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At the age of 17, Hersh Narayan knew it would be a big step to travel from his native New Delhi to study at USC Marshall. “I actually turned 18 at USC,” he says. But the U.S. and USC soon felt like home—so much so that, in a call to his father in India, Hersh told him he wanted to spend a semester studying abroad.
“Hersh,” his father replied, “you are abroad.”
“I didn’t even think about that,” says Hersh. “I just felt so comfortable here.”
Although he ended up not doing a semester abroad, Hersh took advantage of numerous opportunities to travel through USC Marshall. His freshman year, he visited Santiago, Chile, as part of the Learning about International Commerce (LINC) program. His junior year, he earned a spot on the Marshall Case Team, which competes internationally with peers from other leading business schools.
Hersh won a best Q&A award at his first case competition, in Ohio. He later competed in Copenhagen, Bangkok and Auckland. He also served as lead host for the Marshall International Case Competition—the world’s largest. And, as president, he helped coach his teammates to a first place victory in Singapore.
“Through the Marshall Case Team, I’ve been able to really sharpen my analytical and presentation skills,” he says. “I feel very comfortable presenting in front of a large audience, to CEOs and upper management of a variety of companies.”
Hersh also won second place at the Business Ethics Case Competition at the University of Arizona. And he became actively involved in the Marshall Business Student Government his freshman year, ultimately becoming president.
“At Marshall, it’s really up to you,” he says. “You can just go to class, or you can be involved in one or two organizations. Or you can go crazy like me and try to do everything. But even though I got heavily involved, I wouldn’t say I spread myself too thin.”
Just as he seized every opportunity outside of the classroom, Hersh also made the most of Marshall’s curriculum, choosing a double concentration in marketing and strategic management.
Even for students who don’t try out for the Marshall Case Team, Hersh recommends the Art of Case Analysis and Presentation, taught by Michael Coombs and Donna Miles, who also coach the case team. Professor Coombs became an especially important mentor. “He was very welcoming. I think the faculty in general here has that sort of attitude. They’re like friends.”
Other favorite classes included Global Strategy, taught by Carl Voigt, which Hersh describes as “the most engaging and interesting class” he took at Marshall, and Global Marketing Management with Dennis Schorr. “It’s a very hands-on class, a marketing version of Global Strategy.”
Making the most of college
“What I’d definitely tell everyone, whether international students or someone from 30 minutes away, is to really make use of all the opportunities Marshall offers,” he says. “Because you have to come into college with a very open mind. I thrived in this environment, just because I was so comfortable with people from various backgrounds.”
Though he was a busy guy during his time at Marshall, Hersh insists it wasn’t intentional. “It really goes back to the right values, because I don’t think my parents instilled those values so that I could get an award. I just did what made me happy. And I think at the end of the day you have to be happy in college, especially when you’re so many miles away from your parents.”