How I'm using my MBA to break into entertainment

By Nony Onyeador

 When I discuss my post-MBA goals of transitioning into the entertainment industry as a writer-producer, the question I get most often is, “Wait, why are you in an MBA program again?”

Disruption opens opportunities

In response, I note how the entertainment industry is being “disrupted” by new entrants who bring capabilities like streaming, analytics, machine learning, and alternative financing and marketing to the table. Those entrants have forced incumbents to rethink their core business models and thrown the industry into a frenzy that has a direct effect on the content that gets greenlit, produced, and distributed to the masses.

I then add that as companies undergo these democratizing shifts, reshuffling and retooling around questions of access and diversity, my goal is to help institutionalize efforts to include diverse creative voices before the dust settles and the new world emerges.

Creating a personalized MBA

For me, my business degree is unavoidably tied to my creative goals. To reach them, I looked for a program that would provide me the best opportunity to gain a well-rounded, personalized MBA. Berkeley-Haas came out on top.

To begin preparing for my career shift, I left my consultant job at Accenture in New York City the summer before I started at Haas and took an unpaid pre-MBA internship at a new Hollywood-based production company called Macro. Led by agency veteran, Charles King, Macro describes itself as “a disruptive media company focused on the multicultural market…positioned to capitalize on the explosive growth in media consumption by African-American, Latino and multicultural consumers.” The experience was amazing. Their mission was right in line with my own and my time there solidified my interest in the industry—and my insistence that the business and creative sides of the entertainment industry are intertwined.

Following that summer, I came to Haas energized to connect with every entertainment-adjacent resource I could find.

How I built a network

My classmates, the Haas Career Management Group (CMG), and Haas alumni have been integral to this quest. Everyone who learned of my interest connected me to someone else. Immediately, I had a network to tap into. The second-year students coached me on the best ways to utilize career services—early and often—and CMG coached me on reaching out effectively to the entertainment alumni. The alumni I talked with were responsive and supportive, connecting me to additional resources so I felt confident pursuing relationships in the industry.

I then joined the Digital Media & Entertainment Club, became the operations lead of DMEC’s >play conference, and took a number of impactful courses to expand my network and prepare me for my internship. My professors were industry executives in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and they took the time to advise me on my recruiting strategy and connect me with executives at my target companies. Through these connections, I landed my internship at Otter Media, a joint venture between The Chernin Group and AT&T, which works to invest in and create digital content brands. While in L.A., I was also able to reconnect in person with the alumni who had supported me earlier.

A student-driven culture

Along the way, Haas’ student-driven culture drove me to start an official CMG-networked job search team for media and entertainment; plan a trek to the Sundance Film Festival; and build a team for Paramount’s case competition. To take full advantage of my classwork, I often requested that my study groups select entertainment companies for our team projects, to which they have graciously agreed. Analyzing Netflix’s pricing strategy and financial forecasts and Disney’s corporate strategy approach, for example, was invaluable preparation for interviews.

For me, the Berkeley Haas MBA has been about eschewing pipelines and cookie-cutter degrees. It has been about empowering me and every classmate to go exactly where we want to go at Haas and well after graduation.

After an eventful first year, I feel more confident in my journey than ever before, and I know that Haas has been invaluable for this—alongside some unforgettable classmates!

Could Berkeley-Haas be the right fit for you? Learn more about the Full-time Berkeley Haas MBA Program.
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Posted on October 13, 2017
Themes: Technology
Nony Onyeador
Nony Onyeador is a member of the Full-time Berkeley MBA Class of 2018. Originally from Los Angeles, CA, Nony has spent the last 10 years bouncing across coasts for college, consulting, internships, and fun. She's engaged in an ongoing battle between her right and left brain and looking for work that allows her to use both meaningfully.