After studying a Bachelor in Education and French at the University of Waikato, Professor Kate Kearins began her career teaching in catholic primary schools.
With a strong passion for French and a continuing interest in teaching and learning, she then headed to Europe on a French government scholarship, working at a polytechnic teaching English to engineering students. On her return to New Zealand she completed a Master of French at Massey University – and as the only student in her class, she also took a job in local government. This was followed by her realisation that academic posts in French departments were a rarity and she could make a far more strategic pitch for a role in a business school through a Master of Management Studies and Doctor of Philosophy, which she completed back at the University of Waikato. There, she moved through the ranks as Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and then Associate Professor in Strategic Management, ultimately specialising in sustainability.
In 2003, Professor Kearins relocated to Auckland to take up the position as Professor of Management at AUT, and successive roles as Head of the Management Department, Director of Postgraduate Programmes and Associate Dean Research in the Faculty of Business and Law. She has since also led the development of programmes in environmental management and sustainability.
She has co-authored a series of papers on business education for sustainability, and was principal investigator on a Marsden-funded project investigating New Zealand business and sustainability. She is an Associate Investigator on Dr Helen Tregidga's Marsden funded fast start project on corporate greenwash and counter narratives, and has been joint-recipient of several international awards for cases on New Zealand businesses, which have been used in business schools around the world.
In 2006-2007, she was Chair of the US-based Academy of Management’s Organisations and the Natural Environment Division. Today, she is a member of the Academy's Board of Governors, and is a regional representative and Director of the Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management, as well as serving on several editorial boards. She has also authored over 100 academic papers, with more than 50 appearing in refereed journals, and recently co-edited ‘Thesis Survivor Stories’ offering practical advice on getting through PhD and masters theses.