Culture Shock: Music Industry Exec Talks about Wharton’s EMBA Program

Many students seek an MBA degree to round out their business skills or gain the credentials needed to advance their career. While first-year Wharton EMBA student Andrew Gould agrees those things are important, he also points to the “immense” transformation of his industry as a key reason for his decision to return to school.

Gould, director at EMI Music Publishing in New York City, explains that traditional boundaries within the music industry are crumbling as a result of the MP3 player and CD burners and companies are experimenting with different business models to make money. “The most successful people in our industry will be forward thinkers who can set up and execute a strategy. Wharton will keep me on the frontlines of innovation,” he says.

Being in the music industry, Gould admits that coming to Wharton every other weekend was a bit of culture shock at first. “I work in a warm, creative environment where we talk about music and pop culture. And then all of a sudden I go into this intense, quant-oriented, highly theoretical environment and my daily workload has doubled,” he says. “It took me a while to get used to that and get to a comfortable place, but I love it. The program is making me very happy.”

While he recently began the program, Gould says that he’s already using a lot of what he’s learning in the classroom back in the office. “I have more depth and understanding of dynamics like how people are compensated, management and leadership issues, and how a company can influence or smother motivation and innovation,” he says.

Gould adds that he brings a unique perspective to the classroom. “Many of my classmates are engineers, consultants, bankers, lawyers, or doctors and they have a focused experience on a lot of topics that is far different from my perspective. It does sometimes take a little bit extra for me to relate my experience to the program, but the whole point is challenging myself. I’m here to create something for myself.”

One of his favorite parts of the program so far is the commute from New York to Philadelphia. “We roll in packs on the train. One the way home, there are always lots of classmates and we find tables in the café cars,” he says, adding that he specifically wanted an EMBA program outside of New York. “I like the idea of going to another campus and staying there for the weekend to recreate as closely as possible the full-time experience,” he explains. “I didn’t want to feel like I was just taking weekend classes.”

Another highlight of the program, added Gould, is the faculty. “They are the best in their field and take teaching very seriously. On top of being extremely bright, they know how to convey the information in a way that encourages us to push our boundaries.”