Alumni Spotlight: Jonathan Hessney
Jonathan Hessney (College of Engineering ‘07) got his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell. While at Cornell, he also served as General Manager of Big Red Shipping and Storage. He first found out about Student Agencies by seeing SAI posters around campus. When applying to SAI, he was explicitly drawn towards Big Red Shipping and Storage because he was interested in solving problems with operations and how to tackle moving many different goods at once efficiently.
As General Manager, Hessney, who focused on the operations side of Big Red, while his co-manager, Elliot Garlock (’07), worked on sales and marketing. A highlight of Hessney’s time at SAI was when he and Elliot first rolled out pre-arrival delivery services. Instead of doing individual drop-offs the day of move-in, Big Red Shipping and Storage convinced the university to give them the keys to all the student dorms and was allowed to go into dorms a few weeks earlier. As a result, they completed all deliveries for an entire dorm in an hour or two, whereas before, the teams had to go back and forth in between dorms. The change in when and how Hessney's team made deliveries revolutionized the way Big Red worked and truly changed the experience of their customers, who no longer arrived at empty dorm rooms.
Hessney credits SAI as being a significant pivot in his career trajectory -- he switched from engineering to logistics. His time and enjoyment as Big Red manager influenced Hessney’s decision to focus instead on working as a supply chain strategy consultant. Big Red showed him how much he enjoyed solving problems involving the operations and logistics of business. Three years ago, Hessney founded OnRout, a cloud-based platform that makes eCommerce shipping more affordable and environmentally sustainable. OnRout modernizes the antiquated shipping model by allowing different carriers to bid on shipping spots, which lowers the delivery costs of retailers and builds more efficient networks for carriers. While serving as Big Red manager, Hessney’s favorite thing to do during peak was to manually write out on paper and analyze the most efficient delivery routes for the day. Now, he is taking that passion he first discovered at SAI and turning it into technology that he hopes will revolutionize the shipping and delivery industry.
The most significant takeaway Hessney had from SAI was that there is no better education that one can get than the real-world work experience students gain at SAI. Student managers learn how to structure their work at a place where there is no professor, teacher or parent telling one what to do or when to do it. At SAI, students are given a goal, to increase net income, of their agency, and the freedom and responsibility to figure out how to succeed. The advice Hessney would give to current SAI managers is that their first job is not necessarily their entire career - that it is most important to first ensure they find experience somewhere.
Hessney also emphasized the importance of keeping in touch with the other student managers of SAI. Former SAI manager, Elliot Garlock (’07) and former SAI CEO, Dan Kathan (’70), advised him during his founding of OnRout, and David Gelinas (’07), the Director of Human Resources during Hessney’s time, was the best man at Hessney’s wedding. The current bookkeeper of OnRout, Lisa Moran, was, and still is, the Controller of Student Agencies. The connections made through SAI, the lessons learned, and the experience gained have genuinely made an imprint on Hessney. Hessney, in turn, profoundly transformed the shipping industry as Big Red manager and continues to do so today.