Pride and passion fuel success

Pride and passion fuel success

Photo by: TJ Lievonen
By Jennifer Palma Sanchez

Photo by: TJ Lievonen

Pride and passion fuel success

By Jennifer Palma Sanchez
As a recent honoree of South Florida Business Journal’s 2019 40 Under 40 designation, Jesse Marks, senior associate athletic director for development, shared insight on how he has stayed at the top of his game at the University of Miami.

In recognition of the region’s top talent, the South Florida Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 designation honors those who have served as pillars in their communities and influencers in business. As one of the 2019 honorees, Marks shared how the U has had an everlasting impact on his life and career as a fundraiser. 

What was it that originally brought you to the University of Miami?
My connection to the U began long before my time as a student. My parents met here in the 1970s when my father was in law school and my mother was an undergraduate student. Growing up in Miami, UM had always been a part of my family. I started as a freshman in 2001 and met my wife here before beginning my career and earning my master’s degree.

What led to your career in fundraising?
In high school I worked as a golf cart attendant at Turnberry Isle Golf Club and I meet people from all walks of life, including the Soffer Family. I learned the value of providing great, genuine service to people, and I enjoyed it. During my sophomore year in 2002, I asked  for a volunteer job at the Hurricane Club, which ultimately led to an internship, and eventually a full-time career. Within each role, I learned more about the importance of building meaningful and genuine relationships with the UM community. 

What has contributed to your success as a fundraiser for the Hurricane Club? 
While having passion is essential, it takes a lot more than that. I have always been passionate about the Miami community and the University, but the ability to build genuine, meaningful, lasting relationships has been the foundation of my success. I also feel that it is critical to surround yourself with a team who feels the same level of passion about the work they are doing. It’s up to us, as representatives of the University and our mission, to really know our people before we need them.

Do you have a favorite memory from your career at the U? 
Without a doubt my favorite memory is the culmination of the opening of the Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility. And more specifically, my time working with and learning from Stuart Miller and David Epstein through the entire process. To see Miller and Epstein, our supporters, recognize the work that went into the project was truly meaningful. 

Work-life balance. How do you do it all? 
While we can’t control everything, we can control our attitudes and for the most part, our schedules. I think it’s essential to find time to make yourself happy, even if it’s just scheduling 30 minutes a day to do something for yourself. For me, that time is usually between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. I exercise, take a few calls or answer emails, and prepare for my day.  I also think it’s important to surround yourself with people who keep you accountable to finding that balance. I found that when I make time for myself I have so much more to give to UM athletics, the community, and my family. 

What are you most excited about for the upcoming seasons? 
I’m really excited for Coach Manny Diaz. I think he has a unique way of relating his messaging to his team and our community, and he is poised for great success. I’m also looking forward to seeing Coach Gino DiMare do great things here and I can’t wait to see where he takes the baseball program. Finally, I couldn’t be more eager to be a part of our Building Women’s Champions campaign. I am grateful for the opportunity to support our incredibly talented female athletes. 

What does South Florida Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 recognition mean to you? 
Miami and University of Miami are home to me and I am completely humbled and grateful to be acknowledged. My entire family is part of this community, and we’ve essentially been raised and supported by the city and the University. It’s truly an honor to be recognized and an honor to serve. 

Learn more about the 40 Under 40 awards.