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2022 SHR Orientation: The Perfect End to a Perfect Week

By Katie Caffrey

September 9, 2022

SHR MBA Class of 2024

After the first full day of orientation for the incoming Full-Time MBA class of 2024, our cohort broke into our daylong center specialization orientations on Friday, August 26th. Center Day is a time to get acquainted with your center director and fellow classmates, learn about the history of your center and specialization at UW-Madison, and learn about upcoming courses and recruiting opportunities. The incoming Full-Time MBA class of 2024 is made up of 72 students, which includes a small but mighty cohort of 5 students specializing in Strategic HR Management. Following is a recap of the sessions that perfectly ended our first week.

Career Coach Time MBA Career Management Center Team Members

After a warm welcome and introductions, the day started with a brief presentation from the career management team. Brian Whitmore (Assistant Director of Career Management) and Leslie Taylor (Director, Career and Corporate Partnerships) discussed the value of networking, resources, and key fall programming highlights. One of my key takeaways from this presentation was the importance of perfecting written and verbal storytelling when communicating your value to an organization.

portrait of Katie Caffrey
Katie Caffrey

Diving Into the SHR Specialization

The SHR Center is very excited to welcome Tanya Hubanks in her first year as SHR Center Director! We are also very lucky to have the guidance of Linda Barrett as our Assistant Director and Charlie Trevor as our Academic Director. During this morning session, Tanya and Linda shared important information about the SHR curriculum, culture, and expectations for incoming students. We also learned about various campus recruiting partners and had a brief introduction to some of the internships the 2nd year SHR students had over the summer.  

Career Pathways Panel

Our last session of the morning was the career pathways panel with four local HR professionals! We welcomed Alicia Kiser from M3 Insurance, Vice President of Human Resources; Tanja Nitschke, formerly from Eventbrite, VP, Global Talent & Org Dev; Jeff Palkowski from UW-Madison, Workforce Relations Manager (SHRM Influencer); and John Komosa from Generac Power Systems, Director of Compensation. The senior human resource professional panelists each had a unique career journey to share with us – from career switching, to leading, to influencing, to rebooting. The panelists shared information about their career journeys and pathways in human resources and were very generous in answering our career questions. One of the key takeaways I had from the session was the concept that HR is the intersection of people and business. Alicia called HR professionals, “The people that propel the purpose” of the business.

VIP Luncheon

During a delicious Italian lunch, the career pathways panelists and first-year students were joined by Management and Human Resources department faculty Barry Gerhart, Russ Coff and Jirs Meuris, in addition to a few of the returning second-year students, for an informal discussion about careers, research, and teaching. We chatted about Barry’s contributions to the textbook the first-years are using for their first semester HR course in addition to learning about Jeff’s responsibilities as an influencer for SHRM.

HR Speed Decisioning

Our afternoon focused on a case-format speed decisioning session. We were lucky to have three SHR MBA program alumni join us: Ben Burney (MBA ’08), Exequity; Rebecca Schulenburg (MBA ’20), Harley-Davidson of Madison; and Brad Zemp (MBA ’18), TDS Telecom. These professionals led our group of first-years through solving unique HR challenges and shared their insights related to transferrable skills and problem-solving. The mini-cases we worked on dealt with a range of HR challenges including compensation consulting, talent turnover and retention, and disability accommodations.

Terrace Talk

We ended the day at the beautiful Memorial Union Terrace where we had some fun get-to-know-you conversations and enjoyed a few pitchers of Spotted Cow. It was the perfect end to the perfect first week on campus. The day gave me full confidence in selecting Strategic HR Management as my career specialization with a great two years to look forward to!