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An Expansive Leadership for Creative Enterprise Program Shapes an Expansive Career

For Zoe Skehan ’17, art has always been part of learning—and something she loves.

Although this enthusiasm for all things creative made it difficult to choose a major, she decided to attend the University of Redlands to study art history and visual media studies—a combination to bring her passions into focus.

Earning her bachelor’s degree during a recession, she felt lucky to land a manager position at an art gallery that showcased work by Chicago and Evanston, IL-based artists. After six months, however, she was ready for something different: She wanted to see first-hand some of the work she spent so much time learning about in her art and media courses.

“I wanted to travel, but I also wanted to make money so I could pay off loans and not have a large career gap in my résumé,” Skehan explains. That desire led her to become a flight attendant for domestic and international flights on Spirit Airlines.

The job fulfilled her desire to see the world while earning an income, but she missed art and education—so she explored graduate programs that would allow her to continue to work. “I was looking for a degree that would help me pivot back into the media landscape, and the MS in Leadership for Creative Enterprises program was perfect. It’s really easy to get pigeon-holed into something, especially when you get a graduate degree,” she explains, “and I knew this program wouldn’t let that happen.”

She says the coursework helped paint a clear picture of the industry opportunities available. “The course on entertainment law grounded everything for me, and I really understood what I would be capable of doing.” An entrepreneurship class also helped her build translatable skills like creating business plans and marketing strategies.

“I’ve actually used the business plans I created in class a few times to help freelancers I know launch their businesses,” she explains. “I’ve also dabbled with the idea of starting my own business one day. If I do, this will be a super helpful tool. I now have confidence in knowing that, if this is something I want to do down the road, then I have the skills to do it.”

After graduation, her master’s degree led her to a Corrado Mooncoin internship that she credits for launching her media career. She had the opportunity to work on feature film An Acceptable Loss, as well as do freelance work for a season of Chicago Fire—both produced by the same crew. Any time the crew came to Chicago for a project, Skehan got a call to help with production.

A year later, when she decided to pursue full-time work, she interviewed at film editing company Whitehouse Post and was hired on the spot. “I got to learn a whole different side of production and build new skills,” she explains. “It was post-production, so it involved visual effects, animation, editing, and color correction.”

While she was hard at work, television show and filmmaking company Telepictures took note and reached out about a new opportunity: working for Judge Mathis, a nationally syndicated reality show. She joined the team as an office production assistant and was quickly promoted to associate producer to help production run smoothly.

When COVID-19 hit the United States in early 2020, “we all had to go remote very quickly,” she says. “The program has been on the air for 22 years, and we had producers working with us who had been there since the beginning—and doing things the same way since Day One.”

She and her team members overhauled old systems to support remote work and, as a result of their efforts, they watched the show—along with their skills—continue to grow. Some of the changes they made also helped Telepictures streamline production efforts as they found new ways of working.

After more than three years with Telepictures, Skehan started a new venture in May 2022: serving as a project manager for 2K, a U.S. video game publisher in California. In this role, she’ll help oversee operational processes for multiple projects.

“Because Northwestern’s program is so expansive, it has helped me be expansive in my career,” she explains. “I’ve been able to utilize this degree to do many different things. I worked in production and now I’m doing video games. Everything I learned has become part of my life. It was seamless. The program shaped my career.”

Read more on our blog and follow Northwestern’s MS in Leadership for Creative Enterprises program on Facebook and Twitter.

Turning Business Instinct into Business Intellect in the Creative Industry

When it comes to career paths, film has always been a focus for Evyenia Constantine ’15.

While she was studying film, media studies, and journalism from The New School in New York, she was also working at KaplaniKid Productions—an award-winning film production company founded by her mother, who earned her master’s and PhD at Northwestern University.

In terms of creativity and production, Constantine always trusted her instincts. When it came to business skills, however, she wanted to learn more about proven tools and strategies. She started researching master’s programs to accomplish this goal and discovered the MS in Leadership for Creative Enterprises program.

“I researched quite a few programs, but this was my top pick. Attending Northwestern University was a dream,” she explains. “I really liked this program’s strong focus on building leadership skills for the business side of the entertainment industry.”

After being accepted, she decided to do everything she could to make the most of the experience, taking advantage of each opportunity Northwestern offered: meet and greets, networking events with industry alumni, writing feature articles for the School of Communication, covering film festivals and events, and serving as an ambassador when her cohort traveled to Los Angeles and Silicon Valley.

“I put a lot of time, energy, and effort into the program, and it has been very fruitful,” she says. “It was a very rewarding experience.”

The blend of practical and tactical curriculum helped her take lessons straight to the field. In Adjunct Lecturer Cory Sandrock’s Economics of Creative Industries course, for example, she created her own business plan for a film project she was writing and working on.

“It was a very personal project for me,” she describes. “I think often about how much I learned from that process. I’ll never forget the trust and freedom the professor allowed me when I said I wanted to challenge myself and tackle the project on my own.”

She also relies on many of the lessons, principles, strategies, and tactics she learned in leadership and team management courses—especially as she navigated leadership through a pandemic. “Having those skills really prepared me to hit the ground running with total confidence once I graduated,” she explains. “I believe it taught me to be a compassionate and agile leader, and to always lead with integrity. There’s also lots of self-work within the program. You have to learn how to lead yourself before you can lead others. You have to know your own strengths and recognize the strengths of others. It takes a lot of thought, reflection, and intention to figure out who you are as a leader and what qualities, principles, and values you’ll bring to your future teams.”

In addition to her ongoing work at KaplaniKid Productions as co-owner, producer, and narrator, Constantine is also the head of social impact at Odyssey Impact. As a nonprofit multimedia organization, the company creates national social impact campaigns for documentary films. Its goal is to provide tools and resources to inspire positive community action that can lead to real change.

In Spring 2020, under Constantine’s leadership, the company was able to quickly pivot to offer new approaches that kept communities engaged with films and documentaries even though in-person screenings weren’t possible. “We had to find the best way to provide these experiences virtually, attempting to replicate what the in-person experiences were like,” she explains. “The leadership skills I built at Northwestern proved invaluable during that crucial time of transition.”

Next, Constantine plans to establish a social impact arm of KaplaniKid Productions, and she believes that her leadership skills will help make it happen.

“I’m proud to be a Wildcat,” she says. “Once you’re a Wildcat, you’re always a Wildcat—not only part of the MS in Leadership for Creative Enterprises program, but also across Northwestern University’s entire alumni network,” she says. “They’re incredible. You have a network you can tap into no matter where you are around the world. Choosing Northwestern University for graduate school empowered me and made such a difference in my life. I will carry the lessons I learned there with me, personally and professionally, for the rest of my life.”

Read more on our blog and follow Northwestern’s MS in Leadership for Creative Enterprises program on Facebook and Instagram.

Shooting for the Stars and the Creative Side of Life

“Explore your options and listen to your heart and your gut.”

Kathryn Hoffman grew up in a family of lawyers and always thought she would become one herself. “I realized that for my whole life the most natural things that come to me [are] being creative with my hands, working with my ideas. Just like that, I realized that being creative is a strong theme. It becomes natural, basically. And that’s how I ended up pivoting,” she explains.

Before joining the MSLCE program, (more…)

Taking Note of the Music Business with MSLCE

As an undergraduate student at Northwestern, Xavier Vilar-Brasser had the opportunity to explore a plethora of majors. It was the combination of creative writing, philosophy, and music that captured his attention. As he explored is interests more, he realized that music grounded him, and he formed the band The Altars as manager, songwriter, and performer. However, it wasn’t until the pandemic that he really consolidated himself as a creative in the music industry.

“I was looking on the work that I’d been doing over the past six months or so. During that time, I realized that it was something that I really enjoyed doing. It was a type of work that I felt really drawn to, and it really inspired me. (more…)

Finding a New Way to Work in the Creative Industry

After graduating from Hampton University with a degree in broadcast journalism, Jaquise Cofield ’17 was ready to pursue what she envisioned as her dream job: working for a news station.

After spending time in the field, however, she realized that broadcast journalism wasn’t the right fit. To try something new, she applied for an internship with the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, working with Paramount’s acquisitions team. The experience revealed a world she had never considered before: the business side of creative enterprises. (more…)

Globally Rounded and Ready for Impact: Regina Osuna’s Diving into Entertainment

Regina Osuna is a globally rounded creative in the entertainment industry. Before joining the MSLCE program, she spent time at institutions like Oxford University, Universidad Internacional de la Rioja, and Universidad Iberoamericana. These experiences, as well as her childhood in Mexico, has helped shape her endeavors in the arts industry.

“When I was growing up, I had an amazing childhood because my parents took me to trips whenever they could, and that opened up my mind to see how all their cultures work,” she explained. Her exposure to these cultures shaped her ambitions to work in the children’s entertainment industry and to help create (more…)

Preparing to Lead Change in Arts, Entertainment, and Media

As a Chicago native, Luis Perez ’17 grew up on the city’s North Side and spent his early years in East Rogers Park. “I was just three miles away from the Northwestern campus and had no idea I lived so close to a world-class institution,” he explains.

After graduating from high school, he attended college off and on for several years, working odd jobs in customer service while also keeping his passion for storytelling alive by working in non-fiction film and audio production. In 2015, Perez earned a BA in Arts Management from Columbia College Chicago.

“Even though most of my experience was in radio and film, I’d always been interested in (more…)

Reconnecting to the Arts Through MSLCE: Tyler Green’s Story

Tyler Green’s journey to MSLCE is unique. After suffering a traumatic brain injury a few years ago, he found himself longing to reclaim his identify as an artist. “At the time that the accident occurred, and after the accident, I eventually was needing my own joy and just my recovery. I was needing to get back into the arts because that was the community that I had been so heavily involved in prior to the accident,” he explains. After sustaining the injury, he felt like he was searching for (more…)

Uplifting the Unheard: Jonathan Mayo and His Core Values in MSLCE

“There’s a lot of voices that aren’t always heard, and I want to get those voices in the media. And you know, a lot of times I was that voice that wasn’t heard,” says Jonathan Mayo. For him, it comes back to education and community within the arts, and he’s on a mission to help build that into the artistic focus of all the organizations he works with.

Community healing is a part of his core value, and his artistic process derives value from his experiences in various communities. “I think it’s vital. I think it’s imperative to be a part of different communities to be able to (more…)

From the Runway to MSLCE: Kaitlyn Fogg Fashions Her Future

“If you ask my mom, I’ve always been into fashion,” says Kaitlyn Fogg, “It’s a really big part of my self-identity.” Her interest in the field started from the tender age of four and by the time she was in middle school, she was already making her own Halloween costumes. “I started this thing where every year I’d make my own Halloween costume out of unconventional materials,” she elaborates, “I’ve always wanted to do something that was different. (more…)