Member Spotlight from August 3, 2017
Some people simply may be destined for school business, despite the winding road they take beforehand. Joni Mansmann certainly traveled a few roads before landing in her current position as director of business and finance at Canon-McMillan School District in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, a decade ago.
Upon graduating from college, she began working in accounting for Mellon Bank (now New York Bank of Mellon), where her division managed back-office accounting and investment procedures. Joni eventually served as a global securities manager, which included a broad variety of responsibilities. When she left, they had to hire five people to fill her shoes!
The job with Mellon involved a lot of commuting, however. Joni recognized she was going to reach a plateau and thus sought a new career. When she saw the job description for her current position, she realized she had experience in all the required areas, just in different timeframes.
Joni admits that she had no school business experience, so she wasn’t surprised that she wasn’t the district’s first choice for the position. When she subsequently was offered the job, she had 30 days to work with her predecessor to learn the ropes. One of the strategies she found most helpful may surprise you.
“I went through the mail!” Joni says. “Reading all the correspondence triggered me to start a list of questions for my predecessor.” Creating a binder filled with key deadlines was also beneficial. In fact, PASBO eventually incorporated key deadlines into their calendar of reporting dates for their “FYI” mentoring series for new school business officials.
“The only thing that you can’t prepare for in school business is a school board meeting,” Joni adds. “There’s no class you can take that teaches you to work with elected officials who govern your district. It’s a hard dynamic to get used to, but that’s where ASBO and PASBO are so helpful. They build leaders to succeed in this environment.”
It certainly helped that Joni was already a jack-of-all-trades prior to entering school business, because she has learned that it’s a must to succeed in the field. “I recently participated in a career day and said that what I like most is that every day is different,” she says.
Although she laughs at the question “What do you do in your free time?” Joni does enjoy a number of hobbies and spends every minute that she can with her two active sons. Whether it’s attending their everyday activities or spending time together on vacation, Joni says it’s important to remind herself regularly why she works, recalling the expression “work to live, don’t live to work.” “I take advantage of every second of life, so I don’t have any regrets,” she says.