Jessica Silliman '07
Business Development Manager, Microsoft
Jessica Silliman '07 fondly remembers that while growing up with her family in the greater Seattle area, the expression "food for thought" took on a whole new meaning. Lively discussions at the dinner table, she recalls, were primarily about ethical issues.
"My parents were and are both very ethical people, and they definitely influenced me in terms of doing the right thing and having deep values," she comments. There was healthy debate on everything from the death penalty to women's rights, not only laying the foundation for Silliman's awareness of ethical frameworks at a young age, but also providing an early education on Jesuit values and the complexity of global issues.
Today, Silliman enjoys an entrepreneurial position as business development manager at Microsoft in Seattle, where she works with Fortune 500 companies to help bridge the gap between marketing and tech. She has learned to appreciate the importance of "story" in her work, whether it be lessons learned through customers, colleagues, or a variety of business scenarios.
Silliman's fascination with story is not only a theme in her current life, but also in her past as an SCU communications major and Hackworth Fellow at the Ethics Center. During 2006-2007, she worked with Director of Campus Ethics David DeCosse to develop alumni case studies that showcased everyday challenges in journalism. The studies covered a variety of ethical dilemmas, such as whether to publish potentially damaging photos, to accept office perks, or to divulge sources for a larger cause.
"I'm so thankful to David, as he was able to translate my core project concept into a compelling program. He also prioritized the importance of posting the case studies online, where to this day they continue to receive high numbers of page views annually," she comments.
After graduating from SCU, Silliman was a teacher for "Teach for America," another formative experience that inspired her passion for equity in education. She gained a new admiration for her students each day. "I was so impressed with their ability to rise above obstacles, meet challenges, and exceed expectations," she says.
Silliman earned her MBA from Yale School of Management in 2015, a program she found fulfilling not only for its social impact emphasis, but also for its affirmation that having a business mindset can help with almost every challenge. She will be running her first New York City Marathon this fall, adding to an impressive track record she will no doubt continue.