Know Your Professor: Mary Shapiro

July 29, 2014

Mary Shapiro

Meet Mary Shapiro, from the School of Management! This summer, she has been participating as a faculty member for our Women Changing the Face of Leadership program.

What is your favorite class to teach?

I love MGMT 100 because it's with first-years and seeing them develop confidence and skills so quickly is amazing -- and MGMT 234 because I get to see students do some important creative work that can benefit Simmons now and demonstrate to future employers what they're capable of doing.

What's your favorite book?

I love books with strong female protagonists. This includes the Game of Thrones series (some MAJOR strong women in central roles -- author George R. R. Martin must have had a great mother!) to The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman, a mystical, beautiful story about four strong women and their lives culminating at the last Jewish stronghold on Masada when the Romans were conquering their lands.

Fill in the blank: When I was in college, I ____

I was oblivious! It was a time when I was "wandering in the wilderness"! What to do with my life? It wasn't until many years later that I started to get an inkling!
If you could travel to anywhere in the world right now, where would you go and why?
New Zealand (to go on the Lord of the Rings tour) or back to China. I spent two weeks there and that was just not enough. What an amazing place, amazing history, amazing people.

When I'm not teaching, I'm ____

Volunteering for Girl Scouts as a Board member; or street biking, practicing yoga, playing or traveling with my three adult kids. I also spend a lot of time in organizations, working with teams who are in major conflict.

Do you have a hidden talent?

I'm a long ago undergraduate art major; my love of art still gets captured in my PowerPoints for classes, gardening and searching for hand-crafted jewelry.

Favorite quote?

"If two people think alike on a team, one of them is redundant," William Wrigley (the gum guy). The value of diversity in one simple statement.

What song is your personal anthem?

"New York City Serenade" by Bruce Springsteen makes me cry every time because of its beauty, empathy and recognition of the fragility of the human experience.

I love my students because ____

They are so smart, funny, creative, optimistic and open to new ideas.

What would you say to women interested in studying Management?

At the School of Management we prepare women for leading in the for-profit world, but also in government, politics, non-profits, health care, essentially in any type of organization. Take some management courses to prepare for any career you are seeking! We also think about leading and managing in organizations differently than many business schools: we focus on the importance of leading by making decisions based on one's ethics, how they will impact lots of people (not just those with financial interests) and affect both people and resources in the future.

What inspired you to become involved in the Women Changing the Face of Leadership program?

I've had the good fortune to be part of it for all three summers it has been offered at Simmons. Every year I learn so much from the students -- about Africa as a huge continent, their individual countries, religions and cultures, the monumental challenges women face in many of those countries and the power and impact that women with a strong vision, perseverance and support can have. They make me optimistic for the future of the world.

What's your favorite part of the program?

Watching the students' transformation. They arrive uncertain, quiet, inside themselves. It is amazing to watch them transform from a group of individuals into a cohesive sisterhood committed to changing the world!

Describe your idea of leadership. currently has about 25,000 different books about leadership. There's a LOT of ideas about leadership out there! I believe:
  1. Real leadership does not come from your title or your position; it arises from your personal desire to make an impact, to overcome a challenge, to solve a problem, to make things better.
  2. Leadership is what you do to invite others to participate in achieving your ideas; to listen to them, and build a vision that gets them excited, too; to organize roles so everyone feels they have an important part of the work; to thank, motivate, encourage and develop others.
  3. You may be a leader in some situations and a follower in others. Good followership (engaged, responsible, honest, fully contributing) is just as important as good leadership.
  4. Finally, I believe each person needs to figure out what leadership means to them. What kind of leader will they be? It's not a "one size fits all" proposition.

Fill in the blank: I love Simmons because ____

I firmly believe the world will be a better place with more women leading in business, government, nonprofits and any institution that impacts people. Our Simmons students are those future leaders.