2021 Best & Brightest MBAs: Marcus Harmon, Georgia Tech (Scheller)

Marcus Harmon

Scheller College of Business, Georgia Institute of Technology

“I’m a driven person who believes my actions speak louder than my words.”

Hometown: Indianapolis, IN

Fun fact about yourself: I spent six years in the United States Army special operations and reconnaissance community as an Army Ranger. That allowed me to have some incredible opportunities including jumping out of airplanes. However, my daredevil side does not translate to amusement parks; I absolutely refuse to ride roller coasters.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Dayton, Bachelor of Science in Marketing with a minor in Management.

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Prior to Scheller, I was a member of 3rd Ranger Battalion and the Operations NCO for the Reconnaissance Surveillance Leadership Course in the United States Army. Upon my exit from the military due to a medical retirement in 2018, I transitioned to a role in financial services and then received an opportunity to work as a Membership Associate for the Atlanta Hawks Basketball Club.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? I interned at E&J Gallo Winery as an MBA Brand Management Intern working with the New Amsterdam Spirits team. During the summer, I developed a consumer recruitment strategy for Stratusphere Gin, which had recently been re-branded from New Amsterdam Gin. My project required me to holistically understand the brand’s current position against our competitors and leverage cross-functional expertise to conduct market analyses that allowed me to develop a clear sales strategy, optimize product placement, and even conduct a creative workshop for a new marketing campaign.

Where will you be working after graduation? After graduation I will be joining Simon-Kucher & Partners (SKP) as a Senior Consultant in the Atlanta office. SKP’s expertise in strategy, marketing, and pricing is an incredible opportunity for me to combine my passion for marketing/sales and consulting to help our clients solve their complex problems and drive profits. The firm’s focus on “TopLine Power” or revenue generating opportunities requires a level of creativity that I am extremely excited to hone across various industries.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Scheller is all about community. I took that message to heart, and as a result, I looked to be involved wherever I could. In my first year in the program, I was selected as a first-year representative on the Marketing Club leadership team where I was able to spearhead a game night with my former employer, the Atlanta Hawks. We were able to tour the office, have a roundtable discussion with employees from sales, marketing, and analytics, and wrapped up the night by attending the game. It was a truly memorable event, and we were able to discuss different post-MBA opportunities that sometimes are not the most obvious. Additionally, I was the first-year representative on the MBA Veterans Club. The club’s mission is to connect talented veterans within Scheller and support them throughout their time in the MBA program, whether they are Full-time, Evening, or Executive MBA students. Through this experience, I contributed to programming that empowered Scheller veteran students to contribute in meaningful ways after their service and I developed a network of amazing people that I shared a common bond with.

During my second year in the program, I have served as president of the MBA Veterans Club. I believe whole-heartedly that veterans have a unique skillset to contribute as leaders in the private sector just as they did in uniform. It has been my honor to lead such an organization committed to doing just that. I also serve as the vice president of finance for the Marketing Club this year and it has been incredible experience to help build more excitement around marketing through events, alumni speakers, and our annual Marketing Innovation Conference @ Scheller. The conference is our banner, five-star event that highlights how marketing and technology intersect in today’s economic environment.

In addition to these two club leadership positions, I also serve on our Strategic Partnerships Committee which acts as the Graduate Business Council’s external representative to the greater Georgia Tech student body. Although Covid-19 has impacted our ability to gather with fellow students, there has been great strides to further enhance the MBA program’s infrastructure, including ongoing development of a Scheller Venture Capital Fund, an idea brought to concept by one of our recent graduates. Finally, I serve as a student ambassador for the MBA program which has allowed me to support the program office through student panels, recruiting events, and even interviewing applicants for the next class.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? There are two achievements that I am most proud of. The first would be my time as the president of the MBA Veterans Club. We are a smaller program but that has not stopped us from seeking out veteran talent to join our cohorts. When I first got here, the program said we had an obligation to “replace our self” in the next class. I have had the privilege of recruiting another veteran for the class of 2022, who is now also my mentee. Additionally, for the class of 2023, I have connected with multiple veterans to guide them through the admission process, and I am proud to say they will all be attending business school at Scheller in the fall. I believe in leaving a place better than when I found it, and I believe these efforts have accomplished that in my time here at Georgia Tech.

The second achievement I am very proud of is my participation in Board Fellows. The Board Fellows program allows MBA students to serve as non-voting members on the board of a nonprofit here in Atlanta. For the last year, I have been serving on the board of Rush Union, a travel soccer club, providing pro-bono consulting. I have been an athlete my entire life, including playing college football, so sports have always been key in teaching me valuable life lessons. The opportunity to provide the next generation the skills they need to play the game they love is something I found great fulfillment in.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of the opportunity I had to serve in special operations as a member of 3rd Ranger Battalion.  I was able to deploy multiple times to the Middle East and the Pacific region, which was a truly unique opportunity. 3/75 allowed me to work with people of different cultures and conduct high priority missions.  I did not realize at the time how that tactical training and early leadership lessons would help me once I transitioned out of the military but some of those concepts have stuck with me. Looking back, I made lifelong friends, faced some daunting challenges, and came out a better man for having been behind that brown fence.

Why did you choose this business school? While I have a laundry list of reasons, I will keep it to one and I would have to say Scheller’s career services. Scheller is unique in that our career advisors act as both mentors to the students and liaisons with the companies that recruit us; at our peer schools, those functions are often separate. This empowers the staff to be on the lookout for the absolute perfect career for us as they really get to know who we are as people. My advisor, Lauren Porter, has been instrumental in helping me achieve the success I have had in my job search and I am not sure I will ever be able to thank her enough.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? One thing I would do differently is familiarize myself with Excel and PowerPoint more; that would have helped the first semester go a little smoother. I now make it a point to emphasize the importance of being familiar with those programs to everyone I speak to when they are about to start the program, ESPECIALLY to the other veterans. So many deliverables use Excel and PowerPoint that any increase in your skillset with these two programs will be a huge value add to your project teams and in your recruitment.

What is the biggest myth about your school? I believe the biggest myth is that you must be an engineer to attend or that your career aspirations will be limited to operations and supply chain roles. I have classmates from all backgrounds and they really bring a unique perspective to the program. Concerning career goals, we are very proud of the expertise we have in those areas as well as analytics, but I have also seen my class place very well with the elite consulting firms, in the tech sector, and even in banking. You really can do it all here.

What surprised you the most about business school? How quickly it flies by! I remember people told me that business school would go quickly, and I do not think I truly believed them. I am going to miss the energy of Scheller when it is full of people. That energy is what stood out my first time in the building. That energy is also what I think about as I leave; this really is a special place.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I brought my genuine self to light in my application and in my interview. I figured there was no point in trying to be anything but the best version of me and I hoped that would be enough.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I might catch some flack since I can only choose one, but I think I would have to say James Farmer. Since the day I met him, he has been one of the most genuine and helpful people in the class. James has always been willing to help our classmates with academics, and even give insights into successfully recruiting with companies that he networked with. James effortlessly prioritizes serving the greater good above himself and I feel like that it is incredibly rare. It was James who suggested I give Simon-Kucher a look as I was recruiting this fall.  I think it is safe to say that idea worked out perfectly!

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? Honestly, it was such a shock trying to comprehend the magnitude of the situation. I truly never imagined something like this would happen. Personally, I think Scheller did a wonderful job minimizing the impact and making sure we still got value from the curriculum. It is a constantly evolving situation, and the program is very receptive to our feedback, which makes us feel valued as students.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My mother is the biggest influence on all that I do. She served 20 years in the military and has worked for equality in the workplace at the city, state, and federal level for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. My mother has accomplished all of this while raising me by herself, truly a heroic effort. To put the cherry on top, I was the first person in my family to graduate college, but she was the second, going back for her bachelor’s degree when she did not have to.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? Short term would be attending the annual meeting in Bonn, Germany for Simon-Kucher. It looks incredible. Long term would be to make partner at the firm. I know it will take a lot of work and some luck, but I have always been one to set high expectations for myself.

What made Marcus such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021?

“Marcus is a passionate, go-getter and that was apparent from before he even arrived at Scheller – after all, it takes a special person to serve our country as an Army Ranger! Since arriving at Scheller, Marcus has been completely dedicated to making our great community even better and more welcoming. He never shies from stepping up and putting in the work to make Scheller a great environment for all students, especially our veteran and diversity populations.  Since coming to Scheller, he has served in key leadership roles with the Veterans Club, Marketing Club, Blacks in Business, and also shares his enthusiasm for Scheller as an ambassador to prospective students. Whatever Marcus does, he gives his all to, and that commitment has been a huge value – whether it was in his execution of the Marketing Innovation Conference @ Scheller (a large, external facing conference put on annually by the Scheller MBA Marketing Club) or his advocacy for better engagement with MBA veterans. He is always willing to give a hand to his fellow classmates – whether it was helping someone move or working on interview prep. He has been a rock star these last two years at Scheller, and I know he will only continue to shine brighter in his next adventure with Simon Kucher and as a Scheller alumnus.”

Dave Deiters
Executive Director, Jones MBA Career Center

“Scheller MBA students are terrific. Among this remarkable group, Marcus Harmon stands out. After dedicating almost six years serving our country in the Army, including a stint in the Special Operations teams, Marcus embarked upon an MBA at Scheller. I teach the required core strategy course, and I enjoy speaking to my students individually outside the classroom. Given his military background, Marcus and I spent some time comparing notes on how strategy had moved from the military to the business domain and how strategy is shaped today by technology, stakeholder demands, and competitive pressures. What impressed me the most is that Marcus is intrinsically motivated to learn and offers thoughtful insights on a wide range of topics. For instance, both he and I attended a special university lecture on the macroeconomic environment and the geopolitical forces in the U.S.-China relationship. We chatted after the talk, and we both came independently to the conclusion that we would look at these issues in a more differentiated way. Marcus is a natural leader; he works hard, is intellectually curious, and thinks deeply about complex issues. We need more leaders like him to make this world a better place. Go, Marcus!”

Frank Rothaermel
Russell B. and Nancy H. McDonough Chair in Business,
Professor, Sloan Industry Studies Fellow


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