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UW Crest with engineering background
October 31, 2022

Kevin Yttre: 2022 Early Career Award recipient

Written By: Staff

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Kevin Yttre

Kevin Yttre BSChE ‘03 (MBA ‘08, Harvard University)
President, Grace Matthews

We are honoring Kevin as a chemical engineer and business leader who has improved chemical industry production and operations and successfully managed national and international company mergers and acquisitions.

How did you decide on engineering as your major?

UW has always been considered one of the top chemical engineering programs in the country and having an opportunity to get an education at the cost of a Wisconsin resident at a nationally recognized program was an incredible opportunity. I was fortunate to have attended a high school where I had teachers, coaches and mentors who were very invested in me. The idea of going into chemical engineering definitely came from insights from my high school math, chemistry and science teachers.

What was your favorite class?

The summer lab class—this is the capstone course for the chemical engineering degree. During that course, it truly feels like you’re working from seven in the morning till midnight for five straight weeks. At the time, it was very challenging, but you just needed to find a way to get through it. After completing the course, students leave with a confidence that they can manage through anything. I think it’s a great way to wrap up the undergrad program. If there’s a class I would take again, it would be that one.

How did your experience at UW-Madison influence your career path?

First, the problem-solving skills that were instilled in us in the chemical engineering program were phenomenal. I use those skills every day of my life. When I finished at Madison, I joined a company that produced intermediate and specialty chemicals. These products are used in a variety of applications from toothpaste to shampoo to automobile tires, to name a few. I was part of a trainee program; that put me on a path where I worked in production management and engineering positions, and commercial roles. I had the opportunity to support a startup, work at a couple of different manufacturing sites, and also work internationally. From there, I went back to business school to pursue an MBA. I then started at Grace Matthews where I still work today, which is an M&A advisory company. I still spend 100% of my time focused on the chemical industry, but my expertise has shifted to be more financial-service-oriented rather than more technical.

Who has played the greatest role in your achievements?

My parents. I’m one of nine children. The benefit of being part of a large family is you get pushed out where you have to figure things out on your own. My siblings and I failed at a lot of things. My parents were always there to help us learn from our mistakes and develop the courage needed to rebound. I’ve been influenced by professional colleagues and other people; one would be my wife, Andrea. She has sacrificed a lot for my career and inspires me to be better every day.

What are your hobbies?

We have been blessed to have five very active kids, so we spend a lot of time with them. I like to play golf and do fitness training.