“Patagoniac” Morlee Griswold Makes Waves in Marketing

Thankful for the lessons and skills she learned at the Graduate School of Management, Morlee Griswold ‘85 recently returned to the School as a guest speaker in a student-initiated course on social entrepreneurship to share her experiences and insights into mission-driven enterprises.

At the Graduate School of Management, you’re in a a group of intelligent, talented people, working together, motivating each other, sharing responsibilities and succeeding as a team. The School fosters self-reliance and critical thinking.

- Morlee Griswold ‘85

And while much has changed in the 20-plus years since she first carved a niche in marketing and finance, Griswold has found that the fundamental strengths of her MBA experience endure.

“The UC Davis MBA Program encourages students to take risks,” she says. “It fosters self-reliance and critical thinking, and this is invaluable  training for the corporate world.”

Griswold started a catalog company after graduating in 1985. About the same time, she discovered a new passion—kayaking—and soon was competing at the top of the sport.

After many years in creative direct marketing, Griswold took a sabbatical to re-evaluate her life’s path. She was kayaking on Montana’s Lochsa River when a recruiter tracked her down to lure her to Patagonia, a $250 million outdoor clothing and gear company whose philosophy of environmental stewardship fits well with Griswold’s sense of social responsibility.

Today, as Patagonia’s director of direct marketing, Griswold oversees customer contact through catalogs and the Web.

The company has granted her time to pursue her kayaking passion, and Griswold spent five weeks in Ireland in 2003  training for the biennial World Surf Kayak Championships. She returned later that year to compete, helping her team win the bronze medal. At the 2005 competition in Costa Rica, she managed the U.S. team that took the gold.

Griswold recently received two months leave to work with a philanthropist to redirect his foundation to funding environmental causes.

“Patagonia has allowed me to balance my career and personal life,” Griswold says. “The company has reinforced the idea that you don’t have to do things the same way everyone else does them. You can be different and still be successful.”