When Associate Dean and Ecolab- Pierson M. Grieve Chair in International Marketing Michael Houston was assembling an advisory board for the Carlson Global Institute several years ago, he mentioned to a colleague that he would love to have someone from 3M on it. The colleague suggested Jan Shimanski, then managing 3M’s international marketing, who had received her PhD at the Carlson School. Houston’s eyes lit up—“Jan, I know her!”
When Shimanski was an undergrad at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, she took a consumer behavior class taught by Houston. It was time to get reacquainted. “He called me and said ‘we have this board and we want you to be on it,’” she says. “I thought it was a good opportunity—I’m an alum, I know Mike, and at the time I was running international marketing.”
Since 2012, Shimanski has been an active member of CGI’s Advisory Board, currently serving as vice chair. “There are about 12 of us at 3M who participate on advisory boards at the Carlson School,” she says. Recently, 3M helped fund research that tracked Carlson School alumni and their international trajectory three, five, and 10 years out of school. Of those polled, 79 percent who studied abroad said their experience had an impact on them professionally. A majority said their experience helped them better adapt to change, switch gears when new priorities emerge, learn new processes quickly, and make judgments about complex issues.
Shimanski, who is now vice president and chief learning officer at 3M, says international experiences are very important for the company, which has sales in 200 countries and operations in 70. “About 60 percent of our sales, or $18 billion, is international,” she says. “Although we don’t require international knowledge to be hired at 3M, it certainly can be a plus. It gets people up to speed faster depending on the nature of their position.”
The International Experience: A Network of Key Partners
The Carlson Global Institute (CGI) depends on key partnerships committed faculty, alumni willing to give back, and corporate friends—to support the international experience for students. And often, the experience has far reaching effects on them as well.
This feature originally appeared in the Fall 2017 Carlson School Alumni Magazine.