Carlson School of Management News

Labor Relations Students Hear Real-World Perspective from Alumnus

Friday, March 14, 2014

The CHRLS is proud of the many ways our alumni stay engaged, welcoming involvement in the Mentorship Program, Alumni Association, and Advisory Council. In addition, each year a few alumni come back to the classroom and share their knowledge with current students. This semester, Assistant Professor Aaron Sojourner invited 2013 MA-HRIR alumnus Steve Hanson to speak to his Labor Relations class.

Having just taken the same course two years ago, Hanson, currently an HR Advisor at ExxonMobil, was excited to share the knowledge he has learned in the field.

"I liked that the content in labor relations is relative to what I'm doing now," Hanson said. "I was excited to give back."

Hanson presented a mix of labor relations principles along with concrete examples, including collective bargaining and the importance of building relationships with workers and union staff. In addition, Hanson walked the class through scenarios and challenged students to think through strategic options at decision points. Sojourner recruited Hanson because he wanted to give students real-world examples of labor relations.

"I wanted to introduce the current students to someone they could identify with, someone who sat in their seats recently, and who could tell them vividly and personally about what working in labor relations would be like for them," Sojourner said.

According to Sojourner, Hanson connected with the students and brought the content to life; the students could imagine what the beginning of a professional career in management-side labor relations would be like.

"He could relate to the current students very directly," Sojourner said. "He understood their perspectives and concerns instinctually and could tailor his presentation and discussions to them."

Alumni engagement with the MA-HRIR program benefits both the alum and students. According to Sojourner, current students and faculty benefit from having relevant speakers who can bring course content to life. In addition, alumni gain a chance to share their vision and perspectives with the next generation of HRIR professionals. Hanson agrees that alumni should make an effort to stay involved with the MA-HRIR program.

"It's important to stay engaged," Hanson said. "You get re-energized from interacting and working with students who are excited about HR and labor relations. "
Hanson enjoyed speaking with the students, bringing back memories from when he sat in their same seats just a couple of years ago. He encouraged other alumni to stay engaged with the program after graduation.

"It's always good to get involved and give back to students who are trying to learn as much as possible," Hanson said.

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