mary mcgrath

Mary McGrath in her office at Champaign's Cozad Asset Management. (Robin Scholz/The News-Gazette).

For going on four decades, she’s had what she considers nothing less than “the best job in the world.” And what comes after a busy day at the office is another part of life MARY McGRATH can’t get enough of.

“As soon as I walk through the door, my husband greets me to take my coat and offer me a glass of wine,” she says. “Watching the evening news while having a glass of wine is my end-of-day treat.”

A woman of many titles and responsibilities — board member, owner, executive vice president, portfolio manager — McGrath is in her 38th year at Champaign’s Cozad Asset Management.

The Gibson City native, UI alumna and 1995 recipient of the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce’s Athena Award took time out to answer questions from Editor Jeff D’Alessio in the 131st installment of our weekly speed read spotlighting leaders of organizations big and small.


I’m frugal in that ... I take my lunch to work. When I eat a can of soup for lunch, I’m proud that I only spent about $2 for my lunch.

My one unbreakable rule of the workplace is ... be honest, even when it’s hard. In my business, honesty is especially important. Not only with clients but with each other.

My philosophy on meetings is ... they are often necessary. It’s important that everyone in attendance know the purpose of the meeting and the duration.

An agenda should be prepared and followed. It is the role of the leader to keep the meeting on track and on time.

When it comes to my single favorite moment in this job ... after more than 37 years in this business, I’ve had many favorite moments. My clients are more than just clients; many are more like family and friends.

I’ve worked with them when their children were born, graduated college, married and had children of their own. It’s not uncommon for someone to meet with me and tell me how much I mean to their family.

Recently, I met with the family of a deceased client and the family told me how highly their dad spoke of me and how important I was to the family.

I have the best job in the world, and I know I have many more wonderful moments ahead of me.

The last luxury in which I indulged was ... taking the whole family on a Disney cruise. I had clients tell me how enjoyable it was, but I didn’t really understand until I cruised with my family.

It was extravagant but worth it as everyone had a trip of a lifetime.

I can’t live without ... my faith, family and friends.

I have been a member of Emmanuel Memorial Episcopal Church for many years and the church is especially important to me.

Both of my daughters and their families live in town, so we see each other often.

My husband is also important as he takes care of everything around the house and treats me like a queen so I can focus on my career and family.

mary mcgrath

Three adjectives I hope my staff would use to describe me are ... hard-working, honest and caring.

I’m up and at ’em every day by ... 4:45 a.m. My routine is to work out and then enjoy a cup of coffee while reading The News-Gazette and The Wall Street Journal before heading to the shower.

When it comes to my exercise routine ... after many marathons and half marathons, most people think of me as a runner. But my knee has given out and, unfortunately, I’m no longer able to hit the pavement.

Now, two to three days a week I participate in a spinning class at the YMCA; three days a week I go to a Body Pump class and one day I walk outside, weather permitting. Our local Y has great instructors and I highly recommend the Stephens Family YMCA.

The worst job I ever had was ... when I first arrived at the U of I and I started working at the McDonald’s on Green Street. They would only schedule me a couple of hours at a time, so I worked between classes.

I smelled like french fries all day. I couldn’t wait to get back to the dorm and shower.

Luckily, I only had the job for a few weeks and then began working in the U of I computer lab, where I worked until I graduated.

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