2019 MBAs To Watch: Michael Annunziata, USC (Marshall)

Michael Annunziata

University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business

Positive self-starter who seeks to continually learn, grow and support my community.”

Hometown: Malverne, NY

Fun fact about yourself: I swam over the deepest water on earth — the Marianas Trench.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Providence College – BS in Finance

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? US Navy – Surface Warfare Officer

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? CBRE Global Investors – Downtown Los Angeles

Where will you be working after graduation? Trammell Crow Company – Newport Beach, CA

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • President of the Graduate Real Estate Association
  • VP of Careers for Marshall Military Veterans Association
  • AVP of Careers for Student Government
  • Trojan Real Estate Association Mentor
  • Urban Land Institute – Young Leaders Group

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Serving as President of the Graduate Real Estate Association. The opportunity to serve over 100 students spanning two graduate programs – USC Marshall and USC Price’s Master of Real Estate Development – was awesome. Working closely with Marshall’s Program Office, we were able to develop additional Real Estate Electives; establish a Commercial Real Estate Student Investment Fund, and participate in Marshall’s Third Annual FinTech Summit.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? During my service in the Navy, I volunteered to serve as a Search & Rescue (SAR) Swimmer. My proudest moment came when my peers elected me as their class leader. Although I wasn’t the fastest in the water, my classmates felt that my determination, organization, and positive attitude made me the best fit for the job. Leading through hardship was extremely rewarding and provided me with the additional motivation to successfully complete the course.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Dean Suh-Pyng Ku’s sincerity, enthusiasm for teaching, and the high standard she maintains. She commands respect and student preparedness. The classroom discussion was always interesting…even if some were concerned about being “cold-called.”

What was your favorite MBA Course? DSO-580 Project Management with Murat Bayiz. Murat is a fantastic professor with a great mix of quantitative and qualitative chops. The class moves along quickly and we apply theory directly to hands-on problem-solving. Understanding operational optimization and how to focus resources along the critical path has provided tangible business insight.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Marshall for the collaborative spirit of its students and alumni. The Trojan Family is real and ready to help propel your career to the next level. Plus the geography: SoCal and the weather can’t be beaten.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Know yourself and be able to clearly articulate why Marshall is the right fit. This entire process starts with significant introspection to understand what you really want. What motivates you? Who do you aspire to become?

Be able to answer: Why an MBA? Why Marshall? Why Now?

What is the biggest myth about your school?

Myth: USC stands for the “University of Summer Construction”

Experience: Fact. As the spring semester ends, multiple new projects sprout up all over campus. It’s true and it shows…the campus is beautiful.

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? Prepare your friends and family for what you are about to undertake. The program is all-encompassing once it begins. 95% of your waking hours will be full of class, group projects, studying, social events and networking. The people from your pre-MBA life will think you disappeared (except for your random Instagram posts from around the world). This can be tough on relationships, so I recommend spending quality time with loved ones before you head off to orientation and do your best to manage their expectations.

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? It has helped me operate on a higher level. You need to be efficient and disciplined…take this opportunity to become your best self. MBA presents a unique opportunity to re-invent yourself within a structured setting.

You will be assigned more work than hours in the day and will have competing demands for social and professional events. Being put in this stressful situation forces you to prioritize and work more efficiently. Once you learn to manage it all, you will be impressed with how much you can achieve in a day.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Asha Lannin. Asha is super hard-working and knows how to maintain life balance. Her diverse experience brings awesome insight, while her tenacity to get things done is contagious. Asha is a role model, social entrepreneur (founder of Bridget), and cancer survivor! Fight On!!

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? I grew up across the street from a train station which took commuters into New York City from Long Island, NY. I remember distinctly as a young child watching the business men and women walking with purpose to catch the train to the city… and in New York the city meant Wall Street.

My Uncle Jules noticed my interest and patiently explained the stock market using the Wall Street Journal. I loved the idea of being able to invest in businesses and grow your money and was fascinated by our inter-connectedness. Investing became my passion.

What is your favorite movie about business? The Big Short. It re-enforced the lesson that being right is important but timing is everything. It reminds me of an investing quote: “The market can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent.”

What was the goofiest MBA term or acronym you encountered – and what did it mean? Salient – often referred to the key point or takeaway.

For some reason, it seemed to be overused almost as much as synergy.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…on a Navy ship somewhere in the Pacific.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? You can’t really put a price on this type of life experience. While the knowledge and network I developed at Marshall have increased my career’s earning potential, there still exists additional value which cannot be quantified. The friends and memories I have made will last a lifetime and they are priceless.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  • Walk the Camino de Santiago
  • Start a family

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Mike’s a good guy; he’s always ready to help, funny, and a pretty good cook… we had a lot of fun together.

Hobbies? I love being outdoors – mountain biking, hiking, Off-Roading with Roxy (my jeep), and cooking & entertaining. I really appreciate activities that take you away from the daily noise and direct your focus to the task at hand.

What made Mike such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“Michael was instrumental in improving the choice of real estate electives offered by our MBA program and working alongside the career services team, the Marshall Real Estate club increased student awareness of the career opportunities in the industry. As a former naval officer, Michael’s past leadership experience was fully on display each and every day as he inspired his peers to be an active member of the community.”

Mark J. Brostoff

Assistant Dean & Director

Graduate Career Services

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