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Andrea Miller is a TV executive and EMBA graduate of London Business School. During her studies at LBS, she was one of two students to win a place on a personal leadership course at Columbia Business School in the US. She now runs her own independent TV production company, called Sunnyside Productions and is working with Hitendra Wadhwa, her professor at Columbia, on an elearning course that she hopes will help to bring about a revolution in education – bringing teaching to people who, because of money or geography, do not have access to ideas and knowledge.
Ms Miller previously worked for the BBC, specialising in arts, science, history and documentaries. She has also worked closely with feminist writers Jeanette Winterson and Germaine Greer and set up her own music record label.
In her spare time, Ms Miller enjoys the theatre, art galleries, singing, cooking and swimming in the North Sea.
1. Who are your business influences?
Jane Root. She was president of the Discovery Channel US and now runs her own TV production company, called Nutopia. I worked for her when she was controller of BBC Two. She is an inspirational and challenging creative leader. She has an amazing ability to super-size ideas and really scales up ambition and impact for the audience.
2. Why did you choose to do an EMBA?
Having played a key role at a public service broadcaster I wanted to understand quickly the cutting edge of the commercial world and the global economy at a time when the media business is going through a revolution. Doing an EMBA at LBS was a great way to gain that knowledge.
3. What is the best piece of advice given to you by a teacher?
Columbia’s Prof Wadhwa says: ‘Everyday moments shape epic moments.’ In other words, by practising how to handle everyday challenges you are ready to take on the really epic challenges in life and work.
Richard Jolly of LBS offered great advice on leadership – think of yourself as a gardener not a bull in a china shop.
4. What is your biggest lesson learnt?
When I was running my record label and working with bands I learnt first hand that fame and money really don’t make you happy. That was a tough but important lesson to learn so young.
5. What advice would you give to women in business education?
Just get stuck in – there were only 13 women among 77 in my EMBA class. None of us could work out why there weren’t more women even applying for that kind of degree. LBS has done some excellent research into how much more effective teams are when they are 50/50 gender split so it is important that there is equality in education and training.
6. Who is your ideal professor?
I am a huge fan of Joseph Stiglitz, the American economist, and would have loved to have studied with him. I met him when he was in the UK and we interviewed him for a BBC Two programme so I got to talk to him about the UK economy – it wasn’t cheery!
7. What is the strangest thing you have ever done when studying?
I read the whole of Principles of Corporate Finance by Richard Brealey and Stewart Myers three times – once when lying beside the pool on holiday in Italy with a copy of Vanity Fair wrapped around it so people didn’t think I was weird.
8. What is the last book you read?
Her Privates We by Frederic Manning. It is the most moving, most human and most harrowing novel about war ever written. It also has a stunning introduction by William Boyd. Ernest Hemingway said he read it every year “to remember how things were”. Lawrence of Arabia called it “the book of books.”
9. What is your favourite business book?
Very hard to choose, but Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini is the book I refer back to continually for ideas on both the simplest and most complex things – from casting a TV show so people will like the presenters to working out why the signage on the recycling bin in the office doesn’t work – he’s a genius.
The book I have bought multiple copies of to give away is Carol Dweck’s Mindset, which is everything you need to know about how to learn more effectively and how to help your team (or your children) learn new things.
10. Where would be your favourite place to study?
The shacks in Provincetown where Eugene O’Neill wrote his first plays are now rented out for artists and writers to study and work. I filmed there once with Sir Richard Eyre – who rode out into this beautiful remote spot on horseback for our sequence – and I always wanted to go back there to stay for a while and think big thoughts.
Compiled by Charlotte Clarke