University of Southern California

Rajesh Mahajan
Title
Developing a Career Strategy
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Graduating Year
2011
Undergrad Institution
Boston University
Hometown
Palos Verdes, California

Around the world and back

Southern California native Rajesh Mahajan had worked in New York and London—and traveled to some 25 countries throughout Asia and Europe—before returning home to Los Angeles for the USC Marshall MBA program. “I saw a lot of different cultures, different economies, different worlds,” he says.

Despite such global experiences, he says the USC Marshall Pacific Rim Education (PRIME) program—a requirement of the full-time MBA degree—took his international immersion to a new level. He and his teammates traveled to Moscow, where they worked with a major mobile telecommunications provider. “You get to see a particular company, meet with its executives and understand their hurdles,” he explains. “It’s just a different exposure, regardless of what you’ve seen in your past.”

Leveraging the past to build a future

Even back in high school, Rajesh knew a career in the business world would be in his future. “I knew from day one I was going to major in finance,” he recalls. After earning his undergraduate degree and working for seven years in investment banking and private equity for major international institutions, however, he felt increasingly drawn to the strategic side of business. Pursuing an MBA seemed the next logical step, and his choice of business school was simple, he says.

“When you come to USC Marshall, you recognize how close-knit everyone is,” he says. “That kind of collaboration and that cohesiveness—it’s just something you see when you walk in. You can just feel it. I visited a bunch of other schools and nothing compared.”

Taking the lead

As for the curriculum, Rajesh particularly enjoyed Marshall’s leadership courses, such as Morgan McCall’s Leadership and Executive Development class. He calls Professor McCall “fantastic” at clarifying the concepts of leadership, putting them in context and making them relatable to students.

Another favorite professor was Carl Voigt, for whom Rajesh also served as a teaching assistant. Rajesh cites Strategic Choice and Valuation Analysis as particularly illuminating, especially regarding aspects beyond economics—from potential regulatory issues to competitors’ reactions.

“All Marshall professors are accessible,” adds Rajesh. “If you have questions or want to dive into something a little further, they make themselves available.”

Rajesh also benefited from a class through the Institute for Communication Technology Management (CTM), one of Marshall’s industry-supported Centers of Excellence. The CTM focuses on the convergence of technology and media, so its coursework was ideal for Rajesh, who someday wants to run his own media technology company.

Giving back

The camaraderie Rajesh felt at USC Marshall extends to fellow students—present and future—as well as those in the greater community who are in need. Along with four or five classmates, he put his global experience to use in a special project for the dean to explore ways to further strengthen the school’s international exchange program for all Marshall students. As chief career development officer, Rajesh helped restructure the career center’s peer-to-peer relationship component to align Marshall’s numerous clubs with career-building resources among fellow students.

One of his most memorable activities was volunteering with Marshall’s Challenge 4 Charity program. “It’s easy to get focused on school work,” he says, “but then you have to think about how you give back as well. About 90 percent of Marshall MBA students volunteer.”