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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

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Secrets of Business Success

Dates: June 24-July 15, 2017 (3 weeks)
Credits: 3 credits
Eligibility: current sophomores, juniors, seniors
(see eligibility requirements)
Status: This program is now full and no longer accepting applications.


Have you ever thought about becoming the next Steve Jobs? Or imagined yourself as an investor on Shark Tank? In order to do either, you'll need to understand the basic principles of business strategy and the answer to a fundamental question: What makes some companies succeed while others fail?

In this three-week program, led by award-winning and nationally syndicated columnist and Cornell professor Sharon Poczter, you will be taught the frameworks used to analyze whether a company will be successful or not, and how companies grow if they are successful.

Professor Poczter will conduct the program in Socratic style, with class participation required and encouraged. This will help you improve your public speaking abilities and introduce you to the classroom environment you can expect at a top-tier university, putting you ahead of your peers in understanding how to be successful in college.

This program also can give you a leg up if you think business school might be in your future. It will expose you to the main concepts you'll need to understand in order to evaluate the success of businesses taught in MBA strategy courses. You'll learn which industry and firm-level characteristics lead to competitive advantage and how firms can expand geographically, in terms of product scope and across the supply chain, to strengthen this advantage.

And, this course can help you hone your skills as a future business leader. Business leaders today need to be successful communicators as well as consumers of information, so you'll discuss not only the business concepts themselves, but also the tools you'll need to become a high-level critical thinker and analyst of business issues. The course will teach you not only what to think when it comes to business strategy, but how to think like a business leader.

We will incorporate a framework unique to this class, using tools from statistics, economics, and logic, that you will be able to use across a wide variety of other courses in the future and that will help you become the type of critical thinker companies seek. Finally, in preparation for the data-driven business world, you will become comfortable with visual representations of data and learn how to "tell a story" through data.

Professor Poczter teaches in Cornell's top-ranked Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, which is a highly regarded leader in applying practical economic and management tools to solve the world's most significant business and social challenges. The Dyson School has as an international reputation for the quality and breadth of its research, undergraduate and graduate education, extension, and outreach. The school's undergraduate business program, among the largest and most selective majors at Cornell, is currently ranked in the top ten nationwide by both Bloomberg Businessweek and U.S. News and World Report.


Students will work in teams to complete two mini-case studies that incorporate concepts from class and apply them to real-life business decisions.

Course expectations

Students are expected to:

  • be entrepreneurial in their learning process (seeking out help, asking questions when needed);
  • strengthen communication skills by participating actively in classroom discussion;
  • develop critical thinking ability; and
  • learn how to work effectively in groups.


You’ll be enrolled in the three-credit course AEM 4940: Undergraduate Special Topics in AEM: Secrets of Business Success.

This course meets Mondays through Fridays from 9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.

Maximum enrollment: 73

Note: You may combine this program with any other three-week 2 program to create a six-week Dual Program.


Please note: Due to the high cost of the textbook, it is not required for the course. Class notes and participation will be the primary source of information for the course. The textbook is meant only for a reference. A small number of copies will be on reference in the library as well.

Title Author Cost
Contemporary Strategy Analysis , Wiley Publishers (8th edition). Robert Grant N/A

Special scheduling


  • Tuesday, July 4: In observance of Independence Day, we will not have classes.
  • Monday, July 10: College Admissions Workshop, 2:30–3:45 p.m.

Checkout dates and times

Before making travel plans, review the checkout dates and times for your program. We strictly adhere to these deadlines.

Program directors

Sharon Poczter

Sharon L. Poczter is a professor in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management in the Cornell College of Business. An award-winning teacher and researcher, she studies the issues facing firms, primarily in emerging markets.

Poczter's work is guided by the belief that business will solve the world's most pressing issues and that a critical mass of people can never be lifted out of poverty without a well-functioning private sector. Thus, her work is motivated by understanding how companies can thrive where institutions are not well-developed, particularly as it relates to access to financing. Her research has been published in leading peer-reviewed journals and garnered research awards at major conferences.

In her public work, Poczter is interested in uncovering the fallacies told to the general public regarding economics, policy, and social issues, using a truly independent lens based on economics. She exposes these fallacies in her nationally syndicated columns, which are featured in The Hill, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, American Banker, and Fox News, among other outlets. She has also commented on economic issues on major international and national radio and television programs, including several programs on Bloomberg Radio, Voice of America, and Fox News.

Poczter is a leading voice in the public conversation on women's leadership. Her economic take on a woman's choice to work was featured in Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, and she frequently writes and talks about this issue publicly.

A Cornell graduate herself, Poczter received her BS from the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. She also received her MA and PhD in business and public policy from the University of California Berkeley.

"There is nothing more important to me than educating others. The best part of my career has, and always will be, working with students. I believe my contribution to society is helping students become more adept at critical thinking and see the world through the unbiased lens of economics. Seeing my students get excited about business and motivated by the opportunity available to them in the business world and their ability to succeed is unbelievably rewarding." —Sharon Poczter

Student experiences

"I would definitely recommend Summer College to a friend. My course was informative and challenging, and I made close friends that I know I will keep for a lifetime. The weather was beautiful, the sunsets were breathtaking, and the people were unbelievably kind." — Karen Hsu, 2016