2020 Best & Brightest EMBAs: Sasha Schechter, Columbia Business School

Sasha Schechter

Columbia Business School

“A passionate, intensely curious go-getter who is determined to make the most of any situation.”

Age: 30

Hometown: New York, NY

Family Members: My immediate family consists of my mother, Saletta Boni; my father, Clyde Schechter, and my brother, Trevor Schechter – all Columbia University graduates as well.

Fun fact about yourself:

I won an Emmy Award for working on SciTech Now, a program about innovations in science and technology that airs on PBS stations across the country.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Oberlin College, BA in Creative Writing

Where are you currently working? The WNET Group; Director, Digital Distribution & Content Partnerships, Wavelength, WLIW

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work, and Leadership Roles: I was elected the Women in Business Representative for my Cluster within the class of 2020. I also made the Dean’s List.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I came to Columbia Business School with outlier experience: an undergraduate degree in Creative Writing and a career in television production. The Columbia Business School curriculum presented an opportunity to learn skills and concepts I hadn’t learned before, particularly in finance. I am now able to apply that knowledge to my work confidently. As a Poet, I am proud to now also call myself a Quant

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In July 2017, my team and I pushed “go” on a project called Wavelength – an intrapreneurial endeavor that introduced a new B2B business model in public media. Wavelength is a user-friendly digital platform that PBS and NPR stations can use to easily exchange and share broadcast assets with each other. Because of my enrollment in the EMBA program, my boss gave me the opportunity to exercise leadership in growing the new platform into a national resource. To date, we’ve onboarded more than 90% of PBS Member Stations. During the COVID-19 global pandemic, Wavelength has provided critical digital infrastructure that has enabled stations to broadcast timely and educational content about the coronavirus to communities across the country.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? No matter what tourists in t-shirts may try to tell you, I truly, unconditionally love New York City. When it was time to choose a business school, I knew I wanted to stay in, and contribute to, the fabric of this City. From there, Columbia Business School’s EMBA program was always my goal: It provided me the opportunity to keep my job in the heart of the media industry while also giving me the chance to learn from some of the brightest minds in finance in, as the school says, “The Very Center of Business.”

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? I enjoyed the academics, particularly learning skills and sharpening acumen that I didn’t have when I entered the program in August 2018. However, the best part of business school was the cohort. My classmates were smart, driven leaders who were generous with their time, their thoughts, and their talents inside and outside of the classroom.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? The leadership courses at Columbia Business School emphasize that technical skills can only get you so far in a professional environment. To continue to grow and rise in a career, it’s critical to develop strong leadership skills – and strong leadership stems from an understanding of yourself and your people. This was one of the biggest lessons I learned. I’m grateful I had the time during the program to work through different techniques to improve both how I listened to my colleagues at the office and conveyed tasks or information to my team. And now, in the face of a global pandemic, I have seen how critical good leadership is within organizations, from scenario planning to a commitment to agile behaviors and new ways of working.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? I remember seeing a slide during orientation that featured a photo of a toddler screaming as she was sprayed in the face with a fire hose. The caption read, “The EMBA Experience.” That was not falsely advertised. There were many moments where I wondered if I could really balance my life, my family, my work, and my education all at the same time. The secret to success in the EMBA program was realizing that I couldn’t balance EMBA with my life; rather, I had to integrate EMBA into my life. Choosing for and against each aspect of my life in a purposeful way was key. I think the COVID-19 global pandemic provides the perfect moment for understanding the work of integration: I had to relocate my home, care for a quarantined family member, take a leading contributor role in transitioning television production to remote capacities at work, accelerate the accessibility of digital content distribution for my industry, complete my EMBA coursework, and serve as a class representative with the Dean in reimagining the EMBA experience – including a virtual recognition ceremony. Having support from The WNET Group, my boss, my family, my Dean, my school, and my EMBA colleagues was critical, and enabled me to shift my focus in appropriate ways to get it all done – and I’m proud to say it did all get done.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? An executive MBA program is a team effort. It requires input from yourself, of course, but also from your family, your friends, your boss, and your colleagues. It’s a big commitment, and the reality of integrating work, life, and school is a daunting one – so you have to build your team and prepare to ask them for help and support when you need it. Most of all, you must be committed to the value that the EMBA program adds to your life and stay anchored in the results that come from committing yourself to the experience. This is not something to take on because it’s “the thing to do,” but rather because you genuinely care to learn what an EMBA program has to teach you. If you can anchor yourself in that, it fuels you to power through the hardest stretches.

What was your biggest regret in business school? There was never enough time to spend with the phenomenal people in my cohort. I don’t regret much, but if I had to choose a regret, it would be all of the times that I needed to put other priorities ahead of opportunities to spend more time, socially or professionally, with my classmates.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? There are so many classmates I admire for bringing rich learning and context to the cohort, so this is a hard question to answer. But to pick just one: I deeply admire my classmate Elizabeth Mauban. She began her professional life as a ballerina, transitioned her career before business school into a digital role in the arts, and then leveraged the EMBA program to pivot her career into the financial industry – all while raising two young children and working with her husband to start his own business. Watching her rise to the occasions that the EMBA program presented was inspiring.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I felt a desire to achieve more than I was achieving but felt I needed to build a bridge, and some new capabilities, that would help get me from where I stood at Point A to where I wanted to be at Point B. Business school was that bridge.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I’ve been heavily influenced by, not to mention enamored with, the Arts & Culture scene in New York City. Long-term, I would love to contribute good business sense to the Arts & Culture space in this city that I love with my whole heart. A dream job would be to act as CEO of a cultural institution here.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I hope they’ll remember me as determined, smart, and reliable, but also as kind, empathetic, and supportive. My peers at CBS changed my life, and I hope that they would think of me as someone they could call if they need something in the future.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

1) Become CEO of a company.

2) Travel to every continent and work across geographies.

What made Sasha such an invaluable addition to the class of 2020?

“Sasha’s positive attitude and commitment to her fellow students sets her apart as a leader and has made her an invaluable part of our community. She works seamlessly with students from all programs, encouraging participation and inclusion in events on and off-campus.

One of Sasha’s strongest qualities is her ability to unite. She has worked closely with students from our full-time MBA program to organize women in business events for all students. She’s thoughtful when planning and takes into account all the various program calendars when doing so.

Sasha served as a Women in Business representative for the EMBA-NY Friday/Saturday Class of 2020. As a student representative, she functioned as a liaison between full-time MBA and EMBA students while planning events focused on empowering and highlighting women in the business world. Her events gave students the opportunity to learn from and about successful women in a variety of industries.

Sasha’s enthusiasm for Columbia University and the community we have is unmatched. She has vibrantly spoken about her experience to incoming students and the impact it has already had on her life and career.”

Susan West
Associate Director, Student Affairs
Executive MBA Programs


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