hello my name is intern

Written by: Alexis Newmark

Over the course of my four years as an undergraduate, I’ve had the opportunity to have various internships in my field of study. Throughout my work experience, I learned a few things that have allowed me to make the most of my internship. Below are 5 key things to remember as you’re about to start your summer internships.

1. Be 5-10 minutes early

It’s not only important to be on time each day of your internship but to also give yourself a few minutes before you clock in. There are times when your supervisor will email you a task to do or important information from a day you weren’t working. By giving yourself 5-10 extra minutes in the morning, you have the chance to check your emails to get updated on the latest information going on in your respective department before checking in with your supervisor. You’ll be prepared and ready to start the day.

2. Always ask if there’s anything else you can do to help

Whenever you complete a task for your supervisor, rather than then sitting back at your desk and going on Facebook, ask how else you can help. Your supervisor is always swamped with several projects and offering to help them out shows just how dedicated you are and how much you want to learn about the department.

3. Don’t goof off on your computer 

When you haven’t been given a new task yet, don’t go on social media sites or go on your phone. There are two reasons for that. First off– you never know when a co-worker or your boss will pop up at your desk. Being caught browsing on social media by anyone in the office is both embarrassing and unprofessional. Secondly, any free time you have should be used to catch up on industry news. For example, if you’re working in music, check out what new tour announcements or music partnerships are happening right now. Or if you’re working in investment banking, check out which companies just went public. It’s important to not just stay well informed in your respective industry but you can also use that information for inspiration for your future assignments.

4. Set up an informational meeting

Use your three month internship as an opportunity to learn beyond your internship experience! I highly recommend setting up a lunch or coffee meeting with your supervisor or someone else in the department. This is a great opportunity to learn more than just your co-workers’ job titles but also how they got to where they are today. Perhaps they have some tips for you as you’re soon going to be graduating and entering the workforce. Setting up informational meetings is excellent for not just networking but to get professional advice.

5. Never be afraid to ask questions

I can’t stress this enough. If there’s a term or part of your designated task that you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask a question. Whether it’s for clarification purposes or a general industry question, supervisors are more than happy to answer those questions and guide you. Remember– there are no stupid questions.




Business Sustainability


Written by: Firuze Barimani

If you are anything like myself, you think that the subjects of this title– “Preserving the Biosphere and Maximizing Profit– are two sides of the same coin. That is, sustainability is the umbrella for three major pillars: economy, environment, and society, and it has to be one of the hottest buzzwords of recent years.

Kathy Miller, dean at Business School Lausanne, addressed in her blog last month the challenges of an organization to become a sustainable company. These are manifold and considerable and deserve significant attention. It is after all, the “implementation gap” that mostly gets in the way of a nice vision and the often a disappointing achieved reality. I very much appreciated her shifting the conversation from the individual to the organizational level.

Today I would like to shed some light on the misty and foggy emerging domain of “business sustainability”. I have really come to nearly dislike this word. It means everything and nothing and trying to agree on what it really means can spoil any good conversation in a heartbeat.

  • How can we safely differentiate between green washing and superficial efforts and true, deep change?
  • How can a company decide where to best move to next in its sustainability journey?
  • So far, there have been no lamp-posts or mile-stone markers, no differentiators…there is only some first emerging studies that pin-point that “sustainable” companies provide a higher financial return in the long term.

So how do we go about finding our way in this jungle of terminology and double-standards?

What I have found exceptionally helpful in attempting to field this question is the Typology of Business Sustainability that Miller and her colleague Thomas Dyllick developed:


“We have defined three specific different types of business sustainability that are evolutions from the currently dominant business-as-usual corporate scenario which basically follows all required legal norms and regulations. These types correspond to the evolving understanding in the community about what business sustainability is and what it is becoming:

  • Business Sustainability 1.0: ‘Corporate sustainability is an approach to business that creates shareholder value by embracing opportunities and managing risks deriving from economic, environmental and social developments’ (SAM and PWC, 2006).
  • Business Sustainability 2.0: ‘Business sustainability is often defined as managing the triple bottom line – a process by which firms manage their financial, social and environmental risks, obligations and opportunities. These three impacts are sometimes referred to as people, planet and profits’ (Network for Business Sustainability, 2012).
  • Business Sustainability 3.0: ‘Truly sustainable business shifts its perspective from seeking to minimize its negative impacts to understanding how it can create a significant positive impact in critical and relevant areas for society and the planet. A Business Sustainability 3.0 firm looks first at the external environment within which it operates and it then asks itself what it can do to help resolve critical challenges that demand the resources and competencies it has at its disposal” (Dyllick & Muff, 2013).

What is exciting to me about this typology is envisioning the three shifts that are involved in advancing from one type of Business Sustainability to the next. As illustrated in the typography above, these are:

  • First shift: The relevant concerns considered by business shift from economic to three-dimensional (social, environmental and economic) related to the sustainability challenges we are collectively facing.
  • Second shift: The value created by business shifts from shareholder value to a broadened value proposition including all three dimensions of the triple bottom line.
  • Third shift: The shift in fundamental organizational perspectives from an inside-out perspective, with a focus on the business, its activities and interests, to an outside-in with a focus on society and the sustainability challenges it is facing. This shift results in the associated redefinition of strategies being driven by sustainability challenges thus reframing the business concerns as well as the associated redefinition in values created from the triple bottom-line to the creation of value for the common good.

Each of these phases of becoming a truly sustainable business holds its unique challenges, and one can easily question if a company can indeed make it to the third level, or if such a vision even needs to be in the DNA of a company from its foundation. Obviously, there is no single formula to follow or culture to establish that will create a “best” company, and we certainly are going to continue to see a ridiculously wide spectrum of sustainability that businesses fall upon. But for all you like-minded designers, innovators, and entrepreneurs, I encourage and hope that you will help us clarify the meaning of sustainable business and give us all something for which to Fight (On!).

nikki swoish

Written by: Nicole Swoish

The world isn’t getting bigger. In fact, many would argue that the world is getting smaller every century, decade, or even year.  How? Some would attribute this to globalization within the world economy; others would pronounce the importance of a global market – cultural relativism is becoming the norm! But how does any of this affect me? You? As a college student with large aspirations and a not so large budget, I’ve often considered why traveling is something I should even consider. Sure, studying abroad sounds grand and adventurous, but is it really worth missing a semester here at USC? Or rearranging my college budget in order to allow for it?

As a student in the Marshall School of Business, I have been urged to take every opportunity that is presented to me – within reason.  While I still am not sure if traveling, studying abroad, doing a semester at sea, or staying put in Los Angeles is the right choice for me, I do know that there is a source that I have found quite helpful – and interesting.  I am hoping that other students will consider it the same for them.

nikki swoish 2

The College Tourist (thecollegetourist.com) is a blog-like website that documents and connects student travelers all across the globe! Overflowing with articles on topics such as why hostels are great, how to network while abroad, and many others!  Alison Tatham, Founder of The College Tourist, desires to share and connect adventures of student travelers around the world that can provide both a resource outlet and global blogging center.

While The College Tourist may not spark everyone’s interest and get them amped up for travel, I hope that it is able to give some insight into what it is like to be a student traveler in today’s world! I am certainly no expert in this area, but I am constantly hoping to become more culturally aware and conscious of the fact that there is so much more to the world than the fifty mile radius around me. This is something that I can begin to learn even here at my USC home and I hope you can too.


Written by: Claire Shalloe

For a lot of college students, spring break means hitting the beach in Cabo. For me and 39 other USC Freshmen, it meant traveling to Hong Kong and China.

LINC is a program very unique to USC that allows freshman business majors to study the business practices of another country and then experience them first hand by traveling there. Since January my classmates and I have studied Hong Kong and Chinese culture and business practices in preparation for our trip. In class, we learned a lot about how business is typically done in these areas and the lifestyle of people living there. While learning about another country’s culture in a classroom was interesting, it was nothing compared to experiencing it ourselves during the trip.

We visited businesses in both Hong Kong and China every day for 5 days. My favorite company tours in Hong Kong were the Ovolo Hotel and Bloomberg. Ovolo is a boutique hotel located a little bit outside of the center of Hong Kong, but it has locations all over Hong Kong and Australia. The hotel was really trendy and definitely ahead of its time in comparison to other hotels in Hong Kong. The Bloomberg tour was probably the most fascinating one though. The company, which provides the financial data of other businesses to its customers, is very international so it was interesting to see how the Hong Kong branch of the company worked. Hierarchy tends to be stressed in Chinese culture, but at Bloomberg they have no formal job titles or ranking of any kind. The international background of the company combined with the Westernized Hong Kong culture blend together to create a company dynamic that goes against how many of the businesses in that area operate, but it seems to be working for them.

The companies we visited in China were much different from those based in Hong Kong. We toured three different manufacturing companies while we were there. One of these was a paper manufacturer, one made headphones, and one made handbags. The companies actually made products for many of the brands we see every day, including Beats headphones and Kate Spade and Lululemon bags. While the manufacturing of paper was primarily done by machines, the other two companies handmade their products. The employees of the handbag and headphone companies actually lived in dorms on location at the factory. The lives of these employees seemed almost depressing to those of us on LINC, but we later found out that these jobs are highly competitive and respected in Chinese culture.

The trip taught me so much about international business, but it was also a great reminder of how incredible the Trojan family is. So many of the companies we visited were run by, owned by, or had employees that were USC graduates. On top of speaking with Trojans during the day at companies, we met with WBB students at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and ran into USC students studying abroad one of the nights in an area called Lan Kwai Fong.

Visiting Hong Kong (and China) with my classmates was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and I would definitely encourage every future freshman go on LINC.

Written By: Josh Epstein

We’ve all heard the maxim “Attitude is Everything”. Our circumstances can change dramatically based on our outlook. This is a truth that applies to almost every aspect of our lives. But sometimes we fail to realize it.

In case you’re not familiar with TED, it’s an organization dedicated to the distribution of innovative and interesting ideas through the medium of public speaking. TED Talks cover a seemingly endless variety of topics, such as medicine, politics, entrepreneurship, mathematics, and literature. Chances are, if you can think of it, there’s a TED Talk about it. So the next time you’re taking a study break and are tempted to go to YouTube or Netflix, visit TED.com instead and you might learn about something you never even knew you were interested in.

So why am I bothering to tell you this? One of my favorite TED Talks is about something we all deal with on a regular basis: Stress. As students, we experience stress in many ways. Midterms are looming, and finals will be here before you know it. Some of us are trying to secure that crucial summer internship. Some are about to graduate and are dealing with the bittersweet feelings of leaving the college world and starting lives and careers. No matter where it comes from, stress can be something that makes everything you have on your plate harder to deal with.

But along comes Kelly McGonigal to tell us why it’s not stress, but rather the way we feel about stress, that makes the biggest difference. McGonigal presents a simple idea: that you can take control of your stress and use it to your advantage, rather than allowing it to be a vice. This may seem fairly obvious. But it’s the obvious things that we so often take for granted. Either way, controlling stress is easier said than done. It isn’t a skill that one can acquire overnight. It’s a habit that must be developed through practice. I won’t give away any more, because I want the video to speak for itself.

Although this subject isn’t directly related to business, I think it’s important for it to be shared here. The way I see it, Marshall Business Network functions as an outlet for students to come together and help one another. There’s something to be gained from this knowledge regardless of what field you want to work in or what your interests are. We’re all looking for ways to better ourselves. After all, everything we do in school is ultimately in pursuit of a happier, healthier, more fulfilled life, both for ourselves and for the people we care for. So if this video helps any of you have a better, healthier attitude toward stress like it has helped me, that’s a success in my book.



GPA Model

Welcome back MBN! I hope that everyone enjoyed the summer and is ready to start a new semester. To get things off to a positive start, I thought I would share a GPA model (click here: MBN GPA model) that I created to help students better plan for recruitment. As many of you know, having that target GPA can go a long way towards getting your foot in the door for an interview at your dream job (among other factors of course – your GPA is not the single most important factor). The purpose of this model is to help students understand in exact terms what achieving their desired GPA will entail. Please make sure to see the “Leadsheet” tab for instructions.


Alex Curiel


Written By: Eggy Plastaras, MBN Memberconnect-social-media-s

When many business executives hear the phrase: “Internal Social Networking Platform”, it is hard for them to imagine what proactive uses could come of a “Facebook-esq” platform. Scared that employees will spend more time instant-messaging each other, or posting cat videos, many are reluctant to look much further into the subject. However, there are a growing number of companies who have discovered the many positive benefits that come with implementing an internal social networking platform.
In this post, I will focus particularly on IBM’s platform- “Connections”. IBM has developed both a basic, free version of the platform, as well as a more advanced, highly-customizable version available for individual companies to purchase.

1. Enables widespread companies to connect their workforce, regardless of distance.

Connections allows companies that have country-wide, or even world-wide employees connect, and collaborate in one common location. Take IBM for instance, whose workforce contains individuals that work primarily from their homes. This social networking platform allows both informal, and formal collaboration to occur without ever needing to set foot in an actual office building. Employees in different time zones are also easier to connect with as opposed to staying up late to hold conference calls, or sending emails back and forth. Forums and wikis allow constant and localized communication to occur regardless of the time differences.

2. Creates a common, and uniform location for collaboration and communication.

The Connections platform comes equipped with the ability to form interest groups, blogs on particular subject matter, forums to ask questions, and other common spaces to share documents, videos etc. No longer are employees stuck running 1000 applications on their computer simultaneously. Connections provides one place for coworkers to ask questions, share articles, and even just talk about the most recent episode of Game of Thrones.

3. Increases top-down communication

Many companies who use the Connection platform such as one medium-sized online investing broker (name withheld) has found that through the implementation of the platform, direct communication between top executives and more entry-level positions has flourished. Paired with a gammification process in which employees can “badge” each other for good postings, CEOs can badge any employees they wish. Not only does this promote usage of the platform, but it also creates a unique flow of communication that without the platform, would be quite rare. Connections provides a medium in which employees want to participate and have the possibility of getting some recognition from top level management.

4. Promotes overall efficiency gains

Ultimately, employees are able to consolidate the majority of their internal communication and collaboration in a single platform. No longer does a person need to contact 5 different people to get the expert knowledge they need. IBM connections, and other internal social networking platforms create ease in attaining desired information- both through posting questions, blogging, and file sharing. Employees are getting part of their days back- meaning more time to work, and more time to play!


Written By: Alex Curiel, MBN President

The other day I stumbled upon an article that attempts to value the “market for dragons” within the popular TV show Game of Thrones. Upon making this discovery, I can admit that I was a little surprised. Someone had actually decided to take time out of his day to pursue what appeared to be an absolutely pointless endeavor. Nonetheless, I found myself intrigued by the idea and decided I needed to read more.

Halfway through an article that I initially assumed to be written by some clever internet troll, I quickly realized that the article was actually quite innovative. While the market valued by the article is clearly based in fantasy, the argument used to do so is well constructed, and based on many legitimate concepts in economics and market valuation. As such, this type of article not only provides an effective teaching model, but also an outlet to apply academic concepts in a context interesting enough to capture the attention of just about anybody with an interest in Game of Thrones. In other words, the disguise provided by the Game of Thrones analogy allows readers to learn about economics and market valuation in an entertaining manner, while inspiring the application of these concepts through independent analysis of the show. As a fan of the show myself, I immediately had many comments on the article’s argument and attempted to write a response.

I decided to begin with a brief summary of the article to ensure that I had a firm understanding of the argument made:

  • The market for dragons is thin and illiquid with no comparable transactions for reference
  • Based on information provided from the plot, we can infer an estimated value of the dragons relative to other goods (Danerys proposes a trade of her dragon for an army and ships with an established value)
  • The ability to work with a dragon depends upon extremely rare, skilled labor and is potentially completely unique to Danerys
  • When valuing a unique good such as a dragon, it is important to gather as much information as possible before accepting the value proposed by the seller, including an analysis of the motivations of the seller

Then I proceeded to construct a brief response based on an element that I perceived to be lacking in the analysis:

While I agree with most of the arguments made in this article, I think it clearly fails to take the current political conditions into account. As most of the competing kingdoms are heading toward an all-out war over power, one has to consider the imminent changes in the governing authorities. This is especially true with the opportunity to invest in goods and services that could potentially influence this outcome.

Given the current political climate, it is safe to assume that an individual seriously considering the purchase of a dragon must be taking these variables into consideration. An investment in the dragons is implicitly speculating that the purchase will in some way provide influence to the purchaser in the outcome of the power struggle. By extension, this includes a potential stake in the leadership of the seven kingdoms and serious lobbying influence. While these potential benefits are not guaranteed and actually pose great risk in the event of failure to influence the winning team, there can be no denying that speculation holds legitimate value for this particular market and should therefore have a significant impact on the value of the dragons. In other words, one should consider a dragon as an asset with speculative value, and should factor in the expected return on this asset based on the perceived risk when deciding to invest. Without determining this key piece of information (expected return), it would be nearly impossible to value the appreciation and/or depreciation of the asset over time, which is key in determining the net present value.

Finally, I reflected on the response I had just made and came to a conclusion about the effectiveness of the article as a teaching model:

One can quickly see how ambiguous and daunting the concept of valuation can become given the extent of the variables to be considered. However, this article narrows down this complex process and renders its comprehension quite painless by incorporating questions that the readers already have (i.e. what role will the dragons play in the future battles and will they prevail in putting Danerys on the Iron Throne?). If anything, I found the exercise to be quite entertaining. As a fan of the show, I already have incentive to be thinking about things like the value of a dragon given the anticipation I and many other viewers feel with the imminent release of a new season of the show. I give major kudos to the author of this blog, as I think this type of article can really help students like myself to gain a better understanding of a wide variety of academic topics and would encourage other students to find similar outlets to enhance their own studying processes.


Here is a link to the original article: http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2013/04/22/economics_of_ice_fire_iii_the_market_for_dragons.html


Written By: Kelly Paul, USC Senior

Group projects*. To be blunt, generally people don’t like them.  We perceive them to be curses our professors/teachers/employers place on us all in the name of teaching teamwork and/or generating high quality work.  But most peoples’ experiences in group projects are anything but that.  I’m sure at one time you’ve even felt that you’ve had to carry the “team” to the finish line?  You shouldn’t have to feel like that, nor should you be doing all the work. 

As a senior studying organizational leadership and management, and design manager for eight theater productions, I’ve had teams that were total nightmares and teams that were amazing.  By utilizing what I’ve learned from my Marshall classes and applying them to managing my production teams, I’ve learned the key steps to bring teams to success (or at the very least, making them painless as possible).  Below are some of the main points from what I’ve learned.  They will be short and brief, because to really go into team dynamics we would need a whole semester. But I hope that these tips will make your next group project less of a hassle.

1. Getting to Know Your Group. So your professor/teacher has just announced you will be doing a group project and has randomly assigned you to a team.  Before jumping in to the project and assigning jobs, get to know your group members first.  Meet for lunch (or do some other fun activity) that requires you all to get to know each other.  Don’t discuss the project.  The goal here is to have fun so that you don’t learn to associate these people as just classmates you are stuck with, but teammates. After the fun activity, set a meeting time that works for everyone where you will start to work on the project.

2. Communicate Expectations in a Charter. Your next meeting should be a brief written outline of how the group will function, including:

  • What is the team’s purpose? Why are you in a team and what are you expected to deliver?
  • What is the team’s goal in achieving the project?  Try not to make the goal “to get an A”.  That is not very clear.  A better goal would be “To achieve a high quality product by doing ______”.
  • Determine who is the leader.  Is he or she assigned or do they naturally emerge?  Will you switch off leadership?  Or will leadership be shared equally? A great leader is someone who helps manage teams relationships while keeping the team oriented on the task.
  • Assign other roles and expectations of those roles to members.  These should be suited to an individual’s skills and challenging enough so that they keep individuals motivated and interested.  Assigning roles also clarifies to members what they will be doing so that there is no confusion on who does what task.
  • How will the team primarily be communicating? Email, text, Facebook, in person? And how often should members be replying? Perhaps all messages need to be responded to within a day?
  • How often will the team be meeting in person? It is very important to meet in person as opposed to only emails.  Meeting in person allows us to be thorough in our discussions and communicate clearly about what needs to be done.  It sounds cliche, but remember: Humans are social creatures. And I DON’T just mean social media.
  • How will the team handle conflict?  Will you discuss your options or rule by majority vote?  There are many ways to address conflict, and I would encourage you choose a way that promotes a supportive environment for the team to work in.
  • What are your deadlines?  By when will you have your paper done, ect.
  • How will you reward success? Is the team going to go see the Lakers/ go get cupcakes if you achieve your goals?

Charters are tedious, but the point is to make everyone is on the same page about what needs to get done.  A good charter will help prevent people from not do their work (free riding) or aren’t doing the quality level of work they could be doing (social loafing).

­3. Prepare for The First Meeting. The first meeting is KEY. I can’t stress this enough.  The first meeting sets the tone for the rest of the process.  If you come to the meeting prepared, your teammates will see you as a competent and essential member of the group.  If you are not prepared, your teammates’ trust in you will be negatively affected. Preparing for the first meeting means knowing about the project, knowing what is expected of you, what will you be discussing during the meeting, and what do you hope to know/ have accomplished by the end of the meeting.  I recommend writing an agenda so that you don’t forget to go over anything.

4. The First Meeting. Start on time.  Briefly mention what you will be discussing today, and by what time do you hope to finish.  We are all busy people after all.  Be sure to recap what was said during the meeting at the end, and delegate what needs to be done before your next meeting.

5. Meeting, Working, Meeting. Throughout the process your team should be communicating how process is going and making sure everyone has what he or she need to do their job.  Be supportive of one another!  Positive verbal feedback goes a long way.  Think of yourself as a coach – cheer your team on and provide direction.  (Note: By coaching style, I mean Pete Carroll. Not Nick Saban).

6. Midway. Half way through the project your team should assess how it is going.  Are you meeting your target goals?  Do you think you are communicating clearly?  Are your teammates getting along?  If not, stop and assess why.  Give constructive feedback.  It is important to support your teammates.  Their success brings you success! Beware of groupthink (when everyone goes along with a bad idea) by assigning someone to be a devil’s advocate.  Their job is to provide constructive criticism to ideas and promote critical thinking in the group to make sure your ideas are well thought out.

7. Meeting, Working, Meeting. Continue what you are doing.

8. Deadline Day. Make sure you have been progressing towards your goals at a good pace so that you don’t end up working all night before it’s due.  Who needs the stress? Double check that you have done everything that is required of you and your team.  Have everyone read that paper you all had to write.  Is it top quality work?  If not, fix it!

9. Celebrate. You finished your group project.  Hopefully without fighting or complaining to your professor/teacher that your team is driving you nuts.  Now go out with your team and have fun.  You’ve earned it.

10. Assess.  What about this process went well and what didn’t? For you? For others? For the team?  Learn from your mistakes to be an even stronger team next time.

My parting tips are to be aware that everyone works differently and has different personalities.  Respect your differences and learn how to work with them.  Don’t take things so personally.  If things are really getting emotionally challenging, try to separate your personal relationship with your working relationship.  Communication is key.  Don’t assume people know what you are feeling or talking about, and the more your teammates know the more likely you will trust each other.  Because the secret to a truly perfect team- is trust.

That’s all folks, good luck with your group projects!  Tune in next time when I will teach you the fine art of how to give constructive criticism without the tears.

*The author realizes that “group” and “team” mean different things.  The key differences being that 1) teams require a certain level of interdependency and groups don’t.  2) Teams usually have some degree of decision-making power and groups don’t.  But for the sake of keeping things simple, for now we will use both terms interchangeably in this paper.  

Written By: Christie Cyprus, USC Student

At our last meeting, Marshall Business Network members had the pleasure of listening to guest speaker Mr. Bret Nielsen, a graduate of USC and Senior Vice President of Leasing and Asset Management for Caruso Affiliated. Caruso is a renowned real estate development firm in Southern California that has achieved much success in projects such as The Grove, along with many other distinctive retail centers, mixed use, and hotel developments. Mr. Nielsen presented the basics of real estate development, along with the values, processes, and keys to success embodied by Caruso Affiliated.

One of the many important take-aways from our guest speaker is the ten rules of success as practiced by Caruso, which are applicable to any successful business. These rules include:

  1.     Go big – take risks, do things right
  2.     Stay ahead of the trends
  3.     Know your audience
  4.     Work like hell
  5.     “Zig” when others “zag” – think outside the box
  6.     Brand, brand, brand – building a reputation for quality products develops security for customers
  7.     Do! – step up and take ownership in a project
  8.     Never sit still
  9.     Use the power of self entitlement – everyone makes mistakes; own up, and take risks
  10.     Be flexible

It is quite unmistakable that this firm’s attention to detail on projects and its effort to develop the most quality atmospheres is a large cause for Caruso’s success in the industry.  Mr. Nielsen explained how Caruso has made improvements to its centers that would not directly result in profit, such as more secure parking structures and luxurious lobbies, but rather enhance the quality of its properties and appeal to the experience of its customers. Caruso’s drive to improve for reasons of quality instead of to simply gain revenue is really something to note. The important take-away here:

  •       Focusing on a quality instead of most cost-effectiveness/revenue gain = greater success

Mr. Nielsen also remarked on Caruso’s inclusion of the community’s opinions in its projects. Working with the neighborhood to develop friendly relationships and further the company’s good reputation contributes to Caruso’s success. With the community involved and invested, people are even more apt to visit the center, driving more sales for Caruso’s tenants and ultimately advancing the company. Thus, another key piece of advice from Mr. Nielsen’s lecture:

  •       Building strong relationships and brand name through quality product and positive interaction with others is important!

In telling of his own personal history, Mr. Nielsen imparted the necessity of networking to achieve success. He met Rick Caruso, the founder of Caruso Affiliated, through a peer while he was an undergraduate at USC. Mr. Nielsen also stressed how he has acquired every one of his past jobs through an acquaintance or someone he has known, proving that networking is ultimately the most invaluable skill to possess for one’s success.

  •       Networking is key!

While personally having some familiarity with real estate development from working for my parents’ real estate development and management companies, the retail side of the business was unfamiliar to me prior to Mr. Nielsen’s talk. Different from Caruso Affiliated, my parents’ business develops and manages, as well as flips, residential properties, which are mostly low-income single family units and duplexes in South Central Los Angeles. Part of the management company relies on outside investors, unlike Caruso which operates as a privately funded firm. Also unique to Caruso is that it encompasses numerous disciplines such as acquisitions, entitlements, construction, marketing, etc., in-house. This is atypical for most real estate development companies which depend on outside sources to help execute such functions to complete a project. Mr. Nielsen provided an exciting and intriguing look into the industry for me personally as well as for my peers in MBN. Caruso’s success in an outstanding reputation for a beautiful product and impressive figures inspired my interest in possible career opportunities in retail development. If nothing else, his advice for success in any career is something everyone can take away from this evening.



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