2021 MBAs To Watch: Michael Turco, University of Wisconsin

Michael Turco

Wisconsin School of Business

“I don’t do well with down time.”

Hometown: Hartland, WI

Fun fact about yourself: In Wisconsin, we swim in a lot of lakes. I have swum in all 5 Great Lakes, each with a fun story:

  • Huron: During an internship in Michigan.
  • Ontario: On a service trip to Toronto.
  • Michigan: The best is jumping in the water while playing volleyball at Bradford Beach in MKE.
  • Erie: Visiting my best friend’s hometown, Cleveland.
  • Superior: On a camping trip in the UP.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Ohio State University: Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I was a Senior Consultant at Deloitte Consulting working with clients in Federal agencies.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? I worked remotely in Madison at Intuit as a product management intern.

Where will you be working after graduation? I will return to Intuit as a Product Manager.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:  I served on the Master’s Curriculum Committee for the Wisconsin School of Business, where I worked with our Associate Dean and two of my classmates to incorporate Inclusive Leadership into our courses. As co-president of the Technology Product Club, I grew the community of future product managers here.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? It was growing WSB’s pipeline of product management talent in my role as a president of the Tech Product Club. To do that, I collaborate with a Madison-based social music streaming start up, LÜM, to create a platform for WSB students to practice their product management skills in a competition. As part of that, we organized a set of 3 workshops in collaboration with Wisconsin alumni in Product to build product management skills for our students. I also provided mentorship and feedback to 5 student groups on how they can use experience from the competition to build on their skills for internships in product management. The goal is to create a pipeline of Wisconsin product management talent through skill building, a product management community on campus, and relationships with alumni in Technology and tech companies in Madison, and we did that in 2020.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? People often ask me about my experience starting my career in consulting to which I respond that the client and consultant relationship is one of the strangest to navigate. In the end the client is boss, but it is your role to advise them. So, there is always tension. Against that backdrop, I will never forget the last day of my first assignment at Deloitte. My client thanked me profusely saying, “We couldn’t have done this without you, Mike.” It was a powerful feeling that my two years of work had a positive impact on people.

Why did you choose this business school? Going back to my response to the question above, when asked about my career in consulting I also respond by discussing my feeling of a lack of focus in my skills. I was learning how to be a great professional, but I couldn’t put my finger on what my trade was. I intended to change that by going to business school with learning to be the best product manager as my goal. I cannot say enough about how helpful that goal is.

Wisconsin does not run a general MBA program. Instead, incoming students choose a specialization during application. This model appealed to and supported my goal of focusing on product management from Day 1.

Plus, Madison is College Football’s Greatest Town. Period.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Jan Heide teaches the core marketing course in the first semester of the program. Jan’s teaching style draws each member of the class into the discussion.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Each winter, our business school jumps into a frozen lake for charity, and Jan Heide, our marketing professor, is in the water with us each year. The outrageous participation year in and year out demonstrates Wisconsin’s intense embrace of stretching students to become the best versions of themselves through giving back and gaining unique experiences.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I would go out of my way to meet classmates in the years above and below me. I benefited tremendously from the students in the classes of 2020 and 2022 who I learned from and became friends with, but the size of our program is such that it is possible to know everyone well. Granted, it was challenging with COVID, but I would have stretched myself more to really get to know everyone. Relationships are the real benefit of the business school experience, in my mind.

What surprised you the most about business school? The ability to make an impact as a student is high. There are opportunities to make an impact as a student org leader, mentor, or intern — or by making a connection for a classmate or leading a class project. Looking back on the experience, it is a good feeling to see that my time mattered beyond simply achieving my career goal.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? It is having a clear and defined goal for my MBA and beyond. With that in mind, I could talk about how I could add to the program’s community in pursuit of my goal in both entrance essays and interviews.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Saurabh Bhandari and I have one of those relationships where you consistently challenge each other to do more, to be smarter and think more creatively. Saurabh has an insatiable desire for knowledge fed by books, journal articles, blogs, Kaggle competitions, and classes beyond the MBA. He competes in case competitions with a chip on his shoulder, as if someone told him he could not win. Saurabh always ask me the hard questions. I never know the answers, but the point is to stretch to figure it out. I appreciate him for all of this. Saurabh has big goals, and I have no doubt he will achieve them.

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? From an academic perspective, the shift was minor. Business classes lend themselves fairly well to the digital environment. However, outside of the classroom, the shift was dramatic, as it was for everyone. Classmates had jobs and internships cancelled. My international friends could not go home and meeting people in the program safely became challenging. As a second year, I saw it as my role to build community in the program despite challenges of the pandemic. We had to get creative.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My coach at Deloitte, Zach Arbuckle, is one of those people who has it all together. He is a winner, and I was fortunate to learn from him. He had charisma, business acumen, the ability to build relationships, and great experience to draw on. In getting to know him, I slowly found out that many of his skills and experiences came from business school, and he could not speak highly enough of the experience from a personal development perspective. I decided to take the leap.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  1. Start a business – Entrepreneurship is my ultimate goal. I know I need to learn more to be successful, and business school was a first step on the path. By 2030, expect to see me hustling to make one more sale for my business.
  2. Work as a product manager for Apple – I begin the course I TA by asking my undergraduate students, “Which is the greatest company in the world?” I answer Apple. There is a lot I admire about the company and I want to be a part of it and build on it.

What made Michael such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021?

Michael Turco has been an outstanding member of the Wisconsin FT MBA, Class of 2021.  From the time he arrived to campus, as part of our new admit student weekend, Mike demonstrated an innate curiosity and enthusiasm to embrace his MBA studies and contributions to the MBA program.

Mike is a student in the Erdman Center for Operations and Technology Management, where he has maintained a 3.979 cumulative GPA while also being extremely involved in leadership development opportunities. He served as the president of the Tech Product Club during 2020.  is contributions to the club include coordinating the Product Pitch Competition during the fall 2020 semester and organizing a set of three product management workshops in collaboration with Wisconsin alumni in product management to build product management skills for club members. Additionally, he created a resource guide for aspiring product managers to skill up during the summer before their first semester in the full time MBA program.

Mike has always been willing to support his MBA colleagues through volunteering to meet with prospective students and current students to discuss product management roles and help students navigate career opportunities for internships and post-graduation roles. He also supports students by unselfishly volunteering his time to conduct mock interviews for first year students interested in product management.

Mike goes above and beyond both in the classroom and outside of the classroom at the Wisconsin School of Business. He understands the importance of developing skills to further his knowledge and one example of this is his participation in many case competitions during his two years in the program.  His comfort on the stage for public speaking is definitely one of his strengths.  His teams placed 1st in the 2020 spring graduate marketing network case competition in the Wisconsin School of Business, 3rd place finish at the Technology Innovation Challenge sponsored by Carnegie Mellon during fall 2019, and Archer Consulting Competition Champion during summer 2020.

Mike has gone above and beyond in every sense of the word during his two years. He is determined to be inclusive while also maintaining complete focus on his values of how community should be built. He tirelessly supports his peers, and is an excellent contributor providing thought-provoking insights. He supports every person he has been surrounded by and never asks for anything in return.

Another example of his unselfish contribution is working with the Associate Dean of the MBA/Masters programs and several classmates to talk to WSB faculty about including inclusive leadership content and concepts into MBA business courses. His willingness to go above and beyond outside of the classroom is what defines Mike and why his classmates respect and appreciate his contributions. His post-graduation role will be with Intuit as a product manager.”

Steven Boeder
Director, Erdman Center
Wisconsin School of Business



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