Alumna Kate Cox Thrives As Product Line Manager at Stride Rite Children's Group
Kate Cox says the Carroll School gave her a huge confidence boost
Kate Serafini Cox ’09, is a product line manager at Stride Rite Children's Group, the children’s footwear brand. She is also a proud alumna of the Boston College’s Carroll School of Management and a self-described poster child for those entering the MBA program with a humanities background. “If I can do the math required for this MBA program, you can too,” she says.
Cox offered this insight to a crowd of 50 prospective students and faculty at the Boston College Club in downtown Boston, MA in April. She was invited by the Carroll School to share how her MBA degree has helped her transition from mass marketing roles within the publishing industry to a product management role with a nationally recognized footwear company. Today, Cox is responsible for the Robeez and Stride Rite baby brands, managing the product lines from concept to delivery in store.
Cox’s career and her studies at the Carroll School of Management are impressive. In 2002, Cox graduated from Princeton University with a bachelor’s degree in English. Between her bachelor’s and MBA degrees, she worked in marketing and licensing roles within children’s consumer product companies, including Random House and Nickelodeon.
In spite of these prestigious jobs, Cox felt that she could benefit greatly from complimenting her marketing skills acquired on the job with an MBA. "I knew that I lacked the business fundamentals that I needed to truly thrive as a manager. I felt that I lacked larger, strategic thinking.”
Cox chose the Carroll School because of its reputation, because it maintained small class sizes and because of the warm reception she received from faculty and current students. “The faculty and students all seemed approachable and intelligent. I knew I would learn a lot,” she says.
Cox’s MBA Studies Prepare her for Greater Management Roles
Cox made product and brand management her concentration. Her favorite was the course in marketing strategy taught by Professor Kay Lemon. "I enjoyed the intensive classroom work and the chance to learn from such a brilliant, attentive, and likeable professor. The class involved strategic thinking through relevant case studies handpicked by Prof. Lemon."
Cox excelled at her studies. Although she was initially timid about the more quantitative courses, she gradually grew more confident in her abilities as her skill set grew. "Some people have fear and panic they will not be able to handle the work in an MBA program, especially one as reputable as the MBA program at Boston College. But if you find the right program, with the right professors, you will get through the core curriculum with no problem."
Cox also landed an excellent role as an MBA Marketing Intern at New Balance. The internship also helped her secure her full-time job with Stride Rite upon her graduation from the program.
How the Carroll School of Management Has Helped
Asked what she gathered most from the Carroll School of Management Cox says firstly, it was the network of friends, professors, and alumni gained from the experience. “The Boston College alumni network might be one of the strongest in the nation. In fact our LinkedIn page is one of the largest. Our alumni are successful, well-placed and extremely dedicated to helping current students secure jobs.”
She adds that getting her MBA degree from the Carroll School has given her a huge confidence boost that she would not have gathered otherwise. Cox's mother is an entrepreneur who managed her own interior design firm as Cox grew up. This inspired her to potentially run her own business someday. “Because of my Boston College MBA, I know that door will always remain open and I could make a go of being an entrepreneur."
Cox was also grateful to have had the option to work full-time or part-time as she continued her second year MBA studies. The Carroll School of Management is unique in that second year MBA students can embark on an academic year internship, i.e. working as they complete their studies. Cox actually began her full-time role with Stride Rite in her second year. She says this was “arduous” (it made for very long weeks) but she really appreciated having the flexibility to pursue her career aspirations while finishing the program on time.
Cox says she uses what she learned from the Carroll School of Management every day. Today, she remains in contact with the school and often helps Carroll School MBAs network for opportunities. “I’ve received so much from my experience at Boston College, now it’s my turn to give back.”