University of Southern California

Said Al-Alaoui
Trojan trailblazer follows his own path
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Graduating Year
Damascus, Syria

It wasn't easy for Said Al-Alaoui BS '06 to come to Marshall.

Sure, he'd wanted to attend USC ever since he was 11 years old, and his father, an electrical engineer, returned from doing research on campus and presented Al-Alaoui a Trojan T-shirt and cap.

But as for majoring in business – that was riskier. Al-Alaoui says that in his hometown of Damascus, Syria, engineering degrees are highly regarded while business degrees are not. Unfazed, Al-Alaoui completed his business degree this summer, with a concentration in financial evaluation and analysis.

In the fall, the Trojan began working as an associate in the downtown Los Angeles office of tax consulting giant, KPMG. Al-Alaoui credits his success to, among other factors, the campus' diversity; the Marshall mentorship Career Advantage Program (CAP); the school's job placement services; and his professors, in particular USC Leventhal School of Accounting Dean Randolph Beatty, who brought in real-world business leaders to meet the students in his finance and statement analysis class.

"I know that in the future, I'll really have an advantage over other people because I didn't just 'read the book,' " Al-Alaoui says. "I got to have hands-on experience and get advice from top professionals."

And if Al-Alaoui – who holds dual U.S.-Syrian citizenship – decides he wants to work in Damascus, he says that recent bank privatizations will create jobs in his chosen field. Meanwhile, friends with engineering degrees can't find work. "I have so much more flexibility," he says.