“A bad day in the ocean is better than a good day at school.”
That’s something you won’t hear at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. That may surprise some, with UCLA being tagged as surfer central. Alas, the program is hardly a place for students to indulge chill vibes as they wait for the tide. Instead, it is a tech-driven program situated in the heart of the entertainment industry, one that boasts the world’s top career services center and deep roots in the region’s acclaimed “Silicon Beach.”
While UCLA may be dubbed a “party school” in some corners, Anderson is something far more essential: a community of catalysts and comrades who personify the school’s “One Anderson” maxim. “I would rephrase ‘party school’ as ‘a school that celebrates you for who you are and what you bring to the Anderson community,’” says Dr. Harshita Mishra, a 2018 P&Q MBA To Watch. “UCLA Anderson is a place where people come together to celebrate you and your successes. It is a place where people encourage those who have failed to try again and cheer you to motivate you and to help you grow.”
SWIMMING, HIKING, AND BEACH VOLLEYBALL
UCLA’s rap likely stems from its Hollywood treatment – and Mediterranean climate. Think 64 degree days on average, with the cool Pacific just 5 miles away. In fact, many students simply walk or walk to campus. This outdoors ethos spills over to Anderson, which boasts a swimming pool just 10 feet outside one building. Here, the real action happens outside the program’s six building complex that encircles the Marion Anderson Courtyard – considered the center of campus. That’s where you’ll find many students after class, drinking in the fresh air and basking in the shade beneath solar umbrellas that power their devices.
However, you won’t find the Anderson Class of 2020 just lounging around campus. “I’m looking forward to joining the Outdoor Adventure Club, says Sam Kirtner, a Yale-trained consultant. “I’ve lived in Los Angeles the past three years, but there are many hikes, especially around Malibu, that I haven’t explored yet. Beyond hiking, I’m excited to go camping and backpacking, which I did a lot growing up in Oregon and would love to do with Anderson classmates.”
Arne Panzer, a General Mills marketing manager, is also re-acquainting himself with a new outdoor passion after stepping onto campus. “I, along with many of my classmates, have already embraced the Los Angeles beach volleyball culture to the fullest,” he admits. “We have organized multiple days at the beach to hone our skills, compete, and have fun together. I am looking forward to joining the beach volleyball club to continue to improve and learn from the more seasoned players – I am hoping my 6’8″ frame will make up for all the practice lost while living through the Minneapolis winters.”
A GREAT NEIGHBORHOOD WITH LOTS OF ACTIVITIES
Sports hasn’t been the only way that the Class of 2020 has built camaraderie. The program boasts a vibrant roster of clubs, headlined by the Entertainment Management Association. This club, says Kaavya Remesh, organizes day trips to major studios and even the Sundance Film Festival. That’s just the start, adds the aspiring brand manager.
“In the fall, we have local trips planned to sites such as Santa Barbara, San Diego, and Disneyland to take full advantage of the fact that we live in Southern California. In the winter, we have the option to go on a ski trip to Whistler. In the spring, there’s also an Anderson trip to Japan that I’m looking forward to…Plus, we’re constantly making the most of social time with each other – going to the beach in Santa Monica, checking out local bars, celebrating classmates’ birthdays, hiking in Malibu, you name it!”
Best of all, UCLA is smack dab in the best real estate in Los Angeles. “We’re spoiled here,” admits Rob Weiler, associate dean of the full-time MBA program, in a 2018 interview with P&Q. “We’re surrounded by Bel-Air to the north, Brentwood on one side and Beverly Hills on the other side, with Westwood to our south, four of the most high rent residential districts in the country. Our border to the north is Sunset Boulevard – but after that it is $10-$20 million dollar homes. Westwood is a hub of shopping, restaurants and activities that has the feel of a college town. There is literally a three mile loop around campus and UCLA is completely contained in that.”
THE “MOST DRIVEN GROUP OF PEOPLE” I’VE EVER BEEN AROUND
Not a bad way to spend two years. Make no mistake, this class is more work-and-play hard than fun-and-games. New Yorker Ezra Glenn, for one, describes his classmates as the “most driven group of people” he has ever been around.
“Everybody came in on their A-game with a clear understanding of how they got to this point and what they want to become in these next two years,” he observes. “But at the same time, there’s very little ego at play. We’re all just as committed to helping one another succeed as we are to pursuing our own goals. The energy on campus is overwhelmingly positive, collaborative, and productive.”
Glenn himself epitomizes the eclectic nature of the 2020 Class. A double major in photography and the written arts, he brands himself as a “Queer artist turned entrepreneur [who] seeks to reimagine paradigms of representation.” His claim to fame? He co-founded a record label and artist management firm called First One Up, which he writes “focused on musicians operating outside the conventional definitions of genre.”
LOSING A BASKETBALL GAME…TO TIBETAN MONKS
How about Frida Winkelmann – a globetrotting German who made her name in Africa’s burgeoning solar industry. “Over the last 10 years, I have lived in seven cities across four continents – Europe, Africa, North America, and South America. From the bustling streets of Buenos Aires to the rolling hills of Kigali – these experiences have shaped my outlook as a global citizen. I speak multiple languages, have lead teams consisting of people from a variety of cultures, and I am adept at navigating international business contexts.”
Let’s not forget Patricia Mathelier, who headed to Haiti to lead a pilot study on STD testing in pregnant, HIV-positive women. “I am proud to say that my work resulted in a publication in The International Journal of STD and AIDS,” she says. “I have been a part of various research projects throughout undergrad and medical school, but to know that I saw a project from beginning to end and contributed towards work that has an impact in science, medicine, and global health policy is truly humbling.”
Outside medicine, Mathelier dabbles in photography and maintains a lifestyle blog. That’s just one of the fun facts about the Class of 2020. At Stanford, Mariana Barraza, an Accenture consultant, played in the school’s student-run mariachi group. As a college runner, Sam Kirtner would run over a hundred miles a week to prepare for track season. Arne Panzer first met his wife when he was eight years old…but didn’t ask her out until a dozen years later. Speaking of big numbers, Austen Mount, a financier by trade, has backpacked through 45 countries.
And how is this for a great story…
“I once played basketball with Tibetan Buddhist monks at their monastery in Northwest China,” writes Kaavya Remesh. “I’m not normally much of a basketball player, but this was the kind of once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I couldn’t pass up! The monks beat us, of course.”
HANGING OUT WITH BONO…RAISING $2.3 BILLION…ALL IN A DAY’S WORK
That’s not the only big story that Remesh brings to the table. After starting her career in DC-based think tanks, she joined The ONE Campaign, which she describes as a “global anti-poverty advocacy non-profit co-founded by Bono.” As a marketing coordinator, she headed an education video campaign for girls – one that earned $2.3 billion dollars in pledges after the video’s debut at a global summit in Senegal.
“ONE launched a user-generated campaign asking people to record videos of themselves each counting one number between 1 and 130 million [representing the 130 million girls who are out of school] and turning the resulting footage into one of the longest videos of all time. We ended up with more than 47 total hours of video from people in more than 80 countries and more than 15 languages, including from Gal Gadot, Tom Brady, Sheryl Sandberg, Susan Wojcicki, and Charlize Theron, among other influencers.”
Such work reflects one of the Anderson MBA’s three pillars: Drive Change. Another pillar is Think Fearlessly. One example of this ideal is Emily Moore. At ESPN, she recruited Pizza Hut, Google Cloud, and Werner Ladder to sponsor the NCAA Championship – the first time these companies had ever been involved in this even. Another example is Arne Panzer, whose work made the front page of the Wall Street Journal in 2017 for bucking convention at General Mills.