June 09, 2019

Tala Odeh

Strategic Planner at Memac Ogilvy Dubai

M.S. degree in Strategic Communication from the School of Professional Studies, 2019

Congratulations to Tala Odeh who just graduated from Columbia University's School of Professional Studies. 

Tala is a Strategic Planner at Memac Ogilvy Dubai. She recently returned to Memac Ogilvy after completing her Master’s degree at Columbia University. Today, Tala applies what she learned at Columbia in her role as a strategist. Through comprehensive research and extracting data-driven insights, she supports clients in realizing their marketing and communications objectives and. Before graduate school, Tala was a Senior Account Executive at Memac Ogilvy servicing key consumer clients such as Huawei and InterContinental Hotels Group.

Since it is a graduation month, we sat down with Tala and asked her a few questions about her time at Columbia University and what she plans next. 

1. Which school did you attended at Columbia? Why Columbia?

I just graduated from the Columbia School of Professional Studies with a M.S. in Strategic Communication.

I chose Columbia because I wanted an educational experience that would enable me to learn from both inside and outside the classroom. Columbia is the best of both worlds, a renowned academic institute in the heart of the most vibrant city. At Columbia, I knew I would feel challenged by my professors and have compelling conversations with my peers, but I also knew that beyond of the lecture hall I could learn from individuals and places that had history, heritage and culture.

2. What are your aspirations after graduation?

Short-term, my goal is to apply the technical and soft skills I learned to my current role as a Strategic Planner at Ogilvy.

Long-term, I hope to use my knowledge and experience to work in the sustainability sector, educating people on low-impact living and the importance of protecting our planet.

3. What did you enjoy the most at Columbia?

Besides making some incredible friends, I loved the Strategic Communication Program ‘Speaker Series’ events and the guest lecturers that came to our classes.

The speakers were remarkable!

They shared case studies and examples of their work as well as learnings from their career. It  was very insightful.

4. What was your absolute favorite class during your studies at Columbia University and why? 

Hard to choose just one so I will narrow it down to two.

The first is a behavioral economics class called ‘Principles of Persuasion’ which teaches you how and why people make certain decisions. We also explored the communication and rhetoric tools to influence and persuade individuals during the decision-making process.

The second was my 'Political Communication' elective course. I was so taken by the readings and lectures analyzing the most successful campaigns and phenomena that gave rise to today’s political climate.

5. Do you have a favorite place on campus?

I spent the most time on the top floor of the Butler Library. The old books, view of campus and natural light made for a very inspiring place to study and get work done.  

6. Are there any values that you have gained directly from your time at Columbia University?


I think that’s what gets everyone to Columbia and what takes them further. Personally, my program felt less like a sprint more like a marathon, so I learned that when everyone got tired and slowed down, that is exactly when I had to I speed up and persevere through that last leg of the race.

7. What advice would you give to someone who is looking into attending Columbia University?

Think critically, always and ever take an answer for face value. Relentless questioning will stretch the boundaries of what you think is right or possible. Challenge yourself and your peers to defend their viewpoints for this puts ideas to the test.

Some of my best work came from deep self-interrogation and critical thinking, even if it meant starting from scratch at the eleventh hour.

8. What was your most significant accomplishment during your time at Columbia?

I told myself I would fund my own graduate education which was a huge financial undertaking but during my last semester, I was granted a merit-based scholarship which felt like a massive accomplishment. It was so gratifying to know my efforts were not going unnoticed and that Columbia was also invested in my potential.  

 9. What is your favorite memory of your time at Columbia?

I would undoubtedly say the late nights at the business school library with my friends were some of the best memories.

10. Since we are approaching summer and you just graduated, what are your summer plans / most immediate plans?  

It is straight to work for me! I am a strategic Planner at Memac Ogilvy Dubai doing research and communication strategy for PR and influence clients. But as a little graduation gift to myself, I will be taking some time off to enjoy a trip to Italy this summer.