Katie May: Startup Specialist Has Passion for Change

From the fall 2015 issue of McCOMBS, the magazine for alumni and friends of the McCombs School of Business.

When Katie May, BBA ’89, MBA ’94, joined ShippingEasy as CEO in 2012, moving the headquarters to her hometown of Austin and kicking off the aggressive growth efforts following the young company’s founding in Sydney, Australia, she had already proven her mettle with startups.

Her first venture into that world was in 1999, when after working for three years as a management consultant for Booz, Allen & Hamilton in Melbourne, she decided the time was right to leave big consulting and enter the rough and tumble of the startup world.

She joined the executive team at seek.com.au as head of marketing and spent six years leading it through its initial public offering, which ended up being the most successful internet IPO in Australia to date.

She then founded kidspot.com.au, the largest website for mothers in Australia and New Zealand, selling it to News Corp. in 2011.

Her newest venture, ShippingEasy, is an online tool that offers the lowest postage rates and the ability to plug in existing UPS/FedEx accounts for online sellers.

“ShippingEasy uses predictive analytics to recognize historical patterns and then apply those patterns to future decisions,” says May. “We literally take the human out of the shipping decision-making process, which saves time and eliminates errors.”

May is a proven executive in startups from early stage to exit, with deep experience in online and offline brand building with both very large and extremely small marketing budgets, including the identification and embedding of strategic alliances.

She is an experienced mentor, adviser, and entrepreneur — playing an active role as an advisor to a range of early-stage ventures, primarily in the media and internet sectors, capitalizing on startup, strategy, and marketing skills.

May’s business career began at McCombs, where she majored in accounting as an undergraduate. After working as a CPA for Arthur Andersen and KPMG, she decided accounting could not satisfy her creative urges and returned to McCombs to pursue an MBA. She moved to New York to work in a rotational brand management position at Philip Morris, but her life changed drastically when she became engaged to an Australian and moved to Melbourne.

In Australia, May quickly realized that she would have to adjust her business skills. “The Australian market was very different,” she says. “My marketing experience was not suitable for even the most junior role.”

May found work at Booz, Allen & Hamilton as a management consultant and learned “10 years’ worth of structure, strategy, and leadership in only three years’ time” while also discovering her passion for startups.

Looking back now, May credits both her business degrees for achieving success. “The curriculum and content were progressive and my fellow students stretched me,” May says. “My years at McCombs allowed me to mature and to realize the importance of embracing change and continuing to learn.”

Originally published at www.today.mccombs.utexas.edu.