2018 Best & Brightest: Justin Harris, Syracuse University (Whitman)

Justin Harris

Syracuse University, Martin J. Whitman School of Management

“I am an outgoing, fun and expressive person who is quite the people person.”

Fun fact about yourself: I have a fraternal twin brother.

Hometown: Scarsdale, New York

High School: Scarsdale High School

Major: Finance and Real Estate Double Major

Favorite Business Course: My favorite business course was EEE 457 because it helped me to develop my business start-up idea even further.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College: Currently I am a member of Psi Upsilon Fraternity. As for community work, I have spent time organizing food drives for the Food Bank of Central New York, donating over 88 pounds of canned goods last Thanksgiving. Lastly, I made Dean’s List in the Fall of 2016.

Where have you interned during your college career? Going into my junior year, I interned at First Development Corporation in Long Island, NY, where I learned the ins-and-outs of commercial real estate development, construction, and leasing. Last summer, I interned at Keystone Equities in Manhattan, NY. There, I was an Acquisitions Intern and I helped source, underwrite, value, and purchase attractive real estate deals spanning from New York to California.

Where will you be working after graduation? After graduation, I am pursuing a business idea of mine and hope to scale it into a successful venture that is both profitable and also gives tremendous value to our end customer.

Who is your favorite professor? Professor Petosa because he helped me change the way I learn and teach myself in order to achieve my goals. Professor Petosa has seen me grow since I first transferred into Whitman, and has been a resource to me for almost four years for any advice that I have needed! I also really enjoyed that he challenges us students to exit our comfort zone in order to find out what we want to do with our business education in our careers.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? The biggest lesson that I learned is that you truly make your own luck. You have to take all of the skills you learn from each class. Whether those skills come from accounting, finance, marketing, real estate, business law, or entrepreneurship each student has to grow their knowledge with an aspect of each subject taught in a business school. More simply, your knowledge about business does not just come from one class, but rather it is a culmination of a wide range of topics that one has to take it in order to be a successful business student.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? I would advise a student looking to major in a business-related field to first take a class in every general career of business. Next, they should find what peaks their interest the most. For me, I was extremely interested in investment banking until I took a real estate class, and it peaked my interest so much that I decided to major in both Finance and Real Estate. In the end, each student should see what they like the most and then try to get an internship in that field to truly solidify their liking to that particular industry.

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be majoring in or studying…French. I went abroad my first semester freshman year to Strasbourg, France. I have been taking French since 7th grade and when I got back from my travels, I unfortunately started to lose my ability to speak it well as I stopped practicing. I would have loved to continue my studies and travel to all the French-speaking countries in the world. But who knows, maybe one day I could use my French skills to do business in one of these countries!”

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? What surprised me the most was how much fun I had finding myself and figuring out what I want to do with my life and my knowledge about business. I found that it is extremely doable, yet daunting and a lot of hard work, to start your own business and work for yourself. Four years ago, I would not have imagined that I would be starting my own company, let alone along with three of my best friends! Overall, it was surprising to me that over four years of learning about business you really do hone in on what you would enjoy doing for many years after you graduate.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My older sister, Sarah, influenced my decision to pursue business in college the most. She graduated from Syracuse in 2014 and she majored in Marketing and Entrepreneurship. As a senior in High School on my way into Syracuse, I loved hearing her talk about her capstone idea and had no idea that four years later that I’d be placing 3rd out of 60 teams competing! I remember her telling me that being in Whitman was fun (and a lot of work), but there were so many fields of study that you could learn about and I think that is what truly inspired me to pursue business at Syracuse.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of my capstone team and I for winning 3rd place out of 60 teams in a business plan competition. We created an original idea and put together a business plan that details every vital part of the business in order for it to succeed. I am proud of this achievement because post-graduation, the team and I are pursuing the idea in real life and we hope that it impacts many people in an extremely beneficial way.

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the business school?  If I were dean for a day, I would make some additions to the Finance Department. Many of my peers, including myself, would have liked to take a course on personal finance post-graduation. A course like this should include how to file taxes, plan for retirement, and general day-to-day financial know-how’s. A course like this would be very helpful to business students who are going into the business world and need to know how to manage their finances in an educated way.

Which classmate do you most admire? I admire my classmate, Sophia Cappelli, the most because we have been in pretty much every class in school since 6th grade. We took similar classes all throughout high school and both ended up at Syracuse and both in the business school! We have been friends for nearly 12 years and it has been amazing to see both of us grow and explore various business careers. She is studying accounting and helped our capstone team win 3rd place out of 60 teams overall!

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I would like to thank my parents for supporting my education at Syracuse University and giving me all of the resources and freedom to study what I actually enjoyed. Their amazing support these past four years have made me who I am today and I am very grateful for my mom and dad.

What would your theme song be? “Life Changes” by Thomas Rhett because it is a country song about how quickly your life can change for the better and you never know what is going to happen. It also is a song about going with the flow and letting everything play out after you’ve done your hard work, and I think that is something that I tend to do and not stress over the little things in life.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? To go skydiving, and to step foot in every country on Earth!

Favorite book: My favorite book would have to be The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell because it shows the reader how when something like an idea passes a certain threshold, it spreads like wildfire.

Favorite movie: Forrest Gump

Favorite vacation spot: Bethany Beach, Delaware. My family has been going every summer for 21 years and it is a place that I hold very close to my heart!

What are your hobbies?I am an avid fisherman, mainly going after sharks in the summer off of Long Island, New Jersey, and the shores of Delaware. In the winter, I love to go skiing any chance that I get!

What made Justin such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2018?

“Justin can easily be described as the Whitman student that almost wasn’t. He was originally enrolled in the College of Arts & Sciences and spent his very first semester in Strasbourg before hitting the ground in Syracuse for his second semester. After his first year, he transferred into Whitman and has continued the path of taking calculated risks ever since. His junior year was spent focusing on finding an internship and career in the field of real estate and finance. However when his Capstone group presented a top-three business idea in the Fall, they decided to take it to market. Whitman is thrilled to see what Justin and his Capstone teammates accomplish and we hope that Justin never stops taking those risks.”

Lindsay Quilty
Interim Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs
Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University



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