How I Work: Jeanne-Marie Ryan, Executive Director, Career Development at Davidson College

How I Work: Jeanne-Marie Ryan, Executive Director, Career Development at Davidson College
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(Note: Our How I Work series is brought to you by AccruePartners – building people, companies and careers by being at the forefront of the staffing and executive search industry).

What do you do?

I lead a fantastic team, shaping and driving our strategy to empower talented Davidson students to assess, explore and launch professional lives of meaning and purpose.

What’s a day in your life look like?

It’s a cliché to say it, but every day is different! Yesterday my day started by waking up in NYC, getting the early flight back to Charlotte, then holding meetings with employers on the West Coast (Seattle and Silicon Valley) to talk about internships for students (STEM and venture capital fields). The afternoon ended with a meeting with my team and student leaders to talk about professional development programming for Spring Semester.

Office location:

Davidson College, Davidson

Photo via Davidson College.

Photo via Davidson College.


My commute is a peach! I live only a mile from campus, so I generally cycle to and from work. It’s 10 minutes each way.

What do you do during your commute?

I concentrate on not falling off my bike! I try to practice good road safety, so no screens or audio on the commute!

Phone Type:

iPhone 6.

How I Work: Jeanne-Marie Ryan, Executive Director, Career Development at Davidson College

How I Work: Jeanne-Marie Ryan, Executive Director, Career Development at Davidson College

Desk photo:

How I Work: Jeanne-Marie Ryan, Executive Director, Career Development at Davidson College


Dell laptop. I just changed from a MacBook Pro, because I hated not having full MS Office functionality – Outlook was built for a PC!

Gadgets you can’t live without:

My Kindle – it means I can stay up late reading while my husband sleeps beside me!

Do you listen to music while you work?

When I’m working on a proposal or a project, I stick on the Discover Weekly playlist on my Spotify account. Spotify has figured out the indie, folksy jams I like as background ambience to fuel my work.

What software are you a power user of?

MS OneNote, SnagIt, Handshake (student career portal) and my home life is managed by Amazon Prime!

What’s your favorite spot for a business lunch? Your order?

Downtown Charlotte – usually King’s Kitchen or Aria Tuscan Grill. Here in Davidson, it’s got to be Kindred. Their falafel on naan is my weakness.

Social media habits:

Daily, voraciously and indiscriminately. Actually, I’m not too bad, I just focus on FB and Twitter – I’m old school.

To-do list manager:

OneNote. I no longer have to figure out what my illegible scrawl was MEANT to say.

What everyday thing are you really good at?

I’m a pretty good cook and I am really comfortable just making it up as I go, I don’t generally use recipes.

What’s your one favorite thing about your job?

It’s another cliché, but I really love seeing our team achieving outcomes – we’re in a transformation stage at the moment and it’s really exciting as we keep moving forward.

Best time-saving shortcut or Charlotte life hack:

Outsource where possible. I set up ‘subscribe and save’ on Amazon Prime for household goods and I love that I never have to run out of anything!

Sleep routine:

My sleep-loving husband tries to get us to nestle down at about 10 p.m. nightly, but I like to stay up late reading.

Where do you go around Charlotte to get away from the office?

My office is pretty fantastically bucolic, and I live right around the corner, so when we’re looking to get away, I tend to either drive down to Charlotte for dinner, or for a longer trip, head towards the mountains. I think I’ve seen every inch of the Blue Ridge Parkway by now!

What did you eat for breakfast this morning?

Cascadian Farms Peanut and Pretzel chewy granola bars. We order them on Amazon and literally have a full shelf of our pantry devoted to our supply!

If you weren’t doing your current job, what would you be doing?

I would probably be doing a similar type of role; I love the hybrid of devising and driving strategy but also working directly to connect people for results. On the other hand, I’m always claiming that I’d love to be a park ranger, so in another life, maybe that would be my path!

Best job advice you’ve received:

Run to trouble. It’s what I tell our students and my mentees whenever they ask.

Last book you read (grade it on a A-F scale):

A Time of Torment, by John Connolly. Taut, terrifying, beautiful prose and creepy characters. I’m a fan. A-

Last movie you watched (grade it on a A-F scale):

Arrival. I’m a big fan of the movie Contact, and was disappointed with Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, so was really excited to see a smart, uplifting sci-fi flick back on the big screen last month! A+

What’s one thing people don’t know about Charlotte that they should?

I’m probably not the best person to answer this one, as every day I’m struck anew by things I don’t know about Charlotte; I’m a relatively recent transplant (Ireland, by way of Boston) and I’m a neophyte who is still finding her way around!

What other Charlottean would you like to answer these questions?

Tony Cogavin – Communications Manager at Bank of America

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