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  • Writer's pictureEric Wo

Laura Barfield and Jessie Magee (MBA 06)


Pizza with my Emory MBA 06 classmates Laura Barfield and Jessie Magee.

Jessie is still warm, considerate, friendly, thoughtful and articulate. But it seems to me that Jessie is even more charismatic and articulate now than ever … or maybe, he’s just good a faking it.

Laura told me that among the Black MBA students, they used to affectionately call Jessie: The Professor. Her teammates would look at a problem, do the analysis and then jump immediately to a conclusion. But then Jessie would say: Hold on. Wait a minute, have you thought about it this way? And then he'll provide insight that would lead the team on a whole different direction.

Laura said Jessie once diffused a tense situation that could have escalated into a fight in a restaurant parking lot. He stayed cool under pressure, winning over the irate man who was ready to rumble. So I’m not surprised to learn that Jessie was made a Partner at EARNEST Partners, a Global Investment firm managing $20+ billion in assets (

Jesse has a 6 year daughter with his late wife who unfortunately passed away due to breast cancer when his daughter was two. But, he’s finding love again.

Ok. Enough of Jessie. Let’s talk about Laura.

Laura visited me in Burbank, California, maybe 7 years ago while on a business trip. I didn’t remember her visiting me until we started talking about her professional life as a Consultant for Change Management at AmEx and Deloitte. That’s when I remember asking her (twice now): “So what do Change Managers do? Do companies hire Change Managers to layoff employees? Do they hire Change Manager to simply be the bearer of bad news?”

Executives are under pressure to move fast. And sometimes pressure makes executives plow forward without thoroughly listening to rank-and-file employees, especially when there are so many different voices & perspectives. It’s hard to see a pattern across organizations when each employee has visibility only into his or her part of the puzzle.

Laura enjoys facilitating the communications between management and employees, so that change is more effective … at least that’s my understanding or it's the bullshit I’m making up.

Laura also enjoys working on DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) initiatives. This is something that is near and dear to her heart. She learned a lot about Taiwan and Taiwanese culture from her dear Taiwanese friend from high-school. Laura has always been considerate and inclusive, so I’m not surprised that she’s become a Senior Manager leading the DEI practice at Jabian Consulting.

Laura is married and has 2 boys.

I wish I had more time to catch up with Laura, but I was running late to another meet-up with another classmate, Sean Mahoney, who is the CEO of a space company with a contract to build lunar landers for NASA.

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