November 1, 2014

Sector Portrait: Continuing Education

Florida MBA Standouts

MBA programs are broadening their reach in an effort to meet student and marketplace demands.

DEAN PROFILE
Eugene Anderson
Dean, University of Miami School of Business Administration, Coral Gables

Eugene Anderson
After a decade of senior academic leadership experience, Eugene Anderson took over last August as dean of the University of Miami School of Business Administration. Anderson, most recently at the University of Michigan, believes Miami can compete globally for faculty.

Even more, Anderson sees opportunity to emphasize global business management and leverage UM's location as the gateway to Latin America by expanding international opportunities to its students. For example, the University of Miami's global executive MBA program is designed for highly experienced Spanish-speaking executives. Classes are taught in Spanish. "We try to prepare our students for a world that's more global, not just with hard skills but with practical skills that make them successful," Anderson says.

Anderson believes his background of business and academics is perfect for the dean's job. "This is a challenging period for business schools. To be successful, they have to be better tied to the marketplace and the needs of business. That means they have to have leaders who can build relationships to the business community and at the same time stay true to the academic mission."

STUDENT PROFILE
Nick Vojnovic
University of South Florida, Tampa

Nick Vojnovic
In June 2009, Nick Vojnovic found himself at a crossroads. He had spent six years as president of Beef 'O' Brady's, guiding the chain's growth from a 30-unit company to a business with 270 stores in 23 states grossing nearly $250 million annually. But the chain had been bought by a private equity firm, and Vojnovic had a non-compete contract.

Vojnovic decided to return to school to pursue an executive MBA while he looked around for his next venture. "One of my personal values is constant growth. I want to keep myself fresh." As an older student with business experience, Vojnovic found he was able to apply classroom lessons to real life scenarios. In addition to learning from professors, Vojnovic enjoyed learning from classmates who confronted myriad business issues in their workplaces. "It was a great opportunity to meet new people, and it opened my eyes to what was happening in other industries."

Now, after looking into more than 100 food concepts, the 52-year-old is busy with a new venture — teaming with a partner to head up the franchising of Little Greek, a fast-casual dining restaurant headquartered in Tampa. The chain has a location in Dallas and seven in Florida. Vojnovic says he has put his MBA lessons to practical use, using statistics to develop better ways to create a menu and strategies from his negotiations course in his franchising arrangements. The business plan for Little Greek calls for 25 restaurants in five years and 100 in the next 10 years. His classmates now are his bankers, his consultants and his restaurant customers.

DEAN PROFILE
Caryn L. Beck-Dudley
Dean, Florida State University College of Business, Tallahassee

Caryn L. Beck-Dudley
Florida State University students can earn an MBA on campus, full or part time or through an online program "taught by our regular faculty," says Dean Caryn L. Beck-Dudley. The university also has an accelerated program that students can finish in a year. "It's fast and furious," Beck-Dudley says.

A student investment fund allows students to manage more than $1 million. They work with the FSU Foundation's investment board "so they get good coaching and mentoring," Beck-Dudley says. They outperformed the S&P 500 index in 2011, with a 2.7% return.

Popular courses include finance and risk management as well as knowledge management. "It's one thing to collect the information and another thing to use it," Beck-Dudley says.

The school has a full-time employee who guides students in developing career plans. "Part of that is helping them find jobs," she says. "It's really a networking base."

Beck-Dudley favors a more holistic approach to her own job. "Most business deans should have some academic background," she says, "because you are in the business of educating students, and that's quite different than making a profit."

Tags: Education

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