2018 Best EMBAs: Maureen Portee, Georgia Tech (Scheller)

Maureen Portee

Georgia Institute of Technology, Scheller College of Business, EMBA

“An ambitious and compassionate woman who measures success by her meaningful impact to others.”

Age: 34

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

Family Members: Jordan Taylor (son), Age 13

Fun fact about yourself: I am the oldest of triplets!

Undergraduate School and Degree: Georgia State University, BA in Sociology

Where are you currently working? I currently work for SunTrust Bank and lead the Sales Integrity team for the Consumer segment. My team’s responsibilities include the detection, monitoring, and research of potential sales practices concerns that involve our teammates and clients.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles:

  • Elected member of the Student Leadership Team for the 2018 EMBA program at Georgia Tech.
  • Chair the Leadership Development and Mentoring Committee for the SunTrust African American Teammate Network
  • Chair the Social Committee for Museum Tower Homeowners’ Association
  • Coach volleyball at St. Thomas More Catholic school
  • Frequent volunteer at St. Francis Table soup kitchen, Habitat for Humanity, and HouseProud

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of being nominated and elected by my peers to represent them on the Student Leadership Team (SLT) at Georgia Tech. When I initially interviewed for the Executive MBA program, I explained that not only did I want to garner an invaluable education with the opportunity to absorb some of the intellectual capital of my peers, but I also desired the opportunity to leave my mark and to enhance the overall experience for current and future students. SLT provides the opportunity for me to give back to a program that has already had such a profound impact on my professional and personal development.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Several years ago, I was selected to lead a flagship branch for SunTrust that was located in company headquarters and boasted new concepts and technology for our organization. When first offered the position, I turned it down due the fact this role was beyond my comfort zone. I was more of a “behind-the-scenes” employee and not one that wanted to be in the limelight. My manager at the time persuaded me to take the position. As a result, I tackled my greatest professional fear, public speaking, and managed an incredible team who shared my desire to exceed expectations. Our motto was “Show up and show out,” and we did! This position compelled me to become a better manager and employee and truly propelled my career.

What was your favorite MBA course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? My favorite MBA course was Accounting with Debby Turner, and my biggest insight gained was the ability to better understand business financials and company performance. I have gained confidence in weighing in on business decisions because I better understand the business.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? I chose Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business Executive MBA program because of the genuine interest and investment they displayed in their students and the desire of the program administration to provide me with the tools and resources to be successful. The Global Business program aligned to my career aspirations and life goals.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? I enjoyed the opportunity to interact with my classmates to learn about their unique perspectives and diverse backgrounds. It is what I will miss about business school.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? I learned that collaboration in a team setting will not always go as planned, but enforcing accountability, encouraging open dialogue, and exuding patience in these moments can maintain progress in these situations. I was able to take this lesson and apply it to project teams at work to better team morale and to improve our final delivery.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? As a single mom, a primary concern was that going to school would have as little impact on my son as possible. I did not want him to feel as though he would have to raise himself for the next 17 months. To ensure a smooth transition for him, his dad and I agreed that my son would spend all class weekends with his dad. Three weeks before school started, his dad found out he was being deployed to Bahrain for most of the next 17 months. To further complicate matters, I would be starting a new role at my company a month after school started that would require more hours and travel for work.

I did not have a backup plan and contemplated deferring school until next year. My manager encouraged me to continue with school and assured me that my situation would work out and he would help in any way that he could, even if it meant taking my son to his weekend football games so that I could attend class. I leaned on my family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, classmates, and sometimes complete strangers to ensure my son and I did not miss a beat with regards to work, school, and extracurricular activities. It truly took a village!

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Force yourself outside of your comfort zone. Be willing to interact with individuals you would not normally gravitate to and immerse yourself into the experience. You will get back tenfold.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I honestly have no regrets. Going back to school has been an incredible experience that has positively altered my life plan. I am so appreciative of the experience and the impact that it has had on the woman I am today.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I most admire one of my classmates who is also a single mother. I see her commitment to both our program and her daughter. I can relate to her struggle and am in awe of the sacrifices she has made to be a part of our program.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I realized that the opportunity for advancement in my career would be greatly diminished without an advanced degree.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would…never have realized my full potential or had the courage to join an industry in which I had no experience.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My ultimate long-term professional goal is to land a position that fulfills my passion of being positively impactful to individuals and the community while consistently challenging me to be my best self.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I want my peers to remember me as someone that was invested in our Executive MBA program and that made the effort to enhance the program experience for everyone.

Favorite book: Surge: Supercharge Your Life, Business, and Legacy by Richard Lorenzen

Favorite movie or television show: Law and Order: SVU

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  1. Take my son on a two-week vacation throughout Asia.
  2. Go tandem skydiving.

What made Maureen such an invaluable addition to the class of 2018?

“I have known Maureen through our working as teammates at SunTrust here in Atlanta. For approximately one year, Maureen was one of my direct reports, and she received favorable ratings and proved to be a solid work contributor. I actually recommended Maureen for the Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business Executive MBA program. At that time, I was confident that Maureen would be a great asset to the program, and I am not surprised that Maureen has been nominated for the Poets & Quants award.

Maureen has always demonstrated a solid and committed work ethic. She is well known for her “can do” attitude and pleasant demeanor throughout the SunTrust organization. I jokingly refer to her as the “Mayor of SunTrust” because whenever we were walking between buildings to a meeting, there was always at least one or two SunTrust teammates who wanted to stop and talk to her.

Maureen is always willing to help others in any way she can. While she was on my team, Maureen volunteered to help create an onboarding package for new employees, conducted tours of the SunTrust campus to new employees, and obtained SunTrust swag for other employees when needed.

Through my conversations with Maureen about her experiences in the EMBA program and her responsibilities here at SunTrust, I can see her growth and new enthusiasm from having been in the program. It is evident that Maureen has thrived in the program as a result of her positive attitude and fortitude she possessed before enrolling in the program. These attributes have been nurtured and further developed because of the program. It is not easy for single working mother to be an MBA candidate at one of the top business schools in the country. Maureen has not only embraced the experience, but has also made the experience her own in a positive way.

Maureen possess a very congenial and helpful attitude. It has been a pleasure working with and getting to know her, as she inspires all that come into contact with her. When I first met Maureen, I knew that she embodied the SunTrust purpose. Now that she is in the Georgia Tech EMBA program, she also embodies all the values that Georgia Tech stands for. She is an excellent representation for the Georgia Tech EMBA program.”

Craig A. Luke
Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business, EMBA 2011

“I first met Maureen approximately two months before we began the Georgia Tech EMBA program. From this initial interaction until the present, she has consistently displayed an unparalleled professional and intellectual demeanor. Her excitement for embarking on this new journey was certainly contagious, and her enthusiasm directly affected my ability to gain as much as I have out of the program. It is of no surprise that she was nominated and elected to the Student Leadership Team. Her unselfish ability to place others first, willingness to mentor any knowledge seeker, and uncanny sense of integrity are all leadership qualities that her peers recognize immediately. We all have benefited from knowing Maureen, and there is no doubt in my mind that she will accomplish a magnitude of amazing things during her life.”

Bernardo Rich
EMBA classmate

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