By Nicole Veenstra
When Maryrose Maness learned to play the clarinet in sixth grade, she never imagined her love of music would be such an essential part of her career. Fast forward to the present day, and one can find Maness sitting at her desk at Warner Music Group (WMG), explaining the laws of musical contracts.
Maness graduated from Rider in 1982 with a business degree in industrial relations. Following graduation, she decided to concentrate on a dream she’d had since high school — practicing law. She enrolled in Seton Hall Law School and spent her time figuring out a way to combine her business degree with her potential law degree, an idea planted in her mind during her undergraduate career.
“While at Rider I had a fabulous mentor, Professor Stanley Schwartz, who is now deceased,” Maness said. “He was instrumental in helping me shape my career and convinced me to combine my business degree in industrial relations with law. I began my legal career at a small labor and employment law firm. After a few years, I finally put my business degree to work and landed a position at Philips Electronics where I primarily handled labor issues.”
After leaving Philips Electronics, she felt confident enough to develop a labor and employment law function, which she did at Melville Corporation, the parent company of CVS Pharmacies.
Next came 12 years at Altria Corporate Services, which she eventually left in September 2008 after feeling uneasy about the changing job market — approximately one week before the economy collapsed — to pursue a lucrative career as senior vice president and chief employment and corporate infrastructure counsel at WMG. She has worked there for roughly five years.
“I wear many hats at Warner Music, and there is never a typical day in the music biz,” Maness said. “I might be negotiating an executive employment agreement, counseling Human Resources and managers, assisting on a joint venture or rolling out a new records management program.”
WMG is the third-largest music recording and publishing business. It is a global music company with its headquarters in New York. Perhaps the most well-known record labels it represents are Atlantic and Warner Bros., according to WMG’s website. Maness works within the corporate structure, collaborating with the lawyers of music artists to create equally beneficial contracts.
Although Maness admitted the music industry is difficult to break into as an outsider, she credits her time at Rider as beneficial because of the emphasis she put on studying music.
Regardless of the classes she took, Maness never expected her career to encompass so many of her interests.
“When I stopped playing clarinet, I never thought my career path would take me back to the arts,” Maness said. “I also never thought I would use my business degree, and I was so wrong. It has given me an edge in the legal field and has influenced the advice I give and decisions I make every day.”
One recipient of such advice is Christina Halliday, Maness’ co-worker at WMG. The two have known each other since Halliday started working as associate counsel in May 2012.
While Halliday described Maness as her boss, she said the two of them share a close relationship.
“When we’re busy the day typically gets away from us, so we’ve developed a short morning meeting to talk and share tips about beauty products,” she said. “It’s a nice five minutes to start the day. I feel close to her in the sense that I can share my thoughts.”
Halliday also praised Maness for the way she holds herself and treats others in the workplace.
“I’m so thankful she is my boss because she is good at communicating and explaining how to be a successful employee,” she said. “I’ve only known her for a year, but I’m much closer to her than my past bosses. She’s really honest and tries to be open and communicative rather than passive aggressive, which I really admire about her.”
Maness’ inspiration reaches beyond her co-workers at WMG, however. Marylynn Sauro worked with Maness in the legal department at Philip Morris, a company within Altria. Although they have not worked together for years, Sauro still speaks highly of Maness and her skill set.
“She and I started out as colleagues and became friends,” Sauro said. “She’s a fabulous person, both from a work and personal perspective. She is very successful in an extremely demanding job. She’s a great lawyer and mentor.”
Maness manifests the opinions of both Halliday and Sauro with her prospective ambitions.
“I want to stay with Warner Music,” she said. “I have a plan for my career of where I want to be and how to get there. It’s important to have a plan and I think each individual is responsible for getting his or her own career from point A to point B.”
Throughout her professional career, Maness has danced to the beat of her own drum, making decisions in accordance to her personal career goals. However, her best advice is relevant to any young person unsure of what the future holds.
“Dream big,” she said. “Achieve your full potential and never settle for the status quo. Think broadly about your career and take risks early on.”
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Printed in 4/26/13 edition.