The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here

Front and Center: Dean Markley USA CEO, Lori McCallian

LoriAs CEO of Dean Markley USA, Lori McCallian leads one of the world’s top instrument string manufacturers. Countless touring professionals and amateurs alike rely on these great-sounding, American-made strings.

Having previously worked in the insurance and financial services industries, McCallian made the plunge into the music industry in 2011. Utilizing her immense background in business, McCallian is helping to expand the presence of  Dean Markley USA throughout the world.

You can learn more about McCallian’s work and Dean Markley USA at

WiMN: You have quite a varied background. Can you explain some of the positions you held before entering the music industry?

LM: The first part of my career was spent working in the insurance and financial services industries. I have held positions ranging from a Corporate Credit Analyst to a Training and Marketing Specialist, to a Recruiter and Sales Manager. These experiences have been a great opportunity for me to learn about many aspects of business and to have a variety of responsibilities, while learning from the example of many great leaders.

WiMN: What led you to join Dean Markley?

LM: A mutual friend introduced me to Dean Markley. Through conversations, I was asked to consult for the company to develop a future strategy, which then led to the position that I hold today.

WiMN: What was it like to enter the music business having previously worked in other industries? In your opinion, what are some of the aspects of this industry that separate it from other fields?

LM: From the perspective of running a business, there are many similarities between industries. My prior experiences have been in service industries, so being part of a company that produces a tangible product has been a significant difference for me—not to mention that people naturally find music more interesting than insurance. It is great to be part of bringing a unique product to market that can give people joy through music.

WiMN: As CEO of Dean Markley USA, what is a typical day on the job like for you? What is your favorite part of the job?

LM: Most of my time is spent on operational and financial topics and business planning. One of my favorite parts of my job is hearing stories from customers and artists about their experiences with the strings, such as the first time they played them and what they like about them. I also enjoy receiving feedback from storeowners and those who sell our strings.

WiMN: What is an interesting little known fact about you?

LM: I have a crazy appreciation for college basketball and March Madness. I love the spirit of the college players, the school rivalries, and the Cinderella stories. It is very fitting that I was born in March and grew up in the Midwest!

WiMN: Can you share your experience as a woman in the industry? Have there been challenges?

LM: Yes, there have been challenges, though most have been tied to the nature of business—especially considering the pace that businesses, industries, and the economy are changing these days. Ultimately, I believe that those who succeed are the ones who will continually bring value to the market and drive a business result—regardless of gender.

WiMN: Any words of encouragement for women aspiring to enter the music industry?

LM: My advice would be to follow your instincts and maximize your strengths. Continue to learn, develop, and evolve. Most importantly, be highly ethical in all that you do.

WiMN: What’s in store for you and Dean Markley for the rest of 2013?

LM: Our emphasis will continue to be on American-made, high-quality products. We are considering adding some new products such as instruments and accessories to our portfolio very soon. It is also important to me to continuously elevate our level of customer service in day-to-day interactions and through offering value-oriented, innovative products. Further developing our Distributor and Dealer relationships, both domestically and internationally, is a priority, too.