University of Southern California

Apoorva Jha
Title
Preparing for a New Role
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Graduating Year
2007
Hometown
Delhi, India

Apoorva Jha starred in a major Bollywood movie that was released the same year she began the USC Marshall MBA program. Although the film proved to be highly successful, by the time it came out, she already knew she was meant for a different path.

"I'm a one-movie wonder," she quips. It was the slow pace of production that caused the former model to re-evaluate her acting career. "It took so long," she says. "I signed that movie in 2000 and it got released in 2005. So by that time, it was good in a way because it made me realize it wasn't where I wanted to end up."

She recognized that having to study again after eight or nine years and in a different country wasn't going to be easy, so she wanted a supportive environment. It was even more challenging since she got married six months into the MBA program.

The biggest difference among the top-rated schools, she says, is the people. "It's a cliché, but it's true. USC Marshall just stood out to me. There is more team spirit. People here just help you as much as they can," she adds.

Her favorite classes were "anything to do with numbers." "I have a science background, but I love accounting for some strange reason," says Ms. Jha, whose emphasis soon became finance. "It's very systematic," she says of the field. "It doesn't have so many loose ends. I like that in life, too."

She especially liked Professor Harry DeAngelo's course on corporate financial policy. "It's such a dry topic and he made it so much fun," she says.

Another invaluable experience was the Pacific Rim Education Program (PRIME), which took her to Singapore and Thailand with classmates and faculty. "PRIME was definitely a highlight at Marshall," says Ms. Jha, whose group presented business strategies to executives from Philips. "It was like a mini-internship."

With her USC Marshall MBA and chemistry background, she earned a position as a corporate finance manager at Amgen, the world's largest biotechnology company, in the Thousand Oaks, Calif., office. As for her long-term aspirations, she says: "I've made such a career switch. First I have to learn so much. I see myself sticking on at Amgen for a long time."