Go with the flow. You don’t need your entire career planned out now.
“If I tried to stick to a plan, I wouldn’t have the life I have right now,” said Kim Donahue, senior lecturer in marketing. “I think the biggest reward in life is to say yes to opportunities. Every job I had after college came that way. It was most definitely not what I planned – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Kim’s first teaching job came just after she finished her MBA at Wright State University. She was eight months pregnant and planned to pursue a corporate-level job in the restaurant industry, when she got a call from the business dean at the University of Dayton.
“It was completely out of the blue. He told me he’d heard I just graduated, and he wondered if I’d be willing to work with him. I told him I was eight months pregnant, and he said: Sounds good! So I took the job, and I realized I absolutely loved teaching.”
When Kim’s husband’s job transferred him to Indianapolis, Kim taught at the University of Indianapolis for a year before landing at the Kelley School of Business at IUPUI, where she’s now taught marketing for 27 years.
“The students are the reward for teaching,” she said. “The interaction with the students keeps it lively every day. I love connections; I love people.”
Discovering a passion for marketing
Kim discovered her love for marketing after she finished her undergraduate degree. She’d graduated from The Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in finance but hadn’t yet found a job that fit her personality.
Her first job out of college was in the restaurant industry, helping to open prototype stores to sell to franchisees. Then, Kim went to work for Kraft as a major account manager, responsible for chain restaurants that brought in more than $1 million annually.
“It was wonderful and fun and I loved it,” said Kim.
It was then she decided to get her MBA, and she realized it would work best for her to do it full time. During the program, Kim realized marketing was a perfect fit for her.
“Marketing combines different types of skill sets. A lot of people think marketing is just about being creative, but it’s also about process and putting different systems in place, considering the best way to approach certain situations. Because marketing is so in tune with what’s going on in the world, it changes every day. I like new things; I like surprises; I like finding problems and solutions. It’s all marketing, and it fit me.”
Kim now passes on her passion to the students in her classroom. She’s received multiple teaching awards, including the Schuyler F. Otteson Undergraduate Teaching Excellence Award, which is chosen by Kelley students, and the IUPUI Department of Athletics Favorite Professor Award, which she’s received 14 times!
When asked to look back at her biggest accomplishment at the Kelley School, there is no pause.
“Without a doubt, my biggest accomplishment is all that we’ve accomplished with I-Core,” she says. “Mark Ippolito and I have worked together on this since the beginning. We changed I-Core in Indianapolis. We moved away from using a large, complicated case to a real-life experience working with central Indiana companies. We thought: We are right here in this huge business district. Let’s give our students a new experience of working with companies, and now, it benefits not only the students but the community. It’s a differentiator for our students and for our program.”
Kim also serves on the board for several local organizations, including Dance Kaleidoscope, a professional contemporary dance company based in Indianapolis.
The business of sport
If you know Kim Donahue, you also know she loves sports.
Turns out, Kim grew up with sports. Her dad played high school and college football, and from an early age, she was on the field with him coaching Little League. At home, she sat with a notebook designing new plays instead of playing with toys. She went to her first college game at age 10.
Now, as a marketing lecturer, Kim melds her passions – as she frequently provides commentary to local media outlets on sports marketing.
“There’s so much excitement around sporting events. It’s so dynamic and always challenging – with so many changes from moment to moment.”
Kim translated that love for sports to the classroom, creating a study abroad course that took students to Spain called The Business of Sport. The class also is running this year, and she plans to offer it again in spring of 2021.
”Being a part of students’ exposure to a new culture and new perspectives on something they are passionate about is as rewarding as it gets,” she explained. “This experience is life-changing for students, and it is humbling to be a small part of that moment in their lives.”
Advice for students
When looking back at her life and career, Kim says to students: Having grace and empathy in the workplace will get you far.
And, she adds: Don’t sweat your major.
“Chances are, 10 years out from graduation, you may be doing something completely different. And that’s okay! So take chances. Say yes to opportunities, embrace your talents and find a job that fits you: One you’re good at.”
By: Teresa Mackin, firstname.lastname@example.org