Meet USC Marshall’s MBA Class Of 2023

Marshall School orientation


What are some new developments that current and future MBAs can expect at Marshall? Last year, P&Q reached to Marshall administrators to learn more about what’s in the school’s pipeline and take a deeper look at the program’s biggest attractions. Here are their responses on the state of the Marshall MBA.

P&Q: What are two biggest differentiating features of your MBA program? How do each of these enrich the learning of your MBA students?

Marshall: “While topics of diversity, equity, and inclusion were certainly not new to the Marshall MBA curriculum, the social unrest and pandemic events of 2020 brought a renewed desire to enhance our curriculum with new and insightful DEI content. Marshall added additional DEI content to the MBA orientation programming, allowing students beginning their MBA experience to learn from experts on topics including The Science Behind Bias and How to Confront It; Moving Past the Business Case for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; and Leading People, Teams, and Organizations. This programming is taught by some of Marshall’s top faculty, including Interim Assistant Vice Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Sarah Townsend.

One of Marshall’s learning goals is to motivate and lead high performing teams. To begin engaging in conversations that are vital to emerging business leaders, Marshall has moved the core Organizational Behavior and Leadership course focused on leadership, management, and team dynamics to the very first term. This curriculum enhancement allows MBA students to develop their own capacity to be high-performing team members, as well as to build capacity to lead high performing and inclusive, diverse teams from the very beginning of their MBA experience.”
Suh-Pyng Ku, Vice Dean, Graduate Programs

Suh-Pyng Ku

P&Q: In recent years, there have been several areas that have gained increased prominence in business school programming, including STEM, analytics, artificial intelligence and digital disruption. How does your full-time MBA program integrate these concepts across its curriculum?

Marshall: “The Marshall MBA Curriculum Committee continually reviews and evaluates the MBA curriculum with a forward-looking mandate. To meet the business need and demand for data analytics expertise, AI, and digital platforms, Marshall has added a variety of new electives to a suite of existing courses in these areas. New elective courses include Deep Learning for Business Applications, The FinTech Revolution, Leadership and Technology, Supply Chain Analytics, NoSQL Databases in Big Data, Text Analytics and Natural Language Processing, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and Marketing Strategy. These courses offer students opportunities to gain deep knowledge of these leading-edge topics as they prepare to enter the job market. These new courses in emerging areas are supported by additional programming at Marshall and USC, including the Artificial Language in Management (AIM) conference, Data Con LA, and other events and programs.”
Suh-Pyng Ku, Vice Dean, Graduate Programs

P&Q: What have you learned during the pandemic and the shift to hybrid or remote learning and how will they impact the MBA experience going forward? 

Marshall: “The shift to remote learning during the pandemic enabled the Marshall School to reimagine and broaden the scope of talent that could be incorporated into MBA programming, removing many barriers to participating. Via technology, busy business professionals and alumni leaders from around the globe were able to participate in important programming and impart their insights to students. Business leaders from across the US and the world served as mentors to our MBA students and as presenters and guest lecturers in classrooms. While we temporarily paused our signature PRIME trips due to travel restrictions, the world came to our students through technology, often enhancing opportunities for networking, dialogue, and learning. The pandemic allowed us to imagine new possibilities, expanding our reach and options. We plan to continue to seek out opportunities to erase boundaries and enrich our student experience.

The pandemic also brought to forefront the importance of creating safe spaces to have conversations about mental health and to enable our community to come together to support each other when challenges arose. During remote learning, students, faculty, and staff helped each other through challenging times. We learned to be fearless in our outreach to receive help and to give help. We will remain vigilant and aware of this need to remain connected even when things “return to normal.”
-Anne Ziemniak, Assistant Dean and Director, Full-Time MBA Program

USC Marshall’s Anne Ziemniak

P&Q: USC Marshall is renowned for its Trojan Network, a loyal alumni base who remain engaged with the MBA program and always on the look out to help Marshall students. How has Marshall been able to create this pay it forward culture among its alumni?

Marshall: “When students join USC and the Marshall School, they are introduced to the concept of the Trojan Family. As they progress in their programs, the concept of family manifests itself in a variety of ways through shared experiences that bind students to each other and the broader Trojan Family. From students’ active involvement in the governance of their programs, to the peer-to-peer connections forged during travel experiences, to the community service opportunities MBAs engage in, they form deep connections to each other and those who play a vital role in their education.

For example, Marshall alumni are a vital part of all signature programming at the school. Even during remote learning, Marshall’s graduate programs hosted a variety of important events that brought our students, faculty, staff, and alumni communities together in unique ways. Events such as the ATHENA Women’s Entrepreneurship Summit, the FORWARD Summit, and the International Women’s Day Celebration events allow our students to continue to network with alumni and business professionals while learning from highly respected academic and business leaders.

The collaborative mindset that takes hold while MBAs are students also carries over to when they are alumni.  Alumni recognize how hard it can be to break into various companies and industries. They remember the help and support they got when they were students and feel empowered to do their part to keep the Trojan Family alive and well. These types of active demonstrations of a strong, connected network engender the desire among students to return the favor and pay it forward in the future.”
-Anne Ziemniak, Assistant Dean and Director, Full-Time MBA Program

Mark Brostoff

P&Q: Los Angeles has it all when it comes to employment: technology, entertainment, finance, middle markets, and so much more. How does USC Marshall tap into these markets to provide MBAs with learning and employment opportunities? 

Marshall: “One of the most advantageous resources for USC Marshall graduate students is the Trojan Network, not only in LA but around the globe.  Connecting with Trojan alumni and industry professionals in Los Angeles is often the highlight of a graduate students experience at Marshall, whether it be through local alumni groups like Trojan Entertainment Network or business leaders as guest lecturers, career insights panelists or just a cup of coffee on or off-campus. Students can clarify and define career interests in a variety of fields while making valuable connections in Los Angeles.  Being part of the USC community means you are already part of not only an amazing global network, but a diverse and welcoming community, too.
 –Mark J. Brostoff, Assistant Dean and Director, Graduate Career Services

University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business. Photo by Anne Ziemniak of USC Marshall


1) PRIME: “Marshall walks the walk when it comes to international experiential learning opportunities. Participating in the Global Context of Business (PRIME) module will provide invaluable problem solving and consulting opportunities in a global setting, as first years will have the opportunity to engage with major corporations in countries that are increasingly pertinent players in the business landscape. I have the utmost faith in our administration to facilitate a fun and valuable experience, whether we conduct the module in person or remotely later this year.”
Will Thompson (’23)

“I am looking forward to participating in the Marshall Global Programs PRIME program. As part of the curriculum, The PRIME program serves a vital role in connecting students to international business cultures and empowering them to succeed in the global workspace.  There will be a 10-day experiential learning trip at the end of the term. Students will visit other countries to experience first-hand how business is conducted in these countries on the ground and work on analysis projects directly with companies there to apply the knowledge and concept they learn from Marshall.”
Jason Yang (’23)

2) Los Angeles: “It is just the abundance of opportunities. Obviously, people already know that LA is a hub for industries like entertainment, tech, or CPGs. What people don’t realize is that LA is so big and diverse that regardless of what you are interested in, you are likely to find and connect your passion to your career.”
Richard Mei (’23)

“After living in many big cities and smaller towns in the U.S., I have nothing but good things to say about LA and Southern California.  Los Angeles is the 2nd largest metropolitan area in the U.S., with many job opportunities in different industries. LA also has fantastic weather, which allows you to do all kinds of activities such as hiking, surfing, snowboarding. If you are not an outdoor person, you could participate in many entertainment, sport, and art events as well. It’s LA.”
Jason Yang (’23)

3) Marshall Family: “Your network is your net worth” is a favorite quote of mine by Tim Sanders. While the 2 years I spend at business school will be invaluable, there is an entire life that I will be facing after graduating. Having a strong network that I can rely on then was a key factor for me when choosing business school.
Richard Mei (’23)

4) Data-Driven: “USC has increasingly become known for their data-driven curriculum, something I definitively wanted to improve upon moving through my career. I recognize how impactful data analytics is for human capital management. And one day, when I have a seat at the table, I want to make sure I have all the skillsets needed to effectively build a strategy to invest in their success.”
Jasmine Lopez-Logan (’23)

5) Clubs and Events:The Business of Entertainment Association – this club offers opportunities to meet industry professionals, spend days on the job, and take trips to other entertainment hubs around the country. Plus I can’t wait to build deeper connections with my fellow entertainment-focused classmates.”
Jessica Walling (’23)

“I look forward to joining and supporting Marshall’s Challenge 4 Charity (C4C) Club the most because it will enable me to support local communities by leveraging my previous volunteering experience supporting children with disabilities. I can’t wait to collaborate with my peers in the program, as well as the Special Olympics, Junior Achievement, and Team Prime Time organizations!”
Will Thompson (’23)

“I really enjoyed the “Marshall takes the Mic” events. Conducted by the student body on a periodical basis, this event encourages students to share their stories around topics such as connection and inclusion. During these events, I have been able to relate to my peers in a manner that you simply cannot in an academic setting. I have shared my life experiences too and together we have forged a bond that will remain strong even after graduation.”
Swetha Rajagopal (’21)

“My favorite tradition was celebrating the end of exams with my classmates at the bar across the street, The Lab. It always happened organically – as we finished exams and streamed out of the halls, small groups headed across to The Lab. Suddenly, the whole place was filled with MBA students. I remember looking around and feeling part of something truly greater. Looking back now, I think it’s a reflection of just how strong our sense of community is at Marshall. When all is said and done, we still just want to be in each other’s company. We endure the lows and celebrate the highs together.”
Asia Liza Morales (’21)

The University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Courtesy photo


“Spend time before starting your application thinking about your “Why.” I think I spent more time thinking about my essay rather than writing it. I spent many hours and days thinking about the type of impact I want to have, and my intrinsic motivations. I think that if you have a good understanding of yourself, then it is easier to present your authentic self in an application.”
Ximena Bobadilla (’23)

“Focus on your story, who you are and what you value. Your GMAT score is not a measure of your self-worth, and your MBA program will not determine your future success. Be mindful and stay hungry.”
Pyrenee Steiner (’23)

“I believe that the one thing I did during the application process that gave me an edge was really being focused and specific about the ways I would be involved in and contribute to the Marshall community. I really wanted the admissions committee to see how much I felt I fit at Marshall and accordingly realize that for themselves. It also showed my commitment, because I did a lot of research and wanted to show them that as well.
Aria Aaron (’21)

MBA Student Hometown Undergrad Alma Mater Last Employer
Hilary Clark Columbus, OH New York University Bloomberg TV
Ximena Bobadilla Mexico City, Mexico Wellesley College Leicht
Ian Hause Sacramento, CA University of Arizona Farmers and Merchants Bank of Long Beach
Jasmine Lopez-Logan San Diego, CA UC-Irvine UC-Irvine at The Paul Merage School of Business
Richard Mei Chiba, Japan University of California, San Diego UCLA
Adewale Oduye Brooklyn, NY Columbia University Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office
Deonta’ Plase Chicago, IL Morehouse College Deloitte Services, LP
Pyrenee Steiner Boulder, CO University of Denver Peace Corps
Will Thompson Pasadena, CA The College of William & Mary Ernst & Young
Jessica Walling Cincinnati, OH University of Cincinnati Cirque du Soleil
Yang (Jason) Yang Shenzhen, China Indiana University ByteDance
Roxie (Cheng) Zhang Anshan City, China Huaqiao University South Hills Academy

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