She Chose a School That was Close to Home – and it Opened Doors Around the World

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

“Business is so fun, it can be so much more than learning how to do debits and credits if you want it to be. But that only comes with challenging yourself and having an open mind.” — Baza Haile-Selassie, ‘BSB 15

It’s surreal for Baza to think that she nearly overlooked the Carlson School. 

Raised in Richfield, Minn., a suburb on the outskirts of Minneapolis, Baza took on leadership roles from an early age. She played sports, joined the theater club, served on the student government, and was an ambassador for international issues in her community. But despite her love for home, she pictured herself going to a college outside the state, and started exploring her options beyond the University of Minnesota. 

After applying to several schools, the Carlson School stood out. Ultimately, it was the small-town feel of the community and its proximity to big-name corporations that convinced Baza to enroll. 

“There are so many opportunities for mentorships and internships in the Twin Cities, because we’re so close to downtown,” she says. “There are a lot of other great business schools across the country, but they’re in the middle of nowhere. You don’t get businesspeople visiting your classes like we do here.”

Discovering the wide world of business

When she arrived at the Carlson School, Baza started as an accounting major. But she reconsidered her career path during Immersion Core — an intensive semester during which all second-year undergraduate students take courses in finance, marketing, management, and supply chain and operations. A marketing class led by Senior Lecturer Kevin Upton captured Baza’s imagination.

“He really sparked my interest in the subject and helped me see that there’s more to marketing than just business, there’s a human element as well,” she says.

Baza switched her major to marketing, and added a political science minor. She says her political science classes bring a new dimension to her business education.  

“Politics isn’t just for people who want to go into law. World politics and the global economy really shape business decisions, and how policies are formed really impacts businesses too,” she says.

Last fall, she embarked on a life-changing international experience. In addition to studying in London and travelling throughout Europe, Baza worked on the business development and marketing team at global engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff in London. The firm designs buildings, railways, power lines, and transit stations in locales around the world, including the world’s largest shopping mall.

Now that she’s returned home, Baza says the experience was truly transformational, and that living abroad is crucial for students looking to develop global management skills.

“Many students at Carlson are from the United States, so we all have similar experiences and approaches to problem solving. But my experience in London, one of the most diverse cities in the world taught me so many different ways of thinking and problem solving,” she says. 

As she looks forward to graduation this spring, Baza is excited to embark on her career, and to apply her business knowledge to do some good in the world.

“In business, you learn a lot about making profitable business decisions, however there’s a huge human element to it all, and helping your community should always be a priority.” she says. “Giving back to my community will always be a big part of my life.”