Why did you decide to pursue your MBA?
I’ve always wanted to get an MBA, and when I transitioned to my role at HBO I knew it was the ideal time. I love what I do, and I want to see how far I can climb at my company. Being relatively young in this industry, though, I knew I still had a lot to learn to take me to the next level. So it seemed like the perfect opportunity to go back to school and apply what I learn on the weekends to my job during the week. Being able to learn from other executives who are also working full time and going to school made the decision to pursue this program even more appealing.
Why did you choose Columbia?
It was a no brainer. Columbia was always my number one choice. Part of it was because I work in New York City. I knew I wanted to keep my job. I wanted to be able to directly apply what I was learning — go back to the office the next day and see how I could work it into my day-to-day tasks. I had to be in New York, and Columbia is the best business school that you could possibly go to in the city. Also, the network of people at the School is so impressive. I know people who have gone to Columbia, and I knew that this was a network I really wanted to join.
When you arrived on campus, what were your first impressions?
Honestly, at first I was a little intimidated. At orientation, they went through the list of all the different industries and accomplishments of my classmates, and it was super impressive. I was very excited and humbled to know I was going to be a part of that. I also noticed right away how interactive the classes were. It’s different from undergrad; you don’t feel as much like you’re just being lectured to. You’re in a room with a huge amount of talent and experience, which turns the classes into conversations more than lessons. You’re very involved, and you feel like you’re getting a wealth of knowledge and experience from your classmates as well as your professors.
What’s been your favorite part of the experience so far?
There are a lot of things I like, but there are probably two that stand out the most. The first is the friendships/network that I’ve built with the other students. Each class is broken up into clusters, and each cluster is a relatively small group, so we’ve all grown close. It’s nice to spend time with people who are like-minded and share the same passion for business and for their work. I wanted to get more involved, so now I’m also one of the student representatives for the EMBA Saturday program. I’ve been able to get to know my classmates on a deeper level by organizing the CBS Matters program. The second, I would say, is the satisfaction of learning things that are useful to everyday life. Being back in the classroom and having conversations about things that really matter has been refreshing. I missed that aspect of the academic environment.
What is it like going to business school in the city?
I don't know what it’s like going to business school anywhere else but I can’t imagine it could compare to New York City. You have everything at your fingertips here. We’ve had great speakers come in from Wall Street, the media, and other exciting industries; just a couple of weeks ago, we got to do a Q&A with both Bill Gates and Warren Buffett ’51 at the same time! Having such a wealth of great people available to us adds so much to the experience. Outside of school, my classmates and I are able to enjoy so many different activities together. We’ll often go out and try new restaurants or bars; classmates who are into dance have brought us to the ballet; we’ve taken day trips to the suburbs for golf and vineyard outings. There’s so much opportunity to do a lot, learn about each other, and try new things together being in New York. It’s made for a dynamic experience so far.
What are your long-term career goals?
I would like to see how far I can push myself up the executive ladder at HBO. I really enjoy working for this company. Right now, my focus is in the manufacturing and distribution side of operations, but home entertainment is a quickly evolving industry — going from DVDs and Blu-rays to digital streaming. I’d like to get a more holistic knowledge of operations in the media and entertainment industries, specifically in technology and information systems, and then see how I can use those competencies in what I’m doing at HBO. I want to be a leader in helping our department evolve as the industry continues to change. In the long term, hopefully that turns into having a really successful career here.
What will you take with you from your time at Columbia?
The number one thing I’ll take with me is the valuable friendships and relationships I’ve created. Even being here for less than a year, I've already met so many amazing people. Also, having a better, wider knowledge of all of the different aspects of business has already proven valuable in my job. I think it’s helped me to think more strategically — not only about what I do specifically, but how the entire business operates and how my decisions affect the whole company. I think after this program I’m going to be much more valuable as a professional.