Meet the MBA Class of 2021: The Go-Getters

Ekaterina (Katya) Buchneva

USC, Marshall School of Business

Emerging strategist with 10 years of experience in media, global network and interest in data analytics.”

Hometown: Voronezh, Russia

Fun Fact About Yourself: I love documentaries and produced a few films myself. The last one was about a girls-only satellite-building school in Kyrgyzstan. As a women’s empowerment advocate, I couldn’t pass by such a great topic.

Undergraduate School and Major: Moscow State University, Journalism

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Current Time TV (RFE/RL), Senior Editor/ Producer

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Successfully lead 50+ multinational creative team to ensure accurate and high-quality news production and developed a YouTube strategy for a broadcaster’s digital expansion that increased the average viewership at the platform by 7 times.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Diversity and optimism. 7 out of 10 of my new classmates are career changers and many are doing this shift, not for the first time – it is amazing to see how established professionals are ready to reinvent themselves for further growth and development.

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? Located in the heart of Los Angeles, USC Marshall has the highest number of alumni employed with the media & entertainment industry and strong relationships with all major players in the market

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? Business of Entertainment Association, Marshall Data Analytics Club, Graduate Marketing Association, Business Competition Program and Challenge for Charity.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? The hardest and the most insightful questions were about intrinsic motivation – they made me go deeper into self-examination and find the true driving forces behind my choice to pursue an MBA.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? During 10 years in media production, I have seen lots of examples of good and bad strategies. I always stepped out of my roles to contribute to strategy development and personally felt all the difficulties of its implementation. That is why I finally decided to get an education in business administration to complement my operations knowledge while developing skills in data analytics and marketing to reach a different level within my industry.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I applied to UCLA Anderson, but USC Marshall was much faster in making an offer and it felt just right – from the application to the final interview – everything went so smoothly and positively that it was a natural choice to accept the offer without any doubts.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? Location, connections, ratings, and culture were the main factors for me. Available data showed that Marshall’s students benefit a lot from the first two, securing internships and jobs with the major companies where I’m interested in working. The ratings demonstrated a positive dynamic and stable growth in all key parameters. Plus, the student culture was defined by well-articulated values and proved by the Trojan network in action. During the application process, I contacted several students and every one replied with the most sincere desire to help, taking time to answer all my questions. It made me convinced that Trojans truly live their values.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? It was the first mass protest in Russia against the rigged election on a -20C cold day in December 2011 and the following censorship that I witnessed in major media. This is what made me seriously switch into news coverage, despite previous experience with scripted shows, and focus on delivering the most accurate high-standard journalism possible via international broadcasters. I truly believe in the essential role of media for democracy and humanistic development of the societies. It applies not only to the informational media but to creative narratives too – the stories we tell define who we are and we all should learn to speak up, listen to others and maintain a healthy dialogue.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? In 10 years, I see myself as a reputable business leader with a global media and entertainment company, defining a strategy for the European market, helping creative talents to be heard across the borders, and connecting people through powerful stories that make this world more inclusive and pluralistic.

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