University of Southern California

Marshall's MBA Class of 2013
Entrepreneurial. Diverse. Committed to Having an Impact on the World
August 31, 2011 • by

One glance at the USC Marshall School of Business incoming MBA 2013 class, and it becomes clear there is no such thing as a typical student.

Today's Marshall MBA candidates are entrepreneurial in spirit and have ambitious and far-reaching goals. Below are four profiles of the distinctive individuals who make up the Class of 2013:

From China to Dubai to Marshall
spacer For Serena Lei, coming to Marshall was a natural next step in her desire to master the art of global business.

Lei, a native of China, spent six years marketing Chinese companies in the Middle East before deciding to come to the United States to pursue her MBA.

Lei said she wants to not only experience American culture, but also expand her entrepreneurial and business acumen.

"There are so many opportunities at Marshall for me to learn and then be able to bring American innovative products, services and technologies to China," she said.

Lei, 32, plans on continuing to do business for Chinese companies in Dubai, where she spent the majority of her time in the Middle East, and also the United States after she graduates.

While at Marshall, she hopes not only to learn from faculty, her fellow students and alumnae, but to be of service and inspiration as well.

"Dubai is a very good platform for young people to experience a global environment. There are people from more than 60 countries working there, and I'd like to introduce it as a platform for them to get a global perspective," she said.

One dream ends, another career begins
spacer What do you do when the goal you've been dreaming and working diligently to achieve since you were 4-years-old comes to an abrupt end? That's the difficult position Michael Davern found himself in after a career-ending injury sidelined him after being drafted to pitch for the Chicago White Sox.

"Your whole life's aspirations are put toward one dream and then it doesn't happen. I was left wondering what do I do now?" said Davern.

Davern, 29, ended up calling up his sponsorship contact at Wilson Sporting Goods Co., and taking a sales job. He worked his way up to regional manager of the Pacific Northwest after six years with the company and founded a start-up company aimed at mentoring and advising athletes throughout their professional baseball careers.

He said he decided to apply to business school to "see how the whole wheel operates."

"I need to become more polished in all the areas in which a company operates," said Davern, who graduated from UCLA. "The reason I applied to business school was to go back and have a second chance to learn something and enjoy it."

Entrepreneurial spirit in action
spacer For Zach Weisberg, going to school on the West Coast was a natural choice. Weisberg, 26, is a longtime surfing enthusiast and founder of an online surf publication called The Inertia ( that applies The Huffington Post's model of citizen/celebrity journalism to the global surf community. Aside from the pull of location, Marshall appealed to the Virginia native and Duke graduate because of the passion Marshall students conveyed during Admit events and the unique programming the school offers in the business of creative industries and entertainment.

Weisberg, a former editor for Surfer magazine and contributor to The New York Times, Oprah magazine and Esquire, opted for business over journalism school so that he could have a greater impact on the profession.

"It's so fluid right now. It's looking for leaders and it's looking for solutions and I figure why not try to be a part of the process. It would be nice to be able to influence the direction of the profession," said Weisberg, who will continue to run and contribute to his Web site while at Marshall.


His roommate and fellow MBA 2013 candidate Gregory Moran is equally ambitious – and sleep-deprived. Moran, who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in international relations before working in financial consulting with several New York-based companies, is in the process of launching Zoom, a car-sharing business in India similar to ZipCar in the United States.

Before starting at Marshall, Moran spent seven weeks in India working on the brand he hopes to launch by early spring. He's already met with Gene Miller, director of Marshall's Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies for advice about building his company and network in India.

"There is not a lot of sleeping involved," Moran, 26, said with a laugh. "Even if I'm sleeping three or four hours a night, it's still enjoyable because you wake up every day and you have a lot of energy because of what you're doing and where you are."

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.