An American Chamber in The City of Angels

Picture this, you just arrived in Bangkok and are interested in starting a business, what would you do? Begin exploring on your own or approach the American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand and take advantage of decades of experience in doing business in the area?

 

Cohort 15’s Monday AM meeting was with C.F. Chicarelli from Pan Pacific Associates and Paul Robere from Robere and Associates. Both provided us with an overview of the chamber’s objectives:

  • Promote trade between the U.S. and Thailand
  • Help protect and promote the interests of its over 600 members and over $23 billion investment
  • Elevate the civil and commercial reputation of the U.S. and Thailand

As well as the chamber’s guiding principles:

  • Good corporate citizenship – maintain high standards of professional and business ethics
  • Improve market access and promotion of intellectual property rights
  • Environmentally responsible business practices

Q&A included discussion around unique relationships based on a culture of mutual respect. We also discussed government medical and drug programs, medical tourism, traditional medicine, robotics in South East Asia, resources available and Bangkok as the gateway to ASEAN  (Association of South East Asian Nations).

In their closing statements, both agreed that it is an ongoing learning process between two cultures and their belief that sharing of knowledge through committees and their members will provide the foundation for sustained growth through times of change.

Shared by Elena Outlan

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.

International Travel Tips

With less than two weeks to go until Cohort 15 jets off to Thailand, we’ve put together some tips for our Executive MBA international travelers – especially those going abroad for the first time!

Travel alerts…

Especially with as many flights as it can take to get to Thailand, it is a good idea to see whether the airline(s) you are traveling with have an app that can give you updates on any flight changes, or a service that will text your flight information.

Data roaming…

It is a good idea to call your provider and see whether they have an international data plan or a travel package deal that you could use while you are away. Be careful of  data roaming by checking your phone settings as these fees can be exorbitant. Airplane mode can be a useful setting to use.

The Wonders of Wifi…

An alternative to getting an international data plan would be using free WiFi. (Your hotel, most airport, and business locations have this access). Look up, save, or screen shot as much information as you can while you have WiFi, such as directions on Google Maps, so that your phone has all the information you need when you finally make your way around Bangkok.

Currency…

When using ATMs in Bangkok, be sure to continue without the conversion rate, as your bank will probably have far better rates than that of the ATM. It is also useful to go to a currency exchange while still in the States and take as much cash as you think you need.

In the last day or two of your trip, try to make the most of the cash you have left and spend the coins and small bills that will be of no use to you in the US.

Go local, not imported…

Get a real feel for Bangkok by eating and drinking what the locals love, rather than paying extra for imports that are food and drink you can get from home. When in Rome..!

The dreaded jet lag…

One trick to getting over jet lag is to set your watch to the time in Bangkok as soon as you get to the airport in Orlando. Do your best to sleep when it is night time in Bangkok, and eat when it is lunch and dinner time in Bangkok also. Staying hydrated and stretching your legs during your travels is also important.

Back up your documents…

Take photo copies and scans of your passport, driver’s license, health insurance card, and anything you bring with you that you might (but hopefully do not) lose or have stolen. Keep these copies in your suitcase.

Great additions to your day bag…

Little things to add into the bag that you may bring with you for the day are:

  • An umbrella (with the heat and humidity, Bangkok weather is going to remind you of Florida!)
  • Bottled water (this should be easy to buy, but it is hot and you don’t want to be outside of the city and only have water available that may not be very cleanly)
  • Bug spray
  • Hand sanitizer and tissues
  • A scarf or shawl (you could dampen a scarf and wear it if you become too hot, cover your shoulders and arms to prevent sunburn, or use it to cover up when entering temples out of respect)
  • Waterproof pouches (great for being able to have your phone or other devices out while you’re in the rain)
  • Lip balm
  • Activated charcoal or any medication (e.g., Poepto Bismol) that may help with stomach upset due to the food (whether you are simply not used to the ingredients, or you’ve over indulged).

Welcome to Bangkok; City of Angels

Cohort 15 counts down the fifteen days until they set off on their international trip to the Land of Smiles. Bangkok, Thailand!

 

The official name of the city of Bangkok in Thai is the longest name of a city in the world: Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit. However, a little easier to remember and pronounce, it is locally called ‘Krungthep’ –

‘City of Angels’.

Bangkok is a city bustling with over 8.281 million residents, which Mastercard claims is the most visited city in the world.

Bangkok is a bustling and vibrant city, known for its love of all things color. It is a thriving city for innovation and technological advancement. It isn’t the concrete jungle that you may have heard it to be.

Bangkok’s most famous landmarks are the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, and Wat Arun.

The Grand Palace is where His Majesty of Thailand lived until the 20th Century, and is where important rituals still take place, such as the changing of the robes for the monks which is carried out by the King. It also houses the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, which is the most sacred temple in all of Thailand. The Emerald Buddha dates back to the 14th Century.

Wat Pho is the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. One hundred and eight is a significant number, as it is the number of positive actions and symbols that aided Buddha in reaching enlightenment, hence the number is a recurring theme in the temple. If you want some good luck, buy a bowl of coins at the entrance that can be dropped into the one hundred and eight bowls that line the walls. The money supports the monks and the upkeep of the temple. Also, remember to take off your shoes as you enter the temple out of respect!

Wat Arun is the Temple of Dawn – though it is just as beautiful at sunset as it is at dawn. The Spire on the bank of Chao Phraya River is a world-famous landmark. You can climb the narrow stairway of the central prang in order to get a breathtaking view of Bangkok and the surrounding area. This temple was envisioned by King Taksin in 1768, and was home to the Emerald Buddha before it was moved to the Grand Palace.

Another one of its famous and unmissable attractions is the world’s largest weekend market, called Chatuchak.

Bangkok is clearly as diverse and unique as it is colorful, with a rich culture that permeates through every street, canal, and building block. It is a business hub, on par with those in the Western world, yet still has a small town feel in areas, and a charm that is unmistakable.

We can’t wait for our Executive MBA Cohort 15 students to experience this magical place in a few short weeks.