How this theater student used storytelling skills in her MBA

In this episode of The Modern MBA podcast, in collaboration with MBAGRADSCHOOLS, we spoke with Deanna Galati, an MBA student at Schulich School of Business in Canada. With a background in arts and theater, she shares her drivers for pursuing an MBA, the valuable skills her theatrical experience allows her to bring to the classroom, and her plans to use her degree to further arts policy and funding in the Canadian arts and culture scene.

In short

Would you share your name, where you're from, and where you did your MBA?

My name is Deanna Galati. I’m from Toronto, Canada and I’m currently pursuing my MBA at the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto. (00:43)

Would you give us an overview of the day-to-day of an arts/programming coordinator?

It’s a lot of people management, coordination, being very organized, and [being] a really strong communicator. Day-to-day, I was finding myself connecting to program participants and artists themselves who we were either hiring or who were taking part in our programming, stakeholders outside of the organization who perhaps partnered with us or sponsored us in some capacity, and then engaging with new people who might come on as an artist or as a sponsor. (04:22)

Tell us about your MBA experience.

I came in expecting to just brush up on my finance skills and accounting and economics skills, but I feel like I’ve gotten so much more than I ever anticipated. I’ve been thrown into a classroom with business professionals and people coming from engineering and consulting, which was intimidating at first. What I learned really quickly was that no matter the background or experience, the MBA is such a diverse degree. Learning that helped me settle into the program and then people started seeing value in things like my communication skills and my knowledge in the nonprofit sector. (07:33)

What other skills that you brought from your background have proved to be particularly useful in the course?

I think the storytelling piece. I’ve been involved in case competitions and class projects in general and it’s all about telling the story in a way that sells your idea. My theater degree taught me how to take an idea, conduct research, and build the show or the story in a way that was intriguing for audiences. That is how I would prepare for a business case. You have a problem, you conduct research to figure out how to solve that problem, you build out your recommendation, and then you pitch and present [it] to your client. That storytelling piece has been really valuable in being able to zoom out and see that whole picture. (10:37)

Where do you go from here?

I am very interested in public policy or at a more government level. It would be great to get into some type of government role to advocate for funding or just arts and culture practices in Canada in general. So that’s definitely an avenue that I’m looking into. (17:11)

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