Truly embodying the philosophy that Together Everyone Achieves More (TEAM), Cornell University SC Johnson Graduate School of Management earned the designation — for the second year in a row and the third time in history — of TEAM Trophy Award recipient in 2019. The Consortium established the award in 2004 to foster collaboration among peers at member schools as they strive to demonstrate their commitment to the organization’s mission.
Jessica Krom, associate director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI), says that Johnson’s achievement of the award was the result of a commitment from not just Consortium students but the entire Johnson community.
“We hold our students accountable for upholding the mission [of The Consortium], but as the administration, we also hold ourselves accountable,” says Krom. “It’s all hands on deck. It’s not just one entity. Everybody is invested in this work, and I think that has a lot to do with the success that we’ve seen within our Consortium family.”
She also attributes much of Johnson’s success to Adrienne Thomas, manager of student and alumni relations for The Consortium, who has served as a critical resource. “I think that her timeliness and her passion in her role have really helped us to be successful as well,” says Krom. “We wouldn’t know what the expectations were if she wasn’t so accessible and thorough.”
Johnson’s receipt of the 2019 TEAM Trophy Award was based on many notable achievements, including the following:
- Having student leaders on more than 10 club boards
- Reaching 100 percent participation in the Class Gift Campaign
- Leading fundraising efforts that yielded nearly $25,000 for various community organizations
- Teaching financial literacy to high school students
- Volunteering in a clothing drive for Giving Tuesday
- Supporting one another through tutoring, career and academic advice and study groups
According to Clementina Ojie, Consortium student liaison chair at Johnson, despite its success, the school didn’t make a “deliberate” effort to earn the award.
Supporting The Consortium’s mission is something their community is just naturally passionate about, Krom says. “If the result is the TEAM Trophy Award, then that’s just icing on the cake, but we have a cake to make regardless,” she says. “The work has to get done, and the way in which we’re able to get that work done is in large part due to support from the administration when it comes to funding, when it comes to participation and being vocal about the importance of The Consortium. A large part of this is that we have action-oriented students who are putting their feet to the ground and doing the work.”
Johnson’s large group of Consortium students represents a wide array of interests and passions, which Ojie says translates to deep and diverse involvement across campus. “We’re able to get involved with a bunch of different organizations and, with the support of ODI and the administration, host events and do a lot of community service,” she says.
“Members of The Consortium are embedded in a wide variety of organizations on campus, and we really encourage our students to be visible in their leadership,” says Krom. “They’re pursuing their passions, but I think there’s a lot of overlap and a lot of parallel opportunities for folks to do things that they’re passionate about personally and professionally that also contribute to advancing the mission of The Consortium.”
All members of the Cornell MBA Consortium family are encouraged to sign a pledge to demonstrate their commitment to upholding the mission of The Consortium as both students and future alumni. Director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion Jamie Joshua initiated this pledge, which students are asked to renew every year.
In the 2018-2019 academic year, they demonstrated their commitment to The Consortium by doing community service with and hosting clothing drives for The Learning Web and other local nonprofits; writing blog posts to share their experiences with prospective and incoming students; soliciting donations; and hosting events.
“At the end of the day, I think all of those things kind of bleed into that Consortium mission, and … as an organization, we’re making an impact with underrepresented minority students in the business school in general,” says Ojie.
The fact that Johnson has won the TEAM Trophy Award two years in a row, she believes, is evidence that they are going above and beyond. “I think it shows that we do really good things at our school. We’re not just a top MBA program that churns out students,” Ojie notes. “We do a lot of things internally that [have an] impact.”
Krom believes that students’ inclination and desire to give back in some way is due to the close-knit character of Johnson’s MBA program. This allows the administration to truly invest in its students, she says, which it does through programming and personal connections.
“The size of our community helps build a rapport with our students, faculty, staff and alumni where folks really want to connect and engage and really align their passions with the mission of The Consortium,” says Krom. This connectedness promotes a culture in which students want to pay it forward, which has made it easy for Johnson to achieve 100 percent participation in the Class Gift Campaign — one criterion of the TEAM Trophy Award.
“I think every single person who’s a part of The Consortium family wants to be a part of giving back to the organization in some way, shape or form,” says Krom.
She also attributes Johnson’s achievement of the TEAM Trophy Award to a commitment by ODI to uphold and promote The Consortium’s mission at Johnson, Cornell and in the larger Ithaca, N.Y., community. “This year, Johnson is celebrating the 20th anniversary of having an Office of Diversity and Inclusion specifically dedicated to marginalized populations to make sure the conversation about increasing the number of underrepresented minorities in business is one that’s happening across the entire population and not just a subset,” says Krom.
Because the work of diversity, equity and inclusion is often hard to quantify, success in this area can be difficult to define. However, Krom believes the Cornell MBA community is cultivating an environment where everyone feels they belong.
“Sometimes this work is really emotionally laborious,” she says, “but when you win an award like the TEAM Trophy Award — especially when you win it two years in a row — it really helps to light a candle to what success and belonging can look like.”