Patagonia calling

Karen Dodson, Executive MBA 42, is manager of professional development and Academic Publishing Services at Washington University School of Medicine. When she began the EMBA Program in April of 2013, Dodson had begun writing her novel, Set: A Love Story, and was thinking about how to use the book to market a business.


Kate, an American journalist, travels to Patagonia to fly-fish and falls in love with Nico, her kind and handsome Argentine fishing guide. Does she stay?

Set in Patagonia, South America and published in January 2015, the novel is a journalistic work of fiction that led her–with the help of her EMBA teammates, the EMBA Program faculty, and EMBA Program staff–to create Reveal Patagonia, a travel excursion business. St. Louis Magazine published an interview with Dodson about the book this month.

Reveal Patagonia began coming together as a result Dodson’s EMBA coursework.  In Bart Hamilton’s Strategic Innovation class she experienced an “aha” moment that her idea for Reveal Patagonia was real.  Dodson said, “We had to pull together a presentation and during the presentation I realized it was all coming together. We had a three to five year plan, an exit strategy, and a whole business model.” Her team continued to support her business plan throughout the EMBA program. A study of “Reveal Patagonia: the China market” was their final project for the Global Theme section of the program.

Me and penguins

Author, entrepreneur, and fly fishing enthusiast Karen Dodson

Dodson said, “My EMBA teams, especially my second team, were very helpful in developing the business plan, along with [professor] Ron King. All of the classmates were enormously generous with their time and advice.” Lee Pelligreen, EMBA 44, is Dodson’s business partner for Reveal Patagonia, and was instrumental in getting the business started. They are putting the finishing touches on their “beta” trip, which will begin November 1. A two-page ad promoting the trip will appear in the July-August issue of Sophisticated Living magazine.

Now that Reveal Patagonia is launched, Dodson plans to eventually hand the business over to the team now running it.  Working multiple jobs, she supported all expenses for starting the business herself, including starting Pesca Publishing to get Set: A Love Story published.

Dodson says the EMBA experience was transformative, “I look at the world differently. I had a qualitative view, and now I have a quantitative view of the world. There is a structure around things that wasn’t there before, and I can walk away from what doesn’t make sense. I can analyze data more deeply. I now think in P&L. Now, if I have an idea, I know the absolute steps to make it happen.”

 Images: courtesy of Karen Dodson


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