Dax HowardMILR/MBA '16

Human Resources & Organizations

Phoenix, AZ

Dax Howard

Why ILR?

I came into Cornell purely as an MBA student. I wanted more Organizational Behavior (OB) exposure, though, as when I built my last business, this is really what held me back. Things like accounting and finance, though I didn’t know them well myself, I could always hire someone for. Yet building a great organization is something the CEO must be hands on with. When I asked around, I was told over and over that ILR is where all the best OB classes and labs were.

My Favorite Class

To be honest, I’ve enjoyed all of the classes at MILR, which was a surprise to me. I didn't have a lot of interest in labor and other MILR topics when I applied. I actually hesitated applying at first because I didn’t have interest in those subjects, and I was worried the core would be too restrictive. I have to say, though, the professors have been so good that I’ve gotten something out of even the classes I didn’t think I'd like.

Of course there were some classes I really did like as well. Professor Lawler’s commitment to organizations was probably my favorite. We went in depth into the social science literature on why people form groups, which translated into how you can improve Key Performance Indicators in your company by creating a better employee experience.  This has huge ROI in the real world, particularly in entrepreneurship, where you don’t always have the cash to just pay people more. You need to have creative ways of making them feel like they’re getting what they deserve (and therefore staying motivated)—ones that are less costly than just throwing around money.

Peers and Cheers

I don’t want to mislead anybody into thinking we’ve found world peace here or something, but MILR is a community like any other and it has all the pros and cons that any small, close-knit community does. Yet I’ve been very impressed with a number of my classmates. One colleague, whose open mindedness, deep contemplation, and even temper, is always reminding me that I can be a better person. Some of my other peers and I share a lot of the same professional interests, which has led to a much deeper friendships. We have classmates that were stay at home dads, students who faced down strikers armed with machetes, a woman who was in HR for a university for many years, and guys I do martial arts with. It’s really broadened my horizons.

More About Dax

  • Internship Experience: Deloitte Human Capital
  • Prior Employment/Industry: Entrepreneur
  • Undergraduate Degree: Leadership Studies