Alumni Spotlight

UT Tyler Soules College of Business

Ashley Kutach

Ashley Kutach


Tell us a little about you.

I graduated in December of 2019 with a Ph.D. in Human Resource Development from the Soules College of Business at UT Tyler. I had been away from college for 20 years when I began the program in 2016. I completed by B.A. in Speech Communication at Texas State University in 1996 and my M.A. in Speech Communication at the same university in 1997. At that time, I promised myself that one day I would reach my goal to earn a Ph.D. and I am thrilled to have accomplished that goal at UT Tyler. I didn't do it alone though. I had a wonderful cohort of students who provided unwavering support, professors who genuinely cared about my education, a husband who gave endless love and grace, and three teenaged kids who provided fun distractions when I needed them most. People often said during my Ph.D. journey, "I don't see how in the world you do it all." I always responded with, "I just do. One day at a time." I am so thankful for each day that provided new opportunities to learn, grow, laugh, cry, and ultimately led to the reality of a dream come true.

What did you do right after graduating?

At the time of graduation, I was already in a role and with a company that I loved, so I continued 'business as usual' in my career.

Tell us about your current job and what you do.

I am currently the Vice President of People and Chief of Staff at Mentoring Minds which is a K-12 education company. I currently lead three areas of operations including product and customer engagement, customer service, and human resources. I love what I do and the people I have the pleasure to work with. I am very lucky to have a part in an organization that has a huge impact on the lives of children and teachers across the country.

How did your Soules College of Business Degree help you with your current position?

My career has traversed all areas of human resources including recruiting, on-boarding, benefits administration, compliance, talent management, organizational development, training, instructional design, coaching, employee relations, engagement, retention, succession planning, change management, and leadership development. The degree program helped me understand the research component that guides best practices across the practice of human resources development. I was already very familiar with the practical side but had no idea all that went on 'behind the scenes' to generate the knowledge that guides practical execution. The experience has given me a much more critical eye to the decisions I make as a leader and change manager.

What was your favorite Soules College of business class and why?

It is so challenging to choose just one class! I love to learn, and each class certainly challenged me with learning new information and skills. One class that stands out in my memory is HRD 6310 Advanced Theoretical Foundations of Human Resource Development. The course reviewed various theories of human resource development and the scholarly process that is required to develop sound theories. This course seemed to come at the perfect time in the program and allowed me to make connections between content I had learned in other courses. It was like a lightbulb went off in my head, which was so rewarding!

Any Soules College of Business / UT Tyler memories you would like to share?

Since the program was an executive format, my colleagues were from various geographical locations and brought a huge diversity of experience and knowledge. We often shared meals together after late night classes, stayed up late chatting at our hotel, and depended on each other in order to survive. I met and learned from some amazing people! The relationships that were formed will be forever cherished.

Were you involved in any student organizations while a student here?

Unlike in undergraduate school where I was very involved in student organizations, my time as a doctoral student was focused on juggling classes, a full-time job, teaching as an adjunct professor at Tyler Junior College, and raising three teenaged children.

What advice would you give current Soules College of Business students?

You can do it! Stay organized, take one week at a time, and don't lose sight of the end goal. Much like a career, an education is a process and a journey. Prove to yourself that you can finish what you start.

What insight do you have for Soules College of Business students that are about to graduate on how to land their first job?

As a human resource professional, I have a lot of insight to share—too much for this forum so I'll share just a few ideas. I encourage you to speak, act, and dress for the role you want, not the role you have. From avoiding 'water cooler' talk to keeping your phone tucked away during meetings, your words and actions reflect on your character. It's not enough to work hard and do good work. Companies are looking for employees who can communicate effectively, collaborate well with others, display positive personal attributes, and keep their head up even during challenging situations.