2016 Best EMBAs: Andrew Asnes, Columbia Business School

Andrew Asnes Columbia

Andrew Asnes

Columbia Business School

“Studying is like a muscle, if you don’t use it frequently, the muscles atrophy and it takes longer to get them back up to speed.”

Age: 51

Location: New York, NY

Family Members: My beautiful, supportive, talented wife Anastasia Barzee and our two boisterous young boys, ages 6 and 7

Undergraduate School and Degree: Dartmouth College, Film Studies

Where are you currently working? President, Round Hill Entertainment

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work, and Leadership Roles: Dean’s Honors List, Honor Board Representative, father, husband

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? The first thing I am most proud of during my time at Columbia Business School is organizing CBS Matters with classmate Bruce Brittain. CBS Matters is a program where students give a talk about something that matters to them (what inspires, excites or is most important in their life). Bruce and I were able to get almost 50% of the class to participate in the program that we ran at the end of class on Fridays. We were very persistent in encouraging our classmates to participate and it paid off in a great way by creating stronger bonds amongst classmates. It also fostered a greater sense of community amongst our class. We recently sent out a survey about the value of CBS Matters to classmates and 88% said that it was a very important part of their time at Columbia. That was very satisfying to read.

Another highlight of my experience at CBS was working with a former employer and applying my new skills. Having begun my professional career as a performing artist, and although I have run and led several businesses since retiring from the Paul Taylor Dance Company, I had no formal business training. So it was very satisfying to be able to apply my business school training to a real world problem the Paul Taylor Dance Company was facing approaching their 2016 season at Lincoln Center in NYC. The company had recently gone through a rebranding to Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance and a change of venue for their annual NYC season to the venerable Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. Both of these presented benefits and challenges to the organization in terms of communicating these changes to their past, current and future audiences.

Along with another classmate, I wrote a strategic marketing plan for the company. We addressed the communication strategy of the company and created a strategy for continued audience development based on the company’s new mission. I was able to leverage my knowledge of the dance industry and my new skills acquired at Columbia to create a plan that could affect change in a real world setting. The company took our suggestions and incorporated them into their planning for the 2016 season to great effect. It was extremely satisfying to be able to apply my education in such a tangible and effective manner at the end of my first year of studies.

Who is your favorite professor? I have two favorite professors from Columbia. The first is Professor Amir Ziv who taught the core course of Financial Accounting — you know, the most exciting class of any MBA program (kidding). What made Professor Ziv outstanding, aside from his thematic tie choices related to the subject/case of the day, was his sense of humor and enthusiasm for making sure students understood his subject. He made accounting fun to learn.

My other favorite is Daniel Isenberg, who was a guest professor of Global Entrepreneurship. What made him an excellent professor was his extraordinary ability to connect the theoretical with the practical. He brought in great guest speakers who illuminated the cases we studied. He also created a class structure which forced and encouraged engagement between and amongst classmates.

Favorite MBA Courses? Global Entrepreneurship, Personal Leadership & Success, Just Capitalism and Cause-Driven Marketing, Digital Investing, Driving Strategic Impact

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? The access to the business community that Columbia provides is unparalleled. Also the location (being an Upper West Sider) and the quality of the applicants.

What did you enjoy most about business school? The interaction with my classmates, my learning team (great group of guys), the high level of intellectual discourse.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from business school? Asking the right questions is most important when exploring any subject or issue.

What is your best advice for juggling work, family and education? Be fully vested in whatever activity you are doing at the time.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your executive MBA program? Don’t stress out over the application process. Just get it done and let fate take its course.

 “I knew I wanted to go to business school when …” I realized an advanced degree would be necessary to achieve my professional goals.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be …” Less of an influence on my children as a role model for continued learning as a lifelong value.

Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire? Steve Jobs (Apple) because he stuck to his core values and passionate belief in his ideas; Abhi Shah (Clutch Group) for creating an advisory board of people who would not only help him with advice and money but with their network; Robert Wessman (Alvogen) for seeing value when others could not; Lisa Baird (US. Olympic Committee) for being a well-balanced professional and person; and Harvey Schiller (America’s Cup) for his openness to opportunity.

What are your long-term professional goals? I would like to run a media company focused on creating and distributing IP through all known and yet-to-be-developed channels.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My mother for giving me self-confidence, my wife for being unwavering in her support, and my children for always inspiring me to be a better person.

Fun fact about yourself: I can make a dress.

Favorite book: The one I am currently reading, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Favorite movie: Raging Bull

Favorite musical performer: Heart, Grateful Dead, David Bowie, Anastasia Barzee, Led Zeppelin, Bruno Mars, and so many more. I love music

Favorite television show: “Ray Donovan,” “Dice,” “Game of Thrones,” “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”

Favorite vacation spot: Turks and Caicos; anywhere with my family

Hobbies? Tennis, research, reading

What made Andrew such an invaluable addition to the class of 2016? 

“Andrew has been an extraordinary leader for his cluster and the EMBA-NY Friday/Saturday class these past two years. He served throughout the program as the Cluster B Honor Board Representative, through which he is the leader for CBS Matters, a student-driven initiative at the school where members of each cluster share what matters to them and why. He has done a tremendous job in this role, successfully fostering community in his cohort by encouraging participation from his classmates in this tradition. He has been described by his peers as ‘Mr. EMBA,’ someone who always went above and beyond, was spirited, motivating, and went out of his way to get to know each member of the class. His achievements as a leader in the program come as he balances a vibrant career in theater and his wonderful family with his EMBA studies.”

Felicia Goodman
Senior Associate Director, Academic and Student Affairs on behalf of the EMBA Programs Team
Columbia Business School

DON’T MISS: CLASS OF 2016: THE BEST & BRIGHTEST GRADUATING EMBAS