Jenn McMillen (PMBA ’04)
Alumna Converts Cox Degree and Network into Dream Job
For Jenn McMillen (PMBA '04), the decision to attend the Cox School for her graduate degree was an easy one, thanks to the advice from Princeton grad and former Head of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge.
"When you go back for your MBA, make sure you get into the best school you can, because it's your graduate degree that will follow you for the rest of your life, not your undergraduate degree," Ridge advised.
Heeding those words of wisdom, McMillen applied to no schools other than the Cox School. "That is how I picked SMU," she said. "Frankly, a degree from SMU Cox is the gold standard in Texas."
McMillen received her undergraduate degree in journalism and public relations in 1993 from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She spent the first part of her career working for consulting agencies that specialized in database marketing and loyalty programs. While at Cox, she received advice from her Associate Board mentor that she should switch to the client side to round out her skill set. She made the move to "the dark side" in 2001 and has been in retail ever since.
After finishing her MBA in May 2004, McMillen and her husband decided to move to Ohio to be closer to their families. However, after two years in Cleveland, they had had enough of the snow and wanted to move back to Dallas. While searching for a new job, McMillen turned to the SMU Cox network. Her networking partners worked hard on her behalf and opened their rolodexes.
"Not only have my SMU connections helped me professionally, but many of my classmates have become lifetime friends," said McMillen. "To be surrounded by people equally motivated to better themselves is a heady and worthwhile experience."
All of McMillen's hard work and networking has paid off. Today, at the tender age of 36, she led the marketing team at Tuesday Morning, a $1 billion publicly traded company with more than 820 stores across the country. Her mandate is to drive traffic to stores while making sure that marketing strategy is followed, so that execution of mail programs, national television and advertising, and store programs are handled as flawlessly as possible.
"The most important skill I learned while in graduate school, and reinforced by Professor Jim Kindley, was a logical, numbers-based approach to problem solving," said McMillen. "It's something I employ every day and teach my staff to implement as well."
"Consider SMU Cox, you can't make a better choice," she said. "And when you get there, network like your life depends on it."
Jenn is currently the Division Vice President, Loyalty and CRM at GameStop, a $10 billion retailer headquartered in the Dallas-Fort worth metroplex. Jenn created GameStop's new loyalty program, PowerUp Rewards, which grew to more than 10 million members in under a year and recently won a Gartner Gold Award for CRM Excellence.
Through this joint awards program, 1to1 Media and Gartner spotlight excellence among organizations that take a customer-centric approach to improving their business performance and have seen exceptional results from doing so. The winners were selected by a panel of judges, including Gartner analysts, 1to1 Media editorial staff, and business and academic experts. Integrated Marketing — GameStop GameStop's PowerUp Rewards integrated loyalty program has become one of the company's primary business drivers.