This year, the Harvard Business School celebrates the 50th anniversary of admitting women to their full time MBA program. The Harvard Business School African American Alumni Association is participating in this celebration by profiling remarkable black alumnae—women who represent the broad mosaic of the HBS community.

This project is part of the School’s effort to explore the past, present, and future of women in leadership in business and civic life; HBSAAA is specifically showcasing the diverse ways women of color exemplify the School’s mission to educate leaders who make a difference in the world.

This week, the HBSAAA asked Carla Harris “What impact did HBS have on your life and the life of others?”

Read an excerpt from her answer here, and head to for the full article:

“In the world of finance, if you were smart, creative, and assertive, you could make decisions and see the impact on outcomes. You could do deals that would markedly affect a company’s future, help a city build a stadium, or a school expand their programs—in other words, make a difference in society. So I enrolled in business school to prepare myself for a career in investment banking. My Harvard MBA is an incredible franchise, and I’d repeat that decision in a heartbeat.

“HBS has had a profound impact on me as a leader. I appreciate the collaborative approach to leadership offered through the section experience, and recognize the enormous value of relationships. When I first arrived, fresh out of Harvard University, I relied on my own intelligence, work ethic, and delivery as the keys to my success. But I came to recognize the power and essence of developing and nurturing a diverse set of relationships, and that has shaped who I am as a leader, a mentor, and a sponsor. I also credit my HBS experience with my confidence in looking at a set of facts, even a deficient set, and arriving at the right questions to solve almost any problem.

“I derive an immense amount of satisfaction from advising and coaching a new generation of talented African Americans to be courageous. I sincerely believe that we were given blessings so we can be a blessing, and that the fastest way to realize your dreams is to try to make them happen for someone else.”

-Carla Harris, MBA 1987