“The School was a great launching pad for my career, and I’ve continued to benefit.” Christopher Kujawa, VP of Human Capital Capabilities, American Express

Christopher Kujawa, '94, MA-HRIR, credits his success to three factors: his deep knowledge of human resources, his extensive network, and his diverse professional experience. And he says the Carlson School’s MA in Human Resources and Industrial Relations (MA-HRIR) Program built his foundation in all three areas.

Kujawa began the program immediately after completing his undergraduate degree in economics at the South Dakota State University. He didn’t have to go far to attend a top school: The Carlson School’s MA-HRIR program consistently ranks in the top three, nationwide.

“I wanted to understand HR from the strategic level and be a strong business partner,” he says. “I would have gone anywhere to access a top program—I didn’t realize that one of the best programs was in my backyard.”

During the program, Kujawa worked closely with the Graduate Business Career Center. The career coaches helped him land two internships—one of which turned into a full-time job, post-graduation at Accenture. Since then, his career has led him to work for Deluxe and Target, then to London with Ally Financial as Head of HR for a UK business, and then to an executive position with American Express in New York City leading Global Organization Effectiveness, Human Capital Analytics, and M&A.

“The HRIR program positions you to succeed anywhere: it gave me the strategic thinking about HR. I had two great internships, and a network of people I could take with me,” he says.

Kujawa leaned on the Carlson School network—a community of 50,000 leaders across 95 countries—to accelerate his own career. Today, he’s giving back to future HR leaders by mentoring Carlson School students and serving on the alumni board.


  • Hear Kujawa describe the powerful alumni network.