Copy the Leader: Mary Padilla
Mary Padilla,  j’88, is the Assistant VP of Strategic Communications and Storytelling at the KU Alumni Association.

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Jayhawks in leadership positions are everywhere you look, including through the Jayhawk Career Network. KU Alumni, in partnership with SumnerOne, is highlighting Jayhawk leaders who are models for others in their industries with our “Copy the Leader” program.

What do you do in your work?

I oversee the KU Alumni Association’s marketing efforts and content strategy. These include overseeing the website, digital communications, social media and creative, like videos. Different members of my team manage the day-to-day deliverables in these areas. I support leadership on various projects, also.

What are the qualities of a good leader?

Qualities that enable a person to be a good leader include self-awareness, empathy and professional and personal experience.

How do you practice leadership at your job?

Leadership begins with understanding purpose, goals and roles. What is the purpose of the organization? What are the organization’s goals? How do my position and that of my team members contribute to achieving the goals? By understanding these, you lead and create alignment.

What makes a team/group successful?

Trust and respect are necessary for a team to be successful. Technical skills are required, but a combination of those with power skills, formerly known as soft skills, make for a high-performing team.

How can leaders in your industry help their organizations adapt to change?

Change is inevitable, and most people don’t like it, even though they may say they do. With change comes uncertainty, and that can be frightening. If you are comfortable, you are complacent and not growing. I lived in many cities across the country and worked in various industries. That required starting over, learning new skills and working with different kinds of people. Staying true to yourself while adapting to a new environment is challenging but will benefit your personal and professional development. A growth mindset must start from the leaders of organizations and industries.

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