2022 MBA To Watch: Paige Nulliner, University of Minnesota (Carlson)

Paige Nulliner

University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management

“An empathetic, motivated, and strategic leader with a growth mindset.”

Hometown: Issaquah, WA

Fun fact about yourself: I have traveled to 30 countries, including living abroad in Germany for seven months and Moldova for two years.

Undergraduate School and Degree: San Diego State University, B.S. Integrated Marketing & Communications

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Community & Economic Development Volunteer, Peace Corps Moldova

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? General Mills, Minneapolis, MN

Where will you be working after graduation? General Mills, HRBA

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Centennial Fellow

Carlson for Community (C4C), President – The largest Carlson School club that lives out the motto “business as a force for good” through community service. C4C holds a variety of community service events throughout the year, as well as hosts the annual charity auction that raises more than $40,000 annually for local Twin Cities non-profits.

Carlson Consulting Enterprise Principal I mentor MBAs in their first semester of consulting projects. I work with them on team dynamics, teaching them hard and soft skills needed for success in their client-facing projects.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Carlson Consulting Enterprise Culture, Engagement, & Experience Initiative – The world has changed dramatically since my class left full-time work in Summer 2020. There is an increased call for DEI action and cultures of belonging that understand employees are humans first. We noticed a similar shift in students and the systems that have previously worked for the Carlson Consulting Enterprise did not create the environment our students expect. I lead a variety of focus groups to help us understand the top problems our students were facing and what was working. From here, I led a team of other students and faculty to update many of the processes, curriculum, and support systems of the class to ensure every student has a chance at success. Doing working in the DEI space is not easy, and many people feel resistant to this change. However, it is very important and made a huge impact on the minority groups in the program. While this work can be emotionally exhausting, I know it is crucial for the future of my school and will have a lasting impact.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Edinet Youth Council – When in the Peace Corps, I began a local youth council through the mayor’s office. Extracurriculars are not common in Moldova, leaving students without the opportunity to pursue passions or gain leadership experience. There was a strong desire among the students in the community to gain these skills as well as put on more activities for their classmates. I partnered with the youth coordinator of our local government to create a youth council made up of students aged 14–19 from all four high schools in our area. The students had support from the mayor to put on local activities including summer camps and after-school tutoring to support all students in the community. Additionally, the mayor quickly saw how capable these students were and invited them to have a representative on the town council to ensure the youth perspective was represented in all town decisions. After I left Moldova, the youth council continued on and actually joined a national collation of youth councils throughout Moldova. Three years later, the council is still strong at work, creating important change in their community, and giving students early leadership opportunities to help them become the future leaders of Moldova!

Why did you choose this business school? Dedication to service and business as a force for good, the University of Minnesota really is the school of Minneapolis business leaders. The school understands the student that comes here will lead and influence many of the Fortune 500s we have here. The way the Carlson School teaches students to lead is how Minneapolis will be led in the future. The Carlson School chooses to have a high focus on students with service or non-traditional backgrounds, including veterans, politics, and non-profit work. By bringing together students with a service mindset and instilling the value of “business as a force for good,” we are creating high-impact people leaders who will care for our community.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Evan Rawley – Evan taught our Corporate Strategy class during our first semester of the program. He did a great job of teaching us important concepts by trusting us to do the work. Because of the way he led the classroom, we could hear differing perspectives and not feel intimidated to share without any fighting or animosity building. We were able to challenge ourselves to be better leaders. The lessons I learned in this class are the ones I used most often in my internship.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Carlson for Community Charity Auction – It is one of the only events we still had during Spring 2021. Even though it was a virtual auction, it still had great participation from students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Even when we all had Zoom fatigue, we came together to support our local Minneapolis community. When we were able to have this event in person again this year, people came back in droves and with excitement. Everyone rallied to support our community and really show how important service is to us.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? It was very interesting to start my MBA during a global pandemic with everything virtual. It meant some of the natural connection of a class was lost and it took time to get to know many of my classmates. I would have put a higher emphasis on building connections with my peers, even in a virtual world. There are some amazing people in my program and I am excited to see what they do next.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Often, the Carlson School is looked at as a local school so people underestimate the quality of our students. In reality, many of my classmates are capable of and did get accept to the top business schools, but chose the Carlson School since Minneapolis is home. We all love this city and are excited to build our careers here. The Carlson School provides us a top education, quality professors, and real-world experiences that make us just as competitive as top-10 programs.

What surprised you the most about business school? I was most surprised by the diverse backgrounds of my classmates. As a Peace Corps volunteer, I knew I would be a non-traditional student and not bring the same business expertise as others. However, many of my classmates also come from non-traditional backgrounds and this has led to enriching classroom conversations.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I was very honest and transparent in my strengths, weaknesses, and future career goals. By being upfront with who am I and what I want to accomplish I was able to find the right school for me. It allowed me to get to know the schools for what they really have to offer and what I have to offer them. It really felt like a perfect match outcome for myself and the Carlson School admissions, as well.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Amy Du – Amy had her son during our first semester of the program. Becoming a first-time parent without any maternity leave is a nearly impossible task. Amy made her new role as a mom an integral part of her MBA and showed many of us the hardships faced by working parents and what we must overcome. Additionally, through sharing her experiences our class, she was able to create more resources for all students interested in starting families and how to balance this with a career. Amy’s experience led us to start a company benefits tracker, so when making internships and offer decisions we were considering the entire benefits package. She continues to balance all on her plate with grace and brings a very needed perspective to the program!

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? I was inspired to pursue my MBA by my mom. My mom, an Army veteran, used her GI Bill to earn her MBA in the late 1980s. From here, she went on to have a career as a bank examiner working for the Federal Reserve, FDIC, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. From an early age, she showed me how to live business as a force for good. My mom had deep financial knowledge and her skillset worked best in finance careers. She chose to use these talents for a greater purpose and dedicated her life to public service. When thinking of my next steps after Peace Corps, I knew I wanted to find a similar career path for myself – one that allowed me to best use my business mindset while positively impacting others, this is what led me to Carlson where I could learn more about both!

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

  1. An international assignment
  2. Leading a strategic change initiative

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? The pandemic showed me how important balance is and life is about more than your career. We spend most of our time at work but that doesn’t mean we are our careers. It is important to find a career you love and are dedicated to, even when there may be hard things happening in the world. The pandemic also made it clear how important is to treat humans like humans. We are all doing our best and I want an employer who sees that and encourages me to live a balanced life. The desire for a balanced career and wanting to be part of the future leaders who recreate work culture are large reasons I chose a career in HR.

What made Paige such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“High-performing team lead for two projects: developed strategic priorities and aligned performance indicators for a local, mission-oriented food & agriculture organization; and, assessed market attractiveness and entry pathways for overseas-based, social impact technology solution.

Sensitive client leader who deliberately adapts the team’s approach to content development and delivery to help individual clients overcome their blind spots, to see what they need to see.

Flexible manager of team dynamics who builds an understanding of the individuals with whom she is working and adjusts the work and her management style to meet their needs.

Brave communicator; willing to raise issues that others shy away from, always with the aim of enabling growth and change.”

Marja Fox
Associate Director of Carlson Consulting Enterprise


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