During the Georgia Institute of Technology’s second annual BizTech, John Marshall shared his incredible journey from being a student at Georgia Tech to becoming the CEO of AirWatch, the world’s leader in enterprise mobility management.
Marshall’s love for entrepreneurship began at a young age. In high school he started a lawn care business which generated tens of thousands of dollars in revenue each year. He continued to enhance his knowledge of business by participating in Georgia Tech’s Cooperative Education Program, a five-year academic program designed to complement a student’s formal education with paid practical work experience directly related to the student’s academic major. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Georgia Tech, Marshall began working with Manhattan Associates where he learned the value of having a mentor.
Marshall’s tenacity and ability to partake in the type of work most people were not willing to do attributed to his success. He referenced the quote, “Ninety percent of life is just showing up.” Marshall recalled a time during the early stages of his business when he would drive across the country to find hotels who would hire him to install their wi-fi. Unlike other companies, he did not focus on working with large hotel chains like Hilton or Hampton Inn, instead he focused on smaller businesses which eventually made him more competitive.
He provided simple, but impactful advice to the audience. Marshall stressed the importance of learning how to do your job the absolute best way possible and having the will to practice to win. He gave an example of when he first began installing wi-fi. Although he did not know the basic terminology for wireless routers and systems nor had a large enough staff to support many projects, he did not let it deter him. Contrarily, Marshall decided to learn along the way and took on projects even when they seemed impossible to complete.
“There are three type of employees,” Marshal informed the audience. “The first is a person you’ll ask to do something and they can’t. The second person will need step by step instructions which will aggravate you to the point where you wish you would have done it yourself. The last type of employee will just get out and do it. This is the type of person you want working for you.” Marshall also informed the audience that the company with the best product does not always win, instead, the winner will ultimately be determined by how well they were able to execute.
BizTech 2014 was truly an inspiring event for young entrepreneurs who are seeking the type of motivation that will take them to the next level. John Marshall’s story proved that you do not have to have things handed to you in order to be successful. If you have tenacity and the will to practice to win your goal is attainable. I enjoyed my experience there as an Ambassador of the MBDA Business Center-Atlanta and look forward to the center co-hosting the event next year.
MBDA Business Center-Atlanta Ambassador
Pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Industrial and Systems Engineering
Georgia Institute of Technology