Marcus Alston

Marcus Alston

University of Wisconsin–Madison, Wisconsin School of Business

MBA Graduation Year: 2019

Specialization: Strategic Human Resource Management

Hometown: Lansing, Michigan

Internship: Johnson & Johnson; Experienced–Humans Resource Leadership Development Program


Marcus’s MBA journey began with a question: How can companies develop exceptional cultures? Having experienced an effective employee culture, he saw firsthand the role that culture plays in employee engagement. Marcus wanted to be in a role where he could directly impact the employee experience and found the perfect fit in the Wisconsin MBA Program’s Strategic Human Resource Management specialization. He is preparing to become a corporate leader and is finding opportunities to lead now—in and outside of the classroom.

I pursued an MBA to have a direct impact on the decisions being made about company culture. Strategically crafting an employee experience excites me. The role of HR in organizations is changing. HR is now being viewed as a strategic business contributor with an increasing amount of influence. Wisconsin’s specialization in Strategic Human Resource Management is giving me the tools to participate as a strategic thought leader.

My campus visit to attend Diversity Weekend reinforced my decision to come to Wisconsin. I heard a presentation by Binnu Palta Hill, assistant dean for diversity and inclusion. Her presentation, “Making the Business Case for Diversity,” explored the differences between representation and inclusion. Binnu presented the business need for cultural competency and the importance of ownership by everyone across an organization. I saw the School’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, which highlighted HR as the catalyst to create inclusive cultures that add value.

The School’s commitment to diversity and inclusion was a significant factor in my decision to come to Wisconsin.

—Marcus Alston

In the Wisconsin MBA Program, I am consulting with real organizations on business challenges. Right now, I am working on a project to develop a new strategy for an international market. This hands-on experience has been a great opportunity to do actual work helping an organization solve a complex issue. Since I am switching careers, this hands-on experience is invaluable.

Having access to my professors outside class has been extremely valuable and an essential part of my learning experience. Data to Decisions, with Erwan Quintin, was a particularly challenging class for me. Professor Quintin’s commitment to being a resource outside of class was inspirational and helped me fully understand the material. This affirmed all that I learned about WSB before coming here: The professors are genuinely committed to our success.

Along with being an MBA student, I’m a classically trained musician and the principal clarinetist of the UW–Madison Symphony Orchestra. Having the opportunity and support from faculty, staff, and fellow students to continue to pursue my passion for music was really important to me. My MBA classmates organized and attended the first concert of the season to show their support. I was surprised and appreciative of their support. This is truly a special place.

Student organizations have provided a forum for me to actively pursue opportunities to foster inclusion. As the president of Out for Business and a member of Diversity in Business, I can contribute to and help build a strong student culture, including creating a welcoming environment for Queer students and allies. I am also a fellow of the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, which serves to increase underrepresented minorities in business. My commitment to The Consortium and to the WSB student organizations provides a forum for me to actively pursue opportunities to build empathy among seemingly disparate groups within the WSB community.