Jessica MisseFull-Time MBA Alumna
Hometown: Ahoskie, North Carolina
Undergraduate University: Cornell University ‘04
Major/Minor: Industrial and Labor Relations
Current Employer: Air BnB
Before her recent move to Air BnB, Jessica Misse served in a financial advisory role for a gaming and e-sports group within Intel, a relatively new business unit acquired by the technology titan.
She credits the hardworking nature of the William & Mary Full-Time MBA program and its focus on soft skill development and teamwork to her success.
"I was up against a lot of people who were much more senior than me. But at the end of the day, my boss at the time said, 'She just digs in and gets it done. I don't ever have to worry about it'," Jessica explains. "I have a bit of a reputation now which is kind of funny. It's what I've been working on professionally and a lot of it is what I gained from working hard for two years in Williamsburg."
"Being a financial analyst isn't 100% running MPVs or line analysis. In reality, I spend more time communicating with others than I every do running financial analysis," she says. "Yes, these are important technical skills, but at the end of the day, most of the bosses I've had have said, 'I can teach you these things. These other things - how to deal with people - these are things I cannot teach.' I am just astounded at how much of the working world is just dealing with people."
When she first arrived in San Francisco, Jessica worked as a Strategic Finance Specialist for Intel Sports, another new division for the global leader.
"When you acquire business, you have to figure out how to integrate it into the larger mothership. You can't just assume it's going to operate like a 50 year-old business that we already have. So, I was charged with figuring out the requirements and standards, what the company needs to do from a financial reporting basis, and what kind of structure the organization needs to function at its best," she says.
Since graduating from the full-time MBA program in 2014, Jessica has seen an evolution in her Tribe network and how she accesses it.
"I've definitely seen the shift in people reaching out to me. Instead of being the one whose reaching out to different alumni, I'm now the one whose being asked to help," she says.
Though she's built a successful career on the West Coast over the last several years, Jessica's hardworking and humble beginnings began when she was an undergraduate collegiate volleyball player balancing Division I athletics with a rigorous Industrial and Labor Relations course of study at Cornell University.
"It was definitely challenging. It helped influence my decision to go to William & Mary in that Cornell is a huge school. A lot of my classes were in giant lecture halls with lots of other people," she explains. "When I was thinking about William & Mary, I was thinking about that one-on-one attention, especially since I was going without prior finance experience so I knew that I had to really dig in and really get that attention, and figure out what kind of career I wanted."
Jessica was on a law school track after she graduated from Cornell. She worked as a legal assistant for a Philadelphia-area firm which was heavily impacted by the struggling economy.
"The firm I worked at had started with about fifteen attorneys and by the time I was finished it was just me and the main partner," she says. "I spent a lot of my time figuring out how he could maximize his time. I had a huge leaning towards working and looking at financials in a sense and I did his books for the most part too. I started to realize that this could be interesting. But I ended up leaving to pursue a family opportunity."
That family opportunity was an entrepreneurial start-up that shipped paper from the United States to Cameroon, where her dad is originally from.
"I was realizing I kept delving into these business type topics but I didn't really have a lot of training," she explains.
After exploring several full-time MBA programs in the mid-Atlantic region, Jessica settled on William & Mary because of the family-like atmosphere, the reputation of the program, and the cost of living in Williamsburg.
"I visited several times just to see what the culture was like. Having been through an MBA program now, I realize how important that is," she says. "I didn't really feel like I fit at a lot of places. I could see myself going there but I didn't know if I could really mesh well with the community."
Jessica began the program on the relatively young side - she was 25 years-old - and had about four years of work experience. But she credits the diversity of her cohort and her exposure to her classmates' professional experiences and perspectives to her overall development and success in the program.
"You hear about teams, but I didn't realize how challenging it would be working with certain individuals just in that we were so different," Jessica says. "I didn't realize it was something that would prepare me for work because it's literally what I do every day."
Jessica secured an internship at the World Bank prior to starting the MBA program through networking opportunities in the Washington, D.C. area. She began pursuing full-time employment options once she got to William & Mary. After a chance meeting with a representative from Intel at the National Black MBA Association Conference, Jessica was offered a full-time finance position in their Portland, Oregon office. She then transferred to Intel's headquarters in the Bay Area and in the last year accepted an offer to work as a Strategic Planning & Analytics Manager at Air BnB. She remains an active William & Mary alumni representative, recruiting students to work at companies in San Francisco and connecting them with her professional network.
Her advice to current MBA candidates?
"Focus on those softer skills. It's not that I ignored them, but I definitely didn't take them as seriously as I should have. I am just astounded at how much of the working world is just dealing with people," she says.