Carlson School of Management

Faculty and Staff

Toby NordToby Nord, Professional Director

Toby Nord joined Carlson Ventures Enterprise in 2006 after twenty years with local companies in roles ranging from Senior Director of Sales for a direct-to-consumer computer manufacturer to Vice President of Marketing and Operations for a small specialty retailer. The majority of Toby's career has been with Best Buy working in Strategic Marketing, Business Development, Strategy and Innovation. Some of this work is highlighted in the Harvard Business Case Best Buy: An Innovator's Journey. Toby is also a Senior Lecturer at Carlson, teaching courses in Corporate Venturing, New Product Design & Business Development, Anthropology & Business, Design for Sustainability, and the Executive Education course Corporate Innovation: A Practitioner's Guide to Intrapreneuring. Toby holds an MBA from the University of Minnesota and a BA from Hamline University. When not teaching or consulting, he focuses on his amazing family.


Connie RutledgeConnie Rutledge, Associate Director

Connie Rutledge joined Carlson Ventures Enterprise after a stint as the sixth employee of a local software start-up company, where she was responsible for deploying the company's technology to healthcare providers. Connie spent the previous six years as an early stage venture capital analyst. She has reviewed more than 500 business plans and guided several early stage investments through due diligence to completed financing. In addition to her analytical capabilities, Connie has managed the operations of two small businesses, with responsibility for personnel, budget management and client relationships.


Portrait of Mary BennerMary Benner, Academic Director

Mary Benner is an Associate Professor in Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship at the Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota. Previously she was an Assistant Professor in Management at The Wharton School. She has held several management positions with Honeywell and was a consultant and manager with Data Resources, Inc. Her research, at the intersection of the fields of organization theory and strategic management, explores how firms innovate and adapt to technological change. Her research is published in leading academic journals, including the Academy of Management Review, Administrative Science Quarterly, and Organization Science. She currently serves on the editorial boards of the Academy of Management Review, Administrative Science Quarterly, and is a senior editor for Organization Science. She holds a Ph.D. in management from Columbia University, an MBA from Stanford's Graduate School of Business, and a BS in economics from the University of Minnesota.


Photo of Gary SmabyGary Smaby, VC-in-Residence

After ten years as a successful entrepreneur, Gary Smaby joined the Minneapolis-based investment banking firm of Piper Jaffray as a vice-president/senior analyst. He built an international reputation as a Wall Street analyst in the IT sector and was promoted to Managing Director, Technology Research. He then joined the New York investment firm of Needham and Co. as Managing Director, eventually leaving to form his own firm, Smaby Group, Inc. In 2000 Gary co-founded Quatris Fund, an early-seed stage venture capital fund formed with St. Paul Venture Capital. Gary was the president of the Minnesota Venture Capital Association in 2003 and currently serves as board chair for four start-up companies, Algos Therapeutics, finEye, Pontus and Iconoculture. Gary just completed a six-year term on the Board of Trustees for the Science Museum of Minnesota. He also served for five years on the External Advisory Board for the Deep Computing Institute at the IBM TJ Watson Research Laboratory.

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