Wong Speaks on Importance of Pursuing Passions
Photo: Jason Dorfman, CSAIL photographer
13 March 2012
Earlier this month, MIT alumna Andrea Wong chronicled her journey from MIT undergraduate to President of International Production for Sony Pictures Television as part of CSAIL’s Dertouzos Lecturer Series. Wong encouraged students to use the skills they are acquiring at MIT to pursue their passions, in whatever unconventional areas they may lie.
“Figure out what you are passionate about and just do it,” said Wong, relating the importance of finding a job that makes you want to get out of bed and head to work each morning.
Wong chronicled her rise to the upper echelons of the entertainment world, starting with her undergraduate education in electrical engineering at MIT. While entertainment might seem an odd career choice for an electrical engineer, Wong explained that her time at MIT prepared her for this career path, as it gave her all the tools necessary to successfully tackle difficult problems head-on.
After graduating MIT, Wong served a brief stint as an investment banker before heading to graduate school at Stanford for her MBA. While there she took a summer job at NBC and spent one morning in the control room watching the production of the morning news. This experience piqued Wong’s interest in television news and entertainment, and completely rerouted her career path.
Wong worked her way up the ladder to eventually land a job at ABC as the executive vice president of alternative programming, specials and late night. In this role, Wong helped bring reality television to the masses, developing such hit shows as The Bachelor, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and Dancing With the Stars. From there she moved onto Lifetime, where she served as president and CEO, bringing about the station’s acquisition of Project Runway and nurturing Army Wives into Lifetime’s top-rated series of all time. Wong currently serves as president of international production for Sony Pictures Television and the president of international for Sony Pictures Entertainment.
After describing her journey from Cambridge to Hollywood to her current position in London, Wong opened up the floor for discussion, answering questions on everything from how she was able to recognize lucky breaks in her career to whether MIT should focus more on skills like communications.
Wong explained to the crowd that she viewed her career as a constant journey and encouraged attendees to continuously evaluate their professional lives, and to use the skills gained through study at MIT to make the most of their careers.
“Everyone who graduates from MIT is brilliant, smart and has an agile mind that can be trained to do whatever you want it to do,” said Wong. “Use these skills to be successful in whatever it is that you are passionate about.”
Abby Abazorius, CSAIL