Amanda Shaw ’00, MBA ’05, Executive Director of Student Services at Johnson at Cornell University
Scheduling maestro and student advocate
Who do you call when …
- Your next quiz is going to conflict with a Johnson career management event and you are trying to figure out what to do?
- You want to earn a double degree but need help planning your class schedule?
- Things are not working out as you’d imagined and you want to talk to someone to get some advice?
- You want to consult someone familiar with all the upcoming demands on students’ time to find out when will be the best time to schedule an event?
Amanda Shaw, Johnson’s executive director of student services, is the one you’d be looking for.
Shaw oversees the offices of the Registrar and Student Activities and Special Events at Johnson, where she is responsible for the residential, Two-Year and One-Year MBA programs. Her duties include planning core course schedules and major activities for MBA programs, advising students one-on-one, getting feedbacks from students via surveys, and helping student clubs and staff to schedule events to accommodate students’ schedules. In short, Shaw is an essential nexus between Johnson’s students and its faculty and staff: On the student side, she works with prospective students, current students, and the student council; on the faculty and staff side, she coordinates with faculty, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Marketing and Communications, Technology Services, and many other departments.
Shaw graduated as a communications major, cum laude, from Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. After graduation, she joined a one-year rotational leadership program at JPMorgan Chase, where she stayed for two more years working on brand management before she decided to come back to campus as a Johnson MBA student.
When Shaw first came to Johnson, she thought she wanted to focus on marketing. But she changed course and after graduation chose to stay at Johnson, where she has served in succession as financial analyst, senior project manager, director of administrative services, and director of student services. She’s glad she stayed, because she really enjoys her role in student services. In fact, thinking back to her days at Cornell, she actually identified some events that foreshadowed her current position. She recalls that her position as a senior business manager for the Cornell Daily Sun was a lot like her current job, where she “has a lot of responsibilities that involve helping people to solve problems,” she says. And in her Johnson admissions essay, she wrote that she wanted to work on “strategies and operations for a nonprofit institution whose mission I support.”
“In a strange way that pretty much happened,” says Shaw. “I do feel I am tied to [Johnson’s and Cornell’s] missions and goals. It’s a satisfying thing to work here and further those.”
Shaw’s experience as a Johnson student helps her in her current role in many respects. When she was a student at Johnson, Shaw was selected as a Fried Fellow, a prestigious scholarship awarded every year to a few second-year Johnson students based on their academic excellence and contributions to Johnson. As a Fried Fellow, Shaw worked with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) to identify barriers that keep women from applying to or attending business school. “It’s actually interesting because just last week I was in a meeting where we were talking about [the gender gap] as a concern,” says Shaw. Johnson continues to strive for a narrower gender gap, as do business schools around the country and across the world. (Women make up 32 percent of the Two-year MBA Class of 2014; see Class Profiles for demographic information for other programs.) Today, Shaw continues to work with ODI to plan events designed to address the concerns and interest of diverse groups of students. She also serves on the Fried Fellows selection committee.
The most challenging aspect of her job is helping students deal with unexpected or difficult situations, says Shaw. She tries to put herself in their shoes (her experience as a Johnson student comes in handy), and helps them identify positive options. “Usually, you see people moving in more positive directions,” says Shaw. Helping a student to move beyond a stumbling block or perceived barrier “is both the challenging part but also the rewarding part of the job,” she says.
In fact, the opportunity to work with students is one of the main reasons Shaw stayed at Johnson. “Working in higher education, I am closer to things that really change someone’s life,” she says. “Some students come in thinking that they want to do one thing, but then they decide to start a startup. Some people meet their future spouses here and come back together for reunions. It’s very exciting to get to know these extremely talented people in this interesting time of life.”
Yuezhou Huo ’15 is an intern in Marketing and Communications at Johnson.