2022 Best & Brightest MBA: Katherine Boorstein, Columbia Business School

Katherine Boorstein

Columbia Business School

“As a storyteller, I use narratives – onscreen and off – to build trust, create compassion, and empower others.”

Hometown: Decatur, IL

Fun fact about yourself: I am the Co-Founder and Managing Director of The Barr Hill Players, an outdoor theatre education program in Vermont that is now in its 8th season. Last year, I had the joy of watching a former student make his Broadway debut!

Undergraduate School and Degree: Brown University – BA, History and Theatre (2016)

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? ICM Partners Talent Agency – Coordinator, TV Literary (Los Angeles, CA)

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? McKinsey & Company (Stamford, CT)

Where will you be working after graduation? McKinsey & Company – Associate Consultant (Stamford, CT)

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Co-President, Media Management Association
  • Co-President, CBS Follies Dance
  • Vice President, CBS Follies
  • Recruiting Mentor, Management Consulting Association
  • McGowan Ethical Leadership Fellow
  • Tamer Center Nonprofit Board Fellow (The Harlem Chamber Players)
  • Columbia Fellow
  • Forté Fellow
  • Dean’s List

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of my experience serving as a Nonprofit Board Fellow for The Harlem Chamber Players (THCP), an arts nonprofit dedicated to bringing live classical music to the Harlem community and creating opportunities for classical musicians of color. Working with THCP, I not only had the opportunity to learn from an incredible board and ED, but was also able to make a research-backed proposal for a new board structure that the organization implemented the following season. (My presentation on this work also earned a small grant for the organization from Columbia’s Tamer Center.) I was grateful to “learn by doing” while contributing value to a nonprofit whose mission I deeply support.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? During my pre-MBA career in Los Angeles, I had the opportunity to join my manager, talent agent Zach Carlisle, in moving his screenwriting client roster to ICM Partners Talent Agency. This transition entailed establishing brand new client service teams overnight and efficiently communicating the value of our new workplace’s capabilities to clients, all while tumultuously transitioning to a brand new office. Ultimately, a staggering 94% of our core clients chose to follow us on our move. For me, this transition demonstrated what I could achieve when I worked entrepreneurially beside a leader in whose vision I deeply believed.

Why did you choose this business school? Entertainment has always been my passion, so I knew I wanted to go to a school where I could join a strong media alumni network while also accessing first-rate education on the broader business landscape. CBS perfectly balances these two priorities, giving media-focused students “the best of both worlds.”

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Daniel Ames, with whom I took Managerial Negotiations and Immersive Teamwork. Though my pre-MBA role at a talent agency contained plenty of both negotiating and teamwork, these two courses were the most impactful offerings I took at CBS. Professor Ames, who holds a PhD in Psychology and a deep belief in the power of experiential learning, structures his classes as highly personal leadership labs, in which self-reflection and peer feedback allow students to understand how they are perceived in situations of professional conflict.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Coming from a “quant”-light background, I focused my course load almost exclusively on quantitative classes in my first year. It wasn’t until after I finished my summer internship that I allowed myself the freedom to take any qualitative offerings. My takeaway: even if you have strong soft skills, don’t let CBS’s leadership development curriculum pass you by!

What is the biggest myth about your school? While applying, I encountered the myth that CBS is “a finance school.” While it’s true that CBS is strong in this area, I have found its curriculum and recruiting reputation in my own areas of interest, media and consulting, to be very strong.

What surprised you the most about business school? It was the breadth of professional backgrounds and perspectives. I worried that coming from a “non-traditional” role (working at a Hollywood talent agency), I would struggle to fit in at CBS. In reality, I discovered that many of my peers had backgrounds even more “non-traditional” than I did, from Marines to classical musicians – and that my peers were excited to learn from my own unique experiences!

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? When speaking with current students and alumni during my application research, I asked them all to share their favorite CBS clubs and classes. From their responses, I drew together a specific list of resources I planned to take advantage of at CBS and interwove these into my essays. I conjecture that this specificity demonstrated my commitment to Columbia – and I am certain it helped me chart my course once I got in!

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I most admire my cluster-mate Vince Larocca ’22. After 4 years at the US Naval Academy and 5 years traversing the oceans as a Naval Officer, Vince found himself unexpectedly unable to continue serving at sea; at CBS, he has transitioned into the healthcare industry to improve access and outcomes for others. Vinny is an astoundingly tenacious, humble, and caring classmate who I am grateful to call my friend!

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? When I was growing up, my grandfather, William Boorstein, often spoke about his experience earning a PhD. He emphasized the value of becoming a “learned person,” and he highlighted how his business classes built the foundation for his later success leading his own Michigan metallurgic business. His example and support paved the way for me to pursue my MBA.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? Mentoring colleagues (especially young women) is incredibly important to me, so my first “bucket list” goal is to see a mentee of mine become a C-suite executive. On a more playful note, I’ll never forget the first time I saw a colleague’s name in the credits of a major television show – I hope one day not too far off to see my own name listed when the credits roll on Netflix or HBO!

What made Katherine  such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“Katherine Boorstein has contributed greatly to the CBS community. Named as this year’s McGowan fellow, a fellowship that supports the ethical leadership development of identified leaders across top business schools, Katherine has supported this mission in a variety of extracurricular involvement including serving as a leader for CBS follies and the Media Management Association. Katherine also continues to be actively involved as a non-profit board consultant.”

Samantha Shapses, Ed.D.
Associate Dean and Dean of Student Affairs 
Columbia Business School


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