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Earning Dividends Well Beyond Graduation

In hindsight, Latia Harris’ choice of Vanderbilt looks better than ever

Latia Harris
Senior Director Change Management, Cisco Transformation Center

Vanderbilt MBA 2013

After earning a graduate degree in dispute resolution and conflict management, and then beginning her career in a sales role, Latia Harris wanted to move into Human Resources. That led her to look at Vanderbilt.

“Top MBA programs with strong HOP programs are limited,” she says.

But Vanderbilt was far from her only option, and even as she arrived for a weekend campus visit,” Latia says, “I was pretty sure I was going to attend a different school. Midway through Discover Weekend, I called my fiancé (now husband) and told him there was a change of plan — we were coming to Nashville! Once I visited Owen, I knew it was the perfect fit culturally and would be the best to help me meet my specific career goals.”

Now, with the better part of a decade as hindsight, Latia’s choice looks better to her than ever. She points to her Vanderbilt experience as a major driver that took her career to senior positions at the Advisory Board Company, Aetna, and, most recently, Cisco.

“The prep done for HOP students, who recruit practically as soon as they arrive, is unmatched,” Latia says. “The caliber of companies they have attracted to campus meant we had amazing opportunities to land internship and full-time roles. I don’t think I would have had such great exposure for HOP roles at other programs.”

Nor did the Vanderbilt experience for Latia end with graduation. She still values “the depth of the relationships I built and maintained,” she says. “An Owen classmate and her husband are godparents to my babies.”

At work, she still refers to notes from Professor Tim Vogus’ talent management and negotiation classes. “Faculty members,” she says, “have helped me on job offer and negotiation strategy long after I graduated.

“Professionally, there is no way I would have had some of the doors open for me as quickly as they did were it not for the Vanderbilt MBA. I probably wouldn’t have had the confidence even to toss my name in the ring for certain opportunities without my experience at Owen. As a first-generation college student, I feel like the ‘ceiling’ my own children will have is significantly higher because of the Owen MBA program.”

Fun Fact: Latia, mother to young twin girls, loves vibing to 90s R&B and hip-hop.

Professionally, there is no way I would have had some of the doors open for me as quickly as they did were it not for the Vanderbilt MBA.