Profile of MARA Alumna Amanda Stowell
Published: September 14, 2016 by Anna Maloney
While finishing up a museum archives internship in the Portland area, Amanda Stowell, ‘16 MARA, was hired on as the first-ever records administrator of ESCO Corporation, a multinational manufacturer of mining equipment with a corporate history dating to 1903.
With her newly minted master’s degree in hand, Stowell found herself the custodian of over 100 years of records. She describes the state of the records at ESCO as a “worst case scenario.” But the daunting nature of this assignment has not quelled her unabashed enthusiasm for records management.
Before she started in the MARA program, Stowell was a retail manager with an undergraduate degree in social and behavioral sciences, looking for a master’s program that would enrich her professionally while allowing her to continue to work full time. An MBA seemed too broad and uninspired, and an MLIS didn’t quite align with her interests. It was while browsing information on SJSU’s iSchool website that Stowell found a page dedicated to specialized tracks. After reading about the online Master of Archives and Records Administration degree, she decided that it could be just the thing she was looking for. Two weeks into her first semester, her hunch was confirmed. Despite being a self-described “procrastinator,” Stowell approached each MARA course and INFO elective with a positive attitude and a willingness to work hard—especially when assignment deadlines were fast approaching.
In the six weeks since she started in her new role at ESCO, Stowell has been focusing on two major projects: recalling everything from off-site storage for review and locating all of the “hidden records” scattered in offices and filing cabinets across the Portland campus. Although corporate leadership had developed a thorough retention schedule, when they saw the bill for off-site storage they realized they needed a full-time, dedicated records administrator. So, how does Stowell correct more than 100 years of records mismanagement?
First, she draws from her experience in retail management, where she learned skills ranging from organization and communication to training and development. Second, she draws from her education, keeping textbooks and completed assignments (like the Information Governance Program plan she created in MARA-284-11) close at hand. Third, and perhaps most importantly, Stowell draws from the community of support she has cultivated, including records management professionals, ARMA associates, and her former MARA professors. Instructor Jason Kaltenbacher, who teaches MARA 204 and MARA 210 in addition to serving as the Global Records Manager for Nike, had coffee with Stowell before she started with ESCO, giving her guidance on creating site-specific records policies for an international organization. Dr. Lisa Daulby and Dr. Pat Franks are also willing mentors, reliably responding when Stowell emails them with questions.
When speaking with Stowell, her passion for her new position as records administrator was evident in her thorough, animated responses. Although it will be a while before she is ready to unroll a global records and information management policy at ESCO, she undoubtedly has the spirit and the resources to get there.