Victoria Mars Shares Her Vision for Salzburg Global Seminar




Latest News

Print article
Apr 27, 2018
by Oscar Tollast and Louise Hallman
Register for our Newsletter and stay up to date
Register now
Victoria Mars Shares Her Vision for Salzburg Global Seminar

Director of Mars Inc speaks in first interview as chairman of Salzburg Global’s Board of Directors Victoria Mars, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Salzburg Global Seminar

When the Salzburg Seminar in American Studies (as Salzburg Global Seminar was first known) held its inaugural session in 1947, little did the three founders know that the organization would continue to be operating in 2018. 

Speaking on the occasion of the organization’s 70th anniversary and reflecting on her vision for Salzburg Global, newly-appointed chairman of the Board of Directors, Victoria Mars said the first thing she wants to focus on is successfully reaching the 100th anniversary and ensuring the institution remains relevant. 

Identifying the path ahead, Mars said it was critical for Salzburg Global to further build on its unique position and heritage and excel at in its mission of challenging current and future leaders to shape a better world. Mars has served on the board since 2014. Appointed as chairman in June 2017, Mars will now help lead these efforts and ensure there is an “efficient, effective, responsible, [and] passionate board” governing the organization. The former Mars, Inc. chairman replaces American artist and philanthropist, Heather Sturt Haaga, who stepped down after six and a half years in the role.

Mars says she agreed to take on the role for two reasons: timing and passion. Her assumption of the role of chairman of Salzburg Global’s board coincides with her relinquishment of the same title at Mars, Inc., and the new role will enable her to continue her long-held passion of bringing people together to communicate and resolve issues – something she had relished since her position as Mars Inc.’s first ombudsman in 1997.

She said, “My passion hasn’t changed. I saw [the role as Salzburg Global Chairman] as an opportunity to continue the journey that Heather started us on and to make us the best at what we do.”

In addition to her role as chairman at Salzburg Global, Mars remains a director of Mars, Inc. She also sits on the board of her alma mater Foxcroft School and serves as chairman of the school’s audit committee. She is also a board member for the Center for Large Landscape Conservation, and the Livelihoods Funds

With her wealth of board-level experience of different organizations, Mars strongly believes in the importance of having a board that motivates and engages staff, resulting in a collaborative relationship between the two. On taking up her Salzburg Global role, she said, “One of the things I’d really like to move the needle on is to make the board more effective and efficient.”

Mars also wants to entrench the word “inclusion” into Salzburg Global’s vocabulary. She highlighted a saying by a colleague at Mars, Inc.: “Start with inclusion, and that will bring diversity.” In her mind, Schloss Leopoldskron can act as a safe, inspiring environment where people can feel like themselves and implement the ideas generated during sessions. Mars says she’d like Schloss Leopoldskron to become a destination to which visitors – Salzburg Global Fellows and hotel guests alike – always want to return. She sees it as a “gem” that needs to be nurtured.  

As part of Salzburg Global’s 70th anniversary celebrations, a special luncheon was hosted in July for members of the local community. Given her own family connection to Austria and building on these efforts, Mars wants to extend this outreach further. 

“We’re an international organization, but there’s not a lot of representation from our local community. To me, one of the big things that I would like to improve is the inclusion of Salzburg community, Austrian families and businesses, government agencies, in supporting us, so that we truly are an Austrian-American organization.”

Returning to Salzburg for a special event to mark the centenary of Max Reinhardt’s purchase of Schloss Leopoldskron, Mars, who graduated from Yale University with a Bachelor’s degree in administrative sciences and German and French languages, addressed the local audience in German, sharing her long-held love for Austria. 

She also remarked: “Vor 70 Jahren grĂĽndeten hier auf Schloss Leopoldskron ein Ă–sterreicher und zwei Amerikaner Salzburg Global Seminar. Heute Abend erinnern wir uns aber an ein noch frĂĽheres Jubiläum: Vor genau 100 Jahren kaufte Max Reinhardt Schloss Leopoldskron. Reinhardt hatte eine Verbindung zu den USA als gefeierter Hollywood-Regisseur, lange bevor er nach New York ins Exil emigrierte. Es freut mich sehr, als Amerikanerin mit einer starken Verbindung zu Ă–sterreich, diese Ausstellung eröffnen zu können.” 

In English: “Seventy years ago, an Austrian and two Americans founded Salzburg Global Seminar here at Schloss Leopoldskron. Tonight, we mark a much earlier anniversary: the centenary of Max Reinhardt’s purchase of Schloss Leopoldskron. Reinhardt had a strong connection to the USA as an acclaimed Hollywood director, long before he was exiled to New York. I’m delighted, as an American with a strong connection to Austria, to open this exhibition.”

Mars will be continuing her local engagement over both the upcoming summer months and throughout the rest of her board term.