2022 Best & Brightest MBA: Emily Aguilar, USC (Marshall)

Emily Aguilar

University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business

“I am an empathetic, passionate, and community-driven leader who strives to make a positive impact.”

Hometown: West Covina, CA

Fun fact about yourself: I am a certified CorePower Yoga Sculpt instructor.

Undergraduate School and Degree: UCLA, BA Political Science

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Risa Heller Communications, Senior Consultant

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? Mars, virtual

Where will you be working after graduation? Amazon, Retail Leadership Development Program

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: President, Marshall Student Graduate Association; Vice President of 4th Charity, Challenge4Charity (C4C); Founder & Lead, Gender Parity Advocacy Committee; Consortium Fellow; Marshall Leadership Fellow; Dean’s List

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of my service as President of the Marshall Student Graduate Association. It was an honor to be elected by my peers and I led my board to execute initiatives that would enhance the MBA experience and strengthen the Trojan Spirit. This role allowed me to connect to so many of my classmates and truly grasp the beauty of the Trojan Family. Looking inwardly, taking on such a meaningful leadership role also taught me the importance of instinct, listening, and prioritizing. I am grateful for the lessons and the opportunity.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud about getting into USC Marshall. I worked on many challenging projects for big clients with great people before business school, but there is something about the springboard this step gives a person that feels boundless.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose to attend USC Marshall because of the Trojan Family. The generosity, excitement, and dedication this community brings to its members is unparalleled and immeasurable.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite professor is Chris Bresnahan, who teaches the courses Leadership and Executive Development and Interpersonal Influence and Power. Professor Bresnahan creates a judge-free and interactive environment for us to learn about ourselves, identify gaps, and clear pathways to grow.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite tradition is the USC MBA football tailgates. USC football is iconic and it’s a great excuse to spend time with classmates, faculty, and alumni!

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? If I were to re-do my MBA experience, I would encourage myself to let go of all the self-doubt I was harboring in the beginning. I had trouble with imposter syndrome and it resulted in me spending a lot of time second-guessing rather than focusing on more important things. Working alongside my peers for the past two years proves I can keep up with the best of them.

What is the biggest myth about your school? USC is jokingly referred to as the “University of Spoiled Children”, but I have not found this to be the case. Our graduating class is made up of a little over 200 students and each person has a unique background and dream. I thought coming to business school, I’d be living in a stereotype, but it’s been an eye opening and worldly experience.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? When applying to USC, I made sure I networked with alumni and understood the school’s core values before writing my application. It was important to me to know Marshall’s mission inside-and-out so I would be able to explain why I would be the perfect candidate and how I could help them achieve their goals.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I most admire my core teammate, Jesse Chiang. He has both encouraged and challenged me to become the best version of myself. He is a strategic and intelligent leader who will achieve great heights. Most importantly, he is an incredible friend and I am lucky to have had him by my side.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My mom most influenced my decision to pursue my MBA, even though she herself is not in business. My mom is a high school counselor, an inspirational leader, and a pillar of her community. She recognized my interest in the corporate world and has continuously encouraged me to keep learning, growing, and achieving. I thank her for her endless support and for the sturdy foundation she has given me so that I may pursue my dreams.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? The top two things on my professional bucket list are (1) to start a corporate community outreach program educating students on different opportunities in tech and the pathways there; and (2) to be a C-suite executive at a company I am extremely passionate about.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? I lived in New York City when the pandemic struck and overnight the world flipped upside down. Feeling helpless, I took time to reflect on what I could do to make a positive impact. I looked to the work I had done post-grad, forensic consulting and crisis communication consulting, and realized the culture initiatives (i.e. diversity hiring program, sports teams) did not outweigh the end product of getting companies out of hot water. I was inspired to get my MBA so I could work on something that would better the world and make people happy.

What made Emily such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“I am very pleased to nominate Emily Aguilar for P&Q’s Best MBA students designation. She is one of our most gifted students in the Class of 2022. Emily was actively involved in the Marshall Graduate Student Association (MGSA), Consortium, Challenge 4 Charity (C4C), and the High-Tech Association (HTA) in her first year at Marshall. While keeping very busy serving our community, she was able to be on the Dean’s List. At the end of the first year, she was elected by her classmates to serve as President of MGSA, where she led a board of elected officials to work on initiatives to make the program the best it could be. In the summer, Emily interned in brand strategy at Mars for their multibillion-dollar brand, Pedigree. In her second year she continued to support student organizations and events. She was appointed as the Vice President of a charity for C4C, where she was able to lead a team to organize events and fundraisers to help local nonprofits in the Los Angeles area. Emily also helped to found and lead the Gender Parity Advocacy Committee; a group dedicated to working with admissions and the admissions pipeline to ensure more women are coming to Marshall. Along with her leadership duties, she hosted and moderated multiple panels from events like the Financial Literacy Festival and International Women’s Day Cel++ebration and was even interviewed for KABC7 on the topic of women in business with Dean Garrett. After graduation, she plans on moving to Seattle where she will join Amazon in their Retail Leadership Development Program.”

Murat Bayiz, Ph.D.


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