2015 Best EMBA: Lars E. Carlson

Lars Carlson

Lars E. Carlson


Michigan State University, Broad College of Business

To succeed in the public sector, you often need to apply the same financial and managerial tools as the public sector. Knowing he would become a CEO for the non-profit he has served for 17 years, Lars Carlson decided to develop these skills in Broad’s Executive MBA program. A role model and mentor at the school, Carlson also volunteers for the Greater Lansing Food Bank as well as coaching a youth baseball team and serving the Trinity Church in Lansing.

Age: 40

Location: Pleasant Lake, MI

Family Members: Amy (Spouse), Stefan Carlson (Son), Lukas Carlson (Son)

Undergraduate School: Liberty University

Undergraduate Degree: B.S. Interdisciplinary Studies in Social Science and Business

Where are you currently working? I currently serve as the Executive Director of Youth Haven, Inc., a non-profit organization that reaches out to disadvantaged and at-risk children with campus locations in Michigan and Arizona.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I knew that I would become CEO of the organization I’ve been involved with for 17 years. I knew I needed to gain additional perspective in my leadership and really understand how businesses function and what it would take to lead a great company!”

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…disappointed and always wonder “what if.” I knew the MBA was the degree I wanted to attain to ensure I never regretted not pursuing that particular degree.”

What are your long-term professional goals? I will be appointed CEO of Youth Haven within the next 12 months. My goal for the organization is to grow and develop new opportunities to help disadvantaged children around the country, building on the history and foundation set in place by those who have led before me.

Favorite Courses: Negotiations, Managerial Accounting

Which academic or professional achievements are you most proud of? From an academic standpoint, I’m very proud that I’ve been able to complete my education with all of the other responsibilities I have in my life. I’m living proof that you can do it if you have the mindset to succeed. From a professional standpoint, I’m proud of the work our organization does, helping meet the needs of disadvantaged and at-risk children, giving them hope and love to help them succeed in their lives. Seeing over 3,300 free scholarships to our organization given each year to children in need is an amazing thing, and I’m proud of the team I lead that make a difference in the lives of kids each year at Youth Haven.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I would thank my wife and sons. Without their support and understanding of the time required for such an extensive program, I would not have been able to succeed. I would also like to thank my parents, who encouraged and supported me throughout my entire educational pursuit, including my MBA experience. I wouldn’t be who I am today without their support.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? I desired a face-to-face (not online) program that had national and global recognition. I sought a school with national accreditation and wanted to ensure that my degree would offer the greatest return on my investment of time and finances. In addition, my family has quite a bit of history with MSU and I knew graduating as a Spartan would be a great accomplishment and give me a lot of pride!

What did you enjoy most about the executive MBA program? The interaction with my fellow students was by far the most rewarding aspect, especially my team. I know that without that diversity, support, and knowledge this would have been a very different experience for me. We all learned from one another as our professional and educational backgrounds would come out during discussions throughout each class, as well when we would sit and talk around the table at meal time. It was another reason the EMBA program design was the right fit for me.

What is your most memorable moment from business school? My most memorable moment was definitely the first class of Managerial Accounting, when Dr. Ranjani Krishnan entered the classroom and recited an adapted (accounting principle laden) version of a Shakespeare work. She then proceeded to speak to us by name, highlighting the companies we worked for, which quickly made us realize the amount of time she put into her class preparation. She took her responsibilities as our guide very seriously and did all she could to make it memorable and engaging. That was definitely one of the highlights of the program for me.

Fun fact about yourself: I love shooting off fireworks and have opportunity to do so each year around July 4th for the kids that attend the Youth Haven program in Michigan. I also get to assist a professional fireworks company in Mid-Michigan from time to time, including shooting off displays at Cooley Law School Stadium for the Lansing Lugnuts.

Favorite book: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey

Favorite movie: The Batman Begins and Bourne series of movies tie in my book!

Favorite musical performer: Michael Buble

Favorite television show: Shark Tank

Favorite vacation spot: Maui, Hawaii

What are your hobbies? I love to fly, both virtually on my PC and in life as a private pilot. I also play drums and have an opportunity to do so at my church. I’m also a licensed Amateur Radio operator and have always enjoyed electronics and computer technology.

Twitter Handle: @carlsonlars

What made Lars such an invaluable addition to the class of 2015 for your executive MBA program?

“Lars is an exceptional individual who is using his knowledge and capabilities, leveraged with his EMBA, to make the world a better place. He has consistently made it a point to mentor others and to participate in Broad College activities beyond the program. He is a role model for business and he’s impacting society in compelling ways.”

Cheri DeClercq, Ph.D., Assistant Dean for MBA Programs and Acting Director of Marketing & Communications

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