Graduate Division

Ivan Williams

Ivan Williams
From Engineering, to Business, to Film
UCI Alum Ivan Williams Has Done it All
Mastering the art of leadership in not just one profession, but three different professions…
Ivan Williams is an executive producer, entrepreneur, and senior business leader.  After more than three decades working with leading oil and gas companies, Ivan transitioned to the entertainment industry, where he has received widespread acclaim for his creative accomplishments and support of the arts.
He has partnered with creatives and innovators across the globe, and has been involved in all major aspects of the development, finance, and marketing activities of startups, major energy companies, and Hollywood movies and TV shows. 
From a very young age, Ivan had a passion for both science and film.  In high school, he wanted his love for science to be applied to real world big opportunities and since he did not want to be in the lab exclusively, chemical engineering fit that bill perfectly.  At the same time, he was active in his high school’s film club and made several movies in the days of Super 8mm film, back when editing meant actually cutting and splicing the film on a table.  
“I really enjoyed the art of storytelling via film, but my interest in applied science was stronger,” says Ivan.  “So, I can say that my journey has come full circle from the high school film festival days.”
In his mid-30’s, Ivan wanted to move into more senior management positions at ARCO.  While he had led technical teams, he wanted to gain the business skills that would lead him into leadership positions within the general business.  To do this he knew an M.B.A. from a top school was going to be needed.  However, he had a family, a mortgage, and a job, so it was important to find a graduate school that offered an M.B.A. that could be completed with those needs in mind.  In addition, he wanted a program that was for mid-career experienced people with substantial real-world backgrounds.  UCI’s Graduate School of Management (now Paul Merage School of Business) Executive M.B.A. fit his needs and his employer at the time sponsored him.
“The most impressive thing for me about the study of business at UCI was the command of the topics by the world class faculty at the graduate school,” he says.  “From organizational behavior, business strategy, finance, accounting, economics, marketing, operations analysis, and especially marketing, they all were taught by leading academics who knew how to engage mid-career managers in a powerful way.   The case studies and lectures were current and relevant to the development of senior business leaders.   All of the materials were pertinent to what a real-world business executive needed.” 
Currently, Ivan wears many hats in the entertainment business in Hollywood.  Besides being a production company executive vice president and company partner, he is producing a pilot television show, and a major feature film.  On top of this, he is also helping to launch a new media technology company.
To say that Ivan has come full circle would be an understatement.   When he entered UCI in 1994, he was an engineer.  When he left in 1996, he was a business man.   “My UCI education gave me the skills, knowledge, and confidence to look at opportunities in a BIG, new way,” he says.  “I quickly moved up the corporate ladder and, most importantly, made significant impacts across the globe, because of what I learned at UCI.  My experience at UCI was truly transformative.”