Director of Business Development: 2012–2013
Favorite Part: Meeting many local business owners and having candid conversations about the decisions and hurdles they face.
Biggest Lesson Learned: When I first considered the Business Development Role, I was concerned I might be a poor fit for sales. I was pleased to realize that I am excellent at conversations, from which the best sales pitches are indistinguishable.
Hardest Part: Trying to maintain and improve upon on our predecessor Directors’ systems while learning how to run the firm and work as a team. It felt like taking over someone else’s start-up with no idea what the business produced and no employees.
BR Consulting is a student-run management consulting firm that helps local small to mid-sized businesses profile strategic options, explore investments, and organize to implement solutions. At the same time, BRC provides valuable consulting experience to Johnson students interested in improving their problem solving skills.
As the Director of Business Development, I began conversations with over 30 potential clients, from which I ultimately developed 11 engagements. I evaluated each client’s fit with our educational objectives, scoped out right-sized projects, and transitioned the engagement to the client’s new team. One of my objectives as … Read More »
The Rainbow Wingtip by semifold
Unique Distinction: Many Rainbow Wingtip sales came from strangers stopping me in public to ask where I got them.
Favorite Customer Story: Purchased for a wedding, worn with a white suit.
Favorite Quote From a Manufacturer: “The design of the shoes is really unique. I think the designer must be imaginative!”
The Rainbow Wingtip, like the Charlie Baker, changes one characteristic of a familiar favorite drastically, and leaves all else untouched. The silhouette is that of a classic wingtip, with the color palate adding the dynamic element. A symbol of pride for some, a humorous expression for others, The Rainbow Wingtip is a tool for the user’s self-expression. Much like The Charlie Baker, the Wingtip offers many possible interpretations of meaning, many ways to “wear” the shoe.
The Rainbow Wingtip presented the first insurmountable sourcing challenge. Though there are many experienced manufacturers of men’s dress shoes and many more willing to give it a try, none of them seemed able to color match dyed patent leather with provided Pantone codes. Sample after sample returned looking faded, dull, or just off-putting. Patent leather manufacturers were inaccessible, requiring large and expensive sample runs. Eventually, a … Read More »
Street Food Problem Identification – Sparklers
Favorite part: Collaborating with our Indian teammates and getting to hear and see our customers thousands of miles away in photos and video interviews.
Hardest part: Getting a true answer for how much users would pay for the service during surveys.
Biggest revelation: Realizing street food vendors are employing their children, as young as 5, to wash dishes behind their stall: a significant barrier to adoption of our service.
During the Creative Design for Affordability class at Cornell, I teamed up with three Cornell-based students, and five Mumbai-based students (at the Somaiya Institute of Management Studies and Research) to enter a proposal for the Acara Challenge. Our task was to design an entrepreneurial and sustainable product or service to address food security in India. Our team developed a dish and utensil washing service for street food vendors that used municipal water access and Tata’s Swach filters to provide clean water for a small fee. Our proposed business employs local women as part-time dishwashers, rickshaw drivers for dish transport, and provides a sanitation certification program for participating vendors.
I really enjoyed the opportunity to work within the … Read More »
Favorite part: Learning a few months after my coaching engagement had ended that my client’s new website, which was developed while I was serving as coach, had nearly doubled their online sales.
Hardest part: Building the trust necessary to discuss strategic changes with someone that has run this business for over 30 years.
BR MicroCapital was a student run coaching and financing organization for low-income entrepreneurs. We worked with owners of established businesses, and provided goal-based coaching support. Affordable loans were also available to clients who did not have access to traditional financing. As an entrepreneur coach, I met with my client, who produced paper products decorated with the work of local artists, every other week to advise on the most efficient way to approach current problems. At the time, my client was developing an integrated marketing program, building up a social media presence, and launching a new website.
Immersing myself in my client’s business and challenges taught me the importance of relationships at any level of business. Every recommended action meant reaching out to a person, not a business or a service. Particularly in Ithaca’s small community, where there were frequently only a handful of professionals that … Read More »
Sustainability Research Facility at Cornell
Favorite Part: Seeing the project team’s technology in action, seeing our mini-prototypes take shape, and figuring out how to share that excitement with the entire Cornell community.
Hardest Part: Getting a 108 student-strong organization to project a consistent brand message to all stakeholders. Everyone excels at speaking about the details, but the bigger picture is trickier to articulate.
Cornell University Sustainable Design: Sustainable Research Facility is a student run organization that is designing and building a “Living Laboratory” on Cornell University’s Ithaca, New York campus. The aim of this project is to build a permanent landmark structure with a 6000 ft2 footprint over 2-3 floors, singularly poised to further the field of Computational Sustainability in regard to the built environment. As business team lead, I oversaw all corporate communications, kickstarted a lifetime cost model for the building, and organized cross-campus promotion efforts.
What it Means to Me
Working on the SRF was an eye-opening experience in working on cross-functional teams. The massive 108 student workforce drew from every college at Cornell and strived to utilize each student’s unique strengths. As a result, I led a business team … Read More »
Favorite Part: Breaking away from spreadsheets and two-by-two matrices to look at beautiful graphics and build something with my hands.
Hardest Part: Putting a hard stop on an open ended investigation so we could build an installation. I’ve learned how important it is to identify a goal before diving in.
Through a graduate seminar in Cornell’s Department of Design and Environmental Analysis, I explored the visual and contextual characteristics of credibility in infographics. My team evaluated a sample of BP Oil Spill infographics on subjective measures of credibility, like trustworthiness, propensity to be shared or referenced, and likelihood of preservation. We then ordered the infographics by common characteristics of Look, Time, and Voice within a 3D cube. By walking around the cube, viewers could identify patterns within the infographics and draw their own conclusions about the characteristics of credibility.
As the conversation surrounding the Deepwater Horizon oil spill progressed from Learning to Understanding to Resolving to Reflecting, the “look” of credibility was consistently important in determining which infographics were shared and preserved, and by extension, which infographics were effective. First, we outlined criteria for judging credibility in the … Read More »
Favorite Role: When I was Master of Ceremonies, I dressed as an flight attendant to welcome the audience and remind them to fasten their seat belts for an evening in flight. When exiting the stage, I placed an oxygen mask over the nose and mouth of one of the other performers.
Hardest Part: At the beginning of each class, we climbed to the top of the fabric twice, about 18 feet in the air. For the first few weeks, this exercise left me with noodle arms for the rest of the evening.
I decided to try Aerial Dance shortly after making the leap into Modern Dance from Ballet. It was a fantastic learning experience for me, because I got to start all over. Hanging in the air on a cloth is a completely foreign experience and I had to learn all the basic rules of locomotion over again. Instead of just contending with gravity, which is a far more powerful force once you leave the ground, I also had to stay mindful of friction and the need to be constantly anchored to the fabric. With these new constraints, I was clumsy, … Read More »