Professor Kathleen Fitzsimmons, Director of Business Studies, was born in New Jersey (and still doesn’t pump her own gas) in the middle of the Baby Boom and she's the eldest of a rowdy horde of seven siblings. Kathleen grew up loving to organize stuff, whether it was backyard drama productions with neighborhood kids or student government fundraisers. This turned into a career running and organizing stuff! She did her undergraduate studies at Duquesne University, and a few years later went to Harvard Business School for graduate studies.
Professor Fitzsimmons came to AUR 23 years ago, after a 15-year career in Marketing. Among her pre-AUR jobs, she was TV Marketing Manager for Sports Illustrated magazine and Marketing Director for Playtex Italy. She also had her own business, a small translation practice, for a few years before coming to AUR.
Of that business, Kathleen states "It was a business I built to allow me to do what many of us are doing today – work remotely – at a time that I wanted to be home with my (incredibly fun) baby daughter. This was also a fun venture because every day was different. A legal brief today, a movie script tomorrow. Imagine having to translate the first scripts for what would go on to be one of the most loved Italian TV series in history, “Montalbano,” with its extensive use of Sicilian dialect. I had to learn Sicilian from a couple of experts in order to do the work! Other projects that were fabulous and challenging were 1) working with Piero and Alberto Angela on the translation of the documentary series “Viaggio nel Cosmos,” where Alberto filmed all his scenes twice, once in Italian and then would wait for me to send over the English and 2) translating the scientific documents for the restoration of the façade of St. Peter’s Basilica, sponsored by ENI SpA."
Q. When were you happiest?
Twice! In the months following having been struck by the “thunderbolt” when I met the proverbial “tall, dark and handsome” at the Stazione Termini in 1987- which 7 years later led to another happy moment, when they put my newborn daughter in my arms! Who grew up of course to be an AUR Wolf.
My happiest AUR memories are traveling with students on the Business Field Trips and the Business Club. Then, of course, there's staying connected with literally hundreds of AUR alums, and sharing news about their promotions, weddings, vacations, babies, and accomplishments on the Alumni FB page.
Q. What is your computer and/or phone wallpaper?
Phone: A perfect rose my husband cut from our garden. Computer: The famous Hubble shot of 265,000 galaxies. One of the scariest pictures I have ever seen!
Q. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
As a kid, funnily enough, I wanted to be a teacher. Then in high school when the Watergate scandal exploded, I wanted to be a journalist like the Washington Post reporters Woodward and Bernstein. This led to me doing my undergrad degree in Journalism. I ended up on Wall Street, however, as an editor, which then led me to Harvard Business School a couple of years later, and the rest is kind of history.
Q. What is the worst job you've ever done?
Waitress in a pizza shop. I didn’t eat pizza for five years after that.
Q. How do you relax?
Crossword puzzles, reading spy thrillers and historical fiction, mowing my lawn
Q. Which word or phrase do you most overuse?
Q. If you could bring something extinct or a deceased historic figure back to life, what/who would it be?
Eleanor of Acquitaine A seriously #smartchick who influenced the fate of not one but two kingdoms, rode in the Crusades, nurtured the tradition of courtly love, sired a couple of kings, and survived to be a powerful, tough, politically wily old lady.
Q. If you weren’t a professor, what would you be?
I think I would be marketing and organizing something. Wedding planner maybe!
Q. What is the most important lesson that life has taught you?
Say THANK YOU!!! I cannot overstate the importance of this lesson. Always thank people for their help. Always recognize the contributions of your teammates, coworkers. If you are complimented for your work, SHARE THE GLORY. It will not diminish your glory and will motivate everyone around you and build loyalty.
Q. What trait do you most dislike in yourself?
Procrastination. My worst defect.
Q. What trait do you most dislike in others?
Dishonesty, backbiting, creating a negative working environment.
Q. What’s your guilty pleasure?
When no one is home, I tell Alexa to play Huey Lewis and the News at full blast.
Q. If you could travel back in time just once, where and when would you go?
Maybe Eleanor’s court. Or, the Continental Congress, to meet John Adams and the other Founders. Though the fly-infested, humid Philadelphia heat would be have been unbearable I imagine.
Q. Tell us a secret
I was an underage Girl Scout leader! The legal age was 18 but during my gap year between high school and college the local council was desperate for volunteers and I was recruited to lead a Junior troop. I was a Girl Scout leader at 17. Yikes! That was the most fun aspect of my gap year. I am still in touch with a couple of those Junior Girl Scouts! Little did I know that 40 years later I would be on the board of USA Girl Scouts Overseas!
Also, every year I make about 1000 cookies at Christmas time.
Still curious about Professor Fitzsimmons? Read her official academic biography here.