2018 Best MBAs: Abby Williamson, UCLA (Anderson)

Abby Williamson

UCLA, Anderson School of Management

Professional princess turned business boss.”

Age: 27

Hometown: (City and State) Northbrook, IL

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve competed in two team karaoke competitions. My team was called “Taylor Swift’s Starbucks Lovers” and we won both times

Undergraduate School and Degree: Northwestern University, Theatre and Psychology double major

Where did you work before enrolling in business school?

Co-Founder, Storybook Princess Parties

Paralegal, In-House Counsel of Chubb Insurance Company

Where did you intern during the summer of 2017?

Mattel – El Segundo, CA (Summer 2017)

Fox – Century City, CA (Fall 2017)

Where will you be working after graduation?

Mattel – Associate Marketing Manager

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Honors

  • Caroline and Richard Nahas Fellowship

Leadership Roles

  • Anderson Student Association, Executive Vice President (2017-2018)
  • First-Year Section President (2016-2017)
  • First-Year Orientation Director (2017)
  • Entertainment Management Association (EMA)
    • Vice President of Entertainment Career Night (2017-2018)
    • Director of Entertainment Career Night (2016-2017)
  • Women’s Business Connection (WBC)
    • Vice President of Alumnae Relations (2017-2018)
    • Director of Alumnae Relations (2016-2017)
  • Admissions Ambassador Corps
    • Interviewer (2017-2018)
    • Group Information Session Leader (2017-2018)
    • Marketing Team (2016-2017)
  • Parker Career Management Center
    • Parker First-Year Class Teaching Assistant (2017)
    • Parker Social Media Marketing Team (2016-2017)
  • Entertainment Business Models Teaching Assistant (2018)
  • Entertainment Marketing “ACT” (Anderson Career Team) Coach for first-years (Fall 2017)

Membership

  • Marketing Association, Challenge for Charity, Anderson Creative, Anderson Eats, Anderson Wine Club, Anderson Beer Club, Jewish Business Student Association, Out@Anderson Ally, Black Business Student Association Ally

Volunteer

  • Challenge for Charity
    • Project ECHO Business Plan Judge (2017)
    • Volunteer activities include Downtown Women’s Shelter, Special Olympics Bowling, and LA Food Bank
  • Riordan Scholars Mentor (2016-2017)
  • Skillify Panelist (2016)

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I’m most proud of my role as Executive Vice President of the Anderson Student Association (“ASA”). The ASA Cabinet is comprised of 13 second year full-time students and our role is to enrich student life at Anderson. Our responsibilities include everything from managing the 40+ clubs and distributing their budgets to organizing school-wide social events like “Anderson Afternoons” every Thursday. I’m incredibly proud of the work we’ve been able to do over the past year. We all set individual goals as well as group goals as a Cabinet and we’ve been able to accomplish many of them in order to help Anderson continue to be the best it can be.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? My most proud moment in my professional career was watching a new performer who I hired and trained perform flawlessly at an event and convince a room of stubborn 5 year olds that she was indeed a real princess. It helped me realize how much I enjoy mentoring and developing other people’s potential, and it was the first time I was so proud of someone else’s work that I saw it as my accomplishment as well.

What was your favorite MBA Course? My favorite course was Entertainment Business Models (I liked taking it so much that I’m currently TAing it). It’s co-taught by one of Anderson’s top entertainment professors, Sanjay Sood, and Harry Sloan, the former CEO of MGM. The speakers that were brought into that class every week ranged from the creator of Marvel to the CEO of Lionsgate and they were all incredible. Sometimes we spend so much time focused on that first post-business school job that we sometimes forget to look further ahead, but seeing speakers at that high of a level in the industry helped me look far ahead and think about where I want to be long-term.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose UCLA Anderson because of the supportive and collaborative culture of “sharing success” and because it has a top entertainment program (plus, I would never have to dig my car out of a snow bank again!).

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Be who you are and tell your story.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth about UCLA Anderson is that everyone goes surfing before class. Maybe a handful of people do, but I sadly have yet to find time to do that!

What was your biggest regret in business school? Not taking more classes outside my area of interest.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? (and why?) I admire my classmate Allie Brodsky. Allie is truly one of the nicest and most hard-working people I know. She befriends everyone she talks to and knows everyone, making her the queen of networking, and she’s always willing to go above and beyond to help connect people she knows. She tirelessly champions gender equity as EVP of the Women’s Business Connection and she inspires me every day to work as hard as she does.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? One of my best friends from undergrad, Rebecca Munley, most influenced my decision to pursue my MBA. A year before I applied to business school, she moved to LA to attend USC’s prestigious screenwriting master’s program. Watching her move across the country from Chicago to tackle her dreams really inspired me to think deeply about what I was passionate about and what I wanted to do with my career and then pursue it with all my heart when I realized that getting y MBA was the next step for me.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…completely lost.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I would mandate that all guest speakers have to be 50% women and 50% men.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Go to Japan and successfully roast a chicken.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Tough and supportive.

What is your favorite movie about business? Singing in the Rain (It’s about the entertainment industry after all!). It taught me to never try to be someone I wasn’t, like Kathy Selden pretending to be the voice of Lina Lamont. In the end Kathy succeeded by being brave and being herself, and I took that message to heart watching this movie on repeat as a kid.

What would your theme song be? “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus

Favorite vacation spot: Holland, Michigan

Hobbies? Watching Riverdale every Wednesday with some of my best friends, reading a good book, and learning to cook.

What made Abby such an invaluable addition to the class of 2018? Abby Williamson is a force! At Anderson, we pride ourselves on our diversity of backgrounds and experiences. Abby is the posterchild for that diversity of pre-MBA life!  A theater major and owner (and performer) of a business whose mission was to fulfill little girls’ princess dreams, Abby was not your typical MBA student. What Abby lacked in typical MBA experiences, she more than made up for in her presence and talent.

As Executive VP of Anderson Student Association (Anderson’s student government), Abby undertook a much–needed project that others before her had avoided—rewriting the ASA by-laws. In record time, Abby undid the result of years of neglect and created an operating document that guides the ASA in every way. Her work didn’t stop there, though. Abby finds new and different ways to give back to the Anderson community and is always in the thick of driving change here. Anderson is the beneficiary of her boundless energy and creative way of looking at long-standing issues. Whether she is serving as an orientation leader or working with students and staff to improve the onboarding experience for incoming students, Abby identifies an opportunity, rallies others to see the importance of that opportunity, and then leads a team to act on it.  While many are good at identifying issues, Abby is also able to do the work to affect change. That rare combination of strategic thinking and problem-solving will serve her well when she joins Mattel after graduation (she couldn’t stray too far from those princess roots!).”

Rob Weiler
Associate Dean, Full Time MBA Program

DON’T MISS: THE ENTIRE LIST OF THE BEST & BRIGHTEST: CLASS OF 2018