As co-owner and managing partner of Aveus, LLC in St. Paul, Minnesota, Chris LaVictoire Mahai (M.B.A., ’83) has helped companies across the globe grow, save millions of dollars, and launch new initiatives. Aveus, founded in 1998, is a global strategy and operational change firm that prides itself on tangible results. They diagnose corporate problems and give companies the tools they need to implement successful solutions.
LSBE alumnae (M.B.A., '83) Chris LaVictoire Mahai, co-owner and managing partner of Aveus, LLC in St. Paul, Minn.
Mahai came to Aveus in 1999 as the CEO. She took ownership on January 1, 2001 and over the years, three other co-owners and partners have come on board. The name Aveus is derived from the Latin word avius meaning “out of the ordinary”. Mahai is a bit avius herself, defying easy definition. Successful in the corporate world (from banking to media to management), she also actively pursues her creative side and encourages others to do the same.
Mahai believes that working for a few years before pursuing her M.B.A. was extremely valuable. She entered the banking industry after earning an undergraduate degree in economics and political science. When she entered the M.B.A. program at UMD’s Labovitz School of Business and Economics (LSBE), Mahai soon discovered that being able to draw upon real situations encountered in the workplace was a huge asset. “An M.B.A. will have more value if you have more work experience,” she explains. She also found that discourse with other working professionals in the M.B.A. program was extremely beneficial.
Mahai had a great experience at UMD. "I love learning," she says. She enjoyed exploring different subjects and expanding her abilities. She recalls a statistics course that was particularly challenging and being inspired by Professor Henry Person’s observation that “you don’t have to be an expert, but you do need to understand.” She took those words to heart, trying to always have an understanding of what other people’s jobs entail and an awareness of all the elements involved in completing a project successfully. Mahai received her M.B.A. from LSBE in 1983. To nourish her creative side, Mahai earned a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies after moving to the Twin Cities. In her “spare time”, she is a writer and playwright.
Mahai encourages anyone with an interest in business to pursue a M.B.A., especially people who don’t have a business undergraduate. “Don’t let it stop you if you have a background in science or art. It might be to your advantage,” she points out. When she worked in banking, Mahai was able to observe a large number of people who were working towards or had an M.B.A. “The people who were most successful had a liberal arts background, plus an M.B.A.” She attributes that to their ability to think both critically and creatively.
Mahai uses both her creative and critical talents when working with clients. Challenges may consist of helping an old company reinvent itself or a new company expand its markets. Solutions may be found in improving a company’s efficiency or from enhancing their customer’s experience. The Aveus team is a small and dedicated group with countless years of practical experience to draw upon. Mahai proudly notes that all four of the co-partners and half of the staff at Aveus have an M.B.A., and, yes, many have liberal arts backgrounds.
Written by Kathleen McQuillan-Hofmann, email@example.com
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