2017 Best EMBAs: Marisa C. Richetta, Cornell University (Johnson)

Marisa C. Richetta

Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University

“I’m a textbook Virgo – extremist at my core: work hard, play hard.”

Age: 31

Hometown: Mexico City, Mexico; originally from Austin, Texas

Family Members: Romano and Marisa, parents; Alessandra and Giuliana, sisters

Fun fact about yourself: My dream was to have a career in luxury goods, but I have spent my career in Management Consulting, Oil and Gas, and now, Tech. Never close a door that’s been opened for you whether it’s intentional or by accident, as you never know where it will take you.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Stanford University, Dual Bachelor of Arts in Art and Sociology

Where are you currently working? In July, I will start the Consumer Leadership Development Program at Amazon Mexico

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: I’m Mexican and Italian – food is at the center of everything we do. There’s nothing better than a long meal with friends and family. I’m always out at my favorite restaurants or checking out new places.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Business school is not a time to stay in your comfort zone. I constantly pushed myself to learn areas that were of no interest prior to Business school so I that I could be a more well-rounded professional. Business school is a time to push your limits and realize you’re competent in so much more than you imagined. It’s an incredible time of discovery.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Every industry I’ve ever worked in, I had no prior experience in that space. The opportunities were presented to me because of how I sold my analytical thinking abilities during the interview process. My drive and curiosity to learn have allowed me to succeed each time I’ve switched industries. It’s not an easy task to switch industries but I encourage people to do it as often as possible.

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? Professor Jim Detert taught Managing and Leading Organizations at the very beginning of the program. His course laid an excellent foundation for how to act and think like a leader. Anyone can be a leader – it’s how you chose to interact with people and inspire them to contribute to organizations. Jim would start to lecture, and you would not even realize you were an hour-and-half into class. His research was fascinating. There was so much ground that we covered, but the most important was that leaders are at the heart of a company. Most employees leave a company not because of the company, but because of a leader. It’s critical to equip leaders with the right tools to lead their organizations.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? The Cornell EMBA Americas was the least disruptive. I knew what it was like to hop on a plane every week from my Management Consulting days. I didn’t want to deal with those additional logistical items when considering an EMBA program. I could go to class for a full day on Saturday and a half day on Sunday and drive home every other weekend. Also, the Cornell brand was critical to my decision. At the time, I was based in Houston. I could have gone with a local school, but I knew I needed a program with a global brand recognition and network. The Cornell EMBA Americas program attracts students from Canada, the U.S., Mexico, and Latin America.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? The workplace is all about teamwork. The MBA does a good job of reinforcing that you never achieve business goals on your own – it is usually a team effort.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? The team format at Cornell was critical and allowed me to stay in the program. Two weeks after the program started, the oil and gas downturn was in full swing. I returned from our residential session straight to the office to work 15 hour days and prepare for lay-offs and reorganizations. It was brutal. I seriously considered hitting pause on the EMBA, but my team was insanely supportive. There were some assignments where I couldn’t be as engaged as I wanted due to work demands, but they stepped up, kept me abreast, and knew I would contribute and lead future assignments when my workload calmed down. We all had periods of work or family commitments that the team agreed to support the individual and give them a pass to allow them to continue with the program. It’s a constant balancing act where you have to assess priorities.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s executive MBA program? You have to be a team player and flexible – if you’re not – this program will not be a good fit.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? That I still couldn’t live my life – just had to make adjustments.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I wish that I had delved deeper into certain topics that I found fascinating – hard to do when balancing a full-time job and school.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? All the others in my program – I honestly don’t know how they balanced work, family, significant others, and children.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I had reached my own glass ceiling. I was able to shatter it by continuing my career with an MBA in hand.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…in a creative field, most likely, interior design. Friends tell me that in another life I should be an interior designer – I enjoy mixing different styles and bringing them together cohesively.”

What is your favorite company and what are they doing that makes them so special? Amazon – it’s why I chose to go work for them. They are changing every aspect of the retail consumer experience.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I want to be the CEO of a company that challenges norms in its industry.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My family – my parents are huge supporters of education. They have always pushed me to challenge myself and learn beyond my world.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I keep it real.

Favorite book: Night by Elie Wiesel

Favorite movie or television show: Devil Wears Prada – Meryl Streep’s character challenges how we think about and perceive strong female leaders.

Favorite musical performer: Coldplay

Favorite vacation spot: THE BEACH – Mexico, Italy and the Caribbean

Hobbies? As a result of my HR background, people come to me often for career advice, another perspective on their job or to help them clean up their resume. I love doing this, as it has no cost and can help someone find clarity and a clear path on their future career aspirations.

What made Marisa such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“It can be challenging to be female in an EMBA program, not to mention being on the younger side for this program, but it’s a challenge that Marisa has clearly enjoyed taking on. Her drive and curiosity set her apart and her experience has directly impacted her decision to be very involved with recruiting. She takes pride in helping to spread positive feedback about the program and helping to attract quality candidates. Marisa has chosen to focus recruiting efforts on women and early career candidates, since they represent a relatively small percentage of EMBA candidates. She values the many benefits of the EMBA program and is already reaping the rewards in her current position.”

Elizabeth (Beta) Mannix
Associate Dean for Executive MBA Programs
Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Management