Sheila Marmon


Sheila Marmon’s passion has been the creation, launch, and operation of new businesses in the digital media industry over the last 15 years. She is the founder & CEO of Mirror Digital, an interactive media and advertising company that connects Fortune 500 brands to the multicultural market in the United States. Sheila has executed over 100 interactive campaigns in this growing market.

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What impact did HBS have on your life and the life of others?

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”

I love this quote from Henry David Thoreau because it encapsulates how I've come to view my own potential. I believe that my possibilities are limitless, and that I have the agency, tools, and resources to shape not only my own future but that of my community, my country, and even the world at large.

It's this perspective that gave me the courage to make the entrepreneurial leap into digital media and technology. Even though there are so few people in the industry who look like me— by recent estimates just one percent of all tech entrepreneurs are black — I understand that I should belong, I do belong, and that I have an important contribution to make. So I studied the market, I followed the money and investments, and when I saw the right opportunity, I founded my company, Mirror Digital, to connect brands with multicultural consumers across a variety of digital media platforms.

Every day I work with senior executives from major corporations and brands like Macy's, Sony Pictures, and Verizon, among others; they realize the importance of the multicultural market here in the United States, including the value of our contributions to society and the myriad ways we help drive the growth of the American economy. Since its launch, Mirror Digital has served as a platform for conversations about the value of inclusiveness from a market-driven standpoint, a vital conversation that still isn't happening broadly enough. After all, if there were more examples of creative, entrepreneurial, multicultural executives in the media, maybe there would be a greater percentage of black startup founders, venture capitalists and Harvard Business School alumni.

There certainly weren't many when I was growing up, which is perhaps why coming to the view that I had the ability to "go confidently in the direction of my dreams" was a long and arduous process. I grew up in South Central Los Angeles, in a working class family headed by a single mother. I was the first person in my extended family who had the opportunity to attend college, and I'd never even met a black girl who had gone to college until I was filling out my own applications.

Fast-forward to now, and I am surrounded by, and honored to be part of, this amazing community full of entrepreneurs, executives, and thinkers who actually do look like me. Exceptional educational opportunities opened new doors for me, and my years at Harvard Business School were a critical part of this journey. HBS helped me see a bigger world, and helped me define my place as a leader. The HBS community has also been a key supporter of my entrepreneurial aspirations and growth, as Mirror Digital was funded by a group of HBS angel investors and two fellow HBS alumni serve on my Board of Directors.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to launch a company that I believe matters. It’s an opportunity that so few people have, especially women of color. Consequently, I encourage black women, as they contemplate their futures, to pursue their dreams and surround themselves with people who will guide, nurture, and help them realize those aspirations. For me, "living the life I have imagined" as an entrepreneur and a leader means having the opportunity to make a difference in this world and perhaps influence someone else to do the same. My HBS family has helped me create a blueprint to be an architect for change, for progress and for personal and professional growth. That's definitely the life I've imagined.