Meet MBA Student, Lisa Hooper '18MBA

Lisa Hooper is a senior producer and studio manager for celebrity portrait photographer Martin Schoeller. With 15 years of experience in arts management and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Massachusetts College of Art, Lisa knows the ins and outs of running art businesses. But she was looking to gain a broader view of business beyond her industry and had been considering earning her MBA for a long time. After hearing a glowing recommendation from a friend about Simmons’ MBA program, Lisa says she had to seize the opportunity. 

Why did you decide to pursue your master’s degree?
Throughout my career, I have been in charge of running art businesses — the operations as well as the day-to-day business. I’ve been eager for a long time to have a bigger overview of how business could work better and more efficiently, and how we could approach things differently. Earning an MBA seemed like the perfect opportunity to gain a broader view of business and to be prepared if I ever decide to branch out of this specific industry. 

What made you decide to choose Simmons’ MBA program?
I had been considering an MBA for a long time. A friend who I went to Massachusetts College of Art with had gone through the Simmons program, and she had nothing but great things to say about the program and the camaraderie that develops. Having roots in an all-woman program gave her a perspective on the world and the support that she needed to be able to pursue her degree as a mother with a family and a career. All of this appealed to me. A light bulb went off; I had to seize the opportunity and the timing seemed right for me.

How has what you’ve learned in the program impacted the work you are currently doing?
What’s great about the program is that I can apply almost everything I learn. I feel fortunate because in my position, I have purview over all aspects of our business: marketing, finance, operations, customer relations. I get to oversee all of that, so I have been able to apply everything we’ve been learning to improve our financial operations, our teamwork, and our productivity. Around every turn I’ve been able to take my studies [into my work] and say, “Guess what I learned today? Let’s try it this way. Have we ever thought about this?” It’s great to have a classroom beyond the classroom to experiment in, and I have a really supportive atmosphere. I feel fortunate for that. 

Tell us about your experience collaborating with classmates in an online environment.
Initially, I didn’t know what to expect and just tried to keep an open mind because the key benefit of the program for me is the online aspect. That is what makes [earning my MBA] feasible. I work really long hours, I have a family, and I didn’t know how else I would do it. So, the online experience was critical, but completely new to me. It was a little overwhelming at first. But since getting used to it, it has been nothing but seamless and provides a really intimate way to connect with people all over the country. I was pleasantly surprised about the actual online experience. It was a relief.

How will this degree move you closer to your long-term career goals?
This degree is definitely going to give me a broader view that I can translate into a larger organization. I have worked at medium- and small-sized companies before. Ultimately, I am looking to work for a larger one, and I feel like these skills are going to give me the legs that I need to traverse a larger organization when the time comes. 

What advice do you have for others considering this degree?
I feel like if you’re wondering about something, that is usually is a good indication that you are ready for it. So if you’re curious about an MBA program, I think that means you’re ready. It definitely will help you get the skills you need to further your career in a more expeditious fashion than if you were to just keep working.

Regarding MBA@Simmons, I would definitely encourage my friends. In fact, I have. There is such a unique atmosphere at Simmons, and I admire their dedication to helping women in particular to further their careers. Earning an MBA is definitely hard, but everyone at Simmons is completely dedicated to your success and the camaraderie that we feel along the way makes it worth it to me. I don’t think I would get that anywhere else. 

Tell us about your experience at the immersion.
It was so awesome. I want to do it again, if not soon, at some point during the program because it was really motivating and gave us very practical and tactical measures to think about our careers. It was just wonderful. It was remarkable to meet everyone face-to-face and to feel everyone’s energy. It had been my first time actually [on campus] at Simmons, so the whole thing was just wonderful.

What was the most valuable thing you learned during the immersion? What was the most significant thing you took away?
The most valuable thing was learning about the power of vision. We watched a video and had a really powerful discussion about the value of having a vision and seeing it through. I previously might have underestimated that power, and I think it’s incredibly valuable for business women to embrace. It’s one of the areas that women in general tend to score the lowest in terms of having vision and communicating that vision. 

I think the handbook was a pretty significant tangible takeaway. Throughout the weekend we were essentially producing a guidebook for ourselves. So each segment was crafted and built on the next segment. At the end of the weekend, we had a handbook for ourselves, and I have referred to it many times since. It’s completely tailored to me, and I think that’s awesome.

What session did you enjoy most?
I thought the branding session with guest speaker Alesia Latson was so fun. She spoke about branding and the power of harnessing your brand. Even though I work in media, and I think I know how to communicate, it was really great to hear her perspective because she had a lot of subtleties to offer that I had taken for granted or just didn’t realize. 

What was it like meeting and connecting with your classmates in person?
Meeting my classmates in person for the first time was electrifying! The fact that I had already had relationships with many of the people and then got to meet them in person made it remarkably impactful. I couldn‘t stop smiling.