Leading the Pack: Katie Curtis
Katie Curtis is a 2019 Jenkins MBA alumna. Curtis is now senior product manager for Citrix. She says that, one key element of choosing NC State for her MBA was the flexibility in the online program. The professional online program allows students to log into classes when and where they like and complete the entire program online, with the option to take face-to-face courses in Raleigh or Research Triangle Park (RTP).
In the following Q & A, Curtis goes into more detail about why she decided earning an MBA was the right fit for her, advice for prospective students, and the highlights of her student experience during her time at NC State.
Q: Why did you choose the NC State Jenkins MBA program for your graduate education?
A: There were three main reasons why I chose the NC State Jenkins MBA program – flexibility in the professional online program, reputation (now 7th best online MBA program according to Princeton Review!), and the overall emphasis on technology.
Q: How did your experience in the program contribute to your professional achievements and successes?
A: The experience that I gained throughout the MBA program has already proven to be invaluable to my career. I was able to leverage skills such as analyzing customer financial reports, vendor competitive analysis, and critical thinking to drive impactful business outcomes at my organization. I used the networking skills that I developed during the program to build strong relationships within my organization. Less than a year after I graduated from the program, I had the opportunity to leave my customer facing role and move into Product Management. I jumped at the opportunity and while I am new to the field, I felt prepared and excited to begin the next chapter of my career with the skills that I gained from the Jenkins MBA program.
Q: What advice would you give for prospective and current students who are interested in your industry/profession?
A: If you are interested in working in software, I would recommend taking a course or two in computer science or a programming language. It doesn’t mean you will end up writing code yourself, but the foundational knowledge and familiarity will enable you to work faster. If you are interested in product management, I would recommend layering in a course on data analytics. My mentor recently said to me, “you won’t have a product to manage if you don’t have user adoption.” There are a plethora of data sources that I monitor on a regular basis to understand current state, and to ensure that what we are doing is bearing positive results.
Q: What do you believe is your most interesting accomplishment since graduation?
A: My most interesting accomplishment since graduation has been changing careers from Customer Success Management to Product Management. I was a Customer Success Manager for almost ten years at a couple of different software companies in the area, but through the program, I found a passion to resolve challenges through product innovation. From an experience perspective, I am a new Product Manager; but I have never been more excited to build upon the passion and experience that I gained in the Jenkins MBA program.
Q: Could you give a brief explanation of your current line of work and how COVID-19 has impacted it? As well as how the MBA has helped prepare you navigate during these times?
A: I currently work at Citrix, and we have been incredibly busy throughout this time as we provide solutions that allow users to work remotely, securely. I am a senior product manager for our Workspace solution, and I am focused on our go-to-market strategy for Workspace with intelligence. COVID-19 has certainly brought on challenges with our customers as they have been adopting our solution such as shifting priorities and resource constraints. However, it has also given us the opportunity to truly put the employee experience first in what we are prioritizing from a feature perspective. Now more than ever, companies are focused on making it easy for their employees to stay productive, and that is precisely what we are focused on. Navigating a single day can be incredibly challenging right now – personally and professionally. In our house we have two full time working parents, a rising 2nd grader and a 4-year-old…controlled chaos. Thankfully, the interpersonal skills that I gained while completing my MBA have helped me build relationships on a new team virtually. These relationships have fostered accelerated collaboration that would not have been possible without using some of the communication and leadership skills that I learned in the residencies. I am proud to be a Wolfpack, and extremely appreciative to the Jenkins MBA faculty for their knowledge and the experience!