2020 Best & Brightest MBAs: Steve Carlson, Texas A&M (Mays)

Steven Carlson

Texas A&M University, Mays Business School

“Family-focused and service-oriented.”

Hometown: San Antonio, TX

Fun fact about yourself: I have learned how to fly two different types of helicopters: the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior and AH-64D Apache Longbow.

Undergraduate School and Degree: United States Military Academy at West Point (Economics)

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I was an attack-reconnaissance helicopter troop commander at Fort Drum, NY.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? I worked as a consultant for the Bush Library Foundation, the McFerrin Entrepreneurship Center’s Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV), and helped with new MBA student summer orientation. I also helped as the Teacher Assistant (TA) in the 1st year MBA Business Analytics course.

Where will you be working after graduation? I returned to active duty and am currently stationed at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. I am working in the Mission Command Training Program as an operations officer for the World Class Opposing Forces (OPFOR) division.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: I volunteered as a Cub Scout Tiger Den leader for my 1st-grade son (Hunter). I also volunteered at his elementary school’s Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) program. In business school, I was the Academic Liaison in our Mays MBA Association. I also ran our MBA Follies event to raise money for TAMU’s Camp LIFE.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Jake Stewart and I worked on our Capstone with the PTSD Foundation of America in Houston, Texas. I believe many military members know a fellow service member who suffers from PTSD. The foundation helps treat veterans and their family members affected by PTSD with the ultimate goal of reducing the veteran suicide rate. Jake and I analyzed how the foundation could expand its operations across the US to increase public awareness and help more veterans. Our market research helped me understand and appreciate that there are several other non-profit organizations across the US dedicated to offering help to veterans. Trying to help the foundation in any way was personally rewarding.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? It was when I earned Pilot in Command (PC) in 2013 in the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior. PCs are selected for their technical and tactical knowledge but ultimately must demonstrate that they are mature and responsible for safely operating their aircraft. Becoming a PC is like being given “the keys to learn” as an aviator. It is the first time I was given the ultimate responsibility for keeping my aircraft and co-pilot safe. That increased responsibility and bolstered my self-confidence, but also reinforced that I must continue learning and developing my aviator skills to live up to those high expectations.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Dr. Bala Shetty, who taught our Business Analytics course. His class was challenging and helped set the tone for graduate school expectations. Dr. Shetty also asked me to be his TA for the course when I was a second-year student. Being his TA tested my abilities to teach analytics to Full-Time, Professional, and Executive MBA students. Finally, he continues to be a great mentor to me and hundreds of other Mays MBA graduates. He embodies the Aggie Spirit through his unwavering devotion to the MBA students, graduates, and Texas A&M University.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? I believe in giving back to the community, which is why our MBA Follies fundraising event was my favorite event during school. We had fun raising money on behalf of Camp HOPE, which provides recreation for children ages 5 and up with disabilities and their siblings at a barrier-free facility in Burton, Texas. As the event coordinator, I was very proud that we could come together to enjoy “good bull” as 1st and 2nd-year students while raising money for such a great organization.

Why did you choose this business school? My wife and I met at Texas A&M in 2004. Although I did not complete my undergraduate degree here, I knew I wanted to come back and stay connected to the university. College Station has a great community, especially for our two kids who were welcomed immediately into their school and supported from their very first day. The combination of a challenging academic atmosphere and superb community made Mays Business School an obvious choice for our family.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Be truthful with yourself before choosing to go back to school. Make sure you understand why you want to earn your MBA, what is the cost/benefit in your personal and professional life, etc. Develop your end state first, then see how an MBA helps you achieve that goal.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently, and why? I would try to not get caught up in the moment with the stresses of graduate school. There were moments where a little more perspective would have gone a long way, especially by relying on feedback from professors or drawing upon experiences of other MBA students who went through similar stress.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Jay Jani. We were on the same small team during the first semester. He was not only smart and talented but demonstrated the humility to share those traits with our team. Jay was an excellent public speaker and presenter, and always generated superior final products that inspired my own professional work.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My former commander, COL Matthew Weinshel, helped me understand the benefits an MBA would provide me in the military. COL Weinshel helped explain from his perspective and experience how an MBA could prepare me for my next “executive” level rank of Major. My future assignments will be in larger staff and functional areas where MBA and business lessons will help me make better decisions.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? First, retire from military service after a successful time in service. Second, continue taking positions where I can positively impact the largest amount of people and their families.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? A humble teammate who shows genuine care for everyone.

Hobbies? I really enjoyed having the time to focus on long-distance running, so I ran the Silo Half-Marathon in April 2019 and the Army 10-Miler in October 2019. I also enjoyed using Adobe Premiere Pro and Photoshop to make funny videos about MBA life.

What made Steven Carlson such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“Steven Carlson was honored at the graduation as an MBA scholar for his exceptional academic achievement, and at the same time, the faculty selected him as an overall outstanding graduate who embodies the core values – academic excellence, leadership, integrity, loyalty, and service – of Texas A&M University. Being selected for both honors simultaneously is indeed very rare in our program. Steven is one of those unusually gifted individuals who set the bar high for everyone around him. Apart from his academic prowess and leadership skills, what impressed me the most about him was his humility and sense of service to our nation and those around him. Anytime there was an opportunity to serve and support someone, be it may a fellow soldier, a friend, a classmate, or someone in the community, Steven would be the first to volunteer. Those were the exact qualities that uniformly gained him the admiration and respect of his peers, faculty, and staff at Mays Business School. I am honored to have had the opportunity to work with Steven Carlson and serve as his professor.”

Bala Shetty
Professor of Information and Operations Management
Cullen Trust for Higher Education Chair in Business


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