2020 Best & Brightest: Poet Larsen, University of Wisconsin

Poet Larsen

University of Wisconsin School of Business

“Well my name is Poet and I do quantitative work. It’s as if this nomination was made specifically for me.”

Fun fact about yourself: I have been playing the Pokemon trading card game for 11 years and was one of the top players in the world during the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 seasons. (Top 50 in the world in 2017-2018, Top 100 in the world 2018-2019).

Hometown: Austin, TX.

High School: The Liberal Arts and Science Academy

Majors: Statistics and Information Systems

Minors: Computer Science and Mathematics

Favorite Business Course: Business Analytics I

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • Marketing Research with Professor Paul Hoban (2017- present)
  • Professional Pokemon Trading Card Game player (2017-2019)
  • Hilldale Research Fellowship (2019-2020)

Where have you interned during your college career?

International Game Technology (2017 summer, Austin TX) – QA intern

Samsung Austin Semiconductor (2018 summer, Austin, TX) – Full-stack developer

Samsung Austin Semiconductor (2019 summer, Austin, TX)- Data Science

Where will you be working after graduation? Not sure yet. I have applied to Ph.D. programs in marketing. Currently have offers from University of Washington, University of Texas-Austin, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

What company do you admire most?  MIT. The quantitative marketing professors at MIT are truly at the bleeding edge of marketing research. Some of the work done there has directly inspired my current research interests.

Who is your favorite professor? Paul Hoban. He’s the one that got me into this whole marketing mess and the one who egged me on to go to grad school.

What did you enjoy most about your business school? The willingness of professors to work with me. I have not met a professor who wasn’t been willing to help me in some way. That includes reviewing career decisions, class choices, or just general advice about life. They have all been open and willing to take time out of their day to help me.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? How to think about the human elements of real-world problems. In plenty of my mathematics, statistics, and computer science courses, it was easy to get lost in theory and proofs. Studying business gave me the opportunity to see where the quantitative theory could be applied with real-world business problems.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Understand multiple areas and try to recognize where different fields overlap. Increasingly, the most interesting work is arising in the grey-area between several fields (e.g. economics, finance, and computer science). Specializing is important, but it is also in any student’s best interest to pursue majors and minors outside of their focus.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? It is surprising to see how complicated many modern challenges have become for businesses. I did not recognize how important computer science and statistics in business was until I entered the business school.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? This last year, I received a Hilldale Research Fellowship for my work with Professor Hoban. It was gratifying to see my work be recognized and helped me pay for college tuition. It also positively reinforced my interest in marketing research.

Which classmate do you most admire? Ajitesh Singh. He is a computer science student that I have been friends with since Freshman year. Together, we have struggled through a multitude of mathematics and computer science courses. We have both grown in our respective interests and feed off each other’s success.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? Paul Hoban. He has given me extensive guidance over the last two years, guiding me through research and helping me grow as a student. He has championed me throughout my graduate school application process and done nothing but support me. I would not be where I am without his guidance and support.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

Achieve tenure

Publish novel research on social networks and peer effects.

What are your hobbies?

I like to read economics and statistics books. (I’m currently reading The Art of Statistics and Fooled by Randomness). I am also a Pokemon trading card game player who gets to travel and play at the highest level of competition. I have been able to travel across the country playing at large Pokemon events. Most notably I was ranked in the top 50 during the 2017-2018 season and top 100 during the 2018-2019 season. I’m also a big board game player, especially Dominion, Settlers of Catan, and 7 Wonders.

What made Poet such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“Poet is one of the most talented and motivated students I have had the pleasure of advising, but it is his tremendous intellectual curiosity that sets him apart. Poet has been a member of my research team for the past two years, contributing to multiple projects and now leading his own. Poet’s desire and ability to spearhead a research project is unique among all undergraduates with whom I’ve worked. In addition to his research contributions, Poet will graduate this spring with majors in both Information Systems and Statistics as well as minors in Computer Science and Mathematics. He has my strongest recommendation for this award.”

Professor Paul Hoban
Assistant Professor of Marketing
Wisconsin School of Business


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