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Meet The MBA Class Of 2020: Profiles in Courage

Amanda Sol Peralta

UCLA, Anderson School of Management

 “Endless reservoir of curiosity, often found advocating the importance of pop culture and teenage fandoms.”

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Fun Fact About Yourself: Most of my summers growing up were spent braving the winter with my extended family in the Chilean countryside. I got sent to the local public school to take classes a grade level up and “build some character.” In retrospect, not only did these summers help me keep my Spanish fluent, but I got to experience the magic of two recesses per day #priorities.

Undergraduate School and Major: Duke University, International Comparative Studies Major

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Product Marketing Manager at Jopwell, a diversity recruitment startup with clients including Spotify, Lyft and BlackRock.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: At a previous early stage startup, I received feedback in my performance review that I wasn’t engaging enough with the revenue-generation side of the business. Given our challenges with product-market-fit, I realized “it’s not my job” wasn’t a good excuse. Instead, I quickly read up on pricing and monetization strategy and proposed a research sprint to investigate our clients’ willingness to pay. Our CEO signed off on the project and I was able to lead our whole team in a coordinated effort to interview industry decision-makers to better understand their budgets. The results helped clarify our strategic direction as we prepared for acquisition. I’m most proud of how I took initiative to solve a problem outside of my scope and made a tangible impact.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? My Anderson classmates strike a perfect balance between savvy and social. They’re gregarious while still being thoughtful, driven while still caring about others. I’ve also noticed that we all really value the privilege of living in one of the best cities in the world, where excelling as a professional isn’t at odds with caring about your health and lifestyle.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? Anderson was the perfect place for my specific career goal to transition into tech-entertainment. My experiences at startups taught me how technology could be a vehicle for change, but I had struggled to incorporate my passion for online communities and pop culture into my career. I knew I needed to deepen my entertainment industry knowledge and experience, while expanding my entertainment-tech network. Los Angeles-based Anderson was a leader in each of these spaces. Top that off with arguably the best career center in the country, and it was the clear right choice for me. Ultimately, I have a really specific vision for how I want to create an impact. I believe that pop culture can be a force for unlocking community, belonging, and identity for marginalized young people. The technology and entertainment firms in this space have the opportunity of building tools that allow us to bridge these differences through community. I needed to be at the right place to achieve this vision.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I’m excited to get involved in the Student Association. I believe higher education institutions like UCLA Anderson play a huge role in shaping the future, and will enjoy being at the center of the conversation for how the school can best drive impact.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I knew I wanted to shift my career more directly toward my calling as I mentioned above, but I also realized there were a lot of competencies (like leadership development and data analytics) I needed to fill out first. As a first generation college graduate, I learned a lot about professional paths in my first few years out of school. I realized that given the chance, I could take advantage of graduate school in a way I didn’t know to do as an undergraduate student, when I was more focused on expanding my worldview.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? I focused on finding and speaking to students and alums who got jobs at companies and in roles that I was targeting, and incessantly asked them how the degree supported their career advancement. That, and I worked hard to bolster my application to improve my chances of receiving a merit scholarship.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I was California focused, so I applied to UCLA Anderson, USC Marshall, Stanford GSB, and UC Berkeley Haas.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I prioritized career goal fit, industry network, location and lifestyle, and values fit. I conducted research primarily by going straight to the source, exhausting my network with anyone I knew who attended my target schools and asking them about their experiences. Programs like Management Leadership for Tomorrow really helped me be rigorous in this pursuit.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? Choosing my undergraduate school was a defining moment for me. While I was lucky to have a plethora of pretty amazing choices, I listened to what made sense to me. I know not everyone would have made the same choice, but at Duke I found a school that challenged me while allowing itself to be challenged by me. I also got to be part of a scholarship community where I met many of my best friends and learned to engage in difference. That choice allowed me to continue to make choices using my own internal compass, something I learned from my father growing up.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? I plan to work at a company playing a role in the evolution of the creator-fan relationship, whether more strictly in technology or in entertainment. Some target companies include YouTube, Instagram, The CW, Spotify and Netflix.

Where do you see yourself in five years? In five years, I hope to have taken on a more decision- and strategy-heavy role at an entertainment-tech company. I also see myself taking on a role as a thought leader advocating for how this space can create positive societal change and help us bridge difference.