Recent Carlson MBA graduates Joe Braman, Steven Bruce, and Elise Maxwell have been dubbed "MBAs to Watch" by Poets & Quants. Their leadership acumen, professional achievements, and exceptional personal insight helped them stand out among the nominees that spanned 60 top MBA programs.

All three students participated in the Carlson Ventures Enterprise: a hands-on program in which students work with real-world clients to test business ideas, create business plans, and launch start-ups. They all also received the $5,000 Sands Fellowship to develop their ideas for making their community a better place, and placed in the 2015 Acara Challenge

Browse the full list of MBAs to Watch 

Joe Braman


Braman, '16 MBA, is leading a start-up that increases access to safe, affordable, and ethically managed housing in the Twin Cities. He founded Braman Brothers Real Estate, LLP as an MBA student, and developed the venture with support from funding, mentorship opportunities, hands-on programs, and classes offered through the Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship.

“The Carlson School is an incredible place for entrepreneurs to come to launch a business, which is exactly what I wanted to use my time there to do,” says Braman. "The Ventures Enterprise provided work that is exactly what I love to do as an entrepreneur, and it was an invaluable experience.”

He also earned the prestigious Mary A. McEvoy Award for Public Engagement and Leadership this year for shaping a more welcoming community for LGBTQ students at the Carlson School. Braman served as president of Compass: a student organization that encourages all students to be their authentic selves both as students and as professionals.

Read his story

Steven Bruce


Bruce, '16 MBA, is Product Manager-Document Services at Adobe. He interned at Adobe between his first and second year at the Carlson School, working on a team that generated customer insights about the newly launched Document Cloud platform. To get inside the head of the customer, he performed an end-to-end user experience review, and made recommendations to the entire business unit. Bruce's project earned him a full-time job offer with the company.

As a student, he launched Autonomee LLC: a venture that helped aspiring software engineers launch careers in the industry. Bruce was able to complete an internship at Adobe in Silicon Valley while simultaneously nurturing this venture. Autonomee was a semi-finalist in the student division of the 2015 MN Cup

He also helped organize the 2016 Tech Cities Conference—a gathering of Minnesota technology innovators. More than 400 attendees gathered at the Carlson School to map the future of tech in Minnesota.

"Minnesota faces a massive tech worker shortage—we don’t have enough tech professionals to meet future demand. Our goal was to start a conversation around this problem and others. In just a few short months, we organized the Tech Cities conference and it was wildly successful," he says.

Read his story

Elise Maxwell


Maxwell, '16 MBA, launched Ova Woman to spur a revolution in women's health. The platform hosts dialogue and provides products to ease the discomfort that can accompany menstruation, pregnancy, menopause, and more for women. The venture earned the top prize in the student division of the MN Cup.

"The [MN Cup] gave me the opportunity to discuss the importance of normalizing women’s health with a large audience of both men and women," she says. "This experience showed me that the business community is ready to embrace innovation that supports women with menstruation, yeast infections, incontinence, menopause and more. I grew tremendously during this competition, and through that growth, brought more attention to women’s health."

Maxwell also took second place in the InnovateHer Competition and was recognized as the 2016 University of Minnesota Student Entrepreneur of the Year

Post-graduation, she continues to grow Ova Woman. Her goal is to bring human-centered design to women's health products and impact a traditionally underserved market.

Read her story