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HBS Alum Discusses Transition from Finance to TV

Many aspire to work in creative industries, few muster the courage to do so. Lily-Hayes Kaufman (HBS ’09) did just that. A finance professional before HBS, Kaufman now works on the NBC TV show SMASH. She spoke with The Harbus about her post-MBA transition into the world of film and television.cartier santos 100 replica

What is your background, and how did you transition into the entertainment industry?

I worked in commodity derivatives for six years, both before and after HBS, although I had always wanted to do something more creative like write or work in film.  I reached out to one of the producers of Margin Call, a movie and screenplay that inspired me, and to my surprise, she wrote back.

She was about to begin pre-production in New York on her next project, Kill Your Darlings, a dark independent film about the beat generation starring Daniel Radcliffe, Michael C. Hall, Lizzie Olsen. I loved the script, and I was determined to get my foot in the door. So I did something that is the epitome of non-standard HBS – I offered to work for the producer for free, in exchange for the opportunity to learn from her years of experience producing.

Although I took a pay cut, leaving finance to learn from this producer was really valuable step in my transition. I had the chance to get my feet wet on the film set, I gained experience financing and developing a pipeline of future projects, and I broadened my entertainment network.

Having Kill Your Darlings on my resume helped me get an interview with the producers of the TV show SMASH, an NBC Studios / DreamWorks co-production, where I currently work today for the Executive Producer. I am so grateful for this opportunity, my first experience working in TV production. I am learning a lot, and often feel like I’m in film school.

What does the typical ‘day in the life of’ look like for you cartier roadster replica?

Like any job in a fast-paced, dynamic environment, there is no ‘typical’ day in production. There are many similarities to the trading floor environment: the pace moves very quickly, and flow of information is critical because you must make fast decisions, and you must deliver by strict deadlines.

We film on sound stages and on location around New York City, and operate on a simultaneous pre-production and production schedule. This means that each day the company is both filming the current episode on set and also preparing for the next episode in the office.

A typical day is generally split between set and the office. In either case, I have one eye on our call sheet, tracking updates as the crew moves through each scene till camera wrap. Meanwhile, prep for the next episode on any given day may include a cast read-through of the script, scouting locations, a production meeting with department heads to discuss details of wardrobe, musical numbers, set designs, etc.

Is anything you learned at HBS applicable to your career today www.replicabestsale.co.uk?

Anita Elberse’s Strategic Marketing in Creative Industries class was of course one of my favorites. (I didn’t fight my way through three rounds of drop/add for a seat in SMICI for nothing!)

OK, who wasn’t a little intimidated by the infamous ‘Cranberries’ case? Well, after the brief experience I’ve had thus far in film/TV production, I wish I could go back and take more TOM classes. Operations management is critical to running a film or TV production. Whether it’s managing logistics and transportation, or scheduling locations and actors, or managing inventory or equipment utilization, the goal is to produce the highest quality product with the most efficiency as possible.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve gotten or would give to someone else?

A producer I look up to told me, that to be satisfied in your career, your role must always fulfill at least two of the following criteria: compensation, learning or advancing your career. I’m still in the early phase of my career, so at the moment, the two most important criteria for me are learning and advancing my career. Here’s to hoping the compensation will follow!

November 29, 2012
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