Liz Mazzotta

VP of Human Resources, Mutual of Omaha

I started in classical ballet in my youth, and discovered that this was something that could be a career. I went to Creighton University for their undergraduate program in performing arts, and after graduation was offered the program director position at the Jewish Community Center. I taught dance to people of all ages, and it was very fulfilling to see people progress in their skills and abilities. I loved developing people.

I also was responsible for hiring and coaching staff, putting together budgets, and managing special events; I danced and taught, but I was developing business skills. Then I was approached by the parent of one of my students, who offered me a job creating a training program for their company. From that point, I continued in business and went into human resources. With my background in teaching, it was a natural fit.

There is creativity involved daily in the work that I do. My arts background helps with discipline, the ability to focus and to get things done. The arts also gave me a passion to succeed, allowing me to focus on being successful and on helping people be successful. Coaching and developing is very much a part of what I do today; I know how to build a team and work with the team. Those are skills that translate across professions.

Arts education develops creativity and the ability to express oneself. It's very confidence-building. If I'm performing in a theater before hundreds of people, and then I have to go into a business environment and make a presentation, I've built up the confidence to speak in front of groups. Young people, as they progress through their education into careers, are always going to be presenting their ideas and wanting people to get on board with their ideas. That's a process that can be nurtured by a background in the arts.