Makena Timmins Harris
“Focused on the future while enjoying the present.”
Hometown: Seattle, WA
Fun Fact About Yourself: I was the first female M777A2 battery commander in U.S. Army history.
Undergraduate School and Major: The University of the South, Sewanee; BA in Economics
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: United States Army Field Artillery Officer (Rank: Captain), Fort Wainwright, AK.
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest accomplishment is successfully commanding a U.S. Army field artillery battery for over a year. Taking command of 80+ U.S. soldiers, who shoot over 100-pound bombs many miles out of a cannon, was an incredibly humbling experience. I quickly learned that the success of the battery was not how well I performed as an artillery (wo)man, but how well I set conditions for my subordinates to perform their individual jobs to the best of their abilities. This was the best professional development I have had so far in my career, and it gave me a new perspective on what leadership is all about. Although I failed a few times in the beginning, I learned that sometimes being the leader means taking a step back and empowering those below you to accomplish their given tasks.
What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? I have found my classmates to be very friendly, intelligent, humble, and diverse.
Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? Having spent my entire professional career as an officer in the U.S. Army, deciding to exit the military to attend business school was intimidating. I wanted a program that was going to best prepare and support me in my transition from the military to the civilian workforce. Tuck’s core curriculum, real-world educational opportunities through Tuck Go and the First-Year Project, and close-knit, supportive environment was exactly what I wanted in a business school.
What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? Growing up in Seattle, I skied almost every weekend in the winter. I am looking forward to ski season at Killington and Stowe this winter!
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? Pursuing an MBA was something I have wanted since I was an undergraduate (I majored in economics, after all!). After accomplishing all my goals in the military, including successfully commanding a firing artillery battery, I developed a yearning for a new professional challenge. I was at the point in my military career where it was time to make the decision to either stay in the military and make the Army a 20+ year career or exit the service to pursue a new career in the business world.
After attending Military Visit Day at Tuck last fall, I knew it was time for me to leave the military. Not only did I feel as if I had found the perfect school for me, but I was exposed to the many career opportunities that Tuckies were pursuing all over the world. I realized the vast professional opportunities “on the outside (of the military)” that appealed to me. I couldn’t wait to begin my Tuck journey!
How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? Although I have gained a significant amount of leadership experience over the past eight years, I knew I lacked some important fundamental skills needed to be successful in business. When I took into consideration the education I will receive while at Tuck, I absolutely felt that the 20 months of school was worth the time investment. I could not gain the same depth of knowledge in two years working, that I could through Tuck’s rigorous and diverse curriculum. Financially, I am 100% eligible for the Post 9/11 GI, and I will use it to pay for most of my education at Tuck.
What other MBA programs did you apply to? CBS, Darden, Fuqua, HBS, Sloan
How did you determine your fit at various schools? Last fall, I took two weeks of leave and did my “Tour de MBA” to visit every school I was interested in. I found visiting each campus gave me a better sense of whether I was a good fit for each school. There were a few schools I visited that I did not end up applying to, simply because I didn’t feel like they were the right fit for me. Besides the “gut instinct” that comes from visiting each campus, I looked at each school’s core academic curriculum, recruiting statistics (notably management consulting), and opportunities for real-world learning. When I considered these factors, Tuck stood out as the number one school for me.
What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? My defining moment was taking the Oath of Office when I commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. When I took that oath for the first time, I immediately realized the importance of my position. There is a line in the Oath of Office that reads, “I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter.” This really resonated with me because I believe this sense of duty applies not only to my duties as a military officer, but also to my duty to be a productive and contributing member of society. To me, this part of the oath means that I should always do my best every day, because my “team” depends on me, whether that team is on the battlefield or in the classroom.
What do you plan to do after you graduate? I plan on pursuing a career in management consulting post-graduation.
Where do you see yourself in five years? In five years, I see myself as a team leader at a management consulting firm.