Meet USC Marshall’s MBA Class Of 2021

Cassie Tate 

University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business

“A warm, engaging professional who is passionate about solving strategic problems with a human focus.”

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Fun Fact About Yourself: I’ve written and am currently editing a novel!

Undergraduate School and Major: Temple University, BBA in Entrepreneurship with a minor in Computer Science

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: NBCUniversal, Leadership and Organization Development Associate

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Creating the Recruitment department at the very first company I worked at after undergrad. When I started, there were absolutely no processes, no way to track metrics, and no standard interview questions. We had an applicant tracking system but didn’t use it. With basically no training, I created standard questions and set up systems to make the recruitment process as efficient as possible while keeping track of key metrics like time to fill. My new systems reduced our recruitment time by 40% and improved our relationships with hiring managers!

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Friendly. Even with how hard everyone is working, each person still takes time to say hi in the hallways, get together for lunch, and go out during our free time. I’ve received so much moral support from my classmates. In an incredibly short amount of time, we really do feel like a family.

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? USC’s Trojan Network. I know everyone talks about it, but it really is a real thing. My mom went to USC for undergrad, so I grew up being surrounded by it and wanted to become a part of it myself! It was really important to me because ultimately life is about who you know, not what you know. The corporate world can be incredibly tough, and having a strong network and support system is truly a make-it-or-break-it factor. And I have absolutely gotten to experience the Trojan Network so far. Before I even started, people from the class above me reached out and were so sweet, happily answering my millions of questions, and connecting me with their classmates.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? Although I am very excited for the Consulting Club and the Leadership and Organization Club (both are related to my future career), I’m surprised how excited I am for the Outdoor Club! I’ve never really been an “outdoorsy” type of person, but I’m looking forward to the chance to explore LA by hiking. They also host a trip to Mammoth every year, which I’m super excited about. They’ve even mentioned skydiving, so if that’s really happening, then I’m in!

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? “What is one misconception that coworkers have about you?” Man, that was a tough one for me! So much of the MBA applications process requires you to be open and vulnerable, even about your flaws. As high-achievers, we’re used to presenting ourselves as “perfect” and “put together” to the outside world, so admitting that I had areas to grow in was hard for me. But ultimately, that’s why I’m here – to grow into the person I know I can be.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I knew that I definitely wanted to do consulting. The question for me was whether to work in HR or recruitment for a few years first or do my MBA right away. Two things influenced my decision. One, I just wanted to get started on my career! Once I found out about human capital consulting, it was such a perfect fit for me that the idea of pumping the breaks was almost painful. Two, I was at a point in my life where I could really give business school my all. I didn’t get to be as social or involved as I wanted to be during my undergrad, so I really wanted to be able to go all-in on the academics, clubs, and social activities. Having fewer ties allowed me to do that!

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Besides USC, I applied to Berkeley Haas, Wharton, UCLA, and Vanderbilt.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? The most helpful thing I did was speaking to current students at those schools. They all said nothing but positive things, of course, but what you’re really looking for is two things: first, what good things are they saying? What do they emphasize about the school? Are they talking about academics, social activities, clubs, career placement, network? Do they mention the thing that’s most important to you? And second, do you like that person? Could you hang out with them in a social setting? Your classmates play a huge role in your MBA experience. With how intense it is, they’re the people you’re going to be spending the vast majority of the next two years with – and they’re also going to become your professional network. Make sure you actually like the students there before you choose a school!

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? In October of last year, I went to Paris – completely by myself. I had just gotten out of a long relationship, so I had never done anything by myself. I remember nearly shaking as the plane touched down; I was terrified. Honestly, that first night was really hard. I wondered if I had made the right decision in coming. Would the rest of the trip be that terrible? I almost booked a plane ticket home for the next day. But I stayed. And it was the best ten days of my life. I admired the old architecture, ate incredible food, and wrote my book while sitting on the Seine River. That trip taught me that I can handle anything and to never let fear hold me back.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? In ten years, I want to be a partner in a consulting firm or the owner of my own firm, and I hope to spend a lot of time traveling the world.