When I was four, my parents put me in hockey classes at our local track in New York and I just tackled it. But it only took a few months, until I saw skaters on the ice and said to my mother, “I want to do this.” The rest is quite history, I skate ever since.
After university, I was faced with the choice of either quitting skating and pursuing a more corporate job or going on and performing around the world. I decided to tour the world. For about 12 years I have traveled and performed in various cities in Europe and the USA and on international waters on cruise ships.
Then, in 2018, I started a performance company and put together my first show from scratch with 25 of my professional figure skating colleagues. We performed it in Connecticut and it was a huge success. It was then that I started thinking about going to driving school. My undergraduate degree was in graphic design, I had a long history in the creative industries and I wanted something a little more tangible to move me forward in my professional career.
I wanted it to be in Europe because I had spent so much time there over the years and felt very comfortable. I applied to schools in Berlin, Amsterdam and at Imperial College Business School in London, which were the best, and I was pleasantly surprised when I entered.
The course was an intensive one-year MBA. There were a handful of British students and a lot of Americans, Chinese, Indians and South Americans – it was really international.
We had to do about six months in person before the pandemic hit and we switched to distance education. It was hard – doing an MBA is all about networking and connecting with your peers and professors. But as soon as the restrictions hit, many students returned home. However, we made the most of it and supported each other.
My favorite courses were design thinking and accounting, which is quite funny. I was good at math when I was growing up, but did not do much professionally, and I found the accounting class very difficult. But in the end, it clicked; it was beautiful, almost, how everything added up. The artist in me loved when everything matched. The design thinking professor encouraged us to be creative, which makes it a very exciting class. It taught me that creativity in business is very important.
The Reaching Out fellowship for members of the LGBTQ community has also helped make a huge impact on my time at business school. I thought I would go into a class of very straight white men because that is the stereotype. I was pleasantly surprised that it was not so. It was a very diverse group, and it was great to join a network of LGBTQ + candidates.
We also did an entrepreneurship module as part of the MBA, and together with one of my classmates I created a company called the Ice Theater of London. Since graduating last summer, I have remained in charge of that business, but I have a team of ice skaters who help me run the company as I no longer live in London. I accidentally ended up back in New York – I was on my way for a two week holiday but then England locked up and I stayed where the ice rinks were open and I could skate.
The MBA gave me the confidence to run businesses and enter management positions. I’m about to join an outdoor club in New Jersey as their artistic director, where I will produce, direct, choreograph and direct all of their performances.
I stay in touch with many of my classmates – we have a WhatsApp chat to which we contribute. It’s fun to hear what they’re doing, because all of our lives have finally gone in different directions than we thought, due to the pandemic. We had to turn.
What’s next? I really hope the Ice Theater of London takes over and recruits a larger audience in the UK – that’s one of my goals. Other than that, I’m looking forward to living my life. I just got married. I think the pandemic forced us not to plan too far in advance, and therefore we are living in the moment – we will see what happens.