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Penn State Smeal College of Business names two new members to Board of Visitors

April 12, 2019

Penn State Smeal College of Business alumni Farid Alias and Jerome Griffith have accepted invitations from Charles H. Whiteman, John and Becky Surma Dean of Smeal, to join the Smeal Board of Visitors.

"I am pleased to welcome Farid and Jerome to Smeal's Board of Visitors,” Whiteman said. “Both Farid and Jerome have significant C-suite experience that I expect will enhance the programs and services we provide for Smeal students and I look forward to the contributions they will make in the years to come.”

Board members serve in an advisory capacity, providing counsel to the dean and other Smeal administrators in areas of strategic importance to the college based on their experience and knowledge of the latest issues and trends affecting business. The board, which has close to 40 members, consists of Smeal alumni and friends from an array of businesses and industries. Members meet once each semester to provide recommendations on new initiatives and offer feedback on matters related to the college.

Farid Alias, the group president and chief executive officer for Maybank Group in Malaysia, graduated from Penn State in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting. In 2017, he received the Penn State Alumni Association’s Alumni Fellow Award, the organization’s highest honor.

He is chairman of The Association of Banks in Malaysia and vice chairman of Asian Institute of Chartered Bankers. He is also a member of the ASEAN Banking Council, the Asian Banker Association, Visa Senior Client Council Program and Investment Panel of Kumpulan Wang Persaraan. He was also appointed to the Emerging Markets Advisory Council of the Institute of International Finance, based in Washington, D.C. Among his professional honors, he was named CEO of the Year at the ASEAN Business Awards Malaysia in 2015 and was awarded the CNBC Asia Business Leader Award for Corporate Social Responsibility that same year. 

“Coming from East Asia, Farid brings a much-needed perspective and insight to the Board,” says Whiteman. “He is at the highest level of his profession, yet he remains quite humble. He is grateful for the impact a Smeal education had on the trajectory of his career.”

Jerome Griffith graduated from Penn State in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and is currently CEO of Lands’ End. Previously, he was CEO, president, and director of Tumi Holdings, president at Esprit Holdings, executive vice president at Tommy Hilfiger, and president of retail at J. Peterman Company. With nearly 40 years of professional experience in retail, Griffith will bring expertise in an underrepresented segment of the board.

“Jerome was the first executive insights speaker after I joined the college and was quite popular” Whiteman said. “He really understands the younger demographics and has an attitude and way of thinking that resonates with our students.”

Griffith attributed his work habits to lessons learned in college.

“I think Penn State teaches great fundamentals, but there is also this great work ethic in Pennsylvania that helps explain why the school produces so many C-suite executives,” Griffith said. “You have to be willing to roll up your sleeves, dig in, understand what you are doing, and then get the work done.”

Griffith said he expected he would drive a bulldozer after he graduated from high school but ended up receiving a scholarship that made it possible for him to attend Penn State instead.

“In my industry, I am considered successful. Had it not been for that scholarship, my life would have taken a very different turn. I am honored to join the Board of Visitors and give something back to the University that helped me get where I am today,” he said.

The complete list of Board of Visitors membership can be found online.

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