Sales and marketing expert Erin Flaherty excited to develop new leaders at Daniels

Business is in Erin Flaherty’s blood. Well, maybe not literally, but she caught the business bug at an early age.

As the daughter of two entrepreneurs, Flaherty spent much of her childhood in her mother’s general store or her father’s many businesses, including a video rental shop and laundromat.

“I grew up immersed in business,” she said.

In addition to the classic childhood activities like learning to ride a bike or practicing cursive, Flaherty was passively learning skills in product offerings, staffing and pricing from her parents.

Naturally, a couple of decades later, Flaherty remains drawn to business. And, after spending her career in marketing, sales, people strategy and organizational development, Flaherty has landed at the Daniels College of Business as the new director of the College’s Executive Education division.

Chance encounter leads to ideal opportunity

Matching the mission of her new department, Flaherty’s path to Daniels is marked by the perfect mix of real-world business experience and an unfaltering desire to learn. Executive Education offers webinars, workshops, courses and customized programs in a variety of leadership and business topics. It also can create custom programs for companies with a specific interest or need.

Upon graduating college, Flaherty landed on the marketing and sales teams for EF Education, an educational travel and language-learning company. Working in sales wasn’t her initial intention, but Flaherty quickly found her groove.

Erin Flaherty

“I just loved the mission-based aspect of it, and I was decent in sales. But what I really started to excel in was understanding what our customers needed and how to paint a vision for them around how we could meet those needs,” she said.

For the next decade she’d lean into those skills, shifting from the sales side at EF to its marketing team. By 2009, she’d be named the director of marketing, leading a team working on projects in product marketing, brand strategy and lead acquisition.

“I loved coming from the sales side and knowing how our customers view us, how we could tighten up our messaging, and making it really clear so we could fulfill what they were looking for,” she said.

With a passion for problem-solving and a desire to better the organization, Flaherty made another pivot. Her time in sales and marketing revealed her key to high-performing teams: ensuring that everybody was on the same page with a shared vision and knew how their work impacted that vision.

“I noticed that we could have the best marketing strategy, but if we didn’t have our staff on the same page, it really didn’t matter,” she said.

Flaherty would spend the next five years of her career in talent management and professional development, eventually moving to Denver to run the company’s regional talent strategy. Sales and marketing had brought her to this point, but Flaherty had found her passion: leading people and developing the next crop of leaders.

In 2022, Flaherty stepped back from EF and began looking for her next challenge. While searching, she came to the University, where her husband Tim works, and earned a graduate certificate in organizational leadership. A chance networking conversation with Kate Dillon, the Daniels senior director of corporate and community relations, would spark the next step in Flaherty’s career.

As Flaherty asked about potential opportunities to continue in her profession, Dillon asked if she’d considered higher education. Flaherty admits it wasn’t originally on her list, but the position with Executive Education was almost too perfect of a match.

“I was so excited to see a role where I could maximize all of my strengths and experiences, rather than having to specialize in just the leadership and development space,” she said. “I really love empowering people and finding ways for them to have personal and professional success. So, to be able to do that in a space like Daniels just seemed a dream come true.”

Developing the next generation of leaders at Daniels

In her new role, Flaherty is excited to help shape the Executive Education brand at Daniels, quenching a thirst in the market for continuing education and leadership development programs. In the post-pandemic business landscape, Flaherty said companies are looking for additional ways to support their organization in the midst of teams reorganizing and welcoming new managers. Executive Education provides programs that help organizations retain and upskill their current employees, offering tools that increase their performance and broaden their career options.

“We want to be at the forefront of leadership development in Denver and the Rocky Mountain region,” she said.

Flaherty said there are options at Executive Education to help people and organizations grow, no matter the size.

“Take your emerging leaders out of the office, bring them to campus to get into a new headspace, and show them that their organization is investing in outside experts,” she said.

A data-driven glamping expert

When Flaherty isn’t working on the future of Executive Education, she loves to go skiing and camping with her family. What began as a pandemic-inspired camping hobby, has evolved into something much more important.

She has become passionate about dispersed camping, which often occurs on free sites on public land that offer little or no facilities.

“I’m on Google Maps on the satellite view zooming in on openings in the forest, and I have Excel spreadsheets on all the things we want to take with us,” she said. “I’m the type of dispersed camper that likes to glamp.”