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Our Alumni
Hear firsthand how HLDP has made in impact in some of our alumni's careers, and the valuable lessons they took from their time in The Statler Hotel.
  • Liam O’Brian ‘20

    Liam O’Brian ‘20

    Associate Consultant at Bain & Company
    Former General Sous Chef at Taverna Banfi

    What did you take away from the program?
    "My biggest takeaway from HLDP was the friendships. From the other students to the full time Statler staff, those relationships were so impactful. I was back on campus earlier this year to support recruiting for my company. Walking back into the Statler, was like being home. Still so many familiar faces! It was amazing to reconnect with the unparalleled staff at the hotel."

    Why did you join the program?
    "HLDP was one of the programs that drew me to the Hotel School to begin with. I saw the program as an amazing opportunity to build real management and leadership skills all while pursuing one of my biggest passions, cooking."

    Read More Liam O’Brian ‘20

    How do you use what you learned in your position now?
    "The ability to manage logistics and remain cool under stress has been very important in my consulting role. Especially when I have to manage and plan workshops with clients. In general, I think hospitality skills are critical in any client services role, like consulting.
    Lastly, I would also highlight the ability to take initiative. HLDP encouraged students to take on projects to make the day-to-day operations at the Statler run more efficiently. For example, one other HLDP-member and myself helped update food costing on the Banfi menu. I also helped come up with special dishes to use up extra ingredients we had leftover from events. That type of iniative is highly valued in any profession."

    What is one of your favorite HLDP memories?
    "There are so many! From an amazing trip to LA to countless special tasting menus for Dean's dinners. But I think for me, some of the best days (nights) on the Banfi line were during graduation week. Everyone would be exhausted, but we'd be running on adrenaline, caffeine, and lots of ice pops or ice cream sandwiches! It was always tough in the moment but looking back we'd be proud of what we accomplished.'

  • Peter Biechler ‘13

    Peter Biechler ‘13

    General Manager of Loya's Little House Bed & Breakfast
    Former Student Manager of Taverna Banfi and The Regent Lounge

    What did you take away from the program?
    "HLDP provided me the supportive space I needed to experiment with and develop my management style. With the guidance of the professional staff and management of The Statler Hotel, I felt more prepared to enter the workforce after graduation and take on challenging roles in the hospitality industry. I can confidently say that the hands-on management training directly led to my success in every position I've held since, culminating in my current role of being a part-owner and general manager in my family's hospitality business."

    Why did you join the program?
    "I joined HLDP to get the practical, applied training I knew I would need to succeed in my future roles in operations management within hospitality. I felt the program would provide me with the supportive environment I wanted to experiment with theories I was learning in the Hotel School."

    Read More Peter Biechler ‘13

    How do you use what you learned in your position now?
    "As a part-owner and general manager for my own hospitality business, I constantly use the forecasting, revenue management, and cost management tools I was taught in my various HLDP positions. I find the cross-training aspects of the program especially helpful in my new role, given that my focus in HLDP was food and beverage management, but now I use many of the skills I learned in my front office cross-training to manage the rooms side of my current business. The holistic, interdisciplinary approach of HLDP is invaluable moving forward in any aspect of the hospitality industry."

    What is one of your favorite HLDP memories?
    "Late night menu performance analysis and development in the office with Chef Tony and Christina Alario. I truly felt like part of the decision-making team in these times and felt the respect of my managers on a peer-to-peer level in these moments"

  • Olivia Ahossou ‘22

    Olivia Ahossou ‘22

    Winery Technician at City Winery Hudson Valley
    Former Student General Manager

    What did you take away from the program?
    "There are so many ways to lead, but the best way to lead is with kindness."

    Why did you join the program?
    "Working in Statler and learning how to lead by actually doing it was the reason I chose Cornell and made the difference in my education at Cornell vs an educational experience anywhere else."

    What is one of your favorite HLDP memories?
    "Working a banquet event and having someone hand one of our student supervisors a bag of her breastmilk and asking it be refrigerated in one of the kitchen coolers."

  • Dan Leyva ‘14

    Dan Leyva ‘14

    CEO of Wings Over
    Former Director of Guest Services

    What did you take away from the program?
    "I had many take aways from the program, but my biggest takeaway was understanding the importance of listening to the guest and making decisions based on what is best for those guests. It's not about what you or I want, it's what is best for the guest. That is a great way to make decisions."

    Why did you join the program?
    "I joined HLDP because I didn't just want a job in college, I wanted an opportunity to grow and learn in the best way possible. HLDP provided opportunities that most students would never get to experience in a regular workplace."

    Read More Dan Leyva ‘14

    How do you use what you learned in your position now?
    "I use the skills learned through HLDP every single day. The mindfulness of all departments, the attention to detail, the growth opportunities, and love for service."

    What is one of your favorite HLDP memories?
    "I have many incredible HLDP memories. My favorite is working Mother's Day brunch at valet as a senior."

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