Integrity. Innovation. Impact.

Jason Carlson

Jason Carlson


MBA 2011


MBA Internship: Consumer Banking Intern, Citigroup;
Post-MBA: Senior Vice President, Product Program Manager, Networks and Merchant Acquiring at Citigroup, New York

Tell us about your first job post-MBA.

I'm in a division of Citi called Global Network Strategy. We work on getting the best deals possible from Visa and MasterCard. There is a lot of variety in my position; I create presentations for the senior executive team, read and value contracts between networks and our card portfolios, and I've helped value potential deals in negotiation.

How did receiving a Tippie MBA prepare you for your career?  

The MBA ends up being a platform that helps you get opportunities that you couldn't have gotten before.  I came into school pretty focused on learning as much as I could, but as I started to progress, I put a lot more time into improving interviewing skills and taking on leadership roles.  That's when I started really learning the things that are helping me today.  Once I got into the program, I was around high caliber people all the time – from faculty, to administration, and the students – and being in that type of environment forces you to get better.  The professors were generous with their time and when I got an interview for a position I really wanted, several of the professors sat down with me and put me through mock interviews.  Their feedback helped me land the job.  

What type of impact did the program have on you socially and academically? What was it like being a part of a small program?

I made a lot of good friends during the program.  It may sound silly to say, but looking back one of my favorite experiences from the whole program was playing on a (very, very good) intramural basketball team with my classmates.  We had all become pretty close during the program and so our success on the court came as an extension of our chemistry, and the fact that we knew how to get the best out of each other.  I got to know almost everyone in my class really well.  Throughout the course of the program you end up being in small groups with a lot of people.  As you observe and work with different people and learn their skill sets, it helps you later on because you can recognize and identify what people do well more quickly. That's a skill I really think comes from being in a smaller program, and I use it all the time in my current role.

How did the consulting opportunities (BSC) prepare you for future success? Did you feel they were instrumental to your development? 

It was good to get an experience where I was managing the work streams of several students.  I also liked being in charge of the overall vision of the team's activities.  It was actually hard going from that to starting full-time, and being in more of an individual contributor role.  When you are making the final decisions and controlling overall strategy, it forces you to put in a lot more time and be much more thorough as you consider potential decisions.  BSC leadership was great through the whole semester about meeting with me and having an ongoing dialogue about how to run the team, and how I could get better.

What was the environment like both on and off campus, in and out of the classroom?

Tippie always had a small community feel to me.  You get to know all the students and professors early on.  We were often working on group projects during the day, and hanging out in the break area.  My living situation was good – I had a nice apartment with easy access to the bus headed to campus.  It's a very easy-to-arrange living situation.

What were you seeking when you started an MBA, and do you feel that your Tippie MBA helped you achieve it?

I remember saying to someone at the beginning of the program that if I went in knowing exactly what I wanted from an MBA, that it would probably indicate a lack of imagination and an unwillingness to be open to change. Part of why I got my MBA was because I knew that my drive and ambition were very, very strong, yet it was undirected and I didn't know where I was headed. I wanted to be in a program that would help me learn the things I didn't know, and put me on a path to where I would have the tools to accomplish much bigger things as my career progressed. 

How did your participation in extra activities enhance your experience or prepare you for success?

The Henry Fund and the consulting project were great experiences. In the Henry Fund I learned a lot about giving pressure-packed presentations where there were going to be hard questions.  During the consulting project I developed a lot as a leader.  I remember reading Marvin Pomerantz's book and he said that he made it a point to lead every organization he was involved with.  In fact, he would reject any board position unless he was running the board.  To give a basketball analogy, a good leader "wants the ball", and it's just a mentality you should always take if you really want to develop into a leader. 

What do you feel sets Tippie apart and above other similar MBA programs? In short, what makes Tippie special?

I think there's an authenticity to Tippie MBAs.  We will outwork almost anyone, and we tend to come with less of a sense of entitlement.  Jack Welch mentioned in one of his books that he learned early on that engineers from the mid-west were just as good as engineers from the Ivy League schools.  I think the same goes for MBAs.  We come from a smaller community, we have worked very hard, we have great relationships with our classmates, and we don't come out of school with $150,000 of student loan debt.  I think many of us are in better position to control the destiny of our careers because of the financial flexibility we have.  There are many great things about the Tippe MBA program and I wouldn't hesitate to do it all over again.