Nontraditional journey leads to career success
Meet Mara Dibb, Human Resources '13
Alumna Mara Dibb (’13) found herself facing a fork in the road as she crossed the stage at her high school graduation. While her peers went on to their freshman year of college, Dibb followed personal obligations to the workforce. Without knowing it then, she had already taken her first step on the path to a rewarding career in human resources.
Dibb’s first post-high school employer was Citizen Bank of Mukwonago, where she would go on to hold several positions over the coming years. By her final role, Dibb had found her way to a position focused on training new hires and employees looking to change roles. "While I loved to develop and train individuals, I found my conversations were more focused around what’s next for them and helping them connect to others in the network to build on their skill sets," said Dibb. She realized it was time to ask herself the same question: what’s next?
Taking Action for the Future
Ready to take her own skills to the next level, Dibb decided to pursue an associate degree. "I had worked multiple jobs, worked long hours, and for several years worked my way up to promotions to prove I was worthy as I compared myself to my classmates earning their degrees," said Dibb. "I decided to stop comparing and make an action."
Dibb’s search led her to WCTC. "I opted to find a community college that was flexible with my work schedule," she said. Other draws were the cost-effectiveness, small class sizes and invested instructors. "What they taught, they were passionate about." Dibb took advantage of evening and online classes and was even able to earn WCTC credit for her experience in the workforce.
As she continued her education, Dibb was ready to take on bigger challenges at a larger company. She landed an interviewing coordinator role at Kelly Services, where she quickly took on extra responsibilities to learn the ropes of recruiting. By the time she finished her associate degree, she was promoted to recruiter. Dibb graduated from WCTC early and with honors – a trend that would continue.
A Fast Track to Education
As one big step led to another, Dibb immediately enrolled in Concordia University Wisconsin’s Human Resource Management program, and she capitalized on the same evening and online course offerings that would allow her to earn her bachelor’s degree while working full-time in her new role. Again, Dibb excelled in her courses and graduated with high honors.
"I put myself on the fast track to graduate within the same timeframe my classmates did to prove to myself what I was capable of, but as I got older, I recognized something: our journeys are unique to us," said Dibb. "I’m proud of my nontraditional journey. It shaped me into the person I am today."
By 2018, Dibb was ready to move into a new sphere: in-house corporate recruitment. She joined the newly developed Talent Acquisition team at SC Johnson as an associate manager recruiter. "Not only was I managing a full-time recruiting desk, myself and the team were establishing the fundamentals of recruitment at SC Johnson," she said. Soon after, she was asked to extend her support to additional teams and found herself managing a variety of projects, including rolling out a new interview training program and implementing new technology to support video interviewing.
The organization recognized her skill set and created a role where Dibb could shine. "Within a year, I was promoted to lead that department and shortly after took on Global Head of Talent Acquisition Programs, Employment Brand and Early Careers," she said. "Talent Acquisition is a space that is constantly evolving. Workforce dynamics, economic factors and global-wide pandemics really change the way we find quality talent and bring them to SC Johnson. Myself and my team are constantly at the forefront, learning, diving into data, networking and exploring new ways to recruit the next best talent."
Dibb’s advice for fellow nontraditional students is simple: "Never believe things are impossible or unachievable. If you have grit and hunger, you can make things possible, even as a nontraditional student," she said. "Find your why and don’t follow someone else’s. Don’t ever compare yourself. Your purpose is already here."
By Chelsey Porth, Writer/Marketing Specialist