Rafael Liou de Oliveira
“An emerging entertainment business professional who is always improving himself and supporting people.”
Hometown: Salvador, Brazil
Fun Fact About Yourself: I am also a professional actor!
Undergraduate School and Major: Universidade Católica do Salvador – Social Communications with concentration in Advertising
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Ogilvy & Mather – Strategic Planning Manager
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Making the IBM brand more relevant in Brazil through advertising and innovative brand experience platforms such as ‘The Voice of Art,’ an artificial intelligence application that enabled museum visitors to literally talk to art pieces.
What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? I am amazed by everyone’s generosity. The first weeks are insanely busy and overwhelming, but my classmates are always sharing their knowledge, skills and expertise with the group. I feel like they genuinely want to contribute to each other’s success.
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? I knew that I wanted to live in California due to my career goals and lifestyle. But what really drew my attention to USC Marshall was the students. Every person I talked to during my application process was so kind, helpful and passionate about the Trojan family that I started to feel like I was already a part of it. All top programs will teach you marketing, strategy, finance and so on, but only a few can offer a powerful, supportive, lifelong network.
What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I love traveling, so I am looking forward to starting our PRIME project. It will be a great opportunity to not only bring some business concepts to life but also have fun with my new friends. I am also excited to join Marshall Pride and help foster more equal, diverse and inclusive academic and work environments.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I have worked in the Advertising industry my whole life. Despite loving it, I was missing some important business foundations to take my career to the next level and make it sustainable. An MBA will also allow me to switch industries, something I have been considering for a while. And, at the age of 32, I felt it was the perfect timing to stop working for two years and focus on such an intensive program.
How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? I started looking at my career progression and how much time and effort it would take to get me where I wanted to go. A full-time MBA will speed things up and put me in front of people I would never have met by myself – not to mention the valuable network it will create. It is definitely a huge investment in many layers, but I think it will pay off in the long-run.
What other MBA programs did you apply to? Anderson, Haas, Stern and Ross.
How did you determine your fit at various schools? Location was one of the most important factors for me – if you want to be in the entertainment industry, you must come to Los Angeles or New York. It narrowed my initial pool of programs a lot. Then I started to look for schools that have a more collaborative culture rather than a super competitive or cutthroat one. But it all came down to how I felt when I talked to students and alumni – they are a school’s best (or worst) sellers. I did a lot of online research, but there is nothing like doing info sessions and visiting schools.
What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? My defining moment was when I left my hometown to live in Sao Paulo, one of the most competitive advertising markets in the world. For the first time I was by myself, having to look for a job out of my ‘bubble’— with no contacts nor references. It was a great opportunity to grow both as a person and a professional, acquire new skills and gain responsibilities. Big changes take big risks, that’s what I learned!
What do you plan to do after you graduate? I plan to seize all the great opportunities I will cultivate over the next two years. Hopefully I will be working for an entertainment company using my strategy, creative, analytical and communication skills to help it grow. I would also love to counsel prospective and current MBA students in their journeys. This is why I created an Instagram account called @mymbalife, a profile that covers my experience as an international student at USC Marshall. I am already talking to some followers that want to know more about getting an MBA abroad, and I hope to help many others through this initiative.
Where do you see yourself in five years? I see myself as a skillful leader in the Entertainment industry, with a well-developed network, maybe serving as a professor to share my experience with even more people, now on a different setting. Let’s see what happens!