Meet USC Marshall’s MBA Class of 2019

Matthew Kaczynski

University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business

Describe yourself in 15 words or less:   A lifelong learner with an insatiable intellectual curiosity, passionate about turning vision into reality.

Hometown: Kawkawlin, Michigan

Fun Fact About Yourself:  I’m an unabashed comic book geek to the extent that I collect original comic book art and have attended comic conventions across the country.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Michigan, Business

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: I spent the past 10 years serving in the United States Marine Corps and it’s been a wonderful adventure. As a jet pilot, I was fortunate to fly two types of aircraft, the EA-6B ‘Prowler’ and UC-35D ‘Encore.’ Outside of my primary military specialty, the Marine Corps provided me the opportunity to make a difference on many fronts, such as mentoring the Afghan National Army as a combat advisor and helping them build a sustainable aviation program. Having deployed to combat four times and conducted operations in 24 different countries, the Marine Corps helped me build strength of mind and character while affording extraordinary experiences I’ll never forget.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Becoming a Marine Corps Aviator has been my biggest accomplishment. When I decided to join the Marines, becoming a jet pilot seemed a daunting dream considering that only 1 in 30 recruits make it to become jet pilots. The inherently difficult and dangerous challenges involved in military aviation were compounded by the fact that I didn’t have any flying experience. Despite my shortcomings, I persisted. I felt a calling to serve my country, to be part of something extraordinary, and to leave an impact on the world, if only in my own small way. These goals kept my dream alive and after four years of tenacious training I graduated at the top of my class.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? Focus on fit. Part of the sometimes wonderful, sometimes dreadful process of self-examination every MBA applicant goes through is finding out what matters most for their next chapter. For me, the choice was which school would help me make the dramatic shift from the military to the entertainment industry. My selection process was simple. I initially made a list of target companies and looked at which schools they hired from. Next, I examined what made that school attractive for my ideal companies by researching the curriculum and special programs the schools offered. Finally, I shared my career aspirations with current students and alumni to get feedback on how the program could help me achieve my goals. Once I narrowed my list of schools, the final decision was made only after visiting my top choices. This in-person exploration of campuses is an important step, helping to determine whether or not you can visualize yourself spending the next two years as part of the program. Each MBA experience is deeply personal and you must consider which program fits best with your individual goals.

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?Marshall’s tight knit alumni network was a key factor in my deciding to become a Trojan. Like a safety net, it makes the difficult career transition a little less intimidating by helping current MBAs each step along the way. This aspect was appealing to me because it aligned with my goal of transitioning to the entertainment industry. Marshall has close ties with many companies in the entertainment industry, mostly due to a loyal alumni network. Leveraging this Marshall connection was a critical consideration in my decision to attend USC, especially in light of the difficult barriers to entry within the entertainment industry.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school? Potential is something that can’t be quantified in any matrices posted on a school’s admission website, but is felt the moment you step foot on campus as a new student. However great it is, sometimes it takes our peers to push us to reach our full potential. In that sense, I hope the measure of my success will be in how much I helped my fellow classmates become strong leaders, empathetic listeners, and enduring learners. Being a Trojan is as much about celebrating each other’s achievements as it is about accomplishing personal goals. It’s about empowering each other to reach great heights, together, rather than apart.

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