Student Stories

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Staying Hungry: Thang Nguyen MBA ’11

When Thang Nguyen Master of Business Administration (MBA) '11, says that he is hungry, he does not mean that he wants to grab a burger or even some of his native Vietnamese food. He means that he is always looking for more to consume in his career field. 

As the IT operations supervisor at Medtronic PLC, Nguyen has had plenty of opportunities to grow. One such opportunity was the pursuit of an MBA at Hamline.

“I knew a little bit about Hamline’s history and that it was the oldest university in Minnesota,” Nguyen said. “I did my research, and Hamline’s cohort model, along with its ability to adapt to as well as take into account the economic environment and the reasonable cost compared to other schools, easily made it my primary choice.”

“It was also the more welcoming,” Nguyen said. “Other schools treated me like I was a source of revenue. I felt like Hamline had as much interest in that as in my unique contributions to the Hamline brand and providing me with an excellent education.”

That closeness of community Hamline provided is something Nguyen has always known; his parents immigrated over as refugees when he was only two and settled in Red Wing, MN, where his father worked at the Red Wing Shoe factory for 37 years. 

“Growing up Vietnamese in Red Wing was wonderful,” Nguyen said. “It’s a small town community with generous and kind-hearted individuals. There wasn’t much diversity during my years in school, but what it lacked was more than compensated by the safety and charm of the residents.”

Nguyen also finds ways to incorporate a community feel into his work—primarily by being so active in the Medtronic Asian Resource Group, where he’s been a member since he started out as a contractor. He has acted in a variety of roles, including treasurer, event coordinator, and web administrator. All of these positions also gave Nguyen a comfortable fit in leadership positions—a responsibility he takes seriously.

“Leadership is having the humility to admit your mistakes and apologize,” he said. “This speaks to accountability.  No one is above being judged for what they do, regardless of title and position. When your peers and subordinates recognize you are the person that holds himself/herself accountable, they will respect you as a leader when you hold them accountable.

Leadership and confidence are also two assets Nguyen feels he has gained from his Hamline experience.

“I believe the two most important contributions from my Hamline MBA are a greater awareness of my audience and how to communicate in a professional manner without omitting the pertinent details,” Nguyen said. “Sometimes my role requires me to update VP and C-level executives of the current standing of a high-impact, urgent matter. Both my classes and opportunities to present in my classes during my MBA experience prepared me to speak with confidence in scenarios such as these.”

Nguyen has not always worked in IT operations; he’s also worked as an investment consultant, in sales, and even as a swim instructor. He began his tech career at Boston Scientific and was moved over to Medtronic when Boston Scientific outsourced their call center. Even with his move to Medtronic, Nguyen was hungry for more. He knew that earning his MBA would give him a higher chance of advancement, and, indeed, since he graduated from Hamline’s MBA program, his role has advanced three times.

“My brand has become synonymous with collaboration and execution,” Nguyen said, an identity he says Hamline helped him to cement. 

In fact, similar sentiments were echoed in his advice to incoming students: “Prepare yourself for a rigorous journey with your cohort members. Open yourself to the diversity of thought Hamline attracts. When you finish, you’ll truly feel empowered to move forward in your career development with a specialized set of tools of your own design.”

Find out more about Hamline’s Master of Business Administration program on the Hamline School of Business website, or contact the Graduate Admission Office to learn more about joining the Hamline community.