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Posted 1.26.07

Weatherheadlines recently sat down with Mary Rice-Demiro, E.M.BA. candidate, to learn more about how the program is helping her career, her commute from California, and her high ideals.

Q: What is your current title and position?
My current role is vice president of marketing at BEHR*. My responsibilities include leading the brand marketing team of paint and our interactive and color teams. (*BEHR is an industry leader with a reputation for the highest quality paints, stains and varnishes.)

Q: From where do you originally hail and what brought you to the Weatherhead School?
I’m originally from Shaker Heights. I was born and raised in the Cleveland area, specifically the Heights area. My parents are actually still there.

Although I moved to California in the late 1980s, I always had my eyes set on Weatherhead because a former boss had gone through an early Weatherhead program and he really encouraged me. The integrity and capabilities of the Weatherhead program set it apart and made the E.M.B.A. program a really really phenomenal program for which to be considered.

Q: You mentioned you started your E.M.B.A. last fall.  What are your impressions thus far?
First and foremost, I think Case and the Weatherhead School are incredible. They have a great reputation and that’s one of the reasons why I considered entering the program. It is definitely fast paced and it's really geared towards what I call 'building a tool set' from which you can draw on from both a general management and a leadership perspective.

Q: With regards to your Weatherhead experience, how has it been relevant to your current position?
That’s an interesting question. One of the first things I realized is that going to Weatherhead would give me the ability to really see things from different vantage points and learn some things that maybe I wasn’t up to speed on. One of the things that led me down this path was that business is changing at an increasingly fast pace. You need to be a lot more diverse in your understanding of functional or business operations to be able to manage the business better today than in the past. My goal is to gain insight in areas that aren’t in my primary business focus. The E.M.B.A. program takes areas such IT, IS, accounting, finance and other functional areas and integrates them into a program that allows you to draw on key areas/ I’m quite impressed with the program.

Q: Earlier you mentioned that you currently live in California; in addition, I would imagine that you have a very hectic schedule. How does the E.M.B.A. program work with your busy life?
Well, one of the reasons that the Weatherhead School was at the top of my list was that the program only requires me to be on campus once a month. It just would not be feasible for me to be in a program which required me to be on campus every other week. Due to my hectic travel schedule, I really needed flexibility to work at my own pace during the week or on weekends. While living in California perhaps has a bit more effort involved because of my travel schedule, I was already on the road quite a bit so it wasn’t so bad for me!

That said, the program has given me the flexibility to spend the time I need to spend from a remote position and I think many people work in a remote world today. I’m finding it not as difficult as some people might think it would be being so far away. I’ve got a great study group. Of the seven of us, four of us now are almost always remote in terms of our study group meetings. We’re able to manage by having live meetings on the Web.

Q: When you’re not working or studying, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to cook and I enjoy being with my family. So, when I have a few spare moments, I’m usually at home in the kitchen -- that helps me de-stress! In addition, my husband and I also travel a lot.

Q: What is the best book you have read or you’re currently reading?
You know, that’s a challenge. Right now, being in the E.M.B.A. program I have more books than I know what to do with! The reading level of the program right now is pretty substantial, so I can’t really say that I’d read the books that I have right now for enjoyment purposes.

Q: What has been your inspiration throughout your career?
I think my inspiration has been a couple of things. First, I never took anything for granted and I always felt that it was my obligation to reach out for an opportunity. Second, I have had mentors in the business place that showed me what it was like to be a leader, including how to really grasp difficult business judgment areas with a sense of responsibility and integrity. Those are the key areas that have led me down this path.

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