Lyft And Facebook Leaders Spice Up Business Program

Students at Miami Dade College are now gleaning knowledge from some of the top business and technology minds in the industry thanks to a re-vamped two-year business program.

Leaders from Lyft, Facebook, eMerge Americas and the Cisneros Group will be among those spewing knowledge to scholars as part of a re-tooled associates in science degree in business entrepreneurship launched this fall.

“We wanted to rethink how we taught business education, more importantly entrepreneurship,” said Romi Bhatia Executive Director of The Idea Center. “Often what is learned in the classroom doesn’t translate to the real world so the program is here to bridge the gap between the classroom and changing trends in the real world.”

The program is a collaboration between the Idea Center, the College’s entrepreneurial hub, and TheVentureCity, a tech accelerator that focuses on helping startups and business ventures grow.  

It is different than traditional two-year business degree programs because it serves to expose students to business leaders in Miami by using the latest technology and innovation.

“We don’t want this to be a lecture-style course. We want to be hands-on and have the students working on projects within the classroom and have the students work individually and in groups to make the learning structure more dynamic and engaging,” said Jimena Zubiria vice president of University-Americas for TheVentureCity. “The environment we are trying to cultivate is a collaborative and innovative environment and a safe environment where people aren’t afraid to make mistakes while trying to mimic the real world.”

Each course in the program has a lead instructor from MDC and hosts various local industry leaders who teach sections and mentor students.

Instructors include Adriana Cisneros, CEO of Cisneros; Francesca de Quesada Covey, Head of Platform Partnerships for Facebook in Latin America; Melissa Medina, executive vice president of eMerge Americas; Sam Cohen, general manager for Lyft in Florida; and Laura Gonzalez-Estefani, CEO and founder of TheVentureCity.

Topics covered within the courses include startup strategy and execution, product development, project management, digital and social media marketing, user experience design, human resources and team management and organizational development.

The courses will also include humanities courses such as art appreciation and introduction to anthropology and sociology to foster creativity and innovation outside of the traditional business environment.

“What I’m doing through this course is focusing on human innovation and showing examples throughout history about how humans have met and faced challenges,” said anthropology and sociology instructor, Benjamin Augustyn. “Throughout history, humans have recognized challenges and through the sharing of cultures, recognized ways to address those challenges.”

Currently, the new program is only offered at Wolfson Campus, but it  may expand to other campuses in the future. There are also plans to make the core courses into a certificate program so students in other majors will have access to the opportunities the program offers.

“The objective of this program is to provide students with an understanding of how to become an entrepreneur while focusing on three possible outcomes: start their own venture, join someone else’s founding team or join an existing company/organization that is looking to innovate, create new products, services within the organization,” said Ramiro Almeida, Director of the Innovation Lab at The Idea Center at MDC.

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