University of Southern California

Marshall and Stellar Collaborate on Women's Leadership
Premier Program Will Take Delegation to China
May 11, 2011 • by News at Marshall

Fifteen undergraduate women leaders from the USC Marshall School of Business will travel to China with15 female CEOs, executives and entrepreneurs for the first multi-generational Women's Leadership China Delegation as part of a collaboration with Stellar International Networks.

From May 14-24, students and delegates will visit women-owned businesses, participate in roundtable discussions with industry leaders, collaborate with local nonprofits on fundraising projects, and explore cultural and historical sites of significance. The 10-day trip will take the delegation to Beijing, Lijiang, Hangzhou and Shanghai.

This educational program connects young women with a diverse set of leaders who will mentor them, including an astronaut, a venture capitalist, entertainment executives, and experts in artificial intelligence and software, law and real estate. Simultaneously, this delegation will provide opportunities for mentorship and networking between Marshall students and delegates from the United States with business owners and industry leaders in China to discuss the state of leadership for women, best practices in leadership and global business strategies. In addition, the delegation will visit enterprises that give back to the community and provide role models for future leaders.

"This innovative program truly captures Marshall's commitment to global experiences and knowledge," said Kim D. West, associate dean of undergraduate programs at Marshall. "While we have long taught our students that it is important to understand cultural differences when conducting businesses, this program opens the door to discuss gender in the context of business and will provide insights into the ways women across the world transcend obstacles and break through the glass ceiling."

"My dream is that this will have a huge impact on their lives," said Laurie McDonald Jonsson, founder of Stellar International Networks, whose goal is to link women leaders of the world by providing opportunities to support and enhance women's influence and visibility globally in their respective societies. The delegation represents one of the first programs of its kind in the world, and it will be an experience of a lifetime for these 30 women, Jonsson said.

Jonsson and her daughter, Jenny, a sophomore at USC Marshall who had worked as an intern on previous Stellar Women delegations, came up with the idea for the multi-generational delegation. "The women on the delegation really inspired me," said Jenny. "They came from different backgrounds and found their way to be successful and reach their goals. There aren't enough women out there that are role models for me, so I wanted other girls to have the same opportunity that I did and see what we are capable of."

When the Jonssons proposed the idea for the delegation to USC Marshall Dean James G. Ellis, he thought its mission fit perfectly with the school's emphasis on leadership and global education. An understanding of the global economy, through coursework and international study programs, is a core component of the Marshall undergraduate program. In addition, the inclusion of a fundraising module resonated with Marshall's emphasis on social entrepreneurship and the notion that leaders give back. Equally important, the introductions to this powerful global network of women, would provide helpful contacts for students across the globe to help implement future enterprises—commercial or social.

The student leaders were chosen in a highly selective process that included an application with essay questions, a minimum 3.3 GPA and interviews. West and Jonsson recognized that diversity within the student participants was equally important. West indicated that they did not want to select students who had the same personalities and skill sets. If leadership qualities were not overt--this was the time to cultivate these qualities. A grant from the Lord Foundation will cover the students' expenses, and the program also has a coursework component to be completed before the trip.

Stops on the itinerary include, APCO Worldwide and the Bama Pie Company— all major companies founded and run by women. Participants will also attend a leadership and mentorship event with Chinese women entrepreneurs and students from the Carnegie Tsinghua Center for Global Policy a reception hosted by U.S. Consul General Bea Camp; and a business conference featuring roundtable discussions with the first woman President of the American Chamber of Commerce, television star and businesswoman Yue-Sai Kan and others.

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.