Olivia Horsfield, MBA’13
Horsfield (MBA’13) Wants to Shape the Future of News
Olivia Horsfield (MBA’13) is passionate about the importance of the media. “Quality news has an important role in society,” she says. “It calls powerful individuals to account, and it has entertainment value.”
However, you won’t find newsprint ink smudging Horsfield’s fingertips. For her, the future of media is digital. She’s eager to help the industry evolve from ink on paper to pixels in cyberspace. Horsfield, a Fulbright scholarship student from London, is finding that the School of Management (SMG) is helping her evolve, too, from a market researcher to a well-rounded business strategist.
Horsfield studied history at Oxford University. She “just sort of fell into market research,” knowing that it played to her strengths. “History is all about understanding people and their actions,” she says, and so is marketing.
After working for a large market research firm in her native Britain, Horsfield began doing market research for the Guardian Media Group (in Britain), which has more online traffic than either USA Today or The Wall Street Journal. Horsfield’s research drove the Guardian newspaper’s successful iPhone app introduction two years ago, and informed the relaunch of its Sunday sister publication The Observer last year.
However, Horsfield would rather guide this electronic media revolution than merely provide data for it, so she decided to continue her studies.
Her Fulbright stipulated that she study in the United States, and among US graduate business schools, she was attracted to SMG’s reputation in technology management and its broad-based curriculum that embraces nonprofit as well as for-profit management.
“The broad business background offered here is what I lacked,” Horsfield says. The diversity in the program offerings also reflected the diversity of her fellow students’ interests, she says. “They’re not all management consultants and bankers. Their interests are broad and they’re socially conscious, which makes the whole experience that much more enjoyable.”
As a first-year MBA, Horsfield feels she has already learned lessons she’ll use for the rest of her career, particularly during the Integrated Project course, which allowed her to work in a team with five other students and apply what she learned in her core classes to a simulated brand acquisition. She’s also looking forward to the technology courses in her second year that will allow her to benefit from SMG’s expertise in technology management.
After graduating, the terms of her Fulbright mean that Horsfield must return to Britain, but she can envision herself working in the United States in the future. She plans to work as a strategic management consultant for the media industry, either for a boutique, or for a larger management-consulting firm. She’s also considering going back to a media firm, like the Guardian or Google, but this time working in strategy rather than market research.
“From an intellectual perspective, the challenges the media industry is facing make it very exciting,” Horsfield says. While some in the newspaper industry see technology and the Internet as its downfall, Horsfield sees them as both the industry’s savior and a perk of being knowledgeable in the field. “With the technology—Facebook, Twitter, smartphones—you feel like you’re always on the cutting edge.”
By Madeline Bodin