Episode 10 - Kathleen Egan: Athlete, Activist, CEO

Rossin Connection Podcast


“I spent years trying to be a male, then one day someone told me, ‘You can come out of the closet and be a female executive,’” says Kathleen Egan ’90. 

Egan, who received her bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering, started her career at Andersen Consulting. She went on to work in the fashion industry for Chanel and Calvin Klein then got her MBA at Harvard Business School. She grew seven venture-backed startups with three successful exits, and has held senior leadership positions at companies like Oracle, Revionics, Quri, and Wiser Solutions, Inc. Today, she’s the CEO and cofounder of ecomedes, a company that is helping the commercial-building product industry save time and money while becoming more sustainable. She’s also a surfer, environmental activist, artist, and documentarian.

This past spring, Egan appeared on a panel as part of Lehigh’s Women in Technology and Innovation class. The class is co-taught remotely from the Lehigh@NasdaqCenter in San Francisco by Samantha Parent Walravens, coauthor of Geek Girl Rising Inside the Sisterhood Shaking Up Tech. Egan spoke to Walravens about the path to leadership for women in the tech world. That conversation, together with all the speaker panels from the class, were recorded for the Lehigh@NasdaqCenter podcast. (Students can intern at ecomedes as part of Lehigh@NasdaqCenter’s Startup Academy.)

In this episode of Rossin Connection, Egan talks about her journey to becoming a CEO, about learning to ask for what she wanted, becoming her authentic self (and finally dropping all the football talk), and how she counters the imposter syndrome that, incredibly, still haunts her. She offers advice for students on how to make the impressions that can give them an edge as they start their careers. And finally, she explains how she found her calling in the business of sustainability, and why she has hope that humanity can act in time to address climate change.