2018 MBAs To Watch: Carl Biggers, Wisconsin School of Business

Carl Biggers

University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wisconsin School of Business

“Product geek and fanatic problem solver with a passion for improving efficiency and reducing ambiguity.”

Age: 27

Hometown: Verona, Wisconsin

Fun fact about yourself: I was once an extra in a Hong Kong movie called (translated) “High Altitude Romance 2” set in southwest China. My scene did not make the final cut of the film, which did not surprise my family and friends at all!

Undergraduate School and Degree: B.A. in Economics from Macalester College

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Epic Systems Inc.

Technical Services, Technical Coordinator & Team Lead

Epic Den Bosch (NL): Technical Services, Diagnose Behandel Combinatie
Where did you intern during the summer of 2017? Intuit in Mountain View, California

Where will you be working after graduation? Intuit as a Product Manager

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Co-President, Healthcare Club Wisconsin MBA Student Ambassador Merit Tuition Award (2016 – 2017)

Teaching Assistant: MBA Data to Decisions (Fall 2017), MBA Economics (Spring 2018)

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? This last fall, I started a meeting series called “Tech Teardowns” for a small group of Wisconsin MBAs interested in product management. We pick a product that has a mobile application for both iOS and Android and do a deep dive into the company’s history, business model, customers, and application UI design. I do a little preparation to structure each meeting, but the series and discussion are mostly informal. The sessions help familiarize us with how different products are structured under various business models. I’m proud of the series because I think it legitimately improves how we think about product decisions as product managers. However, the sessions aren’t as regular as I would like, since corralling MBAs is tough!

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? When I was working with Epic Systems at Epic’s U.S. headquarters, I was heavily involved with managing several areas of a company-wide software project to support a new medical code set called ICD-10. I loved the project because I learned about different business units and the applications of the core software. At the same time, I was a driver behind solving some complicated and impactful problems facing hospitals. It also turns out that deeply understanding customers and using that knowledge to craft an end product are key competencies of product managers, which explains why I enjoyed the project so much! The eventual transition was a success, and I’m proud that I was able to make meaningful impact on so many health organizations at once.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Hart Posen. Hart teaches business strategy, which is a core class that all UW MBAs take. Hart is a fantastic strategy professor because, for most people, communicating “what is your company’s core strategy” is tricky and can have some fluff behind it. Hart is known for getting right to the point in an incisive manner that challenges students to think deeper about how firms compete and maintain advantage in the real world.

What was your favorite MBA Course? I loved our negotiations course, which was taught by Charlie Trevor. Charlie teaches a wide variety of techniques and concepts for both integrative and distributive negotiations, and the class is mainly practice negotiations against other MBAs. The biggest insight I gained was that in some situations, I am a very mediocre negotiator! My “default” strategies and personalities vary widely in effectiveness depending on the situation and the personalities of the other party.

Negotiating better is not only a great business skill, but a useful life skill. After a few classes, I went for a “real life” practice session and successfully lowered my monthly internet bill!

Why did you choose this business school? I am passionate about using technology to solve impactful problems. The University of Wisconsin’s specialization model means that I can focus on exactly this (Operations & Technology Management) with like-minded peers from a wide range of backgrounds. Also, my fiancée and I love Madison!

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Wisconsin’s specialization model isn’t just for show. MBAs in the respective Centers are passionate about their specialization areas. This gives students great opportunities to learn from others. A drive to “go deep” in your specialization area, coupled with a desire to gain broadly applicable MBA and business skills, will come across positively when you’re applying. In general, I think drive and passion are critical regardless of your specific interests. I’d rather recommend a candidate with a demonstrated passion for a certain area but less experience than a candidate with more experience but less drive.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Before I entered the program, I didn’t know how the small program size (100+ MBAs per year) would impact my experience. It turns out that the small class size is amazing. I had no idea that I’d end up making so many close friends who I see almost every day. There’s even going to be a sizable UW MBA contingent at my wedding!

What was your biggest regret in business school? The small program size gives me a great opportunity to learn from my peers. But, there are still MBAs who I would like to take time with to fully understand their background and previous career experiences. I don’t think there’s enough time for that! Learning from the diverse backgrounds of peers is an essential part of the MBA experience, and I wish I had been more proactive about this from Day 1.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I admire Niraj Amin, an MBA in the Marketing Research specialization. Niraj and I worked on a project team together during our first semester of the MBA. Niraj is without question one of the most positive, outgoing, and generally nicest individuals I have ever known, and his enthusiasm is infectious. I aspire to have that same positivity and enthusiasm!

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My fiancée! She was visiting the Netherlands where I was working at the time, and at dinner she was talking about potentially getting a MBA. Eventually she said, “You know, this seems like exactly what you’d want to be doing.” I thought, “You’re right, this MBA thing sounds pretty great!”. Next thing you know, I’m in business school.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…doing something that lets me solve impactful problems. Likely a project manager for a healthcare company or working in consulting.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? The specialization model is a huge strength of the Wisconsin MBA, and the University in general is a renowned public research institution with a history of innovation. I would love to see more formalized crossover between the two. Some MBAs already work with teams of engineers or graduate researchers in other university departments, but I believe there are opportunities at the University for MBAs to have a greater impact. For example, Wisconsin’s WARF technology transfer office is one of the oldest in the nation, and a formal program to pair MBAs with WARF to help inventors assess the commercialization value of innovations would be valuable both for WARF and MBAs. Of course, this would take more than a day to figure out!

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

Item #1: Travel to China with my fiancée! She has never travelled to China, and I’d love to take her to Yunnan province and then climb Emeishan in Sichuan.

Item #2: As a lead product manager for a product, make something that thousands of people use every day. I want to make a “home run” product.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I’d like my peers to remember me as someone who can solve difficult problems and run a project efficiently, but also as someone who always has time to get to know the people around me.

What is your favorite movie about business? Ghostbusters! The team not only was the first to move into the market and identify and capitalize on the ghost problem, but they built their business on what appears to be a combination of expertise, hustle, and a fair amount of luck. In my mind these are all important elements for a successful start-up.

What would your theme song be? I play the tenor saxophone, so I would go with the “Channel One Suite” solely for the incredible free-form tenor cadenza in the middle. Or, for a day when I need to be on point, I might add “Get Back” (Ludacris) to my work mix.

Favorite vacation spot: Yunnan Province, China, where I studied and worked for six months when I was an undergraduate.

Hobbies? I was a collegiate long-distance runner and I still keep to a running schedule. I also play the tenor saxophone. In my free time I practice and study Mandarin Chinese, drink a lot of tea, learn very basic coding skills, and read fantasy and science fiction books. I was also just certified as a commercial small UAS operator!

What made Carl such an invaluable addition to the class of 2018?

“Carl Biggers has been an outstanding member of the Wisconsin FT MBA, Class of 2018. From the time he arrived to campus, as part of our New Admit student weekend, Carl demonstrated support of MBA program through activities outside of the classroom as well as his enthusiasm to embrace academic studies.

Carl has been a student in the Erdman Center for Operations and Technology Management where he has maintained a 3.99 cumulative GPA while also being extremely involved in MBA program activities. He served as the co-president of the healthcare club. During the fall of 2017 and spring of 2018 he provided leadership and coordination for the Tech Tear Down student group that gathers to focus on in depth analysis of software from a product management perspective.

Additionally, Carl participated in the MBA global course to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam during this first year of studies (2017). As part of the course requirements a consulting project was conducted for GE Healthcare in Vietnam. The GE team was so pleased with the results that they generated additional projects for the global course the following year (2018).

During his second year, Carl was a teaching assistant for data to decisions (D2D) and economics MBA courses. He coordinated an applied learning session for his OTM classmates on data analytics tools. Carl supported his OTM classmates by his willingness to conduct mock interviews and resume reviews. He also provided support to the MBA program office for their ambassador program by connecting with perspective MBA students.

Carl ‘s internship during the summer of 2017 was at Intuit in a product manager role and he has accepted a full time position with Intuit in Mountain View, CA as a product manager.”

Steven Boeder
Director, Erdman Center for Operations and Technology Management
Wisconsin School of Business

 

DON’T MISS THE FULL LIST:

100 MBAS TO WATCH IN THE CLASS OF 2018