Alumna Visits all the Way from Ghana to Share Experience with Class

Some of the most impactful experiences for college students are when guest speakers come to their classrooms and share insights from their working fields. They provide many fantastic growing opportunities and discoveries to be made for students. And it’s a big deal when a guest speaker takes the time to fly across the seas to share career advice with a class.

Hannah Ashiokai Akrong, ’06 MHRIR alumna, flew in from Ghana to deliver a guest lecture in Professor Connie Wanberg’s class on Friday, April 8th. She shared a presentation about Training, Development, and Diversity Programs at Vodafone, the tech company she works for in Ghana.

The students in Wanberg’s class were able to take away great new global HR perspectives from Akrong’s presentation, along with discover how their studies may apply after graduation. Student Rachel Koza says, “I really appreciated Hannah flying in to do this presentation for us. It was fascinating to hear about all of her experiences with Vodafone and how she uses what we learn in the classroom in her job every day.”

During her presentation, Akrong described the goals of Vodafone and how HR is a central aspect of the company. She shared that Vodafone’s goal is to create “a dynamic workforce that is future ready and builds future-proof leaders.” They do this through leadership development pipeline programs, ongoing skill-based learning, fostering a learning culture, and using spirit pillars. These examples highly resonated with the students. Paige Van Pelt says, “What impressed me was their “growing the people” strategy. Akrong shared that this company understands that learning is a continuous process that never ends; therefore, they work to create an environment where all employees can be themselves and thrive.”

Akrong delivered a successful and passionate presentation that demonstrated how HR can be used to pave the way for better working environments in the future. Student Vitaly Brown says, “Akrong was professional and very knowledgeable in how Vodafone’s mission/goal was maintained and how it affected the company. She was excited about how Vodafone is in the leading force for their Human Resources department and is constantly learning how to treat and develop their workers better.” The students were inspired by these global HR strategies. Isabel Allen says, “I think there are many companies in the U.S. who could implement a program similar to Vodafone’s and it would attract many people who are looking to continue their careers.”

The students’ takeaways from Akrong’s presentation may guide their careers and future goals. Grace Olson says, “I like the advice she gave about raising your hand for a role before it even becomes available so your superiors and coworkers know of your interest, and you can begin learning specific skills for the role you wish to have. This way, you are prepared when the job does become available.” This is advice that many of the students can implement in their futures.

We’d like to extend a big thank you to Akrong for flying in and giving her time to speak to Wanberg’s class!

Posted in Alumni, Alumni Features, Features, News, Students | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Special Thank You to HR Tomorrow’s GOLD and SILVER Sponsors!

We’d like to share our great appreciation of Ecolab, our HR Tomorrow conference’s GOLD sponsor, as well as Best Buy and Land O’ Lakes, our SILVER sponsors! We are looking forward to another outstanding conference made possible by these companies’ continuous support!

In addition, thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, we were able to give out four scholarships to individuals, making it possible for them to join us for the exciting event on April 22! For more information about the conference, its sponsors, and registration, check out this link.

Posted in Alumni, Events, HR Tomorrow, News, Students | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Register Now for the HR Tomorrow Conference Held Virtually on April 22!

In a constantly changing business environment, companies are purposefully taking action to manage culture. The 2022 HR Tomorrow Conference #CuratingCulture held virtually on April 22, will engage in a dialogue around strategic culture management. Through a series of dynamic and interactive sessions, featuring keynote speaker Ron Carucci and a great slate of breakout session speakers, the conference will equip human resource leaders at all levels within the organization with the skills and information needed to increase both personal and organizational performance. Register today at z.umn.edu/hrtomorrowregistration2022. #culture #leaders #management

Posted in Alumni, Events, Faculty, HR Tomorrow, News, Staff, Students | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

MA-IR Alumna Hilary Marden-Resnik Named CEO of UCare

Congratulations to ’94 MA-IR Alumna Hilary Marden-Resnik for her new position as president and chief executive of the nonprofit health insurance agency, UCare!

To learn more about Marden-Resnik’s goals for the nonprofit and its expansion over recent years, check out this Star Tribune article written by Christopher Snowbeck.

Posted in Alumni, Alumni Features, Features, News | Leave a comment

Part-Time MHRIR Students Create a Strong Community Through Student Group

Every college student deserves to have a community that they can rely on and share their experiences with. However, for MHRIR students at the Carlson School, many part-time student experiences are different from their full-time peers, creating a challenge for them to find their community.  
The Graduate Society of Part-Time Human Resource Students (GSPTHRS) is a student-led group of part-time students on campus who recognized these challenges and dedicated themselves to forming a supportive community.

 Former GSPTHRS Board member Nancy Xue explains how belonging to this group connected her with other students.  “For part-time students, with family and work priorities, it is difficult to build relationships with our peers, especially during the pandemic,” she says. “With GSPTHRS, I was able to meet so many talented individuals who are in the same boat as me. Having these supportive peers was a key for me to get through school in the pandemic.”

The need for a part-time student community was recognized before the pandemic even began. Former board member and part-time student Hillary Husband got involved in the Graduate Society of Human Resource Leaders (GSHRL), another student-led group dedicated to forming connections for students in the HRIR program. However, when Husband joined in January 2019, she was the only part-time student, which made it challenging to connect with her peers. “The full-time students already knew each other. They’re all are in the same cohort and share the same classes, so naturally, I felt [a little] like the odd one out,” she says. Xue had a similar experience: “When I first started my degree, I joined GSHRL to get to know more people. Their events are great, but it was difficult to meet people.” Recognizing their own need for a community, Xue, Husband, and Emily Sauey, another part-time MHRIR student at the time, came together to develop the core concept for GSPTHRS in the fall of 2019.  Shortly after, they recruited part-time student and current board member Peter Dinh.

Dinh says that the first meeting occurred that fall, where 12 part-time students provided ideas on what the group could look like. They developed three core pillars that GSPTHRS is founded on: “1) To go beyond the classroom and provide opportunities for our peers to share their HR expertise/knowledge/experiences;  2) To connect as students and share best practices on how to navigate the complexities of balancing work, school and home demands; and 3) To provide opportunities for students to broaden their network through social activities and professional engagements (e.g. connect to other student/professional/alumni organizations).”

They presented their GSPTHRS concept to Stacy Doepner-Hove, Director of the MHRIR program, who helped them finalize the foundation of their group and become an official registered student group in spring 2020. When the pandemic hit, Stacy helped them keep their momentum, Board members say, and many faculty members have been supportive of their mission, including Professor John Kammeyer-Mueller, who’s been a strong advocate for the group.

Since then, more part-time students have served on the board of GSPTHRS including former board members Molly Nevanen, Cody Olsen, and Taylor Tarrolly, as well as current board members Addison Brothers, Gianna Castro-Torrens, and Paras Tripathy. Board members meet bi-weekly to plan beneficial events for the part-time MHRIR community. They have hosted virtual happy hours, in-person socials, guest speakers, lunch-and-learns, Q&A’s on registration and more.

“We gave a tour to incoming part-time students following their orientation at the beginning of this semester to answer any questions and help familiarize them with the resources available at Carlson,” says Tripathy. “We also had an in-person event at Boom Island Park which was really fun to be able to meet our peers for the first time!”

The group is open to all part-time MHRIR students and the Board plans events in a manner considerate of their schedules and priorities. “We understand that part-time working professional students are busy with limited availability,” says Dinh. “We try to plan our events to occur on a monthly basis and with varying hours and times to accommodate/reach all students throughout the course of a semester.”

Xue describes the community as welcoming, chill, and supportive. “Because the part-time program is not as structured as the full-time program, it is important for us to share our experiences among our peers to get the most out of this program,” she says. It provides an opportunity to get closer as friends who support one another and share similar experiences and challenges.

GSPTHRS has meant a great deal for Dinh, Husband, Tripathy, and Xue, and has made a significant impact on their journeys in the program. “From my very first event, the community has been supportive and very welcoming,” says Tripathy. “With us being part-time students, it gives us an opportunity to be a part of a team we can collaborate with and share our diverse insights (work or school related). Especially with the pandemic, the aspect of a community was very important to me and the support of my team has definitely played a huge factor.”

Husband has found a lasting impact from the group. “I can sincerely say that GSPTHRS has changed my Carlson experience and life!  I’ve made lifelong friends and connections and am so grateful for everyone I’ve met in this program,” she says.

“I see GSPTHRS as my ‘North-Star’ group,” Dinh says. “As I continue on in my HRIR career, GSPTHRS is the exemplar of what a cohesive collection of professionals can achieve and need to be: ardently selfless, continually flexible, highly communicative, deeply supportive and in service of a broader community.”


Information on GSPTHRS’ next events can be found on the Part-Time HRIR Student Canvas page. For those interested in joining the Board, email Paras Tripathy (tripa042@umn.edu) or Peter Dinh (dinh0045@umn.edu).

Posted in Features, News, Students | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Associate Professor Pri Shah Interviewed about Potential Inequities for Hybrid Workers

Carlson School’s Associate Professor Pri Shah was interviewed by Kare 11 for a news segment on potential inequities between hybrid workers and full-time office workers. Heidi Wigdahl is the author of the article.

Photo of Pri Shah

“MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — Because of the pandemic, many people who had never worked from home now find it to be the norm. 

A new global survey by Slack’s Future Forum Pulse found that the “remote versus office debate is over.” Hybrid has now become the dominant model for knowledge workers — meaning those who work with data, analyze information or think creatively. 

Fifty-eight-percent of those surveyed across the world said they spend both time in the office, and time at home. Two-thirds say hybrid is their preferred working model. 

“What is clear is people like flexibility,” said Pri Shah, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management.

Seventy-eight-percent of survey respondents said they want location flexibility, while 95% reported wanting schedule flexibility. 

The report found that the desire for flexibility is particularly strong among people of color, women and moms. But with women, parents and people of color spending the least amount of time in the office, the report said leaders must act swiftly to guard against inequity. 

The No. 1 concern among executives when it came to flexible work was the potential for inequities to develop between remote and in-office employees.”

Read the rest of the article, and view the news segment here.

Posted in Faculty, Features, News | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Request for Speaking Proposals Now Open for 2022 HR Tomorrow Conference – Curating Culture

Proposals are now being accepted for breakout session speakers for the 42nd annual HR Tomorrow Conference, Curating Culture, being held on Friday, April 22, 2022.

#Curating Culture will deliver information on how organizations build and manage culture to create a competitive advantage, unlock performance, and improve employer and customer brands.   

Topics of the conference may include, but are not limited to, organizational culture and change, the evolving workplace, workforce changes, employee engagement, diversity, equity and inclusion, the employee value proposition, employer branding and employee experience.

Interested speakers are invited to complete an application at https://z.umn.edu/hrtomorrowspeakers2022 before December 31.

Questions? Contact hrt@umn.edu.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Calling All Alumni Mentors!

Are you interested in an opportunity to shape future HR leaders while giving back to the Carlson School’s HRIR program? Then please consider being an Alumni Mentor! The CHRLS Alumni Association Board is continuing our alumni mentoring program and we need you.

As an alumni mentor, you will be matched with a current HRIR student who is hungry to learn from your experience. We will ask that you commit to connect with your Mentee for at least one hour every month to share your insights on HR and business, discuss current HR trends and topics, or simply work through any potential issues or questions that your mentee might have. Last year, due to the pandemic, many Mentors and Mentees connected by phone and video conferencing. This will continue to be an option going forward, and applicants may choose their preference for in-person or virtual pairing.

To sign up as an Alumni Mentor, please complete the Alumni Mentor application before December 20. Also, watch for an email from hrmentor@umn.edu with details on the Mentoring Program Kick-off in late January, which will be held virtually. We will cover mentoring tips and best practices, and you can meet your mentee virtually as well!

If you have any questions, please email hrmentor@umn.edu. Happy Mentoring!

Posted in Alumni, Events, Mentoring, News, Students | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Flipping the Script on Team Conflict Research Assumptions

This article features Associate Professor Pri Shah and was published in the Carlson School’s Discover publication and posted on the Carlson website on November 15th, 2021. View the original post here.

Conflict has long been thought to occur on a team level. Meaning that if conflict exists, every team member is affected by it. However, new research is turning that traditional thinking on its head. A paper co-authored by Carlson School of Management Associate Professor Pri Shah suggests answers lie at different levels.

“[Our findings] provide a new road map for how to do conflict research,” Shah said.

Published in Administrative Science Quarterly, Shah and her colleagues analyzed conflict within teams to better understand where conflict originates, how it evolves over time, and ultimately, affects team performance.

They completed a series of three studies: a qualitative study of conflict narratives shared by students enrolled in an executive management course; a longitudinal study of undergraduate students in a group project over the course of a semester; and a field study of employee teams at a Chinese electric bicycle manufacturer.

The research group categorized team conflict origins into four levels: individual (one person impacting others separately), dyad (conflict between two people), subgroup (conflict shared among three or more people), and team level (every team member is directly involved in the conflict).

The researchers determined team conflict is not uniform, shared, or static—a significant departure from longtime assumptions—and found conflict involving a whole team is rare. Instead, conflict more commonly starts at smaller levels within the team. Disagreement between two people is the most frequent point of origin. Experiences for each team member are also unique as they could be the instigator, a participant, or an observer of the conflict.

“I think the main takeaway [for managers] is you really have to have a good handle on knowing the social landscape of your team,” Shah said. “Understanding where conflict originates and how it evolves over time provides managers with an opportunity for more targeted conflict resolution.”

It also informs when managers may want to wait to intervene. Team performance saw a positive influence when task conflict originated from an individual or between two people, even though the other team members weren’t directly involved.

“That’s when you really get the benefit of having constructive controversy or diverging opinions and debate within your team,” Shah said.

For example, in a meeting of five people, there may be two individuals who start to take different sides on how to solve an issue. Their discussion then sparks a creative solution amongst the team, ultimately increasing the team’s overall performance. While only two people were involved in the conflict, the entire team experienced the benefit of the conflict. Research showed the same benefit did not exist when there was task conflict among all team members.

Surprisingly, the researchers found conflict tended to be “sticky” and persist where the conflict originated instead of the commonly held “bad apple” notion that it would spread over time and infect the entire team. While the cause of this remains unclear, Shah says this offers good news for managers.

“This means you have some time to diagnose where the conflict resides before trying to resolve the conflict. The conflict is likely to be contained to where it started and not diffuse quickly throughout the team,” said Shah.

The study’s overall findings flip the script on long-held ideas in conflict research, opening new pathways forward.

“Instead of looking at it as a team-level phenomenon, now we’re seeing there’s something within the dyadic relationship within the team when you’re looking at the conflict relationship,” she said. “And from that you can figure out what the configuration of conflict is within a team and see where it originates and how it evolves over time.”


“Things are Not Always What They Seem: The Origins and Evolution of Intragroup Conflict”
Ferguson, A.J., Jones, S.L., Peterson, R.S., and Shah, P.P., Administrative Science Quarterly, (2021 )

Posted in Faculty, News | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Give to the Max Day – November 18

On November 18, please help support your alma mater by participating in Give to the Max Day. Your gift can support the CHRLS Social Justice Fund for Masters Students, created in 2020 to provide support to HRIR Masters students who are continuing the Center’s work toward social justice for all marginalized workers around the globe. 

Your participation, in any amount, makes a difference because the collective support of our alumni can, and does, make a huge impact on the work of the Center for Human Resources and Labor Studies.

Learn more and make your Give to the Max Day gift today by visiting z.umn.edu/CarlsonGTMD.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment