While sitting in a Marine Corps recruiting station in Minneapolis one day, Tim O’Neil was thumbing through a newspaper when he came across an article. “Veterans recruited for MBA programs at University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management” the headline said. Intrigued, O’Neil read on.
This was February 25, 2013. O’Neil, a Marine Corps captain, had been serving as the executive officer of that Minneapolis recruiting station for nearly three years. It was time for a change. After he finished the article, O’Neil thought about it for a while. Later that same day, he contacted program director Altman to learn more.
O’Neil soon enrolled and was impressed how the program quickly advanced his own understanding of business fundamentals. “Then there is the applicable experience you gain both in and out of the classroom as part of the course,” he adds.
While still in school, O’Neil and some classmates launched Fidelis Co., an accessories company that uses specific components that have military and tactical applications and incorporates them into rugged, well-built carry goods. “That had been a tremendous experience in that it has allowed me to learn a great deal first-hand how to build and grow a business,” he says. Since graduating in 2015, O’Neil has turned his attention to lead the day-to-day growth and execution of a non-profit called Bunker Labs Minneapolis. “Bunker Labs helps veterans start and grow businesses,” he says. “Through that work we have had occasion to make a significant and meaningful impact in our community here in Minneapolis and St. Paul.”
Besides gaining business acumen, O’Neil also credits the Military Veterans Initiative with fostering personal connections with peers, faculty—really the entire ecosystem involved with the school. “Coming from a service background, one really does not have a professional network that exists outside of their own unit,” he says. “Carlson provides the opportunity to build and grow that network in a meaningful way.”
Learn more about using business as a force for good in the Carlson School Alumni Magazine, where this feature originally appeared.