University of Southern California

Priya Jani
Title
Discovering Her Passion
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Graduating Year
2009
Hometown
Cupertino, California

After spending four years as a health care benefits consultant on the East Coast and in San Francisco, Priya Jani was ready for a career change. “It built my presentation skills and my quantitative analysis skills, but it wasn’t going to challenge me to grow,” she says of her previous work. “Academically, I thought getting an MBA would push me in that direction and help me find something I was truly passionate about and that would hone my creativity.”

Through the Career Resource Center and the Graduate Marketing Association, she connected with recent alumni and discovered her own passion for marketing. An internship at Nestlé USA solidified her interest and she has since garnered a full-time position with the company as an assistant brand manager.

“I knew a lot of the products in their portfolio,” says Ms. Jani. “In the interview, when I was asked to name my favorite Nestlé product, it came to me instantly – French Vanilla Nonfat Coffeemate. I knew the exact format, the product size, where to find it in the grocery store. I’ve always been very curious about what products are available in the marketplace.”

Marshall’s Pacific Rim Education (PRIME) program took her to Beijing and Shanghai, and gave her further experience in the brand management of consumer goods. Her group consulted with Lotus Supercenter, a grocery-store chain located in Shanghai.

A favorite course was Internet Marketing, taught by Professor Allen Weiss. “That will be really applicable to my job,” she notes. She also enjoyed classes that were completely out of her forte, such as Real Estate Finance, as well as all of her strategy classes. “Every semester, there were a couple of professors where you would walk in the classroom and be [especially] excited to be there,” she says.

Ms. Jani says her Marshall MBA gave her a lot of confidence. “It gave me the ability to think big picture, to strategize, to not get stuck in the minutia,” she explains. It also taught her the difference between leadership and management. “What I didn’t expect was how much leadership I could take and how much of a difference I could make as a student,” adds Ms. Jani, who served as president of Graduate Women in Business, vice president of education for the Graduate Marketing Association and a marketing career coach in Marshall’s Career Resource Center, where she mentored first-year students.

Through the program, she says she has made lifelong friendships. “That’s the biggest takeaway,” she says. “That and self-empowerment. Now that I’ve gone through that training, I know I can push myself. I can take that managerial role and become a CMO one day or even a CEO if that’s what I really want to do.”