Women Worth Watching 2015
HARMAN’s Corporate Secretary Is Becoming an International Star
In her six years at HARMAN, Marisa Iasenza has played a variety of senior legal roles as the firm has gone through a period of significant growth and transformation. She has been a key player in mergers and acquisitions activities, working on the acquisitions of Symphony Teleca, Bang & Olufsen Automotive Audio, Red Bend Software, and Martin Lighting, among others. She has demonstrated her ability to perform in high-stakes, high-intensity situations, developing strong bonds with colleagues throughout.
Marisa was recently elevated to the position of corporate secretary and associate general counsel for two of HARMAN’s three divisions—Infotainment and Lifestyle. She manages a six-person legal team and acts as a mentor to women who currently serve in roles she has previously held.
Her own mentor, HARMAN CEO Dinesh Paliwal, recently encouraged Marisa to take an international assignment. Always looking for new opportunities to grow, she took the plunge, moving to HARMAN’s Munich office and into her current leadership role. Fluent in French, and with a good grasp of Italian, Marisa has enjoyed traveling extensively in her new role and welcomes opportunities to get out of the “ivory tower” of corporate headquarters and see how the business operates globally.
“…taking that leap of faith…”
“I think my biggest career leap was when I moved from a law firm job in Santa Monica, California to my first in-house job in Greeley, Colorado,” said Marisa. “I learned that sometimes taking that leap of faith based on your gut instinct really does pay off in the end.”
On the job, and as a leader, Marisa’s greatest strength lies in her ability to communicate and build relationships. She is passionate about being open and available to her team and colleagues. Her management philosophy is to give people the freedom to run with projects while being available to support and guide them when needed. Above all, Marisa aims to maintain a collegial and collaborative culture in which everybody works as a team to accomplish great things for HARMAN.
Education: BA, McGill University; LLB/BCL, University of Ottawa; LLM, University of Miami
First Job: Telemarketing
What I’m Reading: “BOLD: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World” by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler
The most important quality a woman leader should have is…
The career advice I’d give my former self:
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want, others will not simply hand it to you.
Words I live by:
You can accomplish so much more when you truly work together as a team.
The one thing I’d do differently in my career, knowing what I know now, is…
…I would have gone back to school to get my MBA as I think it would have opened up different opportunities that were not readily available to me as a lawyer.
When I really need to focus on a project, I…
…put my earphones on and listen to some music.
My biggest career leap (and what I learned from it) was…
…when I moved from a law firm job in Santa Monica, California to my first in-house job in Greeley, Colorado. I learned that sometimes taking that leap of faith based on your gut instinct really does pay off in the end.
Being a woman in my profession has been…
…a sometimes challenging, but often rewarding experience.
I’ve learned that failure is…
…a great opportunity to learn and grow.
I maintain a healthy personal life by…
…exercising and spending as much time as I can with my family and friends.
I knew my present career was what I wanted to do when…
…I was 11 years old.