Sector Portrait: Continuing Education
Florida MBA Standouts
MBA programs are broadening their reach in an effort to meet student and marketplace demands.
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."
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.
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."