Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Charlie Zamastil, University of Minnesota (Carlson)

Charlie Zamastil

University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management

“If Ted Lasso left AFC Richmond to become an MBA student, that’s me. Except no mustache.”

Hometown: Rochelle, IL

Fun Fact About Yourself: I was once out on a training ride that turned into a two-man race between a retired- but pre-Oprah confession Lance Armstrong. I briefly dropped him because he teased me for not shaving my legs.

Undergraduate School and Major: Augustana College, History/Philosophy/Theater

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Midwestern State University: Director & Head Coach of Cycling, Adjunct Professor of Kinesiology, and Race Director of Hotter’N Hell 100

What has been your favorite part of the Twin Cities so far? What has made it such a great place to earn an MBA? It’s an amazing place to raise a young family like mine. There’s so much to do. With the instant friends you make with your fellow Carlson School students, you’re never wanting for good company. And speaking of companies, there are a ton here that do so much to support working parents’ unique challenges. I can’t imagine trying to learn about where to intern or launch your career post-MBA in an area that didn’t have as many major companies as the Twin Cities.

Carlson MBA spend a year in hands-on Enterprise programs for Consulting, Branding, Ventures, and Funds. Which program do you intend to enroll in? What excites most about your Enterprise program? Everyone is nontraditional in the sense there’s no tried-and-true path to an MBA, but I think my background is especially unusual insofar as my career has been entirely confined to academia. The enterprise I am enrolling in is the Brands Enterprise, which will give me practical experience working on business problems. However, it is also coupled with something I’m intimately familiar with, the classroom learning environment. I’ll admit to being intimidated by the stakes I’ve read about in our cases this first semester. But I have no doubt I’ll come out of Brands ready to step into the professional world and take on the sorts of ambiguous challenges business leaders must face every day.

Aside from your classmates, experiential learning, and location, what was the key part of the Carlson MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you?
I love that Minnesota does tuition bands, so I can take courses like SCUBA, music lessons, or Mandarin in addition to my business courses without having to pay anything extra. I’m a curious person and a big proponent of continuous learning. Thanks to the MBA training, I can now describe a liberal arts educational approach as one taking advantage of cross-disciplinary synergies.

What course, club or activity have you enjoyed the most so far at Carlson? I knew immediately that I wanted to join the board of the Sports Business Club because of how central of a role it plays in bringing the whole class together. Everyone is so overwhelmed in the first semester – the firehose simile couldn’t be more apt. It couldn’t be more necessary to create a space every other Saturday just to get a three-hour break to get to feel and act like normal human beings to enjoy a social life, eat some food, and have a drink and a laugh with our classmates. Any leader’s role is to create the conditions for others to succeed, and I think the SBC is doing a great job of that.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I’ve had the opportunity to lead some really amazing athletes who have gone on to amazing careers both in and out of cycling. Most recently, one of my athletes won two bronze medals at the Paralympic World Championships. However, their drive and talent are what delivered that more so than any guidance I provided.

An achievement of my organization that I played the most direct role in is taking on the gendered differences in pay structure, attendance, and traditions in a major cycling event I managed. I was able to more than double women’s participation by getting rid of pay disparities and other gender-based discriminatory traditions, then going race-to-race doing direct outreach to top women’s riders to invite them to the race.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far: I think the hardest thing for me has been maintaining a healthy work/life balance. I haven’t gotten so wrapped up in a project that I didn’t get home in time to pick my daughter up from daycare. And as far as I can tell, my wife still likes me well enough to keep supporting me. I’ve also yet to lose a ping-pong match in the grad lounge, so there’s that.

What has been your best memory as an MBA so far? I ordered a few dozen green accountant visors for the last day of financial accounting and got almost the whole class to wear one. I also dressed up like an old-timey accountant, with the visor, arm garters, suspenders, and pencils in the front pocket. The only thing missing was the calculator with the roll of paper, and that was only missing because Target was sold out. It brought levity to a stressful situation, which I think is what I’m best at. The professor got such a kick out of it that it inspired him to take his first-ever selfie, and then he invited us to an end-of-semester party at his garage loft with the most amazing collection of vintage cars I’ve ever seen.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into the Carlson MBA program? Be your honest self, and let your personality show through in your application essays, and interviews. I think of all the programs out there, the Carlson School has the least-defined type. I know that just by the array of personalities in my cohort. No one fits any given archetype, so don’t build one up in your head in order to act like you do. Inauthenticity will always show through. Also, do not be shy! Bar none, we at the Carlson School are excited about meeting new people and helping you navigate the process. Start by reaching out on LinkedIn, initiate some coffee chats, send some emails, and join the bevy of events admissions puts on for prospective students. Engagement and authenticity are the two keys to acceptance.


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