Meet Minnesota Carlson’s MBA Class of 2018


Laura Margaret Johnson

Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: I explore– African mountain-tops, Manhattan skyscrapers, and now Minneapolis! — to improve myself and our planet.

Hometown: Yankton, South Dakota

Fun Fact About Yourself: One summer during college, I played Sandy in the musical Grease!

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Oregon, School of Journalism & Communications: Journalism & Media Studies Major with a Minor in Art.

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

  • Communications Specialist at Collegis Education; Bloomington, MN
  • Accounts Coordinator for the Arts, Culture & Sports team at Rubenstein Strategic Communications; New York, NY
  • Education and Health Volunteer at U.S. Peace Corps; Lesotho, Southern Africa

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: While serving in the U.S. Peace Corps as a Volunteer in Motete, Lesotho for 26 months, I initiated a community nutrition project for my remote, mountain school, which lacked running water, electricity as well as ready access to fresh fruits and vegetables. More specifically, I am proud of the trust that I was able to build with my host-country colleagues in the village where I lived and worked that made the project a success. Without their support and guidance, I would not have been able to engage in culturally sensitive conversations about HIV/AIDS prevalence and gender-based violence which affected my school and community. In order to complete the project, I brought together my colleagues, community members, village leaders, as well as representatives from nearby South African diamond mines. To navigate project design, funding and execution in a culture so different from my own with such a diverse group of stakeholders taught me the value of communication and developing a shared a vision.

Looking back on your experience, what advice would you give to future business school applicants?

  • Know what motivates you. What drives you is what will get you through the “un-glamorous” moments of studying for the GMAT or GRE, and what will shine through in your application and as you connect with the admissions team, faculty and alumni who can help you get where you want to be. Ask people questions and let the program get to know you—don’t just be a name on paper.
  • Know your value. Not everyone has your same experiences.
  • Be genuine. If the program doesn’t want you for who you are, you won’t want to be there anyway.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? Carlson cultivates an “elite but not elitist” culture, which appealed to me because it means learning from world-class faculty amidst the best and brightest upcoming business leaders in an approachable, supportive community that prioritizes forming strong relationships and networks.

Throughout my consideration of the program, I was struck by the personal care and attention given to my questions and concerns. Also, I admired the emphasis placed on crafting diverse cohorts that allow us to learn from peers who think and approach problem solving differently. In an ever-intertwined global network and economy, this is an increasingly important element of business, especially as businesses look to developing more socially responsible practices across global supply chains. Finally, University of Minnesota’s location within Minneapolis offers an ideal mix of small town flavor and friendliness within a vibrant city with a thriving business community and a global network of alumni.

Tell us about your dream job or dream employer at this point in your life? My dream job would be working as a liaison between communities and their local businesses and discovering where their interests intersect. I am a firm believer in efficiency and enterprise, but am adamant that a business’ first and most critical responsibilities are to the people who work there, who live nearby, and the environment where it operates.

What would you like your business school peers to say about you after you graduate from this program?   I hope my peers say that I strove for excellence as a team player who helped others to be successful and reach their full potential, treated others with kindness and respect, and challenged my own assumptions and beliefs when other viewpoints were brought to the table.

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