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Education

What I Learned: Marilyn Wiley

The dean of the University of North Texas College of Business on her first job as a summer day camp instructor at the Park Cities YMCA.

“I was 16 and responsible for keeping the youngest group, 6- to 8-year-olds, entertained all day, five days a week as a summer day camp instructor at the Park Cities YMCA. I really enjoyed it. I had to come up with a variety of projects to keep them engaged. I had to deal with the age variation and different personalities you see in a group that really changes what you do. I’m not saying I work with 8-year-olds anymore, but I was surprised at how much of my time now has to do with personality differences and emotions.

“Employees bring their history and emotions, consciously and subconsciously, into what they’re doing. For example, if you have an employee who needs a lot of feedback, you need to be aware of that. Learning early the personal side of the work relationship has really made a difference in what I do. My belief is that every employee in my organization has something to contribute to the mission and something they’re good at, and my job is to find that and empower it. My first job also made very clear to me the need to understand how you fill a work schedule. To appropriately delegate and fill someone’s plate and not overload them—that’s going to be different for every person. My first job helped me do that.”

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