Harvard | Mr. French Economist
GMAT 710, GPA 15.3/20 in the French grading system 3.75-4.0/4.0 after conversion
Cornell Johnson | Ms. Healthcare Worker
GMAT 670, GPA 4
Yale | Mr. Hedge Fund To FinTech
GMAT 740, GPA 61.5
Tuck | Ms. Women-Focused Ventures
GRE 321, GPA 2.89
Stanford GSB | Ms. Independent Consultant
GMAT 750, GPA 3.5
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Bangladeshi Data Scientist
GMAT 760, GPA 3.33
Stanford GSB | Ms. 2+2 Tech Girl
GRE 333, GPA 3.95
Ross | Mr. Automotive Compliance Professional
GMAT 710, GPA 3.7
Wharton | Mr. Digi-Transformer
GMAT 680, GPA 4
Stanford GSB | Ms. Healthcare Operations To General Management
GRE 700, GPA 7.3
Chicago Booth | Ms. CS Engineer To Consultant
GMAT 720, GPA 3.31
Kenan-Flagler | Mr. Engineer In The Military
GRE 310, GPA 3.9
Chicago Booth | Mr. Oil & Gas Leader
GMAT 760, GPA 6.85/10
Stanford GSB | Mr. Seeking Fellow Program
GMAT 760, GPA 3
Wharton | Mr. Real Estate Investor
GMAT 720, GPA 3.3
Cornell Johnson | Ms. Chef Instructor
GMAT 760, GPA 3.3
Harvard | Mr. Climate
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
Wharton | Mr. New England Hopeful
GMAT 730, GPA 3.65
Harvard | Mr. Military Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 3.9
Ross | Ms. Packaging Manager
GMAT 730, GPA 3.47
Chicago Booth | Mr. Private Equity To Ed-Tech
GRE 326, GPA 3.4
Harvard | Mr. Gay Singaporean Strategy Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.3
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Electric Vehicles Product Strategist
GRE 331, GPA 3.8
Columbia | Mr. BB Trading M/O To Hedge Fund
GMAT 710, GPA 3.23
Columbia | Mr. Old Indian Engineer
GRE 333, GPA 67%
Harvard | Mr. Athlete Turned MBB Consultant
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
Ross | Mr. Civil Rights Lawyer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.62

Meet Minnesota Carlson’s MBA Class Of 2021

The Carlson School overlooks Minneapolis.


“The Carlson School of Management really helped me refocus and double down on the medical industry,” Schneeman told P&Q in 2019. “It’s an incredibly complex market space and understanding its nuances is essential to a healthcare startup’s success. There were a number of courses I took where we were evaluating real-world medical technologies, understanding the healthcare marketplace, and learning about healthcare IT that helped pave the way for me at Phraze. Further, the leadership, strategy, and entrepreneurship classes I took created a foundation of tools required to lead a startup…While I felt I was strongly connected in the private equity and investment banking space from my previous careers, the startup and venture capital community are a few steps removed. The Carlson School went above-and-beyond to connect me to the local startup community, which has been invaluable.”

John Stavi agrees, adding that the Twin Cities market caters to more durable, meat-and-potatoes ventures. “I think investors are coming here and seeing talent in some of the areas where historically there were a lot of strengths in the corporate sector. There is a lot of talent here around healthcare, enterprise software, and food and agriculture. There’s a lot of talent that are doing entrepreneurial things that might not always be the classic unicorn venture headline but are building really interesting businesses. The Twin Cities has staked a claim in solving meaningful problems and that stems from the healthcare background and computing history in the Twin Cities and really building over the long-term businesses that solve important problems.”

Startups can tap into a deep pool of potential partners in the Twin Cities. UnitedHealth, for one, is the 6th-largest company, revenue-wise, in the Fortune 500. The metro is also home to giants like Best Buy, Target, 3M, U.S. Bancorp, General Mills, Land O’Lakes, Ameriprise, and Hormel Foods. In fact, Land O’Lakes even runs an accelerator to support fledgling food startups. While the area doesn’t produce sexy tech unicorns, the startups tend to last. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the five-year business survival rate is 54.4% – third-best in the nation. Better yet, the Twin Cities rank as the 6th-best place to live in U.S. News’ most recent ranking – a region bolstered by distinct seasons, good roads, and a wide range of outdoor activities.

The Carlson School of Management


One of the key factors in my decision to come to the Carlson School was the location,” notes Davi Gordon. “On a professional front, the Twin Cities are home to 17 Fortune 500 companies, and Carlson has a fantastic relationship with the employers in the area. This means there is an extremely strong alumni network within our reach (and around the world!). I also liked the idea of being in a big city that has everything – parks, lakes, public transportation, amazing restaurants, arts, sports, etc.”

In California, the Bay Area earned its Silicon Valley moniker for its prowess in computer technology. The Twin Cities have a different nickname: Medical Alley. The tag stems from area clusters of corporate, middle market, and startup might driving innovation in healthcare.

Minnesota Carlson takes advantage of this regional strength through its Medical Industry Leadership Institute (MILI). The institute boasts coursework on industry best practices, scientific developments, new technologies, and legal requirements. MILI also sponsors trips and case competitions, not to mention an annual fall conference that brings together local leaders to discuss healthcare analytics. In addition, the institute provides a platform for MBA students to complete hands-on projects or evaluate startups through its valuation lab.

For Molly Dowden, a biochemist by training, MILI was a major selling point that peer programs couldn’t match. “With my background in pharmaceutical chemical manufacturing, dietary-supplement product development, and human-subjects research, it was critical for me to select an MBA program that supported and allowed me to delve deeper into the medical industry while still providing an overall solid MBA foundation.”

The deepest dive, however, takes place during the school’s famed Enterprise Program. Think of it as experiential learning personified. Forget the traditional semester-long hands-on project to prep students for a summer internship. Enterprise lasts 2-3 semesters, embedding a series of projects that enable students to develop deeper experience and wider networks in particular industries – the kind that gives them an advantage over peers from other schools. In this program, students are broken into 4-6 member teams and work hand-in-hand with an enterprise director and executive coaches (with a student-to-coach ratio of 8:1 in the full-time MBA program).

The Carlson School of Management in Minneapolis

The Enterprise Program is broken into four pathways: Brand, Consulting, Funding, and Ventures. In Consulting, for example, teams operate as consulting firms. They work closely on projects with client organizations, with past students partnering with firms such as the Mayo Clinic, Wells Fargo, McKesson, and the United Way. In the process, students receive intensive one-on-one and team coaching to prepare them to break down complex problems and persuade executive audiences. For the Class of 2021, the Enterprise difference will enable them to take risks, make mistakes, and collect experience.

“I learn best by doing,” explains Cameron Califf, an engineer looking to move into management. So the opportunity to apply concepts from the classroom to real-world situations before starting an internship was highly important, especially coming from a non-business-related background.”


Another advantage to the Enterprise Program, says Heather Stanislawski, is that it offers a safety net for people still deciding which career track to pursue. “One of my biggest concerns about picking a career is choosing a path that I might not actually enjoy. This format of immersive learning will provide me with enough information to be confident in my choice, which is exactly what I was looking for in my MBA program.”

Along with the Enterprise Program, the Class of 2021 is also looking forward to joining the Graduate Volunteer Consultants Club (GVC). Basically, the GVC is a pro-bono consulting firm that serves local non-profits. Along with supplying additional professional experience, the GVC also enables students to give back and live up to the school motto.

“At Carlson, we always talk about “Business as a force for good.” I believe GVC will be a great starting point for us to actually implement and realize this idea,” says Han Zhou.

It is this philosophy, a byproduct of the Midwest’s stoic faith and conscientiousness, that students like Mark Giannetti intend to carry through their careers. “I’ll likely be working on mentoring and developing future leaders in my organization and hope to have a positive impact by helping to shape an inclusive and affirming corporate culture.”

What led these professionals to enter business schools? Which programs did they also consider? What strategies did they use to choose their MBA program? What was the major event that defined them? Find the answers to these questions and many more in the in-depth profiles of these incoming MBA candidates.


MBA Student Hometown Undergraduate Alma Mater Last Employer
Hunter Brocato Columbus, GA University of Georgia Inspire NOLA Schools
Cameron Califf Bakersfield, CA University of Southern California WZI Inc.
Molly Dowden Medford, WI University of Wisconsin-Madison Marshfield Clinic Health System
Mark Giannetti Greenwich, CT Colorado College General Mills
Davi Gordon Columbus, OH Muhlenberg College Brands Inc. (Formerly DSW Inc.)
Thu Ha Minneapolis, MN University of Minnesota Amplifon USA
Joe Martin Elk Grove, CA University of Arizona Milliman
Matteo Panero  Fossano, Italy Politecnico di Torino NA
Cleresa R. Roberts Salt Lake City, UT Denison University University of Pennsylvania
Heather Stanislawski Pasadena, CA Southern Methodist University Stanislawski and Company, Inc.
Kevin L. Vargas Round Lake Beach, IL Yale University IntriCon Corporation
Han Zhou Wuhu, China Zhejiang Yuexiu University of Foreign Languages PATEO Shanghai

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