2020 Best & Brightest: Samay Bansal, Cornell (Hotel Administration)

Samay Bansal

School of Hotel Administration, SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell University

“A foodie at heart. Always in search of the next great place to break bread.”

Fun fact about yourself: I have over 80 unique pairs of socks that I wear regularly.

Hometown: Singapore

High School: United World College of South East Asia

Major: Hotel Administration

Concentration: Corporate Food and Beverage Operations – Services, Marketing, and Operations Management.

Favorite Business Course: Restaurant Development with Professor Stephani Robson

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:


  • School of Hotel Administration Dean’s Student Advisory Board, Member
  • Statler Hotel, Banquets Kitchen Manager
  • Hotel Ezra Cornell, Assistant Function Manager (Culinary)
  • Member, Hotel Leadership Development Program
  • National Restaurant Association (Cornell Chapter), Vice President of Finance; Founder, Million Meals Mission


  • Teaching Assistant for Financial Accounting
  • Academic Success Program Tutor for Financial Accounting
  • Hotel Ezra Cornell


  • School of Hotel Administration, Dean’s List
  • School of Hotel Administration, Ye Hosts Honour Society
  • Tufts University, Dean’s List; Scholarship Recipient
  • Hyatt Hotels Fund for Minority Lodging Management Students

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • Armani Hotel, Dubai, UAE; Rotational Front of House Food and Beverage Intern
  • RPM Steak, Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants. Chicago, IL, Rotational Managerial Front of House Intern
  • Zeemart, Singapore, Business Development and Strategy Intern

Where will you be working after graduation? Undecided!

Who is your favorite professor? My favorite professor is Dr. Stephani Robson. Dr. Robson taught me restaurant development and hospitality development and planning. Her passion for the subject area is contagious and through my conversations with her, I learned a lot about my own interest in the field of restaurant development and behavioral economics. Her insights are invaluable and her candor helped me grow as an individual. Dr. Robson deeply cares about supporting her students’ interests, and has been pivotal in my experience at the School of Hotel Administration.

What did you enjoy most about your business school? The community at the School of Hotel Administration is incredible. All of the students and faculty are extremely passionate about hospitality and love sharing their experiences and their unique perspectives. The alumni are so gracious with their time and are always willing to share knowledge with you and speak candidly about their journey. The people at the Hotel School are so special; each person has left an impression on me and I look forward to continuing to build relationships until the day I graduate.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? There are opportunities everywhere and you need to be vigilant to see how your skill-set (or the skill-sets of those around you) can be utilized to pursue these opportunities. There is always more value to be added – you just need to go out and find it.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field?  Do it. If there is any inclination in your heart to pursue business, you should absolutely do it. My philosophy for choosing a major was this: I owe it to myself to give myself the best shot at my current version of success. For me, that was studying business through the lens of food and beverage. Business is interdisciplinary and if it’s not entirely what you like, you might discover another passion in the process!

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? Pursuing a major in business has shown me that the field truly has something for everyone. There is enough breadth in the ‘world of business’ to cater to anyone’s specialties. I now realize that the scope for opportunity is endless; working in one company you can see what the market needs and create that solution. The market often feels saturated with businesses, but there are a countless number of undiscovered opportunities out there.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of my non-profit, Million Meals Mission. The organization allows me to help support global efforts of reducing food insecurity while I am in school. Currently, Million Meals Mission provides meals to people in North India, Cambodia, and most recently, in Madagascar. The potential for growth is limitless and I am excited to continue working on the organization.

Which classmate do you most admire? A classmate I really admire is Vincent Forand. Vincent works so hard in every class and his involvement in HEC (Hotel Ezra Cornell – a student-run hospitality conference hosted at the SHA each year) is second-to-none. Additionally, he co-founded Period. The Menstrual Movement and has completely changed the conversation surrounding feminine hygiene products. The organization has made remarkable strides in awareness raising and has ‘served’ over 800,000 periods nationwide.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I want to thank my parents for any successes I have experienced. They did an incredible job allowing me to pursue my dreams and supported me in my decision to transfer to Cornell. Without their constant encouragement and belief in me, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I am grateful for everything they do for me and hope to make them proud.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I want to open and manage a finer-dining restaurant, and I want to work with a hotel group to create a larger-than-life pop-up event.

What are your hobbies? My hobbies include photography, storytelling, listening to Frank Sinatra’s vinyls, eating great food, tasting and learning about wine, and travel.

What made Samay such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“Samay is a natural leader who loves understanding the why behind everything. A dedicated scholar with interests that span behavioral economics, entrepreneurship, restaurant operations and development, Samay also a force on the Dean’s Student Advisory Board and in the Hotel Leadership Development Program where he works multiple shifts in our on-site hotel while learning to lead his fellow students. On top of all this and his heavy course load, Samay is working to create a peer mentoring program for transfer students and applying what he’s learning in the classroom to some real-world consulting projects in his native Singapore. Need it done and done well? Ask Samay — he’ll do it with smarts and a smile.”

Stephani Robson
Senior Lecturer
School of Hotel Administration


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