From jumping out of planes to advising foreign military groups, Marcus Harmon and Jarrod Snell have unique and inspiring resumes. Both honorably separated from the U.S. Army and realized an MBA would be the next best step in their career transitions. While their paths to the Georgia Tech Scheller Full-time MBA program were different, both cite the same main reason for choosing the program - the close-knit family atmosphere of the Scheller community.
“Being a veteran in the Scheller MBA program has been a unique experience,” said Harmon, a second-year MBA student. “Meeting all of my classmates and learning about their experiences has helped me redefine what a traditional MBA background looks like. Coming to Scheller was honestly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
Harmon grew up around the military, with a mother and three cousins who had served. Despite playing Army and being interested in the military as a child, Harmon wound up focusing more on sports as he grew up. After getting hurt his sophomore year as a college football player for the University of Dayton, Harmon wound up picking up a book on U.S. Army Special Operations, which re-sparked his interest in the military.
“I enlisted after I graduated college. I knew I wanted to join the special operations community, so I did so with an option 40 contract, which guarantees you an opportunity to attend the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program (RASP) at Fort Benning. I attended basic training, airborne school, and RASP. After I graduated, I was assigned to the Third Ranger Battalion, I deployed a few times with 375, and then I became the Operations NCO, which is basically an operations manager, at a reconnaissance school at Fort Benning,” said Harmon.
Injuries seemed to follow Harmon, and he medically retired from the U.S. Army in 2018. This led him to focus on going back to school and getting his MBA.
“As cool as it is, jumping out of planes doesn’t exactly lend itself to skills in Microsoft Excel,” said Harmon. “I knew that I needed to increase my business acumen to complement the leadership skills that I learned in the military. An MBA seemed like a natural fit.”
While working for both Bankers Life and the Atlanta Hawks after his medical retirement, Harmon reached out to Scheller’s Veteran’s Club while he was applying to different MBA programs.
“When I was applying to Scheller, I was connected with Greg, a fellow veteran who graduated in 2019, and I was able to talk to him about his experience. From the moment I met him, he introduced me to people, looked at my resume and essays, and was super helpful. It was his help and the Scheller community that sold it for me,” said Harmon.
It was a full-circle moment for Harmon, when he got to serve in that same exact role for Snell when he was applying to Scheller. Snell, who was deployed at the time, had reached out to Scheller and got connected to Harmon.
Snell in Faryab Province, Afghanistan in 2019
“When I was in Afghanistan, I realized I had accomplished the goals I set for myself in the Army and I was starting to look at my next steps,” said Snell. “That’s when I realized I needed an MBA to tie in with my military experience to accomplish my professional goals. I applied to three programs from Afghanistan, which was quite challenging with the internet being limited and my computer being an old government machine. That’s actually when I first heard from Marcus. I expressed interest in Georgia Tech and was connected to him. He was extremely helpful and the first of many to show that tight-knit family culture at Scheller.”
Similar to Harmon, Snell, a first-year Full-time MBA student, was inspired by a family member to join the military.
“My granddad was my idol growing up, and he was a Marine Corps veteran who flew F-8 fighter jets in Vietnam. After Vietnam, he got his master’s in finance and went into business. His overall strength of character and his stories from the military were a part of why I joined. Also, as a 10-year-old, I remembered 9/11 very distinctly. I think after that, I felt like my eyes were opened up to the dangers that are out there in the world and I wanted to serve in some aspect,” said Snell.
Snell outside Mosul, Iraq in 2016
Snell commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army in 2013 out of ROTC at the University of Mississippi and joined as an artillery officer. He spent the last seven years as an Army Captain on active duty, with three deployments to Korea, Iraq, and Afghanistan. In Iraq and Afghanistan, he served as a strategic level military advisor to the Afghan and Iraqi armies, helping them improve operational procedures and strategic coordination between the artillery, infantry, and air force.
“While I was in Afghanistan, I had a lot of growing experiences as an individual. When I was starting to look at my future, I realized I enjoyed being an advisor, which is similar to being a consultant in the business world. Looking into that, I realized I needed an MBA to be the type of consultant I wanted to be and to work for the kind of company I wanted to work for,” Snell said.
Snell was drawn to the Scheller MBA program for many reasons including the reputation, smaller cohort sizes, tight-knit family culture, and resources and opportunities for veterans. Both Harmon and Snell are a part of Scheller’s MBA Veteran’s Club, which is committed to assisting transitioning service members and veterans who are pursuing an MBA and providing career resources and opportunities for its members. Harmon is the president of the Veteran’s Club and is currently focusing on outreach to other veterans who are considering the MBA program.
In addition to having the Veteran’s Club as a resource, Harmon is Snell’s mentor as a part of Scheller’s MBA mentoring program. Every first-year MBA student is provided a second-year mentor and for Snell, Harmon couldn’t have been a better fit.
“With Marcus, someone who has that similar background and who had a successful year of the MBA program under his belt, he was really able to help me translate my military experience into business terms,” said Snell. “For veterans specifically, Georgia Tech, whether it is the registrar’s office or the MBA office, has been extremely flexible and understanding on different veteran issues, requirements, and necessities. One of the values that I looked for in an MBA program was a tight-knit family culture and Scheller definitely has it.”