Mary Schnurr, Associate General Counsel at Ardagh Group, is a name very familiar around ChiWIP, both as an active In-House Advisory Committee Member and as an ardent supporter of women in IP. Mary has spent most of her legal career as in-house counsel. “I like working for a corporation because the work-life balance is better,” Mary said. As to her current professional home, the Ardagh Group, Mary didn’t hesitate before highlighting what a great place it is to work—well-organized and with dedicated people who thrive working independently.
When asked about advice to outside counsel, Mary said simply, “If you ever get the opportunity to bid on business or get to do a first job for someone, make sure you do the absolute best job you can, but probably more important is get it done on time, whenever it’s promised.” Mary’s advice is also to advocate for yourself to the client, especially if you go the extra mile or write off time, and provide other services of great value to them.
Leadership, in Mary’s view, is knowing people’s strengths and working with them to do what is best for the company. Sometimes that means abandoning a certain idea if the required investment of time and effort by the team becomes too great. At other times, things fall into place, the employee gets to shine, and the company derives a great benefit, which is what really matters in Mary’s view.
As a person, Mary is clear-cut and values directness, efficiency, and a get-it-done attitude. “I will never forget,” Mary said, “I had someone volunteer to show me around a manufacturing plant I have not seen before. As I was thanking the person for their time, they said simply, ‘I am, in fact, volunteering my time, so that when I have something to ask you in return, you will remember me and take up my request sooner rather than later.’” Mary very much appreciated the honesty and, indeed, was able to return the favor.
Mary’s sincere advice is not to undervalue making personal connections—stopping to speak with your co-workers and getting to know them. “I would encourage everybody to consider whether they need to make connecting with people a bigger part of their work life,” Mary said. This could be as simple as asking a person’s plans for the coming weekend or asking after their family or friends.
Mary is a seasoned traveler and had a fantastic time visiting Morocco, India, and Nepal late in 2019. She also values physical fitness, including jogging and lifting weights. Lately, Mary took up a challenge of doing daily push-ups and finds them to be a great form of exercise. Best of all, Mary enjoys spending time with friends, and building her network and mentoring through ChiWIP events.
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