Molly Brass

Molly Brass — Client Service Associate

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“Study it” is a mantra often repeated by my mother. She uses it when my sisters or I are frustrated, confused or stumped by some conundrum ­ a toy that won’t work, a door that won’t close properly, a machine that’s just not functioning the way it’s supposed to. “Stop and study it,” she always says, coaxing us to slow down and figure out what the problem really is. How does this object work? How do the parts fit together? Where, specifically, is the malfunction occurring? Once you slow down and really look at it, the solution is always remarkably simple: a jammed hinge, a snagged thread, a loose screw. It’s remarkable just how powerful a mantra like that can be.

Given my mother’s penchant for understanding how things work, it’s not surprising that she is a civil engineer. My father is an engineer, too. His job with an oil company kept my family moving throughout my childhood - from New Orleans, to California, to Texas, then the Netherlands, where we settled from when I was eleven until I left for Boston College. Once there, I realized that the many hours I had spent in the great Dutch art museums had worked their way into my subconscious, and that thinking about the art history courses in my schedule was keeping me up at night with excitement rather than dread.

My mother’s engineering mindset and “study it” mantra were more applicable to art history than one might initially assume. Art history involves a lot of talking, a lot of reading, a lot of dates and a fair deal of jargon. But, as my art history professors in undergraduate, then graduate school patiently reminded me, the heart of art history lies in stopping and looking. Study it. What is it? How was it made? How do the parts fit together? Only once you’ve approached an artwork from this mechanical standpoint can you begin to build an understanding of why it was made, and what it means.

I’ve used that mindset in my professional life as well, first at the Fogg Museum in the Collections Management department. I enjoyed figuring out how things worked there ­ the databases of artworks and their locations (the Harvard Art Museums hold almost a quarter of a million artworks); the mechanisms and processes by which each artwork was kept safe when traveling, on loan, or in storage; and the roles played by each department within the museum consortium.

As a newcomer to the world of finance, I’m confident that relying on my mother’s words of wisdom will continue to serve me well. In my role as Client Service Associate, my job is to make sure that we are constantly improving our ability to communicate effectively with our clients, giving them exactly the information they need in a timely manner. I’m proud to be in charge of producing and distributing our very thorough quarterly performance presentations, which give our clients an in-depth view into the nuts and bolts of Daruma. As I learn more about each of our clients, I’m excited to take every opportunity to stop and study what we do and how, and contribute in whatever way I can to make Daruma run like a well-oiled machine.