When Dr. Kelly Ottman started asking herself, “What do I want to do when I grow up?” she had already worked as a recreational therapist, earned her master’s degree, become an executive and, at the same time, a part-time college instructor.

Over the course of a couple of years, Ottman took a series of long weekends for self-reflection on that question. What she discovered was a common thread in all her career experiences: teaching. And from that, Ottman developed a personal mission statement:

“My purpose is to help individuals, groups and organizations to reach their own unique potential, and in return, it helps me reach my own unique potential.”

Ottman eventually left her position as vice president of Horizon Home Care and Hospice, and returned to school. In 1999, she earned her doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in adult education with an emphasis on organizational leadership. 

Marquette University hired Ottman to teach in its executive MBA program, and she served on the design team for the College of Professional Studies. She then taught for eight years in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Lubar School of Business, before being recruited by MSOE in 2007.

For MSOE’s Rader School of Business, Ottman developed the Doing Business with China graduate program. The class culminates in a tour of China where students meet with Chinese and American business people, and participate in a rural servant-leadership project.

After serving on MSOE’s Strategic Planning Committee and co-leading the Mission and Values Team, Ottman is excited for the opportunity to be part of the CREATE Institute as co-associate director of faculty development.

“One of the ways we help put our mission and vision and our values into action, is through the way we hire and develop the people who make up MSOE. And this is one of the reasons this role was attractive to me,” said Ottman.

Besides educating new faculty in best practices and offering them resources that are MSOE specific, Ottman said current faculty will also be supported with workshops and educational offerings that align with the MSOE Mindset.

“One of my goals is to integrate research-based best practices into our work because most of my research has been in the area of the scholarship of teaching and learning,” said Ottman.  

Ottman also works as an independent consultant and executive coach. “At one point, I had a group of executive steel workers, a group of executives that represented nine different Asia Pacific countries, and I worked with executive nuns,” she said.

Whenever possible, Ottman said she likes to do servant leadership learning as part of corporate development, as well. “I get to work in Vietnam and do executive development while serving multiple communities there.”  

Whether it’s her work at MSOE, her executive coaching or her community service, Ottman says she likes to make a difference. “And if I can make a difference in which the people I’m interacting with have the ability to make a larger difference, that is very rewarding.”

Ottman has a son, who graduated from MSOE in mechanical engineering and business, as well as a teenage daughter. The Ottmans enjoy hosting people of different cultures and currently host a medical college student from Cameroon, Africa. For the past 30 years, Ottman has also coordinated a Christmas Eve dinner for the homeless.