My Summer in Shanghai

Written By: Austin Browning, MBN Director of Budget Planning

BNNWGT China Shanghai town city blocks of flats high-rise buildings city skyline Huangpu river flow Pudong evening travel traveling


Upon entering college, many freshmen may feel intimidated by the process of landing an internship as part of an ever-increasing pool of highly competitive candidates. At one point, I too maintained that anxiety in the back of my head. But I was able to obtain an internship with the help and guidance of the Global Leadership Program at USC.

GLP is a two-semester course separated in to BUAD 101 and BUAD 102. During the first half of the program, speakers come in to deliver their life stories and leadership experiences. Many of them put an emphasis on discipline, motivation, teamwork, and responsibility. While the first semester gave students a holistic view of what it means to be a leader and how to become one, the second semester focused on learning about international business, specifically the business practices and history of China. During spring break the entire class traveled to China, spending 8 days touring companies in Beijing and Shanghai, including Hyundai, 3M, and Shanghai Hippo Animation. On these tours, my classmates and I learned a great deal about international business strategies.

Upon returning, I had the opportunity to apply for an eight-week summer internship in one of a number of locations, including Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, and Taipei. After being admitted to the program, I was put in contact with my supervisor. I ended up flying with another friend from the program and lived with two other GLP students in an area named Xuhui.

I worked for Regents Facility Engineering Co., a small consulting company in Shanghai focused on GMP, Validation, and Process consulting for pharmaceutical and manufacturing companies. I mainly focused on project management, tracking the progress of multiple consulting projects and logging and confronting any issues that may have occurred during the process. However, because Regents is entirely comprised of Chinese Nationals, and the majority of Regents’ clients are English-speaking companies with branches in Shanghai, I was also in charge of ensuring proper translation and improving employees’ English-speaking abilities.

While I spent a significant amount of time at work during the week, my free time was spent exploring China with some of the best friends I had made at USC thus far. After work we would always meet up to grab dinner and explore Shanghai, going to the bund, counterfeit markets, and the occasional club. On weekends I was able to travel even more, to popular destinations like Hangzhou, Yellow Mountain, and Hong Kong.

Working in Shanghai for the summer was absolutely the best two months of my life thus far. In addition to the complete autonomy to explore an entire country with some of my best friends at USC, the invaluable lessons I learned from working at an international company will be beneficial for the rest of my career. In business I believe that the people who thrive and become the best leaders are the ones who can just say “yes” and are comfortable with being uncomfortable. I wholly believe that GLP has provided me with this prowess. I would definitely recommend both GLP and the internship program to anyone who has the opportunity to participate.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

Written by: Rajesh Bhayana, MBN Member

This past summer I was fortunate enough to intern at a company based out of my hometown, Buffalo, NY called Delaware North. Delaware North is a food services company that has offices across the United States, as well as in London and Australia. The company caters to a multitude of different venues around the world, including Yosemite National Park, TD Garden (Home of the Boston Bruins and Celtics), LAX, Kennedy Space Center. There are a lot of perks that come along with working at Delaware North because it is invested in so many different industries. As a Business Development Intern at Corporate Headquarters, I was able to explore a number of fields throughout the business. My primary focus was on the Travel Hospitality Department, where I learned the in’s and out’s of airports both in the US and abroad. It was interesting to see how a business as large as Delaware North runs, as well as how airports deal with their concessions. Now when I enter different airports around the world, I stop to look at the food service provider to see if it’s Delaware North.

I learned a lot about myself through my experiences at Delaware North. I started to realize my strengths and weaknesses, as well as what I like doing most in business. A strong take away I had from this experience was that you should always ask for more work when you don’t have a lot to do. Someone always needs help somewhere in the business. When you support your colleagues, they are more likely to have your back in the future if you ever need them. In the business world we live in, it is important to make as many connections as you can, and continuing to ask for work when times are slow allows you to do just that. As an intern, you’ll find times when your mentor is busy and can’t provide you with work to do. Asking around will win you the helping hand from others in the future. This worked for me when a senior member of the business came to the corporate headquarters for an airport proposal. He was looking for help on designs and I was there to provide it for him. Soon after, he informed me that he is based out of Los Angeles. When I told him I go to USC, he offered me the opportunity to be his personal intern for this upcoming year. I’m happy to say that I will now be continuing my work with this great company! I would highly recommend talking to as many people in a business as you can, no matter their position. You never know when they might need help. And when you can provide that help to them, it will make a lasting and positive impression.

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 ( 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 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:


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