2024 Best & Brightest MBA: Frank Hager, Cornell University (Johnson)

Frank Hager

Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell University

“Dedicated family man driven by meaningful relationships, continuous learning and hard work.”

Hometown: Berkeley Heights, New Jersey

Fun fact about yourself: I am one of eight children, and my youngest brother, Kevin, is currently a freshman here at Cornell. My daughter Ellie and son Frankie III love it when Uncle Kevin comes over for dinner.

Undergraduate School and Degree

Undergraduate: Cornell University, Economics

Graduate: Cornell University, MPS in Management

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Cornell University, Assistant Varsity Baseball Coach

Where did you intern during the summer of 2023? Morgan Stanley, New York City

Where will you be working after graduation? Morgan Stanley, New York City

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Roy H. Park Fellowship – Merit-based Full Scholarship for Demonstrated Leadership
  • Co-president, Old Ezra Finance Club
  • Co-president, RallyCap Sports
  • Head of Investor Relations and Portfolio Manager, Cayuga Fund
  • Conference planning committee, Johnson Private Equity & Credit Club
  • Teaching Assistant, Investment Banking Immersion
  • Teaching Assistant, Financial Statement Analysis
  • Teaching Assistant, Topics in ESG Investing
  • Dean’s List (Top 10% of class) 2023 Semesters

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Along with classmate Brad Rutkin, I served as co-president of Old Ezra Finance Club, the oldest club at Johnson, with over 200 members. This professional club offers recruiting pathways, interview preparation, and general career support for students pursuing a career in finance. I am particularly proud of the Class of 2024’s unwavering dedication in assisting the Class of 2025 during their internship search, exemplifying Johnson’s “pay-it-forward” culture.

The hard work resulted in internships at Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Evercore and Lazard, among many others. There is nothing better than the shared excitement across the club’s Slack channel, over phone calls and via text messages after an internship offer is secured.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Before business school, I served as the assistant baseball coach at Cornell. I benefited from incredible teachers and coaches throughout my life who helped shape me through their guidance and mentorship. As a coach, my goal was to provide the same mentorship to the 35 players.

In my professional career, I am most proud of the phone calls from those former players celebrating something important in their lives, knowing the small impact I had during their formative college years. While winning percentage is the most quantifiable measurement of success, the most important measure is a coach’s quality of relationships, level of connection, and positive impact on players. Professionally, I am most proud of the wedding invitations, holiday cards, birth announcements and overall relationships I have with my former players.

Frank and Ellie

Why did you choose this business school? Family is a huge part of my life. When I met with Johnson students, professors, and administrators during my business school search, my wife and I knew that Johnson would be the right place for our family.

The Princeton Review ranks Johnson as the No. 1 “Most Family-Friendly” business school for good reason; with parks, hiking trails, childcare and a community feel, Ithaca is a fantastic place to spend two years with a family. Johnson layers on more family support through the Johnson Joint Ventures Club, a club for partners and families of students. My classmates have embraced my wife and kids as part of their community. Our 2-year-old, Ellie, is a regular at Thursday Sage Socials, where she is the best networker in the MBA cohort.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Sanjeev Bhojraj, Alumni Professor in Asset Management, is an encyclopedia of knowledge in the financial markets. Engaging an audience of 50 second-year MBA students in April and May is just as challenging as beating the stock market. But in his two-and-a-half-hour Search for Alpha class, Sanjeev has the full attention of the entire class.

Sanjeev’s passion for financial markets is met equally by his passion for thoughtful debate and critical thinking. He disputes commonly held investing beliefs, supporting arguments with both academic research and practical experience. Outside of his teaching and research duties, Sanjeev is a co-founder and portfolio manager of a hedge fund that combines quantitative expertise, behavioral finance, and fundamental analysis. He applies the same intensity and thoughtfulness to our classroom debates as he does to his investment committee meetings.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Every fall, our South Asian Business Club hosts a vibrant Diwali celebration, attended by over 200 members of the Johnson community. This event features traditional Indian performances, food, and festivities. Watching my core team colleagues from India share their culture was a standout moment for me last year.

Diwali, Lunar New Year, and Carnaval are three Johnson traditions that draw significant participation from our diverse student body, offering events of cultural immersion.

What is the biggest myth about your school? “Ithaca is in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do.” I think Ithaca is a fantastic place for two years of learning and personal growth. As a rural city, it naturally forced me to spend time with my classmates, quite a different experience than going to school in a city. Its location creates a natural community amongst the MBA cohort. The wineries, breweries, farmers markets, ski mountain and town festivals provide plenty of action.

At the same time, I spent many days in New York City for classes, conferences, networking and recruiting. Cornell Tech’s Roosevelt Island campus and the Cornell Club became my home away from home throughout my two years.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? Ithaca offers a diversity of activities to enjoy outside the confines of Sage Hall. We love family Saturday mornings with the variety of activities: eating breakfast burritos at the Ithaca Farmers Market while watching the Cornell crew team row on Cayuga Lake; running around the exhibits of the Sciencenter or the jungle gym at Stewart Park; golfing at Robert Trent Jones Golf Course or RaNic Golf Club; watching pretty much any Cornell sporting event; or hiking Taughannock Falls State Park followed by lunch at Ithaca Beer Co.

What surprised you the most about business school? I was surprised by the intimate interactions with incredibly accomplished alumni. I ate lunch with nine other students and the co-founder of Wayfair, Steve Conine ’95; I helped host a 20-person “fireside chat” with former State Street Global Advisors CEO Cyrus Taraporevala ’90; Procter & Gamble CEO Jon Moeller ’86 and Domino’s CFO Sandeep Reddy ’96 guest lectured my classes.

As a liberal arts undergrad major, I studied mostly economic theory. I was most surprised to be learning actual practice from C-suite alumni leading Fortune 500 companies.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I deeply admire Patience Mukandi ’24, especially for her remarkable achievements during the challenging internship recruiting process last fall. The first-year fall semester is known for its intensity, marked by daily informational sessions and networking events that signify the onset of summer internship recruitment, all compounded by the rigor of core classes. Despite these challenges, Patience, who was pregnant with her third child at the time, not only navigated classes and recruiting, but also secured an investment banking job offer just weeks after delivering.

In addition to her ability to balance family life and achieve high academic and professional success, Patience has significantly contributed to the Johnson community as a Forté ambassador, Cayuga Fund portfolio manager, and Environmental Finance and Impact Investing Fellow. Her resilience and commitment to both personal and professional responsibilities have earned my utmost respect.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I want to merge my experience in baseball and finance into a career in sports business. Given the complex ownership dynamics of professional teams, often spanning generations, there’s a growing demand for innovative financial solutions both for growth and liquidity. I’m drawn to the dynamic intersection of sports and finance.

Second, I want to be a positive role model. As one of the older associates, I hope to provide some perspective to the younger members of the team. My role models have influenced me greatly, and I aspire to pass on that influence in both personal and professional realms.

What made Frank such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2024?

“Johnson’s MBA program relies heavily upon dedicated and talented student leaders to enable and empower student success. At the top of the list of all-time great student leaders is Frank Hager — gifted, humble, focused, sincere, generous, and team-first. In his first year, Frank led his classmates from the front, setting a consistent tone of excellence in the classroom. In his second year, he paved the path of success for a full third of the first-year class by flawlessly executing a rigorous fall recruitment process — in a difficult market environment — in his role of co-president of the Old Ezra Finance Club. Now, as a teaching assistant for my Investment Banking class, I have a true partner who teaches, explains and motivates me as well as he practices. While Frank’s individual accomplishments leave no doubt of his limitless talent, it is his incomparable leadership of others that will leave an indelible mark on the Johnson community for years to come.”

Drew Pascarella
Senior Lecturer of Finance
Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management


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