Cornell Tech launches new product, technology leadership program

Students at Cornell Tech

As the demand for product managers and tech executives continues to grow, Cornell Tech has purposefully designed a flagship Product and Tech Executive Leadership Program in collaboration with eCornell, offering professionals a unique opportunity to enhance their leadership skills and take their tech innovation strategies to the next level. The program aims to equip participants with the necessary expertise to navigate the rapidly evolving digital landscape.

Designed for mid and senior-level product managers, engineering leaders and technology professionals with experience leading teams, the three-day immersive program will take place Sept. 19 to 21, 2023, at Cornell Tech in New York, NY.

Read the full story on the Cornell Chronicle.

Cornell debuts biotech, pharma management program

Networking at Cornell Tech

As biotechnology and pharmaceutical professionals continue efforts to make advances in medicinal drug formulation, safety and efficacy, experts in the field are implementing innovations to address regulatory hurdles, research costs and global health challenges.

The new Biotech and Pharmaceutical Management Program offered through the Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy is designed to give leaders the opportunity to explore industry trends and cutting edge research with a cohort of peers, executives and renowned faculty from the university.

Read the full story on the Cornell Chronicle.

Nolan School graduate champions global social change

Brian Kaufman, ’08, leads asset management for the U.S. hospitality portfolio of Blackstone Real Estate – the world’s largest owner of commercial real estate. A graduate of the Cornell Nolan School of Hotel Administration, his time in the program prepared him not only to manage this enormous portfolio, but to strengthen the underlying assets through strong operational interventions. A recent example: last December, Kaufman received the Peter G. Peterson Award ‒named for one of the firm’s co-founders and given to just one of the company’s more than 4,000 employees each year ‒ in recognition of his efforts to drive progress on Blackstone’s goal of 2,000 refugee hires across its global portfolio companies and real estate properties.

“At Blackstone, we build diverse teams because we believe they make stronger companies,” said Kaufman. “We want to use our resources and scale to provide new opportunities to thousands of courageous refugees around the world. I’m honored to be on the team leading this initiative.”

At the time Blackstone announced its refugee hiring commitment, Kathleen McCarthy, Global Co-Head of Blackstone Real Estate, said, “Blackstone’s advantage lies in our deeply integrated approach to building resilient companies and properties, and doing so at scale. Today’s commitment to 2,000 refugee hires across our portfolio reflects tremendous focus on this effort from our team and allows our portfolio companies and real estate properties to welcome a powerful spectrum of backgrounds, identities and experiences.”

Blackstone is no stranger to setting and hitting ambitious targets. Their refugee hiring target builds on the success of both their Veterans Hiring Initiative ‒ which hired more than 100,000 US veteran, veteran spouses and caregivers across Blackstone’s portfolio ‒ and their signature Career Pathways program, which aims to recruit, retain and advance diverse and historically underrepresented talent at Blackstone portfolio companies.

Cornell has also benefited from Kaufman’s commitment to social change. In addition to serving on the Dean’s Advisory Board at the Nolan School and the Advisory Board of the Nolan Center for Real Estate and Finance (CREF), he helped establish eCornell’s social impact program for students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Supported by Blackstone and CREF, directed by Nolan School Professor Steve Carvell and authored by Nolan School faculty, the program has awarded more than 100 students from eight institutions eCornell’s Commercial Real Estate certificate. It gives students the guidance and tools to manage project planning, investment and financing decisions, real estate assets and more.

Spelman College alumna Amanda Kelley, now an analyst for JPMorgan Chase & Co., says the program helped launch her career and empowered her to negotiate a higher salary.

“I am grateful to have learned so much at such an early stage of my career,” Kelley said. “The program not only educated me on commercial real estate topics but allowed me to secure a salary commensurate with my worth.”

Laterrance Jackson, a Morehouse College senior and U.S. Navy veteran, earned the certificate in 2022. “The program gave me invaluable insight and real-world exposure to the field,” he said.

Significant as his impact at Cornell has been, Kaufman continually seeks out opportunities to make a difference beyond his alma mater and his workplace. He is a Board and Executive Committee member of the Altneu Synagogue on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, which helped relocate Ukrainian refugees and recently donated an ambulance to United Hatzalah, a volunteer Emergency Medical Service organization that provides free emergency medical first response throughout Israel.

Kaufman says he is humbled by the progress and impact of the programs at Cornell – and the support he has received along the way.

“The hotel business is a people business; it’s people serving people. There are no barriers to entry in pursuing acts of kindness or service to others,” he said. “As our school’s founding benefactors said, ‘Life is Service’. It is through service that our industry can be a leader of global social change.”

 

Joanne Troutman is director for social impact programs at eCornell.

New Cornell certificate emphasizes dialogue in DEI

Photo of group dialogue with one young woman facing camera.

In 2020, hiring for diversity, equity and inclusion roles surged. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, three years later – amid recession fears – companies are cutting DEI leadership positions at a rapid and disproportionate rate, leaving practitioners to seek new ways of continuing efforts to create welcoming work environments.

Dialogue for Change, a new online certificate program from Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations and the Intergroup Dialogue Project (IDP) delivered through eCornell, provides a fresh approach to DEI for team managers and supervisors, executives and all employees interested in building equitable cultures.

“The certificate focuses on four key development areas: human connection, social identity, intergroup communication and strategic change,” said Adi Grabiner-Keinan, executive director for academic DEI education and director of the IDP. “Our goals are to develop participants’ awareness around the four development areas and to strengthen their capacity to make meaningful change at personal, interpersonal and institutional levels.”

Together with Lisa Nishii, vice provost for undergraduate education and professor in the Cornell ILR School, Grabiner-Keinan is co-author of the Dialogue for Change certificate. The duo intends for the program to help professionals promote sustainable institutional change no matter their position on the organizational chart.

In three courses – Counteracting Unconscious Bias, Dialogue Across Difference and Strategic Influence – participants learn and practice skills for intentional connection and communication, and examine ways to impact change in different spheres of influence, including within their teams and organizations. These skills, according to Grabiner-Keinan, are crucial well beyond the field of DEI.

“Skills such as active and generative listening, strategic questioning, purposeful sharing, perspective-taking, withholding judgment and questioning assumptions allow us to lead, communicate and collaborate effectively,” Grabiner-Keinan said. “They enable us to broaden our perspective, learn from a variety of people and situations, bring people together, think creatively and create meaning and vision. Unfortunately, such skills are seldom taught in schools or colleges.”

Dialogue for Change engages students in weekly live sessions. Trained IDP facilitators guide participants through practice conversations within small groups of experts and peers. Each dialogue builds on earlier coursework, enabling the cohort to use new knowledge in real time. Students who complete the program earn professional development credit hours toward human resources and project management certifications.

Each student who earns the Dialogue for Change certificate, Grabiner-Keinan says, will recognize their power to foster inclusion, connection and equity in any role. “An integral part of this program is to identify the agency and responsibility that each of us has. It’s true that leaders and supervisors have more power in institutions, but this program helps people understand that they all have power to make change interpersonally and institutionally within their workplaces.”

The Dialogue for Change certificate program is now enrolling students. Visit the program website to learn more.

4 ESG Strategies for Corporate Sustainable Development and Omnichannel Success

Corporations play a significant role in improving global sustainability through their supply chain, production and management choices. While the careful development of eco-friendly products and services is essential, business leaders must not forget about their customers in the process. Omnichannel strategies can raise awareness of sustainable options and innovations that meet consumers where they are.

In the recent webcast, “Omnichannel Meets Sustainability: Strategies for Incorporating Sustainability Into Omnichannel Business Models,” industry leaders joined Dan Hooker, director of Cornell’s Omnichannel Leadership Immersion Program and senior lecturer in the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, to share four corporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategies for achieving sustainable development goals that protect the environment, increase revenue and improve customer loyalty.

1. Adapt to Pandemic-Driven Culture Shifts

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a shift in consumer behavior, pushing businesses to reevaluate their sustainability practices. Consumers are shopping more on phones, choosing delivery instead of in-person grocery shopping and making online orders instead of first checking out products in brick-and-mortar locations. The results are increased demand for goods that require packaging and growth in the delivery industry.

In the new homebody economy, businesses will need to get creative in reducing their environmental footprint and adopting better ESG practices.

“Our packaging commitment is to achieve 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by the end of 2025,” said Janelle Meyers, chief sustainability officer at Kellogg Company. “We have three key approaches: reducing packaging usage across our portfolio by decreasing total packaging weight wherever possible, excluding certain plastic items in packaging materials and redesigning packaging to be more recyclable or compostable, whether it is going into brick-and-mortar stores or if it’s going online.”

2. Gauge Consumer Reluctance

When customers are resistant to eco-friendly alternatives and their higher costs, businesses can increase understanding and adoption of sustainable options through education. Businesses can also emphasize the long-term benefits of environmental action, appealing to consumers’ sense of social and ethical responsibility.

“If you ask our customers if they would value more sustainable recyclable packaging, over 85% would absolutely agree. If you then ask them if they would be willing to pay for it, about 60% would agree,” said Erik Weenink, director of pricing and promotion at Giant Food, an Ahold Delhaize subsidiary. “However, when we give them the choice in the store, less than 20% of our customers will vote with their wallets.”

“At the very individual level, people have to recognize that they’re part of mitigating the impacts of climate change by actually making consumer choices. There’s a lot of opportunity to use the omnichannel approach and meet the person where they are on the educational side of the new innovations out there,” said Devry Vorwerk, founder and CEO of DevryBV Sustainable Strategies.

3. Integrate ESG Practices Companywide – and Industrywide

To genuinely embrace sustainable management, businesses must go beyond communication and escape the perception of greenwashing. ESG practices should be integrated into organizational design, logistics and budgeting.

At Kellogg Company, the sustainability core team is embedded in the supply chain, ethics and compliance organizations, with aligned goals across departments. According to Meyers, the corporation’s custom of a quarterly council enables the coordination of objectives at cross-functional global and regional levels.

Collaboration between various players in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry, including retailers and delivery services, is equally important for achieving sustainable development goals. These organizations can create synergies that promote environmentally responsible behaviors. When working with external contractors and vendors, corporations can improve ESG goal compliance through the transparency provided by certifications and demonstrate commitment to sustainability across the entire value chain.

“We can’t do it alone. We want to make sure that we not only say these things and set these goals, but that when we perform and report against them, that it is what we actually do,” Weenink said. “That’s why we work with third parties to provide transparency. It is through partnership that we can achieve that.”

4. Attract Customers with Sustainability Impact Programs

Sustainable practices – and effective communication of their importance – can be a powerful force in attracting eco-conscious consumers. However, corporations can also incentivize customers to choose sustainable options by making them easily accessible, affordable and beneficial. Ahold Delhaize promotes recyclable products as part of its Loop program, in which customers receive reusable containers they can later return for a rebate.

A tangible product is not always necessary to generate the same impact. In partnership with Kennedy Rice, Syngenta and Regrow, Kellogg assists growers in reducing methane production from rice cultivation. Effective marketing of programs like Kellogg’s inGrained initiative can drive consumers to purchase from these brands.

“We hosted over 200 retailtainment events. There was a booth that helps consumers understand the benefits of soil health and how our program is helping improve the soil health in the Louisiana rice program. We’re pretty excited. We just closed that pilot year. We’re looking forward to our second year,” said Meyers.

Corporations can make a significant impact by pursuing ESG efforts that promote responsible consumption and production. In this year’s Omnichannel Leadership Immersion Program at the Cornell Tech campus in New York City, global business leaders will join Cornell faculty experts to discuss best practices for engaging in sustainable development as well as optimizing the customer experience and strengthening operations through technology, data analytics and change management. Apply to participate in the program this June.

Ready to discover the latest sustainability best practices for your business? Learn about Cornell’s certificate programs in sustainable business and corporate sustainability.

eCornell, non-profit partners tackle economic mobility

Inside the bustling Bethel Gospel Assembly and Beth-Hark Christian Counseling Center in Harlem, Minister Lyneese Straws responds to a daily rush of requests from congregants, volunteers and community members. Each person gets her full attention.

She understands that even brief interactions can change lives.

More than a decade ago, Straws transitioned from receiving services from New York-based not-for-profit Dress for Success to volunteering for the organization — just in time for its collaboration with QVC for the first National Makeover Day. As cosmetics entrepreneur Bobbi Brown applied her makeup, Straws shared that she possessed a cosmetology license and education in business: the right foundation for a beauty marketing career.

“It was unbelievable when Bobbi asked, ‘Are you working now?’ I said no,” Straws recalled. “She said, ‘Good. Now you work for me.’”

An interview in the same week secured Straws’ nine years of employment with Bobbi Brown Cosmetics. When the role ended — on the verge of the COVID-19 pandemic — she relied on severance, investments and unemployment payments, and struggled to maintain housing for her family. She returned to volunteering, this time through Bethel Gospel Assembly’s food pantry and soup kitchen at Beth-Hark.

“I’d been volunteering for six months. Beth-Hark’s former operations manager, Kendall Glaspie, under the guidance of Executive Director Michelle P. Robinson, saw leadership skills in me and asked if I wanted to participate in a pilot program with eCornell,” Straws said. “Earlier in the year, I saw an ad for eCornell and I looked at courses, but I didn’t have the funding. When opportunities like that fall in your lap, you know it’s purpose. It’s by design.”

United Way of New York City, a Beth-Hark partner, is one of several organizations participating in eCornell Transform. The new program gives working adults from underserved communities no-cost access to online courses and certificates from Cornell University, powered by eCornell, with the core goal of supporting economic mobility for all.

“The eCornell Transform program is unique because it taps into existing relationships, through our nonprofit partners, to determine a community’s workforce needs and identify adults who could meet those needs with additional training and support,” said Joanne Troutman, director of social impact programs for eCornell. “By extending educational opportunities from Cornell to those who otherwise would not have access, we aim to help individuals upskill and forge career paths that earn a living wage.”

eCornell recently completed its pilot of the Transform program, which ran in partnership with a handful of nonprofit organizations across the country, with a particular focus in New York state. With successful results across the board, eCornell now plans to secure additional partner funding and expand the program to participants in more locations.

Through the Transform program, Straws completed the Cornell project leadership certificate. The program’s six courses and live study group prepare students to influence teams, leverage emotional intelligence, drive project outcomes and foster healthy conflict. Straws’ favorite course, “Leading Project Teams,” offered her a forum of peers to discuss her work experience and ways to apply her new skills.

After completing the project leadership program last fall, she was promoted from volunteer to pantry and soup kitchen manager. In addition to ensuring smooth day-to-day operations for consumers, Straws performs administrative duties related to the center’s grants and food deliveries.

“I learned so much from the leadership certificate with Cornell. It taught me about myself and how to deal with others in team settings,” she said. “I’ve been able to use what I learned in running the pantry, and I manage over 15 volunteers in a week. It’s about getting to know the volunteers and the consumers, calling them by their names, knowing their faces, developing relationships and serving everyone in excellence.”

Earning the project leadership certificate has been vital in helping Straws serve her larger community as well. She employs skills from the program at Bethel Gospel Assembly where she co-directs ministries for adults and teens, during team ministry engagements at Horizon Juvenile Center in the Bronx and in her own marketing consulting business, Just Jump Brandstorming.

Her next step is to complete studies for a real estate license as she develops plans to create a one-stop-shop transitional housing complex that will also offer makeovers, counseling, pantry services and more.

She also hopes to complete additional certificates through eCornell.

“These are all pieces of a puzzle to make the vision come to fruition. Being a part of the Transform program opened doors for me,” Straws said. “It was invaluable because I was able to apply it to so many areas of my life — in ministry, in helping the community, within myself. In every moment, God allows me to be a part of the bigger picture, which is to help rebuild someone’s life.”

Entrepreneurship program emboldens spice startup founder

For Abena Foli, the farm-to-table lifestyle is a birthright. Each day she uses the knowledge she gained from growing up on her father’s farm in Ghana to enrich her career as a food scientist and regulatory affairs leader.

“Working in the food industry, I get to sit in marketing ideation sessions, and research and development meetings. Whenever we talk about innovation in ingredients or products, West Africa is never mentioned,” said Foli, who now lives in Texas. “There was a lack of West African-originated products on shelves. I wanted to leverage my food science background as well as my West African heritage to solve that problem.”

She decided to start small for maximum impact: “When people are new to cuisines,” she said, “they tend to try seasonings first.”

Foli founded POKS Spices in 2016 to bring flavors from West Africa into American home kitchens. In 2021, she became one of the 60,000 women to participate in the certificate program offered by the Bank of America Institute for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Cornell, which is managed by the Cornell Law School and powered by eCornell.

Funding from Bank of America makes it possible for the students to gain the skills and resources to build a successful venture – and earn a business certificate from the university – at no cost.

Read the full story on the Cornell Chronicle Website.

Certificate brings Cornell food production expertise to entrepreneurs worldwide

For more than 30 years, the Cornell Food Venture Center (CFVC) has helped entrepreneurs transform family recipes and homemade eats into successful commercial food products. The center, located at Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, New York, has served hundreds of partners and facilitated the launch of more than 20,000 food products since 2000.

Now, a new online program from Cornell is expanding access to the CFVC’s expertise and supporting the growth of food entrepreneurs around the globe.

The Food Product Development Certificate is delivered by eCornell and authored by Olga Padilla-Zakour, CFVC director and professor of food science at Cornell AgriTech, and Bruno Xavier, CFVC associate director. Courses are co-facilitated by the CFVC’s extension specialists Cynthia James and Ann Vegdahl, and take participants step by step through product ideation, food safety and quality, processing, packaging, regulatory requirements, and commercialization.

Read the full story on the Cornell Chronicle Website.

Five Trends HR Leaders Need to Leverage in 2023

The rapid pace of workforce transformation is pushing human resources leaders to adapt for employment trends that have earned catchy monikers — the Great Resignation, quiet quitting and stay interviews. Yet, other underestimated developments are already impacting the dynamics of work.

Expert faculty in Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR School) identified five HR trends that will drive change for companies in 2023.

Read the full story on the ILR website.

NASA engineer is Alabama’s first certified Black woman winemaker

Rada Griffin works long days as a senior software engineer and subject matter expert for NASA, providing support to the project that’s going to put the first woman on the moon in 2024.

“It’s a big responsibility for us to ensure that everything goes perfectly,” she said. “And then, whenever I can find the time, I do my thing with wine.”

Griffin, based in Huntsville, Alabama, juggles three lives in one. On weekdays, she’s a contractor for NASA. On weekends she hosts wine and food pairings – and sometimes flies to Napa Valley, California, to check the progress of her first vintage. In 2019, after honing her wine skills in a series of online classes authored by an instructor in the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration, she launched Anissa Wakefield Wines, becoming the first certified Black woman winemaker in Alabama.

Read the full story on the Cornell Chronicle website.