2015 MBA To Watch: Kate Thorson

Kate Thorson

Kate Thorson


University of Washington, Michael G. Foster School of Business

For many MBAs, business tools can just as easily be applied toward social ills as they can improving the bottom line of a for-profit corporation. Kate Thorson epitomizes this spirit. After working for a non-profit that provided health care in Rwanda, Thorson enrolled at Foster, where she was president of the Healthcare & Biotech Association and a Leadership Fellow for the Center for Leadership and Strategic Thinking. After interning for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Thorson will be joining SwitchPoint LLC, a Seattle-based healthcare and non-profit strategy consulting firm.

Age: 30

Hometown: St. Paul, Minnesota

Undergraduate School: University of Wisconsin

Undergraduate Degree: BS with Honors in Psychology and Women’s Studies

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? I worked as the Rwanda project manager at Partners In Health (PIH), a global health and social justice nonprofit organization

Where did you intern during the summer of 2014? The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, Washington

Where will you be working after graduation? I’m heading to SwitchPoint LLC, a Seattle-based healthcare and nonprofit strategy consulting firm, as an associate.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I looked around at my mentors and the people whose jobs most interested me the most had MBAs.”

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…on a plane to Rwanda.”

What are your long-term professional goals? To lead an organization serving global health equity and bringing quality health care with dignity to underserved populations.

Favorite Courses: Microeconomics Foundations of Competition & Strategy; Core Finance; Quantitative Methods Decision Support Models, Global Health Pharmacy: Applying Cost-Effectiveness Analysis in Resource Poor Settings

Which academic or professional achievements are you most proud of? Building the strategic planning, financial management, and fundraising systems to sustain the growth of Partners In Health into a locally-managed program delivering community-based primary care all the way through to neonatal and cancer care to one million people living in rural Rwanda.

Who would you most want to thank for your success (and why)? My manager at Partners In Health, Jenna LeMieux, who always went to bat for me, pushed me to be better, gave me room to thrive, and encouraged me to go to business school.

Why did you choose this business school? I wanted to go to school where I wanted to live and work: Seattle is not only a beautiful place to live, but it is also a leader in healthcare and global health. The strong reputation of Foster and UW in the Seattle community makes for amazing opportunities to plug in and immediately start applying what I’m learned in the classroom.

What did you enjoy most about business school? That my #1 responsibility every day was to learn. Getting to be a student is a true privilege.

What is your most memorable moment from business school? Being invited to a WHO conference on diarrheal disease in Geneva for the presentation of my summer internship project

Fun fact about yourself: I’m a left-handed tennis player who serves right-handed

Favorite book: East of Eden by John Steinbeck

Favorite movie: A League of Their Own

Favorite musical performer: Beyonce

Favorite television show: The Wire

Favorite vacation spot: Eating my way through Italy

What are your hobbies? Pizza making throwdown with my mother-in-law; traveling and experiencing different cultures; reading; running the Eastlake stairs with my sister; playing the piano and cello

What made Kate such an invaluable addition to the class of 2015?

“Kate Thorson’s background prior to arriving at the Foster School of Business was steeped in the work of non-profits and global health, including six years spent at Partners in Health. Her understanding that there’s a place for business in both of those arenas provides insight to her value within the Foster School’s class of 2015—she believes business can change the world and she values the role she can play in it.

At Foster, Kate immersed herself in the Foster community and the greater community as well. One example is her time spent as a team leader within her applied strategies project for Evolent Health, which resulted in delivering the team’s analysis with another classmate to the company’s CEO in San Francisco.

Another example is her work on a project with a PhD student at The Gates Foundation. As a result of this work, she was invited to attend a WHO Conference in Geneva where she addressed the biggest unanswered questions and areas of study regarding enteric and diarrheal disease treatment.” – Andrew Krueger, Director of Alumni Engagement


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