2017 Best MBAs: Helen ‘Mollie’ Hartung, USC (Marshall)

Helen ‘Mollie’ Hartung

USC, Marshall School of Business

Age: 32

“Someone who is always looking for new knowledge, experiences and opportunities.

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Fun fact about yourself: I have a jumping horse and regularly compete in equestrian competitions, even throughout business school!

Undergraduate School and Degree:

A.B, Princeton University, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

M.S., Georgetown University, Department of Microbiology and Immunology

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Staff Scientist at EvoRx Technologies, Inc.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? Amgen, Thousand Oaks, CA

Where will you be working after graduation? Amgen, Thousand Oaks. CA

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Vice President of Academics, Marshall Student Government Association (2016-2017)
  • Academic Representative, Marshall Student Government Association (2015-2016)
  • VP of Internal Venture Capital Investment Competition (2016-2017)
  • Planning Committee Member, 2016 USC Marshall Healthcare Conference

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? As Vice President of Academics, I launched a project to design an “Academic Roadmap” to help first year MBA students select spring semester classes based on what skills would be most useful for their upcoming summer internships. I launched this project at the beginning of my second year, and it is still underway. We are conducting interviews with individuals across a range of industries and functions to gather information on what skills are most critical for a successful internship experience. From that information, we are generating a series of suggested courses specifically tailored to help our first year students succeed in their individual internships. I hope that this project will give first years additional, first-hand information about how to best set themselves up for success in their summer endeavors.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Before starting at Marshall, I worked as a scientist at a startup biotech company. I was only the second employee, so I’m serious when I say startup!  Biotech is an incredibly expensive endeavor, and it was critical that we proved ourselves and our science early on to gain funding sources and business partnerships. I helped work on a pilot project to develop a product meeting the requirements of a potential business partner. If we could meet the requirements, a major deal with this company was on the table. For a small startup, this could be the difference between survival and going under. I was incredibly proud of the work I did under incredible time and budget constraints. The pilot project proved to be successful, and helped launch a great partnership.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Omeed Selbe teaches a course that should be a cornerstone of any MBA experience, Spreadsheet-Based Business Models. The course could be incredibly dry and technical, but Professor Selbe transforms it into an engaging experience. Professor Selbe really cares that his students are set up for success not just in the academic environment, but in their internships and future careers.

Why did you choose this business school? I grew up in Los Angeles, and was always aware of the incredible Trojan Network. Our extensive and engaged alumni might be the most visible characteristic, but the same sense of community which powers the Trojan Network encompasses the entire Marshall experience. Marshall students are incredibly engaged and supportive of each other. There is a real sense of teamwork and family which I found incredibly welcoming. This is a group of people who actively look out for each other, even years after graduation.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? My favorite part of business school was the incredible and eclectic group of people. The class came from an incredible range of backgrounds and had such an incredible variety of experiences and knowledge to bring into the community. I learned just as much from my classmates as I did from my teachers. I feel so lucky have participated in countless in-depth debates, late-night study sessions, and conversations over coffee which expanded my horizons. When I think back to my time at Marshall, I will definitely remember the people most of all.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? I was very surprised by how supportive and community-oriented the Marshall program was. I had a stereotype of business school students being cut-throat and individually focused. I was surprised by the amount of group work involved, and most especially by how supportive and community-facing the students were. Countless classmates volunteered free tutoring sessions for their peers. They drilled each other for interviews and freely dispensed tips and suggestions even to classmates competing for the same internship or job. The community at business school was completely different from what I first envisioned it to be, and I was so happy to be wrong!

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Marshall students are some of the most active, engaged business school students there are. Look us up and find out more about the clubs and events we have going on. Contact current students working on projects that interest you. We’re a very friendly bunch! Do your best to get a sense about the Marshall community and how you would fit in.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? A number of my classmates have launched startups while still in business school. I’m in awe of them. Starting a business is an all-consuming process, and to do it on top of going to school full-time? Incredible. They must not sleep.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I realized I was more interested in the business of running a biotech startup than the science behind it.”  

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…probably still in academia, getting a PhD in cell biology or immunology.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I would love the opportunity to learn more about my classmates’ previous experiences and learn from them. If I were dean for a day, I would set up a series of lunch conversations (catered, of course!) where different classmates could talk about their previous careers or personal experiences and share what they’ve learned.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I would love to work in the startup biotech space. I have a passion for the high energy, cutting-edge environment of scientific discovery, particularly in healthcare. I hope to work with scientists to translate new, impactful breakthroughs from the lab into successful commercial enterprises that have the ability to significantly improve healthcare and patient outcomes.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My family and friends. My parents have been unendingly supportive of me as I considered, and ultimately decided to change career paths. They encouraged me to go back to school and ultimately are responsible for all of my success. My friends, both at Marshall and outside of school, have been an incredible resource of support, laughter and sanity throughout the last two years, and I couldn’t have done it without them.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Someone who made a positive contribution to the Marshall experience.

Favorite book: Game of Thrones series

Favorite movie or television show: The West Wing

Favorite musical performer: Adele

Favorite vacation spot: Kenya

Hobbies? Horseback riding, skiing, scuba diving, hiking