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Steven Koernig ’17

MBA

Post-MBA Position: Marketing Manager, American Ballet Theatre

Steven Koernig

My career is going to be in theater management, and right now I’m most interested in the nonprofit model. Yale SOM is a business school where people really care about students who want to go into the nonprofit and social sectors, and they support them in every way possible. One of the best experiences I’ve had at SOM has been co-chairing the Internship Fund, which raises money to help offset costs for students who intern in the nonprofit sector. Students, faculty, and administration all come out to support the fund and to donate. They do it every year. It’s an amazing thing to see. 


Some of the things I’m learning at Yale SOM are reiterations of what I learned at the School of Drama but through a very different lens, which is fascinating. And then there are the courses that we just don’t have at the drama school—Innovation is one. In theater, you don’t really create structures for innovation, because you have such limited budgets and you’re always struggling so hard to just get the next show ready. People don’t stop to think about what risks they can take and what the benefits could be. The Innovation class was great because it provided a framework for how to approach innovation, and it helped me—and my fellow joint-degrees from Drama—think about how we can apply these concepts in theater. We’ve started a small group that gets together now to talk about what we’re learning in the SOM core and how we can transfer it to the theater.


I like to joke that my classmates who are going into the for-profit sector are going to one day be the people on my board of directors. In theater management, nobody trains you how to work with a board, so learning how to interact now is so valuable. Some of my classmates question me and say, “Well, why should the nonprofit model exist? If people don’t want to pay the full-ticket price for theaters, why should you subsidize that with contributions?” They challenge me to have answers to satisfy the tough questions. This type of dialogue goes on around SOM all the time, and ultimately we all benefit. People really want to know what you’re into, but they want to understand it, too.