Center Hosts Delegation from China University of Labor Relations

On May 22, the Center for Human Resources and Labor Studies hosted a delegation of faculty members from the China University of Labor Relations (CULR), led by its president. CULR is a university in Beijing affiliated with the All-China Federation of Trade Unions that offers undergraduate programs as well as a training unit.

IMG_1038Pictured from left: Jian Qiao, Professor and Director, CULR Department of Labor Relations; Shuang (Nicole) Chang, Deputy Director, CULR International Office; Tao Li, Professor and Director, CULR Teaching Affairs Office; Ying Jiang, Professor and Director, CULR Law School; Carlson School Dean and Professor Sri Zaheer;  President of China University of Labor Relations Xiangbing Liu; John Budd, Professor and Director, CHRLS; and Guozhu (Richard) Zhao, first-year MA-HRIR student and undergraduate alumnus of CULR.

After being welcomed by Carlson School Dean Sri Zaheer and hearing from University of Minnesota Associate Vice President and Dean of International Programs Meredith McQuaid, the delegates met with the director of the CHRLS, Professor John Budd, to discuss the possibility of sending CULR undergraduate students to study at the Carlson School, and about potential faculty exchanges and joint research.


Delegates also met with Professor Avner Ben-Ner, and Assistant Professors Alan Benson and Le (Betty) Zhou for lunch and a tour of campus, and spoke with Budd, Professor John Remington, and Labor Education Service Director Monica Bielski-Boris about the current state of Chinese and U.S. labor relations.


The delegation’s visit was also supported by Guozhu (Richard) Zhao, a first-year MA-HRIR student who is an undergraduate alumnus of CULR, and Brenda Lucy, CHRLS Associate Director and Herman Library Director.

Spotlight On…Wendy Radtke, ’93 MA-IR

An occasional series highlighting a member of our alumni community. 

Wendy RadtkeWhere are you working currently?
I am currently the Chief HR Officer at TruGreen, the nation’s leading lawn care provider. TruGreen is an exciting place to be right now. We recently completed a merger with our biggest competitor; we are growing rapidly; and we are redefining our category, expanding into new areas of outdoor living including mosquito defense and irrigation. The company has a strong culture and a clear vision for the future, which is based in our core value of treating others as you would want to be treated.

What’s your favorite part about working in the HR field?
Working in HR has given me the opportunity to experience a variety of industries, multiple companies and geographies.  I have worked in manufacturing plants and corporate offices, with union and non-union workforces, and have been able to lead teams all over the world  from Texas to Minnesota to Shanghai, China and many places in between.

I have been fortunate to work with great leaders who have mentored and developed me to be ready for the Chief Human Resources Officer role.  I started my career in at a manufacturing plant in a relatively transactional HR role and over time grew into roles that were much more strategic. I strongly believe that HR should be seen as a driver for business performance and actively seek roles where HR is viewed as a strategic partner to business operations.

A big benefit and part of my role is being the confidante, coach and trusted advisor not only to the CEO but also to the entire leadership team. The absolute best part of my job is getting the right people in the right jobs. This leads to the success of not only the individuals but also to the organization.

What was your favorite part of the MA-HRIR program? Did you think the program prepared you well for the ‘real world’?
I chose the U of MN many years ago because of a conversation I had with Professor John Fossum. Professor Fossum helped me understand that the U of MN program was more practical vs theoretical, and he was right.  I left the program and had an excellent foundation for all the disciplines in HR.  Over time, as I grew in roles, I negotiated labor contracts outside the US, developed global talent management strategies and learning programs, and became proficient in both broad-based and executive compensation.  The U of MN definitely opened doors for me in my career, and I was well prepared to face the challenges!

What’s a hobby or something fun you like to do when you’re not working?
While living in Asia, my husband and I started doing triathlons.  I have done two half Iron Man Tri’s and many other shorter distances.  Triathlons feed my competitive nature!
Do you have any advice for current students?
As interesting, fun and strategic as HR can be, all your skills do not mean much if you do not understand the business in which you are working.  You need to learn how your business makes money – understand the financials and spend time in the place where the money is made, and with the people who make it.  There is the mystique of the working at “corporate” – you will get that experience but you gain credibility in those roles only after you spend time in the field.  The field is different for every industry but whatever your ‘outside of corporate’ version is – go there!


Looking Back: The Year in Review from A-Z

The Center for Human Resources and Labor Studies has a lot of highlights to share from the 2016-2017 academic year. Here’s a quick look at 26 of them!

On Admitted Students Day in March 2017, more than 30 prospective students visited campus to get an in-depth look into the MA-HRIR program before they arrive in the fall.

The HRIR Alumni Blog is updated often, with the goal of keeping alumni and current and prospective students in touch with events, opportunities, highlights and more.

The 4th International Case Competition (CIHRCom) was held in November 2016, welcoming six graduate student teams from four continents to compete with each other to solve a pressing global HR management issue.

Last fall, we welcomed a very diverse group of students, including 63 full-time students, nine part-time students, and two PhD students. Of the 63 full-time students, 14 different countries were represented!

The flexible Evening HR Master’s program allows students the option to work full time while taking their courses in the evenings, weekends, and online. Students enroll in an average of 4 to 8 credits per semester, with many students completing the program in 3-4 years.

Many of our world-class faculty were interviewed about their research and featured in a variety of news outlets this past year, including Harvard Business Review, Huffington Post, Marketplace, Minnesota Business, Minnesota Public Radio, MinnPost, StarTribune, Twin Cities Business and the Wall Street Journal, in addition to Carlson School alumni website and magazine features, as well as in numerous academic journals. Follow these features via Twitter or Facebook.

GSHRL, the Graduate Society of Human Resources Leaders, is a professional organization composed of graduate students in the HRIR program. The mission of GSHRL is to add value to the quality of academic, professional, and social life of graduate students pursuing HRIR careers.

The 38th annual HR Tomorrow Conference was held on April 21. This year’s theme of Trends and Transformations explored how many organizations are melding HR and business operations to push the boundaries of what is possible.

Most full-time students complete a summer internship between their first and second years in the program.

Six alumni are finishing their three-year journey as members of the CHRLS Alumni Association Board of Directors: David Bryant, Laura Elletson, Marc Gauthier, Chris Kujawa, Kristin Lee, and Joe Lucio.

Recent graduate Tom Kaiser gave a speech at the Spring Celebration Dinner on May 14, where he reflected on his time as a part-time student in the MA-HRIR program. “While it’s sad that tonight is the last of our group celebrations, we can be happy in the knowledge that by 11:00 a.m. tomorrow (after the graduation ceremony), we’ll be leaving with a network of friends and a degree that will serve us a lifetime,” he said in his speech.

The Georgianna E. Herman Library is the CHRLS’s reference library. While students use the library every day for its collection of labor union newspapers, newsletters, working papers, court cases, and more, it’s also become the unofficial gathering place for students to socialize and study, and also hosts a variety of alumni-student events each year.

CIMG3277In January, HRIR alumni were matched with current full- and part-time students for what will be a year-long mentoring relationship that will allow them to exchange advice, best practices, and tips to succeed in the field.

The Centerpoint alumni newsletter is a publication for alumni, friends, faculty and staff of the CHRLS and is published electronically five times a year. and keep them updated on going-ons around within the MA-HRIR program.

In February, a team of four MA-HRIR students representing the University of Minnesota took third place in the Fischer Case Competition at The Ohio State University. Earlier this academic year, another team of four students placed second in the Purdue University, Krannert School of Management HR Case Competition.

In September, Stacy Doepner-Hove, director of the Master’s Program in HRIR, introduced a new practicum course which required all first-year MA-HRIR students to meet bi-weekly. Each course focused on a different HR theme.

Alumnae Jingjing Chen, ’12, and Bijun Zhang, ’12, fielded questions from current international students when they participated in the International HRIR Alumni Panel on February 1. They shared their experience and career paths since graduating from the program with current international MA-HRIR students.

Silicon Valley - Rok Steakhouse Group Photo

Alumni reunited in a number of locations outside the Twin Cities, as the CHRLS and the Carlson School hosted a variety of events in locales including San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Phoenix, Chicago, New York City, and soon to come: Anaheim, Houston and Seattle.


A number of our MA-HRIR students enriched their graduate school experience with the opportunity to study abroad. The program offers two main study abroad options for its students: Global Enrichment Programs which are January or May-June short-term programs, or Global Immersion Programs, which are half- and full-semester long options.

Deniz Subasi, an international student from Turkey, spoke to her classmates during the Spring Celebration Dinner on May 14 about her experience in the program. “Although the Carlson School taught us how to contribute to the creation of successful businesses,” she said, “it also taught us how to create a strong network, how to respect and collaborate with people from all over the world, and how to work together to create a better world. So we are not only business professionals, we are the collaborators of the future for our ever increasingly multi-cultural world.”

Alumni are encouraged to update their contact and employment information regularly to ensure they stay in touch with news and events happening in the CHRLS. Contact

Two of our alums and one faculty member were featured in October in a set of videos available on the HRIR alumni blog.

A number of free career-related webinars were offered to alumni by the University of Minnesota Alumni Association on topics ranging from building a compelling resume, to professional presence, to creating a meaningful career.

The CHRLS is extremely grateful for the support of our generous corporate sponsors: Best Buy, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, Bristol-Myers Squibb, C.H. Robinson, Chevron, Eaton, Ecolab, Entrust Datacard, Ford Motor Co., General Mills, H.B. Fuller, Ingersoll Rand, Land O’Lakes, LG Electronics, Polaris and Wells Fargo. Their support made the 2016 Case Competition and 2017 HR Tomorrow Conference possible.

There are many additional informative and entertaining videos created by faculty, students, and alumni of the MA-HRIR program on its YouTube channel.

CommencementA-Z3Eniola Aderibigbe, left, and Lizhen (Mandy) Zhao represented the beginning and the end of the alphabet of the 63 MA-HRIR students graduating this spring.


New Course Builds Cohort, Camaraderie

Class sizes at an institution the size of the University of Minnesota can make it difficult for students to get to know one another. That was one of the driving forces behind the development of a new course offering this academic year in the MA-HRIR program.

Stacy Doepner-Hove, director of the program, introduced the MA-HRIR Practicum course last September.  The course was designed to build the cohort of full-time students and provide experiences and understanding to enhance their learning in the classroom, and prepare them for their work in the field of human resources.

All 63 first-year students were required to meet bi-weekly throughout the school year. Before this course, students were able to attend one-off sessions with cohorts, and after feedback from both students and faculty, it was clear there was a need for something more formal, and more ongoing, throughout the year.

Practicum Group Shot

The goal of the practicum was to build camaraderie that can sometimes get lost within a large school, and to allow students to get to know one another, and faculty, better, according to Doepner-Hove. The 90-minute sessions were led by her, along with guest speakers and other HR professionals.

Each session typically followed one specific HR theme, including team building, cross-cultural communication, conflict management, mindfulness, emotional intelligence, and ethics in HR. “These are really popular and hot topics in HR and it’s important for these students to see how something might play out in the workplace,” says Doepner-Hove.

The course is now completed for the year, and feedback was quite positive. “Through this practicum,” one student shared, “I had a chance to communicate with some of my classmates who I might not have talked to in the classroom.”

One thing Doepner-Hove noticed in the students’ feedback was an appreciation for the role-playing and scenario activities. Students said these activities helped them imagine a situation that might actually happen in the real world, Doepner-Hove notes, and believes the students really benefitted from those opportunities, and looking at the themes from different angles.

Given the positive roll-out of the course this year, Doepner-Hove is looking ahead to offering an even better course next fall – let’s call it Practicum 2.0!

2017 HR Tomorrow Conference a Success!

Another year, another successful HR Tomorrow Conference!

The theme of the 38th annual HR Tomorrow Conference was “Trends and Transformations,” which explored how many organizations are melding HR and business operations to push the boundaries of what is possible.

IMG_0799Keynote and breakout session speakers shared their expertise on topics ranging from inclusion as a business strategy to making workplaces Millennial-friendly, and from trends in compensation to building a coaching culture. One attendee says she was pleased with the “well-respected, knowledgeable organizations that were represented at such a top-notch university. It was a great day to gain best practices, learn about what others are doing, and bring something back to our worlds.”

IMG_0874When the more than 300 HR professionals weren’t attending presentations by the diverse range of speakers, they were busy networking with others. Conference organizers designed the event to provide time for attendees to connect with other HR colleagues. One attendee said the conference was “a great opportunity to focus on networking and our own professional development, which sometimes in HR we forget to do.”

IMG_0813Conference sponsors included Ingersoll Rand (Luncheon), Ecolab (Reception), and Land O’Lakes (Breakfast), as well as Conference Sponsors Best Buy, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, Bristol-Myers Squibb, C.H. Robinson, Chevron, Eaton, Entrust Datacard, General Mills, Polaris and Wells Fargo. Their support made this outstanding professional development event possible.

Another attendee found the conference to be an “energizing day which re-invigorates passion around the key topics that HR professionals, business partners and specialists can impact, lead, and be instrumental in leading our organizations.”

New this year was the HR Tomorrow Scholarship, which offered free attendance to an HR professional working in a nonprofit organization who wouldn’t otherwise have the budget to attend. Kelly McDyre, Executive Director of Faith’s Lodge, was the scholarship recipient and thoroughly enjoyed her day. “The speakers were relevant and engaging and I felt, at times, that they were speaking directly to me,” she says. “There were core messages and themes that resonated and seemed to be reinforced speaker after speaker.”

Make sure to marIMG_0962k your calendar for next year’s conference on Friday, April 20, 2018.

Students Bring Back Worlds of Experience

“Studying abroad as a graduate student can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Opportunities to conduct research, gain work experience through an internship, or enroll in unique course offerings can contribute meaningfully to your educational and career aspirations.”

-University of Minnesota Learning Abroad Center website


Even though nationally only about 10% of students study abroad, Carlson School students have a rich tradition of exploring international learning opportunities while enrolled in either an undergraduate or graduate degree program. The MA-HRIR program offers two main study abroad options for its students: Global Enrichment Programs which are January or May-June short-term programs, or Global Immersion Programs, which are half- and full-semester long opportunities.

We talked to four graduating MA-HRIR students about their time studying abroad and what they gained from the experience.

Kyle Swatfager Study Abroad Photo.IMG_1340Kyle Swatfager just finished studying abroad in Oslo, Norway at the BI Norwegian Business School. Kyle, who was abroad for all of spring semester, says the opportunity was great from both professional and personal perspectives.

“Professionally, it allowed me to test previously-held assumptions and perspectives in a different culture to formulate myself further as a global thinker,” says Kyle. “Personally, it has afforded me the opportunity to explore my Scandinavian heritage and build my network of friends and experiences internationally.”

One of the benefits of participating in the Norwegian study abroad program was the ability to select his own courses. “I took both strategy and operations courses, which is directly relatable to my career in HR,” he says. Kyle says he gained the knowledge to be able to assist his business partners in an operations setting, and also gained experience in mergers and acquisitions.

“I firmly believe in opportunities to learn outside the classroom,” he says. “These opportunities present themselves abroad by expanding comfort zones, expanding perspective, and experiencing things first-hand.”

He shares this piece of advice to those considering studying abroad: “Take advantage of your time as a student to travel abroad because there is no better time to gain credits and life experiences,” he says.



Eniola Aderibigbe - Study AbroadEniola Aderibigbe studied abroad in Stockholm, Sweden at the Stockholm School of Economics for the first half of spring semester. This isn’t Eniola’s first time abroad, as she is an international student from Nigeria, so she considers studying at the University of Minnesota as her first time abroad.

“I hope to have a career in international HR,” she says, “and considering how companies are expanding their international presence, I saw the study abroad program as an opportunity to learn and experience another culture in the classroom, business settings, and social outings.”

Coming to the United States to study I realized there is a difference between what we read about countries and what we experience in reality,” she says. “Even though there are elements of truth in the textbook readings and media, the opportunity to have a first-hand experience gives a better sense of judgment of what different parts of the world are really like.”

Reflecting on her experience, Eniola says she’s gained a “news lens for looking at how a problem is solved. I have a better understanding why it is important for businesses to understand culture difference, work culture, laws, and resources available in order to adapt and succeed in new regions or countries.”


IMG_0873Tracy Nwakanma spent 10 weeks studying at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland. Tracy took advantage of this opportunity because, “I felt it might be the last time in my life where I had the flexibility to live in and explore different countries” without being tied to a career or other responsibilities. It makes sense, then, that Tracy’s advice to students considering going abroad is, “Do it. When will you ever have the chance to take two-six months off of work and travel to a new part of the world?”

Tracy balanced her class schedule with traveling to several European countries, including Greece, France, Spain, Germany, Lichtenstein, and Switzerland. “I made some new friends from all over the world,” she says, “and I was also able to discuss current global business issues and learn from people with different perspectives and experiences.”

I definitely have a new appreciation for human resources and business from a global context,” she says. “I’ve learned that within Europe, HR and business strategies differ drastically depending on the country and company. “I’m excited to apply what I’ve learned and use my experience of different cultures as a guide in my career.”
Anni Stringini Study Aborad PicAnni Stringini also studied at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland for 10 weeks. This was Anni’s second time studying abroad, as she spent time in Rome as an undergraduate student. She chose to participate in a second opportunity, she says, because “it gave me the opportunity to not only learn more about other cultures and business from a global perspective, but the opportunity to travel around Europe during the off time.”

Anni says her time abroad “gave me the chance to learn more about different cultures and how business is conducted in different parts of the world.” Not only were her classes geared toward international business, she says, “but my international classmates brought their own experiences into class through examples and discussion, which I found to be very valuable.”

The 10 weeks went by much faster than Anni had anticipated. “I was a little nervous being gone so long,” she says, “but it went really quickly, and was a great alternative for those who don’t want to commit to the full semester.”

Like Tracy’s advice, Anni says, “if you want to have an international experience or did not get the opportunity to do so s an undergrad, take the time now because once you are working, it will be harder to get that kind of time off to travel and see other parts of the world.”

Thanks to Outgoing Alumni Board Members

Heartfelt thanks go to six members of the CHRLS Alumni Association Board of Directors whose three-year terms are ending this spring. Their hard work and dedication have helped the Board continue its mission of strengthening the relationship between alumni and the CHRLS, the Carlson School, and the wider University community.

Rolling off the board are David Bryant, Laura Elletson, Marc Gauthier, Chris Kujawa, Joe Lucio, and Kristin Lee, who served as President of the Board this past year. Thank you!

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