10 July 2020



Nationality: CH/USA                                             Graduation year: 2014

Further studies: Bachelor of Psychology at IE University, Madrid   
Current field of employment: Education




What were your initial feelings when you finished school?

When we had to start thinking about where we wanted to go after high school, I  only had a few vague ideas about what might interest me. This was quite daunting. Luckily, I could take a gap year, so I explored my different options, choosing hotel school or studying psychology.


What helped you decide what you wanted to do? Did you decide or did it happen organically?

During my gap year, I read lots about psychology and worked in a hotel for 5 months. My job at the hotel taught me a lot about what I enjoyed and didn't enjoy in terms of work. In the end, I fell in love with the university I went to because it had the perfect synergy of psychology and business in a country where I wanted to learn the language, Spain.




Has it or any school connections managed to help you over time?

While at university I got a lot of support with personal projects.


What failures have you had? What did they teach you?

I don't consider myself to have had failures as I look for a learning opportunity in every outcome I'm not satisfied with.

For example, during my second year of university, I organised a 200-person conference with a team of 8 other people. We wanted to provide our participants with food and drinks they could enjoy throughout the day. However, when we spoke with the person funding our appetizers and wine, he informed us that they would only giving us tables and set up some snacks for a coffee break. People would be starving if we only fed them with a coffee break!

Although we were freaking out, something beautiful happened which I'll never forget as the leader of this amazing team. We discovered that we had enough funds to go to the supermarket the morning before the event and buy 30 baguettes, enough ham and cheese for everyone, and 10 crates of wine. Then, as our event was running, a big part of my team were making sandwiches and getting the wine ready for the participants.

To this day, this is still the most exhilarating learning experience I've ever been through. I learnt a lot about leadership, team work, time management, and many more skills.


And successes? What did you learn?

I would also call my ‘failure’ a success as my team and I brought together 200 students for a wonderful and fun afternoon of learning and networking. Over the 6 months’ preparation time and single day of execution, I learned more than I had in a classroom including skills like time management, team organisation, social media promotion, negotiation, delegation, and more.




What are goals now?

I am currently working on many different projects:

  1. Help students in international schools all over Switzerland gain a greater sense of clarity about what they might be interested in doing afterwards. I'm currently running workshops on the topic of Life Purpose in high schools and absolutely loving it. I'm hoping to reach even more schools and will be giving these workshops at my university in Spain too.
  2. Make the startup I'm running with my dad profitable while reaching a large audience. We built an online course for project managers and team leaders on how to solve business problems better, which we launched in April 2020.
  3. Start earning an income and spreading awareness about my podcast: Trainers' Lifestyle
  4. For a less work-related one: travel through South America as a digital nomad.


What is the best thing about finishing school and adult life?

I have the privilege to build something of my own within the safety of my parents’ house. However, one of the best things about adult life is becoming independent and choosing what you want to do in life, living wherever you want, and living your own lifestyle.


Where do you see the future going in your sector?

Online. Online. Online.

Learning in a classroom or on a training event is very awesome in its own way, but because of how the world is currently shifting, a lot more is going to happen online. This in turn will give many more people the opportunity to develop themselves as well.


What piece of advice would you give students now?

When we're in high school we're taught how to remember and memorise information without knowing how to use it. When you leave school you're thrown into a world where you need to be able to adapt and use these skills. So what I think is most important is simply to try new things. Acting on an idea can be the most rewarding experience ever. Create a plan, and then follow it for 6 months to see what happens.




If there's anything else you would like to add, please feel free!

I love connecting and talking with people, especially if you're a student. If you would like to explore the opportunities that are best suited to you, then feel free to visit my LinkedIn Business page.


Katie Harwood

Tags: community, future, alumni

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