Alumni Tale: Jay Smith ’82

What did you study at UNH?

Business administration

What were you doing one year out of college?

My first job was working as a product development manager at the New Balance Athletic Shoe Co. factory in Lawrence, MA. Within a year I had traveled twice to Asia to develop shoes in Korean and Taiwanese shoe factories. That experience set the course for my entire professional career and life.

What were you doing five years out of college?

In 1988 I was director of marketing for Reebok, responsible for a $130 million business unit. This was an exciting time when Reebok and Nike were neck and neck for leadership of the sport shoe category. In the face of tough competition from Nike’s new cross-training shoes, I grew the Reebok fitness business to $230 million in two years, helping to keep Nike at bay, temporarily.

What were you doing 10 years out of college?

In 1993 I was vice president of marketing for L.A. Gear, part of a turnaround effort by Roy Disney’s Shamrock Investments. I oversaw product creation and marketing for the children’s shoe division, including the enormously successful L.A. Lights collection of flashing light shoes.

What are you doing now?

I am now vice president of sourcing for R.G. Barry Corp., a marketer of indoor slippers and bags. I live in southern China and oversee a staff of 38 Chinese managers. I’ve lived in Asia for 21 of the last 25 years and will most certainly finish out my career as an “expat.” There are a lot of sacrifices involved with living overseas, but it is also tremendously rewarding and enriching.

How do you feel your time at UNH has had an impact on where you are today?

After flunking out of a very famous engineering university and taking some time off to grow up, UNH gave me the opportunity to get back on track and graduate with honors. Despite my initial belief that UNH wasn’t “good enough”, I managed to use it as a springboard to admission to an accelerated MBA program at a top-five business school.

Why do you believe in UNH?

UNH offers something that is truly in rare supply nowadays: a quality education at an affordable price. The residents of New Hampshire are very privileged to have access to such a great educational institution.