An Alumni Spotlight on Andrew Chatham ('12)
Andrew Chatham ('12) developed a passion for "Moving Things Around at Big Red Shipping and Storage - which took him into a career in the transportation industry, working with leading autonomous vehicle companies like Waymo, and deploying complex mobility technology projects with cities around the US. With the skillset he developed at Student Agencies and cultivated in his post-graduate experiences, Andrew was confident in his ability to launch his own business. Andrew recently co-founded a tech platform for mobility projects called Digital Infrastructure for Moving Objects (DIMO). He also established Digital Infrastructure Services, a consulting firm that assists clients in mobility, logistics, robotics, and real estate. Andrew’s success as President of Student Agencies, following his position as General Manager for Big Red Shipping and Storage (BRSS) built a solid foundation for his entrepreneurial pursuits later in life.
While Andrew entered an internship at the office of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island with the intention of attending law school, he came away from the experience feeling the political world was not suited for him. During his time at Student Agencies, Andrew was able to apply the lessons learned as a PAM major outside of the typical setting— an experience that ultimately deterred him from transferring out of his major. Outside of Student Agencies, Andrew was involved in a broad range of extracurricular activities at Cornell. He was a member of the fraternity Sigma Pi, a mentor through the Ithaca Big Brother Program, and a rugby player. With encouragement from Andrew’s close friend and fraternity brother Peter Cherubini who was the SAI President at the time, Andrew applied and was hired as the General Manager for BRSS.
During his time as General Manager for BRSS in 2009, Andrew and his team focused on cementing BRSS as a permanent fixture in Ithaca. In order to market their business, they got rid of the 1990 Dodge Ram Van and purchased a 16’ box truck, affixed with large BRSS logos —a true testament to Andrew’s lighthearted approach to business. During his time with Big Red, the team also outgrew their former warehouse and upgraded to the Lansing Warehouse Facility: it was up to them to determine how this change would impact the overall strategy of BRSS operations. As President the following year, Andrew prided himself on creating a fun and natural working environment for his managers. One of his most lasting contributions to SAI was his creation of the CTO position, an executive role that has been key in modernizing SAI over the years. Through both of his positions at SAI, Andrew was able to experience the operational complexity of building the right team to accomplish a business goal—a skill that he has carried throughout the rest of his professional life thus far.
While his time as General Manager of BRSS and President were both very rewarding, Andrew found it challenging to establish continuity across many businesses with a new set of managers filling roles each year. Additionally, he found it difficult to balance introducing new ideas and proposals while maintaining a high level of operational performance: “I eventually learned the value of doing the table stakes stuff correctly so that we could innovate after that.”
Following his graduation from Cornell in 2012, Andrew entered a fellowship program called Venture for America, which places recent graduates at startups in cities with emerging entrepreneurial environments. While in the program, he spent two years working in Downtown Las Vegas with Zappos.com, the Downtown Project, and Project 100 (later called SHIFT) fulfilling various roles. More specifically, he was a campus and co-working development analyst for Zappos.com and a strategic partnership and business development lead at Project 100. While working at Project 100 he helped build a 50-vehicle charging hub in partnership with Tesla Motors and launched one of the first dockless shared bike systems in the US. He owes this journey to his time spent at 409 College: “Without Student Agencies, I would not have been as confident to take risks to assess the potential of projects not yet explored.”