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USC Marshall MBA - Steve Huber '18 (USA)


#1

Name: Stephen Huber
Nationality: USA
Pre-MBA Education: UC-Berkeley Nuclear Engineering
Work Before MBA: Nuclear Engineering for General Dynamics. Team lead and primary analyst for 19-person team responsible for operating international monitoring systems in accordance with UN Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO).
Work After MBA / Post MBA Goals: Product Management and Strategy in Interactive Entertainment.

Why did you pick USC? Coming from the West Coast previously, I had personally seen the power of the Trojan Network. As someone with strong quant and leadership skills I was really looking for a strong network that could help me develop my own network. Although I knew this existed among the alumni, I realized during my campus visit that even the students were highly collaborative and that really sealed the deal for me.

Best part of program? The collaborative atmosphere at Marshall is definitely my favorite part. One of the key parts of the USC experience is the idea that we are all “One Marshall.” This permeates all aspects of the MBA experience from academic to recruiting. I held several final review sessions with a classmate that negatively affected our final grade because we boosted the final score so much. On the recruiting side, when people are recruiting even for the same positions they give tips to their fellow classmates to help them in the process.

Favorite class/professor/learning experience - why? Management and Organization of Creative Industries: USC has deep ties with the entertainment industry due to it’s location and how well known the film school is. This course dives deep into how films, music, and gaming currently operate and where they are headed for the future. The professor has brought guest speakers from Hulu, Netflix, Disney, Sony, Fox, and Amblin.

My alternate favorite experience are the review sessions that I’ve put on. I saw during our intensive first semester that several of my classmates wanted to understand the material in a few classes a bit more. I worked with a classmate of mine to put on review sessions for the finals of statistics, operations, macroeconomics, and

What were you most surprised to learn about USC after starting the program? USC really emphasizes communication and presentation skills. Within the first 3 weeks of the program, the CORE professors completely tear apart and rebuild how we are expected to present. This continues throughout the rest of the time at Marshall and there is just that expectation to perform at that high level.

Room for Improvement? There is definitely room to grow with on-campus recruiting and specific industries. Although the top companies do indeed have touch points, the various club leaders are making a concerted effort to get many of our high level alums on campus.

USC’s ranking tanked a few years ago after the head of the career center left mid year and put many students in the lurch. As a result, the school is just now getting over the repercussions and returning to the top 25. The program office and career center are definitely focused on bringing in the best students possible and returning the program to the top 20.

Is it difficult for foreign students to find jobs in the US? It really depends on what industry and effort put in. I have foreign classmates who have landed positions in Tech, Consulting, Entertainment, and Finance; but at the same time there are some still searching (writing this in mid-April, so there is still time).

In your opinion, USC provides the most opportunities for MBAs entering which industries/functions/geographies? With the prime location in downtown Los Angeles, and the deep connections the school has overall, USC has one of the strongest network within Entertainment. Outside of entertainment, Consulting, Tech, and Finance provide the most opportunities for students.

For consulting, USC is a core school for many non-MBB firms (although several of my current classmates are interning at BCG over the summer) and we definitely take our Case Competitions seriously. Just this year we’ve won multiple external competitions and are frequently (below is a picture after my team won a case competition at Jam City - a mobile game developer).

For Tech, USC has a great network of alumni in both Silicon Valley and Beach and we have students going to all of the top firms (USC is currently a core recruiting school for Google, Amazon, Apple, and AT&T with a few more coming online next year). In the near term, my goal as head of the High Tech Association is to build stronger relationships with the LA based companies.

Other Awesomeness: I am the incoming president of the High Tech Association, so feel free to ask me any questions about the Tech scene or recruiting.

Last semester, I founded the Marshall Interactive Entertainment Association with several of my classmates. We noticed that with the growing video game industry (>$100B in 2016) and USC prime location in LA, we have an opportunity to grow Marshall’s brand as the go to place for entertainment.

Podcast of my own: Earlier this year, I actually ended up starting my own podcast that looks at gaming industry from the business perspective (www.thebusinessofgaming.com). Feel free to give us a listen/leave me a comment if you are interested in us covering any topics within interactive entertainment. Our latest episode (14-Apr-2017) actually went through Activison’s 10K as part of our prep for a Day on the Job visit. The Business of Gaming Podcast

Feel free to ask me about…?
Anything
Why I chose USC
My experience during the admissions journey
Professors and Classes
Company Visits
Networking Opportunities
Career Services
Global exposure and international travel
Campus life and residences on campus
Student Associations and activities
Life in Los Angeles, CA

A few more fun photos from my time thusfar:
In December, the High Tech Association travels up to the Bay Area to visit Silicon Valley Firms. Here is a picture of us after the day at Google

During spring break I went to Morocco with several classmates. This image is from the middle of the Sahara desert while we were camping

In December, I was able to attend the Video Game Awards with fellow classmates interested in Interactive Entertainment

And our recent visit to Activision


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#3

Steve, thank you so much for sharing - epic post (and pics!) and super insightful. Sounds like you are making the most of your time at Marshall.

I think most applicants thinking about Los Angeles are looking at UCLA and USC. What do you think applicants should know about USC in comparison to UCLA? I guess I’m thinking of what you see as the competitive advantages of USC vs. other top schools in LA and California.


#4

No Problem! I’ll try to keep this as unbiased as possible, but obviously I am at USC.

Also - if anyone is actually visiting USC, feel free to reach out: Stephen.Huber.2018@marshall.usc.edu

Curriculum: USC has a more professional orientation of it’s classes. During the first semester, USC definitely emphasizes communication and presentation skills in addition to the finance, accounting, marketing, strategy, and HBS cases that all MBAs go through. I’ve heard/read that UCLA’s curriculum is a bit more academic, but I don’t have exposure to what they go through.

At USC, we are required to do several consulting projects for major companies as part of the curriculum. At the end of the first semester, there is a strategy consulting project to utilize everything learned in the first semester that can range from consulting to tech. My project was to work as a team to develop a time based monetization strategy for Lockheed Martin’s Quantum Computing Asset (if you follow the field, the quantum properties are still unproven). In between the first and second year, all full-time, first year MBA’s go on the Pacific Rim International Management Education program (known as PRIME), which examines the business environment and management styles in Pacific Rim and Latin American countries in class and during a 10-day trip abroad. I’ll be heading to Taipei and Shanghai as part of this trip.

Recruiting: Both schools share relatively the same recruiting companies, with a few companies having a preference for one or the other. When talking about top tier Investment Banking and Management Consulting, unfortunately both schools aren’t quite at the same prestige as the “M7” business schools. You’d have to struggle a bit from either institution to break into Goldman Sachs or MBB (although I do have a few classmates going to both so it’s not impossible). If you do end up at a West Coast school, you have to be aware that many East Coast companies are reticent to recruit because a majority of those who experience California will end up moving back. Just looking at the recent reports, UCLA places a large number of MBAs into Tech, Consulting, and Finance. USC places a larger number into Consulting, Entertainment, and Finance.

For local firms, USC does have an advantage in some boutique investment firms, consulting companies, and real estate firms that exclusively hire USC MBAs. In consulting, USC is a preferred school for Deloitte and EY (not a consultant, so I don’t know if there are others). In tech, USC is a preferred school for Google, Amazon, Apple, and AT&T, GE, Cisco, and a few more. I do not know which companies have UCLA as a preferred school, but from what I’ve seen Anderson students are slightly more preferred than Marshall (looking forward to moving this back the other way).

In entertainment (as I mentioned above), both UCLA and USC have strong placement due to the location. With the top film and game design school in the US, USC might have a slight overall edge. Entertainment is a weird beast because despite the maturity of the industry, it still doesn’t have a firm grasp on the value of an MBA. As a result (similar to some tech firms), experience within the entertainment space can sometime take precedence. When it comes down to the final decision, it often can depend on where the hiring manager actually went to college (and they likely went to USC or UCLA).

And for the last point: Entrepreneurship. I don’t have a ton of insight into which school is better for this. My bias would be USC due to the slightly stronger network of VCs in Los Angeles, but I don’t have enough information on what UCLA provides to counter.

Network: Within Southern California (and particularly LA), I’d argue that both schools have an equal network. As you move more nationally, Anderson definitely holds the edge due to ranking prestige. If you include the rest of the university, I’d argue that USC actually has a stronger overall network with the “Trojan family.” (Having previously been involved in Pac-12 school alumni leadership I’ve seen this in action and it’s both annoyingly strong and impressive at the same time)

USC vs UCLA: a tale of two cities
Los Angeles is a huge sprawling city/county that encompasses everything from Santa Monica and Venice to downtown (something like 503 square miles).

UCLA is located in the western side of Los Angeles in an area called Westwood. The campus is not currently accessible via metro; however, there are plans to expand the line to UCLA (there are multiple bus routes you can utilize to get around). Due to the location, it is highly recommended to have a car to get to the beach or downtown, although UBER and LYFT work very well in Los Angeles.

USC is located very close to downtown Los Angeles. The metro runs directly next to campus (actually how I get to school) and I’ve frequently taken it both downtown and all the way out to Santa Monica. With how terrible LA traffic can get, I honestly prefer taking the train.

In regards to safety: a few years ago, the area around USC was not the safest. There has been significant development on several sides of campus, and it has become much safer; however, there is definitely still a risk for crime due to the location. Downtown Los Angeles was similarly in bad shape a few years ago. With the development of LA Live, everything has completely changed. The convention center and downtown have been completely revitalized.

Football:
For years, Los Angeles has been without a major football team and as a result, it still has a bit more pride in college sports (fun fact - the Raiders are playing at USC until their stadium is complete). If you are looking at the gameday experience, I’d have to give it to USC hands down. USC’s stadium is next to campus and as a result every home game the campus is a buzz with excitement for the game. Marshall puts on a huge tailgate for every home game with proceeds going to charity.

UCLA on the other hand plays at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena (aproximately 26.6 miles away - 30 min without traffic, 2 hours with traffic). Now, the Rose Bowl is one of the most historic stadiums in all of college sports, but the distance from campus really puts a dent in the buzz for the game. There is some tailgating that occurs on the golf course around the stadium, but nothing like USC.


#6

This post is brilliant! Just wanted to thank you for the wealth of information and insights haha It’d be great if the other ambassadors would follow suit :blush:

Cheers,
Sarah


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Wanted to post my chat with Steve about: Getting Off the Waitlist, Preparing Significant Others, and Breaking Into a New Industry

Thanks Steve for coming on the show!


#10

Thanks for having me on @darren. I enjoyed being a guest. I’ve shared it around USC and have received great positive feedback about the content. I hope our conversation can help listeners who might have questions/concerns about any of the topics we discussed.


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