With educational credentials that include not only a mechanical engineering degree from UMD but also an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, it’s no surprise that Rani W. Harrison’s (B.S. ’94) career has taken her to the top. She has held multiple management roles at IBM Corporation and currently handles ventures, ecosystems, and acquisitions for IBM consulting. An expert on outsourcing and offshoring, Harrison’s professional skill set includes management, financial modeling, outsourcing, strategic planning, and business process improvement.

Where/how did you get started on your mechanical engineering journey?

I began as a production engineer at Polaroid in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Who/what inspires you?

Black women executives in technology and financial services. There are far too few, and I love to hear stories about their journeys.

What has helped you to succeed in your overall personal and professional journey?

Delivering was the minimum, but exceeding expectations, being curious about ideas and people, networking and developing relationships with peers and leaders, and having good mentors—these have all been key throughout my career journey. 

What advice would you offer to current students?

Make sure to spend time honing the non-technical skills that are essential to career growth: 1) communication: become adept at explaining complex ideas and concepts in the simplest terms, so that those who are not as technical may understand, 2) networking: being the smartest person in the room is great, but making sure people know you and what you have to offer is very important, and 3) adaptability: there are times when being flexible may seem hard and cause some discomfort, but during these times a lot of growth occurs.

What have been some of your greatest personal or professional successes?

I have traveled all over the world to work on some amazing projects, and closed big deals. But when I think of my greatest success, it is raising two brilliantly kind, curious, and determined boys.

March 15, 2022

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