Real Humans of MBA Students: UCLA Anderson MBA Class of 2023
Hometown: Rochester, NY
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Brown University, Double Major, Economics and Modern Culture & Media
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 3 years in venture capital specializing in strategy, operations, and growth marketing for early-stage portfolio companies
Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
My career in venture capital provided the incredible opportunity to work with early-stage portfolio companies – and very talented business operators – as they were building new ventures from the ground up. At this scale, you wear many hats and are exposed to all facets of a business. I developed a passion for growth marketing, so that’s where I specialized. I also collaborated closely with data analysts, product managers, sales teams, customer service reps, engineers, and c-suite officers every day as we worked on bringing innovative new solutions to market. It was a thrilling, challenging, and highly educational way to begin my career; however, my personal interests have always revolved around the intersection of technology and entertainment. When the pandemic struck – fundamentally altering the evolution of content creation and consumption – I felt compelled to return to school so I could pivot into the industry and help shape its future amidst widespread disruption. I love music, film/tv, and new media, and aspire to support creators across these disciplines.
Why did you choose UCLA Anderson? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
UCLA Anderson was the clear choice given my career aspirations. In my opinion, there’s no better place to be if you’re interested in exploring opportunities at the intersection of technology and media/entertainment. Anderson has incredible, unique connections with companies across these industries. Its alumni network spans film studios, streamers, and major media and tech players – leaders in their organizations who are driving innovation around the way we all experience our favorite content. As a student, you get unparalleled access to these alumni, whether it be through Anderson-facilitated events or your own personal outreach. And of course, being located in Los Angeles places you at the epicenter of the whole tech-media ecosystem.
On campus, Anderson also offers a number of incredible resources that stood out to me during my evaluation process. The Parker Career Center, for example, is truly second to none – not only are they deeply invested in the success of their MBA students, they are also highly organized in their methodology. The MEMES Center (Management of Enterprise in Media, Entertainment, & Sports) provides excellent programming too, including A-list speakers.
Finally – and most importantly – I really identified with the current students and alumni that I was fortunate enough to connect with during the application process. People at Anderson are highly motivated, entrepreneurial, interested in arts and culture, and adventurous. It’s been a blast taking advantage of all that LA has to offer with my cohort; I certainly feel like my gut instinct has paid off, and that I’m making lifelong connections and friends.
What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the UCLA MBA Class of 2023?
I think I bring unique experience to the table from my time in venture capital. When you work in early-stage companies, you have to operationalize the business while driving it forward through customer acquisition and sales. That means building out the necessary tech for each business unit, creating processes for cross-team collaboration, and so forth – all from scratch. This is different from working for larger companies where these kinds of internal tools and protocols are already in place. It was often tedious work, but I gained a valuable 360-degree perspective on how all the various parts of a business are assembled and coordinated.
Tell us a fun fact that didn’t get included on your application:
My favorite thing to do is share music with friends and family. I play electric guitar, but now pour most of my energy into discovering new musical artists and expanding my library. I love trying to decipher what might appeal to someone else, so I can introduce them to something new or unexpected. This spring, I designed and launched a weekly newsletter featuring an 8-song cross-genre playlist (plus a full album recommendation) that I curate based on my latest explorations. It’s called “Here You Go” and I’ve been excited about the response from everyone that has subscribed so far. It keeps me in touch with old friends and family members, and provides a great way to connect with new people here at Anderson and in LA. Here’s the subscription link for anyone that’s interested in adding some new tunes to their rotation: bit.ly/hereyougosignup
Post-MBA career interests:
I’m hoping to combine my entrepreneurial skillset (strategy/operations and marketing) with an innovative area of growth in the tech x entertainment ecosystem. At the moment, I’m agnostic about the specific area within entertainment and am therefore exploring many opportunities – I think there are exciting developments across music, film/tv, new media, and gaming. There is also an ever-increasing amount of crossover among these industries – just think of virtual concerts in Fortnite, Netflix’s acquisition of the gaming company Night School Studio, and the rise of YouTube TV. In fact, if I could drill down to a more specific objective, it would be to work closely with creators and/or content on multiplying these kinds of intersectional opportunities in order to create new experiences for fans as well as revenue opportunities for creators.
Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Talk to current students (or recent alumni) at the schools you are interested in – or with people in your network that have gone to business school. It sounds obvious (because it is) but it ultimately provides the best “data” for your evaluation process.
Tap friends, family, and coworkers for connections that have gone through the MBA process or attend(ed) your target schools, and try to schedule conversations with them. Every business school also hosts information sessions during/after the application process (i.e. before the deadline) – this is a great way to study how each program presents itself, and to hear from panels of current students about their experiences in order to get a sense for the kind of people/culture that exists at each place.
–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
I would have been less focused on rankings in the beginning, and more focused on culture, career outcomes, and company/industry connections at each of the schools. It’s easy to get caught up in internet forums about school ranking, but in my opinion, this metric should be subordinate to more critical considerations like: With which industries or companies does this program have strong connections? What does the typical breakdown of internship and career outcomes look like for students? How important is location and social culture and is it relevant for career aspirations? Once you start to investigate these questions – through self-reflection, analyzing recruitment data on programs’ websites, and seeking out individuals with relevant experience – you’ll realize that these programs are all quite different from one another. Therefore, basing a decision on ranking might not be in your best interest. In my case, I was ultimately choosing between UCLA Anderson and an M7 business school. I couldn’t be happier with my decision.
–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
Tough question – I’m not sure I have great advice here! There wasn’t much about the process that felt skippable; it’s certainly a big investment of time. I would just say trust your gut. Definitely take the time to fully explore your options, but trust yourself when you feel you’ve acquired enough information to move on.
What is your initial impression of the UCLA Anderson students/culture/community?
I am extremely happy with the Anderson community. My classmates are ambitious and intelligent, but also down to earth and excited to meet one another. Anderson’s mantra – “Share Success” – is no gimmick. The people here are really invested in the collective success of the class. Big shoutout to the class of 2022, in particular, for dedicating so much of their busy schedules to supporting us first-year students in the career search process. Lastly, going to school in Los Angeles is an incredible opportunity. Anderson students are adventurous, and definitely take advantage of all that this amazing city (and the west coast) has to offer.
What is one thing you have learned about UCLA Anderson that has surprised you?
I’m repeating myself, but it’s worth emphasizing — the culture of shared success at Anderson is very real. It’s one thing to hear current students talk about it in a Zoom room during the application process, and quite another to experience it in real life. I’m so impressed with the depth of knowledge that second year students (and of course our Parker advisors) are able to offer us, and with their eagerness to pay it forward. For example, second year students lead “Anderson Career Teams” and “Interview Prep Teams”, which are organized by industry (Tech, Entertainment, Finance, etc.). My own entertainment career team has provided an excellent crash-course on the industry that has given me direction during my search process.
Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how?
The pandemic definitely played a role in my decision to return to school. It has brought about radical change for entertainment and technology. Some of that change is entirely new and some is the result of an acceleration of trends that preceded the pandemic. Regardless, many companies are having to rethink their strategies. As a result, I think we are experiencing an unprecedented window of opportunity for MBA candidates to enter the industry at a dynamic moment and help drive innovations that will fundamentally redefine content creation, distribution, and consumption.
What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Business school throws so many exciting opportunities at you, it can be overwhelming. There is definitely some anxiety at the front-end as you are forced to prioritize your time (like never before) and decide what commitments are truly most meaningful to you. But – ultimately – it’s a very productive experience because it directs you to the right path.
What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I’m excited to continue getting to know my cohort and exploring Los Angeles with them. I also recently took on a role as Director of Music for Anderson’s Entertainment Management Association, one of the professional clubs that helps organize learning/career opportunities for students. My task is to help expand access to relevant companies, roles, and alumni across the music industry for Anderson students. I’m looking forward to meeting change-makers in a space that I care deeply about!