Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Christian Willman, University of Minnesota (Carlson)

Christian Willman

University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management

“Father, husband, son. Veteran. Lives to serve others.”

Hometown: Rosemount, MN

Fun Fact About Yourself: Licensed to officiate marriages in Ramsey County, MN

Undergraduate School and Major: Hamline University, BA in Education

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: US Army, Infantry Company Commander

What has been your favorite part of the Twin Cities so far? What has made it such a great place to earn an MBA? The atmosphere and the people of the Twin Cities make it a great place to live and be a student. My family and I love going to new restaurants and exploring new places to visit. In the Twin Cities, you’ll find this amazing cultural intersection of outdoor activities, theatre arts, sports, museums, breweries, parks, and just about anything you can imagine.

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? I will be enrolled in the Funds Enterprise program as part of the growth equities team. The Funds Enterprise truly stands out by providing students with the ability to use CapIQ and Bloomberg Terminal while managing millions of dollars in real investment money. I’m looking forward to working with the fund’s clients and learning from the enterprise’s director and mentors.

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? The Carlson School’s academic and elective flexibility allows for a really personalized experience. As a military veteran going through a career change, I appreciate being able to tailor my schedule and choose classes to best prepare me for my summer internship. There’s also a wide variety of times and modalities within the courses offered, allowing me the ability to balance a Full-Time MBA schedule with being a husband and father to three kids.

What course, club or activity have you enjoyed the most so far at Carlson? I’ve really enjoyed being part of the Veterans Club at Carlson and seeing how it connects the community and teaches others about military service. The club is comprised of active duty, reserve, guard, and veterans, encompassing nearly all the services, with ranks from junior enlisted to field grade officer.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Serving as an Army Ranger in the 75th Ranger Regiment. It was truly an honor and privilege to work and deploy alongside some of the greatest and most decorated servicemembers in our military. As a Ranger, I learned to really value organizational culture and placing people as the most important part of any organization.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far: Securing a summer internship as an investment banking associate. I spent a lot of time outside my academic coursework preparing for the technical side of the interview process. The Carlson Business Career Center does a great job prepping students for career paths and summer internships before classes begin the first year.

What has been your best memory as an MBA so far? There are two parts of my MBA experience thus far that have stood out. The first is the Carlson School’s core team model that connects students into the same small group for all of the first semester core classes. I grew very close to my team as we worked through so many problems and projects together. The second part would be the outstanding Carlson School faculty. Some of my favorite moments serving in the military were learning and receiving mentorship from my commanders, which has been replicated in an academic sense by the professors at the Carlson School. For the faculty here, it’s not just about learning; it’s about growing – both personally and professionally.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into the Carlson MBA program? Be yourself. There are a lot of stereotypes about whom an MBA candidate is supposed to be or what they’re supposed to have accomplished. This ultimately takes away from the special traits and qualities that make you unique. There’s pressure to conform to being this “ideal candidate,” but authenticity in its rawest form is so vital. The Carlson School values a diverse set of backgrounds, perspectives, and journeys, so be your best self, and stay true to your beliefs.


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