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Ilana W

- Research Program Mentor

MBA candidate at Stanford University


Business strategy, modeling/simulation, data analysis, user research, opera studies, theater/performance studies, literary translation, robotics


I'm a Portland, Oregon native with fierce academic curiosity and lots of interests. Eight years of FIRST robotics spurred me to study engineering at Olin, a small engineering-only college focused on hands-on learning. Despite starring in most of Olin's shows, I missed theater and literature, so I followed that experience with a Master's at the University of Cambridge as a Gates-Cambridge Scholar. There, I explored contemporary stagings of Mozart opera. I continued this work on a Fulbright grant in Germany, writing about directors' interpretations of classic plays and operas. I've published three papers in academic journals based on this research. When I returned to the U.S., I blended my two interests. By day, I joined Yahoo!'s Associate Product Manager program, where I managed an email app used by millions and part of a advertising platform with over $1B of annual revenue. By night, I reviewed theater and opera professionally. The lure of rejoining the arts world on the business side of things drove me to Stanford GSB for my MBA. I spent summer 2019 as a strategy intern at American Ballet Theatre, and after graduation I'll join Bain & Company as a consultant.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Comparing stagings of a play or opera

Pick a favorite piece of drama that has been recorded multiple times. We'll look at the text, commentaries, stagings, and reviews to analyze directors' choices and identify the themes they highlight. We'll explore ways staging can work with or against the words/music of a piece and create a dialogue with contemporary events. If possible, we'll get in touch with a recent director of the work and talk to them about the inspiration for their decisions. The format of your deliverable for this project could be a podcast, video series, or research paper.

Develop a product using design thinking

Pick a group of people (basketball fans? grandparents? any group you choose!). We'll conduct need-finding research interviews to better understand the joys and pains in their lives. Using this data, we'll brainstorm potential products to address this group's needs and test out rough prototypes. We'll pick one to turn into a more polished prototype. Your deliverable will be a design portfolio documenting your research process and the developed product.

Coding skills

Python, Gurobi, R, SQL

Languages I know

Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese (spoken), French (reading)

Teaching experience

SAT tutor (high school and undergrad); peer writing tutor (undergrad); peer tutor in Economics and Accounting (Stanford GSB); course assistant in Optimization and Simulation Modeling, Strategy Beyond Markets, Operations, and Dynamics of the Global Wine Industry (Stanford GSB)


Work experience

Yahoo! (Oath/Verizon) (2015 - Current)
Senior Product Manager
Microsoft (2012 - Current)
Program Manager


Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering
BS Bachelor of Science (2013)
Engineering: Systems
Cambridge University
MPhil Master of Philosophy
European Literature and Culture
Stanford University
MBA Master of Business Administration candidate

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