Penny Hauck MEFA Director of Marketing Interviewed by Emma Bisogno
Penny first joined MEFA’s college savings department in 1997. She took a break to work in the start-up phase of U.Promise and to teach art to children of all ages. She re-joined MEFA in 2003 as the Director of Marketing. Penny received her B.A. from Clark University and received her M.A.T. from George Washington University. About MEFA: MEFA is a not-for-profit self-financing state authority, not reliant on state or federal appropriation, that works to make higher education more accessible and affordable for students and families in Massachusetts. Nearly 30 years ago, MEFA was created by the state legislature at the request of Massachusetts colleges and universities. MEFA provides community education programs, college savings plans, and low-cost financing options. In its nearly thirty year history, MEFA has issued $4.2 billion in bonds and has assisted hundreds of thousands of families in financing a college education.
What did you dream of being when you were a kid?
What were the steps you took to succeed?
It seemed as though my dreams were shaped by parents who emigrated here from Greece and always talked about being doctors or lawyers. None of it made any sense to me at the time.
I guess the best thing I did was work for other organizations and try new things. I love working with kids and teaching; I love art; I love being creative and I love being passionate. All of these things led me here and will continue to shape my day-to-day life. In life I would say that keeping a positive attitude and belief in what you feel is key. Intuition is something that everyone should be able to trust within themselves. I have drive and I am persistence. Do I always succeed…not always but I get up and keep going.
When you were in college did you think you would work in the area of marketing or financial service once out of school? I had no idea what I was planning on doing when I graduated. I was clueless and applied to graduate school to delay actually thinking about it. I was an art history and sudio art double major and no one ever talked about how going to college may some day relate to a job or making a living. What do you like about working for a non-profit? I love the mission of MEFA and the drive to help families learn to make good decisions for them and their situation. What does the word entrepreneur mean to you? I always thought that an entrepreneur meant having a new and innovative idea that would somehow generate tons of money. It was never in my mind set until I spoke to you about how to be entrepreneurial within a workplace. What inspired you to start (the marketing department at MEFA)? I saw lots of gaps in the messaging of MEFA. The inconsistencies of the logo and product naming and the fact that many people had their hands in it, but not one person was responsible.
What was your most profitable mistake? I worked for a .com during the boom of web companies and worked so many hours in a day – my work life balance was way off and I was so burnt out. I thought I was making lots of money but until I sat down and calculated my hours versus salary I realized it was an illusionary profitable mistake. I quit with confidence and worked at a restaurant to decompress all the stress I had built up from being in that type of work environment. It was still a step in my success in some way so I would not say it was a mistake. In your opinion what are the most valuable characteristics and attributes in a leader? Someone with vision, who is relatable, understanding, inspiring, motivating and also caring. If you could walk in someone else’s shoes who would it be? I would love to shadow the president for a day and also the life of a true artist who concentrates on the process of creativity.