Picking up her edition of the 2019 Cornellian Yearbook was a powerful feeling for Nadia Muhammad (’19), former Business Manager of the 2018 Cornellian. For the first time, she was on the other side of the sale, taking away a piece of her history at Cornell and understanding the sentimental significance of the Cornellian not just from the business manager’s perspective, but from the customer’s perspective as well. As Nadia prepares to graduate from Cornell with a degree in economics in just a few short weeks, she has taken time to reflect upon her experience at Cornell and her work at Student Agencies, which has profoundly impacted her life and her own professional career path.
Like many other general managers, Nadia first heard about SAI through friends who worked there and strongly encouraged her to apply. As an economics major, Nadia had gained a strong understanding of theoretical markets through academics but wanted a more robust footing in business. She joined a business fraternity that greatly contributed to her networking and personal development, but she still craved more practical business knowledge and saw no better opportunity than a chance to run a business on her own. However, she did not have a specific agency in particular that she felt especially compelled to apply for–– upon learning more about the prospect of running a business while at Cornell, Nadia just knew that she wanted to be a part of SAI.
When she was offered a position with the Cornellian, she initially had doubts about the creative demands of the role, but soon realized that her role was more operational and ended up fitting her skillset extremely well. One of Nadia’s favorite aspects of working for SAI was the leadership structure. She loved the dynamic across the different subsidiaries, as all student managers were on equal footing but shared tremendous responsibility. Nadia also highlighted the joy she felt upon finally receiving the shipment of finished yearbooks after having worked over months to create the product. The experience of crafting and producing a story for others to buy into opened her eyes to brand management, introducing her to a career path she didn’t know existed.
Nadia realized she wanted to pursue a career in branding and interned in hospitality brand management at a design firm in Washington, DC, where she is originally from following her time at SAI. Her internship mostly entailed managing brand aesthetics, but she wanted a more strategic role in brand development like the one she held at the Cornellian. This year she will begin her position as an assistant brand manager at Proctor & Gamble. Nadia will primarily be working on P&G’s feminine care brand Always, where she’ll get to focus not just on brand aesthetics but strategy and hard data. She looks forward to working with such a well-developed brand that has been established for decades and is in the hands of millions of women every single day. The nature of consumer packaged goods branding is changing quickly and she is excited for the challenge of adapting the image of the brand to remain relevant for the next generation of women. Nadia is also looking forward to working on a team again as that was something she really loved about SAI. Working together towards a common goal and purpose of promoting a product brought her closer with her co-managers at SAI and she can’t wait to become a part of the team at P&G. Along with teamwork, the organization and communication skills she acquired as manager of the Cornellian will undoubtedly serve Nadia well in her role at P&G. Knowing how to handle different stakeholders, innovate, and communicate her ideas deliberately will also put her at an advantage as she further establishes herself in brand management.