Maggie Lo, MMH’15
Originally from sunny California, Maggie and her family moved to Ithaca for the year while she completed the MMH program. Maggie and her husband, Kevin, are the most wonderful parents to their adorable toddler, Madison, and amazing role models for all of us.
Why Cornell? Why Hotel School?
I never really thought about going to grad school, but somehow it found its way to me. My mother-in-law came to Ithaca to help my husband’s cousin move in when he got accepted as an undergrad at Cornell. She told me how beautiful the campus was and I went online to look at pictures of the school. As I was looking up pictures of the school, I remembered a friend of mine attended the hotel school as an undergrad and I was curious if they offered a Master’s program as well. I had been working at Panda Restaurant Group for 5 years, but always wanted to start my own business in hospitality. When I came across the MMH program and saw that it was a 12-month intensive business program in hospitality and one of the best in the world, I knew I had to apply.
Why did you pick your concentration?
My concentration is self-directed with a specific focus in entrepreneurship. My goal coming to this program was always to pursue my passion of starting a business. Initially, I had thought about going in the real estate/finance concentration because it was an area of opportunity for me to learn a new skill set. However, there are only so many classes one can take in a 12 month program and I wanted to maximize my time here by taking as many entrepreneurship courses offered as possible. The Pillsbury Institute was instrumental in helping me make decisions on which classes to take. Here is a list of all the entrepreneurship courses offered at the hotel school: https://www.hotelschool.cornell.edu/industry/centers/pihe/education.html
What’s your best advice for prospective MMH candidate?
If you have a passion in hospitality and want to take that next step in your career, this is the program for you! If you are an aspiring entrepreneur who wants to start a business in hospitality, this is the program for you! Don’t let fear of the unknown stop you from reaching your dreams. It has been such a growing experience for me to take the leap in coming to Ithaca.
What are your career plans after MMH?
My plan after MMH is to launch Oh Momma! Center, a membership-based fitness, wellness, and social center for mothers. I pitched the concept in Professor Tarallo’s Developing a Business Plan class and had 3 fellow MMHers, Regine Desroches, Hirman Ahmad, and Ashton Liu, work with me on my business plan. We also competed in the 2015 Hospitality Business Plan Competition and after two rounds of judging, we were in the top 5 and presented in front of judges during HEC. It was such an incredible experience and I had the best time working with my Oh Momma! team. I am excited to continue on this journey after graduation and bring my vision to fruition.
What is your most memorable MMH moment?
Two of the most MMH moment is presenting my business concept with my team. The first was our final presentation in Professor Tarallo’s class and the second was presenting on stage in front of judges, professors, and all our classmates at HEC. After many hours and late nights of practicing, there is an incredible adrenaline rush that comes with presenting something you are truly passionate about and have worked so hard on in front of so many people.
Another fun and memorable MMH moment was going to watch Pitch Perfect 2 with almost 20 of my classmates after our very last presentation on finals week!!
Where in Ithaca were you able to find good food?
For Asian food, I enjoy Saigon Kitchen, Spicy Asian, or Asia Cuisine. Any family-friendly restaurant is great for us! One place my family has really enjoyed is Ithaca Beer Company which has good food and is surprisingly very kid-friendly! I also love Ithaca Bakery and Ithaca Coffee Company!