When Katie Haakenson was still an intern, Boeing tasked her with creating and hosting a conference for the company’s project managers in the Puget Sound area.
The idea was for them to talk about methodologies they’d used and lessons they’d learned.
About 20 people attended.
“Everyone thought it was very valuable and said, we want to do that again,” said Haakenson, who earned a finance degree from Oregon State in 2009 and added an MBA a year later. “So the next year when we hosted the Boeing Project Management Conference, it went from 20 to about 100, and they came from all across the country. The third year, there were more than 300 from around the world. The event still goes on, and all the project managers look forward to it. It’s pretty cool to be able to say I started it.”
The creativity, leadership skills and organizational savvy that Haakenson used in developing the conference are among the reasons she’s this year’s Distinguished Young Business Professional.
“I think it’s a great honor,” she said. “Any success I’ve had reflects back to my experiences at OSU.”
Haakenson, hired as a permanent employee after starring in her internship, spent nearly four years with Boeing at the Everett (Wash.) Delivery Center. She’s now a project leadership associate with Point B Management Consultants in Seattle, having started there in January following one-year stints at Microsoft and Logic 20/20, also a Seattle-based consulting firm.
The bustle of Seattle represents a stark change from Haakenson’s youth in Corbett, Ore., where her graduating class at Corbett High featured 45 people.
Choosing Oregon State after a campus visit and conversations with faculty made her feel at home, she worked two jobs to pay for school and still graduated in three years, then stayed a fourth year and collected an MBA.
“I really liked the IBP (integrated business plan) program, and I wanted some additional time with College of Business faculty since I’d learned so much as an undergraduate,” Haakenson said.
She mentioned in particular professor Erik Larson, who taught Haakenson project management, and professional development instructor Gene Young, whose lessons “helped me get positions that on paper I didn’t have enough experience for by defining and highlighting what I could bring to the table.”
“Going to OSU was a great experience, and the connections I’ve kept with the university are very valuable for me,” she said. “I don’t think I could have made a better choice.”