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Meet The MBA Class Of 2020: Profiles in Courage

Tina Cook

University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business

I am an emerging marketing professional committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Fun Fact About Yourself: I played Dora the Explorer in Dora’s Pirate Adventure, Live!

Undergraduate School and Major: Northern Kentucky University; Bachelor of Fine Arts, Theatre Arts Performance

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Chrysalis (Nonprofit organization in Southern California), Volunteer & Program Director

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: At my most recent employer (Chrysalis), I spent nearly four years building and leading the volunteer program that provides a large percentage of client services at the organization. Through a series of promotions, I moved through the ranks from a supporting role to director and am proud of the caliber of volunteer training, engagement, and programming that emerged during my tenure.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Fascinating. At Marshall, there are people from all walks of life with very unique backgrounds. From a cryptocurrency pro to a former jazz singer to a prosecutor – I didn’t expect such a wide variety of experiences. It keeps discussions rich and lively!

Aside from your classmates, 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? The sense of family. The Trojan network is a unique thing at USC. More specifically, I couldn’t help but notice that in every interaction with current students, alumni, faculty, and staff, there was a real sense of pride and belonging to the family that is the Marshall School of Business. B-school is meant to be rigorous and challenging but having a support system of peers who genuinely want to see you succeed helps give you the extra boost on the days when it’s hard to tap into that energy on your own.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I’m most looking forward to informational interviews and networking events with professionals who are working in marketing. I am a function-switcher, so I’m eager to learn from as many folks as I can about what life is really like as a marketer.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? Throughout my career I have had the opportunity to explore many different interests. When I stopped to really think about what energizes me the most, I realized it was storytelling. I want to leverage my storytelling abilities as a marketer in the private sector. In order to do so successfully I knew I needed the quantitative and analytical skills that an MBA program would provide. Additionally, I’m fascinated by competitive strategy and I’m looking forward to leaving b-school with real frameworks and applicable skills that will allow me to pivot and accelerate in my career.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? An investment in yourself is always worth it. For me, it’s as simple as that. I believe in myself and know that to get where I want to go this is an important step.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? UCLA Anderson, UCI Merage

How did you determine your fit at various schools? Besides the usual suspects like rankings, and articles from Poets & Quants, I visited each school I applied to and spent time on campus with students. I visited classes and attended diversity events. Culture fit was of upmost importance to me, and that’s challenging to measure in stats and rankings. It’s really a feeling and when you know, you know. At Marshall I found that fit.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? One of my defining moments occurred on Friday, September 26th, 2014. I had just started working at Chrysalis and the team was visiting a correctional facility to gain deeper insight into the population we served. As we walked through the facility that day, we encountered a group of female inmates in a support group session finding courage and strength in their commonalities. We observed a classroom of male inmates practicing computer skills. We met a teacher who comes to the facility weekly to teach courses for inmates working towards their GED.

That day, a fundamental view I held was challenged and it altered the trajectory of my life. People make mistakes, that’s true. But we are also all a product of our socio-economic circumstances, and we don’t all receive the same opportunities and privileges. If we are to progress as a society, and strive for true equity, we must first accept this truth.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? Brand Management

Where do you see yourself in five years? In five years, I see myself as a Senior Brand Manager at a tech company that cares about doing good in the world, where I get to think creatively and work with inspiring peers each day.