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From Attorney to Corporate Comms Data Analytics

Her Marshall MBA helped Laju Obasaju pivot from entertainment law to corporate communications for Comcast and professional recognition.

 

November 22, 2022
Laju Obasaju
Laju Obasaju MBA '17, pivoted from entertainment law to corporate communications and data analytics.

Laju Obasaju was living a version of the Southern California dream already, when she decided she wanted to broaden her horizons and get her MBA.

Five years later, Obasaju MBA ’17 is enjoying career success and satisfaction as well as professional recognition. As the Executive Director of Data and Analytics for Corporate Communications at Comcast, she was recently listed as one of “100 Power Women” in Diversity Woman Magazine.

“It’s really an honor to be recognized,” she said. “I was honored to be nominated in the first place.”

Obasaju grew up on Long Island and did both her undergraduate and law degrees at New York University. But she couldn’t resist the pull of Los Angeles. As an entertainment attorney based in Beverley Hills, she first worked in intellectual property and then later in television production and development. “I always had to tell people, no, I did not work with the talent,” she laughed. “I worked for different production studios and networks doing their overflow legal work that wasn’t handled in-house, that kind of thing.”

It was fast-paced and challenging, not to mention a little glamorous. But over the course of her eight years in the legal side of entertainment, she found herself wanting to embrace a bigger picture, not just pieces of projects. She began to realize she might need more training beyond what law school had taught her. “I wanted to get more of the overall business acumen and tap into higher level strategies.”

By then she’d heard about the Trojan Family Network. She applied to USC Marshall in the third round, and immediately got her first taste of that network. “Kellee Scott in admissions hooked me up with the Consortium [which helps students of color and women earn their MBAs] and I not only got accepted into Marshall, but I also got a full-ride scholarship, which was important in helping me step away from work to attend school full-time.”

“My networking began right away,” she said. “My Consortium colleagues remain some of my closest friends.”

Collaborative Education

One of the first differences she noticed was the collaboration. “Law school is very individualized and very competitive,” she said. “Its’s like, in order for me to win, you have to lose. That’s not at all what it’s like at Marshall.”

She was grateful for that kind of collaboration when it came to certain classes, such as accounting. “Even though I sit in data now I hadn’t done anything math related since school.” Fortunately, teamwork is the name of the game. A former consultant with strong accounting skills came to her aid, while she promised to bring all of the data together for a top-level, seamless presentation. 

As a lawyer, she had always loved the research element of her role. This gave her a natural competitive advantage when it came to reporting and presenting information. While at Marshall she worked closely with the Greif Case Center, researching and writing cases alongside professor and mentor Jeremy Dann, and was chosen as a Case Fellow. “One of my cases was even published in the Harvard Business Review,” she said. “It was a great experience.”

Her peers and professors took note. She was chosen by Poets & Quants as one of the top MBA in the Class of 2017.

Her first job post-graduation was with AT&T in Dallas, which offered a rotation program that struck her as a logical extension of her MBA experience. She enjoyed the exposure to many different functions. Her last rotation was in corporate communications, working for then-CEO Randall Stephenson.  “What I really liked was the bird’s eye view of everything going on in the company,” she said. “It was the big picture.”

But wanting to move back to the East Coast where her family was, she interviewed with Comcast for a different role when a chance meeting with her now boss led her to another pivot. He wanted someone a keen, strategic mind and executive communication skills. How did she feel about data?

“I told him I’m not the best person to dig into a dashboard, but he said he could surround me with junior analysts who could find those numbers for me,” she said. “I make sure I have metrics that I can read out in a way that people understand how it directly ties back to our campaigns.” The collaborative skills she gained at Marshall has made this a successful arrangement.

Even though she relocated to Philadelphia three months before the COVID-19 pandemic quarantine began, she says she loves her new city, and is now close enough to family to dote on her 4-year-old niece. 

“I decided to make a career pivot from law to business and chose the Marshall School to help make that a reality. It was the right choice,” she said. “The skills, the mentorship and the Trojan network have all played a role in where I'm at today.”