Marissa Lee, 2009 – Fisher College of Business
Founder and CEO, SOW EVOLVE and HR Strategist, PPG Industries
What brought you to Ohio State University?
I’m originally from Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, but I grew up in Columbus. Growing up in Columbus I couldn’t escape the reach of The Ohio State University, even if I wanted to, but I always loved OSU. As I decided where I wanted to continue my education, OSU and University of Pittsburgh rose to the top. I visited both universities and they had great business schools, campus life, and offered me scholarships. However, there was just something about OSU…the feel, the sense of something bigger…so I decided to become a Buckeye.
#FunFact Even though I didn’t chose University of Pittsburgh, I have been surrounded by their graduates most of my career. I’ve worked for two Pittsburgh based companies.
How did your experiences at OSU help to shape your career path?
I grew so much during my time at OSU. I had the chance to continue to find different aspects of myself, get more comfortable with my voice, meet some awesome people, and strengthen my relationship with God. I could go on and on but one thing that really stands out from my collegiate journey was how I decided on my field of study. In the beginning, I wanted to get a dual degree in business and education. I had spent a lot of time tutoring others and many of my teachers had been very influential throughout my life. Also, I wanted to make money and I wanted to graduate in 4 years. So, I decided to pivot. I chose to go the business route and explored other ways to fulfill my teaching dreams which brought me to my major selection. Human Resources was always “it” for me. It was going to allow me to develop people, shape organizations and teach…just in a different setting.
One of the things I loved about Fisher College of Business was that we were able to get an introduction to other functional areas. Through that exposure, I was able to discover my affinity for Operations Management and Logistics which led me to become a triple major. I also minored in English. My multiple interests required a higher level of commitment, time management, and understanding of a study/social life balance. I wanted this so I did everything in my power to achieve it on time.
I have always had a high propensity to succeed and my OSU experience helped me stay true to that vision and hone my work ethic. Now as I balance working in Corporate America and building SOW EVOLVE, I’m able to use some of the same tenets I used to graduate with 3 majors and a minor within 4 years. Ultimately, allowing me to grow in my career and provide others with a blueprint to do the same thing.
What advice or insight do you have for alumni and current students considering your career path?
I would tell anyone considering my career path to:
- Maintain your integrity
Integrity is your foundation and I consider it an absolute essential in the HR space…especially since we operate in more of an influencer role. As an influencer, we have a responsibility to show courage and take a stand to maintain that footing. This may not always win you friends but it will garner respect.
- Think Business, but be Human
HR is far more than hiring and firing. When leveraged appropriately, HR can be a competitive advantage for an organization. As a true partner to the business, one must claim their seat at the table by understanding the business and providing comprehensive strategic solutions which allows one to be viewed in a different light. Analytics and storytelling will be key to getting buy-in. As you help move the business forward and execute on decisions, always remember your dealing with people. People that want to grow, develop, progress, and depend on the organization as part of their livelihood. Be conscious of that. Your work will change lives so take that responsibility seriously.
- Build Relationships
The saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know” is so true. You will not get anywhere alone. From an encouraging word to a recommendation, your network is essential to helping you navigate through this journey. So take the time to nurture those relationships.
- Be patient
Nothing happens overnight but it will happen one night or day, if you stay the course. Imagine if I would have gave up when I couldn’t find a full-time job until 2 years after graduating from college. Challenges will come but don’t let them deter you. Be patient and keep going.