Fiona Yu’s (’10) involvement in Student Agencies began with Campus Promotions; she worked on producing the Ithaca Map and Gorge Dining Guide. Fiona also built out the consulting arm of CP. She led CP’s project to advise Entrepreneurship at Cornell on how to grow student excitement about entrepreneurship. Fiona developed a series of promotional initiatives and helped create Entrepreneurship at Cornell’s lightbulb mascot. Due to her success as CP Manager, she was selected as the President of SAI during her junior year.
Fiona found that working at SAI is "a wonderful start to what the business world looks like.” As a manager, you put your hands in a business and really influence people’s lives. As a president, you also go through the budgeting and recruiting process; everything about the experience is much like real life, but the people are much more forgiving. She notes that it is important to do well in school and get good grades, but it’s equally important to be able to deal with difficult situations and conflicts, develop relationships, manage stress, and work with superiors, which are all things that Student Agencies teaches you.
After graduating from Cornell, Fiona worked at Bain in management consulting for two years and then went to Harvard to get her MBA. She always loved hospitality and knew she wanted to end up in that industry, but she thought that consulting was one of the best educations one could get out of college and a great learning platform to gain exposure to a wide variety of businesses and aspects of the industry. If she could do it again, she says she would do take the same path.
Upon graduating from Harvard Business School, Fiona worked for Marriott to help lead Asia Pacific in the integration of Starwood Hotels, creating the largest hotel company in the world. After running that merger in Hong Kong, Fiona wanted to get back to the operational side of the business. She moved to the Ritz Carlton in Chengdu, China and spent a year running the room operations, overseeing a team of more than 200 people. During this time, Fiona drove the Ritz-Carlton to #1 on Tripadvisor and earned the hotel a spot in Condé Nast’s 2018 Gold List of World’s Best Hotels.
Her advice to students is to follow your heart. There is a lot of information out there, but no one is going to know what is best except for yourself. There is no one way to get something done. If you follow what you love, you will find ways to be successful, and you will be happy.