Mary Jacobs, MA

Assistant Dean, Graduate Programs and MBA Program Director, Saint Mary’s University, Twin Cities campus

What’s your current role?

I oversee the graduate programs in the School of Business and Technology at Saint Mary’s University. We currently have nine master’s degrees and 16 certificate programs, both online and in-person. I’ve been at Saint Mary’s for nine months and worked at St. Kate’s for eight years as Director, Center for Sales Innovation Center.

When and why did you join the Women’s Health Leadership TRUST?

I joined the TRUST in 2021 when Monica Engel, former TRUST President, asked if I would be interested. I had attended the annual Forum dinner for years and was always impressed by the incredible work the TRUST did and the community of women health care professionals. Today, I am on the TRUST Board and Co-Chair the Programming Committee.

Do you have a favorite TRUST memory so far?

I’ve been facilitating a women’s entrepreneurship series this year with a cohort of seven women. We’ve been meeting weekly and talking about what it takes to start a business, value propositions, sales and marketing strategies and sharing best practices. It has been a gratifying experience to work with this group of women and see them build a supportive community quickly, and witness their progress.

How has a mentor helped you most?

Treat people the way you want to be treated and know that everyone has a story. 

What is the best career advice you’ve received?

Find your passion, and it can be outside of your job, and satisfaction and joy will follow. Don’t be afraid to be uncomfortable – my best results have always been when I’m most uncomfortable and stretch myself.

What support do you need now to evolve your development as a leader?

Meeting other leaders and learning from their experiences. The IDEA storytelling series have been excellent when these women talk about their backgrounds and life lessons. I have thoroughly enjoyed attending these sessions.

How do you support other women in their leadership journeys?

I’ve been lucky to have mentored several young women as an educator in the last nine years and as a corporate leader in my previous career. I’ve been so grateful for the honest and sometimes very raw conversations I’ve had with women when they talk about their challenges as they grow as professionals and learn how to navigate their careers. The best advice I give is to be yourself and get comfortable and confident talking about your accomplishments and reminding people how good you are. Don’t assume your leaders know the good work you are doing, and make sure to connect it with your position and the organization’s priorities.

How do you cope with demanding aspects of your career?

I’m still learning the work-life balance in my new job. It’s a conscious effort to not work on the weekends and find ways to unplug. I walk with my dogs in the morning and at night to get fresh air and exercise – it clears my mind too.

Higher Ed was incredibly impacted by COVID, but I learned new skills and have recharged the way I teach and provide a better student experience due to learning how to teach more impactfully online.

How do you maintain or improve your health and well-being?

Walking twice a day, gardening during the summer and reading as much as possible.

What is something people may not know about you?

My passion is to help women in mid-career transition from employee to entrepreneur successfully. I’ve been teaching entrepreneurship for 15 years, and I get such great satisfaction from working with women and helping them have a strategy for their business and build their confidence so they can promote themselves. When COVID started in 2020, I spoke about starting a business during COVID on radio and podcasts and did a TV segment in 10 different cities. It was a great experience.

Who inspires you?

My mom.

Do you have words of wisdom that drive you?

Stand in Your Purpose.