Hannah Zweifler, MBA '18
Hometown: West Hartford, CT, but I lived in New York City for four years before coming to Cornell for my MBA
Undergraduate School: Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, where I was an art history major
Concentration: Marketing - brand management
The very real decisions we had to make as an expedition team (on the Patagonia Trek) were rich with learning for our frontcountry lives, such as how to make sure all voices on a team are heard to co-create solutions, how to get buy-in and motivate others, and how to explore the risks and consequences of our choices.
Why did you decide to go back to school for your MBA?
I decided to go back to school for my MBA so I could pivot from professional services marketing to consumer marketing. As a communications manager at a UK-based global law firm, I really enjoyed the challenge of communicating the unique value of our brand of global law firm in a saturated U.S. legal market—specifically, collaborating with external agencies and cross-functional, global teams to develop U.S.-specific messaging and innovate how the firm communicated this messaging to clients.
However, at a law firm, the marketing and business-development function is ancillary to the core business. I wanted to move into a marketing role where I would be at the center of the business—where I could drive strategy, own the profit and loss, and leverage my creative side, with my background in art. I knew I could do that by pivoting into consumer packaged goods brand management. The MBA was also attractive for the opportunity to develop my leadership and analytic skills, areas where I had previously received little training.
What did you do prior to coming to Cornell?
Most recently, I worked in marketing and business development for a UK-based global law firm. Specifically, I managed communications for the firm’s U.S. offices, overseeing everything from social media and digital strategy to the development of marketing collateral and client events. Before that, I worked as a freelance writer/marketer, mostly for businesses in the art world.
What have you learned about yourself from your experience at Johnson?
In working with a lot of teams and getting feedback from classmates, I learned that I am good at synthesizing diverse ideas to help move challenging conversations or brainstorms forward.
What makes your program unique?
It’s cliché, but Johnson is an extremely tight-knit and supportive community. As a first-year MBA, I found that the second-years made a ton of time for me to help with classes and recruiting. As a second-year, I’ve enjoyed paying forward that support to this year’s new class. Ithaca only adds to the community feel—we are all here in Ithaca together.
What trek are you partaking in?
I just returned from the Patagonia trek, which was amazing.
There were so many reasons I wanted to go on the Patagonia trek, and the expedition delivered on all of them. For one, it was a unique way to see and learn about a different and particularly beautiful part of world: we hiked and camped alongside extraordinary glacier-capped mountains, and celebrated the completion of our expedition with a traditional Chilean asado.
And, like many other treks, it provided a special opportunity to get to know some of my classmates better, outside of our daily Ithaca routines—but this time, in close quarters and without the distraction of technology.
What was most notable about this trek, however, was the focus on leadership, followership, and self-reflection. The daily schedule and route we took were determined by rotating designated leaders, while the rest of us explored what it meant to be an effective peer leader or active follower.
The very real decisions we had to make as an expedition team were rich with learning for our frontcountry lives, such as how to make sure all voices on a team are heard to co-create solutions, how to get buy-in and motivate others, and how to explore the risks and consequences of our choices.
For me as an individual, this trek offered a lot of personal growth, too. The daily physical challenge pushed me to practice positive self-talk, becoming more comfortable asking for help from teammates when I needed it, and finding the joy and beauty of the present moment. I am sure I will reflect on my experience on the Patagonia trek for a long time to come!
What activities are you involved in?
- Student groups, activities and clubs: Involved with Student Council and Marketing Association
- Trek experience: Went on the Colombia and Patagonia (Chile) treks
- Immersion highlights: I chose the strategic marketing immersion and worked on a really interesting project with a trade association in the travel and tourism industry. Specifically, we explored the impact of the sharing economy on traditional tour operators.
- Internship experience: I did a very challenging but rewarding internship in brand management at Procter & Gamble, on the Gillette brand. I am returning to Procter & Gamble full-time after business school.