Author Archive

research – investor sentiment vs conventional market wisdom


The world of finance is full of truisms, axioms, and so-called conventional market wisdom. Among the most basic and prevalent examples of these is the “mean variance theory of asset allocation,” developed in the 1950s by Nobel Prize-winning U.S. American economist Harry Markowitz. In a nutshell, mean variance theory establishes a method for selecting a diverse portfolio based partially on the assumptions that investors:
1. act in a rational fashion; and
2. expect a direct correlation between the risk associated with the investment asset and the rate of return they expect to receive.
        Billions of dollars have been—and continue to be—invested based at least in part on perceived investor expectations for risk/reward tradeoff. The trouble is, however, the market doesn’t really work that way according to recent research findings by Carlson School Assistant Professor of Finance Jianfeng Yu and his colleague, University of Iowa Assistant Professor Yu Yuan. In fact, according to their research, you might do better by flipping a coin than assuming the risk/reward tradeoff is always at work in the stock market.
Jianfeng Yu quote        “Almost half of the time, you will find that the market doesn’t demand a corresponding level of compensation for the high level of risk that buyers are assuming,” says Yu. “When investor sentiment, which is the degree of optimism or pessimism about the stock market not justified by fundamentals, is low, the traditional assumptions about risk and reward hold true. In fact, our research suggests that investors who are willing to accept one standard deviation of higher risk can expect their annual return to increase by 12 percent.”
        Conversely, when investor sentiment is high, the market becomes willing to accept lower returns for riskier stocks than it otherwise would.
        As a result, the heavy presence of sentiment-driven investors during periods of market optimism undermines the otherwise positive mean-variance tradeoff in the stock market.
        Yu’s bottom line? Investors should take note. “Asset management firms should consider reducing their holdings on high-risk stocks during high sentiment periods since the risk tolerated during these periods is poorly compensated,” he explains. “Moreover, our results suggest that models of stock prices and risk-return tradeoff should integrate investor sentiment and assign it a significant role.”

research – a fresh look at the teenage material world


Here’s a remarkable statistic: According to MarketResearch.com, the buying power of U.S. children between ages 12 and 19 increased by 27.7 percent between 2001 and 2006 to more than $180 billion.
        Deborah Roedder John, Carlson School professor of Marketing and holder of the Curtis L. Carlson Chair, says those figures point to a larger trend. “During the past 20 to 30 years, teens have become more materialistic—and more focused on brands, status symbols, and designer products,” she notes.
Deborah Roedder John quote        John, who has long had an interest in the ways that marketing affects materialism in children and adolescents, recently teamed up with Lan Nguyen Chaplin from Villanova University and Aric Rindfleisch from the University of Wisconsin, Madison to conduct a pair of studies on the topic. “In the first study, we conducted a survey of 870 adolescents across all regions in the United States and all demographic groups,” says John. “We asked one set of questions to determine the level of materialism among respondents, and another to determine their relative levels of gratitude.”
        The first study established that the more the respondents experienced gratitude in their lives, the less materialistic they were. For the second study, the researchers conducted an experiment to see if they could actually affect the level of materialism among adolescents by encouraging gratitude.
        Sixty-one adolescents were enlisted to participate. After completing the survey used in the first study, participants were randomly divided into two groups. The first group was instructed to keep a journal for two weeks and record things they were grateful for each day. The second group was instructed to simply record their daily events for two weeks.
        At the end of the two weeks, all participants were tested again. And each was given 10 $1 bills. They were told they could keep the money all for themselves or donate some portion of it to a charity on their way out of the building.
        “The results of the first study were promising in terms of establishing a correlation between gratitude and materialism,” says John. “But the second study was really quite remarkable. It demonstrated that gratitude not only decreases peoples’ level of materialism, but it can also increase their generosity.”
        Participants who kept the gratitude journals tested much lower for indicators of materialism—and they donated an average of 60 percent (or $2.58) more than participants in the control group.

research – opportunity of a lifetime


For Associate Professor Ravi Bapna, research opportunities don’t come any better. Bapna, who holds the Carlson School’s Board of Overseers Professorship in Information and Decision Sciences, describes himself as an IT economist whose goal in life is to truly understand the socioeconomic impact of information technology. He’s currently studying India’s nationwide project to assign Unique Identification Numbers (UIDs) to its citizens.
        “This is the mother of all IT projects,” says Bapna. “Nothing on this scale has ever been done. To be in the thick of it, to study and come to understand the rollout and the long-term socioeconomic impact—well, I feel very privileged to have this opportunity.”
Ravi Bapna quote        The Indian government launched the project in 2010. Enrollment—which is voluntary—involves collecting biometric information (all 10 fingerprints and an iris scan) from enrollees and assigning them their UID number. Enrollees can then use their UIDs to identify themselves anywhere in India to access a range of financial services, government programs, and more. To date, approximately 1 million citizens have enrolled.
        Bapna believes the megaproject is worth the risk and the $850 million price tag. “Roughly 600 million Indians don’t have access to even the most basic financial services such as credit and bank accounts,” he says. “Providing a reliable means of identification reduces the risk of providing credit and other banking services, which lowers the cost of capital and is critical to sustaining and accelerating economic growth in industrializing nations.”
        Bapna’s research will be conducted in two phases. During the first phase, he is establishing baseline information about financial inclusion through a 500,000-household survey. He is also studying the adoption process itself to help the Indian government facilitate adoption of the UIDs. It is the second phase of the research, however, that interests him the most. “We’re going to measure the long-term social impact,” he says. “Will the project truly alter financial inclusion?”
        Although it’s too early in the game to deliver any research results, Bapna believes the UIDs could transform India forever. “This is an extremely large-scale IT and social project,” he says. “I believe the project will create an identity infrastructure that will support numerous applications that are hard for us to even imagine today,” he concludes. “Think Facebook or the iPhone application ecosystem—but even more open; an ecosystem of government-to-citizen, business-to-citizen, and perhaps citizen-to-citizen apps.”

carlson leadership transitions


New Deans Named in MBA and Undergraduate Programs

The MBA and Undergraduate Programs at the Carlson School will experience leadership changes this summer as two new associate deans begin their service. At the same time, the Carlson School honors the current deans who are stepping down and thanks them for their service to their respective programs and to the school as a whole.

MBA Programs

Art HillProfessor Art Hill, the John & Nancy Lindahl Professor for Excellence in Business Education, will assume the role of associate dean of the Carlson School’s MBA Programs, effective June 1. Hill replaces Professor Ed Joyce, who will conclude five years of service in this key leadership role on May 31 and return to the faculty.
        Since 1992, Hill has served as a full professor in the Carlson School’s Department of Operations and Management Science, where he has delivered consistently strong instruction in the core of both the Full-Time and Executive MBA programs. He earned a BA in mathematics from Indiana University, an MS in industrial administration, and a PhD in management from the Krannert School of Management at Purdue University. He also is a Fellow of the American Production Inventory Control Society and has been a visiting professor at Indiana University, IMD International (Lausanne, Switzerland), Wits Business School (Johannesburg, South Africa), and the National University of Singapore. He founded the Carlson Consulting Enterprise; has authored more than 70 research articles on supply chain management, service quality, and process improvement programs; and has consulted for a number of leading firms in the United States and Europe.
Ed Joyce        He was the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Operations Management and helped found three professional societies: the Production and Operations Management Society, the Operations Management Association, and LEAN. His recent books include The Encyclopedia of Operations Management – 2010 Edition and Personal Operations Management – Lean Principles for Getting Good Things Done.
        Joyce joined the Carlson School in 1981 as a faculty member in the Department of Accounting. In 2006, he assumed the role of associate dean, in which he supervised significant enhancements in the MBA Program. Among the many accomplishments under his leadership are the implementation of new curricula in the Full-Time and Part-Time MBA programs, a restructuring of the School’s Enterprises to increase both their centrality in the curriculum and their academic content, the consolidation of the MBA program offices and increased synergies among MBA programs, and a marked increase in the quality of admissions processes.

Undergraduate Program

Following 10 years of service, Professor Robert Ruekert will step down from his role as associate dean of the Carlson School’s Undergraduate Program, effective May 31. He will return to his faculty role after a one-year sabbatical leave. Assuming this important role, effective June 1, will be Professor Connie Wanberg, the Industrial Relations Faculty Excellence Chair in the Department of Human Resources and Industrial Relations (HRIR).
Connie Wanberg        Wanberg joined the Carlson School in 1996 as a professor in the Department of Human Resources and Industrial Relations. She earned a BS in psychology from Moorhead State University and an MS and PhD in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from Iowa State University. She served as chair of the HRIR department from 2006 to 2009. She has published 28 articles in refereed journals, as well as numerous book chapters, and has served as an editorial board member for Personnel Psychology, Journal of Applied Psychology and Human Performance. She also has presented at numerous conferences throughout the world and has served as a guest instructor at Universite Jean Moulin in Lyon, France and the Fundacíon Ortega y Gasset in Toledo, Spain. She has extensive consulting and research experience and is a Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.
        Ruekert joined the faculty of the Carlson School in 1981 and has been continuously involved with its Undergraduate Program ever since. In 2001, he assumed the role of associate dean, in which he led several initiatives to improve the quality of the program, including the development of a management major, the founding of an upper and lower division honors program, the implementation of an international experience graduation requirement, and the development of an academic major in nonprofit/public sector management. In addition, under his leadership, the Undergraduate Program grew by more than 50 percent, experienced a complete redesign of its curriculum, became the proud occupant of the newly constructed Herbert M. Hanson Jr. Hall, and achieved its current top-20 ranking by U.S. News and World Report.

Reflections on Undergraduate Business Education


Editor’s Note: We asked Professor Robert Ruekert to provide some thoughts on his tenure as associate dean.
For many faculty administrators, tenure in office can be rather short. Either such talented people find they enjoy and are successful in their positions and are asked to move up the academic hierarchy, or they find that their true calling is what brought them to academics in the first place—teaching and research—and return to their non-administrative status. Thus, it is unusual to find someone like myself who has found such satisfaction in serving as associate dean for the Undergraduate Program for the past 10 years.
        As I reflect on that 10-year period, I find that the world has indeed changed in broad, powerful ways that have affected all that we do in our Undergraduate Program. While these changes are many, I group them into three major themes: including students, faculty, and the strategic importance of undergraduate education.
        The Undergraduate Program at the Carlson School has seen tremendous growth in interest from both incoming freshmen and transfer applicants. We have experienced double-digit growth in applications year after year. This year we have more than 6,500 applications for about 490 seats in our freshman class. The key result of this growth in interest is that our student body consists of the very best students, capable of extraordinary academic achievement. But our students today are also quite different than their counterparts from a decade ago. As part of the Millennial Generation, many of our current students are deeply interested in changing the world. They want to make a difference in their communities, not just by volunteering, but by building new organizations designed to create significant social change. I have tremendous confidence that our students of today will definitely change both the corporate and social landscape in deep and sustainable ways.
        The role and challenges facing faculty is a second area of change over the past decade; in many ways following the demands placed by our student body. The classroom experience of today is dramatically different from that of 2001. Gone are days of faculty lecturing for full class periods. The typical class period now involves student interaction in the learning process. Small group exercises illustrating and deepening the learning of concepts permeate most class sessions. Group assignments and projects are the norm. The use of technology continues to grow both in the classroom and in tools that organize everything from the course syllabus to quizzes. Faculty are also being asked to be more connected to students outside of the classroom, and to act as mentors to assist in their students’ personal and professional development. Increasingly common is having faculty develop courses that combine learning on campus with education abroad. In short, the demands on faculty have grown and diversified considerably over the past 10 years. Never have faculty been a more important factor in our program’s success.
        The third change I would like to highlight has been the growing strategic importance of undergraduate business education to the health of the business school as a whole. Ten years ago, our industry, especially the top 50 business schools, was primarily focused on graduate education, especially the MBA. Across the nation, a call for investment in undergraduate education fell on deaf ears. I am very proud of the fact that the Carlson School was a national leader in recognizing the critical importance of undergraduate education in meeting the school’s strategic objectives. We launched an expansion of our undergraduate student body and built a world-class facility, Hanson Hall, to serve our students’ needs. We also committed to a new curriculum that now requires all students to have an international experience as part of the degree. In short, undergraduate education at the Carlson School is one of our hallmarks. As one of our recent accreditation team members commented, the Undergraduate Program is a “jewel in the crown of the Carlson School.”
        As I prepare to leave my position as associate dean, I am truly honored to have been a part of these massive changes we have witnessed. The Undergraduate Program is on very solid ground and is meeting all of its strategic objectives. I am also confident that these trends will continue, as they have been engrained in our school’s culture.
        I am also extremely thankful for the support I have received from my bosses—the deans who have served over this 10-year period, the tremendous faculty who have stepped up to enhance what we do, my wonderful group of highly professional and caring staff, and to the hundreds of students I have gotten to know over these years. I am truly a lucky man.

community – impact of carlson


How can you assess the Carlson School’s overall impact? While that’s a challenging question, there is plenty of evidence in sight.

Many of the articles in this issue have attempted to showcase the various ways that the Carlson School makes an impact both on the Twin Cities-area community and beyond. Doing so is a relatively straightforward process. The school is a recognized leader in business education and research. It has deep and long-standing connections to the area business sector. Its faculty, students, and alumni have long engaged in outreach activities that have contributed to profound and lasting positive change.
        But how do you actually measure the school’s overall impact? That’s a more challenging question.

Historical perspective

One way to evaluate the impact is by taking a look at the Carlson School’s history. Since its founding in 1919 as the University of Minnesota School of Business, the Carlson School has provided groundbreaking research in such realms as marketing, industrial relations, and management information systems. It’s also pioneered innovative programs such as the Carlson Executive MBA, the Enterprises, the Medical Industry Leadership Institute, and a wide (and growing) cadre of international programs.
        At the same time, the Carlson School has turned out thousands of graduates since 1919. Over the years, those alumni established new businesses, worked at mid-sized firms, and populated the ranks of Fortune 500 powerhouses such as 3M, Cargill, Target, and General Mills. Some, such as school namesake and Carlson founder Curt Carlson, ’37 BA, built global businesses. Others, such as former Minnesota Governor C. Elmer Anderson, ’31 BBA, found success in the political realm. Still others, such as former NFL coach Tony Dungy, ’78 BSB, used their education for careers outside the traditional business sector.

“A win-win relationship”

Andrew CecereThroughout the years, Carlson School graduates have provided the local business community with a steady supply of highly educated employees. “From my perspective, the most significant contribution the Carlson School provides is its high-caliber graduates,” says Andrew Cecere, ’91 MBA (right), vice chairman and CFO of U.S. Bancorp. “It’s a win-win relationship.”
Jim White
        Jim White, ’89 MBA (left), president of Ecolab’s International Sector, echoes Cecere’s sentiments. “The Carlson School is a tremendous source for talent,” he says. “Before coming to Ecolab, I worked for General Mills, Pillsbury, and International Multifoods. At each of those companies, we recruited high-quality people from the Carlson School who could work across a range of functions.”

The real world

Another crucial area of impact is the Carlson School’s work on real-world business issues. White notes that Ecolab’s work with the Brand Enterprise has paid dividends to his company. “We’ve worked with David Hopkins and the Brand Enterprise on three or four projects,” he says. “Each one has produced a tangible analysis and real results.”
Matt Kramer
        Matt Kramer (left), president and CEO of the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, points to several other recent Carlson School initiatives. “Professor Stephen Parente’s work at the Medical Industry Leadership Institute is building generations of leaders in our critically important medical device industry,” he says. “Another great example is with the Center for Integrative Leadership, which builds on the world recognition that the Twin Cities has in the nonprofit world (i.e., groups such as the McKnight Foundation) and creates the context for learning and improvement in an industry sector that has significant visibility across the state. It’s a great example of how the Carlson School builds on and improves Minnesota’s economic positioning. Without the Carlson School, the Twin Cities would be a poorer community, both in financial and intellectual terms.”
David Olson
        The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, the state’s largest business advocacy organization, has produced many key public policy measures to help Minnesota companies stay competitive in the global economy. “We consider the Carlson School as a partner in that effort, producing leaders who are committed to protecting Minnesota’s competitive edge in business excellence,” says Chamber President David Olson (right). “The school’s first-class events play an integral role in engaging individuals and organizations in this common mission.”

Deep examination

It’s difficult to argue with these assessments. But the question still remains: How can you quantify that impact? Last October, University President Robert Bruininks commissioned an economic impact study designed to provide a comprehensive analysis of the University’s impact on the state as a whole. Preliminary results of
the study have been eye-opening. Among other findings, they indicate that:
• The University makes an $8.6 billion impact on the state each year.
• Every dollar invested in the U of M by the state generates $13.20 in the statewide economy.
• More than $512.3 million in state and local tax revenue is generated by the U of M every year.
• A total of 79,497 jobs are supported by the University—42,319 jobs on its campuses and another 37,178 in communities across the state.
• U of M alumni have formed a total of 10,000 companies in Minnesota.
• Nearly 25% of these company founders moved to Minnesota to attend the University.
• These businesses employ 500,000 people and generate $100 billion in annual revenues within the state.
        While impacts at the individual college level have not yet been separated out in this study, there is little question that the fruits of the Carlson School play a large part in the economic success of the University and the region.

community – international network


The Carlson School’s network of global contacts and educational programs is making a powerful impact on students and companies alike.

How does a multinational corporation carry out its mission on the local level? What are the best ways to market a popular American food product in Russia? How do you manage local government relationships to gain approval for a new production facility? What green initiatives generate results and savings for a manufacturer’s worldwide supply chain?
        These sorts of questions exemplify the complex issues facing today’s global business community. To prepare students for such challenges, the Carlson School is designing new curricula, programs, and partnerships that build global understanding and competence, including the requirement that all undergraduate and MBA students complete an international experience as part of their degree programs.
        “We want every Carlson School student to graduate with a global lens developed from hands-on experiences in business climates around the world,” says Michael Houston, associate dean of International Programs. “In the classroom, students deepen their understanding of international business issues and develop global competencies. Partnerships with leading universities, companies, and business people provide real-time international connections.”
        These relationships are mutually beneficial opportunities. Businesses work with high-caliber Carlson School students and faculty on current problems, while students experience new countries, markets, and industries; see first-hand how multinational corporations operate; and put classroom theories into practice.

Vladimir Vano
A global education close to home

An international emphasis was a key reason why Vladimir Vano decided to attend the Carlson School’s Global Executive MBA program (VEMBA) at the Vienna University of Economics and Business in Vienna. Vano, chief analyst at VOLKSBANK Slovensko in Bratislava, Slovakia, was impressed that the joint program had four accreditations (AMBA, EQUIS, AACSB, and FIBAA) and allowed him to attend a U.S. university program close to his home.
        Vano, who will graduate in May, says the program is delivering a strong global educational experience. His classmates represent 11 nationalities, and his professors teach in the United States, India, China, and Russia. Vano and his classmates traveled to China and India earlier this year to study at Lingnan MBA Centre at the Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou and the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad. “The scheduled company site visits and the chance to meet and discuss the opportunities and challenges of globalization with local business leaders were highlights,” he says.
        Vano is now turning his attention to the global team project, a hallmark of Carlson’s Global Executive MBA programs. His team is putting together a business plan for an existing company’s entry into the Asian market. “Working on the same project with team members scattered literally around the globe is a very interesting, enjoyable experience,” he says. “Finding a common time and language is not as challenging as carefully tuning in to cultural differences in communication, such as ways of expressing discontent or constructive criticism.”
        Vano’s communication skills should be an asset to his team. An independent ranking by the nonprofit INEKO Institute lists him as the most frequently quoted Slovakian analyst in his category for 2008, 2009, and 2010. He also is one of more than a dozen MBA students from business schools around the globe who are writing about their experiences for the Financial Times Business Education MBA blog. You can read his columns at http://blogs.ft.com/mba-blog/author/vladimirvano/.

Iain Coles

Iain Coles
A unique and rewarding stop for a global entrepreneur

Iain Coles has made the world his marketplace. As the owner and top executive of multiple businesses that provide software solutions and consulting, he has traveled nearly 253,000 miles to 36 locations around the globe in his career. That international journey also has included graduating from the VEMBA in Vienna in May 2010.
        For more than a decade, Coles’ businesses grew in size and complexity while he established offices and added clients on multiple continents. To continue that growth and take his enterprises to the next level, he decided to pursue an MBA degree to strengthen his knowledge of corporate management, accounting, corporate finance, and company valuation. Like Vano, he was interested in the VEMBA program’s international residencies and welcomed the opportunity to travel to India and China.
        He also valued working with and learning from his business peers. “The debate and conversation was always lively in class,” he says. “Many of my classmates are still good friends and business contacts nearly a year later.”
        The global team project was another highlight for Coles. “Working across cultures and time zones in order to meet strict time and quality deadlines was a wonderful experience, as well as a strong personal challenge,” he says. “Our project—an online luxury products store aimed at China—will go live toward the end of 2011.”
        Coles says that the VEMBA program has filled out his general business knowledge and awareness. “This experience is allowing me to improve the structure and functioning of my businesses and has helped me more effectively prepare one or two of them for sale,” he notes, adding that he continues to develop and add employees to his businesses.

Rich McLellan

Seminar in the future
Live case project in China propels
Carlson’s partnership with Mosaic

When you want to strengthen how you distribute and sell your products, it’s critical to talk with the people who distribute and buy them. That’s why the Carlson School students participating in a recent live case project with the Mosaic Company interviewed local farmers and hosted roundtable discussions with distributors during their visit to China. Mosaic is a Plymouth, Minn.-based producer of concentrated phosphate and potash crop nutrients, as well as products for crop nutrition, livestock feed, and industrial uses. With annual net sales exceeding $9.8 billion, the company has distribution facilities in 10 countries, serves customers in more than 30 countries, and employs more than 7,400 employees worldwide.
        Mike Rahm, strategic and business analysis team leader, and Rick McLellan, senior vice president, commercial, both facilitated the live case project for Mosaic. The project goal was to review Mosaic’s strategy for boosting sales of its premium phosphate and potash products in developing Chinese markets. To launch the project, Rahm and McLellan discussed the Chinese fertilizer market, Mosaic’s current market position, and local regulations with students in Minneapolis. While in China, Mosaic’s local management team oversaw site tours and interviews with local farmers and distributors for the students from the Carlson School and Cheung Kong’s Graduate School of Management. The students presented their feedback and insights to local team members and then to managers in Minnesota.
        McLellan says the students generated significant ideas for improving Mosaic’s market position and strategy. “They brought a clean set of critical eyes to our approach in China,” he explains. “We have already implemented some of those concepts with positive results, including the creation of a toolkit with sales training modules for our China team members. Working with the students also benefited our team in China. The interaction between the groups provided them with a valuable cross-cultural learning experience that cannot be duplicated in any other setting.
        “We will look for other projects where we can work jointly,” he adds. “All of us were impressed by the quality of work.”

carlson reaching out


The Carlson School helps its students forge close ties to the community through a wide range of outreach activities.

The Carlson School has long been known for its academic rigor, the high caliber of its graduates, and its close ties to the Twin Cities business sector. While those are all undeniably important elements of the business school experience, there’s more to the equation. The Carlson School also has a proud tradition of strongly encouraging its students and faculty members to be good neighbors—both to the local community and to the world at large. Here’s a look at some outreach activities that are the tangible results of that tradition.

Leadership Training Program

Students Today Leaders Forever

During a late-night dorm room conversation in 2003, four University freshmen discussed how society needed young leaders committed to social change. From this small beginning, the independent organization Students Today Leaders Forever (STLF) was born. “Our communities, nation, and world need a generation of social activists passionate about change and willing to take action,” says STLF co-founder Irene Fernando, ’07 BSB.
        STLF’s mission of revealing leadership through service, relationships, and action is accomplished in part through the Pay it Forward Tour—a multi-day, multi-city program focused on service, education, and reflection. Students travel by bus, volunteer in a new city each day, learn about social issues, and take part in leadership activities each night.
        Today, STLF has a presence in 12 states on the college, high school, and middle school levels. To date, it has sent out 240 Pay it Forward Tours, which equates to 9,500 people contributing 115,000 hours of service to communities across the country.
        STLF has a rigorous Leadership Training Program to equip college students to lead these experiences, as well as a Leadership Camp for high school students. “STLF’s greatest impact is through the lives of each of the people who are part of our program,” Fernando says. “These young people are energetic, civically responsible, and socially aware. They are yearning to contribute to the world.”

Net Impact

Net Impact is an international nonprofit with a mission to inspire, educate, and equip students and professionals to use business skills to build a more socially and environmentally sustainable world. It has a large presence at the Carlson School, thanks in part to the work of co-founders Tommy DeMarco and Amanda Donohue-Hansen. Donohue-Hansen is currently the president of the undergraduate chapter.
Carlson Goes To Work        In its first two years of operation, the chapter has accomplished plenty, including Carlson Goes to Work, in which students, staff, and business professionals spend an afternoon conducting business-focused community service at local nonprofits. “We hope to continue to promote leadership and create events and partnerships that will transform volunteering and activism into a professional experience,” Donohue-Hansen says.
        The Carlson School also hosts a Net Impact MBA chapter. “We aim to give students an outlet for their career and personal goals, beyond the functional tools that are part of the MBA experience,” says chapter president and MBA student Judd Eder. “We host activities and events to ensure that students’ interests are supported, be it a talk from a Medtronic energy manager or a talk on corporate social responsibility from Marilyn Carlson Nelson.”
NET        The MBA chapter also runs the Neighborhood Business Fellows program, which focuses on helping spark the neighboring Cedar-Riverside community’s economy. The program is done in partnership with another MBA group, CHANCE, and is sponsored by State Farm Insurance. “By working with programs like the Neighborhood Business Fellows, which shares State Farm’s concern for healthy neighborhoods, we are able to contribute to helping the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood thrive,” says Missy Youmans, community relations zone strategist, State Farm Insurance. At present, the Fellows have conducted surveys and completed economic analyses and case studies. “We’re now working on the next step of the process, ensuring that the key learnings are translated into real impact on the community,” Eder says.

Graduate Volunteer Consultants

Graduate Volunteer Consultants

Twin Cities-area nonprofits have an ally in the Graduate Volunteer Consultants (GVC), an MBA and MA-HRIR student-run organization that offers free business consulting services. “Our first goal is to provide free, professional-level consulting services,” says GVC managing partner and MBA student Joe Mitchell. “The second is to tie learning to doing; the GVC experience offers the opportunity to contribute to the community and apply business skills and concepts.”
        Students typically spend five to 10 hours per week on their consulting projects during a seven-week period in spring semester. “We also have a capstone celebration at the end of the term that allows clients and students to share their experiences and further the learning and application between students and nonprofits,” Mitchell says, noting that there are currently 70 students participating on 14 projects. “We’ve also talked about ways to further GVC’s reach through partnerships to help students get internships and board positions in the nonprofit community.”

Chance Neighborhood Partnerships

Morgan ZehnerFounded in 2006, CHANCE (Cedar-Humphrey Action for Neighborhood Collaborative Engagement) aims to create partnerships between the University and the Cedar-Riverside community and to strengthen student engagement in the neighborhood.
        CHANCE operates through the Center for Integrative Leadership, which is overseen by the Carlson School and the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs. At the University, CHANCE is made up of individuals from the Carlson School, the Humphrey School, the University of Minnesota Law School, University Libraries, the Office of Public Engagement, and the Office of University Relations.
        Morgan Zehner, ’10 MBA, and a CHANCE student leader, recently received the Outstanding Partner in Engagement award from the University’s Office of Public Engagement for his commitment to the University’s partnership with the neighborhood. Working with the Neighborhood Business Fellows Program, he recruited MBA students to interview regional entrepreneurs outside the Cedar-Riverside area to determine the perceptions and challenges of operating a business there. They’ve since compiled the interviews into a report and plan to host a forum for entrepreneurs, city officials, and others to discuss its findings.

Joe Swedberg quote

Finding Common Ground

Uniting diverse perspectives is the goal of the Finding Common Ground forums developed by the Center for Integrative Leadership and the Global Initiative for Food Systems Leadership (GIFSL).
        GIFSL is affiliated with the University, and reports to the vice president of the Academic Health Center and the deans of the School of Public Health; College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences; and the College of Veterinary Medicine.
        The first Finding Common Ground forum, which took place in November 2010, focused on antibiotics and agriculture. A broad selection of representatives from academia, media, government, and corporate firms such as Pfizer Animal Health, Gold’N Plump, Jennie-O Turkey, and Hormel were in attendance and offered their perspectives. “It was a good discussion about all sides of the issue,” says Joe Swedberg, Hormel’s vice president of legislative affairs. “I was encouraged by the tone of cooperation between the diverse opinions. It was a well-constructed approach.”

Deluxe Entrepreneur Internship Program

Deluxe E-ternship Program logoTeaming up with the Deluxe Corporation Foundation and the Buuck Family Foundation, the Carlson School’s Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship allows students to work at some of Minnesota’s top entrepreneurial companies. The Deluxe Entrepreneurship Intern (E-ternship) Program pairs 20 undergraduate students each spring semester with early-stage companies to support the launch or creation of new ventures or services.
        “There’s a natural connection between Deluxe’s mission of helping small businesses succeed and providing Carlson School students with opportunities to apply entrepreneurship coursework,” says Jenny Anderson, director of foundations and community affairs, Deluxe Corporation Foundation. “The Carlson E-ternships supported by this program are creating a pool of entrepreneurial talent that is benefiting our entire community.”
        Companies participating in 2011 include Augeo Affinity Marketing, VAST Enterprises, Klick Real Estate, and Liberty Diversified Industries. The Holmes Center and the companies share the costs equally, enabling students to be compensated for their time. “We were impressed with several aspects of the e-ternship program, from providing paid on-the-job experience for students to helping them as they make career decisions,” Anderson says. “The Deluxe Foundation agreed to help endow the program so Carlson School interns could loan their talent and expertise to local companies for years to come.”

Sustainability Initiative

The Sustainability Initiative

Sustainability is a puzzle everyone is trying to solve these days. Several years ago, in its role as a bridge to academia and the corporate realm, the Institute for Research in Marketing at the Carlson School asked its advisory board about its key areas of interest. The board, comprised of marketing executives from Fortune 500 companies, expressed resounding interest in how marketing professionals could contribute to and influence the sustainability movement. “It is a clear priority for our members,” says Wayne Mueller, director of the Institute. “Companies want to know how to create demand for new products and how to influence the behavior changes necessary to make a difference.”
        In response, Akshay Rao, founder of the Institute for Research in Marketing and the General Mills Chair in Marketing, launched the Sustainability Initiative, a multi-year research program to build the base of scholarship focused on the demand side of sustainability. “We found that 98 percent of sustainability funding is devoted to the creation of new products and processes, while less than 2 percent is spent on developing an understanding of how buyers can be persuaded to adopt new, environmentally friendly alternatives,” Rao explains. “This inattention could potentially affect the success rate of sustainability efforts for years.”
        Last fall, the Institute kicked off the Sustainability Initiative with Carlson on Sustainability, a conference that brought together academics, practitioners, and policy makers from around the world to identify research problems in the sustainability movement. With partners that included the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER), the Institute on the Environment, the Center for Integrative Leadership, Wells Fargo, and Best Buy, the Institute engaged attendees for two days of rigorous and informative exchange. The agenda for the conference featured sessions that covered a range of topics, including “Doing Well While Doing Good,” and the “Sustainability Liability.”
        Moving forward, the Institute plans to form a consortium of corporations, foundations, government agencies, and academic institutions that sponsors and conducts research on sustainability. “This community interface is necessary in order to keep our research meaningful for the practitioner community,” says Mueller.

community – corporate connections


Corporate partners and alumni working at major corporations locally and around the country connect to the Carlson School by mentoring students, recruiting interns and employees, teaching classes, and sponsoring scholarships and programs. They bring their expertise and experience to the boards on which they serve within the school, and they enhance the school’s programs by acting as consultants. Many also have deepened bonds between their corporations and the Carlson School by designing customized continuing education opportunities for their own employees.

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Kai Worrell

Kai Worrell, ’00 BSB
President, Worrell Design Inc.

Relationship to the Carlson School:

Besides mentoring students and hiring interns from the Carlson School, I have forged great relationships with the professors who set me up to apply management principles directly to my business.

How has the Carlson School affected your life and career?

I have been fortunate to continue to host Carlson School classes at Worrell on a regular basis, both in our Minneapolis office and in Shanghai. We also routinely guest-lecture on the power of ethnographic research, design, innovation, and changes in emerging markets.

Why is the Carlson School important to the Twin Cities business community?

The Carlson School has an incredible record of attracting and graduating students who add tremendous value to the competitiveness and sophistication of companies and organizations in the Twin Cities. We have hired three students in the last 12 months from the Carlson School, and they have already made a great impact.

Any Vander Woude

Andy Vander Woude, ’04 MS Management of Technology (joint Carlson School/IT)
CEO, VAST Enterprises LLC

Relationship to the Carlson School:

We mentor business students at the Carlson School and hire interns from there as well. It’s been a very successful relationship for us.

How has the Carlson School affected your life and career?

I would not be doing what I’m doing without it. That’s where I made connections to my business partners. Without that environment of like-minded people to build relationships with, this business wouldn’t have happened. Being able to hone your business skills in an academic environment and arm yourself to face business challenges when you are in a start up, that’s obviously important.

Why is the Carlson School important to the Twin Cities business community?

It’s the most respected, trusted business school in the area, and it’s absolutely critical for businesses that draw their talent pool from this area.

Craig Crossley

Craig Crossley
Senior Manager of Research, In-Store Demand,
The Schwan Food Company

Relationship to the Carlson School:

I’m connected to the Carlson School on several levels, including research partnerships, involvement in institutes, mentoring student interns, and supporting doctoral student research and dissertations. My current relationship with the Carlson School is, at its heart, based on friendships and a shared passion for research and student development.

How has the Carlson School affected your life and career?

The insights of faculty and friends have provided me direction and challenged me to think differently about business challenges. In my current role overseeing marketing and sales research and execution, it is more than useful to have ties to the Institute for Research in Marketing, which has provided insights and resources necessary to provide the kind of deep knowledge that can help us gain competitive advantage and growth. That is especially important in the current economic market.

Why is the Carlson School important to the Twin Cities business community?

The Carlson School provides a community for professionals and enables connections across like-minded people working at a variety of organizations in the area. The school also continues to offer top-notch education to students and executives. While it’s difficult to put a price tag on the tangible and intangible value that the Carlson School provides to the business community, it is clear that the value is there to be had by organizations and companies that are proactive and interested in forging relations with the school and its faculty, staff, and students.

Teaching HeaderDale Busacker

Dale Busacker
Director, Grant Thornton LLP

Relationship to the Carlson School:

I’ve been an adjunct instructor teaching state and local taxation in the MBT program since January 1991.

How has the Carlson School affected your life and career?

Teaching in the MBT program has allowed me to connect with many more professionals in the tax area—most in the early stage of their careers. Most classes include about 30 students, and most of them are employed with other accounting firms or with companies—many of which are clients.

Why is the Carlson School important to the Twin Cities business community?

It’s important that tax professionals in the Twin Cities area have an opportunity to earn a master’s in tax degree. This is evidenced by the large number of tax professionals who are working for accounting firms in this area and by the large number of tax professionals who are employed by corporations headquartered here.

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Shelly Espinosa

Shelly Espinosa
Director of Community Affairs, United Health Foundation

Relationship to the Carlson School:

I help distribute 15 annual scholarships from UnitedHealth Group for students of the Carlson School and other undergraduates from the Twin Cities campus to encourage and support the next generation of health care actuaries.

How has the Carlson School affected your life and career?

While I did not attend the Carlson School, I have enjoyed meeting the scholarship recipients and seeing what a positive impact the program has on their lives.

Why is the Carlson School important to the Twin Cities business community?

The Carlson School plays an important role in helping shape the next generation of business professionals in our community, as well as providing programs for mid-career professionals. It’s wonderful that we have such a world-class institution right in our own back yard.

Kasey Comnick

Kasey Comnick, ’04 BSB
Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist, Ecolab

Relationship to the Carlson School:

I manage campus relations for Ecolab, which has a strong partnership with the Carlson School. I am also pursuing my part-time MBA through the Carlson School.

How has the Carlson School affected your life and career?

Ecolab’s strong partnership with the school has allowed us to not only recruit top talent but also to gain thought leadership through various development and networking opportunities. Personally, I have found challenging career opportunities with growth potential, advancement, and best-in-class experiences, in part because the Carlson School provided access to world-class opportunities.

Why is the Carlson School important to the Twin Cities business community?

The connections and partnerships with the many Fortune 500 companies in the area have created a win-win for the school, students, and companies. The school maintains its prestige, the companies gain access to world-class talent, and students like myself are able to achieve their career ambitions.

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Bruce Beckman

Bruce Beckman, ’90 BSB, ’99 MBA
Director of Corporate Planning and Analysis, General Mills

Relationship to the Carlson School:

My first involvement was through the Undergraduate Mentorship Program, which led to an invitation to join the Alumni Board, which I was on for almost seven years, including three as Board president. Now I have joined the Undergraduate Advisory Board.

How has the Carlson School affected your life and career?

My experience there opened doors that likely would not have been opened any other way. It enabled me to secure a great career opportunity with a great company. The Board service has been another avenue to grow and develop as a professional. I also have made many life-long friendships; my wife and I met at the Carlson School.

Why is the Carlson School important to the Twin Cities business community?

The Carlson School has done nothing but improve over the time that I’ve been associated with it. The students are better than ever, and the curriculum and the facilities are better than they’ve ever been, too. The world is a more competitive place, but the Carlson School has kept up. It is still able to provide top talent to businesses in this tough environment.

Jeffrey Noddle

Jeffrey Noddle
Retired Executive Chairman and CEO, SUPERVALU

Relationship to the Carlson School:

I’m the chair of the Board of Overseers for the Carlson School.

How has the Carlson School affected your life and career?

Since I’ve been involved on the Board, I’ve gone out and gotten other executives involved at the Carlson School as well. We can all benefit from the University’s involvement in the business community.

Why is the Carlson School important to the Twin Cities business community?

We really ought to think of it as a resource for ideas and opportunities; why would you hire consultants when you’ve got the Carlson School? They’ve got great minds there. And it’s a great source of future employees.

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Joanna Gaines

Joanna Gaines, ’05 MBA
Director of Continuous Improvement and Quality Assurance, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans

Relationship to the Carlson School:

I now interface with the Carlson School through recruiting employees. I’m involved with the whole recruiting cycle for the Thrivent headquarters in Appleton, Wis.

How has the Carlson School affected your life and career?

The quality of education is one thing; it’s not just any MBA program. I think the Carlson School perspective that I can bring to an organization such as Thrivent is critical.

Why is the Carlson School important to the Twin Cities business community?

Our Minneapolis office has recruited solely Carlson School candidates; for us in Appleton, it’s more of a regional place, but it’s still about access to high-quality candidates.

Chuck Edward

Chuck Edward, ’93 MA-IR
General Manager of Human Resources,
Microsoft Customer Service and Support Division

Relationship to the Carlson School:

I have been Microsoft’s executive sponsor for our Carlson School relationship since 2004. I come to campus to recruit, and also have had the chance to do guest lectures in classes.

How has the Carlson School affected your life and career?

Going there accelerated my development and my marketability—it flat-out accelerated my career. It also helps me be successful in my current job; in this executive sponsorship, I’m accountable to bring in top talent for Microsoft, and I know I can do that at the Carlson School.

Why is the Carlson School important to the Twin Cities business community?

It’s important to the whole country. We’re a very global company and we have many international assignments, so the Carlson School experience has to help you compete globally. And it does.

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Angela Mathew

Angela Mathew, ’10 MBA
Outreach and Education Operations Manager,
Division of Cardiovascular Diseases, Mayo Clinic

Relationship to the Carlson School:

As a Carlson School part-time MBA student, I took an independent study with Professor Steve Parente and the MILI Valuation Lab. I also facilitated two projects from Mayo Clinic in the MILI Valuation Lab. I had been working collaboratively with our Division of Cardiovascular Diseases and Business Development Department at Mayo Clinic on a Remote Patient Monitoring project, and we chose to submit that project as one of the two submitted by Mayo Clinic for valuation.

How has the Carlson School affected your life and career?

The Carlson School not only gave me an exceptional education, but also built my competence and confidence to obtain that next career opportunity.

Why is the Carlson School important to the Twin Cities business community?

The Carlson School integrates into the diverse business community to create a real-world learning environment. As a student you have exposure to top business executives and real-world business challenges. The collaborative relationship between the Carlson School and the business community is mutually beneficial.

Jamie Plesser

Jamie Plesser, ’05 MBA
Senior Marketing Manager, Best Buy

Relationship to the Carlson School:

I have stayed connected with the school on the MBA recruiting front, as a sponsor of Brand Enterprise projects, and as a participant in the Undergraduate Mentor program.

How has the Carlson School affected your life and career?

My experiences there set me up to succeed. The balance of academics and real-world training helped me hit the ground running. I still find myself reflecting back on some of the marketing frameworks and case studies we used and I think about how I can integrate those into my current job.

Why is the Carlson School important to the Twin Cities business community?

When I first moved here, I was amazed to learn about all of the companies that call the Twin Cities home. I see the Carlson School as a pipeline of talent for many of these firms.

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Mary Carter

Mary Carter
Senior Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, Andersen Corporation

Relationship to the Carlson School:

Several years ago I was asked to join the Executive Education Advisory Board for the Carlson School. Currently, we rely on the Carlson School as a source of talent for our university intern and recruitment programs, as well as a partner in leadership development forums such as Leadership by Andersen.

How has the Carlson School affected your life and career?

We have access to talented students and can customize development forums for the needs of our business with the Carlson School.

Why is the Carlson School important to the Twin Cities business community?

The Twin Cities is a vibrant business community that has a mutually beneficial relationship with the Carlson School. Businesses need talent, and the Carlson School needs opportunities for the talent it develops. It’s a formula that has served all of us well for many, many years.

Brenda Devlin

Brenda Devlin
Vice President, Human Resources, MMIC Group

Relationship to the Carlson School:

In a senior leadership team meeting last summer we were discussing the need to learn more about strategic thinking and decision making. I offered to look into it, and one of the senior team members suggested I contact the Carlson School’s Executive Education unit as a first step.

How has the Carlson School affected your life and career?

The Carlson School has helped my senior leadership team enhance its strategic thinking skills and develop decision-making tools, enabling us to make better and faster decisions as an organization.

Why is the Carlson School important to the Twin Cities business community?

The Carlson School has helped the MMIC senior leadership team move our organization forward and in the right direction. If an educational institution helps companies like MMIC in this way, then the Carlson School is helping improve our overall economy. That’s how important it is to our community.

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The Carlson School Board of Overseers works closely with the school’s leadership to ensure a highly engaged relationship from local businesses to international corporations. View the Board of Overseers at http://www.carlsonschool.umn.edu/about/leadership/board-of-overseers.html.

carlson in the community

How strong are the Carlson School’s links to the communities and groups it serves? For insight and answers, we went straight to the source—the individuals who interact with the school on a consistent basis.

Land O’Lakes President and CEO Chris Policinski is one of the first to acknowledge the impact the Carlson School has had both at the company he leads and on the business environment in the Twin Cities in general. “The Carlson School has helped build this company. We see first-hand what it can do, right here,” he says. “One of the things that struck me when I came here 18 years ago is how much the University of Minnesota and the Carlson School have done for the local economy and for local businesses.”
        At the Carlson School, watching community relationships bloom is one of the best parts of Morgan Kinross-Wright’s job. As the director of the Carlson Undergraduate Business Career Center, she works closely with local businesses and alumni to forge mutually beneficial relationships. “A great majority of the companies and organizations we work with give back, not only in terms of financial gifts, but also they give a tremendous amount of time to help our students in workshops, classes, skill development, and more,” she says.
        No matter what kind of relationship a company forges with the Carlson School, the impact for both businesses and students is often the same. “The companies and organizations are getting top talent and building strong pipelines of talent to take their organization into the next round of leaders,” Kinross-Wright says. “It is very rewarding to see the relationships we build grow and mature.”


startup – 15 years of progress


On one side are undergraduate students eager to learn about the business world. On the other side are seasoned professionals seeking to impart their collective wisdom and experience. Bringing these sides together for one-on-one collaboration is the job of the Carlson Undergraduate Mentorship Program.
15 Years of Progress quote        Now in its 15th year, this program has remained consistently popular, with between 500 to 600 students and mentors participating annually. Mentors, many of whom are alumni, come from nearly every business profession. Although most work in the Twin Cities area, many are from other cities and states, and some from around the world.
        This school year’s mentorship program kicked off with a standing-room only event last October in the 3M Auditorium. The event featured a keynote address from Steve Schussler, founder of Rainforest Café and numerous other entrepreneurial ventures. Following his address, mentors and mentees met for the first time and spent the rest of the evening getting to know each other.
        Mentors and mentees are paired based on their functional areas as well as personal interests, as determined from applications both parties fill out beforehand. In participating, both mentor and mentee agree to meet or connect with each other at least once a month from October through April. “The mentorship program helped me make a more informed decision about my major choice,” says senior Payal Kapoor. “It has allowed me to meet three unique mentors in different fields, including corporate finance, investments, and international business, and has exposed me to the variety of future paths a finance or business degree provides.”
        Find out more about the program here:

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