Maureen Durack, Director of Operations, Vedder Price, P.C. (Formerly Director of Management Information Services, Vedder Price P. C. for 17 years)
Q: What did you want to do when you were 10 years old?
A: Wear a suit, carry a briefcase and ride the train, just like my Dad.
Q: What was your favorite class in high school? Why?
A: Math. There was always a “right” answer, you just had to solve for it. I loved the process and the outcome!
Q: What was your first paid job?
A: Besides babysitting (which I hated), my first paid job was working at the Dairy Queen. It was the best job in the world, as no one ever comes into an ice cream store angry.
Q: What was your first big career break and how did it change your career path?
A: Arthur Young introduced a new program, “Audit Smarter Quicker,” where they passed out Mac Pluses to the entire audit staff. After a brief training, I quickly realized there was a job opportunity helping my fellow auditors figure out how this new computer could actually help us improve our audit work. My supervisors agreed, so we made up a job, and my career changed course. It also helped that I was a new mother, which focused my priorities. I have always said that the best thing to happen in my career was having children!
Q: How did you get your current position (internal promotion, company change, other)?
A: Vedder Price has been growing over the past few years and needed to restructure to scale management and other services. The firm eliminated the Director of Administration role and created Director of Operations and Chief People Officer roles. Due to many factors, I was offered the opportunity to move into the Director of Operations role. More importantly, the role change enabled me to recommend that our Infrastructure Manager be promoted to the Director of Information Services.
Q: What do you like most about your current role?
A: I have the opportunity to hire and collaborate with amazing people. I get to work with the great team we’ve built every day.
Q: What is currently your biggest career challenge?
A: Managing the impact of change at many levels.
Q: What is the best career advice you’ve received?
A: Hire people who are smarter than you. I interpret this as not only brighter, but also able to contribute to the team’s effort in a way that I cannot, due to experience, education, diversity, etc.
Q: What career advice would you give to women beginning their careers?
A: Be purposeful in your networking. Just meeting people is nice, but having a purpose is so much more effective.