Global Gators

Possessing a global perspective is imperative for today’s business students. And there’s no better way to gain that unique perspective than to immerse oneself in these international capitals of industry.

That’s why Warrington is committed to providing our undergraduate and graduate students with opportunities to travel abroad, network with international executives and see how international businesses operate firsthand.

It also helps to have a Business Gator guide you along the way. Warrington alumni are located all over the world, and have been instrumental in helping our students thrive in the global marketplace.

Global Immersion in the Middle East

This past spring, Lexie Cegelski (MBA ’16) made corporate visits to some of the world’s top companies, and networked with Warrington alumni in executive positions at those elite organizations.

Cegelski’s business trip didn’t take place in New York City.

It was in Abu Dhabi.

Cegelski and her UF MBA peers spent seven days in the United Arab Emirates as part of UF MBA’s Global Immersion Experience (GIE). GIEs are vital components of the UF MBA experience that strengthen an understanding of global business.

“These trips struck a chord with me because you can see these different types of industries come alive,” said Cegelski, who visited Santiago, Chile, on a GIE in the fall. “What I found impressive about Abu Dhabi was the caliber of companies we visited. It was cool to see UF alumni there; it made it easier to envision ourselves at that company.”

One of those companies was Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world. UF MBA students were greeted by alumni Tom Arnold (BSBA ’80), ADIA’s Head of Americas-Real Estate; John Dewenter (BA ’81, MA ’83, MBC ’85), Real Estate Development and Asset Risk-Asia-Oceania Region; Juan Arias (MBA ’06) Real Estate Valuation Officer; and Matt Chamberlain (BSBA ’00), Investment Manager.

Arnold has welcomed students from Ivy League business schools such as the University of Pennsylvania’s The Wharton School, and Dartmouth University’s Tuck School of Business. He said UF MBA students displayed the same passion and intellect.

“I was very impressed with these students,” Arnold said. “I thought they matched up quite well with MBA students from the elite private programs.”

Additionally, UF MBA students visited Bryan Fish (BS ’01), Operations Director at Yas Waterworld; G. Allen Harris (BSBA ’73), Group Chief Financial Officer and Hospital Operations Officer at Abu Dhabi Health Services Company; and Matthew Nobles (BSBA ’07), International Commercial Controller at General Electric.

A memorable trip Down Under

Cindy Thompson (BSBA ’88) is more than 9,000 miles away from the heart of The Gator Nation.

So when she had an opportunity to meet some of the College’s top undergraduate students, she jumped at the chance.

In December, the College sent four students to compete in the inaugural Australian Undergraduate Business Case Competition in Brisbane, Australia. Rebecca Lakkis, Warrington’s Associate Director of Alumni Engagement and Annual Giving, asked Thompson if she’d like to meet them.

“I was just excited about spending some time with fellow Americans,” said Thompson, the Director of Director of Development for Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors (AZWW), the wildlife conservation charity founded by Steve and Terri Irwin in 2002. “We had a great time sharing our stories and mutual experiences at UF.

“I was so impressed with the students. They were incredibly articulate, engaging and enthusiastic about being in Australia.”

For the team, the trip Down Under was successful on two fronts. The team won the competition, and witnessed firsthand how eager global Warrington alumni are to connect with students.

“When we first heard about meeting with a Gator alumnus, we didn't know what to expect,” said Luis Franco, one of the team’s members. “The term Gator Nation is thrown around a lot, but when we sat down for dinner with her, it really let the mantra sink in. Wherever a Gator is in the world, they are never alone. It was rewarding and refreshing to have someone go out of their way and meet with us!”

Gymnast flips over study abroad experience

Jamie Shisler, a senior and member of the three-time defending NCAA champion UF women’s gymnastics team, spent six weeks in Brussels during the height of the European Debt Crisis in 2012. She was in the continent’s economic epicenter—Brussels is the de facto capital of the European Union—and was immersed in the intrigue and significance of that historic time.

Those six weeks had two immeasurable impacts on Shisler: She switched majors from political science to business, and she wanted a career overseas.

“This was not the intended path,” said Shisler, “but study abroad opened me up to an entirely different world. I always knew it would be important, but in terms of how it’s shaped my career plans, I didn’t expect it to play as big of a role. I think it’s important to make yourself culturally aware of what’s going on.

“Who knows? Maybe if I didn’t go on that trip I’d be miserable taking poly sci classes right now.”

Shisler is anything but miserable pursuing her international career. She complemented her studies in Belgium with professional experience at the Institute for Public Private Partnerships (IP3)—an international development firm in Washington D.C. that serves as a training provider and advisor to foreign governments, financial institutions and public service entities. She also has corporate experience after interning in the digital brands division at Nike, one of the world’s top athletic brands.

Shisler, who tore the Achilles tendon in her left foot in January, is applying for a medical redshirt. If she receives it, she said she would return for another run at a national title and pursue a graduate business degree, most likely the Master of Science in Information Systems & Operations Management.