MBA programs attract students from around the globe, often from a variety of industries and professional backgrounds. While graduating from an MBA opens the door to new opportunities, an MBA also offers a new perspective. Could a deeper understanding of business benefit creative industries that are currently struggling?
Samantha Britt took the opportunity to answer such a question by joining the WHU Global Online MBA in 2020, capitalizing on an uncertain situation during the pandemic and stepping out of her comfort zone as an artist. A professional soprano, actress, and voice teacher, Samantha’s background is as impressive as it is awe-inspiring. Classically trained at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City, she has performed around the globe including recent debuts at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden and the Deutsche Oper Berlin.
“When there was a pause between singing work in New York I was involved in a couple of projects that focused more on business. One role was with the Women’s Enterprise Development Center, an incubator supporting women seeking to start their own business, often low-income women. The other was the American Opera Project, an incubator for contemporary composers of new operas. Both were non-profits and I felt like I was serving a greater purpose while working with these organizations. When the pandemic struck in early 2020 and affected my work as a freelance singer, I took a step back to think about what I wanted to do. How could I use my skills to contribute to society? I realized that the biggest gap in my knowledge was my business acumen.”
Samantha’s vision is to connect business with her love for the performing arts. Seeing how the industry was and continues to be impacted by the pandemic, she saw an opportunity to combine her chosen art form with the knowledge of an MBA to help the industry evolve and adapt. “The industry needs to find a way to commercialize without harming the art form itself. I think with my combination of training and knowledge I could potentially bring both the business and art worlds together in a positive way. I’m excited to see where the online MBA takes me.”
Discovering the online MBA.
An alumna of Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania but now living in Berlin, Samantha came across the WHU Global Online MBA after researching top-ranked European business schools. “I was pleased to discover my alma mater is also a partner school of WHU, so to see those global connections impressed me.” Due to her busy schedule as a voice and piano teacher (alongside being a successful opera singer), the flexibility of the online MBA appealed to her the most. “The admissions team were so helpful with guiding me through the different options of 18 or 36 months and how I could customize and pause my studies if needed, especially with my contract with the Staatsoper in Berlin. It seemed like a much more practical and personalized approach than other programs.”
Joining the program with few expectations, Samantha has found herself pleasantly surprised with how she has adapted to new ways of thinking and topics. “I have enjoyed learning more about the world economy and comparative economics. Our first module focused on calculus and statistics, which was challenging, as it is not one of my strengths! I feel that now I have a deeper understanding of strategic planning and different frameworks of analytics. I have learned to start with facts and use these to draw conclusions. It is a great way to learn how to express yourself and be persuasive in a business setting; it is certainly challenging the way I normally think.”
Distance learning, not disconnected.
Perhaps what has been one of the most positive surprises for her from the Global Online MBA, is the level of interactivity during the synchronous sessions. These live teaching sessions allow students to learn and discuss with their cohort and professors in real-time. “It feels like you’re there in person,” says Samantha. “It’s clear that WHU has made every effort to inject life into distance learning rather than simply transferring its in-person program to a digital format. Which is another reason why I chose this program.”
“I have proven to myself that I am capable of learning new things. I think a great aspect of studying an MBA in comparison to a master’s degree or a doctorate, is that you are always connecting it to the real world. You can see the value of what you are learning in this larger context. I feel that I am expanding on my identity as an artist, not shutting it away, by exploring new possibilities that could ultimately benefit the industry I love.”