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UCLATwo teams of Kellogg students recently escaped Chicago’s winter for the sun in Los Angeles to compete in the Media and Entertainment Case Competition at UCLA’s Annual Pulse Conference.

The conference hosted a series of panels that spanned the gamut of media and entertainment industries. With representatives from Hulu, Lionsgate, Spotify, and Live Nation, just to name a few, the conference certainly wasn’t lacking on insight from impactful leaders.

This year was the first year UCLA incorporated a case competition into the conference. Paramount Pictures sponsored the event, challenging teams to create a strategy to overcome diminishing margins in a world of mobile media consumption and streaming services. Sixteen teams from nine different schools were put to the task. Our team was really excited to tackle this prompt since each of us shares a passion for navigating the tumultuous digital media landscape.

Each team was given a week to come up with a solution to the prompt. We then presented to a panel of judges that included representatives from Paramount, UCLA Anderson and other industry experts. From our brainstorming process up until we put the finishing touches on our presentation, we came away with a handful of valuable insights.


As consumer data becomes simpler to aggregate and analyze by the day, it is easy to get swept up in what the numbers tell you. While data can certainly lead to informative and actionable insights, it is important to always step back and ask, “But will this work in the real world?” We believe this mindset is something that set our team apart – we shut down a few of our own ideas that, on paper, seemed bulletproof. But when we asked ourselves, “Would I actually do this if I were the consumer?” the answer sometimes was a resounding no.


Ideas can sometimes feel like relationships. Once you commit to one it can be difficult to cut it loose and explore alternative possibilities. Our team spent the first half of the week building out an idea that revolved around harnessing and monetizing movie piracy. It was creative. It was disruptive. And frankly, we thought it was pretty sexy. That said, it was also completely filled with holes. It can be tough to let go of an idea that you’ve grown attached to, especially when under a time crunch, but sometimes square one is the best direction to head.


While this one seems a bit obvious, and very few people would dispute its truth, the global perspective of our team really shone through when it came to evaluating our plan of attack. Each of our team members spent meaningful time living overseas (two of us for our entire lives). It really helped us shape our perspective of the relevance and scalability of our strategy in global markets.

Our team is grateful to have had the opportunity to compete in UCLA and Paramount’s competition and we are thrilled to have been selected as the winning team. Along with a comical (and generous) novelty check, we were all invited to interview with Paramount for a summer internship, where we could hopefully build our idea into a reality.

Libby Koerbel ’16 is a student in the Two-Year MBA program. Before coming to Kellogg, she worked as a consultant at BCG, where she spent her third year internally at Universal Music Group focused on strategy and corporate venture capital. Her list of hometowns is longer than this article, but she loves any city with live music, adventures, and creative people.

Chris Phillips ’16 is a student in the Two-Year MBA program. Most recently he was Head of Digital at Warner Music Australia, leading the label’s efforts in Digital Strategy & Business Development, Digital Marketing and Insight. His media career spans music, television, radio and consumer facing technology products. This was his first novelty check.

Matt Weiss ’16 is a student in the Two-Year MBA program. He was born in London and spent some time living in Hong Kong before ultimately settling in the United States. Before Kellogg he was working as an investment consultant in Boston. He loves music and digital media and came to Kellogg in pursuit of a career in the industry.

Anja Zhao ’15 is a student in the One-Year MBA program. She grew up in different parts of Germany and spent six years in Taipei and Shanghai. Prior to Kellogg, she worked at L’Oréal in Online Marketing and spent three years in management consulting at BCG in Berlin. Her favorite things include music, digital media, travel photography, design, people with interesting personalities and good food.