Before enrolling in the Graduate School of Business Administration, Chip Garner had a television career many would envy.
He worked his way up to associate producer at ABC News, where he spent eight years. Shortly afterward, he produced for20/20, covering the O.J. Simpson trial and working with Barbara Walters. As a freelance producer, he had a hand in creating reality TV shows, industrials and pilots, and later helped produce two award-winning independent films, Lena’s Dreams (1997) and The Love Machine (2000).
So why graduate school?
“I spent the last year before I came to Fordham producing infomercials, and I realized then that I wasn’t going to get where I wanted to go—financially, educationally and emotionally—unless I went to school,” said Garner, who will earn his MBA in communication and media management. “There was a big gulf between the creative side, where I was, and the business side. I could do budgets, but I didn’t understand how to run a business.”
Garner began as a part-time student, but decided that he wanted to attend full time after realizing two of his classmates were vice presidents of film companies.
“I was so blown away by that,” he said.
Since then, he has received the Linda Perin Taber Pollack and Roy Howard Pollack Scholarship for academic merit, become co-president of the Media and Entertainment Alliance, and a member of the Black and Hispanic MBA Association.
Garner has traveled far from the tinge of insecurity he said he felt at the outset of his studies.
“I knew I’d be older than most students and thought my age would be a barrier,” said Garner, 44. “It turns out my age actually was an advantage. I knew more, I had worked more, and I knew how to work with people. I didn’t have necessarily better, but greater, experience. I really wanted to be in school. I cherished it more.
“I took away from that the fact that there is really very little I can’t do,” he said. “If I set my mind to it, I can do anything.”
One thing Garner did was network himself into some top internships. He worked on the consumer research side at Showtime networks and is currently on the digital marketing team at The New York Times.
“I love it,” he said. “It’s really challenging, and it’s a job where I’m using the skills I learned at school. I work on the dot-com edition and on the company’s international marketing initiatives. It’s a challenging time in the industry, so there’s a sense of mission to make it happen, to save the company, in a sense.”
Garner hopes to continue working at the Times. In the future, he would enjoy working in consumer research, digital marketing or business development. In the meantime, he takes away what he describes as an “excellent education, a fantastic network of alumni” and a good dose of self-knowledge.
“I learned a lot about myself as a man, student, classmate and colleague,” Garner said. “I also learned what it is I’d like to see myself do in the future. I didn’t quite have that before. Maybe not the exact position, but I know the kind of person I’d like to be and how I would like to work as that person.
“I have a lot of hope for the future. I feel uniquely prepared having my creative background and my business school training to take on many different endeavors.”