The path to success may have taken unexpected turns for the Chief Operating Officer at the University of Arizona Global Campus, but Katie Scheie has enjoyed every surprising curve her journey has taken. From growing up and tough decisions to hard work and innovation, Katie shares what keeps her life centered while she continues striving for more.
How did you get started at Ashford University [now the University of Arizona Global Campus]?
“It’s an interesting story, actually. I went to college to be a documentary filmmaker. I’m a native San Diegan, and I always knew I wanted to make my way back to San Diego. After I graduated, that’s what I did. I was working in the news field, and as many college students do, I’d picked the shiny, pretty degree that was fun and enjoyable and didn’t take a lot of math. So I did that when I came back to San Diego and started working in the media field. But I knew I had a choice to make: I had to go to a bigger market in LA, New York or Chicago. I took a look around, and I listened to my gut and it just didn’t feel like that was what I was supposed to do. That was a hard thing to come to terms with: Oh man, this thing I’ve been working towards, maybe I don’t want to do it anymore.
“But my dad told me to just listen to my gut, and that I wouldn’t disappoint anyone if it wasn’t the field I stayed in, and to do what I wanted to do. So I quit the next day. I went to a temp agency to just get a job to get through the holidays, and Ashford University was a growing organization here in San Diego. I started in Enrollment Services. They were hiring like crazy because they were just starting. I got into the enrollment field, and I just loved the culture here at Ashford. I thought, ‘Wow, this is something I could do for a long time.’ But I also knew that enrollment probably wasn’t something for me long-term.”
Did you know you wanted to be in a leadership role one day?
“I love talking to, working with, and helping people so I ended up in the Registrar’s office. Over the last ten years, I have just continuously learned and followed mentors and stayed committed to the Registrar’s office, as well as different areas of the university. I’ve grown and learned, and done whatever I could and ended up the COO. It’s been quite a random, but also purposeful journey.”
What advice do you have for your younger self?
“Work hard, stay focused on your priorities in life, and you’re going to be okay. You’re going to do well in life. Stay focused and be proud of yourself and your accomplishments, and just keep following your gut. Stay true to yourself, and you’re going to be just fine.”
How do you encourage innovation within the organization?
“Two of my top five StrengthsQuest strengths are futuristic and strategic. I try to always encourage folks to think outside the box by asking, ‘How would you do it? What would you do differently?’ I like to understand how others would approach a project, then think bigger picture. Every day we get in the weeds, and it’s really easy to get stuck in the day-to-day. I get lost there all the time, but I also enjoy taking a step back and thinking six months from now, two years from now. What do we want then? I try to think futuristically yet strategically, and I also like to experience the student lens overseeing graduation and talking to a lot of students. That helps me understand how to better serve their needs.”
Katie’s career proves there is no single path to success—but passion, striving for more, and focusing on what’s important will help pave the road to making progress.
Written by University Staff