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20 Questions: Alexandra Roselle, CPA

By Ashley Birch
Tags: Alumni

Alexandra Roselle, BBA ’11/BMA ’11/MAcc ’13, always tried to balance her love of the entertainment industry with her academic aspirations. That balance began when she decided to pursue a Bachelor of Business Administration from the Ross School of Business as well as a Bachelor of Musical Arts from the School of Music, Theatre & Dance. 

After receiving her Master of Accounting, Roselle took the route most MAcc grads take and went to work for a major consulting firm, PwC. While there, she audited some of New York City’s biggest public and private companies in the media and entertainment division — giving her an opportunity to learn how the entertainment industry works from the inside. From there, she found her way to HBO (WarnerMedia) in NYC, where she worked her way up the ranks. She is now the director of financial planning and analysis at WarnerMedia focused on programming and content finance. 

While the entertainment industry is constantly changing, Roselle is hopeful for the future. 

“I have really enjoyed geeking out with my colleagues and seeing this industry evolve from the inside. There’s been tons of M&A change and the tech, media, and entertainment space is getting shaken up like never before right now, but I’ve learned so much in the process,” she says.

We are constantly getting challenged to rethink internal processes and reinvent our ways of doing business — it’s an exciting time to be on the inside!

As Roselle is no stranger to hard work in overlapping entertainment and business, we put her left and right brain to work with 20 questions.

 

  1. Where did you first see the overlap between finance and entertainment?

    I’ve always had a huge passion for singing and theater performance, but was also very much a mathematician and academic. At U-M, I finally saw those worlds collide when I became the treasurer of the University of Michigan Gilbert & Sullivan Society, a 70-plus-year-old performing arts group on campus that performs 1800s operettas by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. That was my first exposure to giving back to the arts from an administrative capacity, and I loved it! At PwC, I audited Fortune 500 entertainment clients and started to see how arts knowledge and passion could translate to the corporate media and entertainment world — that made me even more focused and excited about potential career paths ahead.
  2. What was your biggest challenge pursuing dual degrees between the School of Music, Theatre & Dance and Michigan Ross?

    I’ll admit I had many difficult conversations with my guidance counselor justifying 19-credit semesters …. but honestly, scheduling was always the biggest pain point; I often had to jump between North Campus and Central Campus during the 10-minute Michigan time intervals.  That bus time was usually spent furiously eating lunch while recalibrating my mindset from learning about debits and credits to getting into character for opera workshop. It made for some interesting and exhausting days, but I thrived off being busy yet adaptable. The schools did not make it easy to work both schedules, so I had to manage myself. For example, my Ross graduation and SMTD graduation were scheduled for the same day and time, so I had to pick between them! That was a bittersweet moment.
  3. What is one movie you could watch over and over?

    The Sound of Music. I’m outing myself right now as a real musical theater geek, but last time I went to LA for work, I went to a Sound of Music sing-along at the Hollywood Bowl with my team. The audience was super into it — I’m talking full-on costumes, hair, make-up, and swaying flashlights during “Edelweiss.” It showed just how much that movie is such a classic across generations.
  4. What has been your best business decision so far?

    This is not necessarily a “business decision” per se, but I’d have to say marrying my husband was the best decision! We are such a great decision-making team. He’s a Ross BBA as well and we met at U-M performing in extracurricular musicals together. And now we have a wonderfully curious toddler daughter who keeps us focused on living life to the fullest. I think that being happy and secure at home makes me better and more focused at work, too.
  5. The thing you learned in business school that you’ll never forget?

    If you know how to learn, work hard, and are resourceful, you can conquer any challenge.  There were classes that I loved and some that I wasn’t a huge fan of, but overall, Ross gave me a zest for lifelong learning and taught me how to be resourceful so that I could excel in any environment. You won’t always be on projects or doing tasks you love, but if you work hard and know how to problem solve, you can conquer anything.
  6. Most-cherished Ross experience?

    Overall, I think I loved the real-world consulting projects the most. As part of a strategy consulting class during my master’s program, I traveled to Ireland to consult for the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas; what an amazing experience! I also consulted locally for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra — that was a fascinating project for my background and definitely sparked an interest in arts and entertainment finance.
  7. What do you miss most about Ann Arbor?

    So many things …. No Thai!, Bubble Island, Dominick’s sangria, Jolly Pumpkin, Zingerman’s, and of course Michigan football! Luckily I have some family in Ann Arbor, so I get back there quite a bit, but the townie experience is quite different from the student experience.
  8. What did you want to be when you were a kid?

    An architect — I had blueprints, chart paper, protractors, the works! I really think that would have been a good career path to combine right and left brain skills as well. Unfortunately, the requirement to submit an art portfolio really threw me off … Turns out I’m more of a performing artist, not a visual artist.
  9. What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?

    Life is like a game of chess — always stay one step ahead and keep your long-term goals and dreams in mind, but there is not necessarily one path that will take you there. I think when I was in school, I had this idea that my first job needed to be my dream job. It turns out that rarely happens in life, but if that first job puts you in the right direction to help you land your eventual dream job, then you’re in exactly the place you should be.
  10. Who is today’s most important business leader?

    There are so many important voices out there. In my industry, I love the work that our CEO, Jason Kilar, is doing for WarnerMedia right now. He’s proved to be a mover and a shaker from his time at Amazon and Hulu; he’s really embracing the industry disruption, taking some calculated risks, and transforming our business very quickly. I look forward to seeing how those decisions pan out for the company and have appreciated his leadership style.
  11. What’s a book that you’ve read recently? How was it?

    Essentialism by Greg McKeown. I’ve learned a lot about myself, including how to focus on what really matters and become a more effective decision-maker. Highly recommended!
  12. Who or what is most played in your music library?

    I am an old soul with music — golden age Broadway, opera, or ’40s/’50s jazz/swing is my go-to, but this month I’ve had a lot of fun rediscovering classic Sesame Street vinyls from the ’70s with my toddler daughter.
  13. Favorite comfort food?

    Any kind of pie. Pumpkin, apple, blueberry/peach, they’re all good!
  14. Must-have app on your phone?

    Peloton. I joined the revolution! Also HBO Max! #companypride
  15. Three people, living or dead, you’d like to have dinner with?

    Mozart, RBG (rest in peace), and Julie Andrews. 
  16. Most important room in your home?

    My music room — it’s where I go to get my zen. You’ll often find me singing or playing piano when I need to refocus.
  17. First website you access in the morning?

    Entertainment industry roundups like the Byers report or business roundups like the Morning Brew (made by a Ross grad!) are my morning go-tos, so I can stay on top of work and industry developments and feel prepared for the day ahead.
  18. What is one nonprofit organization you wish people knew more about?

    There are so many wonderful causes in this world worthy of our attention. Top of mind for me right now, though, is my beloved performing arts industry, which is facing unprecedented COVID-19 challenges. Be An #ArtsHero is doing important work to fight for relief for the arts and culture sector in the face of these challenges. It doesn’t stop there, though — we all need to do our part to make sure the arts survive this. Please give to local groups, give to institutions, give to artists directly, just GIVE!
  19. What's your favorite show you’ve seen on Broadway?

    This is a tough one …. I have so many favorite shows and I especially love classic musical revivals, but I would have to say the Tony 2014 Best Musical winner, Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, really blew me away.
  20. Favorite thing about New York?

    There’s just an unlimited amount of opportunity and vibrancy that is so unique there! No matter what industry or career you’re in, the most professional, renowned experiences and best and brightest talent are located there. I sing in a choir that often performs at Carnegie Hall — where else in the world could I do that? Same thing with my career — I am very lucky to be in NY so I can work in a job and industry that I love at one of the biggest players in entertainment.

 

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