Scope2016 - page 27

At their first meeting,
Lyssa Jackson ’16 recalls,
Ceci Zak ’87 asked, “What are your dreams? What are
your goals?” and urged her to think big.
That encouragement culminated a year later in
a milestone event for a student club that Jackson
co-founded, Skidmore Women in Business. And the
mentoring relationship hasn’t slowed down.
Chief operating officer for health care for Omni-
com’s DAS marketing companies, Zak asked Skid-
more staff member Joe Porter how she might give
back to her alma mater, especially in a way that could
use “my passion for development of leadership skills,”
she says. Porter connected her with Jackson.
The pair clicked almost immediately. Jackson
says Zak “matched my 120-miles-per-hour kind of
thinking” and proved a fantastic listener, and for her
part, Zak was “dazzled” by Jackson’s enthusiasm and
leadership ability.
After an evening of what Jackson calls “very in-
tense conversation, in the best way possible,” she and
Zak stayed in touch via scheduled emails and phone
calls. That’s how the COO helped the student shape a
crowning event for the WIB club.
WIB members had benefited greatly from confer-
ences at institutions such as Harvard Business School
and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
“At these events, you could always tell where the
Skidmore women were, because they were always
asking the most interesting questions,” Jackson says.
Now it was Jackson’s turn, with Zak’s encourage-
ment, to spearhead WIB’s first conference of its own.
Speakers at the daylong event, Creative Thought
Leads: Liberal Arts and Business Smarts, included
marketer and working-mom advocate Catherine
Merritt ’03, wedding and event planner Rebecca
Shenkman ’03, Center for American Progress exec
Emily Tisch Sussman ’04, Elle Décor design editor
Mieke ten Have ’05, and Bravo network social-media
director Abigail Cusick ’04.
Zak found the theme apt, noting that in her
day Skidmore “grounded me in a wide breadth of
industries and services. It helped me find what I was
passionate about in different aspects of my career.”
Today Jackson is an executive team leader for
Target Corp., a role in which she takes great pride
though she sometimes finds herself striving to show
all she can do. She reports, “I’m having lots of small
successes and making lots of mistakes.” At times, “it
can be hard, but then I hear Ceci in my head, saying,
‘You can do it.’”—
Jim Akin ’84
Business-world role model
Lyssa Jackson ’16
Charlie Samuels
Ceci Zak ’87
Empowering women who “ask
the most interesting questions”
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