SAI Alumni Spotlight: Aaron Kaufman
Aaron Kaufman ('13) was a part of Student Agencies throughout all four of his years at Cornell. As a freshman, he served as the general manager of Hired Hands Moving Company. Once his tenure ended, he remained involved in SAI by working for Big Red Shipping and Storage during their peak seasons and through other informal roles. He also maintained a close working and friendly relationship with Dan Kathan ('70, MBA '73), the CEO of SAI at the time. Extracting a central takeaway from his diverse experience at Student Agencies, Aaron emphasized the value in gaining exposure to a variety of real-world business challenges working closely with a diverse group of individuals.
As a member, and later president, of the Cornell Wrestling Club, Aaron was able to tap into a sizable talent pool for movers. Aaron also recalled his wrestling matches with Dan in the office and wanted to give him a shout out: "I can still pin him any day."
In 2011, Aaron spent spring circumnavigating the globe through the Semester at Sea program. The floating university embarked from the Caribbean and docked at ports around the world, including South America, Africa, Asia, and the West Coast. Upon graduating in 2013, Aaron continued to explore what the world had to offer. He worked for WorldTeach in Pohnpei Island as a high school teacher and wrestling coach.
Since then, Aaron has resettled in Washington D.C. and works at the Federal Trade Commission in the Bureau of Consumer Protection. Here he works with small and large companies, like Facebook and Google, investigating issues from mortgage scams to data privacy issues. Aaron has found that the skills he needs at this job are quite similar to those he developed during his time at Student Agencies. For example, at the FTC, Aaron is frequently interacting with people over the phone. Thanks to his time as the manager of Hired Hands, Aaron developed a confident skill set in customer service from interacting with clients to book jobs, settle claims, and offer moving advice. Aaron also learned how to manage different personalities from overseeing his crew of field workers as a manager of Hired Hands. In turn, Aaron acclimated smoothly into the office environment, maintaining respect for his co-workers’ wide range of personalities.
From his hands-on experience managing a company in the challenging, fast-paced moving industry, Aaron appreciates the art of problem-solving. His advice for current managers is to address issues as soon as they arise, stating that: "the longer you let a problem sit, the more it will fester and grow". Reflecting on Student Agencies, Aaron cites it as "one of the best experiences" he had at Cornell.