Alumni Spotlight – Clara Maingi (Executive MBA ’12)

Clara_Maingi_HeadShotClara Maingi’s (Executive MBA ’12) approach to people and learning has helped her craft a successful career, maintain a strong network and build a lasting legacy.

“I cannot stop learning,” said Maingi. “I always say, ‘Throw me something complex where I will learn.’ ”

Successfully navigating a variety of learning opportunities has earned her the position of Vice President at Swiss Re, a leading provider of reinsurance.  In this role, Maingi is the program and operations manager for a new initiative in the Life & Health division in the company.

She tries her best to be prepared for any opportunity. In fact, she jokes about always being a student. Maingi grew up in Kenya, but moved to France at age 17 to attend school. She then came to the United States and attended a couple of institutions before ending up at DeVry. There, she earned a degree in accounting, and discovered a love for programming through internships and co-ops.

“I speak five languages, and software programming was like learning another language.”

As she pursued this career path, Maingi said she is thankful for the sponsors and mentors that helped her grow.

“As an undergraduate student, I was very introverted,” she said. “But there was a boss (Pat Urnise) who saw something in me.”

Pat Urnise helped her understand that personal connections are just as important as her ability to get the job done.

“I don’t like the word networking,” said Maingi. “I want to form relationships.”

Honing that skill made her the point person for client concerns and facilitated her transition to consulting and eventually insurance.

Even though she had already earned her Project Management Professional certification, Maingi wanted more. As she considered continuing her education, it was through forging a personal connection with a company executive that she landed at the UMKC Executive MBA. Maingi raves about this program.

“UMKC is not death by PowerPoint,” said Maingi. “I learned how to take case studies, reflect and apply that knowledge to other situations.”

She completed her Executive MBA and immediately began Swiss Re’s Leadership Development Program. As a lifelong learner, she recommends that every student keep a journal.

“This is not for your general classroom notes, but a quick reference for key takeaways that will help you as a leader.”

One UMKC lesson she still refers to is how to create, map and enhance her personal and professional network. A classroom guest speaker taught Maingi to approach networking with a service mentality. Maingi constantly asks herself, “How can I add value to what this person is doing?”

The ability to make a difference in another person’s life is the legacy she wants to leave as a mentor.

“You can never be too busy to help someone else achieve their full potential,” she said.

Even with balancing a career, intensive travel schedule (17 countries and counting), self, community commitments and being a single parent, Maingi said she is still very happy to pay it forward.

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