Category Archives: Entertainment & Media

On The Career Hunt

whiteNickI think I arrived at Harvard Business School imagining I was an “unconventional” applicant, the “unicorn” of sorts.  This misperception is soon remedied as soon as you meet your fellow students here—I think we’re all pretty unconventional in our own ways and especially in our career pursuits.

I started my pre-professional career mostly in the creative arts.  I started professionally acting at age 9 and quickly retired at age 15 when high school took priority.  My brief professional acting career was always a joy. I truly enjoyed that creative outlet and professional experience (even at that age it was always important to show up on-time and be “insurable” and less how amazing a performer you were).  At some point I figured out I loved the producing aspect more.  I liked managing a production—from the team-building to marketing to facilitating the day-of show.  This came to a forefront in college when I chaired the joint faculty-student theater production board, selecting the shows, casting, marketing, and strategizing the overall organizational creative vision.  In parallel to theater, I also started the process of writing and executive producing a pilot TV show I crowd-sourced funded and completed in 2013 called “Spicy Wit” (www.spicywit.com).

During my summers I never lived at home in Boston.  I bounced around the world, interning at a television show, several cable properties, a record label, and, oddly enough, a large international insurance company.  I was expecting my career to end somewhere in the creative arts, maybe theater, maybe cable, maybe the movies?  It was a true shock when the opportunity to do strategic consulting fell in my lap.  I loved my three years working in D.C. where I learned more about myself, my work and leadership style, than ever before.  In all honesty, at some point, maybe spurred by my webseries, the itch returned.  I knew I loved media and I had experienced this new egalitarian system where we could all be content creators and reach an audience (if the content was good).  I began to see myself in digital content and I knew I could have a hand in making something resonant and impactful.  The logical next step was to come to business school where I could quickly make the career shift (back?) to where I believe I belong.

All in all, that brought me to my summer job search about a year ago.  Pursuing something in the media/entertainment space is definitely a different route than some of my classmates but far from a lonely one.  We have a robust and collaborative Entertainment and Media Club (EMC) here on campus, led by some amazingly inspired classmates who lead us on treks across the country and world, organize a stellar and attention-grabbing conference each year (which I worked on in 2015 with a keynote from Jeff Bewkes, CEO of Time Warner), and draw influential and forward-thinking speakers.  The club is an amazing resource as well as CPD where I have a career coach I call on frequently.

The job search complexity in the entertainment/media space has always been clearly explained by my more experienced classmates.  We seem to recruit a bit later and interesting job opportunities appear in the spring more frequently than the fall.  I look forward to using this spring to find a great role in the entertainment media space where I can have a hand in both the creative as well as the managerial.

– Nick White, MBA 2015

Big Media, Big Business! Inside scoop on the upcoming Entertainment & Media Club Conference

Each year, the Entertainment & Media conference at the Harvard Business School brings together hundreds of students, alumni, faculty, and industry leaders to share experience and insight and, most importantly, tEMCo learn from each other. By gathering a diverse group of talent and interests, the Entertainment & Media Club hopes to initiate dialogues that delve into key trends relevant to all members of the entertainment and media community, from rising entrepreneurs to established executives. Our aim is to create a forum that will spark productive dialogue and provide a setting for professional networks to grow.

Many recent industry conferences and stories in the press have focused on new entrants to the space: the up-and-coming players across the entertainment and media sectors, particularly in the digital realm. Our conference this year, titled “Big Media, Big Business,” re-focuses the conversation on some of the largest, most influential companies within the entertainment industry, and considers these new trends from the perspective of the bigger players. The panelists and keynotes will discuss not only the changes brought on by new technology, including challenges and opportunities arising from these shifts, but also incumbent business strategies and financing considerations more broadly.

This year, we are honored to welcome four leaders of the entertainment industry as our keynote speakers: Kevin Tsujihara, CEO of Warner Bros., Richard Plepler, CEO of HBO, Deborah Turness, President of NBC News, and Pat Fili-Krushel, Chairman of NBCU News Group. We are excited to learn from their experiences and hear their views on some of the most salient topics facing the entertainment industry today. We are also thrilled to welcome our esteemed panelists and moderators from both traditional and new media companies who will share their perspectives throughout the day’s panel discussions. The panels address a range of topics with regard to the major sectors of the entertainment industry.

For more information, please go to www.emc14.com

–   Claire Friedman & Nickhil Singh, HBS Entertainment & Media Club Co-Presidents

The Summer is Finally Over

It has been about a week since I finished my summer internship, and I can’t believe how quickly the time flew by. I started the internship intent on learning as much as I could about an industry that has inspired me since my childhood. At the same time, I wanted to contribute as much as possible to an organization undergoing significant change. Reflecting on the experience now, I feel like I was able to achieve both goals. In addition, I also learned a lot about people – how much they matter and how you (one person… even an intern!) can add to an organization’s (already positively strong) culture.

As a first-year at Harvard Business School, you take several classes that suggest that the most successful companies have strong, indelible cultures that embody its employees’ beliefs and values. While the cases and discussions resonate with you at the moment you learn them, it’s not until you are back in the field actually dealing with ‘real-life’ situations that you can truly appreciate the cause and effect relationship between culture and sustained organizational success. This summer, I got to work with passionate, energetic, smart and incredibly humble people. Their efforts helped to launch several new cable networks, sell and acquire companies and set the stage for continued growth and success in an uncertain business environment. Though I was new to the company and only there temporarily, I tried my best to tangibly contribute in ways that I could – from the basics (copying papers) to the more advanced (modeling proposals, presenting them and providing different perspectives when appropriate).  Some days (and nights) were long but there was no wiping the smiles off of our faces! We liked our roles and enjoyed collaborating with each other. I have little doubt that this friendly atmosphere nudged us in moments of fatigue and doubt. When I was uncertain about an assignment, an experienced employee would provide words of encouragement and direction. In turn, I proactively tried to help in any way that reinforced the already focused and determined work environment that I was in.

While I don’t know for sure what the full-time job search will bring, I know that I will seek to be in an organization with a culture as fantastic as the one I experienced (and contributed to) this summer.

As I enter my second year at HBS, I am looking forward to so many things:

– Reuniting with my classmates and catching up on our amazing summer experiences.

– Getting the chance to pick and ultimately take my own classes for the first time… My tentative schedule looks so exciting!

– Enjoying even more of what Boston and Cambridge have to offer in food, culture, entertainment, sports and any other kind of fun.

I know one thing is for sure… I am not looking forward to saying goodbye a year from now!

– Nick Singh, MBA 2014

Fellow HBS Classmates Enriching the Internship Experience

I am not sure how my internship in Los Angeles would have gone had it not been for the presence of some really great HBS classmates. They provided company and comfort when I needed it the most (not to mention a plethora of great Facebook photos).
Nick LAEmployers often focus on making sure that MBAs within the same company are connected with each other. As mentioned in my last post, this is extremely important for creating a memorable experience as fellow interns can make the entire internship richer on several levels. At the same time, some of the most impactful summer experiences are with people who come from your school but don’t work at your company. My friends from HBS have really made me step back and carefully consider the special parts of LA and my overall internship. By comparing and contrasting our summer experiences, we have also found ways to support each other and make the most of our out-of-work time.

I think relationships with HBS classmates are particularly rewarding for several reasons. First, we have known each other (in many cases) for almost an entire year. This degree of familiarity breeds a natural trust and understanding that’s hard to find elsewhere. Second, we are also going through the same adjustments in being somewhere new and unfamiliar; therefore, we can (usually) pretty easily empathize with each other’s struggles. Third, since these classmates are generally not in the same firm, they can provide perspectives and opinions that might otherwise be subject to group-think or not even discussed at all.

Having a seemingly unbiased or “fresh” voice is great when you need advice or counsel on a pressing issue… Or when you want to reference that HBS case, which you believe to be 100% applicable in the situation you are thinking about in the moment (perhaps every HBS intern had that moment this summer).

I sometimes wonder what employers can do to facilitate more of these interactions, especially since they may not feel like they can do much. Practically speaking, there might not actually be much they can do but encouraging interactions in an informal way can help (It can be as simple as a reporting manager encouraging an intern to meet with other classmates over lunch). Regardless, the sooner an intern is truly comfortable at work, the likelier they will be their “best” selves. .. And those are probably the optimal conditions under which to find out if an intern is really a great fit for your firm.

– Nick Singh, MBA 2014

The Social Side of an Internship

I think I speak for most interns when I say that company sanctioned social outings can be a crucial part of getting to understand a firm’s culture. At my internship this summer, I and other interns have been exposed to lecture series, tours, barbecues and happy hours all organized for us… And then there was this:

Nick Baseball

I recently had the privilege of attending a baseball game with other interns at the media company I am interning for this summer. The specific team I work with is small, so it isn’t always easy to get to know others in the firm; ultimately, these intern events become crucial for rounding out the internship experience and making new friends (and future colleagues).

The day itself was a blast. Forty or so of us took a company bus to Anaheim and were treated to lunch by the company. In between hot dogs, soda and cracker jacks, we had time to learn more about each other’s backgrounds and summer experiences so far. While it’s a bit late in the summer and some people are even getting ready to leave soon, the bonds we made over a few hours will never be forgotten.

So what happened at the game? The “good guys” (the Angels) won a two hit shutout against the Twins. The game was a classic pitcher’s duel that ended with an overenthusiastic fan running onto the field and getting tackled by security… perhaps another part of the afternoon that we will never forget.

– Nick, MBA 2014

The Hunt for Summer Housing in LA

HollywoodIt’s great to be back writing in this blog. The topic I want to touch on is summer housing and how hard of a struggle it can be to secure affordable (and comfortable) summer housing in a location far away from Boston.

Let me also say that I was not alone in having this conundrum… Almost all of my peers at HBS can share stories about trying to get their summer housing plans firmed up at the last minute. I have also been fortunate to have a great sublet back in Boston (thank you for HBS section mates!), which has completely de-stressed the other half of the summer housing equation.

When I got to L.A., I thought I had a place to stay but quickly realized that my expectations were not aligned with what I saw. Without going into the gory details, I will just say that it’s hard for someone to determine if an apartment is completely suitable for living without actually seeing it in person. A picture can tell a thousand words but sometimes it’s that 1,001st word that is most telling.

Through some very kind friends, I was finally able to find a place (which is where I am writing this blog post). If I had any advice for interns trying to find housing next summer, it would be the following:

(1)    Make a list of questions you want to ask the person who is subletting to you – so many things can come up during your stay that it makes sense to know the important details. I might even suggest asking a 2nd year what their experience was like and what they wish they could have known before picking a place.

(2)    If possible, don’t consider committing before you (or a friend) has actually visited the potential spot. That way, you will know for sure if your expectations are realistic.

(3)    Don’t worry too much about a few dollars here and there. It’s only a few months that you get to intern, so (first and foremost) make sure you secure a comfortable place to stay.

Nick Singh, MBA 2014

A Reflection from Graduation Day

AnnChao

Life is an emergent strategy. This is my main takeaway from my two years at HBS.

In one of my favorite classes, Building and Sustaining a Successful Enterprise, we studied a theory about deliberate strategy and emergent strategy. With the former, we map out our goals and the actions we will take to achieve those goals, predicting that x will lead to y over z time. With emergent strategy we open our course to influence from the environment, and often the resulting actions and outcomes are unplanned and often a surprise. Businesses use a blend of both approaches, though more established companies try to be more deliberate and startups by nature must rely on emergent strategy.

As I pursue entrepreneurship full time after graduation, I have realized that life is really much more like a startup than most of us would be comfortable with. No matter how much we try to plan out our lives, very few of us will end up where we originally intended.

My first year at HBS, I listened avidly at CEO speeches, CPD workshops and career coaching sessions for some hint of what I should do to reach some vague destination in the future where I would be living my life to the fullest. We saw many business leaders who had “made it,” and we all wanted to know how to achieve the same success. We asked the same question over and over with slightly different wording: “How did you get to where you are?” The answer was also basically the same. “I don’t know.” When they were our age, these leaders couldn’t have predicted that they would end up where they are now. They simply lived life and took opportunities as they came along, and with passion and perseverance they accomplished great things.

I came to HBS certain that I would return to China and continue to work in consulting. In a few months that all changed as mentors and classmates challenged me to think about what I really wanted to do with my life. I’ve always had a love of storytelling and creativity. I took a 180 degree turn out of a traditional business field into entertainment and arts, writing script coverage on my free time and landing internships at Lincoln Center and Mirada, a studio in LA. I thought I’d be set for Hollywood after graduation. Then at the beginning of my second year, I was hit very powerfully with a startup idea. It was scary. Heart-pounding scary because I’d never thought about starting a business. At the same time I couldn’t stand the thought of this idea NOT coming to fruition simply because I was afraid. I started working on it right away, wondering if this would derail all my plans for Hollywood.

Several months later I was pursuing three startup ideas at the same time. I eventually picked one as circumstances narrowed down my choices to one path – a revolutionary technology that allows musicians to play with real, dynamic orchestra sound. An orchestra in your pocket that listens to and follows you like real musicians would. As a pianist I’ve always dreamed of playing a full concerto with an orchestra, and lamented that I never would be able to because I’d given up professional training a long time ago. 99% of musicians are in my position. Now this technology, Music+1, can change that, revolutionizing the world of music performance the way recordings did for music listening a hundred years ago. I am working with a great team, and we recently won a runner up prize at the Deans’ Cultural Entrepreneurship Challenge. China is a huge part of our future plans. I’ve landed at the intersection of my passions, and through this I think I have discovered the overall driving force behind my work. To spread beauty to the world.

Two years ago, I had no clue I would end up staying in Boston, much less working on a startup. But through a wandering wide-eyed journey, I have come to a place I know is right at this time in my life. And while from my limited, human perspective, my life strategy seems to be perpetually emergent, I know that from God’s perspective, it is deliberate. Only when I have already lived through these things can I look back and see how He was so meticulous and so very good in how He shaped my path. Proverbs 16:9 encapsulates this.

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.”

I can embrace uncertainty because I know that “emergent” does not mean “random.” It means open-mindedness and faith, and no regrets.

– Ann Chao, MBA 2013