San Marcos,
13:43 PM

Making an Impact from the Lessons Learned at CSUSM

By David Ogul

Talk about having an impact.

She began working for the family business as a teen and has since transformed the one-time mom-and-pop organization into an internationally known manufacturer of oceanographic and freshwater monitoring systems. She recently launched a new venture making sensors to track water quality for the booming aquaculture industry. Her accomplishments have been honored by both a San Diego Business Journal Women Who Mean Business award and a San Diego Metro 40 Under 40 recognition.

Meet Kristin Elliott, who earned her MBA at Cal State San Marcos, was recently named among the top alumni to graduate from the program and is the latest addition to the Meet the Leaders program at CSUSM’s College of Business Administration.

“Cal State San Marcos is a wonderful school that has had a significant impact in my career,” Elliott said. “The College of Business Administration really helped me understand how businesses operate and how they can grow.”

Those who know her say Elliott epitomizes CSUSM excellence.

“At our relatively young university, it is wonderful to see our alumni making waves and succeeding so well,” said Dr. Rajnandini “Raj” Pillai, a professor of management and director of the Center for Leadership and Innovation Mentorship Building. “Kristin embodies all that. I am so proud of her. I cannot believe that she was in my MBA leadership class all those years ago and now she will be back on campus as a guest in our Meet the Leaders program sharing her insights with our aspiring MBA students. It has truly come full circle.”

Elliott succeeded her father, Dr. Michael Head, two years ago as CEO of Precision Measurement Engineering (PME), which began as a manufacturer of sensors that could monitor even the smallest changes in water and water flow. Today, PME is better known for its MiniDOT Logger, a submersible instrument that logs oxygen and temperature and records data in an internal memory card. PME’s biggest customers are universities, research institutions and government agencies that are monitoring the impacts of climate change or engaging in efforts to preserve local wetlands. A third product, the Cyclops-7 Logger, takes algae measurements and is manufactured in conjunction with Turner Designs in San Jose.

“PME was never really run as a business before,” Elliott said. “There was no business plan, no marketing plan, no employee manual, and the company really wasn’t making any money.”

Since she took over, PME’s annual gross income has grown from $200,000 annually to $1.3 million with 20 percent profit margins. And PME has embarked on projects involving the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute, among others. The Port of San Diego is using PME’s loggers to test the health of the bay water and explore the possibilities for aquaculture there.

Her new business, Aquasend, is aimed at enhanced water quality monitoring at aquaculture farms. She moved ahead with the project after students in the Senior Experience Project at CSUSM provided a detailed marketing report that looked at industry trends and demands.

“The students did an incredible job,” she said. “Their research really helped me understand and validate what I was hearing at these various trade shows. Aquaculture farms need real-time systems to read oxygen levels and water temperatures 24/7.”

Elliott also is involved with various business groups such as the San Diego Entrepreneur’s Organization and the Chairmen’s Round Table while she and her husband raise their two young children, Makenzie (5) and Colton (3).

Elliott grew up in the North County and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communications and sociology from UC San Diego before earning her MBA from CSUSM in 2011.

“Cal State San Marcos is contributing to the community in so many ways,” she said. “I’m happy to represent this incredible institution.”