Mary Cullen, The Alexander Company
IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Mary Cullen, asset manager, The Alexander Company.
What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?
My job is at an interesting intersection between the project development team and operations team. As the only person with this role within our company, it has meant that I am involved in a huge variety of projects and issues that come up from financing, process improvement, investment management, and investor relations. I truly love how many parts of the company I get to learn about in my current role as it helps bolster my overall knowledge and strengthen the impact I can make in helping refine decision-making and processes.
Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?
My husband rose to the helm of his family business the week before the COVID lockdowns. Watching him navigate the unprecedented uncertainty in the project pipeline and manage the futures of the people within the company all while making quick decisions that had huge ramifications for the future of the business and its customers made me very proud. Humility is his biggest strength, and it was really highlighted in a big way during that period.
What has been the high point of your career so far?
Honestly, I can’t point to a single event and my joy in this profession keeps growing each year. I am most proud of cultivating a working life that allows me to feel I am making an impact not just on the bottom line of our company, but also in helping create beautiful and affordable housing for people across this country.
Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
I would have said what I tell my 2- and 4-year-old kids: Take a deep breath. I invested so many years in pushing to have the best grades, take the hardest classes, and get the best internships in order to give myself what I thought was the best chance at a good life. While all those things have proved important tools in getting to where I am now career-wise, being curious, making genuine relationships, and always looking at what connections you can make for others have really been what has made my career an important part of living my best life.
What would you say are the best things about living and working in Dane County?
I am originally from southern California and have lived in many places across the country. I have to say I am always amazed at how much Madison and Dane County have to offer. We have an incredible health care system, great restaurants, and a wonderful balance of architecture and outdoor open spaces for our community to enjoy. I can’t wait to ride my bike with the kids to Garver for some Ian’s and live music this summer.
Do you have any secret talents or abilities that people would be surprised to discover?
I have a really good internal map and sense of direction. You can place me in a city I have only been in once a decade prior, and I can still navigate to my favorite coffee shop from the trip. I must be food motivated.
What are your guilty pleasures?
I shamelessly love to sneak away sans kids to Ancora for a coffee and a cookie to listen to my favorite podcast from The Economist. It’s the small things.
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