Meet the USC Marshall MBA Class of 2018

Michael Fritschner

University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Overcoming immense personal challenges allows me to appreciate and thrive in every moment, every day.

Hometown: Sugar Land, Texas

Fun Fact About Yourself: I have worn the same Hawaiian shirt while watching every USC football game over the past five years. I’m sure my lucky shirt and I are essential to the Trojans’ gridiron success. (and yes, I wash it!)

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Southern California, Major: International Relations, Minor: Business

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

Restorative Therapies, Inc.: Sales Representative, Product Manager

International Center for Spinal Cord Injury at The Kennedy Krieger Institute: Fundraiser, Motivational Speaker, Mentor for newly injured Spinal Cord Injury Patients

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Several months after I started at Restorative Therapies, the CEO announced he wanted a Product Manager for the RT600, a struggling product. I interviewed therapists and patients, did hours of market research and presented the CEO with a three-pronged plan, which I crafted while improving Mid-Atlantic Territory Sales by 88%. I got the assignment.

Meeting with our Technical, R&D, Clinical, and Operations teams, we identified faulty parts from outside contractors and began making them in-house. The product’s performance and financials improved dramatically. Next, I pushed to install these new parts for current customers, leading to increased satisfaction and usage. Keeping customers happy allowed me to gather clinician and patient testimonials demonstrating the importance of the RT600. Using this information, I adjusted RTI’s marketing strategy, increasing the number of customers interested in the RT600 by 80%. While all leads did not produce sales, they were a great starting point for our sales team. I also initiated the RT600 Road Show; we’d take the device to interested clinics to show its effects on their patients. As the RT600 product champion, I worked to improve the reliability of the device, organized effective marketing strategies and enabled RTI to improve current and future sales. These changes helped increase sales by over $400,000 in one year while setting the product up for future growth.

Looking back on your experience, what advice would you give to future business school applicants? Before applying for business school, determine what you are passionate about.  This can be as specific as analyzing stocks’ financial returns, or as broad as leading cross functional teams further than they thought possible. Once this is determined, allow your passion to guide each and every decision you make during the application process. Do not worry about trying to discover what a particular school wants to hear. Instead, describe your passions and your drive with enthusiasm and sincerity.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? The Marshall MBA is the ideal program to help me achieve my goals due to three characteristics: curriculum, classmates, and atmosphere.  These distinguishing elements will enable me to attain my long-term professional goals: becoming a hospital CEO and improving patient outcomes.  The deplorable gulf in quality of care between leading facilities and local hospitals exemplifies the issues I want to be able to address and resolve. Why aren’t emerging and evidence-based technologies implemented to expand cutting edge care for most patients in need? Is it possible to successfully apply a primary hospital’s model to smaller local hospitals? Is money the only variable or are there other factors? I clearly need more knowledge to adequately address these questions.  The Marshall MBA curriculum is best suited to provide the foundation I need to engage in a health care career.

The program offers diverse courses and the concentrations I am seeking.  Success in my chosen career requires a myriad of skills along with understanding the forces that shape health care delivery. Knowing my goal of improving the quality of care at local hospitals, I look forward to “Organization, Change, and Development” with Professor Michael Mische, as well as “Advanced Methods in Strategy Analysis” with Professor Quentin Fleming. A broad curriculum is essential to achieve a meaningful, implementable MBA. This exposure, coupled with the opportunity to apply theory to reality during internships, enables graduates to implement the knowledge base derived from course work.

As an undergraduate at USC, my classmates were extremely intelligent and highly motivated. I expected no less at Marshall and have not been disappointed. My classmates engender competition that results in improved effort and outcomes. I can contribute significantly to that vital classmate milieu through sharing my relentless optimism and unique life experience, in which the challenge of adversity has been overcome with the support of family and friends, a positive attitude combined with hard work, and always a sense of humor.

Finally, the Los Angeles spirit of creativity and diversity is reflected on the USC campus. That world-class environment contributes to an atmosphere that drives people to create and implement innovative solutions, moving forward to address new challenges.  I imagined that environment to be operative at Marshall. Taking courses, engaging in competitions and internships, and collaborating with classmates comprise the unique landscape that defines the Marshall program. It is that experience I sought as an applicant to the Marshall MBA program.

Tell us about your dream job or dream employer at this point in your life? Experiencing many hospitals and medical facilities throughout the country, first as a patient and later as a medical device representative, I saw first-hand the wide gulf that exists in quality of care.

At the age of 15 I was paralyzed from the chest down in a surfing accident in Hawaii and told that I would never walk again.

Most spinal cord injury therapy programs emphasize how to accept your situation and learn to live in a wheelchair. Although I was able to learn how to dress, eat, and bathe independently again, I knew I wanted to accomplish so much more. Then my family and I found Kennedy Krieger in Baltimore, Maryland.  Clinicians there taught me to focus on how to stand up and walk away from that chair. They prescribed a special “stand up” wheelchair that helps me remain healthy and also demonstrates that walking again is not just some far off dream, but something I can attain through hard work and perseverance.

I use this wheelchair each and every day to stand during class at USC, and will continue to use it until I walk away from it completely.  I work to achieve this dream every day and am now able to feel and move all the way down to my knees.

I do not consider any of this a setback. Rather, it has radically changed my life and enabled me to focus on my goal: improving the quality of care in medical facilities and closing the gap between premier and smaller, local hospitals.

Although I related my passion to my previous work, I understand I do not currently possess all the tools, education or connections I need to make a meaningful impact on a hospital. During my time at Marshall, I plan to work with both faculty and fellow students from all sectors to learn what makes a business successful and how to productively initiate change within an existing organization. I have the determination and passion necessary to improve a hospital’s performance and thus change its patients’ outcomes and futures for the better. In order to make my goal a reality, my dream job is to be the CEO of a major hospital system. This position will allow me to initiate meaningful change to ensure all patients receive the highest quality of care, regardless of their location or financial status.

What would you like your business school peers to say about you after you graduate from this program? When my classmates face adversity during or after the program, I hope they will say that I helped them view each challenge as an opportunity for growth rather than a roadblock. Fight On!

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.