2020 Best & Brightest MBAs: Marnie Harris, Emory University (Goizueta)

Marnie Harris

Emory University, Goizueta Business School

I’m an engineer with a business mindset committed to building a more inclusive world.”

Hometown: Roswell, GA

Fun fact about yourself: I skipped first grade

Undergraduate School and Degree: Georgia Institute of Technology, B.S. Biomedical Engineering

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Georgia Tech Excel Program, Program Manager

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Hello Robot, Atlanta, GA

Where will you be working after graduation? TBD

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Social Enterprise at Goizueta, Fellow
  • Board Chair, Kyle Pease Foundation
  • Board Member, Kyaninga Mobility

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I worked alongside a Ugandan entrepreneur to create a business strategy for manufacturing low-cost, locally-made mobility equipment for rural Uganda. The project has taken off – we’ve raised $100,000 and will break ground on the construction at the end of the month. The manufacturing center will not only create innovative devices but will also be a revenue-generating arm for the Kyaninga Child Development Centre, a therapy center for kids with disabilities in rural Western Uganda. It was an awesome intersection of my engineering background, passion for the disability community, and developing skillset. I also was able to visit Uganda twice in my second semester – a pretty fun way to spend the beginning and end of the semester!

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I was part of the founding team for Excel at Georgia Tech, a certificate program for students with intellectual disabilities. Excel has become a landmark for schools across the nation. Programs like these are changing outcomes for students with intellectual disabilities who can now have a true college experience, try out different types of jobs, and live on their own. My proudest moment working at Excel was when the first cohort started. That was topped in May 2019 when the same seven students were the first-ever graduating class.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? It is definitely the International Potluck. Students bring a dish from their home country or culture. This year, we had 30+ countries represented (including tots from the Midwest US). It’s an incredible way to see the culture we’re surrounded by and the diversity of backgrounds that comprise the student body.

Why did you choose this business school? I was a unique candidate for business school – I had a non-traditional background and a different target career path. I got to know members of Goizueta’s leadership during the application process and felt like Emory would be a place where I was valued for my uniqueness and where I would have abundant support to make the impact I wanted to have through my MBA. This has come true tenfold in my experience at Goizueta.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Know why you are getting an MBA – it will help you evaluate schools based on the program’s ability to meet the value you’re looking for and also help you find a place where you can add value during your MBA experience.

What is the biggest myth about your school? I can’t think of a rumor about Goizueta, but MBAs as a whole have a reputation of being stuck-up yopro’s who want to make gobs of money no matter the cost. I’ve found this to be mostly untrue. My classmates are passionate, compassionate, game-changers who see business as a way to drive real, effective, and scalable change. I’m better because of the people I’m surrounded by at Goizueta.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Take more finance classes! I shunned finance as the concentration for bankers – it wasn’t until my last semester that I realized the intimidating jargon is just math equations and there is tremendous value in understanding financial instruments you can use to widen your impact.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Sophie Reiser. I met Sophie during Welcome Weekend, where I learned of her ambition to start a company that simultaneously expanded low-cost, healthy food, and employed people re-entering the workforce. Her passion then was a foreshadowing of who I’ve come to know in school. Sophie is fiercely passionate. She stands up for what she believes in and brings other people on board. She started a sustainability club at Goizueta from scratch. In our second year, when most others are checked out, Sophie lead a three-week sustainability campaign. She supports her friends in their ambitions and is always finding ways to improve herself and others. Sophie is the kind of person who will make any place better that she’s a part of, and I’ve been lucky to be a recipient of that influence as her classmate.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? Dr. Terry Blum. Terry was the founder of the Excel program and the former Dean of Scheller College of Business at Georgia Tech. I share her passion for advancing opportunities for people with disabilities. Terry convinced me that business is the mechanism through which we can have a scalable and sustainable impact, so I decided to pursue an MBA.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  • Build a company that competitively employs people with disabilities.
  • Raise up a leader whom I can pass the baton onto and who will carry it better than me.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? An ambitious, creative, action-oriented person who does things with excellence and makes other people better in the process.

Hobbies? Running. Reading. Furiously brainstorming.

What made Marnie such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“Our 30th President, Calvin Coolidge may have said it best, “No person was ever honored for what they received. Honor has been the reward for what they gave”. If these sentiments are true, Marnie Harris deserves the highest honor. Marnie Harris’s contribution to social impact and sustainability initiatives, both on and off-campus are immense. I would be remiss if I only considered Marnie to be a vital member of the Goizueta community, as her service spans far beyond the business school.

Our students have the unique opportunity to work closely with faculty through “Directed Study” projects that they are passionate about and would like to research further. One of Marnie’s Directed Studies focused on The Kyaninga Child Development Centre in western Uganda. “KCDC was established to provide much needed high quality, specialized and affordable assessment, treatment, education and support to children with disabilities, and their families and caretakers, to enable them to lead more independent lives.” Since completing the Directed Study, Marnie is still heavily involved in supporting the organization in her spare time. Another Directed Study that Marnie has worked on is with “Grounds for Empowerment,” where Marnie developed and delivered a workshop for women coffee growers to help understand their cost of production.

It is a luxury to have someone like Marnie within our community. She reminds us that although we live in a capitalist society, it is imperative to maintain a commitment to champion underrepresented individuals through our service. Marnie recently organized her classmates to participate in supporting The Kyle Pease Foundation, an organization that creates awareness and raises funds to promote success for persons with disabilities by providing assistance to meet their individual needs through sports. The foundation pairs wheelchair athletes with running athletes to compete in races together. Marnie set a fundraising goal of $700 to donate and participated in a half marathon in support of the Kyle Pease Foundation.

“No person was ever honored for what they received. Honor has been the reward for what they gave”—a maxim that applies as much to institutions as it does to individuals. I am proud of the example that Marnie has set at Goizueta. I am perhaps; more excited for what I know Marnie will bring, through her stout leadership, stunning work ethic, upbeat and people-centered attitude, to drive social enterprise at the corporate level.”

Irving Williams
Associate Director for Student Affairs
Full-Time MBA Program Office


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