2018 MBAs To Watch: Tanadcha (Ben) Therdwikrant, USC (Marshall)

Tanadcha (Ben) Therdwikrant

USC, Marshall School of Business

I love to explore – by doing new things and facing challenges in life.” 

Age: 29

Hometown: Bangkok, Thailand

Fun fact about yourself: I am a woman, but my nickname is Ben, which was given to me by my parents because my older sister’s nickname is Big.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Chulalongkorn University, Bachelor of Engineering

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? PTT Exploration and Production plc, Project & Construction Engineer; Big Sea Company Limited, Business Analyst

Where did you intern during the summer of 2017? Adams Rite Aerospace, Inc. (Transdigm Group), Fullerton, CA

Where will you be working after graduation? Boston Consulting Group, Consultant

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Portfolio Manager, USC Marshall Student Investment Fund (SIF) 2018
  • VP of Communication, American Finance Association
  • VP of Finance, Marshall Data Analytics Club
  • VP of Finance, Marshall Energy and Resources Club
  • Dean’s list (Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017)
  • Scholarship, Marshall Academic Achievement and Leadership

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am very honored to be one of three teaching assistants for the MBA core curriculum’s Corporate Finance class. Despite my background as an ex-engineer without a solid background in finance, it was very fulfilling to have my professor and classmates recognize my finance abilities in business school. In this role, I have helped first year MBA students struggling with the material in class to better understand how to approach problems. On top of that, I’ve gotten to know many of them on a personal level and have helped them with other challenges that they have faced in the business school.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? After engineering school, I joined one of the largest oil and gas companies in Thailand. I had the chance to work in a marginal field development project where the goal was to design a new gas production platform that could reduce construction costs by 20%, unlocking several gas reserves in the country. Since it was a brand new concept, I had to overcome the challenge of navigating different opinions from different groups of people in the company – from management to the safety team, and develop an entirely new concept from scratch.

In the end, this project was completed successfully with our design achieving more than 30% reduction in costs from the current solution. Our paper on this innovation was selected as the winner of the Society of Petroleum Engineer’s Award and I was also named as one of the inventors on the patent for this new design.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite professor is Vice Dean Suh-Pyng Ku. She is an amazing finance professor and also the vice dean of the MBA program. I can feel her energy and passion for finance in her class. She teaches basic finance in a way that anyone can follow regardless of background, and is able to do difficult valuations in a short time. She genuinely cares about the success of her students and often holds extra office hours or provides additional practice problems to help students prepare for exams. I also admire her for her initiative and contributions to the MBA program. I do not really know how she manages her time so effectively and is able to stay on top of everything that she has going on.

What was your favorite MBA Course? One of my favorite classes was Corporate Financial Strategy taught by Professor Mark Weinstein. This course gave me an understanding of concepts in the real financial world that we have to deal with when there is inherent uncertainty in decision making with limited information. The class combines the knowledge we learned in other finance classes with other business considerations such as understanding the operating structure and dealing with a changing legal and regulatory environment.

Why did you choose this business school? I was impressed by the fact that USC has one of the strongest alumni networks in the country. Every alum I have met is more than happy to help and support current students. A collaborative environment is another factor that I was looking for, and USC Marshall really embodies that. Furthermore, I like the weather in Los Angeles – it is not too cold and it is sunny all year around for people from the tropics like me.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? I always think that talking to current students or alumni is a good way to start to learn more about life in a business school. Everybody has their own opinion and a different perspective so an applicant can take the aspects of each program that they connect with into consideration. At USC Marshall, I am sure that almost any current student would be more than happy to talk to prospective students. 

What is the biggest myth about your school? I thought that USC would be big and impersonal but the MBA program is small and I have been met with so much warmth here at Marshall. Everyone knows my name.

What was your biggest regret in business school?I wish I could have learned more about some of my classmates earlier – while I knew some of them in the first year, I have gotten to know everyone even better in the second year. Everyone has been so helpful and we hang out more now especially with graduation coming up. But I regret not meeting some of them earlier as we could have had more fun together.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I admire my classmate, Michael Fritschner, who serves as VP of Career Development on the Marshall Graduate Student Association board and who will be working for AT&T after graduation. He is incredibly smart and optimistic. His positive energy inspires me and I feel like I can pass through any difficulties.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My father most influenced my decision to pursue business. He is a great role model as someone who built his own career path and is successful without a degree. However, he always told me that he wished that he had the chance to go to business school because he would have been able to build his business much faster with the knowledge he could have learned in a formal environment.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…running a startup company in Southeast Asia.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? If I were a dean for a day, I would add more 8 AM classes. I know that a lot of my friends would hate me for doing that, but I am a morning person and believe that people are more effective in the morning. If they finish class earlier, they can use their spare time after class to do something useful for the community.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

I want to visit more national parks in the U.S.

I want to exercise and go back to my pre-MBA weight!

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you?

I would like to be remembered as someone they can trust and who is approachable.

What is your favorite movie about business? The Wolf of Wall Street – Even though this movie shows the dark side of the main character, Jordan Belfort, he also demonstrated his business acumen by demystifying the secrets of the stock market for people who then became charismatic stock brokers and by adjusting his strategy for the right target group.

What would your theme song be? “Titanium” by David Guetta featuring Sia

Favorite vacation spot: Tokyo, Japan

Hobbies? Traveling; fantasy, romance and sci-fi fiction and comic books; playing the drums

What made Ben such an invaluable addition to the class of 2018?

“Prior to joining the USC Marshall Full-Time MBA Program, Ben Therdwikrant was an accomplished “oil and gas” engineer, and she has carried that mindset, intellectual curiosity and work ethic with her during her time at Marshall. She has brought positive energy and can-do attitude to the community and is highly respected by her peers. As a member of a very select group of students in the USC Marshall 2018 Student Investment Fund (SIF) class, she co-managed $8 million of USC endowment fund. Ben has excelled in valuation, portfolio management, and communication. She is a highly inquisitive and disciplined investment analyst and portfolio manager in the SIF program and an active student leader in developing a strong applicant pool for the SIF. Ben has contributed to the USC Marshall community through a variety of leadership roles in student organizations, as well as by helping her fellow classmates with challenging course material. Consistently an outstanding achiever in the classroom, Ben is an independent thinker with the ability to dissect problems and think critically and strategically to implement solutions. This ability, coupled with her internal drive, are the main factors that contributed to her ability to land a full time job as a Consultant with BCG upon graduation.”

Suh-Pyng Ku

Professor of Clinical Finance and Business Economics and Vice Dean for Graduate Programs

USC Marshall School of Business





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