When I was four my parents put me in hockey lessons at our local rink in New York City and I just started. But it only lasted a few months, until I saw figure skaters on the ice and said to my mom, “I want to do this. The rest is pretty much history, I’ve been skating ever since.
After college I was faced with the choice of quitting figure skating and getting into more corporate work or continuing and performing around the world. I decided to go around the world. For about 12 years, I traveled and performed in different cities in Europe and the United States and on international waters on cruise ships.
Then, in 2018, I founded a performance company and put on my first show from scratch with 25 of my fellow professional skaters. We played it in Connecticut and it was a big success. That’s when I started to think about going to business school. My undergraduate degree was in graphic design, I had a long history in the creative industries, and wanted something a little more tangible to take me forward in my professional career.
I wanted it to be in Europe because I had spent so much time there over the years and felt very comfortable. I applied to schools in Berlin, Amsterdam, and Imperial College Business School London, which was the best, and was pleasantly surprised upon entering.
The course was a one-year intensive MBA. There were a handful of British students and a lot of Americans, Chinese, Indians and South Americans – it was really international.
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We must have done about six months in person before the pandemic hit and we switched to distance learning. It was difficult – doing an MBA is all about networking and connecting with peers and professors. But, after the closures ended, many students returned home. We made the most of it and supported each other.
My favorite classes were design thinking and accounting which is pretty fun. I was good at math growing up, but I hadn’t done much professionally, and I found the accounting course really difficult. But, in the end, it clicked; it was beautiful, almost, as everything added up. The artist in me loved it when it all came together. The design thinking teacher encouraged us to be creative, which makes for a really exciting course. It taught me that in business creativity is very important.
The Reaching Out scholarship for members of the LGBTQ community also helped to have a big impact on my time in business school. I thought I would go to a class of a lot of straight white men, because that’s the stereotype. I was pleasantly surprised that it was not. It was a very diverse group and it was great to enter a network of LGBTQ + candidates.
We also took an entrepreneurship module as part of the MBA and I started a business with a classmate of mine called Ice Theater of London. Since I graduated last summer I have remained in charge of this business, but I have a team of skaters who help me run the business as I no longer live in London. I accidentally ended up in New York – I was going on a two week vacation, but England went into lockdown and I stayed where the rinks were open and I could teach skating.
The MBA gave me the confidence to run businesses and advance to managerial positions. I’m about to join a country club in New Jersey as Artistic Director, where I will be producing, directing, choreographing and managing all of their performances.
I keep in touch with a lot of my classmates – we have a WhatsApp chat that we contribute to. It’s fun to hear what they are doing because all of our lives have ended up going in different directions than we thought, due to the pandemic. We had to pivot.
And after? I really hope that the Ice Theater in London gets a foothold and attracts a bigger audience to the UK – that’s one of my goals. Other than that, I can’t wait to live my life. I just got married. I think the pandemic has forced us not to plan too far ahead, and so we’re living in the moment – we’ll see what happens.