Florida Trend | Florida's Business Authority

A Quick Study of Successful Business Models

Social Networking and Banking

Professor Joel F. Houston | UF

How important is a banker’s social network to his or her success? How do personal connections and social networks in the global banking system affect decision-making? Are bankers more likely to partner with bankers or those who attended the same college or with those who drive decisions on a corporate board? These questions have driven much of Joel F. Houston’s work.

“Knowing people helps do business better,” says Houston, the John B. Hall chair in finance at the University of Florida Warrington College of Business. “Soft information and friendships and networking can be very valuable.”

Economics is a blend of art and science, where policies can have different implications depending on who is affected, says Houston, a double major in economics and government who earned a master’s from Franklin and Marshall College and a doctorate from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Since arriving at UF from a post as an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank in Philadelphia three decades ago, Houston has won 25 teaching awards. Two textbooks he co-authored are among the leading finance textbooks used by undergraduates and executive MBA students

Houston looks back on the January day when he and his wife, then newlyweds, decided to give UF a try for three years. That was 1987, he says, “and three years became 30.”

Businesses as People

Professor Michael Holmes | FSU

To study a business or industry is to explore the psychology of those who run it, says professor Michael Holmes. As the Jim Moran Associate Professor of Strategic Management at the Florida State University College of Business, Holmes explores executives’ personalities, experiences, demographics, psychographics and compensation — and how those factors influence their performance. How does an executive’s age, optimism level or even narcissism impact decisionmaking? he asks.

“Corporations are little more than individuals bound together by legal documents,” he says. “We can trace differences in firm performance not only to differences in firm strategy, but also to psychological differences among the executives who devise and implement those strategies.”

Holmes, 39, stumbled upon behavioral psychology as a doctoral student at Texas A&M studying business strategy. In his classes, Holmes applies his years of experience at companies such as Gulf States Paper and Acuity Brands to drive home lessons. He also uses examples of strategies gone awry, whether from Volkswagen, Wells Fargo and Enron, or marketing gaffes, as when Gerber used the picture of a baby on the labels of baby food it tried to market in Africa — where labels typically portray ingredients.

“I come alive when I’m in front of the class. I watch their eyes and see when they connect with a concept,” says Holmes. “I can’t expect them to watch me lecture. I don’t even lecture. It’s a lot of question and answer. I don’t know how to teach any other way.”

Narcissism and Success

Professor Steven Whiting | UCF

Corporate employees are a lot like professional athletes — both have a set of skills and talents they bring to their field of work or play.

Steven Whiting explores behavior — ranging from negative, divergent conduct or selfishness to positive, “citizenship behaviors,” like a worker’s or player’s willingness to step up and help others — and how those affect the team and advance careers.

In separate studies, Whiting and his team analyzed draft choices, newspaper coverage and tweet activity among NFL and NBA players. Those with off-field behavior problems or whose twitter streams lacked images of spouses, family or pets were drafted lower, paid less or played less.

Managers should consider the “narcissism rating,” or what he calls the “selfie per hour rate,” in choosing or building teams in the locker room or workplace. Narcissists tend to be bad teammates, says Whiting, an associate professor in the College of Business Administration at the University of Central Florida.

While he enjoys sports, he never played organized athletics before earning his doctorate and teaching organizational behavior at Indiana University. After a stint at Georgia State University, Whiting arrived in Orlando in 2014.

“So much advice is written and given in business about how to do things. One of my main jobs is to bring evidence-based solutions to students,” says Whiting, who teaches a doctoral class on sports data and management research. “As opposed to just talking about ideas, it’s my job to read the literature and condense it so the students can understand it so they can have an evidence-based approach.”

Spotting Pitfalls

Professor Miriam Weismann | FIU

Miriam Weismann practiced law for 30 years. For the first half of her career, she was a white-collar criminal defense and tax lawyer. Then, she switched sides, becoming an assistant U.S. Attorney, first in Brooklyn, then New Jersey. Later, she was named the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of Illinois.

Weissmann also did doctoral coursework in legal history from Northwestern University and held adjunct law professorships there and at Washington University in St. Louis. Those credentials and her experience as an entrepreneur have bolstered her role as a professor and the academic director of the health care MBA program at Florida International University. Weismann is a clinical professor of business law and tax in the school of accounting, and teaches in the MBA and master’s of accounting programs, with a specialty in tax policy and fraud investigation in the forensics track.

The health care MBA concentration holds tremendous promise in a changing regulatory landscape, she says. Though hospitals today are driven by data analytics, fraud, abuse and a lack of regulatory compliance are common

Weismann also teaches courses that involve dealing with fraud, waste and abuse, legislation, regulation and reimbursement. A voluntary program she started will take students around the world to study comparative health care systems. They’ll emerge with an advanced certificate in global health care administration.

“Nobody’s doing this,” she says, “Our program is really getting to the heart of what our health care MBA students need to be doing.”

Race, Gender and the Workplace

Professor Atira Charles | FAMU

FAMU grad Atira Charles returned to her alma mater as an assistant professor of management. “I can literally say to the students that I sat in these same seats.”

Atira Charles graduated from high school at 16. She turned down scholarships offered by Ivy League schools to attend her dream school, FAMU. She earned her master’s by 21. “I’ve always been super-accelerated,” she says.

After internships with IBM, GE Capital and Johnson Controls, Charles followed the advice of her mentor, Shawnta Friday- Stroud, FAMU’s interim vice president for advancement, who suggested that Charles pursue her doctorate. Earning a Ph.D. from Arizona State University in organizational behavior, Charles pursued the study of race, gender “and the experience of being ‘other’ in the workplace,” she says.

“Everything I did always had that lens,” she says. “It was very clear to me that I wanted a career and impact to be as a public intellectual, rather than in the office.”

Charles returned to FAMU in 2013 and developed dual profiles as an assistant professor of management and a consultant and public speaker. Her national “Mask Project” helps professionals who “wear the mask” of race and gender in their personal and professional lives.

“Dr. C,” as she’s known by her students, says she seeks to elevate people’s self-awareness and workplace identity and improve corporate diversity and inclusion.

“I really connect with the students. I can literally say to the students that I sat in these same seats,” she says. “I’m so glad I found my space. I do cool research, but I’m doing important work that impacts people’s lives, and that matters.”

Research Driven

Professor Yuliya Yurova | NSU

Yuliya Yurova’s work in the MBA business intelligence and analytics concentration brings together the business school and the College of Engineering and Computing.

As a child in her native Russia, Yuliya Yurova was a self-described “nerd” — a math whiz who came from a family of teachers and medical doctors. “It’s probably in the genes,” she says.

She earned a bachelor’s in mathematical economics from Novosibirsk State University in Russia, then studied economics with the Russian Academy of Sciences. Times weren’t kind to economists then. “During perestroika, they said ‘we don’t need economics,’ ” she recalls. So Yurova took a job with USAID’s Russia Far East Office and set her sights on continuing her education.

Yurova came to the U.S. to earn her master’s in computer information systems from Eastern Michigan University. As part of her capstone project, Yurova worked with a local company to design an IT solution for quality assurance. “They actually used our code,” she enthuses.

“These were real companies and unbelievable experiences.”

Yurova decided to pursue her doctorate at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She then landed her first — and only job since — in 2009 with Nova Southeastern University. As an associate professor of decision sciences and research methods at the H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship, Yurova’s work in the MBA business intelligence and analytics concentration is an area new to NSU and brings together the business school and the College of Engineering and Computing.

As in her own capstone project, students work with area companies — City Furniture, BioRasi and Citrix, among others — to create solutions to real-world problems like high employee turnover or fraud.

“I’m that nerd,” she says. “I’m passionate about research because the industry is changing so rapidly, and we have to keep up with it.”

An Eye on the Front Office

Professor Bill Sutton | USF

Many studentathletes attend college hoping to land a spot in the pros. Students in Bill Sutton’s sports and entertainment management program seek careers in the big leagues’ front offices. Like a coach whose players get drafted, Sutton’s proven successful at placing his MBA students into sports marketing and management jobs.

As founding director of the Vinik Sport & Entertainment Management Program at the USF Muma College of Business, Sutton tapped his ties across professional franchises, media groups and sports organizations to provide students with unique learning opportunities. In one program, the “Fox Sports University” created in partnership with the television network’s Florida division, students work in teams, competing to create promotional programs for professional sports teams — all on the path to earning a dual MBA and MS in sports marketing.

An Oklahoma State University graduate with bachelor’s, master’s and Ed.D. degrees, Sutton has taught at several universities, written hundreds of articles on sports marketing and management and was a marketing and operations executive with the NBA. His consulting firm has worked with the NFL and NBA, and the New York Mets, the Phoenix Suns, the Orlando Magic and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Recruited to return to USF to launch a program between USF and the Tampa Bay Lightning, Sutton saw an opportunity to create an immersive curriculum, “a real symbiotic relationship, like an internship squared.” Sutton has taken students to Los Angeles to network with executives from such organizations at Fox television, AEG, LA Live and Ticketmaster.

“What we’re trying to be is the nexus of academia and the sports world,” he says, “integrating experiential learning in the classroom.”

Global and Digital

Professor Eric P. Chiang | FAU

Eric P. Chiang travels the world studying economics in other countries. He puts together 8-minute videos that reveal “how economic decision-making is tailored to the circumstances facing each country.”

For Eric P. Chiang, the world literally is his course material. Each year since 2012, the associate professor and graduate director at Florida Atlantic University has traveled “around the world in 80 hours,” hitting up to six cities over three days and filming his thoughts on economics in the countries he visits.

When he returns, Chiang shares his 8-minute mini-documentaries with his undergrad and MBA students. The videos reveal “how economic decision-making is tailored to the circumstances facing each country,” he says.

When not traveling solo, Chiang also takes 30 students each year on a trip to examine how local businesses and multinational corporations operate throughout the Americas.

Chiang’s textbook, “Economics: Principles for a Changing World,” is in its fourth printed edition, but as FAU’s director of instructional Professor Eric P. Chiang FAU Global and Digital technology, he is an ardent proponent of online education as well. Chiang co-wrote the economics coursework for FlipIt, the online pre-lecture service used by 60 universities nationally. Two studies he authored examine how well students embrace online material and the impact of online learning on subsequent courses.

While online is growing, Chiang predicts classrooms will remain, but in different fashion, with fixed desks replaced by modular desks and furnishings to encourage more active learning. “Face to face,” he says, “is still the more effective model of learning.”

Making Widgets Relevant

Professor Abram Walton | FIT

Abram Walton’s path to becoming a professor of business at the Florida Institute of Technology Nathan M. Bisk College of Business was anything but traditional. Born in Washington, he graduated at 21 with a dual degree in fire fighting and computer science. Later, as a manager at a Walmart, he spotted an error with the company’s RFID stocking software — and saved his employer millions of dollars.

He declined a move to Walmart’s Arkansas headquarters, instead attending Purdue University to pursue his master’s. Three years later, he earned a doctorate in technology, leadership and innovation, earning Purdue’s top Graduate Student Excellence award in 2009.

At Florida Tech, he heads the school’s Center for Lifecycle and Innovation Management. He’s authored more than 100 publications and conference proceedings, and his textbooks on leadership have sold more than 15,000 copies. At 38, he was named to Space Coast Magazine’s 40 Under 40 list.

Every summer, a management consulting training class he runs solicits companies to give him their five worst problems for his students to help solve. Once the course is over, Walton expects his students will apply in the real world what they’ve learned in the classroom. A full professor now at 39, Walton estimates he has taught — and influenced — some 16,000 students.

“It’s not about a professor spouting stuff they hope they’ll remember for an exam,” he says. “I found a niche between speaking about widgets and making it relevant.”

‘We Are Aviation'

Professor John Longshore | Embry-Riddle

John Longshore is an aviator who logged more than 4,000 hours of flight time during his 22-year career in the Marine Corps. He flew in Vietnam, was involved in aircraft development and after retiring from the Marines, he oversaw the introduction of the F/A-18A and F-117 in Kuwait.

Twice a consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton, including four stints in Kuwait, he developed logistical readiness plans still in use today. As a director and later vice president with Northrop Grumman, he helped manage systems and facilities in Nashville and Dallas and oversaw a venture involving Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky Aircraft planning, building and managing a regional flight facility in the United Arab Emirates.

For his next career move, Longshore decided to take his knowledge to the classroom. As an associate professor of management in the College of Business at his alma mater, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, he teaches courses in systems engineering management, project management, production and operations management and quantitative methods in business.

Although professors there do “leading edge” research in business management, the MBA at Embry-Riddle is “very general in nature,” says Longshore, 69, who holds an executive MBA from the Wharton School and Ph.D. from Nova Southeastern University. “All are general enough to take those basic skills needed to manage a company.”

To Longshore, his love of teaching is enhanced by the smell of jet exhaust or the sound of aircraft revving up their engines outside his classroom. “That makes this school unique,” he says. “We all share that passion. It’s not just aviation, but we are aviation.”

MBA News

Sampler MBA


The University of West Florida is offering a sort of sampler MBA — a certificate program of “micro-masters” courses with specializations in business analytics, HR management and information security. The specialized training was developed with — and serves the needs of — local businesses, says Melissa Brode, assistant dean at the College of Business. “Micro-masters are a way for students to get a specialized education without admission to the university.” The school currently offers MBAs with new areas of emphasis, including business analytics, human resources management and information security management. Next up: A possible MBA of accountancy to meet the needs of those seeking an MBA to go with their CPA.

Business Intelligence and Health Care


The H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship at Nova Southeastern University recently launched two MBAs as part of its growing university-wide emphasis on health sciences and business intelligence. One features a concentration in complex health systems, offering a comprehensive, flexible and trans-disciplinary degree that will expose students to the full continuum of the university’s health care system in NSU’s on-campus clinics, its partner HCA hospital and at NSU’s Center for Collaborative Research. The second offers a concentration in business intelligence and analytics. In the program, students will discover how to identify, gather, extract and analyze raw data to explore the science of business modeling, database systems, data warehousing, data mining and benchmarking.


Saint Leo

“Hard skills” are taking centerstage in MBA programs at Saint Leo University’s Donald R. Tapia School of Business. As part of the 36-credit-hour program launched last fall at the Pasco County Roman Catholic liberal arts university, a new fully online MBA features a concentration in hard skills like data analytics, statistics and data mining and retrieval. This follows the launch of Saint Leo’s supply chain global integration management, which joins other concentrations within the MBA program.

Online Securit


The University of Tampa’s new master’s in cybersecurity can be pursued concurrently with — or as a concentration within — the school’s MBA offering. Classes are offered in the Daly Innovation and Collaboration Building’s ISO-certified cybersecurity lab, lending students hands-on experience with software and equipment used by professionals in the field.

Rebranding Year


Seventy years after launching its first MBA program, the University of Miami School of Business sees 2018 as a transformative year. Last summer, the school named former Harvard University Edward Wilson Professor of Business Administration Emeritus John Quelch as the dean of the newly minted Miami Business School. With the rebrand in motion, the program will continue to focus on global business with an emphasis on the Americas.

Global Focus

Rollins College

A new executive MBA program at Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins provides “more global, immersive and experienced-based” courses for working and commuter students. An emphasis on global business and leadership includes two week-long global immersion experiences designed to provide a highlevel view of business in foreign markets, exploring such topics as negotiation, data analytics, social entrepreneurship, design and project management. Says faculty director Jim Johnson, “Our goal is to provide a quality education to executives at the highest levels of business.”

Downtown MBA


When Jacksonville University’s Davis College of Business opened its downtown campus location last year on the 18th floor of Sun- Trust Tower, it returned the school to the city center where it opened in 1934. The school also took the occasion to launch a collection of online, hybrid and cohort business programs. The MBA program features disciplines in consumer goods and services, accounting and finance, management accounting, business analytics, and organizational management, along with aviation and sport management. A global MBA is planned.



Hodges has campuses 20 minutes apart in Naples and Fort Myers, but some MBA students still want more convenience. Last semester the Johnson School of Business at Hodges University launched “technology enhanced courses” as part of its MBA offerings. Under TEC, most MBA classes are streamed live for students who can’t attend in person and are stored online all semester for those who need a refresher, says Johnson School dean Aysegul Timur. Students watching live online also can chat with classmates and the instructor in real time, she says. “If you can’t make the class today, tomorrow you can have your cup of coffee and watch the class.”

A new certificate option in forensic accounting and fraud examination can be added to Hodges’ MBA program. The 18-credit-hour program is ideal for MBA candidates who want to better blend business and accounting.


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