While working as a theater director and a stage manager over the past few years, Abigail Isaac found that everyone was adept at putting on a show. It was when it came to things like marketing and finances that these venues weren't winning rave reviews.
"I was finding in the young companies that there wasn't much knowledge about how to run a business," says Isaac, who hails from Fairfax and holds bachelor's degrees in theater and economics. "They were all talented artists, but they didn't have the skills, the knowledge or the drive to learn how to run their companies more successfully."
Seeing a gap in need of filling, Isaac, 27, enrolled in the MBA program at George Mason University. Now in her first year of a two-year, full-time program, she's gaining skills that can help arts organizations succeed both onstage and behind the scenes.
"I'm learning accounting, finance and marketing, all of these disciplines that many people in the theater industry haven't formally studied," she says. "I'm also developing my decision-making process as a manager, learning how to attack a business problem and form a creative solution."
When you hear the letters MBA, you might automatically think of Wall Street wunderkinds or the world of investment banking. And while plenty of people with a Master of Business Administration do go down those paths, others use their skills and knowledge in areas including engineering, energy, education and the nonprofit sector.
"MBA holders are generally better communicators and thinkers than somebody without an MBA," says Elizabeth Johnson, assistant director of career services at George Mason University's School of Business. "They look beyond just the immediate world around them and can really add freshness and business savvy to an organization. They can really help the employer be on the cutting edge."