Movers & Shakers: Mary Jacobs, St. Catherine University

  • Updated: December 8, 2013 - 2:00 PM

A look at the people behind the numbers in area business:

Mary Jacobs St. Catherine University

Title: Director, Center for Sales Innovation

Age: 50

Mary Jacobs is focusing on educating future sales professionals and offering programs for those progressing in their careers as director of the Center for Sales Innovation at St. Catherine University in St. Paul.

Jacobs brings both professional and academic experience to her new role, having spent 27 years as a corporate sales leader, entrepreneur and business mentor as well as graduating nearly four years ago from the university’s master’s in organizational leadership program.

“Having a strong sales background, I thought I could help guide these young women as they get started in their sales careers,” Jacobs said. “I’ve got a strong interest in entrepreneurship as well and bringing that into the classroom and talking to young women who are interested in potentially starting a ­business but are also interested in sales currently was a really good fit.”

Jacobs was a district sales manager for Northwest Airlines, leading teams working with Fortune 500 corporations. She also worked as a sales competency manager at Deluxe Corp. She most recently was principal at the Women’s Excelerator, an ­educational and coaching firm she founded in 2011 to help women business owners.

The Center for Sales Innovation offers a sales-specific curriculum and is part of the university’s School of Business and Professional Studies. Jacobs is overseeing the center’s academic programs for the university’s four-year degrees in business-to-business and health care sales, the only sales degrees offered in the state, according to Jacobs; its professional development programs, including the Women Sales Leaders and Sales Executive Forum programs; and research in the sales field.

Q: What are the opportunities for sales students?

A: They could get an opportunity at Ecolab, 3M, Medtronic or a variety of the great companies here in the Twin Cities. They’re out there [facing customers] right out of college.

Q: What role would a sales degree and experience play in a graduate’s career?

A: A sales position where you’re out talking to customers is key to understanding how your company operates. You understand what matters to the customer and understand the ­functionality of your company. It broadens your perspective about what’s important to the customer.

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