Marissa Brock ’99 Impacts the Futures of STEP Students through Career and Volunteer Work
Curiosity and a passion for learning drive Marissa Brock ’99. Her career has included multiple roles at Johnson & Johnson and leading diversity recruitment initiatives and undergraduate admissions at Stevens. Now at Novartis, Brock is innovating the use of digital to engage and educate healthcare providers about the company’s cardiovascular medicines.
In high school, Marissa Brock ’99 knew that she wanted to study engineering, an interest that grew stronger when she attended a STEM-focused summer program at Carnegie Mellon University.
Brock first learned about Stevens at a college fair. Or, more accurately, her father first learned about Stevens while she wandered other schools’ exhibits. He suggested that she apply, based on the compelling combination of Stevens’ close-knit campus community, proximity to home, and strong career development office and job placement rates. “Stevens was definitely the right choice for me,” she says.
Three summers interning at Exxon helped Brock build career experience, but the technical focus of her assignments left her wanting to learn more about the business side of STEM. After graduation, she joined a rotational program at Johnson & Johnson. “I learned about purchasing, supply chain, field sales and patient needs,” she says. “Eventually I became a field trainer for sales reps.”
That’s where Brock’s career path takes an interesting turn – back to Castle Point. “I had been volunteering as an Alumni Workshop Leader, mentoring students and recruiting students through the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and the National Society of Black Engineers,” she says. “I was also working toward my MBA at NYU’s Stern School of Business. I was thinking a lot about how I could make a bigger impact.”
She began assisting in Stevens’ summer Math Immersion Program, and then joined the undergraduate admissions team full-time. The opportunity to get involved in admissions, and to promote diversity recruitment, helped fulfill her passion for opening STEM careers to more underrepresented minority students and women.
“We were re-imagining how to attract women and students of color to Stevens, and also how to keep them on track to graduation,” she says. “We even added a diversity weekend. It was very exciting to be part of creating a legacy of what can be at Stevens.”
A long-term career in higher education did not feel like the right choice for Brock, though. As she began planning her next move, she remembered how much she enjoyed working in the pharmaceutical industry.
Brock joined Novartis as a Training Manager. “I loved sales training,” she says. “Now I was thinking about marketing. What makes customers tick? What needs can we meet? What stories can we tell?”
Brock then joined the Respiratory Marketing team at Novartis and quickly rose to the role of Associate Director, Cardiovascular, Renal & Metabolism Marketing at the company. In some ways, the work she is doing now circles back to her earlier, tech-focused assignments at Exxon while also offering plenty of opportunities to learn.
“We are innovating how the company engages healthcare providers, educating them in the digital space about our medicines and finding ways to further empower them to help patients with the treatments we provide,” she explains. “I am learning how to use a whole new language surrounding digital engagement, display, custom programs, websites and more to elevate the customer experience by getting the right information through the right channels at the right time. I am drawing on all of my skill sets and experience.”
Brock remains devoted to her alma mater, previously serving as president of the Stevens Technical Enrichment Program (STEP) Alumni Club, and more recently as a member of the President’s Task Force on Equity and Inclusive Excellence. She is particularly excited about the STEP Alumni Club’s work to endow a scholarship for STEP students, in honor of the program’s 40th anniversary. “STEP is the reason I am so involved as an alum,” she says. “Every student from any background should go through a program like STEP.” Brock’s passion to provide support the program maintained steadfast throughout the pandemic, as she helped to develop and lead an alumni workshop series for the STEP Bridge summer program.
“There are so many aspects of my Stevens education that have contributed to my career path,” Brock continues. “Getting industry experience while you’re in college is so valuable – learning how to set up meetings, how to process information, time management, presentation skills! At Stevens, you learn how to be a curious problem solver and a leader.”
Brock is grateful for her education and intent on giving back, a philosophy she learned from her father, now deceased, who encouraged her to consider Stevens in the first place. In addition to raising funds for STEP, Brock is continuing her father’s tradition of providing scholarships to graduating students in her childhood church. She welcomes the students who reach out to her to talk about their future and their careers. “STEP helped me unlock my own potential, and I want to do the same for others,” she says. In addition to her continued work in promoting STEP, Brock also spends time serving as a mentor for college students as a part of the Momentum & Value for People of Color organization.
Fond memories play a role in her commitment to Stevens as well. Making sure to mention the many fond memories she has of hanging out in the STEP office with friends and performing in the Ethnic Student Council Unity Shows. “My best friend and I choreographed a finale that included dance moves from all of the different cultural organizations on campus,” she says with pride.
Brock invites her fellow alumni to pitch in. “There are so many impactful ways to participate,” she says. “It might be as simple as attending a mentoring event or participating in a panel or reaching out when there is a job or internship opportunity at your company. Take the first step and think about what really helped you when you were a student.”
“As alumni, we can let students know that it is okay to be bold while also being unsure,” she continues. “We can assure them that it is okay to just keep putting one foot in front of the other and enjoy the experience. We are all stronger than we think, and we all have something of value to contribute.”