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An Easy Sale: Neiman Marcus Exec Impressed with Texas Tech Students

Alumnus James E. Skinner says Red Raiders have a unique advantage with their drive to succeed.

Written by Callie Jones

James E. Skinner

James E. Skinner

For James E. Skinner, chief operating officer and chief financial officer of Neiman Marcus Group Inc. and Red Raider alumnus, Texas Tech University graduates are in a unique position to find success.

“Texas Tech students don’t have a sense of entitlement,” he said. “In many ways, the students here have the drive to prove themselves.”

Skinner recently visited the Texas Tech campus when he was in Lubbock for the “Little Black Dress” fundraiser for the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health. The event featured the CEO of Neiman Marcus, Karen Katz.

Graduating in December 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, Skinner has worked for Neiman Marcus since 2001. He oversees strategy, finance, information technology and distribution for the company. Before coming to Neiman Marcus, he worked for CompUSA as executive vice president and chief financial officer.

He believes his success in the retail industry is the result from a combination of work ethic, luck and respect for different types of people.

“I’ve worked in several industries,” Skinner said. “You have to have good work ethic but it is very important to have respect for different personalities especially in retail. You have to respect and appreciate all the people that make a business possible.”

Early in his career, Skinner made a decision to start treating his various jobs as a business in which he is the sole proprietor and customer service is a priority.

“If you start looking at yourself as a business instead of an employee, you learn how to work with different people,” he said. “My clients are my colleagues. What do people want? They want to know if they ask for something, it’s done and done with high quality. If you focus on what is the expectation of your customer, then you will do well. That’s one thing that (Neiman Marcus) takes very seriously. I don’t care who you are – if you call me, then I’m going to return the call.”

Skinner was named a Distinguished Alumnus by the Texas Tech Alumni Association in 2010 for his various career accomplishments. He believes that all young Texas Tech alumni have the opportunity to find success in their careers upon graduation.

“The people that come from Texas Tech have an attitude of gratitude for their job,” Skinner said. “There’s a great work ethic and I felt that when I was a student.”

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