April 26, 2010 by

Winners Announced for Inaugural Essay Competition

On the afternoon of April 22, the Cornell HR Review held an awards ceremony for its annual essay competition. Open to all Cornell students, this year’s competition challenged students to respond to one of three prompts, which addressed such topics as talent management, the right to organize, and the essentiality of HR. Prizes for the competition included $500 for first place and $400 for second, as well as in-kind prizes other top finishers.

The Review’s Editorial Board narrowed down the pool of entries to the competition’s four best, then an independent panel of judges representing the Review’s stakeholders (students, academicians, and HR professionals) determined the winners. This year’s final round judges panel included ILR School student Kurt Johnson (Cornell MILR ’10), ILR School professor Chris Collins, and Corning Incorporated HR manager Shay Barlow (Cornell BSILR ’03). Mr. Barlow keynoted the event, expounding his work experiences with Eaton, Microsoft, and Corning since graduating from the ILR School and expressing his support for the mission of the Review.

The event, which was emceed by CHRR vice president Ryan McAllister (Cornell MILR ’11), was attended by ILR School Dean Harry Katz and MILR Program Director Regina Duffey Moravek. Nathan Sheranian (MILR ’11) garnered the first place prize for his essay, A Fine Balance: Effectively Managing Growth and Contraction. “I was certainly caught off-guard,” Mr. Sheranian said about the win. “Each day, I am surrounded by brilliant and talented classmates, so I was not expecting to win…. Before coming to Cornell, my professional experiences were at fairly new organizations, scattered among several different functions outside of HR. As I moved from role to role, I kept seeing commonalities in talent management pitfalls in periods of growth and decline. Incidentally, these experiences were a major factor in my decision to pursue HR as a career, and the Cornell HR Review Essay Competition provided an ideal forum to articulate my observations.”

Second place for the competition went to John Sherman (BSILR ’11), whose essay offered three suggestions for managing through economic change. Additionally, Evan Fowler-Guzzardo (MILR ’10) was awarded third place, and Joshua Rosenberg Daneri (MILR ’11) took home an honorable mention.

Ann Kubricky (Cornell MILR ’11), who serves as president of the ILR Graduate Student Association and who also participated in the competition, noted the caliber and professionalism of the participants and organizers, commenting that she looks forward to participating in future CHRR functions. “Events like the HR Review competition encourage independent thought, friendly competition, and active participation. This was the first event offered to a MILR that was an open, voluntary, and scholastic competition; and I felt the students who competed, attended, and organized this event have a heightened interest in HR and the ILR School.”

Details regarding the next annual essay competition will be posted on the Review’s website in February 2011. ℵ


  1. A Mike Lynch cartoon humorously depicts a supervisor sitting at his desk and remarking to his subordinate, “Incentive plan? Your paycheck clears. How’s that for incentive?” Discuss how and to what extent talent management practices should differ between times of economic prosperity and times of economic hardship.
  2. In NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp. (1937), the Supreme Court declared, “Self-organization… is a fundamental right. Employees have as clear a right to organize and select their representatives for lawful purposes as [the employer] has to organize its business and select its own officers and agents.” Discuss the applicability of this opinion today and its implications for HR.
  3. Recent economic hardships have prompted many companies to decrease employee headcounts in “less essential” business functions, including HR in some instances. Explain where HR fits into the spectrum of business essentiality and what you believe HR’s sustainable value proposition to be.


1st Place: Nathan J. Sheranian html | pdf

2nd Place: John Sherman html | pdf

3rd Place: Evan M. Fowler-Guzzardo html | pdf

Honorable Mention: Joshua D. Rosenberg Daneri html | pdf

2010 Essay Competition Winners: (left to right) Josh Rosenberg Daneri, Evan Fowler-Guzzardo, John Sherman, Nathan Sheranian

Competition judge Kurt Johnson (right) converses with third-place finisher Evan Fowler-Guzzardo following the ceremony

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