Carlson School building exterior

MA-HRIR Program Brings Families Together

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Thanksgiving is just a few days away and for many it’s a time for gathering with family and other loved ones to share good food and warm memories.  For some families, talk at the table is based around new jobs, relationship statuses, or the weather, but for families with more than one graduate of the MA-HRIR Program at the Carlson School of Management, conversation may turn to whether carving the turkey is more or less difficult than working regression models.

Many alumni come from the same families, and just in time for the holiday season, they're sharing their stories on what drew them to the program, whether they shared any professors, and their favorite part of the program  

Jason Usher, ’12 MA-HRIR, and Rachel Usher, '10 MA-HRIR

These cousins and self-described “best friends” both chose the program after following advice from mentors, and because of the excellent reputation of the program. Jason, who earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota, was excited, even before enrolling, for the international opportunities he would gain through the MA-HRIR Program. A deciding factor for Rachel when researching the program was that it offered “truly hands-on experiences from top notch professors, outside of just a textbook/classroom,” and found the network, connections, and exposure to companies from all over the country and world to be “just outstanding.” Rachel was part of the student organization, GSHRL (formerly known as IPX), during her time in the program, which also brought classmates together outside of class. Both Jason and Rachel valued professors they had during their time in the program, including Theresa Glomb, Colleen Manchester, and Travis Tubre.

Rachel has worked at Ingersoll Rand since she graduated, and has been fortunate enough to travel and experience different businesses and roles in three states across the country, as well as overseas in Europe. Jason has been with General Mills since interning in 2011, and plans to move to a new position within the company in Southern California in December. 

Colleen Peterson, ‘96 MA-HRIR, and Kathleen (Peterson) Gabel, '97 MA-HRIR

These twin sisters shared a similar interest in furthering their education beyond a bachelor’s degree. Having both attended the University of Minnesota for their undergraduate degrees, they were aware that the MA-HRIR program was highly regarded. Both sisters said their favorite parts of the program were the curriculum, which provided solid fundamentals in all aspects of HR management, and the faculty, who provided not only academic leadership but support for professional development. They added that the program was enhanced with internships that allowed them to gain on-the-job experience and successfully prepared them for their careers.

Colleen is now an executive compensation director at H.B. Fuller in Vadnais Heights, and Kathleen is a global compensation director at Ecolab, based in St. Paul.


Annette Scotti, '00 MA-HRIR, and Danielle Scotti, '11 MA-HRIR

This mother-daughter duo also chose our program because of its reputation, and both say they have benefited immensely from the HRIR graduate degree. Danielle notes that career services resources were important in her decision, because even though she joined the program at the height of the recession, the Graduate Business Career Center brought in outstanding organizations to interview with. She says that she knew a graduate degree from the program would sharpen her focus and help her prepare for more opportunities in a tight labor market. Another aspect of the program that Danielle says made it stand apart from others was the diverse student body of international students and age groups, which mirrors the workplace in real time today. Both Annette and Danielle were taught by professors Avner Ben-Ner, John Budd, and Connie Wanberg. Both women still consider the ambiance and resources in the CHRLS Herman Library one of their favorite things about the program, and Annette still speaks fondly of Georgiana Herman and her legacy there.

Danielle works as a senior HR business partner at Syngenta in Minneapolis, and Annette co-owns HRtechies, Inc. in Minneapolis, and formerly worked in HR manager roles at American Engineering Testing, Inc. and Wells Fargo. 

Nick Heisick ‘08 MA-HRIR, and Josh Heisick, '07 MA-HRIR

These brothers started the program only a semester apart, and both look back warmly on the experience. They might have shared a few professors, but the two had different responses when asked what their favorite part of the program was. For Nick, it was the quality of the curriculum and the professors, who prepared him to be successful in this field. He added that incorporating MBA classes into the program, which ensured that students came out knowing not only about HR, but business in general, has been extremely beneficial. For Josh, his favorite part was the professors, both some of the more tenured ones and some of the newer ones. He says they did a great job keeping the courses lively and practical.

After the program Nick stayed in the Twin Cities and took a job with Carlson Companies, working in various generalist and specialist roles.  He stayed at Carlson for about 8 years before moving to his current role as HR director at Gopher Resource, an industry leader in the safe and efficient recycling of lead-based batteries throughout North America. After graduation Josh spent a short time working for PepsiCo in Los Angeles and then took a job with the National Labor Relations Board in their Brooklyn office, where he investigated unfair labor practices under the NLRA. Both brothers are back in Minnesota, now, after Josh transferred to the Minneapolis office.

Suzanne Luke, ‘86 MA-HRIR, and Matt Luke, ‘04 MA-HRIR

This mother-son pair graduated almost two decades apart, yet their favorite parts of the program were the same: classmates who came from diverse backgrounds, the faculty, the opportunities to learn through hands-on experience, and how to challenge and apply themselves. Matt says that his mother had also talked highly of the program, and when it was his turn to pursue a graduate degree, he saw for himself what made The Carlson School MA-HRIR Program so great. Both Suzanne and Matt had the opportunity to learn from professors John Fossum and John Budd.

Suzanne is now back on campus as a compensation/rewards manager with University of Minnesota Physicians. After graduation, Matt worked in a variety of HR roles for IBM and now works for 3M as a global leadership development manager. After moving around the country several times, Matt and his wife returned to Minnesota to raise their kids and to be closer to family.

If you are also part of a family-alumni pair and would like to share your stories, please email us at