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The Ohio State University

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Maggie Merry

Maggie MerryChief Administrative Officer
College of Pharmacy

Q. Describe your career path that has led to your current post.

A. I started out hired as a receptionist really. I sorted the financial papers, but really didn't do anything with them. One of my coworkers decided they needed more help with the purchasing program and I was asked to help. My path just grew from there. I went on to focus on fiscal policy compliance at the College of Business and Academic Affairs. While at Academic Affairs my position grew and I began helping more with the general ledger financial side. I was approached by a colleague about a fiscal officer position in the Department of Geography and decided to apply. It was a great fit for me and a wonderful start to that side of my career. That was when I really saw my ideal career path and knew what I wanted to do. From there I became the fiscal officer for the Department of Psychology. After psychology I became one of the finance managers and then finance directors in Arts and Sciences. This was a very impactful role for me. I learned so much and knew that I wanted to continue my career growing and learning. I started in the College of Pharmacy as the chief administrative officer in January, 2016.

Q. How would you describe your leadership style?

A. Inclusive is the first thing that comes to mind. I do believe that knowledge is power, but that everyone should share that knowledge and be empowered. I often bring my team in on things that they don't need to know right now, but some day they might. Mentoring and learning is a huge part of my leadership. I truly love being part of an educational institution and make that part of my core values. If someone wants to learn something, I make sure that I, or someone else, teaches them it.

Q. What were the best career investments you've made along the way?

A. The best career investments were the relationships I built with my coworkers, colleagues and mentors. There are so many kind people willing to help you and teach you. It's amazing when you invest in them. I've also taken quite a few leadership classes and workshops that have helped me continue to enhance my leadership style.

Q. Any mentors or champions who supported your professional development?

A. Absolutely! First, my mother. She was always there telling me how proud I was and supporting every decision. When I would take a new job and things were tough, she was always there to listen or help however I needed. Her support has been so critical in my development. I've also had two coworker mentors that were so important to my path and choices. Both encouraged me, gave me vast opportunities and supported me when things didn't go as planned. I am so grateful to have had them in my life!

Q. How would you describe your career goals today? How have they changed over time?

A. I am ambitious and really enjoy new challenges. I can continue seeing myself pushing forward to new roles within the university structure at some point. I love working at Ohio State and can't imagine being anywhere else. I have always had a general path in mind, at least once I realized where my strengths are, though it has definitely become more refined as I've moved through my career.

Q. What kinds of challenges have you faced along the way, and how did you overcome them?

A. I've been really lucky and not faced significant personal challenges or hardships. There are challenges, of course, that everyone has going through their career — how to handle things in the best manner, how to deal with conflict, are you making the right decision, etc. I have found talking with colleagues can really help put some perspective on these types of challenges.

Q. When you think about serving in a leadership role as a female, do any unique experiences come to mind?

A. Early on in my career, I remember having an interview where the male interviewer asked, "You're so young and a woman, how will you deal with that?" I'm sure he didn't mean it as it came across, or perhaps he did — what does it even mean? A man never would have been asked that question. It was maybe 15 years ago now, but I've never forgotten it. We get challenged in unique and sometimes subtle ways. If we are direct, sometimes that is construed in a very negative way — that would also never happen to a man.

Q. What advice would you give to other women looking to reach similar goals?

A. Keep pushing yourself and don't let anyone stop you. It's so important to build a positive support network and seek out your role models and mentors. If you want to meet someone, don't be intimidated — I've truly found people here to be welcoming and helpful for the most part.

Q. What's next for you? Something you're looking forward to.

A. Learning something new. I'm always up for a new challenge and love being pushed to adapt, learn and grow. I'm also a "fixer" so I love to look at new "problems" as opportunities to change for the better. I don't know where that exactly means I will go, but I so look forward to the opportunities.

Learn more about Maggie and her career path in her Buckeye Voices article.