Kerstin Kealy, Alumni Leading Our Community
Anchor, Producer, WDAY TV
Mass Communications (Broadcasting), 1997
“The biggest challenge for today’s work force is to find what inspires, engages, motivates and fulfills employees. Leaders need to know their employees to get the most out of them and to retain them. I love the quote, “Treat your employees like they make a difference – and they will.'”
What have you found to be the most meaningful way for you to stay connected with the university?
The University’s presence on social media is impressive, whether it’s academics or athletics. MSUM has really lead the way in using social media to showcase the great people and happenings on campus.
What experience at MSUM had the greatest influence in transforming your life?
The overall experience changed the course of my life – and that’s not overstating it. It’s all of the people who touched my life and connections made, the experience in Campus News that prepared me for my career, my experience as an RA, Assistant Hall Director and working in the Student Organization Resource Center that taught me about people and being an effective leader. I also learned incredible life lessons, the power of team and teamwork and the importance of a good work ethic by playing softball and being a part of MSUM athletics (and so much more).
Was there a faculty/staff mentor who inspired you?
Many faculty members and coaches inspired me, but one definitely stands out – Marv Bossart. I was lucky enough to meet him my freshman year and take a couple of classes from him. I learned so much about TV news and broadcast writing – skills I still use and teach today. I also learned about the journalist and person I wanted to be. He was an accomplished professional, respected across the country with an incredible legacy, but never took himself too seriously. He cared about people and wasn’t afraid to show it. When I applied for a job at WDAY out of college, the news director was hesitant to give a job to a recent graduate with no professional experience. Marv supported me and vouched for my character and work in school and convinced the news director to give me chance. If it wasn’t for Marv and his recommendation, I’m not sure where I would be today. He was an instructor who became a mentor who became a co-worker and friend who grew to family.
What professional experience has had the greatest influence in shaping you as a leader?
Growing in my job at WDAY has definitely been the greatest influence in shaping me as a leader. I was once in the ‘rookie’ position and remember what that felt like. I remember what I respected and didn’t respect from my leaders and the things that impacted me and inspired me the most. Now, being one of the more senior people in the newsroom, it’s important for me to use those lessons to make our newsroom and the people in it the best they can be in the way that’s most effective.
What is the greatest challenge of leadership in today's work force?
I think the biggest challenge for today’s work force is to find what inspires, engages, motivates and fulfills employees. It’s changed so much over the decades. Leaders need to know their employees to get the most out of them and to retain them. I love the quote, “Treat your employees like they make a difference – and they will.”
What do you enjoy most about being a leader?
The thing I like most about being a leader is the opportunity to help create and inspire change. It’s a great responsibility.
As a leader, what is the most important thing you do every day?
One of the most important things I do as a leader is to teach – whether teaching new reporters or students in my writing class the skills of broadcast writing and reporting or “teaching” viewers by sharing the stories of events and people who are important in our community.
What advice would you give someone striving to improve their leadership skills?
Advice I would offer to leaders looking to improve their skills are things I’ve learned along the way. I think a big lesson is to listen. You learn a lot that way – about people and about yourself. One of my favorite quotes is, “It’s more important to be interested than interesting.” I’ve found that to be so true over the years.
Besides listening, the best leaders communicate well and are transparent. They are engaged in the process and give constructive criticism. They know you must give respect to earn it and that being kind doesn’t make you weak.
Good leaders aren’t afraid to lift others up and praise their work. They know it doesn’t lessen them, but instead strengthens the team – and knowing the importance of team and building a unified team is one of the most important things a leader can do.