University of Southern California

Bringing Together Students and Executives
YPO/WPO Legacy @ Universities Connects Business Leaders with the USC Community
October 2, 2009 • by Melanie Ciolek

YPO/WPO Legacy @ Universities, a student-run organization that aims to connect business leaders with the USC community, held its first event of the semester, an evening with Scott Kolbrenner, managing director at investment bank Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin, on September 14. In a conversation guided by USC Marshall School Professor Michael Keane, Kolbrenner gave approximately 25 students a candid overview of his somewhat indirect career path to investment banking.

Kolbrenner offered anecdotes and lessons from his diverse experiences, which include a law degree from Harvard University, but emphasized that he believes the key to success in most any field is being able to communicate “what distinguishes you from everyone else out there.” Noting that investment banking often requires spending hundreds of hours on a regular basis with work colleagues, Kolbrenner stressed the importance of getting a good sense of the people who work at a company and noting how they behave toward those around them.

The University of Southern California is home to the first-ever chapter of the organization. USC student Daniel Altmann founded YPO/WPO Legacy @ Universities in 2008 in conjunction with YPO/WPO Legacy Networks and Dean Ellis of The Marshall School of Business. Now a senior, Altmann is helping bring his vision of YPO/WPO Legacy @ Universities to institutions across the country while strengthening the connections of YPO here in southern California.

Entering its second year, YPO/WPO Legacy @ Universities is expanding as well as varying the activities it will offer. Altmann plans to offer more frequent events open to smaller groups of USC students. Outside of USC, Altmann is also helping YPO/WPO Legacy @ Universities to become active at the University of Pennsylvania, along with establishing a growing presence at Stanford University and the University of Chicago.

In 2007, YPO merged with the organization founded for YPO graduates, The World Presidents Organization (WPO). The global reach and impact of YPO/WPO globally is significant. It is the single largest global network of leaders in the world. YPO/WPO has 20,000 members in more than 100 countries. They manage companies that together employ more than 4 million people and generate combined annual revenues of more than $3 trillion. Membership in YPO is by invitation only. To be considered, a person must become the leader of a significant company before reaching 45.

YPO/WPO Legacy @ Universities aims to provide exclusive opportunities for students to learn from these individuals as well as offering YPO members the chance to advance their educational and charitable causes. "There's just so much that YPO can give to USC and so much that USC can give to YPO that it's a perfect marriage," says Altmann.

While looking to use the organization to connect students to leaders from a wide range of communities, Altmann also wants to structure these interactions in a more intimate setting rather than in forums intended for large groups, allowing for students to have a chance to really engage with YPO members. With the assistance of group advisor Dean Ellis and other faculty members, Altmann hopes to continue to provide opportunities for students to receive career advice and get to know professors outside the classroom setting.

Upcoming YPO @ University events planned for this semester will include interactions with executives at Warner Brothers and Disney, among others.

If you would like more information about YPO/WPO Legacy @ Universities, please contact Daniel Altmann at

About the USC Marshall School of Business
Consistently ranked among the nation's premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world's leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 5,700-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. With an alumni community spanning 123 countries, USC Marshall students join a worldwide community of thought leaders who are redefining the way business works.