Spring 2014 Newsletter

CCE Welcomes Largest Incoming Class

MBA Enrollment Chart

The CCE welcomed 35 new student consultants this spring, the largest CCE class to date, more than doubling the overall size of the CCE to 67 students. These new CCE consultants are ramping up quickly and have already been staffed on seven new client projects which kicked off in late March. "I'm thrilled to be jumping in to real-world consulting work through the Consulting Enterprise. Coming from a non-traditional background, the opportunity to be challenged and learn through doing real consulting projects was a big reason I decided to come to Carlson," said Luke Wilcox, a new CCE member.

The incoming class brings impressive and diverse experience to the CCE. The first-year CCE class averages five years of prior work experience and boasts an average GMAT score of 691 (approx. 92nd percentile). The class includes 31 percent women, 34 percent international students, and four U.S. military officers. Work experiences among the class include stints throughout North America, Asia, Australia, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.

CCE Managing Director Sarah Gisser believes the growth presents both new opportunities and new challenges. "With our increased size, we have better opportunities for developing and pursuing a broader range of student interests and client needs," she said. "We can now look for and staff projects with a 'deeper bench' of talent." At the same time, Gisser acknowledges the challenges that come along with the growth of the CCE, "The transformational learning experience we offer students in the enterprises requires a 'high-touch' model. We need to ensure we have the resources to provide every student challenging, real-world client projects, small team environments, and the same high-level of individualized coaching and support we have historically," she said.

Based on discussions with the business and non-profit communities, Gisser believes there is ample appetite for the CCE's work to support the growth. "We continue to build great relationships with area companies and non-profits, and have recently had to turn down projects due to capacity constraints. Our increased size will help us meet those needs and provide our students with high-quality learning experiences," she said.

Efforts are already underway to grow the CCE leadership team to ensure new students continue to be coached and mentored with high-quality, individualized support. With Dean Sri Zaheer's approval, a search was recently launched for a new Associate Director of the CCE (see article below), and the school is in the process of exploring options to provide additional space for CCE teams to conduct team meetings and project work. The Associate Director will help identify and scope project opportunities with clients, work with students directly, provide coaching and mentoring, and help lead other operational aspects of the CCE. Academic Director and Associate Dean for MBA Programs, Art Hill summarized, "We know how important this role is to creating transformational learning experiences for our students and to achieving great results for our clients. We're looking for another great leader to join our team and help us grow to new heights."

CCE Executive Advisory Board News

We are excited to welcome three new members to the CCE Executive Advisory Board. The Advisory Board includes senior leaders from several of CCE's clients as well as management consulting firms. The board meets twice yearly to discuss strategic issues with CCE leadership as well as to work with students directly, advising them on project-related challenges and career development.

These new board members joined us at the spring 2014 meeting:

Robert Langheim

Rob Langheim

Robert Langheim is a Partner in the Strategy Practice of Kurt Salmon's Health Care Group. Rob's expertise and interests are in health system strategic planning, capital asset investment, network development, and health reform preparedness. Rob earned his MBA from the Carlson School (and is a CCE alum!) and a bachelor's degree from St. Olaf College.

Steve Noble

Steve Noble

Steve Noble, Partner at McKinsey & Company, is a member of McKinsey's Retail Practice and leads the firm's Retail Strategy & Corporate Finance service line. Steve's client work focuses on helping retailers define and implement a wide range of growth strategies. Steve holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and an undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame.

Elisabeth Sandersfeld

Elisabeth Sandersfeld

Elisabeth Sandersfeld serves as Thrivent Financial's Director of New Business Development where she works to grow membership by designing and testing new initiatives to achieve Thrivent's mission to help people be wise with money and live generously. Elisabeth holds a bachelor's degree from Luther College and an MBA from the Carlson School of Management.

Board Departures

We've also had a couple of recent departures from the board. We sincerely thank these and all of our board members for their service and support of the CCE and our students:

  • Timm Hammond recently retired from his role as Director, Corporate Strategy/Strategic Business Development at 3M.

  • Derek Hayes, Principal with the Boston Consulting Group, has relocated to NYC.

The full list of board members can be found on the CCE Leadership page.

Help Wanted: CCE Associate Director

With the continued growth of the Carlson School and the CCE, we have recently initiated a search for a new CCE associate director. This will be a 50-percent position with responsibilities including student coaching, client development, project planning, and contributing to the effectiveness of overall enterprise operations. Strong candidates will be experienced business strategists, with an MBA and 4-plus years' experience in management consulting or comparable corporate experience. In addition, strong candidates will have demonstrated passion for coaching and developing early career professionals. Additional information about the role can be found on the University's employment site (http://employment.umn.edu). Contact Sarah Gisser with any questions and please encourage well-qualified candidates in your network to apply.

On Saturday, April 12, a group of eight CCE'ers, including a CCE Advisory Board member, took to the streets and completed Goldy's Run, a 10-mile race with an "epic finish" on the 50-yard line at TCF Bank Stadium. Goldy's Run is held annually to raise money for the University of Minnesota's Amplatz Children's Hospital, and features a challenging 10-mile course through campus and along the Mississippi River, ending with runners being broadcast on the scoreboard as they cross the finish line. The enthusiastic group included both veteran and novice runners, and put up some impressive results. CCE Advisory Board member Luke Peterson ('98 MBA) competed in the 10-mile, two-person relay event with a colleague, and took first place with a combined time of 1:06:43, more than five minutes ahead of the second-place team! Speedster Michelle Baumgartner came in sixth in the women's 20-24 division with a time of 1:16:44! Race conditions on the rolling course were challenging with blustery winds, temps in the 50s, and rain which ended just as the race started. However, nothing could dampen the runners' spirits. "It was so fun! What a great experience for my first race - I'm hooked!" exclaimed Kelsey Wise, ('14 BSB). Congratulations, runners!

Goldy Run 1
Kelsey Wise crosses the finish line with Goldy


Goldy Run 2
Runners gather under the scoreboard to celebrate post-run. Pictured left to right: Ernie Lietzan, Kelsey Wise, Tyler Crocket, Sa


Interested in Hiring Members of the Consulting Enterprise?

The Graduate Business Career Center can pull an electronic resume book based on your criteria. Send an email to gbccinfo@umn.edu. Or, request a resumebook directly to through our online recruiting system, TalentLink, at:


Please note that requests sent through TalentLink will go through an approval process that will be approved within a 24-hour business day.

Alumni Profile


Melinda Pavek

2003 MBA Graduate, U.S. State Department

Melinda is the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Brunei. Working as the second-in-command to U.S. Ambassador Daniel Shields, Melinda is tasked with managing the daily operations of the embassy and maintaining relationships with Brunei's key government officials and U.S. businesses operating in Brunei. Though a small country, Brunei, as a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), is a strategic dialogue partner for the United States. The importance of ASEAN has been increasing during the past decade due to rapid modernization and a growing population (approximately 600 million in 2013). Brunei was the Chair of ASEAN in 2013, and has been working with the other nine nations of ASEAN, the United States, and other ASEAN dialogue partners to promote free trade, protect the environment, strengthen intellectual property protections, and enhance economic development and collaboration in order to increase the region's global importance. Brunei, as a claimant nation in the South China Sea (SCS), has been an active advocate for practical collaboration and dialogue as the nations with overlapping SCS claims seek to reach agreement on a SCS Code of Conduct.

Before beginning her career with the U.S. State Department, Melinda worked for Johnson and Johnson's (JNJ) Health Care Systems company in medical device and diagnostics supply chain management. Despite enjoying her role and her experience at JNJ, Melinda decided to pursue another path in order to work overseas and get exposure to other cultures. Since joining the State Department, Melinda has worked in Nepal, Jamaica, Iraq, Pakistan, Washington, D.C., and Brunei.

Melinda was part of the CCE's inaugural year in 2002. In addition to the relationships with classmates and instructors, Melinda particularly valued the experience of being an outsider helping organizations solve problems. "Organizations so often get trapped in the way they have always done things and act as if they have blinders on when addressing concerns with their current processes," she said. "So often great solutions exist in the minds of the people internal to the company, but they aren't heard or don't have a process to draw them out. I learned how to help free the creative energy that already existed in the client's personnel. It is a valuable skill I use frequently in the world of diplomacy."

CCE Seeks Fall Projects

The CCE is currently seeking projects for our students to tackle during the upcoming fall semester. Our second-year MBAs will take on eight full-semester projects (13 weeks, running approximately September 8 - December 12, 2014). Projects that present interesting strategic or operational challenges are a great fit for the CCE. Please contact Sarah Gisser at sgisser@umn.edu or 612-626-7751 if you have a potential project you'd like to discuss.

Fall 2014 Newsletter Thanks

The Carlson Consulting Enterprise is a unique strategy and operations consultancy, creating an important intersection between the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management and the diverse, thriving business community in the Twin Cities. Working in small, dedicated teams, CCE student consultants provide objective, fact-based problem-solving that addresses their client's real-world challenges. Established in 2002, the CCE has completed more than 150 successful client engagements and graduated nearly 300 student consultants.

This powerful experiential learning program gives current students the opportunity to apply what they're learning in the classroom and gain invaluable real-world experience that prepares them to hit the ground running in their future careers. Supported by the Carlson School's world-class faculty and thought-leadership, CCE consultants use a fact-based approach to address their clients' strategic and operational challenges, including market and competitive analysis, strategy development, operational improvement identification, and performance management.

CCE clients include large and small organizations from a broad-range of industries. Through projects, clients get access to top MBA and undergraduate students committed to addressing their specific business challenges - and a terrific opportunity to build relationships with early career talent.

To discuss how the Consulting Enterprise can assist your organization, please contact Sarah Gisser at sgisser@umn.edu or 612-626-7751.