University of Southern California

My Life On A Line
August 6, 2010 • by Tim O'Shea

Dear Friends of Marshall:

By 2002 I had spent 15 very successful years in telecoms and IT departments within several large global corporations. I had a comfortable technical marketing director's job in Atlanta. Then the IT internet bubble burst, and along with it went my job!

I had to reinvent myself. My wife and I took a year of what I called “constructive deconstruction” – a period of self-assessment and regrouping where nothing was taken for granted. About a year into this experience, we visited her family in Orange County and found it very much to our liking. We decided to roll the dice, sell everything, and head West. Thus began a journey of adventure and growth which continues today. And at the very heart of it stands USC Marshall.

Shortly after we settled in Irvine, I realized I needed to take my credentials to a new level. An MBA seemed the next logical step. One MBA program clearly stood head and shoulders above the rest: USC Marshall's Global Executive MBA program (GEMBA). GEMBA is an accelerated 21-month program conducted with ten sessions at Shanghai Jiaotong University, two sessions at USC's Los Angeles campus, and one session in another country in Asia. GEMBA features the same top-ranked faculty that makes Marshall one of America's finest schools. And by attending class in five-day modules over weekends, it gave me unmatched flexibility. I was in.

A centerpiece of GEMBA is a consulting project in which you find a company, camp out with them, do analysis, and then make recommendations you hope are valuable and will lead to actionable steps. I called up an old friend who runs a retirement planning company to ask if I could do my consulting project with them. I observed his company and noted their concern about big payroll companies becoming active in retirement planning. My recommendation was for the company to become competitive in the payroll market. The owners liked my idea – liked it so much that we ended up being partners in an innovative, web-based payroll start-up: Paybridge. That company turned a profit at the end of last year.

Now I can trace a very direct line in my life from a bubble bursting in 2002, to a new horizon with my own company. And that line runs right through USC Marshall. It made me what I am today. I believe it's impossible to encounter USC and Marshall without being changed and improved, and with that comes an obligation to give back. I hope you'll join me in supporting our great University and its crown jewel, Marshall – the B-school that I call my life line.

Fight On!

Tim O'Shea