05/13/2015

A Behind-the-Scene view of The Cornell Executive MBA Metro NY program

Hannah Diddams, MBA '14, shares her perspective


A Behind-the-Scene view of The Cornell Executive MBA Metro NY programinline-block
 

Completing an MBA while working full-time, was a gift for Hannah Diddams, MBA '14, and a lesson in juggling priorities. “Life is a balancing act. It doesn’t always feel harmonious. It’s about making sacrifices and choices. You learn to become very efficient with your time, and to let go of this notion that you have to be perfect. In the end, I got two promotions and graduated with distinctions at the top of my class.”

Now Diddams is enjoying the rewards of her education from the Cornell Executive MBA Program in Metro NY. She is currently a leader at Bloomberg Media as Global Head of Data and Insights. In her position, she is responsible for managing and reporting engagement performance including audience acquisition, social amplification and benchmarking. “I’m passionate about digital advertising technology, big data, audience targeting, digital monetization and launching new products. Working for 10 years, across 3 continents in digital media and advertising, gives me a uniquely global perspective and a somewhat hybrid accent.”

During the Cornell Executive MBA program Diddams faced several challenges. “Knowing that I completed an MBA, more so than the letters after my name, is about knowing that I have the endurance to succeed and that I was able to accomplish a great feat. I have this deep well inside of me that I can draw from when things get tough. As a result of my experience, I’m far more capable than I ever imagined.”

It wasn’t all glamour, however. Like most students, Diddams had her fair share of late nights, stress and anxiety. But even waking up at 5 am to take the shuttle bus to the Palisades campus, just 12 miles north of Manhattan, was worth it. Being part of a diverse cohort of highly intelligent and ambitious students encouraged her to always push herself to the limit. “It’s a lot like training as a marathon runner. You’re developing your endurance and you find that anything else in comparison is a breeze.” Another facet of Cornell Johnson’s program that helped her gain confidence and excel was the career management services. “I met regularly with my advisor at the Cornell Club in New York City for one-on-one sessions, to talk through career options and to help frame a networking approach which ultimately resulted in my promotion.”

While pursuing her MBA, Diddams faced several challenges as part of completing the required final project. Her team of five travelled to Beijing, China, the only team to go to Asia and was faced with some issues involving travel and language differences. They worked with the American global semiconductor company, Qualcomm, and conducted research of Chinese smartphone owners and their usage habits. Diddams team interviewed over one hundred students about their smart phone behaviors. “In so many ways the people we interacted with in China are like us and yet completely different,” she said. “They were so intelligent, so globally minded, so curious about Cornell and the university system in the US. You would never have that experience as a tourist or even a business person.” After gathering the data, they then compiled the results and presented them to the technical marketing teams at Qualcomm.

Diddams believes that taking classes in a traditional format is just one of the facets of learning holistically. “It felt as though we are all entrepreneurs, innovators, business people, engineers, computer scientists and professionals, all coming together. It’s not easy to go and travel and live somewhere else. If it was easy everyone would do it, but I think what you get when you travel and experience the world is a whole new perspective on life and it’s not defined by where you grew up, what your accent is, or who your family is. My advice is go and do it. Live the dream now because it gets harder later.”

Rising to a position of leadership in her career, traveling to South Africa, and getting married this coming July are all wonderful milestones in Diddam’s life. “There are years where you plant the seeds, where you water them, and years when they’re really starting to grow and flourish. I’m hoping that’s what this year is about.”



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