DDLS Speakers Zachary Shapiro and Mark Nasr and Student Opinions
What did you think of today’s DDLS speakers?
How did the speakers influence your view on the airline industry?
If you had one question to ask the speakers, what would it be?
The Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series or DDLS has been part of the Hotel School’s culture since 1928 when it was founded in 1928 by the Hotel School’s founding dean Howard Meek. Every Friday, a leader or rising star from the hospitality industry visit Cornell and speaks to the DDLS students in Statler Auditorium. The sectors that the DDLS speakers work in vary from food & beverage, hotel operations, aviation, and others. The DDLS speakers discuss their experience in the industry and what they have learned and how they grown from those experiences.
DDLS is held every Friday in the fall semester and is also known as “Hotelie Fridays” amongst Cornell students. Freshman Hotel School students make up the majority of the DDLS class but many sophomores and upperclassmen continue to attend because of the valuable lessons DDLS speakers share with students.
This past Friday, on October 13th 2017, DDLS were lucky to have two Hotel School alum as their speakers. Zachary Shapiro (SHA ‘05) and Mark Nasr (SHA ‘07) came to speak about their experience in the aviation industry. Mr. Shapiro is currently the Director of Operations Reliability at American Airlines and Mr. Nasr is currently the Vice President of Loyalty & eCommerce at Air Canada. Mr. Shapiro and Mr. Nasr
Here are the thoughts of 6 freshman Hotel School students.
Bryan Weintraub (2021):
I really enjoyed hearing from Zach and Mark! I thought they had a great dynamic, and the stories of their journeys through the industry were very inspiring.
I’ve always been peripherally interested in aviation, so I was already excited that Zach and Mark were coming for DDLS. Their lecture reinforced my interest in the airline industry, and reminded me that I should absolutely consider an internship at an airline during my time in school.
I wanted to ask Zach about the current feud between the “big three” American carriers (American, Delta, and United), and the “big three” Gulf carriers (Emirates, Ethiad, and Qatar), and how it’s impacting American Airlines’ corporate strategy.
Maria Tucker (2021):
I think the speakers really tried to give advice that applied outside of the airline industry. Additionally, they tried to relate to us, because they graduated in ’07 and ’05. It was nice to have speakers that were closer to our demographic-giving us an idea of what it will be like after we graduate, after being in the hospitality industry for about a decade. They were funny and somewhat casual, while having an entertaining and informative presentation.
I never had an interest in the airline industry, but their passion for it and the way they talked about all of the people working behind the scenes to ensure a good trip for a customer was intriguing. It definitely made me view the airline industry differently, even if I don’t specifically plan on pursuing anything with airlines in the future.
I would ask how they came to be interested in the airline industry and what aspects lead them to the career they picked.
Emily Shiang (2021):
Personally, they were two of my favorite speakers. I appreciated how enthusiastic and well-prepared they were. Each had his own focus and expertise and truly connected his experiences into lessons. I also loved the flow of the presentation and how they smoothly transitioned from one speaker to another.
Before this lecture series, I did not know much about the airline industry. Each speaker taught me how much effort goes into providing customers with the best service and most comfort. Airlines truly have to develop a strong foundation of trust with passengers or risk having passengers switch to a completely different airline company.
What defining moments at Cornell shaped your career?
Samantha Rusoff (2021):
I thought that they were very interesting and relatable because they were still able to recall their time at the hotel school and had real experience in their field.
Before the DDLS speakers I never thought about the airline industry so closely connected to the hotel school, but after hearing them speak it made sense. I think my view of airlines changed because I realized how many aspects of the airline business is similar to food and bev or hotel.
I would ask, “if there was one thing you could change about the airline industry what would it be?”
Sean Teng (2021):
Zachary and Mark were truly engaging speakers - their passion for the airline industry shone through as they detailed the journey towards the people they are today. Most importantly though, I felt the sincerity they had in imparting to us lessons they learnt along the way, and that stood out to me.
More than anything, they related to me how airlines, cruises, hotels had similar traits and detailed how the hotel school was relevant to their career pursuits, regardless of which path one may undertake in the future.
What led to your favourite moments in Cornell?
Joy Liu (2021):
I thought the speakers were great! I am personally interested in aviation, and it was really helpful to see the journey each of the speakers took to get to where they are and how the hotel school impacted them. Both speaker's advice on focusing on marketing and distribution channels were eye-opening as well.
Their presentation made me more interested in the industry! The airline industry has changed a lot in the past few years, and it will definitely change in the future as well. However, the passion from both speaker's really kept my attention and interest in the industry.
There's so many questions that I would like to ask them! - Do you see any major mergers in the future in the industry? - Are there going to be any major design changes in the fleets? - How has technology changed the industry? - What is your favorite airline company besides the one you work for. - Any comments on the quality of airline foods?