Alumna Knows Networking Works

The adage, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” is jokingly tossed around business circles, but bank vice president, brewery board member and Maine Business School alumna Kelly Dorsey ’08 believes the maxim has merit.

The Brunswick, Maine native grew up knowing she wanted to study business.

“I wanted to make sure I could enter the workforce with a very broad foundation,” she explains. “I didn’t want to specialize and limit myself.”

Dorsey graduated after four years of classes, lacrosse and a full-time job. She met her husband, Ian, at the University of Maine, and the couple soon moved to Columbus, Ohio. Dorsey searched for employment, believing her business administration degree and marketing concentration would easily land her a job. Her search, however, proved more difficult than expected.

“Moving to Columbus in September 2008 was a big shock,” says Dorsey. “Because of my business administration degree, I knew how to apply myself to a broad range of tasks, but (the job market) was really competitive.”

Having worked for Bank of America as a UMaine student, Dorsey found work as a teller for Telhio Credit Union. Shortly after, while recounting her job search struggles at a cocktail party, a family friend told her it was time to start attending networking events. And though it wasn’t her favorite activity at the time, Dorsey was grateful that business school had prepared her to network.

“It was viewed more as an extracurricular activity in business school,” explains Dorsey. “I soon realized that there’s no shame in dropping a name during a conversation. When you’re one of thousands of people graduating, you have to have a competitive advantage.”

Networking is an advantage that has continued to pay off for Dorsey. After moving back to Maine in September 2009, it was a personal connection that led to a job at Optima Bank & Trust. In less than four years, Dorsey was promoted from teller to private banker, senior private banker, assistant branch manager and, eventually, branch manager — a meteoric rise.

“My experience there increased dramatically in a short time,” says Dorsey of her employment at Optima. “I learned a lot about startups, and about financial institutions and how they work.”

Dorsey was recruited by Androscoggin Bank in 2012 , and she and her family moved to Freeport. She served as branch manager for a few locations in Brunswick, and after a year she was promoted to assistant vice president of business and government services. In 2016, she was promoted again, this time to vice president and treasury services officer within the Business and Government Services Group, the position she holds today.

However, Dorsey’s career at Androscoggin Bank is just one of many projects vying for her attention. Four years ago with a group of friends, she and her husband founded Mast Landing Brewing Co., in Westbrook. Though not a part of the day-to-day operations, Dorsey sits on the brewery’s board and manages a scholarship the company awards annually to a Westbrook High School senior.

“It’s based on the number of barrels of beer produced in the previous year — $1 per barrel,” explains Dorsey of the scholarship. “Last year, it was $1,627; this year, $4,525. And since Mast Landing is in the middle of astounding expansion, we expect it to reach over $12,000 next year. It’s a way to give back to a community that’s shown so much support and created amazing brand loyalty in a short period of time.”

Dorsey, the mother of two, says she is always in a constant “hunt for the unicorn” of work-life balance. Most recently, she earned her Certified Treasury Professional Certification. But an ongoing focus of her career is the development of her networking skills, something she believes is invaluable for current MBS students.

“Our generation is the most educated,” says Dorsey. “People who can have a conversation are the memorable people. Practice and prepare to talk about yourself. It’s probably the biggest life skill you can have.”