Name: Kathy Hagens

Degree/Major/Graduation year: BBA 1994, MBA 1998

Current Employer and Position: University of Wisconsin Oshkosh College of Business, MBA Program Director

Current City: Kaukauna, WI

Food you couldn’t live without: Popcorn

Favorite Hobbies: Travel, Creative Writing, Interior Decorating

Favorite class taken or professor at UWO and why: Business Ethics (MBA elective).  The dilemmas and business situations were very relatable and the student interaction and sharing was extremely beneficial.

What was your college career like? My college career was quite non-traditional.  I grew up in a family where a college education was not considered an option and I was encouraged to instead enter the workforce.  Immediately following high school, I began working at AAL (now Thrivent).  I received several promotions with increasing responsibility in marketing and communications, becoming a team leader.   I began exploring the option of returning to school to get my college degree on a part-time basis, taking classes in the evening.  The challenge was that it would take me more than ten years to complete my undergraduate degree at that pace.   I realized this was a slow journey and to accelerate it, made the difficult decision to leave a position and a company that I enjoyed, and go back to school on a full-time basis.  With three small children and a spouse that traveled internationally, this was not an easy decision.  I was able to complete my BBA in three years.

Because of my previous business experience, I knew that obtaining my MBA was important for continued growth in my career.  However I was also missing the business environment and anxious to return to it.  So I enrolled in UW-Oshkosh’s MBA program at about the same time that I accepted a position at American Medical Security (acquired by UnitedHealth Group) in Green Bay as an Account Executive.  Within months I was promoted to Manager of the marketing department, and ultimately became the Marketing Director.

Throughout my career I’ve lead marketing, internal and external communication, branding and creative teams for several organizations including UnitedHealth Group and RR Donnelley, managing teams of 2-35 employees located in various geographic locations.  I’ve worked closely with senior business executives in developing strategic business initiatives.  This background, combined with my education obtaining my BBA and MBA from UW-Oshkosh should be extremely beneficial in my new role as the MBA Program Director.

There is no doubt that the education I obtained through the University was instrumental in growing my career.

What is your best piece of advice for current COB students? Take advantage of all the opportunities that are out there.  Gain experience prior to graduating.  Do at least one internship, several if possible.  Work part-time or summers in your selected field while you are in college.  The experience you will gain is invaluable, and will benefit you immensely once you begin looking for full-time employment.