Kathi Tunheim worked for 26 years in various roles in the business community in the Twin Cities. Republic Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Carlson Companies and American Express Financial Advisors kept her busy usually in an executive leadership role in the Human Resources or Marketing Department. Kathi also founded Tunheim Leadership Group, a consulting firm where she worked with clients such as Medtronic, American Express, Carlson Companies, Cargill and Gustavus. Kathi earned her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in Human Resource Development in 2008.
Since 2007 she has enjoyed serving as an Assistant Professor in the Economics and Management Department at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. In June of 2012, she was thrilled to be given the Board of Trustees Endowed Chair of Management and Leadership. She currently teaches Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management. Her research interests include Leadership, Teams, Gender and Higher Ed. She is the co-founder of two significant programs at Gustavus: The Annual Women in Leadership Conference and the Gustavus Alumni Mentoring Program. She also leads the Economics and Management National Advisory Board and the Global Business Program in India.
Why did you decide to get involved in GWIL?
When I started working at Gustavus, I saw a need for the female Economics and Management students to learn about specific competencies and strategies to become successful faster. Then I met Kari Clark in the Advancement Department and we both realized we could join efforts and accomplish more together. It has been a dream come true watching the alumni, students, staff and other faculty get involved. We have come a long way in the past four years.
What is the best piece of advice you can give students that can help them develop their own leadership skills?
The piece of advice I often give to students is to practice leading groups and teams before they get into the world of work. Join a club or group on campus where they can get experience recruiting, training, marketing, leading meetings, public speaking and giving performance feedback to others in the organization. These are the same skills you need to lead in any profession today. The more you practice doing these skills at Gustavus, the better you will perform as a leader in your job.
How do you define leadership?
I define leadership very simply — see a need, step up and fill the gap. Bring others along with you and you’ll see amazing results happen!