Marissa Horne knows what it's like to want to be a perfect everything. She's worked in countless fields (including three departments of her current organization, American Airlines), she volunteers and she is the mother of two busy kids. Despite the illusion of having it all together all the time — she did attend Harvard in between multiple illustrious roles, after all — Horne says that even she struggles to reconcile priorities. Her best advice for keeping your head above water? Lean on your "village" and realize that "good is good enough."

Horne shared even more career advice with Fairygodboss after walking us through her assent to Managing Director — Talent Acquisition & Management, People Department at American Airlines. She also gave us the inside scoop on who inspires her, how she found a volunteering organization that she cares about and what she absolutely loves about her current employer. 

Fairygodboss of the Week: Marissa Horne

Managing Director – Talent Acquisition & Management, People Department at American Airlines

Grand Prairie, Texas

Tell us a little about your career. How did you get to where you are now?

My career started at Morgan Stanley in New York City in the Information Technology division.  It was there that I learned what it means to develop software, work in Enterprise Technology and work in corporate America.  After Morgan Stanley, I attended Harvard Business School (HBS).  Upon graduating from HBS, I joined Microsoft, where I worked in Sales.  It was after managing Sales for Enterprise companies in New England that I joined American Airlines, where I’ve worked in IT, finance and most recently, people.

What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?

I am a member of The Links, Inc., a national organization of women committed to community service.  In 2012, I worked closely with a handful of women to launch The STEAM Academy.  The STEAM Academy is a program that exposes middle school and high school girls to careers in science, technology, engineering, arts and math. After seven years of operating the program, we’ve been able to see two classes of students graduate from high school.  I am most proud when I hear students say they’re going to college to pursue a STEAM field.  Most recently, I attended a luncheon where STEAM scholars talked about the colleges they plan to attend and the majors they hope declare.  My heart warmed as I heard them say majors like medicine, computer science and engineering.  It was quite special to see that the years of promoting STEAM has actually had an impact.

What is a challenge that you've faced and overcome?

One of my biggest challenges involves reconciling competing priorities. For example, I recall a time when I was presenting at a very important meeting, which conflicted with my daughter's school play performance. Additionally, there are times when my husband and I both have to travel for work, which conflicts with the need to be at home to support our children. In essence, I am constantly balancing life and work.  To overcome these challenges, I consistently leverage my "village" — family, friends, childcare providers and more. Initially, asking for help was a difficult but necessary action.  Indeed, it’s only been through accessing my village that I have been able to overcome these challenges.

Who is YOUR Fairygodboss? and Why?

My Fairygodboss is my mother, Cheryl Wattley.  She is really the person that taught me that you can have a successful career and be a mother at the same time.  With that said, my mother is super smart, so she’s likely figured things out that I haven’t.  But at least I know it’s possible.

What do you do when you're not working?

I’m typically spending time with my husband, 8-year old daughter and 3-year old son.  Between piano, dance, science projects, and dioramas, I don’t have much time for anything else.  However, I do enjoy reading and traveling.  I most recently went to Seoul.  It was wonderful!

If you could have dinner with one famous person - dead or alive - who would it be?

Barack and Michelle Obama. I know you asked for one person, but I had to give you two.

Lightning Round: What is your karaoke song?

"Single Ladies" by Beyonce.

Lightning Round: What is your favorite movie?

"Love Jones."

Lightning Round: What book would you bring with you on a desert island?

I’d bring 3: Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy.

Lightning Round: What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?

I wouldn’t buy anything first.  I’d use the money to send my kids to college and hope I had money left over.

What is the #1 career tip you'd like to share with other women who want to have successful careers like you? 

Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. I find myself trying to be great at everything at once: a great professional, a great mom, a great wife, a great daughter, a great sister, a great friend and a great volunteer.  It’s impossible.  It’s okay to be good sometimes, and not great.  Good is good enough.

Why do you love where you work?

I love where I work because you can have entirely different careers at the same company. I’ve been fortunate to work in three different divisions of the organization. I love that at AA, you are encouraged to move around and to develop your skill set across organization units.

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