Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Hayley Mason, Columbia Business School

Hayley Mason

Columbia Business School

“A self-starter with the personal mantra: Be real. Be strong. Do good. Have faith.”

Hometown: Lithonia, Georgia

Fun Fact About Yourself: I’m a musician. I sing and can play two instruments.

Undergraduate School and Major: Howard University (Go Bison!); Bachelor of Arts Degree in Broadcast Journalism

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: CBS46 News (WGCL-TV), News Reporter and Fill-in Anchor

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of Columbia Business School’s MBA curriculum programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? While looking for a top MBA program with strong a curriculum for media executives, I was attracted to Columbia Business School’s Media and Technology Program. The entertainment course offerings were an additional value add. As a journalist and media professional who plans to stay in the industry, Columbia provided the perfect intersection of top tier finance, managerial, and media and entertainment strategy courses in combination with highly coveted corporate partner access and recruiting opportunities. The in-person networking with current executives and on-campus recruiting program Columbia provides made sense for me as an aspiring international media executive.

What has been your first impression of the Columbia Business School MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far. Tell us your best CBS story so far. I’ve been amazed at how open and helpful CBS students and alumni have been in sharing their experiences with me and offering advice. From my admission journey to my onboarding process, there has always been a person to call, email, or connect with on LinkedIn who was willing to offer guidance and support. There’s been no reluctance in this area, and each student and alum I’ve met has been incredibly generous with their time.

One story that stands out to me is from a visit I made to CBS last winter. I reached out to several students on LinkedIn and asked for tips to make the most out of my three-day trip to campus. One student, Jasmine, not only responded quickly, but offered to break her schedule and give me a personal tour of the campus before a series of meetings and events. She invited me to join her at a meeting with her classmates, a marketing association dinner, and two social gatherings to meet other CBS MBAs and students from other professional schools and affinity groups. Through the weekend, I met dozens of highly successful, accomplished, and ambitious business students who were excelling in their careers and making career pivots. The experience exposed me to a new world of possibilities. As more students responded to my LinkedIn messages, I learned that Jasmine had already spread the word that I was coming to campus and other students jumped in to make sure I got as much information as possible to help make my admissions process a smooth one. Some students texted and emailed. One student called me and talked to me for hours about everything from campus culture to internship opportunities, professors to take, social environment, financing the degree, and places to live in NYC. Knowing that each person had their own class work, exams, internships, jobs, and still made it a priority to reach out to me only confirmed that I was making the right decision to come to CBS.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Columbia Business School? I’m currently most excited about joining the Media Management Association (MMA) and the Black Business Students Association (BBSA). So far, the BBSA has gone above and beyond to make sure that every question, resource, and opportunity available has been easily accessible to me. The family-like environment and supportive community has helped make my CBS experience a memorable one so far. Career-wise, the MMA is one of my top-ranked professional clubs. Securing a role in the media industry can be a tough shell to crack, and the MMA helps offer real-time internal pipelines to career opportunities.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: As a journalist, I have served as the lead reporter on several high-profile court cases and criminal trials. My biggest career accomplishments so far have been covering major court cases that have led to lasting policy changes and social reforms. Some of the most noteworthy experiences stemmed from my coverage of the Vanderbilt Rape Trials in Nashville, TN, and most recently my coverage of the murder trial and federal hate crimes trial in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. These tragic cases have led to major reforms in sexual assault reporting and prevention training on college campuses, and the repeal of Georgia’s Citizen’s Arrest Law and racial justice reform efforts, respectively. The Arbery story continues to stimulate action-oriented conversations around social justice and legal reforms.

I was nominated for a Southeast Emmy Award for my years of work on the Ahmaud Arbery story and subsequent trials. I’ve also earned 4 prior Emmy Awards and two Edward R. Murrow Awards in journalism, along with multiple other national honors for my reporting over the last decade. I’m incredibly grateful that viewers trusted me to be a daily source of information for their communities as I worked as a live television reporter and anchor. These assignments and honors are just a few special highlights on my journey in news. I see my MBA pivot as another leap of faith forward.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? At the start of the pandemic, I launched my media company: Mason Media, LLC., a boutique media strategy, content development, and talent consulting firm. To grow my venture long-term, I needed the business skills and academic tools to learn media development, strategy, corporate partnerships, and a host of other managerial skills. Columbia was always my top choice, and New York City has always been the place I wanted to be to catapult my career forward. After graduation, I plan to work as a broadcast media executive directing media development, strategy, and corporate partnerships with an emphasis on placing high-performing minority talent and content in major projects.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? I recently watched several TED talks by author and speaker Simon Sinek. I would recommend prospective MBA’s watch Sinek’s TED talks entitled: “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” and “Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe.” Those two talks helped me define some of my leadership goals and my philosophy around the character of good leader as I defined my “why” during the application and admission process. I’m also looking forward to reading Sinek’s book, Start With Why.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I applied and was admitted into the NYU Stern School of Business as well as CBS.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Columbia Business School’s MBA program? I would say attend as many informational events as possible and follow up with people you meet in a one-on-one setting. Reach out to people who inspire you at CBS and ask for a chat. Ask questions, and ask more questions. Also, share what you would like to contribute to the program and campus. Keep organized notes of your conversations and experiences at events. Your experiences with the students, admissions team, faculty, and alumni will help guide your thoughts and frame your stories in the application essays. Writing down how you felt in those experiences and what you learned in real time will help you more clearly define your ‘why’ and will help ensure that CBS is a good fit for you. And of course, study early and diligently for the GMAT, EA, or GRE!


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