Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Katie Mayo, USC (Marshall)

Katie Mayo

University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business

“I am intentional with my time and strive to surround myself with diverse, multidimensional people.”

Hometown: Virginia Beach, VA

Fun Fact About Yourself: My friends say I’m a public library evangelist; I am always talking about digital resources and trying to help people sign up. For the last 210 days, I’ve been studying Norwegian using Mango Languages and Duolingo. 

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Virginia, Systems Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Accenture, Technology Consultant

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of the school’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? As someone who wants to work abroad, Marshall’s reputation for having an impressive global network drew me in. The small class size, in comparison to other top schools, was also important. Also, I cannot overstate how friendly and welcoming the Trojan community was throughout the selection process. Everyone I spoke to at the school and in the student ambassador program was willing to hop on a phone call with me. Even before committing, I felt I was already forming relationships, which was a major factor in knowing I had found the right fit.

What club or activity excites you most at this school? I am most excited about the opportunity to join Marshall’s APEC Business Advisory Council. Marshall MBA students are the only MBA students who get to present their consulting research to the executives at APEC. I took fie years’ worth of Chinese language courses in undergrad, and I am particularly interested in working in Asia.

What was your first impression of USC Marshall? How has that changed or been reinforced since then?

The students, alumni, staff, and faculty are warm, welcoming, and want to support new students. The way COVID-19 has been handled has reinforced my positive view of the school. Marshall’s leadership set an example for other top schools by deciding to go remote early. It was good to know in advance, before signing a lease and moving across the country. Also, due to the virtual nature of our first semester, they’ve arranged Zoom calls for us to mix with our classmates during the summer. The more classmates I meet, the more I am excited to become part of the Trojan community.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: When I lived in DC, I was a board member of Green Spaces for DC, a local nonprofit promoting and unifying local parks. I was also the Corporate Citizenship lead for Accenture’s DC Wellness Employee Resource Group. I am most proud that I was able to link these two groups via volunteer events and corporate sponsorships. I think it is easy to get lost in a corporate bubble, so it is important to me to promote community involvement and integrate it with our work in the business world.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I was working in the federal space with Accenture, so my work was limited to domestic work. My goal is to scale up the skills I gained there to have a global impact working with startups. The Marshall MBA is the perfect launchpad for that kind of global career.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? “What are your long-term goals?” was difficult for me because they are likely to evolve. There are many things I would like to accomplish, and it will depend on my immediate post-grad experiences which long-term goals I decide to pursue.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? The cultural fit was most important to me. I talked to friends at different business schools to get a sense of the cultures. I also looked at employment reports and explored ratings of alumni networks to evaluate what opportunities would be available to me post-graduation.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? Prior to business school, I took a 6-month sabbatical from Accenture to gain exposure to international business. I was aware that from the outside, it could look gratuitous to travel for so long. But with five years in the federal sector – and the stated goal to have a global career in the startup space, I needed to close the gap somehow. Leaving my routines meant I was prioritizing my goals ahead of the judgment of others. It was exciting to journey into unfamiliar territory (even though I had to evacuate after 2 months due to COVID-19). Leaders make tough decisions all the time, and this was a perfect practice ground for that.

What is your favorite company and what could business students learn from them? Patagonia. Students can learn that moving the needle with an environmental mission will not come at the cost of profits.

Picture yourself in two years graduating from business school. Looking back, how would you know your experience has been a success? A primary goal for me for the MBA is to establish relationships with other leaders across industries. I will know I’m successful as I watch my cohort start and lead companies and shape the business landscape across the world.

DON’T MISS: Meet The MBA Class Of 2022: The COVID Cohorts


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