Kate Walker
Category: Alumni Stories, Hoya Highlight

Title:Hoya Highlight: Kate Walker (B’98)

Kate Walker

CEO at PresenceLearning

Time on the Hilltop

What was your major at Georgetown?

I was in the MSB, with a double major in both finance and accounting.

What was your favorite class or who was your favorite professor at Georgetown?

My favorite professor was Professor James Bodurtha, who taught my Derivatives and Financial Markets class. The course was my first introduction to more complex finance math. He was always energetic, and he definitely influenced my decision to go into finance.

What is your favorite Georgetown memory?

Studying abroad in Oxford between junior and senior year. We explored London on the weekends, and the academic and social experiences I had while abroad were amazing. Another great memory I have at Georgetown is going to the basketball games. The team was really strong in those years and Allen Iverson was in my class. My friends and I went to every home game and those were always big nights out because the team usually won. That was my first experience of being a college athletics fan and it was fun to be part of that atmosphere.

What advice would you give your younger self (or current Georgetown students)?

I would tell myself to get a minor in psychology. Management is all about understanding people and their motivations, and I didn’t realize how important it was going to be in my career.

How has Georgetown shaped you?

Georgetown taught me how to have fun while also accomplishing incredible things, and to have ambitious goals, while also enjoying your experiences with the great people around you. Many of my closest friends came from Georgetown, and I built great connections during my time as an undergraduate.

Career Information and Reflections

What is the best career advice you have ever received?

“Find great mentors.” You need to find people who will support you and believe in you, so surround yourself with good people. If I were comparing two different opportunities, I would always choose based on who would be the best boss and community of colleagues for me.

What has been the most rewarding moment of your career?

It might be happening right now. When I came on board as CEO of PresenceLearning, a company specializing in online therapy for special education students, the company was in need of a turnaround. COVID-19 created significant need for our online therapy services, and we’ve grown tremendously this year. We are proud of our product and platform. Innovating and continuing to serve our clients has been incredibly rewarding.

What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done professionally?

Leaving Kaplan after nine years. Though that was the longest I’d ever been at a single company, I knew I was ready to stretch in my career. It’s tough to leave a place you grow up in personally and professionally and to take that leap of faith, but once I left, I knew it was the right decision.

A Day in the Life

What does your workspace look like? Are you at a desk frequently or on the road? What do you have on your desk or with you at all times?

Having my coffee in my favorite coffee mug is the first thing I do every morning. I believe in creating consistency wherever possible. In normal times, there is so much outside of your control, but during COVID, there’s been a lot more consistency in my daily life. I do yoga every morning, and then I spend a few hours writing. Then I switch gears, getting my kids to school. After that, it’s back-to-back Zoom meetings. I try to build in time outside when I can for fresh air!

What’s one book you’d recommend to everyone?

Mine! The Good Boss: 9 Ways Every Boss can Support Women at Work hit shelves in March 2021. Writing a book was always a bucket list item, and I’m really proud of this book. It offers practical advice for managers, especially male managers, who want to create a better work environment for women. When I speak to women about secrets to their success, they always credit their really good bosses, which reaffirms some advice given to me early on: choose people to work for, not companies. I hope my book can be an inspiration to both male and female managers!

What are your words to live by?

“Eat when you’re hungry and sleep when you’re tired.” My husband calls this our vacation rule, but it really should be applied all the time for maximum impact!