Beyond finance: creative MBAs that can lead to entrepreneurial success

MBAs are often seen solely as qualifications in narrow financial disciplines: but casting your net wider afield can bring unexpected benefits.

Honours degrees are two-a-penny; even a plain old Masters doesn’t seem to stand out that much anymore. When it comes to qualifications that differentiate you from the rest, an MBA is increasingly the most effective option for opening those professional doors. 

Most people may wrongly believe MBA courses are purely geared towards hard-core business roles, in hard-core business sectors, but that’s not necessarily the case. Though the subject matter may encompass finance, economics, strategy, leadership, marketing and global management, an MBA can be tailored specifically for different sectors, one of which is the creative industry.

It might not be a ‘traditional’ path for MBA graduates, but an Executive MBA for the Creative Industries provides the sort of knowledge which is key for many important and exciting jobs in film, television, publishing, music and advertising, as well as a solid grounding in business practices.

MBA graduates traditionally enter or return to the employment market to start their own business, to change career or to embark on a more strategic role. Where can a creative MBA lead you?

>See also: Gaining a degree – business sense for young people?

Let’s look at a few career options.

Film Sales Agent

Ever wondered how a film reaches the big screen? That’s the job of the Film Sales Agent – the person who represents a film, negotiating contracts and conditions for distribution, amongst other tasks. 

A good film sales agent will not only have a thorough understanding of the film industry, but will also possess strong business and managerial skills, be good at marketing, sales and negotiating, and be charming. As such, wannabe agents would be well advised to get some business finance knowledge under their belts.


Former NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal has an MBA, gained at the University of Phoenix. With an estimated worth of $250 million, that can’t be a coincidence, can it?

Theatre Manager

With responsibilities that cover the financial and administrative elements of theatre operation, in addition to looking after a large number of people, an MBA can come in really handy.

It’s imperative that people in this role have a passion for the theatre (of course), but they also need to be commercially-minded and able to consider the ticket-holders’ experiences. That’s on top of any publicity, planning and marketing.

>Related: How to grow your company culture from day one

The business acumen learned while studying can be particularly useful when negotiating with production companies, undertaking human resources tasks and keeping the board of directors sweet.

Then you’ve got all the legislative requirements, commissioning performances, networking and ensuring that everything is done to budget. The role of theatre manager can vary, but typically requires a hands-on approach and a bucket load of enthusiasm.


You might not believe it of a man famed for saying the wrong thing, but George W. Bush, former US President, graduated with his MBA from Harvard in 1975.  

Brand Manager

Responsible for defining the look and messaging for products or companies, the brand manager might oversee advertising campaigns, market research, packaging, finances, and could also contact retailers or whoever will be carrying the brand.

Success in this role necessitates a balance of business know-how and creativity. Also desirable is the ability to communicate well, think ‘conceptually’ and exhibiting some of the characteristics of an entrepreneur – after all, they are effectively owning the product or brand in question.

Ultimately, this qualification can take you wherever you like, giving you an understanding in important business basics which can be applied to creative industries. You don’t have to work in financial services!

Further reading: Attacks on arts are attacks on entrepreneurship

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for from 2016 to 2018.

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