University of Southern California

Anna Keel
Developing Skills That Empower Career Change
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Fullerton, California

Anna Keel spent four years at a litigation-consulting firm and was considering law school when she decided to shift gears and go into marketing instead. She knew that earning her MBA would prepare her for the career move, and chose Marshall after an intensive search.

"USC Marshall has a great dynamic," she says. "The people obviously are very driven and motivated. Marshall is small compared to other MBA programs. You can definitely feel the intimacy with the professors, as well as with the program office and with the Career Resource Center. I was able to successfully transition from the litigation-consulting background to brand management all in the span of two years."

Among her favorite professors was Sivaramakrishnan Siddarth for Sales and Marketing. "He really connects with the students," she says. "You got the feeling that he really cared and wanted you to succeed." Another favorite was Mark DeFond, who teaches the core accounting class. "For me, accounting is not by any means fun. He put a fun twist to a topic that could have been mundane."

As president of the Graduate Marketing Association, she also had a close association with the Career Resource Center, with whom she collaborated to facilitate events that brought students together with alumni and potential employers. "The Trojan network is just amazing," says Ms. Keel, now an associate marketing manager for Mattel Inc. in El Segundo, Calif. "I know that should I want to switch companies in the future, there's a sense of common experience that you share with people who have graduated from USC Marshall that there is an instant relationship."

The school's Pacific Rim Education Program (PRIME), which requires all MBA graduates to have an overseas project, also sets USC Marshall apart, explains Ms. Keel, whose group presented an expansion strategy to the CEO of a major Japanese clothing company. "It was a great experience that's actually very unique to Marshall. When you're competing for jobs, it's an experience that definitely stands out."