2023 Best & Brightest Executive MBA: Kimberly Cooper-Campos, Northwestern University (Kellogg)

Kimberly Cooper-Campos

Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management

Age: 45

“Dynamic, engaging and determined mom, leader and team-builder in technology who amplifies the best in others, effectively communicates direction, and commits others to action…all with a beaming smile.”

Hometown: Long Beach, California

Family Members: Husband, Ricardo and one amazing three-year-old son, Cole.

Fun fact about yourself: Mastered a “Class III” whitewater rapid and named “Ms. Teen San Francisco” during my freshman year in undergrad.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of California, Berkeley

Where are you currently working? Universal Property and Casualty Insurance Company (Parent: Universal Insurance Holdings, Inc. – UVE)

Current roles are Chief Information Officer, and member of the UVE Board of Directors (Risk Committee Member).

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: I’ve always thrived in a state of gratitude and excitement, looking forward to the next lesson or opportunity around the corner. However I never could have imagined the magnitude with which the “sun had the potential to shine” until I was blessed with my son Cole. As a result, I try to prioritize time to visit family in California and plan new adventures, sports and learning in and around South Florida.

With respect to community, I am grounded in the belief that helping the future generation and those less fortunate must be prioritized as I stand on the shoulders of others who propelled me to where I am now. As a result, serving others by actively participating in the civic organizations like The Girl Friends, Inc. and faith-based Feed & Clothing – along with leading youth, career development and mentoring initiatives at my South Florida church home – allows me to directly impact my local community as well as show my son that he too will have a responsibility to serve others.

In an effort to make an impact in the larger community, I am an active volunteer and Board member for Junior Achievement of South Florida.
At Kellogg, I am a Drake Scholar and one of two Ambassadors for our Cohort (129).

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? India (Tech Ventures elective) with Professor Mohanbir Sawhney: THE most experiential trip that far exceeded anything I could have dreamt. This elective allowed me to gain in-depth insight into the technology landscape, as well as the customs, culture and people of India (focusing on Delhi, Bangalore and Agra). Professor Sawhney constructed a trip that thoroughly immersed all participants into the technological landscape, where we met face-to-face with the innovators of the country – Minster of Information Technology, founders of unicorns, Fortune 500 leaders, venture capital firms and hospital administration.  We were welcomed into the private homes and lives of Sawhney’s personal network. They allowed us to get a glimpse of real life and exclusive insight as they discussed their personal and professional journeys as founders and industry leaders.

As we further explored the people and culture of India, we were able to experience the Hindu religion and meet directly with the Minister of IT who led the implementation of the technology stack for the entire country of India. Visiting one of the largest Hindu Temples in Delhi was a very enlightening and peaceful experience. We witnessed how serving is embedded into the fabric of the culture, where the blue collar and white collar citizens of the country come and serve those less fortunate, as well as clean up the premises to ensure it remains pristine 24 hours a day.

The face-to-face session with the Minister of IT allowed us to gain an unbelievable level of appreciation for the magnitude of effort, skill, and dedication it takes to lead the tech revolution for an entire country, while also celebrating the unique dynamic of the people. As witnessed, the innate hunger to innovate in all aspects of life is woven into the fabric of the culture. This, as a result, translates into an elevated level of technical aptitude across the larger population as a whole, therefore creating massive quantities of “change agents”.

As a whole, this trip reminded me that you should never rely on media or the perceptions of others to shape your perceptions of a country or people. You owe it to yourself to physically explore countries with which you currently or plan to do business with to truly understand the dynamics of working with that particular country. You will most likely be amazed.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? The first pivotal decision I made that left an indelible mark that shaped me both personally and professionally was the choice to move when I was presented with the opportunity to help build the Nassau, Bahamas systems and process assurance practice. The offer extended to me was to create an unconventional experience or defer to a routine secondment in Europe later in my career. While there was no path laid in the Bahamas within the systems and process assurance practice, I was able to transition from San Francisco. In the process, I immersed myself in the culture, customs, and financial services landscape to successfully expand the portfolio of system and process assurance service offerings for a multitude of new and existing clients in the financial services industry.

The second achievement that I am most proud of is the ability to push beyond a state of familiarity in governance or system and processes assurance which was the core of my career experience at PwC and Universal Insurance Holdings, Inc. and accept the opportunity to join senior leadership as the Chief Information Officer. This extreme pivot afforded me the opportunity to leverage the knowledge acquired to date and quickly acclimate within the operations environment by creating new and nurturing existing relationships. As a result, I am able to lead an incredible group of helpdesk, developers, engineers, administrators, and analysts support and embed efficiency and automation within the organization, at an expedited rate, through the use of technology.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Mohan Sawhney (Tech Ventures-India) and Professor Sally Blount for allowing me to witness servant leadership personified.

Professor Sawhney is dedicated to pouring into the next generation of technology innovators through his many advisor, board, or ad-hoc chats with students and alums. He has opened up his world to those in tech and others who are simply tech curious and provides a select group an exclusive and wholistic view of India. We are forever changed and inspired after experiencing such an incredible journey.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? I chose the Miami monthly, part-time program because of the reputation amongst corporate America, the alignment with my core values and leadership style, as well as the proximity to my immediate family.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? Professor Sally Blount has left a lasting impression after experiencing her class on Leading Organization Transformation. As the former Dean of Kellogg who drove the development of the new Global Hub, she is The Ultimate Change Agent. As an IT leader, my only constant each day is in fact change, so this topic really resonated.

Professor Blount instilled in us the fact that as leaders, we are to help people stay the course, maintain accountability and cope with the stress and fear that comes with change. We are not going to figure out all of the issues being busy, which highlights the fact that we must remain engaged, and thinking strategically all the time. Our goal is to focus on the strategy of people – “Thinking complexly, while speaking simply.” Inspiring, engaging and connecting with teams routinely and face-to-face to garner peak performance.

As a result, I have evaluated my day to day, carving out time to reflect and identified opportunities for more strategic focus.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? Prior to the start of the program, I was able to set up a Zoom session and several calls with my entire support system (i.e. close friends, nanny, parents, sister, cousins, and cleaning team). During this session, I was able to relay the support needs around my class sessions for the next two years, which involved maintaining the household, caring for my son buying tickets for family who I needed to fly to Florida to help.

It is only through this sound advice I received from a fellow alum before starting that I was able to balance work, family and classes – especially the four electives, three of which were international (Dubai, India and Germany).

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? As a mom speaking to other mothers interested in the program, “Do it!”. It’s natural that the time away may initially translate into feelings of guilt. However, the ability to execute and acquire an EMBA from such a reputable and prestigious institution, in spite of family, work and life, will leave an indelible mark that will inspire them and their future generations to achieve even greater!

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? That a quantitative focus will overshadow every aspect of the program, when in reality, Kellogg EMBA is about developing you as a holistic leader.

What was your biggest regret in business school? That I did not take more time to create opportunities to engage with faculty to glean more insight into their research, lessons learned from industry projects, and their career journey.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The collective 129 Cohort. While we are all from different parts of the world with varied life and work experiences, it’s as if we are all woven from the same cloth of humility and ambition. It is evident in the manner in which we engage that we genuinely desire to understand and grow from one another. As iron sharpens iron, we challenge, promote each other, and learn from one another. There are no egos and we will forever be connected in life and professionally. That’s because we have collectively made it through roughly 95% of the most comprehensive and reputable EMBA programs with an unparalleled network or domestic and global contacts. Cohort 129 is slated to make an incredible impact in the world.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives?

The ability to maintain my current job, while convening in Miami once a month to attend class and complete coursework with fellow senior executives both domestically and internationally, was the ultimate selling point. The ability to physically connect and absorb classwork along with meeting in breakout rooms for deeper dives brings this program to life. Completing online just decreases the value of the program, in my opinion.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Leading a people centric organization that allows me to be dynamic and engaging. I thrive in environments where I am able to help devise the strategic direction of the organization while also nurturing and activating the superpowers in others to amplify the impact on operations through the use of technology.

I desire to continuously reach for opportunities to create a greater impact in the world while becoming a technology leader who inspires and executes effectively, never losing sight of the importance of warmth and kindness.

What made Kim such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“Kim is a dynamic and highly effective leader among her peers. She is an active participant in the EMBA classroom, where she asks important answers and encourages others to do so as well. It is clear to anyone who observes Kim that she is determined to continuously grow, both professionally and personally.

Kim demonstrates a strong sense of community and high regard for others in her interactions. Her positivity and groundedness are contagious. Kim acknowledges that education is acquired, both inside and outside of the classroom. She recognizes the importance of regularly engaging with her peers, mentors, and advisors to gain insight from their lived experiences.

At work, her EMBA experience and expanded network have empowered Kim to reach for opportunities that will increase her reach and impact as a technology leader. She has many years of experience at her firm Universal Insurance Holdings, Inc. and in the technology space more generally, where she has invested deeply to create long-term impact.

Kim is all about giving back. Even as a teenager, Kim was very active at her church in the Feeding & Clothing Ministry. Her community involvement continues to this day in South Florida, where she now lives and is active in various feeding and clothing initiatives and other civic organizations. As an example, even while busy at work and in our EMBA program, she continues to actively volunteer with Junior Achievement of South Florida, where she also serves on the Board of Directors.

Bottom line: Kim is a special person – a natural leader with an easy-going interpersonal style that commands both likeability and respect.”

Sally Blount
Michael L. Nemmers Professor of Strategy
Former Dean
Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management


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