Alumni Feature on Nathaniel Pollack ('07)
Nathaniel Pollack (‘07) was kind enough to meet with us this month to provide us with some great insight into his time at Student Agencies. Nate was born in Troy, New York, and ultimately decided upon Cornell for two main reasons: the undergraduate business program and the uniqueness of Cornell’s academic setup, with a broad array of classes to choose from while still being part of a smaller, focused college. Outside of Student Agencies, he also was part of Cornell’s Entrepreneur Organization which helped shaped his view of entrepreneurship and the role of technology in people’s lives.
Nate was attracted to Student Agencies because of the real-world business experience it offers. Nate detailed this by saying: “to have responsibility for a business while having real money at stake was an opportunity that most people do not get until after college.” He worked at Student Agencies for two years, his first being spent in the New Business Initiatives Group and his second on the executive team as CFO. Prior to Nate's stint at SAI, the Cornellian Yearbook had been a club run through Cornell. Along with his co-manager of New Business Initiatives— a group tasked with expanding the reach of Student Agencies—Nate brought the Cornellian Yearbook underneath the greater Student Agencies umbrella, believing it “fit with the ethos of Student Agencies” and that they could make it a successful business. This acquisition gave Nate real world experience with making a business plan from scratch, understanding a business model and negotiating with suppliers. Like many other Student Agencies alumni we have spoken with, Nate attributes a lot of his growth to the guidance and mentorship of the former SAI CEO Dan Kathan.
We asked Nate about some of his favorite memories from his time at Student Agencies: “it’s tough to pinpoint just one great moment, but successfully integrating the Cornellian Yearbook in such a short period of time was all-around a fun experience.” Nate went on to humor us with his most terrifying memories. First, he recalled driving a truck for Big Red Shipping and Storage when he almost knocked over a gas pump and nearly “blew the place up”— luckily, Nate lives to tell the tale and only bumped over a curb, an experience that I am sure many of us at Student Agencies can relate to. Less life-threatening, but terrifying nonetheless, Nate also remembered the disaster they encountered when printing the Cornellian for the first time: “the publisher made a mistake and spelled Cornellian wrong on the spine of the book. The publisher (on their nickel) had to print new books for every single customer.” While these were stressful moments, Nate is grateful for the learning opportunities they afforded him and the laughs they provide today.
After Nate graduated from Cornell, he started his career working for Lehman Brothers in sales and trading. After having started at Lehman in 2007, Nate, like many others, moved onto work for Barclays and various other firms in financial roles. In 2014, he moved to California in an area south of San Fransisco to work for a cybersecurity firm called Symantec. While there, he worked in Investor Relations and later in the Office of CTO. Currently, Nate still lives south of San Francisco with his wife and daughter Vivienne, now working for the online personal styling service company, Stitch Fix. He loves working for a consumer-facing business and seeing the company’s first-hand impact.
Nate detailed the three ways that Student Agencies helped him foster his personal and professional growth. First, he was able to put into practice early what you learn in the classroom. Second, he was able to learn how to tackle conflicts head-on and think creatively about problem-solving. And lastly, he was able to assess risk in a money-cautious way: “being scrappy to make money” is an essential part of being successful on the Student Agencies team.
Thank you for your time, Nate!