2023 Best 40-Under-40 MBA Professors: Kate Eaton, W. P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University

Congrats to Kate Eaton of the W. P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University for being named a 2023 Best 40-Under-40 MBA Professor.

Kate Eaton

W.P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University

“Kate has had a remarkable impact on MBA students through her leadership of our top-ranked MBA programs over the last four years. Kate insists on faculty excellence (while giving tools, resources, support, and encouragement), with far-reaching benefits. For example, in 2019, Kate asked faculty to add Zoom sessions to all Online MBA classes, teaching faculty how to use the tool and best to hold virtual classes. Consequently, when Covid struck, faculty were able to seamlessly transition to Zoom, minimizing the disadvantage to students. Kate is also devoted to students, providing individual coaching, creating student resources and tools, and building programming to create a truly transformative experience and provide opportunities for students to thrive.”Michael Weiland, Director of Online Academic Services

Kate Eaton, 39, is Assistant Dean for MBA Programs and a clinical associate professor at W. P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University.

As Assistant Dean, Eaton works with faculty, staff, and students to guide innovations in graduate teaching, develop forward-looking and relevant curriculum and student experiences, and navigate the changing landscape of higher education to consistently drive quality improvements and excellence. She serves as the Teaching Lead as well as the Online Unit Lead for faculty.

She was named the 2017 and 2021 recipient of the Huizingh Outstanding Undergraduate Teacher Award, the 2020 recipient of the Rethinking Business Education Award for Excellence in Online Teaching, the 2022 recipient of the Business Is Personal Inclusive Teaching Award and is a 2023 finalist for the Huizingh Outstanding Graduate Teacher Award.


At current institution since what year? 2012

Education: Ph.D. in Business Administration, Marketing

List of MBA courses you currently teach: Delivering Outstanding CX (Full-Time MBA, Online MBA)


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I have always been a teacher at heart. I started my own tutoring business when I was in high school so I could make some extra money and help other students at the same time. In college, I had the chance to lead an orientation-type course for incoming business freshmen, and I was hooked. 

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? Right now I have been focusing on building a custom simulation for marketing students that brings DEI and ESG into the student’s decision-making so they can see how these practices affect organizational outcomes and should be embedded into the “every day” of running a business.

If I weren’t a business school professor… I would probably be an architect or an engineer. I love to build things!

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? I try to bring a sense of approachability to the class materials and to myself as an instructor, by sharing real-world, messy scenarios and examples from my own experience, and by injecting humor and fun into the day-to-day lectures and activities. I want my class to be challenging, but I also want students to feel safe enough to risk not getting it right on the first try, so they can push themselves creatively to approach problems in innovative ways, rather than sticking with what’s tried-and-true.

One word that describes my first time teaching: Terrifying! Exhilarating.

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor:  All my experience as a student taught me that teachers face their students and tell them how to do things, but learning works so much better when the teacher and student stand shoulder-to-shoulder, figuring things out together.

Professor I most admire and why: Lonnie Ostrom, a member of our marketing faculty who passed away in 2022. I will be forever grateful for Lonnie’s mentorship and friendship—through his example, Lonnie taught me about the type of professor and leader I want to be. Though he was an award-winning scholar and professor himself, his attention was always turned to others, recognizing their work and accomplishments, and doing what he could to help them succeed. He had a way of making people feel seen, important, and valued—always showing genuine interest and never missing a chance to tell them how much he appreciated them. He deeply cared about his students and colleagues, and this was reflected in everything he did. In one of our last conversations, Lonnie said, “Even though I have been teaching since before you were alive, I still get butterflies at the beginning of every semester. Kate, if you ever stop getting butterflies, it’s time to stop teaching… because the butterflies mean you care.” I still get butterflies.


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? Even if students don’t have a ton of work experience, they still have a wealth of customer experience to draw on to apply course concepts, allowing them to understand just how important and relevant the content is to their day-to-day lives.

What is most challenging? Students come to us with such varied skill sets and backgrounds that it can be tricky to plan a class where they can all challenge themselves and get the most out of the experience.

In a word, describe your favorite type of student: Curious

In a word, describe your least favorite type of student: Uninterested—looking for a rubber-stamped degree and not looking to grow.

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… tough but fair.


What are your hobbies? I love hiking and rockhounding, and my favorite place in the world is anywhere where I can stick my feet in a river. As I mentioned earlier, I also like to build things… so I do a lot of that, with wood, Lego bricks, or even Minecraft blocks. I am a creator at heart, so you can usually find me drawing, making music, or something along those lines.

How will you spend your summer? I am taking a trip to Alaska with my extended family, followed by a trip to Montana to spend time with my parents and enjoy some fun in the stillwater river (rafting, inner-tubing, and rockhounding). After that, I’ll head back to Arizona to help prepare for our incoming MBA student orientation.

Favorite place(s) to vacation: Montana, without a doubt. To me, there isn’t a more beautiful place in the world.

Favorite book(s): Influence by Robert Cialdini is one of my favorites, and I suggest it to anyone who wants to become more persuasive. I also got a lot out of Make It Stick by Henry L. Roediger III, Mark A. McDaniel, and Peter C Brown, and I regularly advise my students to read it to get better at studying. Finally, when I am reading for fun, I enjoy fantasy, science fiction, adventure, and mystery. 

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? My two favorite shows couldn’t be more different from each other. I like Ted Lasso for its humor and its ability to show healthy relationships while still being entertaining (though I have yet to see Season 3, so no spoilers!). I also enjoy The Boys, for its irreverence and its lampooning of the tropes you often see in the superhero genre.

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? I don’t think I could possibly choose a favorite! However, I will say that I like working to music from video games. There are so many talented composers that score these games, and the music is so good! Plus, if you’ve played a game to the music, it’s almost like you’re already conditioned to associate it with a sense of purpose and adventure, which is how I like to think about work, too.


If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… Pathways for students to be lifelong learners, rather than seeing the degree as a one-and-done endeavor. The landscape of business is in a constant state of evolution, and we need to cultivate a culture of always learning and growing our skills as needed.

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at… Meeting employees where they are, and recognizing that contributing value can be accomplished in a lot of different ways, working with employees to more effectively and sustainably incorporate work into life, instead of seeing “work” and “life” as two separate things.

I’m grateful for… So, so many things! My family for being so supportive and encouraging. My colleagues for teaching me new things every day. My students for allowing me to be a part of their journey. Peanut butter. 




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