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EMBA Class Advisors

Kathleen M. Grave, DBA

Managing Director and CEO, EI Group

Kathleen GraveProfessional Experience

Kathleen’s is dedicated to developing business opportunity globally as Managing Director and CEO at EI Group. Following a successful career at IBM, Kathleen returned to her startup roots and is leading a new organization that is increasing client success through partnership and alliances and delivering integrated information solutions globally. EI Group are experienced consultants and specialists with cross-industry expertise. EI Group links business goals and technology advancements to transform healthcare, financial, agriculture, and other industries using the insights of big data analytics and applied cognitive science.

Kathleen’s held multiple Executive roles leading key areas of IBM's most strategic growth businesses in Cognitive Computing, Cloud, and Big Data Analytics where her focus was to define and head up global strategies and mobilize new channels and marketplace ecosystems. As the first Worldwide Leader for IBM Watson Sales, she introduced the iconic Watson technology, first seen on Jeopardy, as commercialized offerings with artificial intelligence and machine-learning technology to the global marketplace. Kathleen also led multiple Smarter Planet and Big Data initiatives for the firm during her tenure. Her early career included financial industry and public sector consulting, working with World Bank, WHO and UNICEF, that propelled her to build a global business startup from her Copenhagen, Denmark headquarters.

As an active participant of Silicon Valley’s venture capital and private equity environment for the duration of her career, Kathleen currently serves as Board Member and Advisor to private sector and non-profits. She is a passionate business supporter and promoter of California-led innovations, emerging technology initiatives and facilitates sustainability best practices exchanges with Europe and Asia firms who are driving similar initiatives.

Kathleen shares her time in academia as an instructor of strategy, at Pepperdine Graziadio Business School, educating and mentoring future public and private sector leaders. She also works as an advisor in MBA Executive Programs. Kathleen earned her Doctor in Business Strategy (DBA) at University of Liverpool, UK. Her scholarly focus is integrative, sustainable Smart Cities and applied differentiation and growth strategies via business and entrepreneurial economics.


  • DBA, University of Liverpool, England
  • MBA, Pepperdine University
  • B.A., California State University, Chico

Teaching Experience

Kathleen brings a wide range of teaching experience to academia from the business environment. She delivers subject matter to technical audiences as well as business and leadership to executives and management teams. Kathleen is a regular guest speaker at many professional and industry conferences.

As an active mentor and coach, she is dedicated to helping others learning to cultivate stronger business alliances with internal and external clients. Kathleen has been the director of the IBM Silicon Valley EXITE program, is a leader mentor with Women Unlimited and several leadership and technology organizations.


Kathleen's comprehensive knowledge of organizational process design, strategic planning, and implementation complements the content of the Pepperdine Executive MBA program. Kathleen is an exceptional people manager, always promoting an open environment for communication. In her class advisor role, she works closely with faculty peers facilitating an innovative learning environment for individuals, teams, and the EMBA class as a united cohort.