Katie (Gardiner) Taylor, a Chapman University alumna, graduated with an MBA in 2012 while working full-time in advertising. Her career trajectory is a testament to the valuable skills and connections she built at Chapman University. Today, she is the Senior Director of Brand Strategy at Taco Bell, where her journey began just a few months before graduating.

Reflecting on her Chapman experience, Katie shares, “I was in the part-time MBA program while I worked full time in advertising on Apple.” This balance between work and education laid a strong foundation for her future success in the marketing field.

Building a Marketable Skill Set

Katie attributes much of her professional success to the education and experiences she gained at Chapman University’s Argyros College of Business and Economics. “Chapman helped me build a marketable skill set that helped me succeed in all areas of marketing like negotiation, social media, international, statistics, etc.,” she explains. These skills were crucial as she navigated various roles in her career.

In addition to the academic curriculum, Katie highlights the importance of connections made during her time at Chapman. “I made great connections that were invaluable in my career post-grad,” she says. These relationships have continued to support her professional growth over the years.

International Adventures

A pivotal moment in Katie’s career was taking on an international role for Taco Bell, running marketing for Europe and based in the UK. “My husband and 6-month-old baby boy and I all moved for the adventure of a lifetime,” Katie recalls. “It was a time we all grew personally, but I also grew so much professionally from the experience.”

This international stint broadened her perspective and enriched her understanding of global marketing dynamics, significantly impacting her career trajectory.

Influential Figures

Reflecting on her time at Chapman, Katie fondly remembers influential professors and peers. “Dr. Myhr, of course, was a significant influence, and my peers I met in the program as well,” she notes. These relationships and interactions were instrumental in shaping her educational experience.

One of her favorite classes was a winter session with Wing Lam. “It was a great view into marketing and brand building that I still think of today,” Katie shares. This class provided practical insights that have stayed with her throughout her career.

Mentorship and Lifelong Learning

Katie’s involvement at Chapman extended beyond her studies. She actively participated in the MBA mentor program as a mentee and later as a mentor. “I learned that I really love to coach and help guide others, especially if they’re trying to get into a similar field or career path,” she says. This passion for mentorship has been a consistent theme in her professional life, underscoring her commitment to giving back and supporting others.

Katie offers valuable advice for current students and recent graduates aiming to follow a similar path. “I always advise anyone who wants to be on the client side in marketing to do a stint on the agency side: it builds endurance, gives you a lot of experience quickly, and hopefully makes you a more empathetic client in the future,” she suggests.

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