University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business
“Empathetic, scrappy, impact-driven and innovative; unafraid to fail and always curious to learn more.”
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
Fun fact about yourself: Over the pandemic, I taught myself how to sew. Making my own clothes is now one of my favorite things to do. I love going to Goodwill and reconstructing a garment to something entirely new. It feels so empowering to be able to create something in a both sustainable and creative way.
Undergraduate School and Degree: Wesleyan, BA Government
Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I was working on the Brand Experience team at Macy’s, a type of innovation team that was building a new brand and store for the company called Market by Macy’s
Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? Ernst & Young (EY), Management Consultant on their Innovation and Experience Team in San Francisco
Where will you be working after graduation? I am fortunate enough to have received a full-time offer after my summer internship – Ernst & Young (EY), Management Consultant on their Innovation and Experience Team in San Francisco
Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:
- President, Marshall Graduate Student Association
- Co-founder of Raise a Glass, a startup that pairs a bottle of wine with heroic stories of Ukrainian civilian resistance against the Russian invasion. Users scan the bottle to watch these stories, with 50% of proceeds donated to NGOs helping Ukrainians escape war inflicted areas. (Follow us on Instagram @RaiseAGlassUkraine to see our progress!)
- Marshall Leadership Fellows Coach
- Vice President of Community, Marshall Leadership Fellows Program
- Graduate Career Services Peer Coach
- Conducted an Independent Research Project that focused on increasing racial and ethnic diversity in the MBA program
Honors and Awards:
- Dean’s List (all semesters)
- Forte Fellow Scholar
- Chosen as the Graduate Student Speaker for the USC Marshall School of Business Scholarship Celebration
- Podcast guest (twice!) for Marshall’s “MBA Unplugged”
- 1st place – Meta Ads Manager Competition
- 2nd place – 2021 PwC Case Competition
Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Being president of the Marshall Graduate Student Association has been the most rewarding experience I’ve had at business school. As the student body president, I made it my job to consistently question the status quo and always push to make Marshall better. After years of remote learning during the pandemic, our class was seen as the transition year to bring Marshall back where it had been. As the leader of this community, I took this responsibility with full force, working hard to bring back the best of Marshall’s traditions and spirit, while also creating new traditions and initiatives for years to come.
My team and I pushed the program to reimagine what DEI means in this community. We introduced a new financial transparency report so that our student body could keep our clubs accountable in how they were spending student dues. We also moved our entire 400+ program onto Slack and off of Whatsapp, which ended up teaching me so much about organizational-wide tech transformations. As president, I’ve tried my best to lead with integrity, inclusivity and empathy. Through this position, I’ve learned more than I could have ever imagined about myself and how to motivate others.
What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In April 2020, at the height of the pandemic, I, along with 4,000 other employees, was laid off from my job. I realized I suddenly had all of this time and felt that it was extremely important to help my community any way I could. I began volunteering as the Director of Supply and Distribution at the COVID Foundation, a non-profit focused on distributing PPE to underserved communities. I realized I could use my skills working as a buyer in the retail industry to help navigate the craziness of the global supply chain at the time. I’m proud of the impact I made working at this organization, as I ultimately helped distribute over 100,000 pieces of PPE to underserved communities in New York City. This included residents in low-income housing as well prisoners at Rikers Island, a population disproportionally affected by COVID.
Why did you choose this business school? The one thing everyone told me about Marshall was how student-driven the school was. I wanted to be part of a MBA program like Marshall that had a strong community focus, and of course, one of the strongest alumni networks to exist. Marshall is made up of a smaller class size as compared to other MBA programs (~200 students per grade), which means that everyone has the opportunity to get to know one another on a very intimate level. As a result, the community here is uniquely close and passionate about being here, which stems into the strength of the Trojan Network. Marshall has four foundational values: Transformation Courage, Impactful Service, Unwavering Integrity and Collaborative Ambition. My classmates know more than anyone that I love that last value, Collaborative Ambition, the underlying belief that we as a community succeed when we collaborate and work together. I truly believe that this value embodies the spirit of this community.
Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite Marshall professor has been Peer Fiss, who taught my introductory strategy course during the Core in Term 1 as well as my advanced strategy course during my second year. Professor Fiss is one of those professors who isn’t afraid to cold call or call BS if he thinks you‘re wrong or you’re not making sense in the discussion. Despite being humbled multiple times during his class (or maybe because of it), I truly felt that I learned so much from him.
What was your favorite course as an MBA? My favorite course I’ve taken at Marshall was my Financial Analysis and Valuations course. It’s a notoriously hard course, yet, it feels like almost every student takes it at some point during their time at Marshall. It is taught by Scott Abrams, who is hilarious and always brings so much energy and passion to his class. I’m not going into finance after I graduate, but after taking his valuations course I seriously reconsidered if I should have recruited for investment banking, since I enjoyed the subject so much.
What is the biggest myth about your school? The number 1 thing that is talked about for USC is the Trojan Network. Before coming to USC, I thought it was just a marketing ploy, but honestly, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Based on my own experience, I can vouch and say that the Trojan Network is real. When I was recruiting for my consulting internship last year, I cannot tell you how many Marshall alums helped me along the way, coaching me on how to do a case interview and network my way into firms. Even once I got to my internship, the number of Trojans who would stop by or ping me to check in on how I was doing or ask if they could help was incredible. There really is a pay-forward culture that is embedded in the alumni community.
What did you love most about your business school’s town? As someone who grew up in San Francisco and lived in New York for their entire adult life, I was actually pretty resistant to becoming a LA resident. However, when I moved to Santa Monica, my whole perspective changed. The cliché (but true) answer is that it’s hard to not love a place so close to the beach, has beautiful hikes and is so easily accessible to some great weekend trips (Santa Barbara, Joshua Tree and San Diego to name a few). There’s just so much to do in LA. My classmate a few weeks ago literally got us free tickets to the James Corden show for a random Thursday afternoon– how cool is that!
More so, from a professional standpoint, there really are so many opportunities and events to take advantage while you’re here, particularly in the startup / VC space as well as (obviously) the entertainment industry. No matter what you’re interested in, there’s seems to be something for everyone in LA, making it an ideal place to get your MBA.
What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? When I applied to USC, I tried to dig deeper than just looking at classes offered or clubs I wanted to be a part of. I research the school’s values to assess not just if I was the right fit for the school, but if Marshall was also the right fit for me. Through this exercise, I ensured that my essays were Marshall specific and echoed the values engrained at Marshall to demonstrate that I would excel in this community.
Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I most admire my classmate, Danielle Pruitt. Danielle has one of the biggest student responsibilities at Marshall as she is the president of the Business of Entertainment Association. Unsurprisingly, that is one of the most popular clubs at school as we are located right in the heart of the entertainment industry. More than that, Danielle is one of the most caring, creative and passionate people I know. She has such a unique perspective and is never afraid to voice her opinion and motivate us to think differently. As president of the full-time program, I always valued her opinion and used her as a sounding board for any new ideas I had. Not to mention, she absolutely crushed it at her internship last summer at YouTube and is now going back to work there full-time after we graduate. Danielle truly embodies what it means to be a visionary.
What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? First, I set a goal for myself last year that I would become a member of the C-Suite for a purpose-driven company by the time I am 40 years old. Secondly, I want to find a job that is fulfilling and energizes me, but that also allows me to explore my outside interests. Balance is a huge priority of mine. I reject the notion that your work has to be your number 1 passion in life. Having interests and hobbies outside of your job allows you to use different parts of your brain so necessary for creativity and happiness. A good job should also be one that allows you to balance between both, so that you can show up to work even more energized than ever.
What made Olivia such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?
“Olivia spends countless hours performing her duties as MGSA president, but she also spends additional hours supporting student causes and listening to their issues. She shows deeply felt care for all graduate students. She is committed to making Marshall and the program a better place. For example, this Spring she has been working on an independent project to evaluate our diversity and inclusion efforts, and to find best practices that we can incorporate as a school.
Even with all the hours she spends handling her presidential duties, she still finds time to devote to her studies. Olivia is an exceptionally good student who has made the dean’s list every semester while in the program.
She provides excellent leadership to her vice presidents board and is paving the way for a smooth transition of power, guiding next year’s newly elected president.”
Leticia Porter, Ph.D.
Assistant Dean & Director, FT MBA Program
DON’T MISS: 100 BEST & BRIGHTEST MBAS: CLASS OF 2023
Comments or questions about this article? Email us.