She spent the early part of her career in management positions at the New York Philharmonic, Radio City Music Hall and New World Records. After moving to London, she was engaged as a management consultant and public relations advisor. She advised world renowned solo artists and international orchestras such as The Cleveland Orchestra, Concertgebouw Orchestra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Ulster Orchestra, Sydney Symphony, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Südwestfunk Symphony Orchestra Baden-Baden, Oslo Philharmonic and the San Francisco Symphony.
In 2000, Mary Carlson founded Arts Executive Search now a global leader in the recruitment of senior executives and trustees in the music and performing arts sector. Clients include the leading international opera houses, orchestras, venues, festivals, conservatories, record labels and music foundations.
From 2010-2013 Ms. Carlson managed an Intern Abroad Programme for New York University/Steinhardt School graduate students in arts administration.
Ms. Carlson holds a B. Mus from Manhattanville College, a M. Mus from Northwestern University and an M. Sc from Columbia Business School.