Meet Columbia Business School’s MBA Class Of 2020

Halle Morse

Columbia Business School

Broadway actress, singer, dancer turned producer/director believes “there’s no business like show business.”

Hometown: Shaker Heights, OH

Fun Fact About Yourself: I played over 1,000 performances as “Lisa” in Mamma Mia! on Broadway

Undergraduate School and Major: Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, Musical Theatre Major

Most Recent Employer and Job Title:

American Repertory Theater, Assistant Director of Jagged Little Pill, the new Alanis Morissette Musical (Directed by Diane Paulus)

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Developed and launched (as production manager and associate producer) the world premiere of 3/Fifths by James Scruggs, a large-scale immersive theatre piece exploring race and privilege in America. Staged as an interactive carnival and cabaret, this innovative production enjoyed a sold-out run in NYC as well as critical success; it was selected as a “Must-See Show” by the New York Times.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Fierce. The students I have met so far possess an insatiable appetite for growth and intellect. While currently scholars first, they are perfectly suited to take on the concrete jungle of NYC as well as the world stage. Witty, thoughtful and dynamic, they are also humble, hungry and focused on their future success. They are, after all, Columbia Lions — roar!

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? Location, location, location. CBS is the best business school in the greatest city in the world! I am familiar with NYC and felt certain that I could leverage my prior industry connections and simultaneously build significant relationships with business leaders and professionals, all while still in school. This degree of career access and opportunity is simply invaluable.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? One of my goals is to meaningfully engage business leaders in the arts. I hope to be a part of the great CBS tradition of putting on the Follies, as either a producer or director. I am also interested in pursuing activities with the Innovation + Creativity in Business Society, Public Speaking Association, and Media Management Association. I intend to be active with Columbia Women In Business and the Black Business Students Association. I would also love to join the Sailing Club!

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? While on a performing hiatus (following a surgical procedure), I began producing and realized that I had a passion for it. I wanted to be able to produce at the highest level and explore the option of running a theatre company someday. I knew an MBA would provide the necessary skills to take my producing and artistic leadership abilities to the next level.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? Before completing a year-long pre-MBA program through Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT), I was seeking MFA programs in theater management. Through researching and comparing programs, I realized the MBA would be the most valuable, as well as generalized, degree. Particularly when earned at an M7 school, the degree is suitably applicable to all industries.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? NYU, Yale, USC, Purdue Krannert, and Wisconsin’s MBA in Arts Administration

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I visited as many school events as I could, participated in numerous webinars and held dozens of informational interviews. The alumni from CBS consistently impressed me. They had an “edge” that I really appreciated. All were well connected and had personal/career values that seemed to align with my own. I also have an extroverted/outgoing personality — they made me feel as though I would fit in at CBS.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? For my first-ever producing venture, I chose The Colored Museum by George C. Wolfe and took steps to obtain the rights, hold campus wide auditions, and assemble a diverse team of actors and designers. I then directed, choreographed, and performed in this colorful satire exploring themes of African American culture. The show was a “sold out” smashing success. Moreover, it was a leadership experience that solidified my personal mission to utilize the arts as a tool for diverse voices to be heard. Although I set out to be on Broadway, I realized that my lifelong commitment to the arts was about the pursuit of something far more transcendent than just myself in the spotlight. To date, even after years of performing of Broadway, this production remains one of my proudest theatre moments.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? I hope to gain traditional business experience by working in strategy at an entertainment company. Eventually, through expanding my expertise, I hope to continue producing theatre.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Leadership position (i.e. Managing Director, Executive or Artistic Director) at a National Arts Organization.

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