Kelly Ottman — China Rising: On Life and Meaning

Kelly OttmanKelly Ottman is a professor in the Radar School of Business in the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in leadership, strategic planning, team development and organizational behavior. Kelly developed and leads the Doing With Business China program in which engineering students undergo 11 weeks of classroom preparation that culminates in a 12-day working tour of China. She is a leadership coach providing consultation to executives throughout the world. Kelly earned a B.Sc. degree in Therapeutic Recreation at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and an M.P.A. in Health Care Administration and Public Policy and a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership and Adult Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

This episode is perfect for anyone interested in doing business with China, cultural immersion, clarifying mission and vision, and finding joy in purpose.

In This Episode
In This Episode


  • Kelly describes MSOE, her area of focus in the scholarship of teaching and learning, and what she means when she says gray is a color.

  • She shares how cultural immersion helps with leadership development and why she launched the Doing Business With China program.

  • She references practicing Tai Chi in the Temple of Heaven and what students most often say when reflecting on their experience in China.

  • Kelly explains Guanxi, the Chinese system of social networks and influential relationships which facilitate business and other dealings.

  • She discusses the phenomenal growth in China she has witnessed and how its technology has leapfrogged the world.

  • Kelly answers what people should know about China as it advances, what is considered good leadership in China, and how China is practicing the Art of War.

  • She talks about growing up in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, her parents, and what was formative about her years in middle school.

  • Kelly reflects on finding joy in purpose and shares a mission and vision statement that changed her life.

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