Last updated: September 13, 2012 2:05 pm

Web chat - Andrea Miller

Andrea Miller

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Welcome to the Financial Times live web chat with Andrea Miller who features in our Ten Questions Q&A.

Andrea Miller, TV executive and EMBA graduate of London Business School and Columbia Business School, will answer your questions on Thursday, 13 September 2012 between 13.00-14.00 BST.

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Post your questions now to ask@ft.com and they will be answered on the day on this page.

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Which MBA skills do you find the most useful in the management of your production company? Would you say having an MBA differentiates you from other TV execs / people in media?

Andrea: Doing an MBA has given me a tool kit and framework to help me assess a situation quickly using evidence, not just a hunch - and to keep a cool head when deciding what to do. The basic principle - to use data to back management decisions - sounds obvious but often managers follow their hunch rather than the evidence.

This is particularly common in TV where creatives often end up running the business. The ability to think strategically and having various approaches to understanding what your audience is looking for in a programme (or any product) are the basic skills that I use every day.

Also, given the economic climate, having the opportunity to study finance with world class thinkers like Joao Cocco, associate professor of finance at LBS, and hear him talk about what is happening in the global economy was incredibly useful in really understanding the bigger picture.

Lots of people in the media world and creative industries have MBAs, in my class alone there were executives from CNN, Sky, Google and Ambassador’s Theatre Group. I think that having a strong creative background and a business background is more unusual as a combination and I saw it as a way to become more rounded and effective as a business person.

You mention the lack of women in your EMBA class, what do you think is the best way of encouraging more women to apply to business school? And what are your thoughts on quotas for more women on boards?

Andrea: This is a difficult question to answer because it has such a deep rooted cause. It’s a numbers game. If there are fewer women in business at senior levels, that means fewer female execs and fewer female applicants willing to take on the strain of doing a masters degree while still excelling in a full time job. So the way to break the cycle would be to incentivise businesses to offer study opportunities to their female staff in order to increase their skills and therefore be able to promote them.

Incentives for women themselves would also be helpful - bursaries or training tax breaks. I self funded my EMBA (although I had a bit of help from my employer). I was surprised to discover that my employer offered tax breaks through salary sacrifice to buy a bicycle but not for training. I took that argument all the way to the head of HR and she was very helpful.

I don’t support quotas for women on boards. I think there are more fundamental reasons why there are not more women at a very high level in business. Given that there are many other things to pay attention to at board level, in terms of transparency of recruitment and creating a culture of scrutiny and accountability, I believe forcing a female quota would not help bring about the balance that is clearly required between boards and management.

What convinced you to study at London Business School?

Andrea: I took a detailed look at a lot of schools before choosing LBS. It was at the top of the FT Global MBA rankings and their EMBA was in the top five. And the classes were on a Friday and Saturday so I could commute from Glasgow, where I was working.

Potential students are also invited to spend some time there. I went to a free leadership lecture by Professor Richard Jolly, met students and alumni and had the opportunity to sit in on any class of my choosing. I chose advanced corporate finance because I knew that would be the most alien to a documentary maker like me.

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