Meet USC Marshall’s MBA Class of 2019

Catherine Dávila

University of Southern California, Marshall School of  Business

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Pianist, painter, soccer player and warrior for the people and causes I love.

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA (by way of Sunnyvale, CA)

Fun Fact About Yourself:I was in an episode of Mad Men.

Undergraduate School and Major:

New York University, BFA

University of Southern California, Peter Stark Program, MFA

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

Universal Studios – Assistant Marketing Department

Divisadero Pictures – Co-founder

Occidental College – Assistant Coach, Women’s soccer

Hollywood F.C. – Head Coach, Director of Operations, Board President

L.A. Villa F.C. – Co-founder, Board President

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: In the most recent era of my career I founded and built a soccer club in Los Angeles. We started as one recreational team and grew into a one of a kind adult women’s soccer club with 10 teams, serving almost 150 women at every available level of competition, all the way up to semi-pro. There is nothing else like L.A. Villa F.C. in Southern California.

What has made this an even prouder accomplishment is that as I have stepped away from day-to-day management to immerse myself in Marshall, L.A. Villa has continued to thrive. It is a testament to the work of my colleagues and to the strength of the community we have built.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? Before applying to business school, to the best of your ability, develop clarity of purpose around why you want to go. I found this critical not just for admissions interviews, but also for my own sanity. Business school is a demanding environment and having a guiding objective serves as a life raft, providing perspective on why you’re working as hard as you are, going without sleep and delving into concepts that might not seem immediately pertinent. Take the time up front to think specifically about where you want to end up and what you most want to learn. While your purpose or goals might change over the course of your experience (mine have evolved over just the first three weeks of school!), you may find you’re actually more able to identify interesting opportunities and shifts in your thinking if you know clearly where you’re starting from and hoping to go.

What was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? Most of us cannot achieve great things in a vacuum. The number one quality that set Marshall apart was the power and positivity of the Trojan network. No question. I spoke with students and alumni from several other schools and more than half of them, unprompted, sighed and said some version of “My school is better than any other school…but man, that USC network is the best.” USC students are embodiments of this idea and of the notion that networking isn’t something icky or forced, it’s building a community you care about.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school?  Wanting to go to work (almost) every day because I care deeply about the job I’m doing and the colleagues with whom I’m doing it (while having time to dedicate to my family).

As I move through the program, I am actively seeking to identify the arenas and functions that capture both my brain and my sense of creativity and joy.

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