Start me up: professor Jeanne McPhillips
“Entrepreneurial success is all about developing relationships and learning how to work with people,” says SCAD professor Jeanne McPhillips. “I tell my students a business is a business because it’s solving a problem for a specific customer. If you don’t have a customer, you don’t have a business, end of story.”
McPhillips, an industry expert and founder of coaching consultancy SuperGirlls LLC, started at SCAD in September, 2020. Her business management and entrepreneurship curriculum is rooted in her 30-plus year career as private sector executive at Macy’s, General Mills, Limited Group, and The Walt Disney Company. Her experiences range from working with vendors on Seventh Avenue in Manhattan to overseeing the overhaul of a $75 million dress division spanning seven hundred stores, with trips overseas to ensure sourcing needs were met.
“I worked with amazing talent and amazing brands, traveling the world learning the fashion business first hand,” McPhillips says, her hands punctuating each sentence as though she were still competing with the sounds of New York City.
Of her time with Downtown Locker Room (DTLR), working with brands such as Jordan, Rocawear, and Sean Jean, she says: “I’d never worked in men’s or within the streetwear market. I learned a lot and helped the company grow into a national chain.”
McPhillips approached each role as a new opportunity to gain insights she uses in her classroom today. “As I moved up, I got to start coaching teams,” she says. “I loved it and I got the teaching bug.”
At SCAD, McPhillips’s classes focus on real world scenarios and entrepreneurial problem-solving. Assignments are often structured around group work and the need to form collaborative connections with peers.
McPhillips is currently working alongside the SCADpro innovation studio to develop a new course called Brand Studio. The course will pair SCAD students with entrepreneurial alumni who are developing their own ventures. McPhillips and her students will be working with SCADpro Fund recipients including Angela Benton (M.F.A., graphic design, 2007) of Streamlytics, Austin Webster (B.F.A., industrial design, 2006) of Deepr, and The Big Favorite’s Eleanor Turner (B.F.A., fashion, 2008).
“We are pairing SCAD dream teams with SCADpro funded startups,” McPhillips said. “Our students are going to test marketing strategies, design social media campaigns, and conduct customer research to help our SCAD grads succeed. It will be a powerful way to help these companies achieve their objectives.”
“I am here to help SCAD students flourish,” she emphasizes. “Study what you want to study, have fun being true to yourself, and make sure you are always addressing a problem that someone will pay you to solve.”
Written by Robert Almand.