Student Profile: Lawrence Murphy, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota

Student Profile: Lawrence Murphy, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota main image

Lawrence Murphy is currently studying for his MBA at Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.

Before his studies, Murphy was a Marketing Analyst at the Lacek Group in Minneapolis.

With seven years’ experience under his belt before his MBA, Murphy felt pursuing post-graduate study would be the gamechanger for him.

What were you doing before starting your MBA?

I was a Marketing Analyst for a loyalty marketing agency based in the Twin Cities. My primary account was a high-profile hospitality client, and my role was to analyze structured data, uncover insights and make recommendations for improving the performance of communication campaigns. I was sometimes asked to perform ad hoc analyses to offer direction for a client or campaign. Whether creating a new campaign or re-running something, I’d offer analysis and insights for campaign execution. Once approved by the client, I’d collaborate with our operations team to launch the campaign.

What factors led to you pursuing your graduate degree?

My primary goals are to advance my career and build upon the skills developed in my previous role. Though my work had been engaging and enabled me to develop proficiencies in platforms such as SQL and Tableau, I felt I’d reached a plateau. The MBA offered the perfect mix of career and personal progression, as well as skill development.

What factored in to your final choice of where to study?

One of the primary factors was location. I was already based in the Twin Cities, which made the choice very easy from a practical standpoint. However, of greater importance was the number of large companies based in the Twin Cities, and the relationships they have with Carlson. Without knowing exactly which field I wanted to explore, and with a wife and new baby to consider, I was keen to find a school that would give me options. With so many Fortune 500 companies in the Twin Cities, I felt Carlson offered long-term prospects and family stability.

What do you most love about the school/program?

Carlson has a very small class size (88 in my class). This results in a strong sense of community, which is invaluable as you strive to learn and find a place in a new environment. What I especially like about Carlson is that there’s a switch in cohorts in the middle of the semester, which means by the end of the first semester you’ve had daily classes with three quarters of the class. Between classes, club and networking events it’s almost inevitable you’ll know your entire class by the end of the first semester, which is extremely helpful as we move into recruiting in the Spring. By the time you head into recruiting there’s a strong group all rooting for each other to succeed.

What is your best experience on the program to date?

Carlson has a core curriculum, and core teams that work through projects together in the fall semester. The semester culminates in a “live” case competition – a real business problem provided by a Fortune 500 company. All core teams are given 48 hours to come up with a well-researched and logical solution.

I’ll never forget the final 12 hours before deadline. With final submissions due at 8am, our team were on-campus late into the night working on last-minute tweaks to the story and presentation. Finally, much later than we should have, we called it a night, submitted and went home to get a few hours of sleep. The next day we presented, won the case competition, and two team members ended up interning at the company the next summer.

However, the win wasn’t the best experience of the year. The best memories of Carlson I have are working late into the night, with four friends in a small breakout room.

What do you plan to do once you graduate?

My current plan is to work in the field of consulting. As I have yet to accept the offer received from my summer internship that may take different forms, but I expect I’ll likely work within a large company, consult on projects and solve problems internally. This is similar to the work done in the larger (external) consulting practices, but requires less travel and fewer hours, which fits my family life a little better. I’m excited for the work, and the opportunity to develop while balancing my time between work and family life.

What do you think is the biggest myth about applying to business school?

I’ve heard from our admissions team that the GMAT/GRE score isn’t the only thing they look at when considering a candidate. While the score is an important indicator, what they’re really looking for is fit. Regardless of rankings, programs vary in terms of class size, quality of instruction, campus location, and employment prospects. The GMAT/GRE may help you get in the door, but once in it becomes almost irrelevant. For the two years, the fit will have much greater impact on the quality of your experience. 

What is the one piece of advice you’d give incoming students?

While you’ll undoubtedly have a core group of friends by the end of the first semester, be sure you stay engaged and stay open to learning about all your classmates. The MBA attracts amazing people looking to change their lives, and the diversity will inevitably develop you as a professional and an individual. Beyond that, you will find that many of the class will find roles at companies within the Twin Cities, so those relationships have greater longevity than just the two years of the program.

Written by Niamh Ollerton

Niamh is Assistant Editor of, creating and editing content for an international MBA student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of the business world.  

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