Welcome to Baker College’s Spotlight feature, a series of brief interviews with notable BC students, faculty and alumni who are making news and reaching new heights in their educational and professional pursuits.
This edition of Spotlight features Maria VanHaverbeck, who earned both associate and bachelor’s degrees from Baker College, and today is the Global Marketing Manager for Wisconsin-based tool and die manufacturer, Superior Die Set Corporation. Here we learn more about Maria and her professional path and passions.
Baker College (BC): Thanks for sharing your story with us, Maria. We know you earned two degrees from Baker College…what can you tell our readers about your BC education?
Maria VanHaverbeck (MV): I earned an associate degree in Business and a bachelor’s degree in Digital Media Design. My main program of focus was graphic communications, but I also minored in marketing and web design.
BC: What can you tell us about why you chose Baker College for your educational pursuits?
MV: I am a very goal-orientated person, and I felt that Baker College was a great fit for my needs. I was able to take classes directly relating to my core program. There were no, “filler” elective requirements that you find at a lot of the more traditional universities and colleges. All the resources spent were directly applying to my degree, which made me feel like I was achieving my goals faster.
BC: You clearly knew where you want to go and the fastest way to get there! Now that there is here…what can you tell us about your current professional role and some of your day-to-day responsibilities?
MV: I am the Global Marketing Manager for a tool and die manufacturer. Some of my day-to-day responsibilities include: building and executing various marketing campaigns for e-mail and social media, working with the executive team to ensure corporate goals are being met, managing support staff, planning and attending trade shows and visiting/working with customers.
BC: We understand you are your company’s first ever Global Marketing Manager. What unique challenges and opportunities come with being “first” in this job?
MV: Yes, my current employer recognizes the importance of marketing, so they decided to create a role to bring me on-board. Being the “first” is both a blessing, and also a huge challenge. There are no tools or processes in place for marketing, so everything needs to be built from scratch. The blessing is that I can build everything the way I know will enable us to best achieve our goals.
BC: You’ve clearly found success in the marketing industry. Were you always interested in the field? What first inspired/drove you to consider marketing as a career path?
MV: I was not originally interested in marketing, outside of making the creative graphics to support it. Back then, I only associated marketing with traditional consumer marketing…think, “Mad Men.” What really changed the game for me, was exposure to and participation in, business-to-business marketing, or as the industry term is used, B2B marketing. Especially in industrial manufacturing, you’re marketing a solution to a manufacturer who builds products that have a significant impact on our lives. I’ve worked at companies that support the manufacture of food, automobiles, medical devices, appliances, construction equipment and more. All of those products directly impact the health and prosperity of the human race, which makes what I do very rewarding.
BC: What a great perspective! What else do you like best about your job/career? Also, what do you find most challenging?
MV: What I like best about my job is the variety it provides, and the people I meet. I continue to be impressed by the human mind and the ingenuity used to solve problems; I absolutely love manufacturing and seeing how industrial products are made. What I find most challenging, are the things I can’t talk about! As a marketer, you’re a storyteller, and often I will see an amazing manufacturing application that I cannot tell anyone about, because of non-disclosure or confidentiality agreements.
BC: Well now we’re certainly curious as to what wonderful things you have seen! Looking back, what were your career goals when you first enrolled at BC? How do they compare to where you are today?
MV: When I enrolled in Baker College, it was during the Great Recession. There was a lot of worry and anxiety about being able to find a job, but my goal was to become a graphic designer at an advertising agency. Obviously today I am not a graphic designer. I had no idea what my career journey had in store for me, but I’m glad I stayed open to change and growth!
BC: We are too! How do you feel your time at/degree from Baker College has contributed to your professional successes?
MV: My degree from Baker College has directly contributed to my professional success. I would not be qualified for my current role without my bachelor’s degree. Further, my degrees provided opportunities that allowed me to gain the experience needed for my current role. When I reflect back, my career journey has been a series of blocks building upon each other with new skills and experiences. None of that would have been possible without my education.
BC: What a nice segue into our next question… What best piece of advice would you share with current college students?
MV: The best piece of advice I can share with current college students is to challenge your comfort zone. Growth does not happen without adversity, and in the business world, you will be challenged. Additionally, continue to chase and invest in your personal growth. I’ve learned that building a career requires continuous improvement, so always be focused on levelling yourself up!
BC: And what would you want others to know about Baker College?
MV: I think the Baker College format is an excellent modern-day solution to the traditional university. I was not able to go away to a university and have school be my only “job.” By choosing Baker, I was allowed flexibility to make my education happen, while working full time and attending school full time at night.
BC: Thanks again for your sharing your insights, Maria. Anything else you’d like to add?
MV: Thank you for the opportunity to tell my story!