Meet Our 2019 Cohort of Fellows: Kate Ingersoll

University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management

My family home is in the Twin Ports area of Duluth, MN and Superior, WI, on the shore of Lake Superior. In 2009, I moved to Iowa, where I attended Grinnell College, graduating in 2013 with a degree in Computer Science. Following graduation, I was part of a service year cohort (Lutheran Volunteer Corps) in Washington, D.C., working for a small nonprofit in an operation/technology support role. D.C was a place of great personal and professional growth for me. In my time in the cohort, I heard many personal stories of people in crisis: people who had been sexually assaulted, people with untreated mental illness, and people either just scraping by or those who were made homeless through lack of affordable housing. At the same time, I was seeing firsthand the many challenges that face small nonprofits, and how essential strong leadership and internal operational processes are to the success of an organization.

After two years in D.C., I decided to move back to Minnesota to be closer to family, and have been living and working in Minneapolis. My employers have included the Minnesota Housing Partnership, a nonprofit that advocates for affordable housing policy on the local, state, and national level, Pentair, and the ACLU of Minnesota. My career so far has allowed me to meet a lot of amazing, passionate people, doing mission-driven work. It has also been very frustrating at times, seeing how under-resourced most small nonprofits are, and how office or industry norms can make it harder for these organizations to meet the needs of their clients and staff. My goal in pursuing an MBA now is to gain the knowledge and skills that will allow me to be an effective operations and technology consultant to mission-driven organizations working on issues of social justice.

What made you consider business school?

After working in a range of operations and technology roles over the past five years, I realized that there was a common thread to the work I most enjoyed: I am drawn to big-picture analysis and problem solving. Working for Lutheran Volunteer Corps, I conducted a needs analysis of the organization's IT systems, and led the switch from a server environment to a cloud-based file management system. Working as a Helpdesk Administrator at Pentair, I worked to develop better IT orientation and training resources for staff, leading to an overall reduction in the number of new Helpdesk tickets. I see business school as a way to further grow in my career, and make the transition from IT Lead and Operations support roles within organizations into consulting work.

What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?

My background is in technology, and I'm excited to learn about the other aspects of business operations— finance, law, and human resources. I'm very interested in studying organizations holistically, as a set of interrelated systems. For example, I've learned from experience that it doesn't matter how good a technology is, if it doesn't fit in with the culture, processes, and other needs of an organization. Getting a deeper understanding of all of these areas will be really valuable to me, and I'm looking forward to stretching myself intellectually in new directions! Also, having worked primarily for organizations of 8-20 people, I think business school will be an incredibly valuable opportunity to meet and learn from my classmates, who will be coming from a much wider range of industries and roles.

Who are some leaders (in the LGBT community, in business, or in society) that most inspire you?

I am inspired by the leaders of the gay liberation movement— Ruth Simpson, Harvey Milk, and Cleve Jones, to name a few— who fought for the rights of their community at great personal risk. I look up to James Baldwin and Alan Turing as examples of LGBTQ people who have had a huge impact on our society in the last century. And, in present day, I admire the artists Janelle Monáe and Rebecca Sugar for their authenticity, talent, and vision for a just and inclusive society.

What's one thing everyone should know about you?

I love learning new things! I'm always up for conversations about big ideas, and I'll take any book or podcast recommendations you throw at me. I'm also not at all above binging the latest Netflix or Hulu show, which is mostly how I survive our cold, snowy winters.

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