Michelle Russo ’87: Overcoming barriers and achieving balance

March 25, 2016

The Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series (DDLS) brings prominent industry professionals to speak at SHA most Fridays during the fall semester. For 2015, students worked in groups each week to research, meet, and profile featured speakers, and then guest-blog here about the experience.

This week’s student authors are Leigh Heidelberger ’16 and Danielle Tuller ’16.

Last week, the School of Hotel Administration had the honor of welcoming founder and CEO of Hotel Asset Value Enhancement (hotelAVE), Michelle Russo ’87, to participate in the Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series.

The dean’s dinner with Mrs. Russo was excellent. The chef and servers did an impeccable job, and it allowed a select group of students to learn more about Mrs. Russo in a closer setting. She spoke about how she got to where she is and addressed questions related to how she dealt with gender discrimination. The dinner conversation also stretched to more informal topics like sports and Mrs. Russo’s time at Cornell.

Mrs. Russo gave an inspiring DDLS presentation on Friday, highlighting her career path since graduating from SHA. She was able to share insight from her experiences—such as working for a consulting firm when she graduated—and what she gained from them. Current students were captivated by Mrs. Russo’s impressive past and enjoyed her humorous slide presentation as well. After the presentation, she was able to draw many interesting questions from the students, such as how she had the courage to start her own business.

Mrs. Russo was able to draw many interesting questions from the students, such as how she had the courage to start her own business.After the lecture, in the HADM 4100 roundtable, students were able to learn more from Mrs. Russo with key takeaways including the importance of networking and the connections that she was able to form during her time at Cornell. She also spoke more to the relationship she has with her father as a business partner, and how to maintain work-life balance. Mrs. Russo has certainly learned a lot about how to run a successful business while still having a family of three sons and a supportive husband.


  1. Philippe Souroujon March 25, 2016 at 6:09 pm - Reply

    Wow great accomplishments

  2. Hospitality geek April 5, 2016 at 2:15 am - Reply

    Michelle explained the best

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