Mara Silver-Smith ’02: The Mutual Advantages of Alumni Engagement

Mara Silver SmithMara Silver-Smith’s resume reveals an accomplished career with posts at leading international brands. Her first position came after graduating from Whitman in 2002 with a degree in marketing and supply chain management. She was hired as an industrial engineer in UPS’s Syracuse location. After a year and a half, an offer at Tiffany & Co. took her to New York City.

Initially, Silver-Smith worked in operations in Tiffany’s Fifth Avenue Flagship store. That led to a coordinator position in the marketing department and, ultimately, to a spot in brand management for global catalog and collateral projects as well as marketing to Japan.

After a successful eight-year tenure at Tiffany, she felt ready for a move and took a job as an account manager in the creative services department at Coach where she has been for three years.

Silver-Smith recognizes the role her Whitman education and experiences played in preparing her for the business world. She recalls one particularly beneficial opportunity she had as a student member of Whitman’s H. H. Franklin Center for Supply Chain Management.

“I was chosen to be one of four students to fly to Denver to participate in Operation Stimulus, a case study competition for supply chain students,” explained Silver-Smith. “It was the first time Whitman had sent a team. It was a big deal for us, and I was proud to represent the school in that way. I was able to meet and spend time talking with many people from the industry. It was an eye opening experience during which I made lasting professional connections.”

The value of that and other experiential learning and networking opportunities significantly impacted Silver-Smith, and she feels it is important to make herself available when asked to provide similar experiences for current Whitman students.

A regular participant on panels for prospective students and careers in marketing, Silver-Smith is often invited back to Whitman to lecture and share her professional perspective. She readily spends time meeting with student groups and faculty during her visits.

Silver-Smith played a key role in re-launching Whitman’s New York City alumni club in 2008. She led efforts to secure its designation as a non-profit organization and formal recognition by Syracuse University. “I served as the club’s first president, and I am thrilled to see it thrive,” shared Silver-Smith, who also sits on the Board of Governors of Syracuse University’s Winnick Hillel Center for Jewish Life.

“Mara was instrumental in re-establishing the Whitman Alumni Club of NYC,” shared Carol Heil, director of undergraduate recruitment and college relations. “Her leadership, decisiveness and forward thinking positioned the club for sustained success.”

Silver-Smith enjoys these connections with her alma mater and considers the benefits mutual. “Numerous people at Whitman have had a continued influence on me,” she added. “Whitman remains an important place to me years after graduation, and I feel fortunate to consider so many people there my friends.”