Irene Hurst first set foot in the United States in 1984 when she landed in Tampa Bay to attend the University of South Florida (USF). A native of Indonesia, Hurst, who is of Chinese descent, originally received her degree in psychology from the University of Indonesia; however, after working in the field for a year, she decided to pursue her MBA degree in the U.S. It’s a decision she says she does not regret for one second.
“The quality education I received at USF’s College of Business has helped me exponentially throughout my career,” Hurst says. “The MBA program went well beyond the books. Learning didn’t just happen in the classroom. Real-life experiences occurred in business settings and in Tampa Bay’s business community. At the end of the program, I was not only well-prepared to join the region’s workforce, I knew how to seamlessly transition into a business professional.”
Upon graduation, Hurst began her career as a small business counselor at the Small Business Development Center in Tampa Bay. She worked her way up and after a few years became the director of the organization. In 2008, she came full circle and joined the USF College of Business as its director of MBA and Executive MBA programs.
“The graduates we are producing out of the MBA and Executive MBA programs at USF are of the highest caliber. In fact, our graduates go on to work with major companies and corporations in the Tampa Bay region and beyond, such as Nielsen, Coca-Cola Enterprises and Goldman Sachs,” says Hurst. “If you’re looking for highly talented workers, there’s no shortage of a labor pool in this region.”
Hurst, who describes Tampa Bay as friendly, innovative and progressive, became a U.S. citizen in 1992 and is proud to call the region home for many reasons. One of those reasons being the welcoming nature of the area. She says although the business community is a booming and thriving arena, it’s a very inclusive environment. Both old and new leaders are embraced equally.
“This community has all the amenities of a big city – top-notch business opportunities, world-class arts and culture, highly efficient infrastructure – but without the hassles of a major metropolitan area,” Hurst explains. “Everyone in this region is friendly. You can travel wherever you want to within a reasonable amount of time, and on top of that, the beauty surrounding you can’t be found anywhere else. All in all, it’s a win-win situation.”