Students in the Wharton MBA Program for Executives represent a wide range of industries, including the arts, media, and entertainment business. In the rapidly evolving world of television and film, business skills are becoming increasingly valuable, empowering professionals to navigate the complex landscape of content creation and monetization. Abby Greensfelder, WG02, shares more about how Wharton equipped her with the confidence, strategic thinking, and financial skills to launch her own women-focused media company, Everywoman Studios.
Poets and Quants
Abby’s professional journey is steeped in a deep appreciation for the arts. After graduating from Yale University with a bachelor’s degree in humanities, she embarked on a career that initially seemed a world away from Wharton.
“I joined The Discovery Channel right out of college as an intern and worked there for a decade,” says Abby. “While I joined as a creative, my career goal was to eventually transition into a business management role and run one of the channels. As I worked my way up to a director-level executive position, one observation I made was that most of my colleagues in higher-level management roles had come up through finance or legal. I wanted to round out my skills with an MBA to be seen not just as a creative, but as someone with strong analytical and leadership skills.”
Heeding encouragement from her mentor at Discovery, Abby applied to Wharton’s EMBA program as a definitive “poet.”
“I think the highest-level math course I took in college was pre-calculus,” she recalls. “Wharton’s strong quantitative curriculum was attractive to me because I knew it would provide me with the financial skills I needed to advance to the next level in my career.”
Immediate Career Impact
Shortly after Abby enrolled in the Wharton MBA Program for Executives, her colleagues noticed her burgeoning business skills.
“I worked on a few projects at Wharton which were sponsored by higher-level executives at Discovery,” she said. “For example, I performed a programming profitability analysis which provided insights into which programming strategies and content investments were most financially rewarding for Discovery. This helped the network make informed decisions about its programming lineup, marketing strategies, and revenue-generation efforts to ensure long-term sustainability and profitability. It was great because the higher-ups were aware I was doing this, and it shifted their view of me not just as a successful creative executive, but as someone who had the chops and interest in doing more.”
After graduating with her Wharton MBA, Abby was promoted to a position that managed content, production, and finances for the Discovery Channel and several of its sister networks.
Like many graduates of the Wharton MBA Program for Executives, Abby gained a significant amount of professional confidence during her time in the program. A self-described “incidental entrepreneur”, Abby didn’t have concrete goals to start her own business when she applied to Wharton.
“I wouldn’t have had the confidence to strike out on my own if not for WEMBA,” she says. “I didn’t find the corporate pathway appealing anymore. So much of being an entrepreneur is being scrappy, learning off the cuff, and making it work, which is hard to teach in a classroom. But at Wharton, I became fluent in the language of business. It gave me a more developed sense of self-confidence and helped me see the bigger picture when it comes to valuing a business and thinking about how outsiders would see our business plan.”
With her creative partner at Discovery, Abby founded Half Yard Productions, a production company which creates innovative unscripted and formatted content for a wide range of broadcasters, streamers, and digital platforms. One of their most well-known programs, Say Yes to The Dress, has become a household name and served as the financial foundation for their success.
“Eventually we grew to a pretty large size, with offices in Bethesda and New York City and fifteen series running for various cable networks,” she says. “During that time, there was a lot of change within the media industry with streaming, like Netflix coming online, which created an upheaval in the business. We decided to go through the sale process and sold a majority stake in 2014, staying on as CEOs for a period of time.”
Wharton’s Long Term Career Impact
After almost two decades of running their own business, Abby and her business partner felt the urge to do something more impact driven.
In 2020, Abby founded a new company, Everywoman Studios, with the aim to tell stories by and about women. Everywoman Studios partners with key organizations to create content that raises awareness for issues like equal pay, gender parity in STEM, domestic violence, reproductive health, and more.
“These issues impact every woman, every day in every community. What I do now is support both female creators in the business and also help elevate stories by and about women.”
Their first feature documentary, LFG, told the story of the U.S. Women’s soccer team’s last World Cup Win and their equal pay lawsuit, which they eventually won. The film had its world premiere in 2021 at Tribeca Film Festival before launching on HBO Max.
Their latest project, Uncharted, follows twelve women artists of color selected to attend a songwriting camp co-founded by Alicia Keys and the non-profit organization She is the Music. Produced by Everywoman Studios and Executive Produced by Abby, Katie Couric, and Alicia Keys, the film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival this summer with the aim to advance underrepresented women in the music industry.
“We also run an accelerator program, Propelle, to help other women who are creators in the business to help their projects,” she says. “We pair up-and-comers with established producers to help them work on projects and get in front of buyers.”
Looking to the future, Abby is eager to continue to tell female-focused, female-driven stories that have a positive cultural impact.
Fostering Human Connection
One of the most significant benefits Abby derived from her time at Wharton was the sense of community and camaraderie that she fostered within her cohort.
“What was great for me about it was number one, we had a great group of folks from the DC area that took the train together to and from class weekends,” Abby reflects. “Secondly, the residential requirement for students to stay overnight on Friday ensured that we all got to know each other very well.”
To accommodate students’ full-time work schedules, the Wharton MBA Program for Executives holds class sessions every other weekend. The Philadelphia and San Francisco cohorts’ unique residency requirement creates a focused living-and-learning environment on program weekends.
“Spending time together outside of the classroom was incredibly important when it came to solidifying those friendships and getting to know each other on a more human level,” says Abby.
Abby also notes that the Wharton alumni network was particularly valuable when she was starting her business.
“Two of my friends from the program had started their own businesses since graduating. One gave me a spreadsheet with a to-do list of all the essential action items needed to launch the company. The other gave me the name of a lawyer who specialized in corporate law to help us navigate the legal landscape. The Wharton alumni network is a group that you rely on and give back to continuously, and I feel lucky to have that level of professional and personal support.”
Posted: October 25, 2023