Meet the MBA class of 2023: Dana M. Lerner, Columbia Business School

“I’m a theater producer, entrepreneur, and avid athlete who loves to laugh at my own jokes.”

Hometown: Princeton, New Jersey

Fun fact about yourself: I’m a Tony Award-nominated Broadway producer.

Undergraduate School and Major: Cornell University, Theater Arts

Most recent employer and job title: Red Pelican Creative, Founder/CEO and Social Media Strategist

Which word best describes the Columbia Business School MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far and why? Generous! Everyone I spoke to was not only willing, but also eager to connect. From informal discussions about their experiences as a student to more formal meetings to offer advice on the recruiting process, it has been truly exciting to interact with alumni and students who want to give back to new members of the CBS community.

Aside from your classmates and your location, what was the key element of the Columbia Business School MBA program that made you choose this business school and why was it so important to you? If this past year has taught us anything, it’s that the entertainment industry and the tech sphere are highly interconnected. We have seen the rise of streaming, digital releases and various forms of virtual content created during the pandemic. I believe this trend will continue, and Columbia’s Media and Technology program stood out to me as an incredible opportunity to dive headfirst into this ever-changing world. With a wealth of resources and a tight-knit community eager to learn from faculty and others, we can better understand the relationship between the two industries and push them into the future.

What class, club, or activity are you most excited about at Columbia Business School? I’m really excited for Follies! As a producer, there is nothing better than bringing together a group of enthusiasts to put on a show. Being part of a well-known CBS tradition makes it even more special. Also, who doesn’t appreciate a good Sondheim reference?!

What makes New York such a great place to get an MBA? New York is the biggest city in the world! From food to business to entertainment, the opportunities to succeed, connect and grow are endless.

Describe your biggest achievement in your career so far: This allowed Red Pelican Creative, my social media company specializing in the arts and entertainment industries, to not only operate but grow throughout the pandemic.

How has COVID-19 changed your outlook on your career and life in general? COVID-19 has ruthlessly exposed Broadway’s economic shortcomings, bringing a $14 billion industry to its knees. All forms of entertainment – ​​TV, movies, music, books, virtual/recorded theater, podcasts and more – are what got us through the pandemic. I know I haven’t gone a day in the past 18 months without consuming at least one of these entertainment mediums. I hope on the other side of this, we as a society realize the importance of the arts and how essential they are to our daily lives. After spending a lot of time thinking about my position in the entertainment industry and the industry in general, I think it’s now time to reinvent the wheel and come up with new ideas to not only position the industry theater, but all forms. entertainment for future financial success.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? As an entrepreneur in an industry shut down by the pandemic, I wanted to use this time to learn traditional business fundamentals and management skills to become a more well-rounded leader and professional. After my MBA, I plan to take positions in content acquisition or strategy at a streaming service or production company.

What other MBA programs have you applied to? CBS was my first choice.

What advice would you give to help potential candidates gain admission to the Columbia Business School MBA program? Chat with current students, alumni, and admissions staff! Everyone is very friendly and willing to chat (which says a lot about their love of CBS). They can offer a ton of information about the culture, the schedule, and more at CBS.


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