Katy Winkelhaus, MBA '10, hopes
to bring healthy and convenient
alternatives for family meals to
Katy Winkelhaus came to the University of Arizona from Ann Arbor, Michigan, as a Division I collegiate swimmer. She earned her undergraduate degree in marketing in 2004 and returned to Michigan for an assistant account executive position with MARS Advertising in Southfield.
“At the time, I also began managing my own investment portfolio,” she says. “After about eight months of managing both, I grew tired of the long commute and wanted a change.” She picked up and moved to Austin, Texas. “In Austin, I continued to manage my portfolio and began working as an independent consultant on portfolio management. After three years, I decided that I wanted to get my MBA to enhance my knowledge and skills, and help narrow down my career choice.”
She was attracted to the UA because of the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program. “I recognized very early in my career that I have an entrepreneurial spirit,” she says. “Working in the program, meeting inspiring people, and developing the skills necessary to launch a successful venture have helped define my next steps.”
Winkelhaus is passionate about healthy foods and environmental sustainability, and aims to one day launch her own business focused on promoting healthy eating habits to children. “So many studies have shown a direct correlation between unhealthy eating habits and poor developmental scores in children,” she says. “Children are growing up in a world where high fructose corn syrup, processed chicken parts, and cheese product are everyday ingredients.”
As she develops plans for her own business, Winkelhaus has been gaining insight and expertise in marketing, business development, and entrepreneurship. “For my first-year field project, I worked on a team that created an overall plan for the restructuring of a Tucson small business and performed market research to determine if there was potential for growth,” she says.
Over the summer, she completed an internship with a local small business. “I wrote a business plan, researched and evaluated software packages to improve operational efficiencies, and developed market growth strategies,” she says. “I gained insight into the challenges and rewards associated with owning and operating your own business.”
Winkelhaus also participated in the second-year advanced field project this fall. “I am currently working on a team that is developing product concepts for a product line extension for a global consumer goods company,” she explains. She is also nearing the half-way mark in the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program. “I jumped at the chance to participate in the program,” she says. “It has been a tremendous learning experience for me and has given me the opportunity to build a business from concept to pre-launch. The tools I have learned in the McGuire program will be invaluable as I move forward on my own business.”
Winkelhaus is also active in student organizations. “I am the finance manager of the MBA Student Association (MBASA) and a graduate assistant for the UA swim program,” she says. “In my role with the MBASA, I feel that I can help improve the Eller experience for both current and future students, and as a part of the swim program, I have the unique opportunity to remain very connected with other students outside of Eller.”
As she prepares to graduate in the spring, Winkelhaus looks back on her Eller experience and cites her business communication class as among the most valuable additions to the curriculum. “The class takes you out of your comfort zone and puts you into simulated business situations such as crisis management and interviews,” she explains. “You have ample opportunity to refine your written and oral communication skills.”
Those skills will be useful as she develops her own venture. “I am passionate about developing and bringing to market healthy and convenient alternatives to help children and parents make wholesome and natural ingredients a part of every meal,” she says.
Find out more about experiential learning in the Eller MBA program.