University of Southern California

USC Marshall Announces Major Curriculum Revisions
Enhanced Academic Flexibility Beyond Traditional Business Arena
March 23, 2010 • by News at Marshall

USC Marshall MBA students were recently given a valuable opportunity to display their industry insights to a major Hollywood film and television studio when the Marshall MBA program's student-run Business of Entertainment Association (BEA) teamed up with Fox Group's Internship and Outreach Program to host the Twentieth Century Fox MBA Case Competition.

More than 40 students from Marshall competed in the entertainment business innovation challenge, which took place on March 4 at the Fox Studios in Los Angeles. The BEA leadership board and Fox Group Recruitment designed the challenge as a way to increase engagement among students, the entertainment company’s HR team and hiring managers.

"From a talent recruitment standpoint, this case competition enabled my team to assess the students' behavior in a high-pressure, professional setting," said Aimee Hoffman, Fox Group intern recruiter. "Plus, the competition was an efficient and effective way of getting to know the school's best candidates for our spring and summer internship opportunities." Hoffman and her recruitment team served as the primary sponsor and host of the competition.

USC Marshall MBA career services associate director Niti Shah added: "We organize several case competitions throughout the year, but this was the first competition solely dedicated to USC Marshall MBA students at Twentieth Century Fox. It’s a unique way for our students to showcase their talent and gain opportunities to meaningfully interface with recruiters, as well as our large pool of USC alumni who currently work for the Fox Group."

Currently, there are 235 USC alumni who work at the Fox Group; 66 of whom attended the USC Marshall School of Business.

MBA teams were asked to present a business plan designed to revitalize/re-launch one (or more) of 20th Century Fox’s properties with the intention of creating additional revenue for the studio. The teams were given access to a database of 1500+ titles in the Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment Library.

Four finalist teams presented to a judging panel of senior-level Fox Group executives, including Aubrey Freeborn, senior vice president of marketing and product management for VOD/EST at Twentieth Century Fox; Jill Gwen, senior vice president of finance and operations at Fox Searchlight Pictures; August Martin, vice president of marketing at Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment; and Julie Uhrman, vice president and general manager of digital distribution at IGN Entertainment.

Two USC Marshall MBA alumni Cameron Dillavou ('01), executive director of international marketing at Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment and Sean Haran (’08), senior manager of finance at Twentieth Century Fox, joined Niti Shah, USC Marshall MBA career services associate director, to serve as judges for the initial round. Shah advised the BEA leadership board on the competition and sponsored an alumni reception and networking mixer following the competition.

Current USC Marshall MBA students Justin Rutsky, Matthew Hard, Christian Newth and John Taylor (all MBA '11) delivered the winning presentation and took home gift bags packed full of rare memorabilia from Fox Group properties such as Twentieth Century Fox's Avatar; Fox Searchlight Pictures’ Juno; and Fox Broadcasting Company's The Simpsons.

"In a time of seismic changes in the media and entertainment business, we welcomed the idea of hosting a competition that challenged students to apply both their business acumen and creative instincts to develop revenue-generating opportunities for our vast library of film, television and video game properties," said Martin, a 1999 USC Marshall alum. Martin was involved in the competition’s development and as a judge.

BEA President Chris Noriega (MBA '10), co-chaired the competition with Fred Wu (MBA '10), BEA's vice president of marketing, who also initiated the competition.

"We scrutinized each presentation for creative vision, financial feasibility and thoughtful execution," said Gwen. "In this ultra-competitive business, it's important to not only talk the talk but also walk the walk. I was very impressed with the level of research and insights on market and consumer trends, which were then applied to an entertainment property from our library and presented as new multiplatform business prospects for our studio."

About USC Marshall's Business of Entertainment Association
The Business of Entertainment Association (BEA) was formed in 1991 with the mission to provide USC Marshall MBA students access to the top job opportunities and exposure to high-level business professionals in the media and entertainment industries. A student-run organization, the BEA organizes regular events such as industry networking mixers, career coaching, case competitions and BEA's annual landmark event, the Evolution of Entertainment (E2) conference. For more information, please visit:,

About the USC Marshall Keenan Career Resource Center
The USC Marshall Keenan Career Resource Center offers a program of career services targeted specifically to all USC Marshall and Leventhal Alumni, at the undergraduate and graduate level. The program focuses on strengthening Alumni awareness of the USC Marshall commitment to providing a lifetime of career services, while promoting and delivering a comprehensive array of career management services to USC Marshall Alumni worldwide. To find out more, please visit:

The USC Marshall School of Business announces major revisions in its undergraduate curriculum, designed to prepare future leaders by providing an even broader academic experience.

The New Marshall curriculum enhances academic flexibility while still maintaining the rigorous core business program that is a hallmark of USC Marshall. Building on a strong foundation in business fundamentals, students will round out and enhance their program by participating in international experiential learning opportunities, choosing an area of in-depth business study, and pursuing study in an area outside business.

"Leaders of tomorrow need a mindset that allows them to effortlessly cross boundaries, whether those borders are international, cultural or disciplinary," said Marshall Dean James G. Ellis. "Our new curriculum nurtures the global mindset by providing business students with meaningful cross-cultural experiences -- whether across campus or around the world."

Marshall is ranked 10th overall for its undergraduate programs and in the top 25 for its MBA programs by U.S. News & World Report. Marshall has long focused on experiential, international and entrepreneurial learning. The new curriculum introduces even more flexibility to these already highly successful programs.

The idea of the global mindset is to foster within students the ability to work and communicate across geographic and intellectual boundaries. Marshall is a leader in providing global opportunities across a range of disciplines and interests. Its Global Leadership and Learning About International Commerce programs were the first of their kind available to freshman students, and USC is home to more international students than any other American university.

A task force of 30 faculty and staff, led by John Matsusaka, Vice Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs, spent the last year evaluating the existing curriculum in the context of the constantly evolving global economy. The resulting significant curriculum changes focus on developing students' capacity to perform highly in disparate business settings.

"Through the flexibility of this new curriculum, Marshall students will be encouraged to participate academically in all that is offered at a great research university like USC, while still gaining a world-class business education," Matsusaka said. "The 'breadth with depth' philosophy that is so much a part of the USC experience will be strengthened at USC Marshall."

About 17 percent of Marshall undergraduates currently pursue a minor. The new curriculum is designed to support and encourage all Marshall students to do so.

Highlights of the new curriculum include:

  • Sixty percent more elective units – This significant increase in electives allows students to easily pursue minors outside the business school. With this change the Marshall School increases its commitment to USC's goal of imparting breadth with depth to each of its students. Breadth with depth involves in-depth knowledge in two or more disparate fields. Marshall students can now create highly personalized, multidisciplinary programs of study.
  • More flexible choice of business electives – Students will have more flexibility in choosing upper division business electives to meet their educational objectives. Upper division electives can be focused in a specific business discipline, as in the current curriculum, or spread across disciplines. This will allow, for example, a student to create a program that includes Introduction to Venture Capital together with Negotiation and Persuasion, or New Product Development and Branding together with Business Forecasting .
  • Better integrated business fundamentals – Foundational courses that provide analytical skills and theoretical knowledge in math, statistics, accounting and economics have been updated to provide a more efficient delivery of key material.
  • New integrative class focused on data analysis for decision making – A new senior-level course focusing on how to collect, analyze, and interpret data to inform business decisions has been added to the core curriculum. This is an applied, integrative class with case analyses spanning the functional business disciplines.
  • Enhanced opportunities for international studies – Marshall is a leader in providing students with opportunities for international studies in business, having developed programs like Learning About International Commerce (LINC) and the Global Leadership Program (GLP). These Freshman-year programs combine classroom study with experiential learning in the form of week-long trips to meet executives and learn about businesses in cities such as Beijing, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Santiago, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, and Taipei. Marshall also offers extensive Junior-year opportunities for international studies. The new curriculum will offer additional electives and Sophomore-year travel opportunities to round out and build on the first- and third-year international studies programs already in place.

The new curriculum will take effect for students who enter USC in the fall; current Marshall students can continue to pursue their original curriculum and degree requirements.

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.