2023 Best & Brightest Business Major: Katie Legan, Washington University (Olin)

Katie Legan

Washington University in St. Louis, Olin Business School

“I’m an introvert, except I am super talkative once you get to know me.”

Fun fact about yourself: I am a fitness coach at Orangetheory Fitness.

Hometown: Western Springs, Illinois

High School: Lyons Township High School

Major: Joint Degree in Business and Computer Science, Focus in Business Analytics

Minor: N/A

Favorite Business Course: Business and Marketing Innovation

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • Women in Computer Science: Internal Vice President, Director of Events
  • BizTech Club: Co-Director of Events
  • Gamma Phi Beta: Administrative Vice President, Education Vice President, Sisterhood Chairwoman
  • Teaching Assistant for Introduction to Computer Science, Logic and Discrete Mathematics, and Managerial Statistics II
  • Business and Computer Science Joint Degree Program Mentor
  • Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society
  • Dean’s List (all semesters)

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • Summer 2021: Microsoft, Explore Intern (Software Engineering and Program Management), remote (based in Bellevue, Washington)
  • Summer 2022: Microsoft, Program Manager Intern, Bellevue, Washington

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be returning to Microsoft as a Technical Program Manager.

Who is your favorite business professor? My favorite business professor is Dr. Kostantina Kiousis, who taught Management 100 during my first year. I admired her as a professor because, coming into the class, I did not have any business experience, so I was using this class to figure out my interests. Dr. Kiousis exposed us to leadership in business in an engaging way. The class covered many real-life business problems, and the course culminated in a case competition where each group formulated a recommendation for a real business problem. I thought this project was a fun way to be introduced to business, and it allowed me to imagine myself as a business leader one day.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? Throughout my business studies, I learned the importance of communication and collaboration. At WashU Olin, most of our courses include case studies or group projects. In these courses, we had to work with our teammates to come up with solutions for challenging problems. These projects allowed us to bring together unique perspectives from our groupmates and learn how to work on a team, just as we would at a real company. When we are in the workforce, we will be on teams as well, so it will be important that we are able to come together to produce the best work on time.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? When I was applying to college, for most schools, I selected Computer Science as my first major because I was interested in the tech industry. In high school, I knew that I might be interested in business classes, but I did not know what type of business I would study. However, I noticed that Washington University was starting the first year of a Business and Computer Science Joint Degree program, so I applied to learn more about different business disciplines.

At the time, I did not know what to expect or how business could complement a tech career, but I was pleasantly surprised when I learned how business is interdisciplinary and can be combined with other studies. Originally, I thought I saw myself pursuing a career in software engineering, but once I talked to my peers, I learned about business roles in tech, such as product management. I realized how product managers are still well-versed in tech, but they also use several skills detailed in my management and marketing courses, such as creating a product strategy, focusing on customer needs and leading multiple teams. Majoring in business allowed me to discover this product manager role and realize that I could combine my skills and interests in tech and business for my full-time career.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? If I could do anything differently, I would have taken the Introduction to Entrepreneurship course. This subject would cater to my innovative and technical mindset, and I think it would be interesting to learn more about how startups operate. At WashU Olin, I have taken a few courses through the Center for Experiential Learning, where we worked on consulting projects with startups. I really enjoyed experiencing the fast-paced energy, working with passionate peers and developing new ideas. I think it would have been rewarding if I had taken the introductory entrepreneurship course to expand on that experience.

What business leader do you admire most? I admire Jim McKelvey, the founder of Square. Jim McKelvey is a WashU alumnus, so it is inspiring to see him transform an innovative startup into a success. I think that it is cool that he recognized a unique customer need, that small businesses need to be able to complete credit transactions and that he was able to create a product to help. He inspires me to create products that can make a difference in people’s lives.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of creating a mentorship program for the Women in Computer Science Club. When I first came to college, I wanted to meet other women who were also interested in entering the tech industry, so I joined Women in Computer Science. It was a great community to meet other talented women, and I met some of my closest peers in the club. As a first-year student, I was sometimes scared to approach upperclassmen to ask questions about upper-level courses or career paths. Because of this common fear, I decided to establish a formal mentorship program for the group where underclassmen are paired with an upperclassmen mentor so that they have a designated point person to support them through their courses and answer career questions. The program also has social events where women get to know others in their group. I am proud of this program because I want to empower other women to enter the tech industry and ensure that they feel supported even in such a male-dominated industry.

Which classmate do you most admire? A classmate I admire is Lauren Sands, another student in the Business and Computer Science Joint Degree Program. She was one of the founders of the BizTech Club on WashU’s campus, which is a club that provides resources, mentorship and events for students who are interested in the intersection of business and computer science. This club has allowed me to attend events hosted by alumni and gain insights into the field. I admire all the work that Lauren has done to help other students learn about the intersection of business and technology.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I would like to thank my career advisor, Amy Johnson. During my first year, I went to Amy’s office because I had no idea what I wanted to do for my career, and I had never created a resume before. Amy provided tremendous advice, support, and resources and helped me find direction in my career. Every step of the way, I could reach out to Amy to ask questions or prepare for an interview. I am so grateful that I had Amy by my side throughout college, and I know that she will continue to support me throughout the beginning of my new full-time career.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  1. I want to become a mentor for other women in the tech industry.
  2. I want to work on products that improve the lives of others.

What are your hobbies?  I enjoy coaching fitness classes, listening to music, spending time with friends and—after spending this summer in Seattle—I have developed an appreciation for hiking and being outdoors.

What made Katie such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“Katie embodies the best attributes of an Olin student. She is always eager to help others succeed and thrive. Through tutoring and mentoring, Katie has been helping students since her first year at Washington University. At Olin, Katie has distinguished herself through exemplary academic success and being a teaching assistant. As a member of the first cohort of the Business and Computer Science joint degree, Katie is a role model to others with a passion for the intersection of business and technology. I am confident that we will soon see Katie in senior leadership positions in industry as she conquers new challenges.”

Eli Snir
Senior Lecturer in Data Analytics


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