University of Southern California

Mindy Wan
Title
Valuating a Marshall Education
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Graduating Year
2011
Undergrad Institution
University of Southern California
Hometown
Shanghai, China and Victoria, Canada

Exploring a world of options

After spending her earliest years in Shanghai, YuMing (Mindy) Wan moved at age 10 with her family to Victoria, Canada, where her parents established a small construction company, manufacturing granite countertops. Those formative years gave her an international perspective that she plans to continue.

Although at one point she was considering a pre-med major, Mindy increasingly found herself drawn to accounting and finance. She chose USC Marshall for the diversity of options she saw here—from the classes and internships to research opportunities and international experiences.

Her freshman year, she traveled to Taiwan as part of the Learning About International Commerce (LINC) program. “Even though I spent some time in Shanghai growing up, I never got to see how businesses operate in Asia—to see the environment, marketing and finance aspects,” she says. “In the long run, I’d like to go back to Asia to work for awhile as it has one of the fastest growing economies.”

Pursuing broad interests

While completing a double major in business administration and accounting, Mindy also wanted to conduct research beyond the classroom—on such topics as China’s cross-border mergers and acquisitions and Chinese initial public offerings in the U.S.

“I just reached out to my professors and told them my interest,” she says. “And they provided me with guidance, literature and research methods.” Particularly helpful was her advisor, Leventhal Dean Randolph Beatty, who Mindy notes is extremely knowledgeable about the IPO field. The USC Office of the Provost even awarded her a research fellowship to support her work.

She also found time to take courses outside the Marshall curriculum—everything from linear algebra and differential equations to a course on film studies.

To help keep her life balanced with such a hectic schedule, she turned to music. Mindy started playing piano at age 3, and also plays the flute. “I realized that music is really important in keeping you sane when you get busy with so many things,” she says.

Finding a new passion

“When I came to USC I thought I was going to be doing accounting for sure,” Mindy recalls. But along the way, she discovered a passion for the process of valuation when she took a valuation class with Professor Julia Plotts.

“Having taken some accounting courses, I realized valuation builds off of accounting foundations,” says Mindy. “It combines the historical accounting perspective with the future aspect. I realized it’s what I really wanted to do.”

As part of the course, Mindy and her classmates examined Marvel, a few months before Disney acquired it. “We did a full valuation for Marvel, and then we had valuation professionals come out and listen to our presentation. It was really rewarding getting to hear their feedback,” she says.

The following summer, Mindy interned at Disney, where she got to see the acquisition play out in real life. “So for me that was a really hands-on experience,” she says. Mindy gained additional first-hand knowledge in valuation through another internship, at the Economics and Valuation Services department of KPMG, one of the big four accounting firms.

Meeting a role model

One of her favorite experiences at USC was traveling to Omaha with a group of Marshall students to visit Warren Buffet, who she says has been her role model growing up. “We got to ask him many questions about investing and life,” she says.

“In addition to broadening my investing knowledge, the experience helped shape my philosophy on life,” she adds. “Warren Buffett is one of the wealthiest people on earth, but he devotes most of his wealth to charity. Although I am just starting out my career, I also aspire to volunteer my time and contribute my skills to make a difference in the community outside of work.”