Directors to Watch 2014, Marcy Syms


Director, Rite Aid Corp., Benco Dental

An independent director for private and public companies and social entrepreneur, Marcy Syms is the president of TPD Group LLC, a multigenerational succession planning and consulting company, and president of the Syms Foundation. Before it’s reorganization, Marcy Syms was CEO of Syms Corp., which operated 50 stores with 3,500 employees in 16 states under the Syms and Filene’s Basement brands. She was a trailblazer in off-price retailing, presiding over on over one of the first stores to offer designer and brand-name clothing at substantially lower prices than conventional retail stores.


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, she became one of the youngest female presidents of an NYSE company. By 1997, Syms grew from 11 to 27 stores, with 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 CEO. She earned an M.S. in communications and public relations at Boston University College of Communication. She received the college’s Distinguished Alumni Award for Service to the Profession in 2002, and continues to sit on the board of overseers at Boston University. She currently serves on the board of Rite Aid Corp. as chair of the compensation committee and is a director of Benco Dental. She has also served on the boards of Midlantic Bank, American Materials, and the nonprofits New Jersey Regional Planning Association, Manhattan Theatre Club, and Women’s

Economic Round Table. She is the author of the business strategy book Mind Your Own Business and Keep It in the Family, and was a longtime columnist for Family Business

Magazine. Regular Strategic Review Keeps the Focus on Value Creation: “Board service is a privilege that comes with a great deal of responsibility. Increasing complexity in governance, markets, risk, technology and regulation requires a director to constantly upgrade his or her skills. As a former CEO, I know how important diverse and current skills are for testing assumptions. The strategic planning process tests everyone’s skills and knowledge. After CEO succession, I find the strategic review process the most compelling role for a board. A highly functioning board measures all management’s objectives and initiatives through the ‘strategy’ lens. The discipline of regular strategic review keeps the focus on creating value. It also presents an excellent opportunity to evaluate management’s strengths and weaknesses.”

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Honors & Awards


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