Finding True North

ILR Excels in Teaching the Value of Relationships
Rob Landau
Tuesday, January 16, 2018

One of the most important roles of a leader is to establish the culture of an organization, according to Rob Landau '91, Law '94, senior vice president of business operations and human resources, NBC Sports Group.

"You’re not going to be successful in any organization unless you get the culture right. To be successful, it starts with vision and relationships."

"ILR has a great track record in developing leadership," he said. Landau, whose brother, parents and grandfather attended Cornell, started his career as a labor lawyer and joined NBCUniversal as senior labor counsel, working into his current position, where he oversees human resources and business operations.

"You have to be authentic; you have to be true to yourself." Leadership is a very personal thing. In times of change, Landau explained, leaders must reassure the workforce. "You have to be able to put on a great face through adversity."

When negotiating, people might not get everything they want, but all parties should feel they were dealt with fairly, Landau said. Relationships are an important part of that. "You have to bend over backward to have relationships in place. You have to have ongoing respect and trust with those people on the other side of the table."

ILR is great at teaching students the importance of relationships, said Landau, a panelist at the Cornell ILR Sports Leadership Summit.

It's about finding true north.

"ILR has that," he said. "It has a strong moral compass." Professors are passionate. Students are smart and inquisitive. Students learn to listen to other people and draw on their expertise, a quality that translates well into the workplace, Landau said. For him, "that started at Cornell, an appreciation that there are a lot of smart people around."

Students at ILR learn to work hard. "You couldn't help but develop a work ethic at Cornell," he said. "You have to figure out a way to organize and prioritize." Those skills have helped him throughout his career, he said.

Landau supports ILR student mentoring and learning by way of internships at NBC. Test-driving job responsibilities and networking with professionals gives students insight and a foundation for landing jobs after graduation.

Joseph Ardolino '17 said his internship at NBC transformed theoretical concepts into valuable understandings. He participated in developing collective bargaining agreements and observed negotiations, along with other work experiences.

"At NBC Sports, one area we spend a lot of time on is developing people to be better managers," Landau said. But, ILR graduates already have those skills, in large part, because the program has taught them how to respond to change.

"The skills and technology are ever-changing, but as long as you give students the skill sets of how to adapt," success is in sight.