Student Name: Kirsten Kaufmann
MBA Concentration: Management
Public Policy Director for Minnesota NAWBO
Transitions take many forms: Career paths. Physical locations. Spiritual. Educational pursuits. Relationships. I feel fortunate to have experienced and engaged wholeheartedly.
Leaving Chicago behind wasn’t easy, I went to college and raised my son there. I built a business and employed a strong diverse work force. I survived the great recession while owning a small landscape company. However, when an opportunity to sell my business presented itself I felt the timing was right to pursue it to be able to move on to the next phase of my life.
Moving to any new city can cause even the most confident person anxiety. I know Chicago and the business market but I knew very little about Minnesota. I was starting over from scratch and without a network. Having been a long time member of NAWBO Chicago, it was important for me to reconnect with my network to ask for introductions. Within minutes I was connected to a past President of the Minnesota Chapter of NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners). After a robust lunch she asked me if I’d be interested in serving on the board of directors. My first request of the board was to create a public policy committee, of which I offered to serve as Chair. Several months later we formed our public policy initiatives to “ensure women business owners have access to education, peers and support to guide them through scalability, stability and succession. Advance on behalf of Minnesota Business Owners and increase opportunities within State and City Agencies and Corporations.” (Please visit www.nawbo-mn.org for more information.)
Pursuing a master’s degree was always a dream of mine. Seventeen years ago I had decided to cement my undergraduate degree from Columbia College, Chicago in Television Production with the goal of becoming an entertainment attorney. I took my LSAT and was in the process of selecting schools, but a painful divorce interfered and while negotiating I found myself abandoned with our business along with all the debt! To say that my persuasive skills came in handy is an understatement. I rallied the troops, met with my banker and began reinventing the company, and grew what was now solely my business into a multi-million-dollar landscape company.
My goal is to take my entrepreneurship spirit along with my MBA in Management to integrate these areas of interest: Human Capital Management, Corporate Engagement, and Organizational Development and Leadership. This will supplant the practical experience I have gained with the formal and theoretical knowledge that will make me a more complete and effective Director.
I feel empowered to be seasoned in business and welcomed by the wonderful community at St. Catherine University. There is a high bar of excellence surrounding the candidates beginning with the MBA Director Michelle Weiser who is an excellent mentor to her candidates.
Transitions are fantastic opportunities upon which to seize. Be diligent and deliberate in building a supportive network.
Kirsten is in Cohort 4, which began in Fall 2015. She plans to graduate in 2017. Kirsten enjoys mentoring men and women in entrepreneurship. When she’s not working on public advocacy for NAWBO and schooling, you can find her painting, skyping with her grandson, or hiking with her hubby. Connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter.