Carlson School students visit 3M

CGI Gives Students Opportunities to Partner with Businesses at Home and Abroad

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

With 17 Fortune 500 companies based in Minnesota, Carlson School students can engage with some of the world’s leading companies right in their backyard. These connections create a unique set of opportunities for students and businesses to learn from one another through the Carlson Global Institute (CGI).

Students engage with companies on both a local and global level, and can work with companies big and small, across all sectors of the economy.

Through CGI, companies host students at their international headquarters to get an inside look at global operations. Meanwhile, throughout the Twin Cities and abroad, students participate in learning projects, such as the Global Business Practicum and the Carlson Enterprise programs, gaining hands-on experience while learning about their host companies. These types of distinct partnerships position the Carlson School as a leader in global education.

“The collaborations between the Carlson Global Institute and businesses run deeper than they may seem,” says Anne D’Angelo, assistant dean of CGI. “And students from the Carlson School and our overseas business school partners benefit tremendously.”

The Future Is Global

3M has hosted Carlson School students in a number of countries. By inviting undergraduates to one of its locations in China and hosting graduate students in Argentina and China, 3M has shown students just how far-reaching the impact a global experience can have.

Jon Ruppel, vice president for workforce experience, services, and rewards at 3M, says his company believes in educating the next generation of scientists, engineers, and business leaders by supporting initiatives such as those at the Carlson Global Institute. That’s why he sits on CGI’s Advisory Council.

“As we think about how we develop our workforce and our future leaders, it’s important for us to think through how we engage with organizations like the Carlson Global Institute to help shape the minds of the future as we think about future talent,” he says.

3M has a footprint in 70 countries, and future employees will have to think globally and understand how the global economy is becoming more and more intertwined, he says. By collaborating with the Carlson Global Institute, 3M is able to develop students—and a future workforce—with a global mindset.

“We’re very collaborative. Having students come in and work for 3M allows them to hit the ground better prepared to understand what it’s like to work at a global company,” Ruppel says. “We view that as a benefit, in addition to the actual work on partnerships that they may perform both for their curriculum and their  project needs.”

A Unique Cultural Exchange

3M recruits Carlson School students as does General Mills, another Carlson Global Institute partner. Ben Irby, chief marketing and strategy officer for Cereal Partners Worldwide, a General Mills and Nestle joint venture, who also serves on the Advisory Council, says inviting Carlson School students to their campus for site visits creates an opportunity to pitch the company to potential employees.

Students tour the facilities to see what the company is like physically while also getting an up-close look at how the company does business and builds brands.

“It allows students to see what it’s like to build a career at General Mills, and get a look at our culture,” Irby says. “By letting students engage with the people who work here and by letting them learn about what they value, we feel it’s a strong message.”

This type of partnership between CGI and businesses across the Twin Cities is something that is distinct and sets the Carlson School, and the Twin Cities, apart.

With businesses spanning nearly every sector of the economy, Carlson School students have the opportunity to take part in experiential learning opportunities that align with their career interests, and do that globally.

Students aren’t the only ones benefiting from these learning opportunities.

“Getting to work with students with a global mindset helps 3M think through the problems we’re currently working on,” Ruppel says.

Businesses across the Twin Cities have come to rely on these partnerships with Carlson School students across the globe and in a variety of capacities.

“It’s for sure a two-way relationship,” Irby says. “We get a lot from the Carlson School, and we see this not only as an opportunity to give back but also as an opportunity to further that partnership and extend it beyond just the Carlson School here in Minnesota.”

The international experience requirement and the school’s dedicated institute to global studies provide organizations with employees that are diverse, think with a global mindset, and function in cross-cultural teams.

“It’s for sure a two-way relationship. We get a lot from the Carlson School, and we see this not only as an opportunity to give back but also as an opportunity to further that partnership and extend it beyond just the Carlson School here in Minnesota.”

– Ben Irby

Hands-on Learning

Experiential learning opportunities championed by CGI come in a variety of forms for Carlson School students with a focus on reciprocal engagement.

When a number of international exchange students attended a site visit to Ecolab, company executives used the opportunity to conduct small focus groups to obtain a more global perspective. Furthermore, General Mills leaders consistently met with Global Executive MBA students to better understand other countries and cultures and gain a more diverse perspective.

Organized jointly by the Carlson School and universities in both China and Austria, the Carlson School Global Executive MBA program offers students around the world the opportunity to learn more about international business opportunities.

Lukas Skocek, ’18 VEMBA, took part in the Executive MBA program in Vienna, jointly hosted by the Carlson School and the Vienna University of Economics and Business. While in the program, he visited both 3M and General Mills during his time in the Twin Cities, just before graduating from the program.

On those visits and others during his time in the VEMBA program, he was able to think deeper about issues he had encountered throughout his career and how to solve those problems across teams.

Though he had worked as a management consultant in 12 countries, these visits allowed him to look at problems in a new light.

“These international residencies, especially the company visits, were an incredible experience and it skyrocketed our understanding of different economies and challenges,” says Skocek, who now works at KPMG in management consulting as head of data and analytics.

The site visits opened his eyes to how his clients could use more hands-on experiences to showcase their products to customers. While visiting 3M, he saw its Innovation Center, where the company showcases its various products and 
technologies to demonstrate there is much more to 3M than Post-it Notes.

“I learned how important it is to promote cross-foundational and cross-technology innovation and collaboration,” Skocek says. “Many companies I have been working with have huge potential if they would manage to promote more collaboration across service lines, functions, and organizational boundaries.”

Each May, both companies host Executive MBA students who come together from Austria, China, and the United States for their final project and graduation. Christa Gschweitl, ’18 VEMBA, joined Skocek on those site visits in the Twin Cities as well as others around the world. The experience underscored her conviction that thinking globally is crucial in today’s economy.

“My entire time in the Executive MBA program showed me just how important it is to work cross-culturally,” she says.

Irby knows first-hand the power international experience such as these can have on students. While in the Carlson School’s Executive MBA program himself, Irby participated in an international experience that took him to Germany and Finland. He says his travels revealed the possibilities available to him through global job opportunities and helped shape his career path.

After graduating, Irby elected to work overseas for General Mills in Switzerland for four years. Just recently, Irby was promoted to his current role, which is also based in the same country and for the same company where he completed his last international experience.

“This means that the global impact continues for me,” he says. “I really give a lot of credit to the Carlson Global Institute for taking my career journey in that direction.”