CHRLS Alumni Association
Membership in the Center for Human Resources and Labor Studies Alumni Association (CHRLSAA) is open to graduates of the MA-IR and MA-HRIR programs, and undergraduates who majored or minored in HRIR. Membership is free.
In addition to strengthening the relationship between alumni and the Carlson School, the CHRLS Alumni Association promotes leadership in human resources and industrial relations by providing academic and professional learning experiences, facilitating access to the center's resources, and sharing professional opportunities.
The CHRLS Alumni Association works to build a community of alumni ambassadors by:
- Connecting alumni in an effort to increase networks and deepen relationships
- Promoting professional competence and leadership through ongoing learning opportunities
- Facilitating alumni awareness and access to available CHRLS opportunities and resources
- Communicating the benefits of involvement with other alumni and students
Kristyn Aasen, '11, graduated from the full-time program and currently works as an HR business partner at Thomson Reuters. She has previously worked at GE and Medtronic. Aasen chose the MA-HRIR program at the University of Minnesota because of its "excellent" reputation and because it gave her the opportunity to focus on building her experience in HR which was crucial to launch her career. Aasen also appreciated that while on campus, she had the opportunity to take advantage of leadership opportunities, internships and mentoring relationships. "These experiences helped me apply the classroom learning to the real world while developing the skills needed to be a successful HR partner," she says. Aasen joined the CHRLSAA Board to give back to the community and to grow relationships with other Carlson alums. Aasen's advice to current students is to take advantage of their time in the program as it goes by very fast. "Because there are so many opportunities to interact with companies and HR professionals, you have a chance to either discover or refine your career path and interests," she says.
Justin Ahlstrom, ’05, MA-HRIR, graduated from the full-time program and is currently the HR analytics leader in the technology and operations group at Wells Fargo; before that he worked at G&K Services. Ahlstrom chose the MA-HRIR program because he grew up in Minnesota and was excited to be able to attend a world-class graduate program so close to home. He says that the MA-HRIR program "provided me with the foundation necessary to understand and appreciate all aspects of HR. This allowed me to approach a career as a specialist (first in compensation, then in analytics) with a wider lens and a more strategic perspective." Ahlstrom chose to join the CHRLS Alumni Association Board of Directors because he hopes he can contribute to shaping some of the great programs the CHRLS Alumni Association Board supports. "I also am looking forward to continuing to strengthen the connection between my organization and the CHRLS," he adds. He encourages current students to find every opportunity to practice connecting the academic lessons learned in the classroom to real-world situations. "The ability to translate and communicate theoretically-grounded principles and complex analysis in a manner that is relatable to business leaders is an invaluable skill," he says.
Corey Bonnema, ’98, MA-IR, graduated from the part-time program and currently is the president of Manager Builders, LLC, and previously worked at the University of Minnesota, Target, Agribank and AT&T. He chose to attend the MA-IR program because he’s always been interested in management and in understanding "how people work - the psychology of people in organizations and what makes them successful," he says. Bonnema believes the program provided a strong theoretical understanding of training, compensation and employee relations concepts and also says he routinely uses these concepts in his leadership development work. After attending many presentations and numerous HR Tomorrow Conferences sponsored by the CHRLS Alumni Association, he decided to join the Board of Directors. As a member of the board he looks forward to helping current students, alumni and members of the business community with their professional development. His advice for students is to “be curious and continuously ask others for feedback. My favorite saying is, 'you can’t fix what you don't know is broken.'"
David Bryant, '04, is the Organizational Development Manager at Kohler Company. He has also worked had Accenture, Fabcon, Sofitel Hotels and Premium Waters Inc. He graduated from the full-time MA-HRIR program in 2004, and chose the program because he wanted to stay in the Midwest and be part of a University that had a long standing tradition for high quality education. “Although the MA-HRIR program at the University of Minnesota was one of three schools I had to choose from, it was easily the front-runner,” he said. The combination of MBA electives and HR courses helped him think on a wider scale, and prepared him for his HR career. He chose to join the CHRLS Alumni Association Board of Directors because he wanted to help current students and alumni apply the knowledge gained in the program in their career, while also helping his current organization tap into the resources at the University. His advice to students is that competition for jobs is tough, but experience is important. "If you are not able to secure your dream job immediately following the program, make the best of any experience you can get your hands on. Your advanced degree is a long-term investment," he said.
Ian Charpentier, ’93, MA-IR, graduated from the full-time program and is currently an HR senior manager at Accenture, after working as a Global HR Business Partner at Duck Creek Software. He previously worked at Best Buy, Adaytum and Supervalu. He originally chose the MA-IR program because he wanted to pursue jobs that applied to his economics major and his interest in the human element of work. Charpentier feels that the curriculum, teaching, and experiences he received during his studies provided a foundation of knowledge and a lens by which he continues to assess and make decisions on a routine basis. After working for a number of years and growing his career with limited connection to the program, he decided to join the CHRLS Alumni Association Board of Directors to help give input into the future direction of the program and students. His advice to current students is to, "work hard and do well in your coursework. In the first part of your career, really focus on ensuring you are getting solid work experiences where you can own projects/work," he says. "The reality is your first company is not likely to be your last, and future companies will likely be more interested in the work you did than who you did it for."
Nicholas Christenson, '05, graduated from the full-time program and now works as a human resources director for Polaris Industries. Christenson has also worked for Ingersoll Rand and Doosan Infracore. He chose the MA-HRIR program at the University of Minnesota because he believes that it provides learning in the right balance of deeper functional know-how along with stronger business acumen. Christenson considers the program to have completely prepared him for the real world in HR. "The connection emphasized in the program of HR strategies to impact business outcomes has shaped how I operate as an HR leader," he says. He joined the board because he wanted to make real connections between the academic program and real world experiences. His best piece of advice to current students: "Seek to understand the business, and how you can best add value."
Laura Elletson, '91, is the Human Resources Director at Barr Engineering Co. She has also worked at Wells Fargo, TCF Bank and IXI Ltd. She graduated from the part-time MA-IR program in 1991. Elletson chose to attend the program because of its reputation, a desire to broaden her professional knowledge, and increase in her credentials and job opportunities. The program prepared her for her career in human resources because it broadened her business knowledge as well as increased her understanding of HR skills needed in compensation, benefits, training and selection. Elletson chose to join the CHRLS Alumni Association Board of Directors because she wanted to stay connected and support the program. "I was intellectually stimulated by this year’s HR Tomorrow conference, impressed by the caliber and diversity of the attendees," she said. Her advice to students is to "take advantage of the opportunities to stretch yourself, and follow your passion."
Marc Gauthier, ’12, currently works as a senior HR generalist at Honeywell. Prior to that, Gauthier worked for Eaton Corporation in a series of HR roles. He graduated from the full-time MA-HRIR program in 2012, and joined the CHRLS Alumni Association Board of Directors in 2014.
Anna (Xuanfei) Huang, ’14, MA-HRIR, graduated from the full-time program and currently works for Microsoft as a human resources manager. Before Microsoft, she worked at Lenovo and Sodexo. Huang chose the MA-HRIR program at the University of Minnesota because she had a very deep understanding of human networking. "The world is more flat than ever," she says. "I realized that future HR professionals need to embrace the global mindset and have the competency to deal with challenges not only locally but internationally." She chose to attend the MA-HRIR program to build a strong professional network across the globe and gain a deeper understanding of the core functions, contemporary practices, and underlying theories of HR. Huang says the program has been advancing her career by providing a thorough understanding of the core functions, contemporary practices and underlying theories of HR and business in not just an academic, but a practical, balanced way. "Far more beyond that," she adds, "the extraordinary faculty and career coaching, the strong business partnership and the diverse alumni network the program provided helped me realize my full potential and my career goals." She says that since her first day of studying abroad, she received genuine support and help from the program, her classmates and the alumni network. She wanted to continue her engagement, learning and contributing by becoming a member of the CHRLS Alumni Association Board of Directors. Huang has several pieces of advice for current MA-HRIR students. First of all, she said, "make the most of the excellent resources that the program provides you. Leverage every opportunity and every single uncomfortable moment to challenge yourself, to learn and grow." Second, Huang says, "build a strong personal brand, and build the connections with your classmates, faculty and alumni." Third, "keep your curiosity and the boldness of challenging the status quo," and last but certainly not least, "have fun, always!"
Christopher Kujawa, '94, is the Vice President, Human Capital Capabilities, at American Express. He has previously worked at Anderson Consulting, Deluxe Corporation, Target Corporation, and Ally Financial. He graduated in 1994 from the full-time MA-IR program. He chose to attend the MA-IR program at the University of Minnesota because, “Simply the University of Minnesota is one of the best.” The program prepared him for his career in human resources because he received a foundational understanding in all aspects of HR. "I learned how to think strategically around human capital, how to work in diverse teams, and created a strong HR network," Kujawa said. He decided to join the CHRLS Alumni Association Board of Directors because he wanted to contribute to the success of the CHRLS, and he enjoys spending time with the CHRLS alumni. His advice for students? "Enjoy every minute of being in one of the best HR programs in the world. Grow yourself academically, through work experience and develop a strong network."
Kristin Lee Lewandowski, '06, graduated from the part-time program in 2006. She currently works at Cargill as a Client HR Manager and previously worked at Anheuser-Busch and Park Dental. She chose to attend the MA-HRIR program at the University of Minnesota when she realized that she would benefit from additional education focused on the more technical areas of Human Resources. “The part-time program was a perfect fit to help me achieve this goal while continuing to work,” Lewandowski said. The program prepared her for her career in human resources because it allowed her to learn about areas that she didn’t have exposure to. It also taught her the importance of working as a team to achieve a common goal. She chose to join the CHRLS Alumni Association Board of Directors because of the opportunity to use her experiences in a different way and to continue to learn and share best practices with HR leaders from other organizations. Her advice to students: study abroad. In addition, "stay connected with your peers. They will become a valuable part of your network and you will rely on them for a variety of things through the years."
Joe Lucio, '11, graduated from the full-time MA-HRIR program and currently works at Chevron. Lucio decided to pursue a career in HR because he was interested in understanding the psychology of workforces in large organizations. He said that the most rewarding thing about a career in HR is the diverse issues that you continually are dealing with. "Whether it is dealing with employee nationalization efforts in Nigeria, or union negotiations in our refineries," he said, "there is always something that makes coming to work interesting." The MA-HRIR degree helped provide a strong business acumen as well as foundational HR competencies that were driven from the diverse curriculum of the program. "The degree truly did prepare me to work in a large, complex globalized organization," he says.
Brandon Lukach, '04,Brandon Lukach, '04, graduated from the full-time program and now works as director of HR for The Linux Foundation. Prior to that he was the director of people at Udemy. He has previously worked at ModCloth, Electronic Arts and Honeywell. Coming from a liberal arts background, Lukach appreciated that the University of Minnesota provided a more theoretical basis than many MBA programs. "I believed strongly that learning the foundational 'why' to be more important to being trained on the 'what'." Lukach says that the program really trained him well on how to handle the microissues that come up in the real professional world. He joined the board to help students find as much value from the program as he did and to assist in building an experience with the school that transcends graduation. "Hone your ability to harness data to add value to the business," Lukach said is his best piece of advice for current students.
Roxana Martin, ’09, MA-HRIR, graduated from the full-time program and now works at General Mills as the human resources business partner for IT- Global Business Solutions. She previously worked at Statoil Venezuela and Conoco Philips Venezuela. Martin chose the University of Minnesota MA-HRIR program because of its reputation and because the curriculum offered the opportunity to understand the HR and business fields with more depth. "Although I already had an HR background prior to coming to the Carlson School, this program expanded my vantage point of the business world," Martin says. "It gave me the opportunity to network with leaders, learn about business and even explore other countries through the study abroad program," she says. Martin says she is 'energized' with the opportunity to reconnect with the Carlson School and its students. "This was an opportunity I could not let go by," she says of joining the CHRLS Alumni Association Board of Directors. Martin advises that future students should "be curious and courageous. Never leave a class without having asked your question. Lean into discomfort and really challenge yourself to think more broadly about talent and the role we play in the business world." But aside from work, Martin also understands that having fun is important as well. "Your time at the Carlson School will go really fast, so take time to cultivate those friendships as they will last a lifetime," she concludes.
Tara Miller-Hochhalter, ’10, is an HR director at Suburban Imaging; before that she was a systems consultant within HR Operations at Target. Prior to joining Target in 2012 she worked for Fairview Health Services with a majority of time spent in physician recruitment and HR technology. She chose to attend the HRIR program to strengthen her human resources acumen to effectively lead company-wide business initiatives by providing HR alignment and support. "Since I did not have an undergraduate degree specifically in HR, I attended an open house to explore this program," she says. "I enjoyed meeting current students, staff and other potential students. I immediately felt a connection to the Carlson School of Management HRIR program and knew this is where I wanted to earn my Masters degree." Miller-Hochhalter decided to join the CHRLS Alumni Association Board as a way of giving back to a program that prepared her well to be an effective HR leader. Her advice to current students is to, "take time to get to know your classmates. Many of my classmates have remained friends and provide an invaluable network to reach out to for quick insights or feedback," she says.
Beth Oddan, '11, graduated from the part-time program. She is the CEO/Founder of hellotalent, Inc, a talent acquisition consulting firm based in Minneapolis. Prior to that, she was an executive recruiter at UnitedHealth Group and has held a variety of talent acquisition positions with Target Corporation and Cargill. Oddan chose the MA-HRIR program at the University of Minnesota because of its reputation as well as the quality and rigor of the academics. Oddan decided to join the CHRLSAA Board because she feels it offers great opportunities for continued professional development, sharing of ideas/trends, benchmarking, and learning with other alumni. When asked if she had advice for incoming students she said, "Be inquisitive and flexible, own your development and seek mentors who compliment your current self and care about you. While every job has juggling priorities, be strategic, as well as execution-focused...plan your work and then work your plan. Make today count!"
Monica Percic, ’00, MA-HRIR, graduated from the full-time program. She is currently an HR consultant at Kimley-Horn, having previously worked at Daniels Consulting Group, Arthur Andersen Business Consulting, Dean Foods Company, Sportsman's Guide, municipal government, and other manufacturing companies. Before deciding upon the University of Minnesota’s MA-HRIR program, Percic was considering the program at Illinois and Cornell. She says she ultimately chose the program at the Carlson School because, "I wanted to attend a leading program that was not only part of a business school, but part of a vibrant business community." When asked how the program prepared her for an HR career, she said, "the program gave me a breadth of knowledge in all areas of human resources that allowed me to be dangerous, and it gave me the confidence to allow me to expand upon and apply my learning to other parts of business." Percic did not have a conventional career path. She went into consulting right after school. But throughout her career, she has connected with the program and Carlson School in various ways. She recently was a participant in the Emerging Leaders program while considering another career transition. "I want to bring the perspective of an alumna who can validate and legitimize the diversity of work perspectives at a time when the work experience is more varied than ever," she says. Her advice for students is to "keep up with the relationships you forge. Be a student of the businesses you support; a business person with a specialty in people factors," she says. "If you find that your path is different from others', remember that you can bring value as a sole proprietor, consultant, contractor, field practitioner, specialist, or generalist working independently, in a field organization, at a boutique firm, at global headquarters or any place in between."
Kara Sime, '96, graduated from the full-time program and currently works at Agropur Inc. as a human capital director. She has previously worked at Bolt Industries, Old Home Foods and Rosemount/Emerson Process Management. She chose the MA-HRIR program at the University of Minnesota for the organizational behavior concentration and because of her interest in organizational communications. Sime says the program prepared her for everything. "The program was rigorous, thought-provoking and taught me all the basics I needed to have a well-rounded HR career - recruiting, benefits, economics, labor, compensation, organizational development and behavior, and don't forget statistics and research methods." She says that she is ready to give back and would like to be engaged and involved with other HR professionals, and this is why she joined the board. Her best piece of advice: "Take the time to take a broad array of classes and find ways to apply the theories in a meaningful way that helps people in organizations - this builds your business credibility," she notes. "Be curious - always ask questions and go learn as many aspects of the business as you can and find ways to bring people and concepts together."
Na Sun, ’07, MA-HRIR, graduated from the full-time program and currently works as an executive compensation senior analyst at St. Jude Medical. She previously worked at Capella Education Company, Inclusion Inc., and Minnesota Public Radio. Sun chose to attend the University of Minnesota because she was looking for a prestigious program with excellent faculty, great students and alumni to extend her career in human resources. "The MA-HRIR program at the University of Minnesota is one of the targeted schools. I was lucky to get into this program, and was amazed every day by a supportive staff, dynamic conversation in the classroom, and passionate peers around me," she says. She believes that the MA-HRIR program stretched her HR knowledge and skills both in depth and breadth. "By exploring all the facets in HR," she says, "I am ready for a new stage of my career. Another great part is the connections with alumni, classmates and faculty members. They are life-long peers in my professional development." Sun chose to join the CHRLS Alumni Association Board of Directors because she was impressed by the previous HR Tomorrow Conference, the mentor programs and the training and learning sessions. She believes she can contribute different perspectives as an international student who comes from the fastest-growing economy in the world. Her advice for students is to "stay connected with your peers, alumni and the world. Take advantage of the resources in this program and the Carlson School."
Eva Treuer, '10, graduated from the full-time program and now works at Target as a lead consultant, talent management. Treuer previously worked at Carlson Hotels, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, and also worked as a volunteer program manager at Neighbors, Inc. before attending the program. She appreciated that the MA-HRIR program offered the opportunity to learn more about corporate operations and strategic planning through the alignment with the MBA program while building upon her interest and background with Industrial Organizational Psychology from her undergraduate students. Treuer joined the board to stay connected with CHRLS and to continue to learn from students, faculty, and alumni and grow her network in the HR community. Her best piece of advice to current students is, "Take time to learn from the experiences of your peers, professors, and mentors. The support system and network you have within the HR community is invaluable throughout your career and the foundation you set at CHRLS will last a lifetime," she says.
The CHRLS Alumni Association Board of Directors is committed to the ongoing professional growth of alumni, current students and other HR practitioners through professional development events. During the 2015-2016 academic year, a series of professional development events will be held:
- Thursday, November 19, 2015: "Trends in Performance Management," an in-person and virtual workshop. Sharon Arad, Director of Performance Management at Cargill, was the guest speaker. A recording of the presentation is available here.
Email email@example.com for additional information and upcoming events.
Alumni Mentorship Program
We are excited to introduce a new way to mentor current MA-HRIR students! Rather than pairing up individuals 1:1 the traditional way, we will be offering three separate "Speed Mentoring" events throughout the year. During each of these one-time commitments, alumni will meet with several groups of students throughout the course of an evening. We will provide topics that will generate discussion about alums' backgrounds, employers, career paths, views on HR topics, and advice to students. Students will be encouraged to surface questions on their own, too. At the end of the night, it's up to the alums and students to determine whether or not they continue a relationship beyond the event, but there is no expectation to do so.
We kicked off this new initiative on Monday, October 12, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Carlson School. Stay tuned for details on our second and third events.
If you are interested in participating in one or more of these Alumni Mentoring events, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As an Alumni Board, we also coordinate this annual conference to provide a venue for the exchange of ideas, a professional and academic learning experience and an on-going connection to the CHRLS. This is a premier event that attracts over 300 attendees each year, and offers professional development as well as the opportunity to network with alumni, faculty and peers in the HR and business community.