CyBIZ Lab Alumni Spotlight: Matt Tjaden

CyBIZ LabMeet Matt Tjaden, an Iowa State University graduate from the class of 2019 with a degree in Finance. Matt fondly reflected on his academic journey that was upgraded when he joined CyBIZ Lab during his sophomore year. Little did he know that this experience would prepare him for a future in finance and consulting. 

CyBIZ Lab: Where Students Gain Real-World Industry Experience 

Matt’s adventure at CyBIZ Lab began during his sophomore year at ISU and continued until his final days as a Cyclone. The many projects he undertook as a CyBIZ Lab student consultant covered a diverse range of industries, from Fortune 500 convenience stores to local non-profits and hotels. He even collaborated on a project for the Iowa State Library. While his primary role often involved financial research and forecasting, he proved versatile, diving into academic research, market analysis, alumni surveys, legislative updates, and more.  

One project that stands out in Matt’s memory is his work with Casey’s General Store. The team embarked on a mission to help Casey’s management gain deeper insights into the future of rural America, given the company’s rural focus. Matt and his teammates researched trends shaping rural America, analyzed academic research, and surveyed ISU Alumni to uncover key issues facing these geographical demographics.  

The Importance of Actionable Insights 

One of the most valuable lessons Matt took from his experiences at CyBIZ Lab was the necessity of actionable insights. Executives in the real world don’t just seek summaries of research. They are often looking for recommendations and action plans that they can implement. Matt learned that brevity in reporting findings is appreciated and that sometimes what you choose not to include in a report can be just as significant as what you include. 

Interdisciplinary Collaboration 

Working in small, interdisciplinary teams was another aspect of CyBIZ Lab that was impactful for Matt. Collaborating with students from diverse backgrounds provided fresh perspectives on elements of each project. For instance, an engineering student might offer a unique insight into business operations or financial forecasting that may not be apparent to other team members. This collaboration allowed for complex research topics to be more accessible and digestible for the audience.  

From Student to Business Professional 

Today, Matt finds himself in the world of turnaround and restructuring consulting as an associate for Accordion – a private equity-focused financial and technology consulting firm. His journey from CyBIZ Lab to his current role has been a seamless transition, in part thanks to the valuable skills and insights he gained during his time at ISU.  

“The importance of real-life experience cannot be understated – CyBIZ offered me an opportunity to create C-Suite level research reports and presentations that would be acted upon by management. We learned how to present professionally, be succinct in our findings, and deliver a recommendation after months of research,” said Matt. 

Matt Tjaden’s journey through CyBIZ Lab highlights the impact of interdisciplinary collaboration and the art of turning research into action. His is one of many success stories to come out of the program over the last 10 years, and the CyBIZ Lab team looks forward to collaborating with many more exceptional students and industry partners as CyBIZ Lab continues to grow.  

By: Lindsey Murray