April 19, 2018

Sector Portrait: Continuing Education

Florida MBA Standouts

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

Anna Zalesova
Saint Leo University Donald R. Tapia School of Business, Saint Leo

Anna Zalesova
[Photo:Jeffrey Camp]
Anna Zalesova came to the United States from Russia at 19 to get a business education. After earning her undergraduate business degree from Saint Leo University, she went directly into the MBA program and graduated last December.

Already, Zalesova has landed in a job that will put her on a path to the position she seeks, which requires an MBA degree. Zalesova, now 26, is an assistant to the administrator at Springbrook Hospital in Brooksville in Hernando County. Her goal is to become administrator. "I would not have this position without a master's degree," she says. "I would have had to start at the bottom, and it would have taken much longer."

Through Saint Leo, Zalesova learned of an internship at the hospital, which eventually led to her current position. She also held a job at Saint Leo University while she attended classes in the MBA program. "It is challenging to work while getting an MBA, but it benefited me by being able to interact with professors. I learned a lot while doing research."

17,772 Number of GMAT score reports sent by all Florida residents from July 1, 2010, though June 30, 2011

11,516 Of the 20,383 score reports sent to Florida business schools during the 2011 testing year, 11,516 came from Florida residents.

60% Of the nearly 2,700 students who received master's degrees in business from State University System schools in 2003-04, more than half were working in Florida five years later and earning an average $84,000, according to the Florida Department of Education's Florida Education and Training Placement Information Program.

Joyce Elam
Executive dean, Florida International University College of Business Administration, Miami

Joyce Elam
Fifteen years ago, Joyce Elam took over leadership of Florida International University's College of Business. She transformed it from a conventional undergraduate teaching school to a leading international business school. Elam says she realized she could capitalize on the international business and trade location in the Miami area by attracting faculty, business partners and students with global perspectives.

The school now serves about 6,000 undergraduate students in its R. Kirk Landon Undergraduate School of Business, about 2,000 graduate students in its Alvah H. Chapman Graduate School of Business and about 500 business executives in its professional and executive education programs each year. Under Elam's leadership, FIU launched a full-time international MBA program that includes both a master's of international business/MBA track and partnerships with 39 schools around the world. An online MBA was launched two years ago and now enrolls 700 students. In December, the school graduated its first students with a healthcare MBA.

Elam says FIU's MBA programs emphasize leadership development and close ties with business partners who provide input on curriculum.

The trend at FIU, Elam says, is more students getting an MBA general management degree and then enrolling in a specialty master's program such as a master's in finance or information management systems. "I actually believe that is a really good model," Elam says.

Elam plans to step down as soon as a successor is appointed. "I'm proud of what I accomplished and excited for the future," she says. "I will still be involved and on the faculty, but I thought it was time for a new dean."

Michael Cocuzza
Florida Atlantic University College of Business, Boca Raton

Michael Cocuzza
[Photo: Thomas Winter]

Michael Cocuzza started his MBA in 2009 in forensic accounting but soon found himself heading in a new direction.

Through a friend, he met a man who had a patent and was interested in starting a business. "I decided to take it on myself to write a business plan for him," says Cocuzza, who switched his specialty to entrepreneurship "for the sake of learning how to raise capital, how to write a business plan and how to market."

While still a student, Cocuzza moved forward on the plan and with partners raised more than $2 million for the company. The patent for strengthening metals has applications in areas such as medical implants, aerospace and power generation.

Cocuzza says he's "extremely" optimistic about the future of Expatial Performance Alloys, which he began working for full time in December. "The biggest challenge is to establish the market," says Cocuzza, 38, who has had a variety of jobs including bartending and positions at FAU.

A part-time student now, he expects to graduate with his MBA this summer, and he intends to go back for a second master's in accounting.

Tags: Education

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