2023 Best & Brightest Business Major: Andrew Darby, Cornell University (Dyson)

Andrew Darby

Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business

“Driven by questions, fueled by grit and gratitude, called to serve.”

Fun fact about yourself: I am passionate about NOAA catch-and-release shark tagging. They are such beautiful animals and seeing them up close is really special. My sisters, who love swimming in the ocean, wish I would stick to golf.

Hometown: Buffalo, New York

High School: Nichols School

Major: Applied Economics and Management

Minor: Leadership

Favorite Business Course: Strategy

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

Crossroads LLC, Co-Founder and Co-CEO

Dyson Undergraduate Council, President and Vice President of Student Development

Social Enterprise Group at Cornell, Project Manager

Dyson Dean’s Student Advisory Council, Senior Class Representative

Teaching Assistant for Strategy

Head Teaching Assistant for Cooperative Business Management

Research Assistant for Cornell Law School

Research Assistant for SC Johnson College of Business

Dyson Leadership Fellow

Daniel Cane Entrepreneurial Scholar

Dyson Scholar

Dyson Summer Community Project

Rubin Leon Memorial Award

Where have you interned during your college career?

Summer 2022: Ernst & Young, Business Consulting Intern

Summer 2021: Western New York Impact Investment Fund, Analyst

Where will you be working after graduation? McKinsey & Company, Business Analyst

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? The biggest lesson I have learned from studying business is that for-profit enterprise and social impact not only can co-exist in harmony, but can promote one another. In high school, I started an organization called Wells for Tanzania that focused on learning about and increasing access to clean water in Tanzania. The group spread to a variety of schools in Western New York and Albany. Despite this traction, raising money was incredibly challenging. We ended up funding a deep-water well in Mamdi Mkongo, Tanzania, but scaling this impact remained incredibly challenging because we were constrained by the need to constantly fundraise.

Dyson has opened my eyes up to a completely new way of approaching social impact. Our motto is “Our Business is a Better World.” In the classroom, research, and the work of other students, I have been fortunate to see the many ways this can take shape. Rather than a traditional non-profit structure, I have learned that firms that ingrain social impact into their business model are able to drive impact in an accelerated and sustainable way.

I continue to see the incredible value of the non-profit sector, but Dyson has shown me the ways that business is uniquely positioned to address many of the challenges that face the world today.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? My advice would be to not be afraid to do things differently. Throughout my time in Dyson, I often felt like I wasn’t cut out to be the business student that I knew my classmates to be (I have since learned this is not such an uncommon thought for business majors). In the spring semester of my sophomore year, I was rejected from a business fraternity on campus, and this ended up being one of the best things to happen to me during my time at Cornell. After a demanding recruitment process, I was incredibly disappointed because I felt like I wouldn’t be able to follow the traditional business student path – and because I thought that maybe, even my very best, wasn’t good enough. The additional time that I had allowed me to look into things I was genuinely interested in – particularly international development. This resulted in me co-founding Crossroads, which has been a highlight of my time at Cornell and has allowed me to differentiate myself in a way that I wouldn’t have been able to if I followed a more “traditional path.”

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? What has surprised me most is the people. I knew I would be meeting incredible people in the business school environment, but the extent of it continues to amaze me. When I think of these individuals, I think of Andrea Poag, Director of Students Services. I know I speak for many in saying that her dedication and unceasing care defines the student experience. Her example has served as an inspiration to me throughout my time in Dyson, and words simply fall short when describing her impact. I have also been inspired by my classmates. I have been blessed to be surrounded by a community of people that really are changing the world, whether it be Gary Phan building out a complex chrome extension to bring sustainable fashion to the forefront of people’s purchasing decisions; Karina Popovich leading a global initiative called “Makers for Change” which created and distributed tens of thousands of 3D-printed personal protective gear (yes, she has her own Wikipedia page); or Rumbidzai Mangwende creating “EthosSphere,” the world’s first marketplace and educational platform for textured hair,

What business leader do you admire most? I most admire my dad. He is the third-generation president of a transformer manufacturing company, and I likely would not be studying business if not for him. He is my role model in business and in life – and has set a very high standard in both that I can only hope to one day approach. He is the kind of person who starts his days before 5 am. My dad is the most disciplined and hardest-working person that I know. He often tells me and my sisters that regardless of the result, doing your very best is what really counts. What has made this advice meaningful is watching him live it. My dad, day-in-and-day-out, gives his all in business and life, and he is my daily inspiration in what it looks like to be a leader in business.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of being co-founder and Co-CEO of Crossroads. Crossroads is a social enterprise LLC founded at Cornell that sells a variety of clothing, custom merchandise, and accessory products from hard-working entrepreneurs in Nigeria, giving them access to additional economic opportunities in the US. Crossroads then uses all of its profits to fund a school and health clinic in the Jeida Village of Nigeria. I see this business as a tangible expression of what I have learned in Dyson – that business truly can drive social impact. Through this work, I have had the privilege of working with an incredible team at Cornell and an amazing group of entrepreneurs in Nigeria. Starting a business has been an education in itself and has been a real highlight of my college experience.

Which classmate do you most admire? I most admire Anna Haraka ‘24. What feels like ages ago, I interviewed Anna for the Dyson Undergraduate Council. In the group interview, she eagerly took initiative by offering to take notes for the group – this became known as “pulling an Anna.” Since then, we have worked together on the Executive Board of Dyson Undergraduate Council, as project managers for Social Enterprise Group Cornell, in groups for various classes, on the Dean’s Student Advisory Council, and as co-founders and Co-CEOs of Crossroads. In each of these spaces, I have continued to get a better-and-better idea of all that it means to “pull an Anna”. She redefines what it looks like to be a dedicated team member and she meets all that she does with an unparalleled level of passion and energy that is simply contagious. She is the most gifted business student that I know, and I am daily inspired by her as a student, leader, and friend. It has been a privilege to work with and learn from Anna.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? The list of people I am grateful for is long, but the people at the top of the list are my parents – specifically, my mom. My mom is the most caring and selfless person that I know. I recognize that it is somewhat of a cliché to be publicly thanking a parent, but I genuinely believe that I could not ask for a more amazing person to be able to call my mom. The ways that she has cared about and prioritized me and my sisters has set an inspiring example for me of what it looks like to care deeply about others. She has and continues to love me completely unconditionally. For that, I am forever indebted to her.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I would love to one day start a social enterprise dedicated to supporting smallholder farmers in food insecure areas of the world. To think that hundreds of millions of people go to sleep on an empty stomach every night is an unfathomable reality. I believe socially impactful business is in a unique position to target these kinds of global challenges, and I want to one day be on the front lines of this work.

I also am passionate about work that gives formerly incarcerated individuals opportunities for successful reentry and redemption. As the award-winning Edwin’s restaurant puts it, “Every human being, regardless of their past, has a right to a fair and equal future,” and I would love to one day support this kind of work.

What are your hobbies?


Reading (mainly theology, philosophy, and health science)


Buffalo Bills (yes, a football team can be a hobby, especially if you are from Buffalo)


Exploring nature

Quality time with family and friends



What made Andrew such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“The Dyson School is full of top-notch students who excel in many areas of their lives, however, when asked to name one student to highlight, Andrew Darby’s name was out of my mouth before the question was finished. He is simply one of the most extraordinary students I have worked with in my 25 years in higher education. Andrew not only excels in the classroom but is also as a leader among his peers. He has served as a teaching assistant as well as president of the Dyson Undergraduate Council (DUC) during his time on campus. While his leadership and academic performance are impressive, the genuine care and compassion he shows to those around him is what truly sets him apart.

He lives the Dyson ethos of “Our Business is a World” by his drive to help others grow into compassionate leaders. This drive is on full display through his co-founding of Crossroads. Crossroads provides Nigerian entrepreneurs economic opportunities by selling their products in the United States. The profits are sent back to support a health clinic and school in the Jeida Village of Nigeria. When Crossroads was created, it was created as an evergreen venture within Dyson, to ensure the next generation of students could continue to bring positive impact to our world.”

Andrea Poag, Director of Student Services and Advising
Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management
Cornell SC Johnson College of Business
Cornell University


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