Kamaljit Kaur Jackson, MBA ’16
Master of Business Administration
Reflecting on UW-Parkside
Why did you decide to attend UW-Parkside?
The UW System has an amazing reputation, so the choice was a no-brainer for me. The environment for welcoming non-traditional working adults was another appeal, along with small class sizes, one-night a week in an accelerated format served my needs. Additionally, it was right in my community, where I played, worked, and lived. Win-win in all directions.
What activities were you involved in at UW-Parkside?
None. I was working full-time, attending classes one-night a week every 6-8 weeks (accelerated format), and had responsibilities as a mother and wife. My time was very limited and making time for other activities was very difficult. I chose to focus on ensuring an equal balance between all my responsibilities to not only my family, but to my classmates in group project work, etc. Unfortunately, there was just not enough time in the day to do it all!
How did your UW-Parkside experience impact your professional or personal life?
Tremendous impact! From a professional standpoint, application of theory into the real-world showcased the difficulty in advancing transformation change in an organizational setting. From this standpoint, the tools learned in the classroom were pivoted to allow for the human component to be taken into consideration. This learning, specifically, allowed for agility in the work and bringing both theory and application into real life – none of this would have been possible without the foundational components learned in the classroom. To this end, this knowledge allowed me to drive change initiatives in a differentiated fashion setting me apart from my contemporaries – achieving my MBA allowed for a career trajectory from project management to leading and deploying a performance excellence framework in a technical college setting, coupling that with technical certification as a Black Belt synergistically thrusting me into a world of continuous improvement with opportunities to be a regional and national presenter on deploying Lean Six Sigma across the education and service sectors. I had the opportunity to participate in a variety of volunteer opportunities which led to experience that further propelled me into a senior leadership position at a K-12 to help drive transformational change, eventually landing me to my current role as Vice President for Programs and Operations at the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC).
Professional and Personal Highlights
What has been one of the top highlights of your career?
I work for an amazing organization - Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC) is a leading economic development organization fulfilling the mission of “putting dreams to work” by opening opportunities for the many, but specifically, women, people of color, lower wealth individuals, and veterans. I take this mission to heart. I have the best job in the world where I am given not only the privilege, but the responsibility to make dreams come true for so many – specifically our underserved communities. Knowing that at the end of the day, when I lay my head down on the pillow at night, I have helped just one person achieve their mission, satisfies my purpose and it just doesn’t get any better than that. To know that I am fulfilling my purpose each day fills my soul because in true essence “we rise by lifting others.” I am unafraid and fearless in my conviction that systems change is within our control and reach – when we put aside ourselves for the betterment of our collective communities – transformation can occur. With my Ph.D in Organization Development, I aspire to serve the community, at large, through transformational change efforts, assuring equality for the underserved and marginalized members of our communities. The continual work to eradicate social and economic injustices can only be achieved through systemic change and removing power dynamics that currently only benefit the top 1%. I will continue to further advance the work of cultural competency and continue to narrow the gap on access to capital for our underserved communities.
Who has had the biggest influence on your life or your career and why?
My husband and kids. My personal and professional journey would be incomplete and lonely without them. I could not do what I do without their love and support – I could spend an eternity with them, and it would never be enough. My love and admiration for them crosses all boundaries and it is because of them that I am successful. The African Proverb sums this up beautifully – “I am because we are."
What are your favorite hobbies?
I have many – reading, spending time with my husband and two amazing children, binge watching all the streaming services, gardening, picking flowers, taking long walks.
What is something that would surprise us about you?
I learned to speak English by watching Sesame Street. I have almost all the original cast of characters (stuffed animals) displayed in my office – looking for Snuffleupagus and Big Bird to purchase. This is constant reminder to me of where I came from.
Advice from Kamaljit
What advice do you have for current UW-Parkside Students?
Stay the course – the road may seem long and stressful – full of ups and down – just remember that the experience (not just learning) is molding and shaping you. Enjoy every moment of the journey – it goes fast. I also never forget the eloquence spoken by Nelson Mandela that “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” You are meant to be right here, at this moment, at this time, to gain knowledge, building a community for yourself and those that will follow your steps after you. You are building a legacy – keep moving, keep doing, and never forgot to stop and look and give back because “we rise by lifting others.” Additionally, there will be many that tell you “you cannot do this” or “your idea will never work” or “you won’t achieve this or that” – don’t listen to them – as Henry Ford put it: “Be careful of what you imagine yourself becoming. Think you can, think you can't; either way you'll be right.”
Let me share an example. I had my oldest son’s (Alex) 5th grade teacher tell me that he was not an “A” student. I never did share this story until he became an adult. He went on to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison and graduate with his Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) and then went on to Yale University for his Master of Fine Arts (MFA). He sells his artwork all around the world and is very successful. Never allow anyone to determine or undermine your potential – you never know what you can achieve, unless you try, even with those voices that tell you cannot.
Kamaljit Kaur Jackson, MBA, is the Vice President, Programs and Operations, for the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC). She is responsible for ongoing operations, systems and procedures across teams, ensuring consistency, efficiency, exemplary customer service, and best practices to achieve strategic goals. She leads WWBIC’s Training, Lending, Loan Operations, Veteran’s Business Outreach Center (VBOC), Small Business Consulting (wrap-around services), and Human Resources; works collaboratively with the Executive Leadership team to set and support agency direction, consistent policies, and procedures, and strategic plan implementation.
Kamaljit has a bachelor’s in business administration from Cardinal Stritch University and an MBA from UW-Parkside. She is currently working on her Ph.D. in Organization Development at Benedictine University with anticipated completion in 2023; her dissertation topic is on Intersectionality of Race, Gender, and Ethnicity: Catalyzing Cultural Competency. She is a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.
Her previous experience includes positions in the public, nonprofit and private sectors – Senior Accountability & Efficiency Officer at the Racine Unified School District, Quality System Manager and Instructor at Gateway Technical College, Project Administrator/Program Management with Johnson Controls – Human Resource Department, and Administrative Manager/Special Projects/Program Coordinator with the Medical College of Wisconsin. She has served on non-profit boards and community agencies throughout her professional tenure, Board Member and Vice Chair – Big Brothers Big Sisters of Racine and Kenosha; Advisory Council, The Quality Group; Preliminary Judge ASQ International Team Excellence Award (ITEA); Member – Community Investment Committee – United Way of Kenosha County; Advisory Council – Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection; Board Member – Visioning a Greater Racine; Examiner – Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award; with her most recent service as a Board Member/Treasurer with Kenosha Area Family and Aging Services, Inc