2017 Best & Brightest: Zinani Harriott, University of Massachusetts-Amherst (Isenberg)

Zinani Harriott

University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Isenberg School of Management

“I consider myself a phenomenal, young woman seeking a thrill in life by pursuing my dreams as a business owner and recruiter.”

Fun fact about yourself: I participated in Miss Teen New Jersey.

Hometown: West Orange, New Jersey

High School: West Orange High School

Major: Accounting

Favorite Business Courses: Financial Accounting, International Accounting, and Principles of Management

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College: Senior Gift Committee, Tutor for Intermediate Accounting, Teaching Assistant for Freshman Transition Business Seminar, Head of Social Media Committee for NABA (National Association for Black Accountants), Isenberg Campus Ambassador (Recruitment Tour Guide, Open House Speaker and Event Representative), EY Campus Ambassador

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • Sophomore year – EY- Tax Intern, Financial Services Department in Times Square, NY
  • Junior Year- EY- Audit Intern, Commercial Department in Times Square, NY

Describe your dream Job: My dream job would be to become the head of recruiting at EY. One of my biggest inspirations is Dan Black, America’s Recruiting Leader because he is full of life, personality, and spirit just like me. I would love to get up every day just like him convincing people to join EY.

Who is your favorite professor? My favorite professor is Kerri Bohonowicz, a Senior Lecturer in the accounting department. Kerri displays such passion when she teaches and does not hesitate to get to know her students. Kerri is also the CFO of the Community Health Center of Franklin County, which to me is very admirable. I always wanted to either own my own business or become a CFO of a company. Kerri was gracious enough to tell me how she got where she is and I developed such a solid bond with her that I became her tutor for the Intermediate Accounting course. She continues to strive to be a great teacher and person.

Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire? Ken Bouyer, America’s Director of Inclusiveness Recruiting for EY, is an executive I most admire. When I came to UMass, I was a part of a program called PIE (Partners in Education), an initiative at the Isenberg School in partnership with EY to help promote diversity in business professions. Ken Bouyer contributed to this effort and I honestly cannot thank him enough. Being accepted into the business school because of this program kicked off my career path. As a minority like Ken Bouyer, I can look up to someone like him and know that I can be just as important and successful as he was. He continues to instill programs within the company such as LAUNCH at EY and strives to increase diversity within the company.

What did you enjoy most about majoring in a business-related field? I enjoyed putting pieces of information from each class together. In every class that I took such as management, marketing, operations and information management, and accounting, there was always a link to each of the other classes. As a freshman, you wonder, “Why do I have to take all these classes?” Then later on you realize it makes you such a well-rounded individual and you get a true understanding of how a business functions within each department.

Where would you like to work after graduation? I would like to work at EY as a Tax Accountant in their Financial Services department.

What are your long-term professional goals? I plan to work at EY as a tax accountant while studying for my CPA. After obtaining as much experience as possible at EY, I plan to get my master’s degree in taxation to further develop my knowledge in tax and to contribute to my ultimate goal of opening a CPA tax practice. After obtaining my own tax practice, I would like to transfer to recruiting at EY and pursue my dreams of being EY’s leading recruiter in America.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? My advice to students majoring in business-related fields is to shine as bright as you can. I am a very sociable person and I love interacting with people, which has brought me this far.  Networking is key and you do not need all the book smarts in the world to succeed. As long as you have people skills, you can manage in the business world.

“I knew I wanted to major in business when…I took my first accounting class my freshman year of high school and thought all I had to do was balance a general ledger…boy was I in for a surprise when I took my first accounting class in college.”

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be…a communications and marketing double major. I love interacting with people so I would love to further develop my communication skills.  I also have a passion for fashion, but more on the business side, so I would major in marketing as well.”

“Before I entered business school, I wish I had known…how important it is to keep in touch with fellow colleagues/teachers/bosses. They are the ones you can turn to when you need help, a letter of recommendation, or advice in general.”

What was the happiest moment of your life? The happiest moment of my life was traveling to Italy during my junior year of college and standing on the Spanish Steps eating a pizza in one hand while drinking a glass of wine in the other. All I could think about is how grateful I am to have had the experience to travel.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of being a Teaching Assistant for almost two years. I have had several students come up to me months later thanking me for all of my help and advice. Leaving a mark on my students has been my proudest accomplishment at UMass thus far and makes me want to continue to inspire students and pay it forward.

What animal would you choose to represent your professional brand?  I would consider myself as a horse; horses are free-spirited animals that are smart, reliable, and strong. Like a horse, who is a herd animal, I too can work in teams and contribute my fair share of work. They also like to move around a lot which relates to my passion for traveling and getting to know people.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I would like to thank my family and peers. I surround myself with people who love me and want the best for me. My family and peers have done nothing but uplift my spirits and dreams. They have been the driving force toward making me the successful young woman I am today.

What would you like your business school peers to say about you after you graduate from this program? I would like them to say that I was a beautiful person in and out with a great attitude towards life and her goals.

Favorite Book: Burned by Ellen Hopkins

Favorite Movie: Aladdin

Favorite Musical Performer: Chicago

Favorite Vacation Spot: Montego Bay, Jamaica

What are your hobbies? Most forms of dancing, creative hair styling and design, and fashion consulting.

What made Zinani such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2017?

“Zinani has extraordinary poise, style and presence making her the perfect ambassador for Isenberg.  She speaks passionately about her experiences to potential students and their families in our open house recruiting events. Afterward, they rush the stage to meet her, arrange guided tours and find out more about career opportunities for students.  They see how driven she is and it motivates them to achieve their own goals.  Zinani is the kind of student every great program needs and I am grateful ad proud she is part of Isenberg.”

Linda Shea, Ph.D.
Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs and Professor
University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Isenberg School of Management



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