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International Attraction: Florida's MBA programs have worldwide appeal


Kerstin Sachl
Florida International University

Profitable Connection

When Kerstin Sachl decided to pursue an executive MBA at Florida International University, her goal was to grow her business and leadership skills while she ran her own PR agency.

A native of Nuremburg, Germany, Sachl realized a business-related degree from a major university was essential to furthering her ambitions.

“I looked at MBA programs in the United States, in Europe and in Germany,” Sachl, 45, says. “I just decided to do it in the U.S. because MBA programs here are so much more renowned and recognized throughout the world. In Germany, MBA programs are relatively new.”

“I ended up with FIU because they have a rather non-traditional program that offers a hybrid between in-class sessions and online instruction,” Sachl says.

The program allowed her to continue running her PR firm while she attended classes every second Saturday of the month.

One part of FIU’s MBA program particularly appealed to Sachl — an international exchange program called EMBA Consortium for Global Business Innovation.

The university arranged for Sachl to attend South Africa’s famed Stellenbosch University in Capetown, where she spent two weeks studying with other international MBA students from nine countries.

In one of her Saturday classes at FIU, Sachl, who speaks four languages, met a fellow student and executive with Marriott International. The Marriott executive recognized Sachl’s talents and offered her a job as director of public relations and social media for the Caribbean and Latin America region.

“I did not go into an MBA program to find a job and get back into the corporate world,” says Sachl. “I was quite happy with my little PR agency. But when this opportunity came up unexpectedly with Marriott, it was too good to pass up.”


» FIU is offering an accelerated, full-time, one-year International MBA. The IMBA program is ranked 15th in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Over the past two years, the program has achieved a ranking of 40th in the world by América Economía and 56th for best full-time international MBA program by Bloomberg Businessweek.

» The College of Business’ online graduate programs posted double-digit gains in U. S. News & World Report’s 2017 edition of the Best Online Graduate Education Programs.

» The Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education has re-accredited FIU’s health care MBA program in the College of Business with a full seven-year accreditation, the highest for a program of its kind.



Renan Serafim
University of West Florida

Determined to Stay in the U.S.

When Renan Serafim’s dream of becoming a professional soccer player didn’t pan out, the Brazilian native found a home in the U.S. for his athletic skills.

While on athletic scholarship at Lindsey Wilson College in Kentucky, Serafim was on the team that won an NAIA national men’s soccer championship. He also earned a degree in business management.

After graduation, Serafim, 26, worked at an Ohio newspaper under a program that allows international students to work in the U.S. for a year without obtaining a work visa.

“My main goal is to stay in America,” Serafim says. “After I was unsuccessful in getting a regular work visa, I decided to pursue an MBA, which would make me more marketable in the U.S.”

Serafim entered the University of West Florida’s MBA program last fall, with a concentration on supply-chain management.

The academic environment in his MBA program is highly motivational, he adds.

“When you get around classmates who want to improve their skills and learn, you do better,” Serafim says.

UWF News

» As part of the University of West Florida’s MBA Study Abroad Experience, a group of MBA students recently met with UWF Germany MBA students in Ludwigshafen, Germany. Immediately following the trip, students in the Germany MBA program spent three weeks at the UWF Pensacola campus. “We realized how the time on campus helped the students feel part of the UWF community and really feel like an Argonaut,” says Melissa Brode, assistant dean in the UWF College of Business and MBA director. “So we changed the program structure to facilitate starting the program on the UWF Pensacola campus and still finishing the program here as well.”


FAU News

» Florida Atlantic University’s sport management MBA program recently was ranked fifth best in the U.S. and sixth best in the world by Sport Business International, a sports media and data gathering service. More than half of FAU’s student body is composed of international and/or minority students.


Hodges University

Maria Gabriela Orlando McSheehy
Hodges University

‘Wonderful Situation’

Maria Gabriela Orlando McSheehy moved to the U.S. in 2003 from Ecuador with a university degree in hospitality management and a belief in the American dream.

Like many immigrants, she faced formidable cultural and financial challenges. McSheehy spoke no English and the only job she could find was busing tables at a restaurant.

“I told my mother when I left Ecuador that my luggage was not full of clothes; it was full of dreams,” McSheehy says.

McSheehy, now 36 and married, started a family and learned English. At the urging of her husband, she began attending community college. After she became proficient in English, McSheehy contacted Naples-based Hodges University.

“Hodges University has a great reputation in the community,” she says. “I went there thinking they were going to make me get a bachelor’s first. But when they told me I could enter their MBA program, I had tears in my eyes.

“I’m taking all my courses online, and it’s a great benefit,” she says. “I come home from work, take care of everything and then go to my books. It’s all very exhausting, but I can’t stop now.”

McSheehy is set to graduate with her MBA this spring and hopes to find a managementlevel job in the utility industry.

Hodges University News

» A team of Johnson School of Business students has completed a study of water utility affordability for the south Florida region. Led by professor Don Forrer, the volunteer group recently had its work published in the Journal of International Energy Policy. The team also presented the study in London at the International Conference on Business and Education. Hodges’ international MBA students who participated in the study included Rachel Ordonio-Domingos; Maurie J. Kocach; Aldaberto Garcia; Sheronia Garcia; Jacob Boudreau; and Elizabeth Boudreau.



Paula De Carvalho Moreno
University of South Florida

A Homecoming

Paula De Carvalho Moreno’s decision to leave her job in Brazil to attend the University of South Florida’s MBA program amounted to a homecoming of sorts.

Moreno, 38, had studied in the U.S. in the 1990s as an exchange student before returning to Brazil to work for large mining companies. Among her family members were longtime residents of Tampa and a cousin who had attended USF.

In 2015, as Brazil experienced political and financial turmoil, Moreno and her husband decided to move to the U.S.

“Last year I got married, had a daughter, and we bought a house,” says Moreno. “And it was at that time, during Brazil’s economic crisis, my husband and I got back to our dream of studying abroad.”

Moreno began researching and visiting MBA programs, mainly in Florida. She settled on USF’s Muma College of Business, and, based largely on her corporate experience in Brazil, was accepted for the fall 2016 term.

Now a full-time student, Moreno says she is focusing on a concentration in marketing and process management and plans to complete the program in 2018.

In addition to her corporate ambitions, Moreno also is considering an academic career and possibly getting a doctorate.


Sergio Butuem
Nova Southeastern University

Sweet Success

Sergio Butuem entered Nova Southeastern University’s MBA program not only as a student but also as a business success story.

In 1987, Butuem, then just 17, joined a friend who started a small chocolate company in Brazil.

Over 30 years, Cacau Show grew to 2,000 stores and became one of the largest chocolate store chains in the world.

Now 47, Butuem, who is also a mechanical engineer and tax attorney, decided to take his business skills to the U.S. He also wanted to learn about U. S. markets and explore business opportunities.

“After 25 years, I just felt it was time to make a change in my life,” says Butuem. “There are a lot of security problems in Brazil, and it’s not so safe for kids. So I talked to my business partner, and we decided I would sell my share of the business and leave Brazil.”

Moving first to Fort Lauderdale in 2014, then later to Plantation, Butuem entered Nova’s H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business & Entrepreneurship, focusing on entrepreneurship. He will graduate this spring.

“When I began to look for an MBA program, I wanted one that would fit my intentions and the way I thought about business and entrepreneurship,” says Butuem. “What I really liked about Nova was that we are in classes with people who had successful businesses. And we have amazing professors with experience in the real world. In Brazil, the MBA professors were strictly academics.”

Butuem plans to pursue a doctorate and an academic career but has his eye on business opportunities in south Florida.

“My intention when I moved to the United States was to advance my academic career,” says Butuem. “But also, if a business opportunity arises in south Florida, I want to pursue it. It’s important to me to have a successful business here.”



Pablo Villagomez
University of Miami

‘Enjoy the Journey’

Pablo Villagomez is a second-year MBA student concentrating on computer information systems, management science and finance.

A native of Mexico City, Villagomez, 27, came to the U. S. with a degree in marketing and says he chose UM because of the international makeup of its students, the caliber of its professors and small classes.

“My MBA class is incredibly diverse,” says Villagomez. “I love to listen and try to understand the different perspectives to a challenge or a problem from people with different backgrounds and skills than mine.”

Scheduled to graduate this spring, Villagomez says the highlight of his MBA studies so far was a summer internship at Boston Scientific in Weston.

“I was assigned to be the team leader of a project whose goal was to increase demand of products in international markets,” he says. “I gained invaluable experience that helped me later with my full-time job search.”

He was recently offered a full-time job at Microsoft and plans to start his career there, he says.

UM News

» They’ve earned millions of dollars in their 20s as professional athletes. Now they have the knowledge and skills they need to continue their professional and personal success. More than 30 current and former NFL players graduated July 1 from the inaugural Executive MBA for Artists and Athletes program. Some are already applying their skills in ventures from restaurants to real estate and non-profit organizations. Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap enrolled “to prepare for life after football” — to learn how to run a business, network, build a team and choose where to invest. He now plans to start buying residential properties.“There were a lot of long nights and early mornings because I had to work out before I came to school,” says the 27-year-old. Knowing that many athletes struggle and even go bankrupt after retirement made the effort “well worth it,” he says.


Gabriel Gomes
University of Florida

Food Animal Efficiencies

A veterinarian and member of a Brazilian farming family, Dr. Gabriel Gomes moved to the U.S. in 2012 to pursue a master’s degree in animal sciences at the University of Florida.

After receiving his degree, Gomes, 28, was offered a residency with UF’s Food Animal Reproduction and Medicine Services.

But Gomes wasn’t done with his academic training.

“After I finished my master’s, I knew from my farming background that there’s an important business aspect to working with food animals. And I wanted to learn more about helping producers of food animals to be more profitable.”

Gomes decided to enroll in a one-year, fast-track MBA program at UF’s Hough Graduate School of Business.

“I feel I have a good knowledge of animal health, but I also felt earning an MBA would be a good opportunity for me,” he says.

Gomes is concentrating his MBA classes in finance and expects to graduate this spring.

“I do have a very busy schedule, but one good aspect of the MBA program is the small classes,” he says. “In most of my classes we have between six and 10 students, so the whole process becomes very interactive with the class and professors.”

Gomes says after he concludes his residency with the university’s FARMS program in 2018, he’d love to join an international development agency, the U.N. or World Bank.

UF News

» University of Florida’s online MBA programs at the Hough Graduate School of Business ranked fifth in the nation in U.S. News & World Report’s “2017 Best Online MBA Programs” rankings released in January.

» UF MBA’s Online Program, No. 4 among U. S. publics, scored 89 out of a possible 100 points. It marks the fifth consecutive year UF MBA finished in the top five in this ranking.



UNF News

» The University of North Florida’s Coggin College of Business recently added two universities to its International Flagship Business program for graduate students who want to study abroad: UNQ in Buenos Aires and IPADE in Mexico City.



Stephania Landaeta Gutierrez
Jacksonville University

Help for Venezuela

Venezuela native Stephania Landaeta Gutierrez, 22, recently received her bachelor’s degree from JU. Pursuing an MBA degree at the school seemed a logical extension of her undergraduate experience.

JU President Tim Cost appointed Landaeta to a one-year Presidential Fellowship that provides a stipend and waiver of a portion of her MBA tuition.

Now in the second semester of the MBA program, Landaeta puts in 40 hours a week on the president’s staff and attends MBA classes at night.

“As a presidential fellow, I work with all the academic departments at JU,” she says. “This past semester, I worked on programs to improve the on-campus experience of our international students. And we’re always meeting with senior leaders and young professionals in the community.”

When she completes her MBA, with a focus on accounting and finance, Landaeta says she wants to remain in the Jacksonville area and become a CPA. Eventually, she says, she plans to return to Venezuela and work in her family’s transportation business.

“In any way I can, I want to go back and help Venezuela be better and a more free country,” she adds.


Zhiqiang Shu
Florida State University

Adding an MBA to his Ph.D.

Born and raised in China, with a degree in biology, Zhiqiang Shu, 25, came to the U.S. in 2011 to study molecular genetics in FSU’s doctoral program in molecular biology.

While working on his Ph.D. in cancer research, Shu, described by his professors as a “stellar student,” enrolled in the university’s Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship.

With offers from other university programs, he chose FSU “because Florida is a good place to live, the people and professors at FSU were great, and also I was very interested in the cancer research they were doing.”

Shu graduated last year and plans to combine his business studies with his expertise in genetic research.

His goals?

“I don’t envision myself as a researcher or scientist,” he says. “My broad goal is to apply what I’ve learned through the MBA program to the business industry and perhaps start a company focused on genetic research.”

FSU News

» Florida State University’s online MBA program recently jumped from 44 to 14 in a 2015 ranking of public universities, according to U.S. News & World Report’s annual assessment of online graduate business programs.

FSU’s online master’s degrees in management information systems and risk management and insurance maintained their top 10 online ranking, says FSU spokesperson Melanie Yeager.

“This steep rankings climb in such a competitive field reflects solid, collaborative work by faculty, students and staff,” says Michael D. Hartline, dean of the College of Business.

FSU’s overall MBA program, which offers the same curriculum online and on campus, increased its total enrollment in 2016 by 30% over 2015.


Barry University

Nerea Hernando
Barry University

Strong Principles

A native of Bilbao, Spain, 22-year-old Nerea Hernando is in her second semester at Barry, focusing on management. She already holds an undergraduate degree in engineering.

Hernando says she chose Barry for several reasons, including Miami’s vibrant Hispanic community and the university’s commitment to teaching strong principles in business practices.

“Nowadays, it’s not just about making money, but it’s also about ethics and honesty, and those are strong core values at Barry,” Hernando says.

Another factor was the MBA program’s national accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

“For me it was important that my MBA degree will be accredited by the AACSB. I tell prospective students that you will be traveling all over the world, and you need an MBA degree that will be recognized all over the world,” Hernando says.

Barry offered Hernando an assistantship that helps defray tuition costs. She works part time in the MBA program office and goes to classes at night. “I help plan seminars, am involved in student recruitment, work with international students coming to Barry, and also I create marketing materials,” she says. “It keeps me very, very busy, but it’s all been a great opportunity for me.”

Barry University News

» Andreas School of Business Dean Tomislav Mandakovic recently visited Universidad de La Sabana in Bogotá, Colombia, to present the Master of Science in Entrepreneurial Management degree opportunity to students, their parents and faculty. Four students from Universidad de La Sabana are already taking advantage of the degree agreement between the Universidad de La Sabana and Barry University’s School of Business.


Neema Komba
University of Tampa

Inspiring Youths

Tanzania native Neema Komba, 29, is a prize-winning author and founder of a Tanzania-based company that manufactures eco-friendly soap and skin-care products.

After graduating from Ohiobased Franklin University, Komba brought her entrepreneurial skills and MBA aspirations to the University of Tampa’s Sykes College of Business.

“UT gave me a graduate assistantship, which made the decision to attend their MBA program an easy one,” Komba says.

“I expected a rigorous, challenging and handson program, and so far I am getting that,” she says. “The program is mostly about teamwork. And in this global economy, having the opportunity to work with diverse teams while still a student is an added advantage.”

She recently participated in a leadership summit sponsored by Tampa-based TECO Energy.

“Learning from various business leaders in Tampa definitely adds to my education,” she says.

On track to graduate in December, Komba says she’s eager “to get back to what I love: Entrepreneurship and inspiring positive change among youth in my own country and beyond.”

UT News

» For the 11th year in a row, the University of Tampa’s Sykes College of Business has been named an outstanding business school by the Princeton Review. The 2017 edition features UT’s Sykes as among the 294 best business schools in the world. Students surveyed said low tuition, strong interaction with professors and an overall supportive academic environment provided a strong foundation prior to entering the business world.

Last page: A List of MBA Programs in Florida

MBA Programs in Florida
School Website Executive Program
American Intercontinental University aiuniv.edu yes
Argosy University argosy.edu no
Barry University barry.edu/business no
Belhaven University orlando.belhaven.edu no
DeVry University keller.edu yes
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University erau.edu no
Everest University everest.edu no
Everglades University evergladesuniversity.edu no
Florida A&M University famu.edu no
Florida Atlantic University business.fau.edu yes
Florida Gulf Coast University fgcu.edu/cob no
Florida Institute of Technology fit.edu no
Florida International University business.fiu.edu yes
Florida Memorial University fmuniv.edu no
Florida National University fnu.edu no
Florida Southern College flsouthern.edu no
Florida State University cob.fsu.edu no
Hodges University hodges.edu no
Jacksonville University ju.edu/dcob yes
Kaplan University kaplanuniversity.edu no
Keiser University keiseruniversity.edu no
Lynn University lynn.edu no
Northwestern University kellogg.northwestern.edu yes
Northwood University northwood.edu no
Nova Southeastern University nova.edu no
Palm Beach Atlantic University pba.edu/BUS-MBA no
Rollins College rollins.edu/business yes
Saint Leo University saintleo.edu no
Schiller International University schiller.edu no
Southeastern University seu.edu/business no
St. Thomas University stu.edu yes
Stetson University stetson.edu/mba yes
Strayer University strayer.edu yes
Thunderbird School of Global Management thunderbird.edu yes
Troy University troy.edu yes
University of Central Florida edc.research.ucf.edu/mba yes
University of Florida floridamba.ufl.edu yes
University of Miami bus.miami.edu yes
University of North Florida unf.edu no
University of Phoenix phoenix.edu no
University of South Florida mba.usf.edu yes
University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee usfsm.edu/programs/mba no
University of South Florida St. Petersburg usfsp.edu no
University of Tampa ut.edu/graduate yes
University of West Florida uwf.edu/cob no
Warner University warner.edu no
Webber International University webber.edu no
Webster University webster.edu no
Source: Individual schools. Research by Vanessa Caceres.