Davis College EMBA grad named Jacksonville’s 40 Under 40

June 24, 2024

Kate McAfoose is a spring Executive Master of Business Administration graduate from the Davis College of Business and Technology at Jacksonville University and was recently named by the Jacksonville Business Journal as a “40 Under 40” nominee.

For the 38-year-old Chang Industrial president, there is no typical day in the office. One minute she’s on a Zoom conference call with a client, then writing proposals for a new client opportunity, while the next she’s on to coordinating the company’s marketing team for an upcoming print job or developing a patent strategy on a new IP opportunity her team has developed.

Armed with a civil engineering degree from Syracuse University, McAfoose’s career path to Chang Industrial president started with a civil engineering Kate headshotassociate position with RS&H in Jacksonville. After passing the professional engineer exam, she decided on a career pivot where she could use her technical skills in a managerial capacity. It was then that she joined Haskell as part of their project management team, learning a new skill set that complimented her engineering background. In 2018, she began her journey with Chang Industrial, where she had the opportunity to learn the new industry of automation and robotics, which augmented her previous engineer and project manager capabilities.

McAfoose says the Davis College EMBA program provided her with valuable formal training in accounting, marketing, HR, business strategy, investing, and more. “The program taught me how to maintain composure and sort through details to get to the main point of a discussion or conflict quickly and how to analyze and make decisions efficiently,” she explained. “Time is the most valuable asset any of us have and so being able to be decisive has been key to growing our business.”

McAfoose says the Davis College EMBA program provided the perfect educational environment. “The in-person setting and small class sizes made it a perfect conduit for access to top-notch professors and their insight to, not only the subject they teach, but their views of business and Jacksonville as a whole.”

She says several Davis College faculty members helped shape her, especially spending a week in Barcelona with Dr. Doug Johansen, Marketing, International Business & Sports Business department chair. “We experienced another country and culture to understand the differences in how business can be conducted.”

As she has been shaped by her current career path and JU education, being nominated for JBJ’s “40 Under 40” makes her feel a responsibility to help shape the next generation.

“Being a mom of three young girls, I’m already engaged in making sure the next generation is being raised up with core values and focus,” said McAfoose. “One of our company values is mentorship and as individuals, everyone is encouraged to volunteer their time to community enhancements.” She focuses her time on youth through serving as a life group leader in her church and supporting causes like Girls of Virtue and the PACE Center for Girls.

Her biggest career accomplishment to date has been leading the Chang Industrial team in the development and deployment of a robotic system at a local hospital here in Jacksonville that is focused on benefiting nurses and staff by saving them time and reducing stress and burnout.

“As the daughter of an RN, I’m really proud of what our team has been able to accomplish in creating a true co-botic system that benefits the workforce and enhances both provider and patient experience,” said McAfoose.

She notes being open to learning new skill sets has helped set her up for success in her current position. One piece of advice McAfoose shares with others is “you’re never too old to learn new things!”

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