2018 Best MBAs: Jonathan Osser, University of Chicago (Booth)

Jonathan Osser

The University of Chicago, Booth School of Business

“Entertainment creative to strategy switcher who is passionate about innovation, equality, laughter, and community.”

Age: 29

Hometown: Sherman Oaks, CA

Fun fact about yourself: Formal Child Actor. Credits include Anger Management (role of young Adam Sandler), Matilda, Boy Meets World, Clueless, and Family Guy.

Undergraduate School and Degree: UCLA: B.A. in Political Science, Minor in Film and Television Studies

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Prior to business school, I worked as a Talent Manager, liaising with talent agents, casting directors and creatives themselves to book young actors and actresses in television, films, commercials and web series. I had fantastic agents, managers and mentors as a child actor who helped me hone my craft and achieve success. I took pride and excitement returning the favor by helping these young adults chase their dreams, while serving as a positive mentor and friend during the process.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2017? Paramount Pictures in Hollywood, CA, as a Business Development / Strategy intern.

Where will you be working after graduation? I am currently recruiting for business development and strategy roles in entertainment/media.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Admissions Fellow: As Booth is famous for is economic focus and quantitative rigor, I had pride in serving as a member of the student admissions team from a non-traditional / creative background. I believe allowing applicants to hear my story and journey relayed an important message – that Booth is not “made” for one type of professional or student. On the contrary, it’s a melting pot of perspectives, experiences, personal histories and professional goals.

Mentor for Media/Entertainment: Served as a mentor to first year students, and prospective students, interested in pursuing roles in the entertainment and media industry. Led students through resume review, industry search, case preparation and interview preparation.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school?

Academic: I will be receiving concentrations in economics, finance, and strategic management at Booth. Coming from a creative background, I had been insecure about my lack of economic and financial literacy. Satisfying these concentrations serves as a tangible realization that I have obtained the business toolkit I sought out to achieve – a main driver for me in pursuing an MBA as an applicant several years ago.

Extracurricular: I survived two Chicago winters! Prior to Booth, the only cold weather clothing I owned was my ski and snowboard gear, having spent the majority of my life in Los Angeles. Clearly, my regional education and preparation for Chicago/Midwest was as necessary and robust as my academic education at Booth.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? At the end of my ten-week internship at Paramount Pictures, I was able to pitch an investment concept to our CFO at Paramount Pictures alongside a strong team of fellow MBA interns. The pitch followed months of teamwork and due diligence, including a marketing strategy, competitive strategy, cost and pricing strategy, valuation, five-year roll-out, and exit strategy. All of these elements of research and analysis coincided with coursework I’ve had at Booth, and I would not have been able to even dream of undertaking such analysis – nor communicating data-driven conclusions to our CFO – without the business toolkit I was able to build during my first year at Booth.

Why did you choose this business school? Although the incredibly high caliber of professors, proprietary curriculum focused on theory and practice, and diversity of opportunity and activity in Chicago attracted me to Booth initially, it was the student body and culture at Booth that sold me. Booth is composed of wildly intelligent and accomplished students who are intensely motivated, but also incredibly humble, and excited to be a part of the Booth community. This results in a supportive environment, where students want to see each other succeed, both in the classroom and in professional endeavors. There’s an incredible energy in Harper Center, and it echoes a strong drive, passion and a pay-it-forward system of values that trickles down from the student body year over year.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Be confident in and excited about the unique set of experiences and qualities you are bringing to the program – regardless of whether you are a “traditional” or “non-traditional” student.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Rui Mao (Class of 2018). Rui went to university and worked in Beijing prior to Booth, and grew up in China before as well. I can’t imagine the difficulty of uprooting and moving to the US with no security of what’s to come following the MBA.

Rui and I discussed this topic during a hot pot dinner she invited several students to (she cooked it herself). If I were in her shoes – grappling with adjusting to a new country, a new culture, communicating in a non-primary language, all the while pursuing academic and professional goals – I personally might wrongly allow myself to have self-doubts at the chance of meeting my personal expectations of success.

Rui doesn’t allow herself to do that. Her drive and passion has led her to excel in the classroom, and land a competitive and prestigious full time investment banking position at William Blair. It takes a driven and capable person to achieve such success, let alone assert herself in such a working culture. But considering the other obstacles Rui has overcome in achieving these goals, and the grace, compassion and class in which she’s gone about it has led to my admiration.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My mother, Susan Osser, is my hero, influence and inspiration in many aspects of life, including business. She created a very successful business on her own, without any formal education or business background. She’s preached that passion, empathy, dreaming big, hard work, determination, and treating peers with kindness and respect allowed her to achieve success – and will allow anyone to reach their goal. I was exposed to these life lessons early in childhood, during the thousands of hours she spent helping me prepare for acting auditions and driving me to casting calls. She’s encouraged me to carry those same tenets throughout my professional life, and has always voiced the great potential for any individual who can carry those tenets through a formal education and professional pursuit.

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…leading a boutique media company focused on creating niche content for social media/platform viewing.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I would demand that all students take a third year, and extend the MBA! It’s an incredible time, and it flies by far too quickly.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

Play a round of golf at Augusta National golf course.

Play a part in creating an Oscar or Emmy award winning film/premium television series.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I’d like to be remembered as a man who followed his dreams, and gave his time, love and resources to friends, family and community around him.

What is your favorite movie about business? Disney’s Blank Check. I saw the film when I was seven years old, and it taught me to be wary of business opportunities that seem too good to be true.

What would your theme song be? “Dream on” by Aerosmith

Favorite vacation spot: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Hobbies? Film, television, yoga, golf, squash, running, providing Los Angeles travel recommendations, South American travel.

What made Jonathan such an invaluable addition to the class of 2018?  “It’s not every day I read an application to the program from someone recognizable from TV and movies. As a child actor and talent agent in LA, Jon already had an intriguing background in entertainment, but it has been really great to see how he’s continued to pursue that passion while here at Booth through acting in Follies, interning at Paramount, and sharing his experience, network, and knowledge with fellow members of the Media, Entertainment & Sports Group.”

Stacey Kole

Deputy Dean for Alumni, Corporate Relations and Full-Time MBA Program

Chicago Booth


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