Mary grew up stateside but was inspired to work in Bangladesh because of her heritage; it’s her father’s home country and her second home.
We had a discussion with Mary about her career and expert insights. Below are edited excerpts from our conversation.
What was your first paid job?
My very first job was when I was fifteen: I was a lifeguard and swim coach at the public pool. I can teach you how to swim or give CPR!
What has been your greatest professional achievement?
I’m proud to be a teacher. It’s hard to pinpoint one achievement, but the sum total of what I’ve done — planning lessons, making materials, giving feedback and encouraging students — is something I’ve enjoyed and am proud of.
In 20 years’ time what single important change would you like to see in Bangladesh?
I’d like to see Bangladesh grow a sizable middle class, and a necessary factor towards this end is certainly education.
In Bangladesh what opportunities exist now for young people that did not exist when you were a student?
The internet is definitely providing opportunities that previously did not exist. I’ve seen this in the work my students do: they’re doing virtual internships, taking part-time employment and making connections that wouldn’t be possible without the internet.
What remarkable innovations have there been in your profession or area of expertise?
New media technology isn’t remarkable in every sense because innovations like big data and deep fakes make it more difficult for people to get reliable information. I’ve taught research skills, so I’ve seen firsthand how difficult it can be for people to learn which sources to trust.
What are two of your strengths that have made you effective in your work?
I like to think I’m proactive — when I see a problem, I want to be part of the solution. Like when I saw some students struggling with women’s health issues, I organized seminars with health professions to help bridge the gap. I’d also say I’m resourceful.
What advice would you give a young professional looking to start a career in your profession or area of work?
First, read widely. Second, develop multiple interests and skill sets, for your own sanity, but also because everything is connected and that knowledge will end up building on itself.
Do you have any other interests?
I’ve started long-distance running, and I finished the Dhaka Half Marathon this year. There are a few full-length marathons in Bangladesh, and someday I’d like to see if I can go the distance!
Connect with Mary on Linkedin.