Mariah Schuknecht (MBA ’14) has used her Zicklin degree to excel in the professional world. She currently serves as senior manager, IT and business operations, at a nonprofit she cares deeply about: the Clinton Foundation, an organization that collaborates with businesses, NGOs, and governments to impact communities across the globe. Schuknecht sat down with BCAM to chat about her career, how she broke into the industry, and how her Baruch experience helped along the way.
Tell us a little about your experience at the Clinton Foundation: What is your role, and how have your responsibilities grown?
I recently transitioned from a project manager position to a senior manager of IT and Business Operations. The initial role focused on the creation of an organization-wide intranet platform and has evolved into a more strategic operations position. I partner with teams throughout the Foundation to solve operational inefficiencies by either developing new technology solutions or revamping current procedures and processes. I love the role; it’s adding immense value to a foundation I care about, and it’s constantly changing and providing new challenges.
What was your career goal as an undergraduate, and how did you land your first job out of college?
I wish I was one of those fortunate few who knew exactly what they wanted after graduation, but I won’t lie. The only thing I was set on was moving to New York City. I saved up enough money to live for a few months without a job and took the leap—mildly petrified but comforted by the fact that I could always move home (Wisconsin) if things didn’t work out. I had a university friend who was working at the United Nations, which was looking for a procurement associate. My background in operations management was a perfect fit, and I got the job.
Why did you decide to get an MBA, and what made you want to choose Zicklin?
I had some amazing opportunities throughout my four years at the UN. I got to travel and learn from our international colleagues and be a part of the creation of UN Women. I also realized I didn’t want to become a UN “lifer.” I was craving context outside that system and always knew I wanted to get an MBA. It just seemed like the right time to transition. I chose Baruch because my husband and I wanted to stay in New York, and Baruch provided incredible value for the money.
Was there one class or professor in particular that really impacted you at Baruch?
I loved Professor Tulimieri and Professor Banai’s team-taught Business Consulting course. The professors divided the class up into teams and provided real business challenges that real organizations are facing. It was extremely hands on, challenging, and fun.
What makes you want to stay involved in the Baruch community and see today’s students continue to excel?
Baruch is a wonderful college, and I have a lot of pride in it. It’s filled with hardworking, talented individuals who are eager to go the extra mile (without forking out the extra cash). I love giving back to the University that gave me so much and hope I can provide avenues for Baruch students to ask questions and learn more about opportunities in the public sector (and how relevant a business degree can be within it).