Meet USC Marshall’s MBA Class Of 2022

USC Marshall. USC photo


Certainly, USC Marshall benefits from its Los Angeles digs, a mix of plucky startups, tech trailblazers, entertainment giants, aerospace legends, and middle market might. Make no mistake, there are plenty of synergies to be had with Silicon Beach and Hollywood Studios just a 40-minute drive from each other. That certainly benefitted USC MBAs before COVID-19. In 2019, for example, new grads pulled down $155,267 in pay – $2,000 more than their cross-town rivals at UCLA Anderson. In 2020, the graduating class’ $132,844 base pay average was nearly $5,500 better than the previous year. That said, employers weren’t shelling out big bonuses like previous years. Case in point: the 2020 class also saw its average sign-on bonus drop from $37,925 to $28,673 over the previous year. Still, despite a pandemic, USC Marshall was able to place 95.2% of graduate within three months of graduation.

COVID-19 did, however, hit the Class of 2021 last spring. As employers began to cancel internships, USC Marshall tapped into its secret weapon: The Trojan Family. “Basically I took a strategy out of my playbook during the financial crisis in ’09 and ’10,” says Mark Brostoff, assistant dean and director of Graduate Career Services, in a 2020 interview with P&Q. “In mid-March, immediately, when we realized that this was not going to be a short-term virtual work from home, but we were in for a long haul — as soon as I saw two or three companies completely canceled their internships, we began to reach out to the Trojan network. The dean reached out, I reached out, the alumni development folks reached out and we started to identify really high-level, MBA-level projects, or what I call summer work experience. The clubs did the same.”

In the end, Brostoff adds, the school was able to furnish “meaningful” internships. However, the Trojan Family isn’t the only resource helping MBAs get through the pandemic. While the first semester is being conducted remotely, Marshall had already invested heavily in a robust online MBA program – one that ranked as the 3rd-best in the world according to P&Q’s most recent ranking. With most Marshall faculty already grounded in virtual practices, MBAs are experiencing little drop off in the quality of instruction or peer-to-peer interaction.

“The way COVID-19 has been handled has reinforced my positive view of the school,” explains Katie Mayo, who previously served as a technology consultant at Accenture. 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.”


How else has USC Marshall responded to COVID-19? What are some new developments within the program? How has the hiring of a new dean impacted the vision and operations of the full-time MBA program? This fall, P&Q reached out to Marshall administration to learn more about what MBAs can expect in the coming year – and beyond. Here are some insights from various members of the school’s leadership team.

Ku Suh Pyng

P&Q: What are the most exciting new developments at your program?

Marshall: “In May 2020, the entire USC Marshall Full-Time MBA program was STEM-certified. This change was made to better reflect the curriculum, which provides our MBA students with the tools to apply quantitative methods and data analysis to business strategy and decision making. Every student who graduates from our program will now have a STEM designation.

The appointment of Geoff Garrett as the new dean of the Marshall School, starting July 1, 2020, is also an exciting development for our program. Students are able to benefit from the experience of a seasoned leader with a global perspective on business education.”
Suh-Pyng Ku, Vice Dean for Graduate Programs

USC’s Anne Ziemniak

P&Q: How has COVID-19 impacted your business school?

Marshall: “With the health and safety of the Trojan community as the top priority, and in conjunction with state and local government health policy and regulations, courses for Fall 2020 were moved to fully remote across USC. With the help of USC Marshall’s already highly experienced online learning team, as well as resources offered through the USC Center for Teaching Excellence, faculty spent the summer training and developing the most impactful virtual learning experience possible.

Additionally, we have moved all student support, co-curricular activities, career development, and recruitment events to the virtual space, leveraging a variety of online platforms to build community remotely. We have also been incredibly impressed with the creativity and resourcefulness that our students have shown in finding new ways to stay connected and interact with each other during this time.”
Anne Ziemniak, Assistant Dean and Director, Full Time MBA Program

Geoff Garrett. File photo

P&Q: Your new dean, Geoffrey Garrett, has now taken the reins. What is his vision? What did you expect to change? How will that benefit MBAs?

Marshall: “Dean Garrett is a scholar and distinguished international political economist with expertise in world politics, business, and the global economy as well as U.S./China relations. He will leverage and build on Marshall’s considerable assets including talented faculty, committed alumni, relationships with business leaders and industry, the collaborative and robust intellectual community of the University, and the unique advantages of Los Angeles as a creative capital and gateway to the Indo-Pacific region.

Dean Garrett’s focus on 21st century leadership emphasizes research and teaching that will advance business innovation in the coming decades and define leadership of the future, encompassing both the ethical obligations and critical thinking Marshall graduates will need to lead diverse teams. He is interested in tapping into the business applications and societal implications of Artificial Intelligence as well as leveraging the revolutionary fusion of creative arts and technology. Additionally, the continuing business opportunities in and with Asia—among other emerging areas of research—will fuel and inform the academic experiences of all our MBA students for years to come.”
Suh-Pyng Ku, Vice Dean for Graduate Programs

P&Q: Marshall was one of the originators of hands-on learning and international excursions through PRIME. Tell us what happens during PRIME. Why does it make such a deep impression on your alumni?

Marshall: “The Global Context of Business—better known as PRIME—is an intensive half-semester course required for all Full-Time MBA students in the spring of their first year. The course aims to allow students to take the material they have learned in their core classes and apply it via hands-on, active learning.

The last component of the course is an international field trip to selected companies and institutions in a particular country or a pair of countries. The trip, during which each team presents its consulting/research project to a company, provides an experiential learning environment, integrating all components of the course.

For many students, PRIME is one of the key reasons they select Marshall for their MBA education. PRIME offers students a chance not just to see the world but to see it with their classmates. There is nothing like traveling with other people, and USC Marshall is a pioneer having been the first business school to require international travel of its MBA students more than 20 years ago. Not only do students travel around the world together, but they also get the chance to work in teams to provide solutions to real problems global companies face. That experience, combined with the deep bonding that occurs when people travel together, is a hallmark of Marshall’s MBA experience and one our alumni talk about the most.

USC Marshall Classroom (Pre-COVID)

In conjunction with USC’s COVID-19 response policies, for the first time since the program’s inception, Marshall canceled PRIME trips in 2020 and for May 2021 as well. This decision has been deeply disappointing for our community since we know how impactful this international shared experience is across all Full-Time MBA students. However, the COVID-19 crisis has given us the opportunity to explore what the “next thing” in international experiences for our MBA students might be. While we hope to resume global travel as soon as it is safe to do so, we will continue to offer our students global business exposure. For Spring 2021, we will be offering students an elective course in which they will work on globally-focused projects that enable students to interact with speakers in the global arena. We have begun discussions about offering additional elective courses with international travel components in the 2021-2022 academic year so that students in the class of 2022 may still participate in an international experiential trip as part of the MBA experience if they choose. Our goal is to resume PRIME in Spring 2022 for the class of 2023.”
Anne Ziemniak, Assistant Dean and Director, Full Time MBA Program

P&Q: What is the two most unique or differentiating features of your full-time program? How do they enrich the MBA experience?

Marshall: “Marshall’s MBA community sets the program apart in a variety of ways. When Marshall students have questions about classes, faculty, and fellow students are ready to step up to review and reinforce key concepts. When students need assistance with career opportunities, alumni and staff are committed to sharing insights, opening doors, and supporting however they can. For example, when the pandemic upended certain summer internship plans, Marshall alumni stepped in to offer meaningful work opportunities to students. When an individual or a part of the community is struggling personally, the rest of the community is there to lend a listening ear, show compassion and empathy, and help with resources when needed.”
Anne Ziemniak, Assistant Dean and Director, Full Time MBA Program

To read 10 in-depth profiles of the Class of 2022, go to Page 3.

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