Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Ryan Denenberg, University of Minnesota (Carlson)

Ryan Denenberg

University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management

“I am motivated by a desire to positively and tangibly impact the world around me. That drive led me to the Marine Corps 5 years ago, and is a natural fit with Carlson’s mantra, “Business as a force for good.”

Hometown: San Francisco, CA

Fun Fact About Yourself: I grew up in Hong Kong and Singapore and have traveled to 26 different countries.

Undergraduate School and Major: I attended Carleton College, where I majored in Political Science.

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: I was a Captain in the United States Marine Corps. For my most recent role, I performed information warfare and military deception planning.

What has been your favorite part of the Twin Cities so far? What has made it such a great place to earn an MBA? One thing I love about the Twin Cities is that, despite being a fairly large metro area, it has a small-city feel. The culture is very relaxed, and the people are incredibly friendly. Yet, it still has all of the big city amenities, and there truly is something for everyone. The food scene is incredible. There are numerous local breweries and distilleries, and the nightlife is vibrant. In the warmer months, there are great running trails that traverse the many lakes in the area. Minneapolis also has four major professional sports teams, all of which are usually very competitive and have a great game-day environment. From a professional standpoint, Minneapolis gives Carlson students immediate access to 16 Fortune 500 companies and all of the top consulting firms. So, both from the standpoint of personal life and professional prospects, the Twin Cities have a lot to offer.

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? Next term, I will be joining the Carlson Consulting Enterprise. By reputation, the quality of instruction with this enterprise is exceptional and it affords students the opportunity to get hands-on strategic experience with real firms. I am excited about the prospect of taking the concepts we have learned in class and applying them in the real world in an impactful way.

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? For me, the veteran community was a significant draw. As a veteran myself, leaving the military and going directly to B-School is a significant leap, so having such a well-established community of military members has helped make that transition seamless. In fact, just under 40% of our class has served in some capacity. Another critical factor is the professional relationships that the Carlson School has established with the major firms in the Twin Cities. There is no other school in the country that does a better job of giving its students opportunities at Minnesota’s largest employers. The Carlson School graduates have a leg up at places like General Mills, Target, Cargill, and Ecolab.

What course, club or activity have you enjoyed the most so far at Carlson? I have really enjoyed the school-sponsored football tailgates. First term is incredibly busy, so I really valued getting to unwind and get to know my classmates outside of an academic setting. It doesn’t hurt that the Gophers football team has been experiencing historic success on the field.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: When I was in the Marine Corps, I helped pioneer a novel command and control system for military aircraft that will allow pilots to harness a digital battlespace common operating picture without being detected by enemy forces. This project was so successful, that in the next five years it will likely become standard across Marine Corps aviation.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far: I recently had a case interview for an FP&A role, and as I constructed my recommendations, I was able to leverage aspects of all of the core classes I had taken. It was really cool to see how all of the classroom theory could be applied in a real scenario. I credit my Carlson School professors for successfully preparing me for the next step in my career progression.

What has been your best memory as an MBA so far? Bonding with my core team. The Carlson School does a great job of ensuring that students are broken into groups with a diverse array of backgrounds and skill sets. Over the course of all the group projects and assignments, we have all gotten to be really close, and I have really enjoyed going to happy hours and killing time at breweries with my group.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into the Carlson MBA program? First, don’t get hung up on the metrics. Your GPA and test scores are just one of many inputs that admissions will examine, and they are far from the most important. Obviously, you want to put your best foot forward, and the Carlson School standard is still high. However, how your scores and GPA compare to the admitted averages should not dissuade you from applying. Second, your professional experience, as well as how you as a person add value to the Carlson School community, are critical to the admissions process. Ensure your resume is polished and your STAR stories are well thought-out and practiced. Really think about your personal statement and how it conveys who you are as a well-rounded individual. And lastly, make sure you are seeking leadership positions and experiences, and highlighting those in your application. If you are someone who takes initiative, loves solving complex problems, and thrives in ambiguity, then the Carlson School is a great fit for you.


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