Ruben talks career change, networking, and the importance of getting involved at school.
Ruben Pranata, MBA 2006, UCLA, Anderson School of Management
Sales Operations Manager at Google
HOW DID YOUR CAREER CHANGE AFTER GRADUATION?
Prior to UCLA, I was working in the hotel hospitality/meetings and conventions industry as a sales manager. I knew that I wanted to transition into a more traditional business field and I was able to successfully make that transition into a Sales, Operations and Strategy role at Google.
Initially, I was hired in a client-facing role. I had client accounts that I helped manage. I managed their advertising campaigns on Google properties. Having been here 6 years, I have been able to work on three different teams. I went from a sales role into a more operations and strategy role and finally into an even larger umbrella- an operations and strategy role in which I support all of North America across all of Google’s properties.
So, I’m very happy that UCLA gave me the right connections to alumni who were in the field and the right connections to the classes that helped me make the transition. UCLA also provided me with the academic rigor that a company like Google expects. I’m very fortunate that all the stars aligned for me and I’m very happy that UCLA Anderson was my choice.
WHAT'S YOUR ADVICE ON CHOOSING A BUSINESS SCHOOL?
If you’ve already made a decision to get your MBA, there are some things that I would recommend you consider for finding the right program for you. One thing to consider is how reputable a certain school is with the types of companies where you’d like to be employed. Essentially, do these job recruiters have a good relationship with the school you are considering? Also, what about the geographic location? Some recruiters and companies have a geographical preference for schools that are in their region.
Another consideration is the academic rigor of the program. There are a lot of schools which have great reputations for being quantitative, some have great reputations for being more marketing focused and some schools have great reputations for being more operations and strategy focused. Some are just general management schools. The types of classes that you’ll take at a school is a good indication of the type of focus that schools puts into their program and what you would hope to get out of that program if you select that school.
Most importantly, you need to consider the overall fit of the school. When you choose what school to attend, there are hundreds of other students in the same position as you, who are also choosing that school. So, if you think that school fits you personally, it’s likely that you’ll find like-minded students in your class who also made the same decision.
WHAT FUN ACTIVITIES DID YOU PARTICIPATE IN WHILE AT SCHOOL?
While I was at UCLA Anderson, I was one of the social chairs. Essentially, I helped plan fun events. Being in the Los Angeles area, we were very close to all of the TV and film studios, so we did a group excursion to “The Price Is Right”- the game show that had been on TV for years and is still on. While we were there, Bob Barker was the host. So, we were fortunate to have him in his prime before he retired. One of the most memorable parts was the fact that one of my classmates spun a dollar on the wheel, made it to the Final Showcase Showdown and won the Showcase Showdown! It was great to have a group of 30 of us students rush the stage and congratulate him. He won a Dodge Ram Truck, a vacation and all these other fun things. So, that was a great experience and only one you can have if you are local to Los Angeles and close to those TV and film studios.
HOW WAS YOUR INTERNSHIP EXPERIENCE?
Between my first and second year, I did my internship with AEG: Anschutz Entertainment Group. You may not know their name, but they are basically the parent company behind a lot of sports entertainment franchises such as the Los Angeles Kings, The Staples Center, The Nokia Theater in New York, and the New York Red Bull Soccer Team. Those are all examples of AEG enterprises. My internship was in database marketing. Although it doesn’t sound very sexy, keep in mind that I came from a sales background so I didn’t have any exposure in my previous line of work to marketing and I wanted to get into marketing and strategy post business school. So, this was a great way for me to make that transition. Since they were a sports entertainment company, I did a lot of cool projects. I analyzed ticket sales and event survey data. So, it was a lot more interesting than conducting some of the plain focus groups around consumer packaged goods or other types of products that might not be as interesting as sports and entertainment. Ultimately, I was able to create some recommendations based on doing some analysis of the survey data and ticket sales. These recommendations would help inform management of what types of initiatives they could include in future events. These events included the New Orleans Jazz Fest, the Adidas Track and Field Event, and the JP Morgan Chase Tennis Open. It was a great experience for me to try to come up with some recommendations for these events that were related to AEG’s initiatives.
HOW HAS YOUR MBA NETWORK HELPED YOU?
In my first year at UCLA Anderson, there were 330 students in my class and there were an additional 330 students in the class above me, the class of 2005. Another 330 students were below me in the class of 2007. So, I had exposure to over 1000 people during my two years at UCLA Anderson that I can consider my classmates and hopefully I can call on them 5-10 years down the road if a need arose- if there was ever a need that came up and I needed to reach out to them or likewise, if they ever needed to reach out to me. Having such a large network of students while on campus is important. Most importantly, you don’t know what career paths your fellow students will take and they could be well positioned to help you later in your career with things like prepping for a large meeting. For instance, maybe you want to research a certain industry or certain client and you have a former classmate that now works at that company. He/she might be a great resource for deeper information that you might not stumble across on your own. Or maybe you’re looking to make a career change, preparing for an interview or doing an analysis for your own company. You might have a former classmate who could help you with those things. These are all examples of how your classmates, not only during the 2 years that you are at school, but over your lifetime, are going to give you value. Of course, there’s a flip side to that and that is that you need to be open and willing to share with your classmates if they ever turn to you. So, the network is definitely a two-way dialogue and it needs people to participate on both sides- people who are looking for assistance and people who are willing to give assistance.
WHAT SHOULD MBA STUDENTS TAKE ADVANTAGE OF WHILE AT SCHOOL?
If you’re considering a full-time MBA, it really is an opportunity for you to not have to work and devote your full schedule to networking, going to classes, meeting fellow students and meeting professors. That should really be your full-time job. That’s how I approached my 2 years at UCLA Anderson. I said “This is my one chance to invest in the experience of my classmates and invest in my own experience to get the most out of it.” Whether it is extracurricular activities that aren’t in the classroom, or whether it’s internships or putting your whole mind and body into your studies in order to get those very elusive “A’s” that are especially elusive for the folks who are considering more quantitative careers such as banking and consulting. Or whether it’s doing some exploration on your own and trying to figure out what inspires you and what types of business opportunities you can pursue in an entrepreneurial way (non-traditional in terms of not just following a set career but maybe trying to pursue a passion project that can become the next big thing in the market). Those are all things that a full-time MBA opportunity offers to a potential student. To not give yourself permission to really pursue all of these passion areas in order to get the most out of your experience would be an opportunity missed.
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