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Meet the MBA Class of 2025: Matthew Maxwell, UCLA (Anderson)

“A dreamer driven by faith, family and music; a lover of imagination, community and hope.

Hometown: Mitchellville, Maryland

Fun fact about yourself: I learned to sing through vocal impressions, so I had a pretty good imitation of Trey Songz.

Undergraduate school and major: Harvard University, BA in Economics; Berklee College of Music, MM in Music Production and Technology

Most recent employer and job title: Family First music group, founder; SoundExchange, Senior Business Development Analyst

UCLA Anderson is founded on the three pillars: sharing success, thinking fearlessly, and leading change. Which pillar speaks to you the most and why? This is quite a difficult question. If I have to choose one, it’s Think Fearlessly, because it’s an engine for sharing success and driving change. In my experience, it’s fear that stops us from sharing our successes with others. For example, there is the fear of being neglected, exploited or devalued. To bring about change, one must be able to choose faith over fear and allow oneself to think beyond the limitations of what has been done, in favor of what should be done.

When I think of the leaders I admire, it is either the absence of fear, or, more importantly, the active decision to think and act beyond fear, that has led to incredible moments of personal growth and societal transformation.

What makes Los Angeles a great place to get an MBA? Although I love the East Coast and have lived in several cities in the Northeast, Los Angeles was a no-brainer for me. Los Angeles seems to be the ideal balance of creativity, business, entertainment and wellness. As a musician, a lot of my creative collaborators are here or will soon be moving here. Even outside of the people I know, there is a strong spirit of collaboration between the people I have met in the city.

I focus on creative entrepreneurship. There’s a vibrant startup culture and it’s easier to meet fun-focused people in tech, but it feels more balanced, given the importance of wellness to the region. And it’s really hard to beat the weather here, especially if the humidity is so low; constant sunshine is a perpetual level-setting agent that reminds me to enjoy the journey and trust the process.

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key element of the UCLA Anderson MBA program that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? For me, it was the startup environment at the Price Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. The center offers numerous entrepreneurial scholarships and accelerator programs for early-stage businesses. I came to business school to grow my business, Family First Music Group, with a particular focus on creating technology tools for the independent creator economy to better manage their businesses and protect and monetize their content. I believe I have the space and resources to do this at Anderson. In terms of importance, I realized that I was at my best when I was freely building things as a founder, so coming to an institution that would support me and help me hone my skills and areas of improvement was important to me. Finally, I experienced a rather unique journey, which revealed to me the extent to which creative people and their teams must climb certain mountains, particularly when they lack financial means or personnel, thus making it possible to support these teams via the Anderson’s startup community is an incredible blessing.

What class, club, or activity are you most excited about at UCLA Anderson? Another difficult question. Part of me wants to mention something like the Entrepreneurship Club, the Tech Club, or something like joining cultural and identity groups and taking trips with classmates. Honestly, I’m really excited to play basketball. It’s been a long time since I’ve had access to so many fields to play hoops on and so many people who practice hoops on a regular and organized basis. I just need to finish treating a knee injury… But once that’s done, #ballislife.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: A recent professional and family accomplishment that actually ties into my MBA goals is resolving a decades-old music copyright and royalty issue for my family. In about a year, we will have completed a 30-year journey to recoup the royalties owed to my grandmother (royalties that my grandfather didn’t even receive in his last years of life, but should have ). It’s truly humbling to be a part of something that spans generations and to have the opportunity to bring closure to a field that intersects with two of my core identities, family and music.

What do you hope to do after graduation (at this point)? Honestly, I want to live life to the fullest as a creative and entrepreneur. At this point, the plan is to pursue an active career as an independent artist, producer, songwriter, label executive, and overall performer. Simultaneously, I hope to have created powerful technology tools that help “95” creatives grow their businesses. And if I’m able to live fully in this intersection after graduation…damn, watch out, world, because here we go!!!

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission to the UCLA Anderson MBA program? I would recommend a lot of introspection and joint thinking to know your “why” for business school and “why” Anderson. Much of the discourse around education and development in general is about “maximizing” the opportunities presented and taking the “next step”. But, for me, knowing where to go (and even whether to go to business school) was more about knowing myself and what I needed at this point in my career. During the application process, having a clear explanation of why helped me immensely with essays and interviews. This meant that my application was simply a verbal reflection of who I am instead of trying to construct a narrative or look for something that doesn’t align with my philosophy and experiences.