2021 MBAs To Watch: Maria Herold, University of Maryland (Smith)

Maria Herold

University of Maryland, Robert H. Smith Business School

Driven individual who loves learning new things and helping others learn, and is always reading.”

Hometown: Kensington, MD

Fun fact about yourself: I hiked down and back up the Grand Canyon two years ago – my goal is to go on a hike in every National Park!

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Maryland, Robert H. Smith School of Business – B.S. Finance, B.S. Supply Chain Management

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Protiviti, Senior Consultant

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? M&T Bank, Buffalo, New York (virtual)

Where will you be working after graduation? M&T Bank, Executive Associate Program, Baltimore, Maryland

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Dean’s Fellow (Scholarship)
  • Forté Fellow
  • Forté Ambassador (2020-2021)
  • Graduate Assistant, Office of MBA & M.S. Admissions
  • Teaching Assistant, Financial Strategy
  • First Year Track Representative (2019-2020)
  • Smith Association of Women MBAs (SAWMBA), President (2020-2021) and First Year Board Member (2019-2020)
  • Orientation Committee Social Chair (2020)
  • Industrials and Materials Analyst for Mayer Fund (2020-2021)
  • Member of Finance and Venture Capital Club and Net Impact Club

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of my role in the Mayer Fund. It has been such a rewarding experience to be part of the team in control of the school’s $6.5M+ fund. I participated in the decisions that go into the day-to-day management of the fund, which enabled me to improve my quantitative and communication skills. I chose, for my role, to be the Industrials and Materials analyst, because of my interest in airlines – an especially interesting area to cover since the pandemic started. Covering these two sectors led me to dive deeper into fascinating businesses and companies that I would never have been exposed to otherwise. And, in experiencing my teammates’ pitching stocks in their sectors, I learned about a wider range of products and services in the market, as well as how to be a better teammate. I was further enlightened, as a Mayer Fund member, by participating in the admissions process for the incoming members. I’m very proud of the work that the team and I have put into the Fund, and I am excited to follow its progress for years to come.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In my previous role as a consultant, I experienced a wide range of clients and constantly learned about new industries and business functions. As a result, the project I am most proud of was for a client in the new-to-me REIT industry, who had acquired another company and was working through an integration process. I have always been interested in the intricacies of M&A activities, and this project offered me the opportunity to learn about the integration aspect of M&A work. This project inspired me to do a lot of research on my own to put my best work forward. I felt soundly confident communicating with and providing recommendations to senior individuals at the client. It was also the project where I was working with the most holistic view of an organization, instead of one team or department, and it was satisfying to be able to show to the client and my manager my range in the work.

Why did you choose this business school? A close-knit atmosphere created by highly interactive cohorts and an engaging, supportive alumni network led me here. While a Maryland Smith undergrad, I was aware that there were always business events and activities going on, but didn’t always participate myself. Fast forward to my graduate school application process – I knew that I wanted to stay in the DC-Maryland-Virginia area and that I wanted to attend a program that would allow me to experience a wide range of activities and educational experiences. While looking into Smith’s MBA program, I learned about the Mayer Fund opportunity, as well as robust social activities for cohort members, a strong alumni network and events that utilized that network. Current students I queried spoke with a lot of enthusiasm about social events such as International Night and Diwali Night, which celebrated diverse cultures, and the weekly Thursday night socials.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite, among my many excellent MBA professors, has been Rachelle Sampson. She taught our first-term Managerial Economics and Public Policy courses, which greatly impacted me and my classmates. Economics has never been my favorite subject, but her course pushed me to better understand concepts and think more. I also really admire her research focus on environmental impacts of, and short-termism in, U.S. firms and capital markets. She further made a lasting impression to focus on and prioritize ethics in business. She was a wonderful teacher and really pushed me to rise to the MBA challenge.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? The Smith MBA program offers multiple treks, like the finance-focused Smith in the City (New York) and tech-focused Smith in the Valley (California/Silicon Valley) to increase networking opportunities and industry exposure for students. I didn’t participate in these at the expense, in hindsight, of enriching my MBA experience. Networking and making meaningful connections have been personal priorities in my MBA experience, and these treks offer great opportunities for such – especially through networking with individuals at companies in different geographic locations and outside of my comfort zone.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth about Smith is that there’s a downside to it being a smaller program. Conversely, I’ve found that a smaller program for graduate school provides great opportunity to get to know and connect better with everyone in the program. This has certainly been my case and beyond expectation. Broadly, the resources provided are excellent. There is something for everyone’s needs. If there’s something we feel could enrich the program for ourselves or others, we’re encouraged to voice it. Lastly, a word that well-describes individuals in my cohort is ‘scrappy.” In our small program, we’re especially focused on being determined and highly creative as we grow into well-rounded business professionals.

What surprised you the most about business school? The most surprising part was that it didn’t feel highly competitive. I’ve found a spirit of collaboration and camaraderie. We feel that the program’s goal is for all of us – not just the top performers — is to succeed. I was nervous about the stereotype of an MBA environment as intense or highly competitive. But I learned a lot about teamwork and the value of asking for help, then giving help in other areas in return. I also realized a more positive experience through group projects at the MBA level, compared to the undergraduate level. My MBA classmates in group projects were highly motivated, organized, and collaborative. It was further enriching to learn from their perspectives from prior job and educational experiences. Beyond the coursework, extracurricular experiences raised my appreciation for the fun side of teamwork and leadership. Reflecting on my experience as SAWMBA president, the success of our events was keyed by a high level of teamwork and trust among VP of Finance Rachel Loya and our first-year board. Overall, it’s been enjoyable to relax, trust the teamwork process and reap the rewards.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? During the application process, I was really interested in how capital allocation and financial planning and analysis function in the healthcare industry. I feel this passion really came through in my application and interviews. Though I ended up not pursuing this route, I believe that being passionate about specific areas of business and how I aspired to contribute accordingly post-MBA is something that gave me an edge.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I have felt lucky to have connected with Casey Windmuller. Beyond having extreme amounts of patience and kindness, Casey has been a great friend and inspiration to me. She is working on dual MBA and Master of Social Work, which is no easy task considering the effort that an MBA alone requires. She also participates in and positively contributes to many of the activities within the program. She’s held multiple official roles in our program. But most in our cohort would agree that her unofficial role has been as an avid supporter of all of us and advocate for our goals. She has personally taught me the importance of listening to others and encouraging everyone’s perspectives. I have her to thank for a lot of the patience and leadership skills that I’ve developed over the course of the program. Outside of her schooling, Casey so admirably devoted community service time to causes she’s passionate about. It’s been a joy to experience the program together with her and mutually supporting each other.

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? From a technical perspective, the shift wasn’t very disruptive. In my previous job as a consultant, I worked remotely occasionally, whether remote from client or office, and was familiar with videoconferencing and other aspects of virtual work. I’m grateful for having that experience to lean on. However, from a social and connectivity perspective, it has been disruptive. Small, seemingly inconsequential interactions in the hallways, case rooms or classrooms are what I’ve miss the most. Further disrupted are things like keeping up with others, seeing and learning their quirks and interesting stories, and maintaining strong relationships that enhance team and group work. These challenges, nonetheless, have been offset to some degree through the virtual events our MBAA and clubs have engaged in with the shared goal coming out of the pandemic stronger.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? In undergrad, I was fortunate to be accepted into a living-learning program called College Park Scholars, specifically in its Business, Society and Economy Program, which emphasized innovation and entrepreneurship. This program’s director, Mark Wellman, was an excellent leader who influenced me to pursue business through my undergrad years with an eye toward an MBA. He helped foster a sense that there were many more aspects of business than I had known and expanded my perspective on business. Through the program and Dr. Wellman’s encouragement, I studied abroad in the UAE, experiencing the culture and business activities in the areas of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Getting to tour global offices and learn about some of the intricacies of global business, I appreciated how far-reaching Dr. Wellman’s network was and it further inspired my business-degree pursuit. I’ve appreciated the opportunity to stay in contact with him upon returning to the University of Maryland for grad school.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I want to join nonprofit board and provide expertise and experience to an organization that means something to me and gives back to the community. I also would love to develop through more mentorship opportunities – whether in the general business or finance fields, or in areas specifically for women in business.

What made Maria such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021?

“Maria Herold is a true Terp – growing up in Maryland and attending Maryland Smith for both her undergraduate and graduate degrees. She is driven, dedicated, and collaborative – all things that Smith values. Prior to COVID-19, she organized her classmates to attend football games and see UMD outside of Van Munching Hall. Maria was elected Track Rep by her classmates in the fall of her first semester and has been an active member of the Smith Community ever since. She is passionate about advocacy for women in business. She is a Forté Fellow and Forté Ambassador and has held events to connect current Smith MBA Forté Fellows with prospective students. In her Graduate Assistantship position with the Office of Admissions, she has hosted various women’s events for prospective and admitted students, and she aggressively recruits women into our Full-Time MBA program during one-off meetings, small group sessions, and information sessions. Not surprisingly, she is also President of the Smith Association of Women MBAs, which has been one of the most active clubs this year. They have held many events connecting women across the MBA programs, and even implemented a book club focusing on female authors. In addition, Maria was selected as the Industrials and Materials Analyst on the Mayer Fund, where she works with 11 other students managing a $6.5M+ fund. We look forward to seeing Maria continue to combine her passions when she joins M&T Bank in the Executive Associate Program after graduation.”

Wendy W. Moe
Associate Dean of Master’s Programs



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