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Washington State University
Carson College of Business Fall 2017 - Dividend

Living the Dream
on the Cayman Islands

By Meredith Metsker

Palm trees. White sand beaches. Ocean views. They’re all in a day’s work for Claire Pettinati (’17 EMBA), owner and brand developer for Kaibo beach bar, restaurant, coffee shop, and marina in the Cayman Islands.

Pettinati, a London native and May 2017 WSU Executive MBA (EMBA) online graduate, purchased Kaibo beach bar about 10 years ago with her partner after moving to the Cayman Islands to escape the big city rat race.

“My dream was to live and work in a lifestyle business where it doesn’t feel like financial success has to come at a personal cost,” Pettinati says.

After years of struggling under its previous management, the small, family-owned beach bar flourished under the new owners and turned a profit in its first year. Over the last decade, they’ve expanded the picturesque oceanfront property to include a high-end restaurant and coffee shop. Kaibo is now one of the premiere destinations on Grand Cayman.

Pettinati prides herself on the welcoming, multicultural atmosphere she has created at Kaibo. Her employees come from all over the world.

“That’s living the dream for me, being part of something that feels like family and having an enjoyable work atmosphere.’” Pettinati says.

To improve her management skills and build upon her entrepreneurial and marketing background, Pettinati researched the EMBA program at WSU two years ago. WSU’s 100 percent online program and high national rankings sealed the deal.

Pettinati says the EMBA program provided her with a new skill set, particularly in areas where she felt she was weaker, like finance and data analysis. Pettinati is already using these skills to analyze patterns in her business and make more informed decisions.

“It also helped give me a greater conviction when I know something is a good idea. It’s given me the confidence to make decisions quicker,” Pettinati says.

Pettinati says the Leadership and Productivity course was particularly inspiring to her.

“It was very much about people and cultures, and I believe that businesses become successful when a manager can lead people effectively and remain respectful to their needs. It really helped me contemplate what leadership means and what people need from their organization,” Pettinati says.

Like many WSU EMBA graduates, Pettinati credits the capstone class as being one of the most valuable learning experiences in the program.

Pettinati worked with three “fantastic people,” all of whom were business leaders and entrepreneurs.

“It was a space that was very respectful, diligent, and productive. I would do another project with any of them. It was a real honor,” Pettinati says. The capstone team of four met after graduation and stay in touch regularly.

Pettinati attended commencement ceremonies in Pullman and explored Washington and Oregon. Her dream is to continue growing Kaibo and its family-oriented culture. She also plans to enjoy some post-EMBA free time paddle boarding, painting, and diving in the beautiful Cayman Islands.

Claire Pettinati (’17 EMBA)