Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Zach Bidner, University of Chicago (Booth)

Zach Bidner

University of Chicago, Booth School of Business

“I am a documentary/commercial film producer and an entrepreneur born and raised in Los Angeles.”

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Fun Fact About Yourself: I have seen every Fast & Furious movie at least 5 times.

Undergraduate School and Major: USC School of Cinematic Arts, BA Cinema, Critical Studies

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: 22nd Street Films, Founder/Producer | Parker Media, Producer | TestNow Beverly Hills, Co-founder

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of Chicago Booth’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Aside from the people, there are two main reasons why I chose Booth. The first was Booth’s ETA (Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition) program offered through the Polsky Center. My goal after business school is to acquire and grow a company. Booth offers an amazing program with resources that can directly help me to achieve that goal.

The second was the flexible curriculum. I have a specific goal and come from a non-traditional background, so I am very excited to be able to tailor my courses to build a strong business foundation and simultaneously focus on cultivating the skills and knowledge to be successful buying and growing a company.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Chicago Booth, and why? I am most excited to take advantage of Booth’s resources for entrepreneurship. I’m looking forward to getting involved in the ETA program and the ETA group at Booth. I’m excited to connect with other students, alumni, and faculty members who share my passion for the space.

What has been your first impression of the Booth MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far? It’s been refreshing to learn how genuine the “pay it forward” culture really is. From the moment I started reaching out to students and alumni when I applied, every person has been incredibly encouraging and helpful. The students at Booth genuinely root for each other’s successes.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: The career accomplishment I am most proud of is producing the feature documentary Coming Clean, which is currently available on Amazon Prime. The film was shot over two years around the country and examines America’s opioid addiction crisis. I led a large multi-state production team and collaborated closely with an amazing director, Ondi Timoner. I am most proud of the impact it has been able to make. In addition to our award-winning festival run and wide release, our impact campaign has reached people around the world to help break down stigma and inspire change.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? In 2020 during the pandemic, I partnered with a doctor and launched a COVID-19 testing startup to help independent media productions return to work. From that experience, I caught the entrepreneurship bug, and soon after learned about ETA and search funds. I knew I wanted to acquire and grow a business next, and I thought an MBA would be a great way to gain the skills, network, and experience to succeed in doing so. After graduation, my goal is to launch a search fund to acquire, lead, and grow a company.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? I found a case note written by Yale SOM Professor A.J. Wasserstein, “A Framework to Contemplate Post-MBA Career Paths,” to be very helpful when I was thinking about applying to MBA programs. As someone with a non-traditional background, I didn’t know if an MBA would be right for me. This case note helped me understand many of the common post-MBA paths and how an MBA can help me reach my entrepreneurial goals.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Chicago Booth’s MBA program? My first piece of advice is to be yourself. Don’t try to tailor your application to what you think the admission committee wants to hear, just be authentic and tell your story. Second, you should reach out to as many Boothies as you can! I spoke with students, alumni, and faculty members during the application process, and everyone was incredibly helpful.


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