Professor of Practice Sue Smith Brings Corporate-Tested Know How to the Classroom

The first marketing course Professor Sue Smith ever took was through an MBA extension program that Syracuse University ran in Corning, N.Y. “It was taught by Whitman Professor Emeritus Ted Wallin, and it changed the course of my career. I was in HR at the time, but he opened my eyes to the power of marketing and his passion ignited mine. I try to emulate Professor Wallin and match his enthusiasm every time I teach.”

A native of Massapequa, N.Y., Smith earned her undergraduate degree from Cornell and MBA from Boston College. She started working at Corning Incorporated right out of college and went on to assume the role of marketing VP for both Pass & Seymour and IRWIN Industrial Tools.

Smith felt the greatest professional fulfillment when presenting at industry conferences and events. “I realized that I had the most fun when educating and informing an audience about a new product or industry development, and people often said they learned a lot from me,” Smith shared.

The decision to join the Whitman faculty as a professor of practice (PoP) was not made with reservation. “It seemed like a natural way to extend my career and share my experience,” Smith explained. Although teaching has proved a great fit and energizes her daily, Smith recognizes the value of those three decades in the industry. “The first-hand perspective I gained in the workplace from applying marketing lessons and learning from the outcomes is valuable in preparing students for careers in this ever-evolving discipline.”

Smith’s corporate experience has also proved valuable in leading efforts to develop and coordinate two new courses at Whitman. Her “Sales Management in B2B Markets” is a comprehensive, interactive course in business-to-business marketing across industries. Topics include sales and marketing alignment, team recruitment and development, sales force design and management.

Working closely with Cindie Adams, Whitman’s director of alumni relations, Smith is always seeking sales and marketing alumni to speak in class or to make themselves available for students to interview about their careers. This semester, four Whitman alumni, Chris Chariton ’91 MBA, Kevin Bandel ’96, Jason Ricks ’07 MBA and Robert Wood ’01, will join the class to share their experiences and career advice.

The “Business Essentials” course gives non-Whitman students a multidisciplinary overview of business fundamentals. “I love teaching the course with a team of seven excellent professors from all disciplines,” said Smith. “You can teach marketing or finance, but, in reality, all the functions have to work together. The students see how different disciplines connect and apply in a business setting.”

Smith’s accomplished career is a model for female achievement both in industry and academia. A 2009-10 study by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business showed a 23.6 percent increase in female faculty at business schools from 2001-02. Smith is encouraged by the growth but hopes for an even greater increase in higher education and enterprise. “It’s a shame that there is still evidence of a glass ceiling, and I mean a shame for everyone,” she explained. “I believe there is an invaluable perspective and way of thinking women bring to executive teams that positively impacts performance.”

Though Smith is happy to be a model of success for female students, her ultimate goal is to give all students an appreciation of the power of marketing. “I strive to share my curiosity, interest and love of the field of marketing with students. Everyone should understand the principles of marketing—no matter what business paths they take.”