75 Stories – Kat Shanahan, Senior Director of Strategic Marketing

This year marks our 75th Anniversary. To celebrate, we’re publishing 75 stories about members of our community. Kat Shanahan has been a member of the Wisconsin School of Business Center for Professional & Executive Development team since 2018. She is currently CPED’s senior director of strategic marketing.


Kat began her career in higher education as the promotions coordinator for the James R. Connor University Center at the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater. She then transitioned into educational video games working for a Madison-based company managing their content marketing strategy. Next, Kat went into a marketing director role at a commercial video game studio in Madison where she developed and managed brands, wrote and produced game trailers, and oversaw their marketing department. Kat is passionate about learning and has served as a subject matter expert and instructor for Southern New Hampshire University, where she designed an integrated marketing course and instructed in their undergraduate marketing program.

Kat joined the CPED team in November 2018 as the director of marketing. One year later, she was promoted to senior director of strategic marketing. Kat oversees CPED’s marketing department and leads the organization’s strategic marketing initiatives.

“I love seeing our program participants apply their learning to their careers. We’ll see updates on LinkedIn about participants completing their certificates or getting promotions and it feels great to see them succeed. I also love helping organizations move through difficult transitions. As individuals, I think it’s hard for us to accept that we need help, so when clients come to us with difficult business challenges, it’s rewarding to help them navigate these challenges and end up with a stronger, more resilient organization.”

Kat has a bachelor’s degree in multimedia digital arts and advertising from the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater and a master’s degree in integrated marketing communications from West Virginia University. She is currently pursuing a graduate certificate in data marketing communications from West Virginia University.

Kat is an avid creator and enjoys photography and pottery in her spare time. She also has an adorable dog who likes to take Kat on long walks when the weather is nice.


Kat has truly enjoyed her time so far at CPED and knows the experience has positively impacted her life.

“CPED has felt like a homecoming for me. I had been in different industries for a number of years and working with the team at CPED, our participants, and our clients has been a very rewarding experience. The entire team is focused on our mission, which is to help individuals and organizations move forward. Building connections with our community and seeing them post on social media that they’re being promoted or changing positions has had a significant impact on my life.

“The CPED team is unlike any other team I’ve worked with. They’re collaborative, motivated, and everyone in the organization is dedicating to our mission. Working with this group of individuals makes navigating challenges much more enjoyable.”

Kat’s favorite programs she has taken so far include Manager Boot Camp and Leadership Beyond Management. She is currently working toward completing her Executive Leadership Certificate and is looking forward to eventually participating in Transition to Executive Management.

“For me, the most memorable program was Leadership Beyond Management. The program uses a Human Synergistics International Life Style Inventory assessment to help participants better understand their leadership style. The assessment requires that your coworkers evaluate you prior to the beginning of the program. As a participant, you also evaluate yourself. During the program you see your results and the results of your raters. It was an eye-opening experience for me. Having data to back up assumptions about my leadership style has made a significant impact on my career.”

Kat encourages all young professionals to take time to learn their roles, to get to know the company, and to not put too much pressure on themselves to prove what they know right away.

“I think for many young professionals and new hires, there’s a self-applied pressure to start performing right away. There’s a need to prove that you know what you’re doing or that the company made the right decision by hiring you. Take time to really learn the job and understand the business. It may feel like it’s taking a long time to be productive at work, but if you take the time to learn first and apply later, you’ll be able to make more significant and meaningful contributions.”

Learn more about Leadership Beyond Management, Manager Boot Camp, and Transition to Executive Management, and discover more stories from our community in the 75th Anniversary section of our blog.