A. Gary Anderson
Graduate School of Management

Take Risks Early in Your Career

Sony Entertainment’s Maria Anguelova ’03 tells students it’s fine to redirect your career into exciting areas unknown
By Darin Estep |

Maria Anguelova ’03 made a bold move right at the beginning, when she decided to leave Bulgaria in pursuit of a strong education. She found it in the MBA program at UCR.

“The UC Riverside program was very diverse and catered really well to international students,” says Anguelova, who is currently an executive vice president at Sony Pictures Entertainment. “Just the fact that there was so much diversity really helped, because you didn’t feel like you were singled out or the only person who had an accent.”

Anguelova worked as a teaching assistant and connected with alumni to secure an internship at a credit union, where she worked on special projects. After completing the MBA program, she landed a job at an investment bank, where she got an up-close perspective on entrepreneurship and what makes businesses successful.

Her interest in media and entertainment drew her to another investment bank where she focused on those fields. Working with major studios and talent agencies, she earned several promotions that helped her recognize her resourcefulness and strengths in management.

“I don’t know if I was as mindful of my strengths initially in my career,” she says. “My advice to students is to figure out what you’re good at and what your core strengths are. You need to also be interested and passionate about your job, but if you can utilize what you’re good at, you will really excel.”

After landing at Sony Pictures, Anguelova was promoted to executive vice president and is head of global corporate development, mergers and acquisitions, and strategy.

Anguelova currently serves as an executive fellow at UCR’s School of Business. Within the Executive Fellows Program, established in 1992, business leaders are selected for their outstanding leadership, professional experience, and business expertise. The program is unique among top business schools because executive fellows are deeply involved with future business leaders as they advise and mentor students in their careers, new business ventures, and professional challenges.

In group settings and one-on-one consultation with students, Anguelova shares first-hand knowledge hewn from her own experience: “Don’t be afraid to take risks, especially early in your career,” she says, because seniority and experience make it harder to change direction later in a career. “Try to explore as many things as possible. Don’t be afraid to fail. If you’re not completely satisfied with an opportunity, look for something else and do it early on.”

Her own background provides multiple perspectives: the usefulness of harnessing alumni connections, the journey while pursuing a career as a business leader, and the unique experiences of international students.

“I just hope to be helpful to students,” she says. “I’m here to serve.”