Request for Proposals Now Open for 2020 HR Tomorrow Conference

HRTomorrow18_WebHeader_1600x512px-01Proposals are now being accepted for breakout session speakers for the 41st annual HR Tomorrow Conference, Workforce Transformation HowWeTransform, being held on Friday, April 17, 2020, at the Carlson School of Management.

The 2020 HR Tomorrow Conference will deliver information about the latest transformations in our workforce. Topics may include, but are not limited to, HR transformation, workforce changes, diversity & inclusion, digital transformation, and total rewards. More than 325 HR professionals attend each year.

Interested speakers are invited to complete this application – – before December 1. Questions? Contact .

New Name for HRIR Master’s Degree


The HRIR program, along with the Carlson School, are pleased to announce a change of name for the Master of Arts in Human Resources and Industrial Relations (MA-HRIR) program. Starting this fall, the new program name is Master of Human Resources and Industrial Relations (MHRIR). This name change brings us more closely in line with the program’s designation as a professional program at the University of Minnesota. The proposed name change also aligns with other Carlson School professional programs such as the Master of Business Administration (MBA) or the Master of Business Taxation (MBT), and also aligns our Master’s program with our competitor programs around the nation. This name change will allow a clearer picture of the program in the eyes of prospective students, recruiters, and other interested parties. There are no curricular changes associated with this name change.

For our students the most clearly visible change will be that diplomas with the new MHRIR designation will say “Master of Human Resources and Industrial Relations” while the MA-HRIR said “Master of Arts” with no designation on the diploma itself of the discipline of study. For alumni, there will be no change – whatever program you graduated from (MA-IR or MA-HRIR), your designation will remain the same. Please contact us at with any questions.

Where in the World will Our Degree Take You?

The time our students spend at Carlson School  prepares them for the rest of their professional journey. After graduation, alumni continue to work hard in their fields and have incredible experiences. We love to remain connected in our community and hear about our alumni’s stories. Recently, we had the pleasure of connecting with ’06 alumnus Vadzim Piuneu  and ’17 alumna Jennifer Halbert Byrne. They share their journeys  since graduation, and their experiences inspire us as we envision what powerful impacts our current and future alumni will make.

Vadzim Piuneu. Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

’06 Alumnus Vadzim Piuneu

First, can you tell us a little bit about your educational experience? How did you come to choose to attend the University of Minnesota to earn your Master’s at the Carlson School? How would you describe your experience in our program?

Deniz Ones, an I/O psychology professor [at the University of Minnesota] told me once, “Vadzim, you are HR material.” I will never forget it because I had to go and look up what “HR” meant. As I learned about the field, I became very interested and thought that Deniz was right. I saw myself applying my psychology background in business and decided to go for it. I researched the top programs in the U.S., and being a Wisconsin resident at that time, Carlson made perfect sense.

The two years at Carlson was by far the most memorable student experience. Perhaps, the clarity of what I wanted, the support of the business center with finding the internships, and being surrounded by my peers with the exact same interests and challenges played a big role. If I could go back in time and pick any two years to live over again, it would be my two years of graduate school.

What has been your career path? How has it shifted over the years since graduating? How did our program impact and prepare you for your career?

I joined the HR development program at Chevron, and it was a great choice. This program really accelerated my career in many ways. The international experience, early leadership roles, and phenomenal network of friends and colleagues continue to pay dividends even today. In my case, I “grew up” as an HR leader in the energy industry and learned this business well. I did take a few roles outside of oil and gas, but before I knew it, I was drawn back. My first labor relations experience was with Chevron, but it really came to fruition when I worked in Kansas for Eaton and led union labor contract negotiations as a chief spokesman. Although Eaton did a great job preparing the team, I remember going back to Professor Remington’s Labor Relations class’s notes where we simulated negotiations. It felt just as real during the class because our grades depended on how well we negotiated with our classmates. Early leadership roles, international experience, and first chair at the bargaining table proved to be a ticket to many senior roles I had later in my career.

Are you connected to other alumni or professors from the program?

Yes, I certainly am. One of the real gifts the program gave me is the network of friends. Many classmates are my former colleagues, peers and some could be my future bosses. Many of us became executives and are all over the country. We are all connected on LinkedIn or Facebook, and check in with each other periodically.

Have you lived or worked abroad during your career? If so, can you share some of your experiences?

Singapore, Russia, and now Saudi Arabia are three international locations that I can talk about extensively. Each has a very unique culture. In the Middle East, for example, the concept of fairness, treating people with dignity and respect, and seeing a senior leader as a “father figure” for all the employees is very real. Back home in the U.S., we have gotten very comfortable with balancing the books at the expense of people’s jobs, and unfortunately, it became a norm. As I work abroad I see a bit more “human” in human resources and hope to bring it back home wherever my next role may be.

What are some of your proudest accomplishments, and/or what is a project that you are a part of and passionate about?

It is hard to pin down one… I picked up on one strategy early in my career, and it has opened many doors for me: I am very proud of taking leaps into the roles no one wanted. They were either in remote locations or under a very tough boss.

Wherever I worked, I always built relationships with the local community colleges or universities where I could volunteer as a guest speaker or run some workshops for students who could use help with their resumes or interviewing skills. Volunteering in academia has been the most rewarding experience by far.

What other goals do you hope to accomplish?

Professionally I am very content. With a young family, my next several years will be focused on spending as much time with them as possible. I have 20 years ahead of me, and I must admit, the last 15 went by way too fast.

What advice would you give to current students?

Pick tough classes and as many business classes as possible. There is no measure of how impactful it is to understand the business you will support and get up to speed quickly. HR is a true business function that must speak “finance,” “sales,” “marketing,” etc. as fluently as those functions themselves.

How do you like to spend your free time?

Free time nowadays revolves around the kids: Boy Scouts, sports (swimming, tennis, scuba diving) seem to be at the top of family leisure activities of choice. We love to backpack and just be outside as much as possible. I see this continuing well into my late years…

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

I just wanted to thank you for the opportunity to share my experiences. The exercise of actually writing things and thinking back provoked a lot of great memories, and it all started at Carlson. What an unforgettable experience, and a great ride after graduation! Thank you.


’17 Alumna Jennifer Halbert Byrne

Jennifer Halbert BryneFirst, can you tell us a little bit about your educational experience? How did you come to choose to attend the University of Minnesota to earn your Master’s at the Carlson School? How would you describe your experience in our program?

For undergrad, I attended Valparaiso University and studied international public relations. After a few years of working in HR, and obtaining my PHR certification, I decided I wanted to continue my education to help enhance my career opportunities and breadth of understanding of the HR function. I looked at schools all over the country and coming to Carlson just felt right. I really liked the idea of being in a metro area with the ability to connect with businesses throughout the Twin Cities. I was most excited about the opportunity to gain exposure to real business challenges in the classroom. My experience at Carlson exceeded my expectations from a learning and recruitment standpoint. The staff and professors in the HRIR program are second to none. Supplementing that learning by selecting MBA classes to participate in really enhanced the experience. Having the opportunity to connect my classwork with business challenges through case studies, company-focused assignments, and volunteer opportunities helped get me prepared for the next steps ahead.

What has been your career path? How has it shifted over the years since graduating? How did our program impact and prepare you for your career?

I initially had ambitions of working at a public relations firm, but as I finished undergrad, with the recession slowly improving, I decided to move back to Michigan and see what I could find at home. I started my career working for a staffing company; starting with new employee training, onboarding and moving into a recruitment role. Through that experience I found passion in helping people find a meaningful next step in their career. From there, I transitioned into the international philanthropy space as a human resources specialist, in talent acquisition. After about five years in talent acquisition I decided it was time for something new and sought the best way to move into a business partner role to impact business at a larger scale, from a human capital standpoint; that’s where Carlson came in. I started my career with Land O’Lakes in Tulare, California for my graduate HR internship. Then began full-time after graduation in Pine Island, Minnesota in supply chain HR, and now am a HR business partner for our WinField United business.

Are you connected to other alumni or professors from the program?

Yes! I keep in touch with quite a few of my classmates from Carlson, socially and professionally; some of whom I am lucky to call colleagues, at Land O’Lakes.

What are some of your proudest accomplishments, and/or what is a project that you are a part of and passionate about?

I am currently working on an organizational strategy project with one of the teams I support. This is exciting and challenging work and is extremely important for teams going through changes in their operating environment. Being able to step back and look at the big picture of what an organization needs and being a key partner in that is really rewarding.

I’ve really enjoyed my experiences working in supply chain HR; it’s a vital experience to add to your toolkit to understand processes, procedures and how products get made at your company. It also gives you insight to how different locations operate and how their challenges may differ from those in an office.

What other goals do you hope to accomplish?

My professional goals are always evolving and changing but are focused on continually learning and opening myself up to new challenges. Right now, I’m making sure I raise my hand for opportunities that sound intriguing or like an area I could use development in. Right now, I’m continuing to build up my understanding of other business functions and how I can add value as an HR partner now, and more holistically in my career.

What advice would you give to current students?

You get out of the program what you put in. There are countless opportunities available to you; this is the time to take advantage of them to help prepare you for your career and build a foundation and a broad network. Get out there and figure out what you like – it might even change as you go through your career, and that’s okay!

How do you like to spend your free time?

There is always something fun to do and explore in Minneapolis – parks, lakes and trails or local food and beer! My husband and I like to travel and see live music as much as we can.


Thank you to Vadzim and Jennifer for sharing your experiences with us! Through these stories, we feel proud and inspired by our alumni and look forward to hearing more about where in the world our degree takes each of you.

Spotlight On…

An occasional series highlighting a member of our alumni community, a current student, and a member of our staff or faculty.

Andrew Powers

Alumnus Andrew Powers, ’09

Where are you working currently?
I am currently working at Chevron. At Chevron, I am the HR Manager for our El Segundo Refinery in El Segundo, CA.

What’s your favorite part about working in the HR field?
My favorite part of working in the HR field is partnering with leaders throughout the organization to foster a culture of inclusion, collaboration, innovation and integrity. During this partnership, I have enjoyed engaging in dialogue and actions for building a culture that will impact business results.

What was your favorite part of the MA-HRIR program? Did you think the program prepared you well for the ‘real world’?
I am very thankful for the opportunity to complete my MA-HRIR at the Carlson School of Management. The opportunity to be educated by world-class professors and surrounded by fellow students that I would continue to grow with in the HR industry is something I will always be thankful for. I found the curriculum to be relevant and engaging. The HR and business courses made me better equipped to be a strong HR partner in the ‘real-world’. This course work as well as experiential learning through HR internships helped set me up for success to hit the ground running.

What’s a hobby or something fun you like to do when you’re not working?
When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with my wife and three young children. They are my rock and what is most important to me. We have recently moved to California, so we like to spend our time exploring and enjoying the weather. In addition to this, I enjoy running, tennis, and playing guitar.

Do you have any advice for current students?
I’ll offer the same advice I give new HR professionals entering the workforce as these are all applicable in the workplace or classroom. First, be inquisitive. Take advantage of the opportunity to learn. There is power in learning the why behind the what. Second, cast a wide net for networking. Build relationships with your fellow classmates. You will continue to grow in HR together. It’s always good to have some resources you can reach out to and obtain diversity of thought. Third, I would urge individuals to raise your hand. Raise your hand to volunteer for a project. One of the best ways to “earn a seat at the table” is to show you want to be there. Start practicing this in your class project teams in the MA-HRIR program and practice being a trusted team member. Finally, I would say don’t be afraid to get outside of your comfort zone. Getting outside of my comfort zone while in the MA-HRIR program made me better prepared for situations I would run into in my career. I am amazed at what I have learned in roles that were outside of my comfort zone.

Part-Time MA-HRIR Student Jared GoldeJared Golde

Why did you choose to attend the Carlson School’s MA-HRIR program?
I chose to attend the MA-HRIR program because I found value in the program’s curriculum, which focused not only on advanced HR concepts, but also on the Economics and Business sides of Human Resources, which are not often addressed in undergraduate studies.

Where did you go for your undergraduate degree, and what was your major?
I attended Rasmussen College for my undergraduate degrees, of which I have an AAS in Legal Studies and a BA in Human Resources and Organizational Leadership.

Do you have any work experience?
I have nearly 15 years of professional work experience including but not limited to six years as a recruiter for the Department of Defense, and five years as a general manager and director of operations for Empire Entertainment, LLC. I currently work in human resources for Wells Fargo here in Minneapolis.

What’s been your favorite part of the program so far?
My favorite part of the program has been developing relationships with fellow graduate students in the HRIR program. They are an exceptional collective of bright and innovative minds!

What do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time I enjoy traveling and reading. Most recently I traveled to Cartegena, Colombia where I explored the Rosario Islands and finished the book The Org by Ray Fisman and Tim Sullivan, which was recommended to me by Professor Avner Ben-Ner. It was a great read!

Doepner-Hove, Stacy - Image 1 (1)Staff Member Stacy Doepner-Hove

When did you start working in Carlson School’s CHRLS? What tasks does your job consist of?
I started working as the Director of the Master’s program in May of 2011. I had been working at the University since August of 1999, first at the Law School as the Associate Director of Admissions and then at the UMN Office of Human Resources and the Manager of Onboarding and Engagement for the University system. I was excited to come over to the Carlson School as I graduated from the Masters in HRIR program in 2009. So this position as the Director helped to bring a lot of things together for me from my career.

I oversee all things to do with the program and students from the time we recruit them as prospective students until they walk across the stage at graduation when I shake their hands and send them off as alums into Anne Obst’s world (though I work with her to keep our alums engaged as well). I work with Amy Danzeisen on admissions and recruitment of all our incoming students and with Susan Suchy on anything related to student services while they are enrolled in the program. I am the academic adviser for all the students in the program and I work with the faculty director, John Kammeyer-Mueller and the rest of the faculty on anything related to the curriculum and programming for the degree. I coordinate with other offices in Carlson and around the University on things related to graduate education and our program. I also teach two classes in the program – the Leadership Practicum for our full-time first year students and the Capstone course for all our students before they leave the program.

What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
Never having a dull moment. Sometimes that gets tiring but I love that there is always something we are working on to make the program better for the students. No one involved with the program is resting on their laurels – we are always looking for better, more effective, and more engaging ways for the students to get the education, experience and connections they need to be a direct asset to any organization they join. I enjoy continuing to think of new things while working to improve the fantastic foundation we already have. It’s easy to be adding to a program that is already so stellar in its reputation and standing.

What is your educational background and what other work experience do you have?
I am a Golden Gopher through and through. I have my BA in History, my JD in Law and my MA in HRIR all from our fantastic University of Minnesota. I already talked about my UMN work history above but as I left law school and before I came to the U I worked as the Executive Director for Minnesota Women Lawyers, the women’s state bar association. And before law school I spent a number of years in management at retail organizations throughout the Twin Cities. Throughout my work life I have enjoyed trying to make whatever workplace I am in as enjoyable, effective and engaging as possible.

What’s a hobby or something fun you like to do when you’re not working?
I love to bake – cookies especially. Really the only thing stopping me from baking every weekend is that I enjoy eating cookies as well and while I work out nearly daily it doesn’t compensate for the potential cookie calories. But my perfect weekend would be baking three or four kinds of cookies, reading a book on my porch while waiting for things to bake, then taking a long walk with my husband and dog on a quiet summer evening. And if you could throw in an after-dark family chat with my two sons as well (while eating the freshly baked cookies) life just couldn’t get any better.

Is there any little-known fact about you that people might be surprised about?
I’m a huge fan of fantasy and science fiction – movies and books. Maybe that isn’t little-known as it comes up in classes every once in awhile, but it does surprise people sometimes.

“As Driven as Ever”: Alumnus Featured in Star Tribune for Olympic Training

Pat Smith.jpg

’17 MA-HRIR Alumnus Pat Smith, Photo Credit: Brian Peterson

Pat Smith, ’17 MA-HRIR Alumnus, was featured in the September 14, 2019 issue of the StarTribune for his Olympic training in U.S. Greco-Roman Wrestling. 

As Driven as Ever

By Rachel Blount

Star Tribune, September 14, 2019

If he had a bigger ego, Pat Smith might have been insulted. Instead, the former Gophers wrestler from Chaska was simply amused by Kamal Bey’s boast.

Before their bout at last spring’s Final X tournament, Bey compared himself to a Ferrari — and said Smith reminded him of a Honda Civic. It didn’t bother Smith at all, partly because a Civic would have been a major upgrade for him. At the time, he was driving a decrepit 2001 PT Cruiser, one that was headed for the junkyard before he bought it from a co-worker with the $80 he had in his wallet.

“It’s not quite a Honda Civic,” Smith said, chuckling. “But I think it fits me well.”

Smith got the last laugh, beating Bey in a best-of-three series at Final X to win a place on the U.S. Greco-Roman team for wrestling’s world championships. He begins competition Monday in the 77-kilogram weight class (169.8 pounds) in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. The nine-day tournament, which starts Saturday, is the first chance for countries to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

At age 28, Smith is a little like his old car: he isn’t flashy, but he’s been around awhile and can get the job done. There is one significant difference. While the PT Cruiser stopped running a few weeks ago, Smith feels he is just coming into his prime, with less than seven months to go before the 2020 Olympic trials.

“Greco isn’t the most common or familiar style in the U.S., and there are a lot of intricacies,” Smith said. “Especially in the last year or two, I’m starting to feel like I understand the sport. That’s encouraging. And I don’t think I’ve maxed myself out yet.

“Every day, I write in my journal, ‘2020 Olympian.’ This is just one more step toward that.”

Smith, who lives in Maple Grove, trains with the Minnesota Storm club under coaches Dan Chandler and Brandon Paulson. In addition to workouts that run at least four hours per day, he works part-time in marketing for Graco and coaches at Paulson’s PINnacle Wrestling School.

He’s gotten plenty of seasoning over the past six years. After second-place finishes at the 2016 Olympic trials and the world team trials in 2014 and 2015, he made the world championships team for the first time in 2017.

This season has been perhaps his best. Smith won the gold medal at the Pan American Games last month in Lima, Peru, scoring a 3-2 decision over Colombia’s Wuilexis Rivas in the final. He also has captured championships this season at the Dave Schultz Memorial International and the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament.

His decision to move up a weight has paid off handsomely. Smith competed last year at 72 kg (158.7 pounds), a class not contested at the Olympics. Following a third-place finish at the world team trials, he had to determine which path gave him the best chance of making the 2020 Tokyo Games — moving up, or down a weight.

“If I was going to get where I wanted to go, on the podium at the 2020 Olympics, that was going to require me to get a lot better,” said Smith, who finished his Gophers career in 2015. “I wasn’t going to be able to do that if I was focused on cutting weight all the time. I’m training at a higher volume than in the past, and I’m able to recover quicker. I feel like I can keep getting better as I get older.”

At Final X, Smith relied on grit and conditioning to outlast Bey. He fell 11-2 in the opening match, then won the second match 2-1. In the third, with Bey exhausted, Smith felt certain he could score late; down 3-2, he executed a four-point throw with two minutes remaining in the match to win 6-3.

After the world championships, Smith hopes to find a car to replace the PT Cruiser. It won’t be a Ferrari. It might not even be a Civic.

No matter what he ends up with, he likes the road he’s traveling.

“I’m in the driver’s seat to qualify the weight for the Olympics,” Smith said. “That’s a good place to be.’’

Read the full story here.

It’s always exciting to watch our alumni pursue their dreams. Keep it up, Pat!

Welcome, Students!

Welcome new, and returning, students to the 2019-2020 academic year! We hope that each of you had an enjoyable summer and a smooth transition settling into the groove of classes over the past month. This year, we held orientation in mid-to-late August for 67 incoming MHRIR students, 54 in the full-time program and 13 in the part-time program. 


We enjoyed meeting all our new students on August 22nd and are thrilled to welcome them into our community. We look forward to guiding these students during their educational journeys!


Throughout orientation, we provided students with many opportunities to build connections with each other, and begin bonding with their cohort and alumni of the HRIR program. We welcomed several alums on August 28 for breakfast with our students; thanks to Heather Besikof, Jon Cermak, Nick Christenson, Joanna Hedstrom, Jon Osborn, Kara Sime, and Padma Tamma, for sharing their career advice and experience with our students. 


Another big thank you to alumni Mary Kate Bisek, Chelsey Breazeale, Jennifer Byrne, Rachel Cook, Angie Dunn, Kathleen Gabel, Bailey Huebner, Tom Johnson, Matthew Kristoff, Chris Morrison, Brad Rajek, Kersten Schreurs, Melinda Shiek, Bree Steel, and Matt Stensrud who participated in panels for the Career Exploration Conference coordinated by the Graduate Business Career Center on August 29th. We were happy to give students an opportunity to hear about our alum’s experiences in the field and ask them questions.

We want to thank everyone for a successful orientation and a great start to our 2019-2020 year! We’re looking forward to an outstanding year.