Lured by the promise of sunny weather and Hollywood glamour, nearly 30 Columbia MBAs (including me) descended upon Los Angeles for the annual student-run media trip this January. For MBAs fascinated by media/entertainment, this was an all-access pass to executives in film, video games, talent agencies and new media. Sizzle reels, panels and candid Q&A sessions introduced us to the latest trends and challenges now facing Hollywood.
We mingled with Call of Duty
and Guitar Hero
brand managers from Activision
, who illustrated opportunities for in-game advertising and franchise growth. Agents from UTA Online
, United Talent Agency’s emerging-media practice, discussed how they discover and nurture creative talent on the Internet — including Lonelygirl15
During a panel presentation at Yahoo!
media group, featured speakers described the company’s strategy for promoting relevant content for its 500 million users worldwide.
At Participant Productions
, a small studio known for its social action films, we learned about their two bottom lines: financial and social change.
Our itinerary included requisite stops at major film studios. We discussed the highs and lows of Hollywood with Fox
executives, illustrated in the euphoric success of Juno
coupled with the challenges of working around the WGA strike
Columbia alumni at Sony
organized panels and gave us a crash course in the green–lighting process and the complex dynamics of acquiring films. Disney
rolled out the red carpet for a multischool visit. As with many of the other companies, HR representatives were on hand to discuss internship opportunities.
We also attended the Los Angeles alumni reception, held at the Twentieth Century Fox Studios, and did some good old–fashioned networking.
The highlight of that night was a lively panel titled “Managing Creative and Creative Management,” moderated by Professor Jonathan Knee
, head of CBS’s Media Program. Alumni panelists Chad Gutstein ’00, Pearlena Igbokwe-Robinson ’92 and Robert Fried ’83 were on hand to offer their experiences as MBA grads in a creative yet increasingly management-minded industry. The next evening, a mixer in Santa Monica with MBAs from other top business schools rounded out our social calendar.
We left Los Angeles feeling like Hollywood insiders — possessing not only clearer insight into a complex and changing industry, and wallets crammed with the business cards of valuable contacts, but also a heightened passion for the business of media and entertainment. More...