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A Look at Some of Today's Students

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Every Carlson School student has an interesting story to tell. Get a glimpse into the lives of some noteworthy members of the community. 

New Meaning to Classroom Engagement

Catherine Wang and Kaizen Yang

When Catherine Wang and Kaizen Yang, who got engaged in May, want to talk to each other about how their respective days went, they have a lot of common ground—both are current students in the MBA program. 

“Both of us had considered entering an MBA program while we were still working and had taken the GMAT years before in preparation,” Wang says. “After working for five years and talking about our long-term goals, we felt that entering an MBA program in 2013 was the right time.”

Wang was working as a marketing business analyst for the Pillsbury business at General Mills, and Yang was at Imation, working as an account specialist. The two had met as undergrads. Although they attended different institutions, they were both INROADS members and met at an INROADS-sponsored leadership development conference in Nashville. “Catherine knew my older brother—he attended the same college as her—and thought I looked like him. She approached me, and the rest is history,” Yang says.

When it came to decide where to earn their MBAs, the Carlson School seemed a perfect fit. “I was really attracted to the small class size and the Enterprise programs,” Wang says. Yang agrees with her assessment, and adds that he wanted to stay in the Midwest because of how much he appreciates the culture. “Minneapolis is a great city,” he says.

Coincidentally, Wang and Yang were assigned the same cohort for their entire first year at the Carlson School, which meant they had several classes with one another. “It was definitely an interesting experience because we wanted to balance getting to know more people in class with spending time with one another,” Wang says. “It was quickly known among our classmates that we were a couple, which meant we received some friendly jabs,” says Yang.

And there are some friendly jabs with each other, as they are able to see which one is doing better in class. “We would not be B-school students if there was not some sense of rivalry and competition,” Yang says. “While we do compare grades, we know it’s all in fun. We believe when we challenge one another, it makes us better.”

In her studies, Wang wants to focus on marketing and brand management and develop skills to become a business leader. Yang is looking toward business development to acquire the credibility to work for a company that may take him internationally.

“We hope to take full advantage of the opportunities offered through our MBA program,” Wang says. “We both want to find meaningful jobs that will help launch us to our future careers. Additionally, we hope our jobs will take us to new, exciting places where we can possibly raise a family. I am looking forward to finishing my MBA degree and getting married this coming May.”

From Military Stripes to Pinstripes

Charles Stewart

While the Carlson School has long prided itself on having many military veterans among its students, our recently launched Military Veterans Initiative has taken that to a new level. This initiative is designed to transition servicemen and women from military service into a business career, and offers benefits such as the Veterans Fund, which provides fellowships to ease the cost of earning an MBA.

One such veteran attracted to the Carlson School through the initiative is Marine Corps Captain Charles Stewart, part of the Full-Time MBA Class of 2015 and president of the MBA Military Club. Stewart became an officer in the Marine Corps after completing his undergraduate education at Washington University in St. Louis. In the Corps, he served four years in multiple locations, doing legal, public affairs, and administrative work. His final role was as a chief of staff.

Stewart’s military background has been a boon in how he approaches his studies at the school. Because he has developed the skills to manage deadlines, juggle multiple projects, and adjust his plans as he progresses closer to his goals, he’s able to approach every challenge with a sense of confidence. “There’s nothing here that’s going to challenge me in the way I’ve been challenged as a Marine,” he says. “Knowing this helps me keep things in perspective and allows me to keep pressing forward and take on bigger roles than I would have otherwise.”

He recounts one time when he was selected as the team lead for a Consulting Enterprise project. Among the expected challenges of such an assignment, he also had an underperforming team member. “As an officer, I was responsible for both the personal and professional development of a number of direct reports during my career,” he says. “My experience in fostering personal growth was what allowed me to successfully coach a peer in a way that wasn’t off-putting, and allowed them to identify and rectify their shortcomings while I steered the team in a way that allowed us to successfully complete our project.” 

A 'Veteran' Student, Charles Stewart's military discipline comes in handy in his student endeavors

As president of the MBA Veterans Club, Stewart has worked to connect veteran students with other veterans in the Minneapolis business community who have already successfully made the transition. In addition, he has worked with recruiters at a variety of corporations to help them understand the unique skills and perspectives that veterans can bring to the workplace.

Stewart’s immediate plans are to carve out a place for himself in either consulting or energy. He spent his summer with a Fortune 500 energy company and greatly enjoyed the experience. He also enjoyed leading his team in the Carlson Consulting Enterprise. “Long term, I see myself applying my knowledge and experience in these two industries to a political career in the executive branch,” he says. “My time at Carlson has already been instrumental in growing my network and becoming exposed to different careers and industries—it’s the reason I know which two industries I am most interested in.”

All in the Family

Ty Morgan

The Carlson School runs thick in the Morgan family’s blood. Not only are Bennett Morgan and his wife, Sharon, both alumni, but their son, Ty, is currently a sophomore.

Bennett came to the Carlson School with an interest in marketing and product management and an ultimate goal of general management for his future career. “I had an outstanding experience at St. John’s for my undergrad, but I knew a MBA was an important educational and life experience,” he says. “I needed to achieve my goals, and I was interested in remaining in the Midwest. The Carlson School was the strongest MBA program in Minnesota and as a lifelong Gopher fan, it was my top choice.”

Sharon attended St. Olaf College to pursue cross country and track, but it wasn’t the place for her from a personal or financial aspect. “I transferred to the U of M while working to pay for my education. I really enjoyed my initial business courses, particularly accounting, and applied to the Carlson School,” she says. “I loved the access to employers like Honeywell, where I interned my final two years, gaining valuable experience and helping me pay for my education.”

Bennett and Sharon actually knew each other before they attended the Carlson School. “Sharon and I grew up in the same home town of Eden Prairie back when it was a farm town,” he says. “We graduated together and were friends throughout high school, but didn’t begin dating until our senior year.” During his first year in the MBA program and her final year at school, they were both at the Carlson School at the same time. “As busy as Sharon was with the Carlson School—business fraternity and Honeywell internship—and with my MBA commitments, we saw each other less than expected, but in many ways put us on a path where our careers and locations meshed,” Bennett says. 

Sharon and Bennet Morgan

Bennett joined Polaris Industries right after graduation and has been there ever since. For the past nine years, he has served as president and chief operating officer. Prior to that, he ran Polaris’ PGA and ATV businesses as a vice president and general manager.

Sharon, who majored in business administration, worked for Honeywell as a business administrator in systems and research and military avionics and later at 3M as a business administrator on the government side before moving to the commercial side as a supervisor. She retired to raise the couple’s three children about 19 years ago, but continues to stay involved in leadership and support of Minnetonka youth sports.

Both Bennett and Sharon agree they wouldn’t be where they were today without their Carlson School education. “I really grew up at the Carlson School—it prepared me for both the level of effort and critical thinking necessary to succeed,” Bennett says.

Ty must have heard about the Carlson School a lot from his parents growing up, but his decision to attend there was based more on his own observations and research than to any familial recommendation. “When I started looking at schools to apply to, I knew that I wanted to pursue something in the business area, and I knew from friends and my research that the Carlson School was an excellent business school,” he says. “Once I found out all the networking and great placement opportunities that the Carlson School does in the Twin Cities, I knew that I wanted to be a part of this fantastic curriculum. Also, ever since the day I can remember, I’ve been cheering on the Minnesota Gophers for all sports.”

Rich opportunities for networking and job placement drew Ty Morgan to the Carlson School

Ty has not decided on his specific major yet, but is leaning toward either a major in MIS or supply chain management. “I’m hoping to secure an internship during the fall semester for the upcoming summer in a field that most interests me. And from there, I hope to build my experience and my education into a rotational development program position upon graduation with a quality, growing organization, ideally based in Minnesota,” he says. “Ultimately, I’m interested in general management leadership positions and potentially pursuing an MBA to help achieve my goals.”

Thinking about their son, Bennett and Sharon can see that the passion and quality of Carlson School students remain very similar to back in their day, but in many other ways, the school has changed and evolved for the good. “The facilities, faculty, and curriculum are all stronger, deeper, and better,” Bennett says. “The ties to the Minnesota and national business community and student placement are much broader and stronger. All of these changes make for a college experience with richer connections, both personally and professionally.” Sharon agrees. “The diversity of students and perspectives is improved, and we love the required study abroad and internship experience for the students today,” she says. “It’s an invaluable growth and development opportunity we wish we had.”