The Media MBA: Advice from a Student in the Trenches
An MBA with an emphasis in entertainment and media isn’t something you hear about often. In fact, according to GMAC’s 2016 Prospective Students Survey, a career in media is barely a consideration for most MBA candidates. But that wasn’t the case for Kristina Partsinevelos, a 2017 MBA candidate from the Oxford Saïd Business School. Kristina started her career as a journalist, producer and TV news anchor, and she plans to continue in media post-graduation. And for her, an MBA was a natural step to further her career.
“I actually started out as a business undergraduate and went on to work in sales,” Partsinevelos told us. It was around that time that she started to gain media exposure. “I was a co-chair for a charity, which meant I was often interviewed to help raise awareness and funds.”
She thought the publicity was great, but when she read the pieces written about her charity or watched the interviews, she saw a lot of issues. The power of journalists is the ability to tell stories, and she quickly realized that she could similar—if not better—stories than she was seeing. That’s when Partsinevelos decided to go back to school and earn her Masters in Journalism.
From there, she worked at CBC for six months before moving to BNN (Bellmedia) as a business correspondent, where she was on air 7-11 times a day, jumping from news station to news station. She eventually decided to transition into international media, and knew she needed to continue her education within the business world to make that happen, which is how she ended up as an MBA student at the the Saïd Business School.
“The MBA has helped me build connections, which I can leverage to kick off my broadcast business television career for an international audience,” Partsinevelos said. “Class discussions have also had a big impact on my career. I can think back to discussions in class where I had to analyze why a company did something or responded a certain way. Those experiences translate to a media career because we had the discussion in a way that the average person can understand, which is exactly how you have to explain things on TV.”
Partsinevelos’ work was recently recognized at the 2017 MBA World Summit in Berlin, where she was one of 25 MBAs to speak. For her talk, titled Dating the Media: The Guide to Getting Your Company Noticed, Kristina won the Tim-Eisenmann Award for best speaker, which is awarded based on votes by attendees of the MBA World Summit.
Kristina commented that the award, and the entire experience, exceeded her expectations: “The Summit was well-organized, and brought together people from all around the world to share stories and compare experiences. I found it extremely beneficial.”
As for her speech, Partsinevelos told us that she didn’t share anything new—it was the way she shared her thoughts that was different. She used anecdotes to convey her message, and that—in and of itself—was one of the points she hoped to make. As for other pieces of advice from her speech, she shared her thoughts on a few key elements to getting one’s company noticed.
- Relationships: When Partsinevelos was a reporter, she woke up to over 60 new emails every morning from companies pitching stories, receiving roughly 300 emails by the end of the day. Because reporters are so busy, it’s important for companies to make an effort to build a relationship with a reporter first. “Meet up with a journalist and go out to coffee,” said Partsinevelos. “Then, later on, maybe the reporter will remember you when they need an expert in commodities.”
- Plan Ahead: It can take a while to get a story off the ground. If you want to make sure your pitch has the best chance of being picked up, plan in advance and start setting up the connections and angles you need.
- The Human Element: “You always have to think of the human element behind the story. ‘How can I tell this story in a compelling and visual way?’” she encouraged companies to ask.
As for the advice that Partsinevelos offers for other MBA candidates interested in media careers:
“Be a hustler. You really have to put yourself out there, ask people for help, and not fear rejection. You are going to email a million people and none of them are going to write you back. Don’t give up. But the most important thing is to not be swayed by other people in your MBA class. I knew a lot of other people in my class were doing the consulting thing, and for a while I considered it, but I truly wanted was a career in media, so I stuck with it. Don’t settle.”