China Rising


Kelly 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.   


  • Kelly describes MSOE and her area of focus in the scholarship of teaching and learning.

  • She notes the classes she teaches and what she wants her students to learn.

  • She explains what she means when she says gray is a color.

  • She notes what she helps to develop in faculty as a faculty development instructor.

  • Kelly shares how cultural immersion helps with leadership development and how 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.

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

  • She tells a story illustrating how her students have been transformed by their experience in China.

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

  • She 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.

  • She reflects on finding joy in purpose and learning that one cannot prepare for everything.

  • Kelly shares a mission and vision statement that changed her life and what matters most to her.

plus Mark’s Personal Word Essay: Finding Joy in Purpose

To Learn More About Kelly


  • What struck you about Kelly’s comments?

  • How is gray a color for you?

  • How do you experience Guanxi?

  • How do you find joy in purpose?

We invite your posts on our Facebook page.

This episode is sponsored by Blumenthal Performing Arts, celebrating its 25th year presenting the best in performing arts. 

Further support is provided by Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, one of America’s leading urban public libraries, delivering exceptional services and programs, with a mission to improve lives and build a stronger community. 

And by the Arts & Science Council, Charlotte-Mecklenburg's resource hub and lead advocate for the regional cultural community, providing Culture for All.

Additional support is provided by the UNC College of Arts + Architecture, celebrating a decade of creative education in the arts and design.