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New EMBA Focuses On More Than Education

Dr. Greg McCann speaks to Cohort 10 of the EMBA Program, and family members, in the atrium of the Stetson Center at Celebration.

Begin with “know thyself,” the ancient Socratic wisdom.

Blend with an array of business knowledge–innovative, theoretical, practical, academic. Stir in a diverse team of executives with close attachments and extremely personal commitments to success. Mix well with customized ingredients for human development and just a dash of boot camp intensity.

That powerful recipe is creating a “new” Executive MBA Program in the School of Business Administration, one that is changing lives and will produce exceptional individuals charged with remarkable energy and knowledge to focus on career success. Now in its tenth year, the EMBA Program is being infused with potent new elements to offer students something beyond “mere education,” something leadership is calling “development.”

“The (new) EMBA Program is broader, more inclusive and holistic than merely education,” say two top business professors who helped create the changes. “Development,” unlike usual classroom education, requires working with each practitioner to craft a values-based definition of success. It begins with one-on-one coaching and transitions to a team effort integrated throughout the 19-month program.

“EMBA professionals achieve success as they define it,” said Dr. Greg McCann, director of the school’s Graduate Council and EMBA faculty member. He and Dr. Michelle DeMoss, Marketing Department chair, have created changes to stay abreast of the needs of executives in today’s global business universe.

“We want to affirm the program’s strengths while building new and effective elements aimed at individual student needs,” said Dr. Thomas V. Schwarz, dean of Business Administration. “Personal coaching and mentoring are potent elements that can help catapult careers and give our school wide exposure for its innovative and intimate design and culture.”

The holistic approach develops the whole person, personally and professionally, because the two aspects of life are highly interdependent. Building and sustaining strong long-term relationships encourage quick response to individual needs.
A major linchpin of the program begins on the first day when participants start creating their Professional Development Plans, a month-long process that demands intensive, insightful review of one’s character, reputation, values, emotions, definition of success and a step-by-step action plan.

The long, detailed document becomes the catalyst for vital customized elements of the program energized through executive coaching sessions that guide and monitor progress. Every student is matched by commitment, personality, professional experience and expertise with an EMBA alumni mentor. Frequent mentor/mentee meetings lend constant guidance, feedback and wisdom to facilitate growth and development. Consultations with visionaries and global leaders will guide curriculum, rigor and relevancy of the program.

“Our intention,” said McCann and DeMoss, “is to empower each person to have a life-changing experience that leads to their development as a person, as a leader, and as a member of a team.” Cohorts are collaborative, not competitive. They share the core goals, learning values, reputation and behavior in communication, conflict resolution and mirror workplace teamwork. Members hold one another accountable. Success is shared.

Families are drawn into the EMBA experience to increase the comfort level and help create a sense of community for everyone involved. Advice for success is shared in discussions about the ripple effect of the program on practitioner/students, significant others and everyone involved in the process.

The members of Cohort 10 began work in August and will complete the program in spring 2014. Noticeable changes in their personal and working lives are already evident to them and others, they say.

“This approach to development and creative advancement is worth the personal investment,” said Peter Platt, a cohort member from Sanford and senior vice president of Jones Trading Institutional Services in Heathrow. “I am more than willing to pay for Stetson’s program.”

“This is the program,” said cohort student Mayra Santiago of Kissimmee, a workforce planning and leadership development manager for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “It has changed my life.”

The EMBA Program is based at the Stetson Center at Celebration, Florida. Classes are offered on alternating Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, visit the EMBA Web site, call Wendy Lowe at (321) 939-7603 or email at emba@stetson.edu. Ask about informational sessions held several times a year.

by Ronald Williamson