There’s no denying the power of the arts. Provocative paintings, dramatic monologues and innovative melodies inspire a range of emotions in people of all ages and walks of life.
It makes sense, then, that so many college students decide to pursue careers supporting the arts. A bachelor’s in arts management, for example, can open the door to careers as museum managers, directors of cultural events and agents for musicians or actors.
You probably wouldn’t think, however, of an arts management major turning those skills into a successful career in financial technology. But that’s exactly what Emilie Gallagher ’06 has done, spending the last decade at business
and financial news and information firm Bloomberg.
A curious and creative person, Gallagher knew she wanted to major in arts management to learn about the world from both a creative and business perspective. And, after discovering Charleston on a family vacation, she knew the College was where she wanted to pursue that goal.
The arts management program exposed Gallagher to wide-ranging artistic knowledge as well as fundamental business principles. That experience made her realize she might be more drawn to working in a corporate environment than she expected.
“I originally thought I would want to explore an opportunity within the arts industry, but having that foundation within the business school gave me more options for diverse career paths,” she says.
To test out her business savvy, she applied for an internship in the contracts department at Bloomberg. Gallagher fell in love with the company’s culture and energy, which she describes as “wide open.” Bloomberg’s Manhattan location is made up of various glass-walled meeting rooms filled with art – and no one has an actual office. They don’t even use official job titles, which encourages diverse points of view to be shared among team members of all ranks.
Gallagher returned to Bloomberg prior to her senior year for an internship in the sales department. She then decided to explore the field a little more by doing her senior-year arts management internship at Charleston-based software solutions company Blackbaud.
“That helped me home in on the fact that I really did want to be in a sales role,” she says of her time at Blackbaud.
And with that decided, Gallagher knew where she wanted to go after crossing the Cistern. She joined Bloomberg following graduation as a full-time employee in the company’s New York City office. After spending some time learning the basics in Bloomberg’s customer service department, Gallagher landed a role on the Americas analytics team and steadily climbed the corporate ladder, eventually landing her current role as team leader for North American commodity sales.
Gallagher says she’s borrowed many of her personal leadership strategies from Scott Shanklin-Peterson, former director of the College’s arts management program. Shanklin-Peterson’s attentiveness inspired Gallagher to coach each member of her sales team and ensure their personal and professional goals are met: “She taught me about being a successful leader by being hands-on and really taking an interest in the individuals that were going through the program.”
Gallagher is constantly using the skills she learned at the College to solve client problems quickly and creatively. Crafting grants and proposals, along with learning to work collaboratively, Gallagher says, taught her the art of “selling” an idea.
“At Bloomberg, we try to be as innovative as possible and think outside the box, and unless you can be creative, you’re not going to be able to achieve that,” she says.
Gallagher’s advice to students is to explore different fields through hands-on experiences such as internships. And remember to be open to all possibilities and paths that arise. Because, as she learned firsthand, you never know where you might end up.