Marcy Syms found her guiding principles and life philosophy in Golda Meir who when dealing with Israeli peace negotiations in the Middle East said, “Nothing in life just happens, you have to have the stamina to meet the obstacles and overcome them.” In forging her life path, Marcy has been an agent of change, a pioneer, and a provocateur who is always “changing the conversation.”
An independent director for private and public companies and social entrepreneur, Marcy Syms is the President of TPD Group LLC, a management consulting company and President of the Sy Syms Foundation. The former chair and CEO of Syms, Marcy Syms was a trail blazer in off-price retailing, presiding over one of the first stores to offer designer and brand-name clothing at substantially lower prices than conventional retail stores for several decades. Marcy Syms also served as President of A. Sulka & Co from 1981 to 1989 until it was sold to Richemont. She is an active board member of the NPR Foundation, the Advisory Council of Rockefeller University. and on the newly-founded NYC Family Enterprise Center. She is also chair of the ERA coalition and Fund for Women’s Equality.
Before its reorganization, Marcy Syms was CEO of Syms, which operated 50 stores with 3,500 employees in 16 states under the Syms and Filene’s Basement brands.
Marcy graduated from Finch College and was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow at Princeton University. She earned her MS in Public Relations from Boston University.
She holds an Honorary Doctorate in Business from Yeshiva and Bryant Universities and attended the Owner/President Management Program at Harvard University and the Wharton/Spencer Stuart Directors’ Institute. Through lecturing and meeting with faculty, trustees and students, Marcy visited state colleges in NJ and advocated for the pursuit of a liberal arts education.
In 1983 Syms launched its IPO. Marcy Syms was voted President of the company and successfully completed the “road show” for the offering. In accomplishing this, Marcy became one of the youngest female presidents of a New York Stock Exchange Company. By 1997, Syms grew from an 11 store operation to a 27 store operation with actual sales square footage per store increasing by more than 150%. After the successful completion of the secondary offering that same year, the board voted Marcy Syms CEO.
Marcy has also served on the board of Midlantic Bank, American Materials and the non profits, New Jersey Regional Planning Association, Manhattan Theatre Club and Women’s Economic Round Table.
She is also a former chair of the Small Business and Agricultural Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York serving under Timothy Geithner. and a former director of the New Jersey Governor’s Economic Growth Council.
The author of the business-strategy book Mind Your Own Business and Keep It in the Family, Marcy was a longtime columnist for Family Business Magazine.
Some of the not-for-profit boards Marcy has served on include the Economic Club of New York, the New York Chapter of the American Heart Association, New York Women’s Agenda, the New Jersey Regional Plan Association and Manhattan Theatre Club, the Advisory Board of Laboratory Institute of Merchandising, the Advisory Councils of the Entrepreneurship and Personal Enterprise Program at Cornell University, the Rothman Institute of Entrepreneurial Studies at Fairleigh Dickinson University and the National Association of Female Executives. In addition, Marcy is a past trustee of Prosperity New Jersey, a public/private partnership designed to promote economic development in New Jersey. She maintains memberships in the World Presidents’ Organization, the Committee of 200, the International Women’s Forum and the Women’s City Club of New York. She has also been a director of private companies including American Materials and Benco Dental and a board member of Veteran Feminists of America. Marcy on the board of the National Public Radio Foundation, NPR.
She has received distinguished leadership awards from Monmouth University, Fashion Institute of Technology, the Gomez Foundation for Mill House, the American Heart Association, the Men’s Fashion Association, American Jewish Congress, Executive Women of New Jersey, Finch College and Boston University and she has been honored by the council of Senior Centers and Services of New York City, The Jewish Women’s Foundation of New York, Women’s City Club of New York, National Council of Jewish Women New York Section, CORO New York Leadership Center, the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, was awarded the Heart Saver Award by The American Heart Association and honored by Women’s eNews as one of 21 Leaders for the 21st Century; one of seven who give life to movements. Marcy also received the Boston University College of Communication’s Distinguished Alumni Award for Service to the Profession in 2002 and continues to sit on the Board of Overseers at Boston University.
Marcy is a much sought after speaker on the subjects of family business, succession planning, public and not for profit boards, women in business and board governance diversity.