Plan It. Manage It. Get It Done.
by Diane McMahon
Photography provided by Maryann Bastnagel
The title for this piece came directly from Maryann Bastnagel’s professional website. The words are as succinct and straightforward as the woman. Nothing in her life seems wasted—not words or time or energy. We arranged to meet after Maryann checked her calendar and found one opening on one specific morning when she was on Hilton Head to attend a board meeting of the Economic Development Corporation for the Town of Hilton Head. The interview was scheduled after that meeting, before she flew back to Delaware to continue consulting on a management project.
Maryann’s professional planning and management skills are critical to keeping her busy life organized, but when asked about her time management, she laughed, “Let’s just say I’m better than I was 25 years ago.” She insisted it’s a teachable skill.
One of the questions I wanted answered was why Maryann’s name always came up in discussions about smart, successful businesswomen in the area. I didn’t pose the question directly, but it hovered in my head as she talked.
Maryann has undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Maryland, including a degree in computer engineering and a MBA. She grew up in a household that was “all about education.” There was never a question that Maryann and her three older siblings would go to college and become professionals. Their mother worked “outside the home” and was an inspiration to her children. When Maryann was 13, her mother died. Her brothers and sisters “hung together” and gave her a base of support, but she learned from that age on she had to be self-reliant.
“I learned to prioritize early. I knew I wanted to be successful and able to take care of myself, so working hard and doing what it took to get things done became part of who I was,” said Maryann. Throughout her 20s she built a solid career and reputation as an effective management consultant. She began with Booz Allen (now Booz Allen Hamilton) in business development. They paid for her to go back to school at night. She was frequently sent in to rescue troubled projects around the country. Her capacity to make quick assessments and ability to help disenfranchised teams pull together made her a successful and sought after consultant.
Her life revolved around work, school and travel. Her sorority sisters were getting married—she was a bridesmaid seven times—before she realized she would never have a personal life if she didn’t make a change. She found a perfect fit with the Marriot Corp. in Washington D.C.
Maryann met her husband Rick on a blind date. She knew immediately he was a “solid guy” and a year and a half later they married. They came to Hilton Head for their honeymoon. Twenty-three years, later they have a beautiful home on the ocean in Sea Pines and Maryann said, “I know a lot of women say this, but I really did marry the greatest guy. I mean I really did.”
Maryann has what she describes as a “portfolio life.” There are so many diverse things she does and wants to do. “I have 100 balls in the air, but I prioritize and I make lists," she said. I also repeatedly ask myself, ‘what is important intellectually, spiritually, financially’ and this helps me determine whether something is worth my time.” She admits she used to have “the disease to please” and got overwhelmed trying to satisfy all those external demands. “Getting older gives clarity,” she added.
Maryann owns an information technology (IT) and management consulting business She teaches spinning. She is on the Arts and Cultural Strategic Planning Committee for the Town of Hilton Head. She is an executive coach, who consults with people in transition, helping them find options for what’s next in life. She works with numbers of retirees in their 50s and 60s who have the skills, energy and desire to give back during what she refers to as their “Third Launch.” This is what a “portfolio life” looks like.
Someday she will complete her book, with the current working title, Me, My Bucket List and I. She never wants to have one moment of regret when she thinks, “If I’d only taken the time.” Her advice is to live your bucket list as you go. Don’t put it off until some abstract future.
Maryann proves the point “you get out of things what you put into them.” She has put her life into helping make others successful and life has rewarded her in kind. I think maybe that’s the answer why Maryann Bastnagel’s name comes up whenever there’s a discussion of smart, accomplished women.
Guardian Angel: Maryann has a tattoo of an angel on her shoulder—it is her mother always watching over her.
Quote for Loudmouths: “God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason.” Are you listening?
Role Model: Maryann is an awesome role model for her three nieces, who have followed her footsteps into the business world.
Recommended Book: A Short Guide to a Happy Life by Anna Quindlen.