Kate Cox, MBA ’09, started her career in children’s publishing after earning a bachelor’s degree in English from Princeton University. Today, with the help of a BC MBA, she works as director of product and brand management for Stride Rite and Robeez at Wolverine World Wide.
What prompted you to pursue an MBA?
Originally I didn’t plan a career in business. I went to Princeton, where I majored in English, and then went to work in the children’s group division at Random House. While I was there, I discovered a passion for the business side of consumer products. But I didn’t have the finance fundamentals I needed to grow. I knew an MBA would give me a foundation in economics, finance and accounting and increase my confidence.
How did you choose Boston College?
It was important to me to go to a school with a good reputation in the Boston area, and that’s definitely true of Boston College. Also, I felt an immediate connection when I visited BC. It was the perfect program for someone like me—I was a good student, but I had never delved into finance or economics. And the small classes were a big plus for me, because I knew I would get personal attention from the faculty.
How did you land your first post-MBA job?
The BC alumni network was instrumental in my job search. My career advisor put me in touch with an alum who had worked at Stride Rite; she, in turn, put me in touch with the right people. I ended up getting a full-time offer, and I’ve been at Stride Rite ever since.
The position actually started during my second year in the MBA program, which wasn’t ideal, but the flexibility of the program made it possible for me to accept the offer anyway. I worked during the day and went to classes at night, and my professors and advisors helped me make it work. In a different graduate program I probably would not have been able to accept the position.
Where did that position lead you?
I was brought into Stride Rite as a product line manager to integrate Robeez, a newly acquired infant brand, into the larger company. A year later, I took over all of Stride Rite baby from a product management perspective in addition to Robeez. A year after that, I took on more responsibilities in an initiative to grow our business. Last year I was given responsibility for the entire Stride Rite brand. At $350 million, that’s a pretty significant amount of business.
How did your MBA experience prepare you for your career?
Because BC’s MBA program is relatively small, I was able to get involved in a lot of different experiences while I was there. I worked for the admissions department, I led a tutoring program for middle school kids, and I was co-leader of Women in Business. All of those opportunities helped me clarify my goals and develop my leadership skills.
In addition, Boston College helped me to become a problem solver. At BC, a lot of what I did involved critical thinking—whether it was finding better ways to do things or developing innovative approaches to business cases and consulting projects. For a business plan project, for instance, my team started with one idea, but after evaluating and investigating the company, we ended up with something entirely different. I learned to approach problems in a nimble, creative way.