Meet Columbia Business School’s MBA Class Of 2021

Katy Obr

Columbia Business School

“Film & TV producer, East London resident, with 3 passports to choose from.”

Hometown: Paris, France

Fun Fact About Yourself: I was a member of a French synchronized figure-skating team while in high school, that competed in national and international competitions.

Undergraduate School and Major: Yale University, History

Most Recent Employer and Job Title:  Senior Development Executive at SLAM Films, the British television and film production company led by the actor, Stephen Mangan. This was my first experience working primarily in TV, after years working in film at Scott Free Films, Studiocanal, and Focus Features.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Finding and championing diverse, female-led untold stories, then securing the rights and getting the projects into development with major broadcasters.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? The current and former students I’ve met have all been incredibly smart and collaborative – always happy to help make connections, share their own experiences, and welcome me into the CBS community.”

What is the best part of coming to New York City to earn your MBA? New York’s position as a global city at the intersection of art and business will allow me to make immediate, real-world connections with what I’m studying in the classroom. I’m looking forward to doing internships during the year and taking classes that engage with companies on current business challenges.

Aside from your classmates and location, 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? I ended up choosing the CBS program based on the strength of the academics. I decided to get an MBA to gain general management skills, and I liked the idea of starting with a solid foundation with the core curriculum, then branching out into more specialized electives. I was looking to go somewhere that combined theory and practice and would allow me to learn from professors who are themselves leaders in various different industries. Much of the CBS learning experience is from fellow classmates, and I was sold after I visited a class on campus. The caliber of the class discussion was exceptional.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? Columbia Women in Business, and the Media Management Association

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? Coming from a somewhat unorthodox background for an MBA candidate, I was asked how I’d be able to contribute to a learning team. I talked about how my experience in the film and TV industry had allowed me to develop a set of leadership skills – such as problem-solving, communication, and teamwork – that are essential to career success in any industry.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I’ve spent the last eight years working in a creative role, which I’ve greatly enjoyed; going forward, I’m looking to develop my management and quantitative skills, with a view possibly to returning to the film and TV industry in a more commercial role.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I applied to two other top business schools, one in the US and one in the UK.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? Going through the application process, I had to decide whether to stay in the UK, where I’ve lived for the last eight years or to go to an American business school. I had an international upbringing (I was born and raised in France and attended international schools), and have had an international career as well. As a result, it was important to me to study at a university that had a diverse, international student body and a global alumni network. I was also looking for a business school that had a strong media department. Once I had a shortlist, I spoke to as many current and former students as I could to find out which school would be the best fit for me.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? My second year at Yale, a friend asked me to produce a play that she wanted to direct. I agreed, not having any idea that the experience would shape my career trajectory for the following decade. At the time, I thought I would end up going to law school, but I discovered that I loved producing – a role that’s both entrepreneurial and creative while allowing you to collaborate with a team of talented individuals. I ended up producing many more plays and musicals during my time at Yale. After graduating I decided to try to get a job in the entertainment industry.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? At this point I’d say that I would like to be back in London, doing a job I love, hopefully something that combines creativity and strategic thinking.

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