University of Southern California

Neda Farzan
Title
Fostering Leadership and Entrepreneurial Skills
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Graduating Year
2009

Although her two older sisters pursued careers in the medical field, Neda Farzan says she always had more of an entrepreneurial mindset. In fact, she chose USC Marshall specifically because of its top-ranked Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.

“My parents always said I had the best eye for business,” she says. “They’ve been entrepreneurs their whole life.” Her parents immigrated to the United States from Iran in 1987, just before she was born, and soon afterward launched a successful lighting company.

The classes she enjoyed most, not surprisingly, were in her entrepreneurship concentration, which she says gave her lots of practical experience, such as writing feasibility studies and business plans. Her favorite course was the E-Challenge, taught by Thomas Knapp. “Each week we had a different challenge,” she explains. “The first week we had to come up with a business concept. The next week, we had $50 and a week to make as much money as we could bringing our concept to life. Collectively, we had $200 as a class and made over $9,000. We got to get dirty, as we like to say at the Greif Center, and actually do all these things we had been learning about.”

She further honed her leadership skills through the Marshall Business Student Government, where she served in a variety of capacities before becoming president her senior year. Her duties included overseeing the Marshall Council, comprised of the presidents of each of Marshall’s numerous student groups. “There are 30 to 40 organizations at any given time,” says Ms. Farzan, who also was chosen to represent Marshall at the Undergraduate Business School Leadership Conference at Emory University in 2008. During her stint at USC, she served twice as lead host for the Marshall International Case Competition, the world’s largest such program, which attracts teams from 30 top-ranked business schools.

Ms. Farzan garnered additional hands-on experience through a coveted Winslow-Maxwell summer internship, which took her to Dublin, Ireland, where she worked under the director of marketing for the city’s largest shopping center. “When you’re working, you’re a lot more immersed in the culture,” she says. “It was an amazing experience.”

But perhaps her favorite experience at the school was through Marshall’s Global Leadership Program, which took her to Shanghai over spring break her freshman year. “Marshall’s international programs are really spectacular,” she says. “They make the school really unique and they give students an interesting perspective.”

It is fitting that she is entering the leadership rotation at Deloitte in Los Angeles, where she will be a business technology analyst. Eventually, she expects to launch her own company, potentially combining her business expertise with sustainability planning – her minor concentration through the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development. She also found inspiration in her Marshall professors.

“The entrepreneurship faculty really put themselves out there for their students,” she says. “They have these amazing life stories. It makes the program really rewarding.”