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For Kathy (Klunzinger) Ganley, ’96, the seed for her third career was planted in London, where she worked in investment banking in the 1990s and attended art fairs, studio visits, and gallery openings in her spare time.

When the lifelong art lover and her husband, James Ganley, ’96, bought a new home there in 2002, Kathy set out to decorate it with meaningful art. Starting small, she bought a sculpture of a sailboat that reminded her of summers near Lake Leelanau in Michigan, where her family has a cottage. It was one of the first pieces in what grew into a large, cherished collection.

Now Ganley is a Midwest-based art consultant at Mason Lane Art Advisory, where she helps clients build their own contemporary collections, from paintings to photographs to sculptures. In a given day, Ganley, who lives in Minneapolis, might accompany a client to a studio to preview a painting, supervise an installation, or attend an opening to see a new artist’s work.

“I love what I do and how it marries the creative and analytical sides of me,” Ganley says. “I see myself as a guide, connecting people with the story of the artist, the creative process, and the techniques used. Understanding these stories is what lays the foundation for long-term enjoyment of art.”

Ganley started her career in public accounting after graduating from the University of Michigan. In her 20s, she applied to the Full-Time MBA Program at Booth because she wanted to pivot into investment banking. She mostly studied finance, but she also took an art history class at the university.

One of the biggest benefits of the MBA program, Ganley says, was the opportunity to interact with a wide variety of people—her Booth classmates ranged from entrepreneurs to Navy SEALs. “That was where I really started to understand the value of collaboration, which is a large part of my work today,” she says.

“I credit my MBA with giving me the tools for the process. It also gave me confidence that while starting my own business would be hard, I could make it work.”

— Kathy Ganley

The financial skills Ganley learned at Booth helped her land an internship at Merrill Lynch in New York, which turned into a job. After she and James moved to London, she worked on the Merrill team there before leaving to start a family.

The Ganleys moved back to the United States in 2009. By 2019, their kids were teenagers and Ganley wanted a new challenge—something that involved art.

“I’d always been in awe of artists who can seemingly create something out of nothing and make deep connections with people through a painting or performance,” she says.

Drawing on her Booth training, she took a methodical approach, interviewing local artists, gallery owners, and interior designers in Minneapolis to learn about gaps in the market. “I credit my MBA with giving me the tools for the process,” she says. “It also gave me confidence that while starting my own business would be hard, I could make it work.”

Her interviews revealed that people needed more help navigating the often-overwhelming world of art. Ganley worked for a year on her own before teaming up with Mason Lane Art Advisory, an advisory founded in New York with offices around North America. While operating her own business, she collaborates with other Mason Lane advisors and benefits from a shared database and common website.

A large part of Ganley’s work involves educating clients about artistic techniques and processes, as well as ways to interpret and value art. “We tend to focus on what spaces you spend time in, and we mix different media because that’s what’s going to feel interesting,” she says.

One of Ganley’s favorite paintings in her own home is by Seattle-based artist Michael Schultheis, who has a master of science  in labor economics. It’s reminiscent of whiteboards used in universities, with smudges and erase marks. It connects her current work with her experience at Booth.

“I feel incredibly lucky that I found what I’m doing now,” Ganley says. “And I’m grateful to my younger self for making the decision to get my MBA from Booth without really knowing how it was going to play out.”