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Krahn named 2014 Outstanding MBA Student

Bonnie Krahn has been named the 2014 Outstanding MBA Student by the graduate faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire College of Business. A May 2014 graduate, Krahn was selected from a pool of students that included graduates from August 2013, December 2013, January 2014, and May 2014.

Krahn is the graphic artist for the UW-Eau Claire College of Business. In addition to working for the university full time and going to school full time, she does freelance work for clients across the United States.

An award-winning designer, Krahn is the recipient of six Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) V awards for graphic design, marketing communications and special events planning. In January 2014, she was honored with the UW-Eau Claire College of Business Creativity Award, an award presented to a College of Business faculty or staff member who generated novel and valuable ideas and used these ideas to develop new or improved processes, methods, systems, programs, or services.

Krahn will be recognized at the 2014 University Student Excellence Awards reception on Thursday, May 8, 2014, at 5 pm in the Davies Center Ojibwe Ballroom, Room 330. The reception is hosted by the UW-Eau Claire Alumni Association, UW-Eau Claire Foundation, and UW-Eau Claire University Centers.

For more information about the UW-Eau Claire MBA program, contact Dr. Robert Erffmeyer, director at

Meet Bonnie Krahn, 2014 Outstanding MBA Student

Assistant Dean Gretchen Hutterli interviewed Bonnie Krahn to learn about her experience as a UW-Eau Claire MBA business student.

GH: Congratulations, Bonnie. You will be graduating this May with an MBA after taking courses for four years—two years of MBA prerequisites and two years of MBA coursework. That’s dedication! An MBA isn’t a typical graduate degree for someone like you with a fine arts background. Most people might pursue a Master of Fine Arts. So why an MBA?

KRAHN: A good question. Throughout my art and design career, I have become increasingly involved in marketing-related activities. While I have always felt my “hunch,” or intuition toward designing effective marketing communications was accurate, I had not previously taken a business course. Successful design and marketing does not occur independently from an organization’s business goals. To take my design and marketing talent to the next level, I knew I needed to become more strategic with my work. Ultimately, I felt I could become a more effective designer if I enhanced my knowledge and experience with a strong academic business foundation.

GH: Students have many interesting courses to choose from in the program. Were there any classes that stood out or were especially interesting or useful to you?

KRAHN: Three courses in particular come to mind...

MBA 712: Developing New Products and Services, was one of the most challenging courses in the MBA program, but also one of the most rewarding. I was able to walk away from this required course understanding the complexities involved in launching a new product or service, including how to create and present a comprehensive business plan to a group of potential investors.

MBA 773: Communication for Success, was an elective that took my writing skills to the next level through the application of practical strategies and constructive feedback from classmates. Because this course allowed students to improve their own, specific work-related writing, I was able to immediately apply this knowledge to my everyday workplace communications.

MBA 755: Consumer Behavior, an elective I found to be extremely interesting as I have always been fascinated by what motivates people to behave as they do. Everyone shops—so it is especially useful to learn what drives behavior in the marketplace. From a design and marketing perspective, I now have a better insight into how consumers will respond to the marketing projects I am involved in.

GH: Like many of the students in our MBA program, you worked full time while going to school full time. What advice or suggestions can you offer others who are doing the same?

KRAHN: Balancing work, school, and a personal life was definitely the most challenging part of the program. While it was not easy and required many sacrifices, it was definitely achievable. The format of this MBA program was perfect for me—I was only required to come to campus one evening per week and I had the flexibility of taking most of my elective courses online.

The key to my success was time management. I disciplined myself to schedule time before work, after work, and on weekends to complete my school responsibilities. In addition, I created a structured plan for how and when I was going to complete my degree. Anytime I felt overwhelmed, I focused on my plan, checked off the courses as they were completed, and stayed focused on my graduation goal.

GH: Great advice, Bonnie. Now that you are at the end of your program, can you reflect on how an MBA will help you personally and/or professionally?

KRAHN: Earning an MBA has greatly enhanced my effectiveness as a designer, marketer, and business owner. From a marketing perspective, I have gained the experience needed to create successful integrated marketing communications, determine appropriate vehicles for sending integrated messages to a target market, and develop promotional campaigns supported by marketing research. This knowledge will help me create a greater competitive advantage for my organization. In addition, the broad-based business knowledge learned throughout the MBA program has given me a much better handle on managing all functional areas of my own freelance design business. I am confident that the ability to speak the language of business, which I have learned through the UW-Eau Claire MBA program, will allow me to take my career to the next level.

GH: One last question. Would you recommend the UW-Eau Claire MBA program to others, especially those in the fine arts?

KRAHN: I would definitely recommend this program to others, especially those like me who might not have what they consider to be a traditional business background. I have learned that no matter the profession, it can be incredibly helpful to complement your professional experience with real-world business skills. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a typical “businessperson,” at some point in your career you will likely work with budgets, hire and evaluate employees, or need to sell your ideas to others. I believe acquiring additional business skills definitely gives you a competitive advantage in today’s job market.

GH: Thank you for your insights, Bonnie. I know I speak for everyone in the College of Business when I say that we are very proud of your success. We all look forward to seeing you get your hood and walk across the stage to get your diploma.