Christine Schuster '00 works as director of marketing for Behr-Thyssen, an importer of fine art by premier contemporary intaglio and lithography artists from around the world. As host of a fascinating brown bag lunch discussion this week, Schuster chronicled her beginnings in the New York City art world.
"I love art and I wanted to be part of the art world and was willing to take anything to get a start." Schuster moved to the city without a job and lived with friends while she looked for anything that would give her a foot in the door. Beginning with a part-time data entry job with the firm that she currently works for, she parlayed that position into a directorship through hard work, initiative, good fortune (another employee quit soon after she arrived) and a liberal arts education. Assuming more and more responsibility in areas where she identified needs, she eventually moved from data entry to managing the firm's web site, overseeing the art photography, researching galleries (their primary customers) and developing promotional materials. "My job is wonderful. I am paid to be around art work, and I can go barefoot in an environment devoid of fluorescent lighting!"
As her responsibilities expanded, Schuster realized she still wasn't satisfied. She wanted to develop a more long-term vision for the company and capitalize on new markets and trends. When she told the owner she needed more of a challenge and greater compensation, he offered her his job - the presidency. Retiring in a few years, the current president has set a plan in motion to turn the company over to Schuster. She has already begun her long-term planning.
Throughout her presentation and Q&A, Schuster emphasized the importance of initiative, enthusiasm, integrity, willingness and a liberal arts education. "It's about drawing connections, pulling different pieces together from the worlds of art, history, and business and mixing them with passion and a strong work ethic."