University of Southern California

Bianca Cornelio
Creating Community
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Graduating Year
Undergrad Institution
William and Mary
Vienna, Virginia

After working for one of the world’s largest companies, IBM, Bianca Cornelio wanted a small, more personalized environment for her MBA degree.

“I wanted my professors to know me, and I wanted to know all of my classmates,” she says. “At USC Marshall, I immediately felt a sense of community and family. And I knew I was going to get the academic rigor of a top 25 school.”

A uniquely global perspective

Bianca had already lived, studied or traveled on five continents before arriving at USC. Her Marshall MBA broadened her global experience even further with a trip to Hong Kong and China through the Pacific Rim Education (PRIME) program.

“I don’t even know where to start, it was just so amazing,” she says of the PRIME experience. “We visited a variety of companies—from technology to manufacturing to food products. PRIME is the only required global exposure program I’ve heard of at any of the top 25 MBA programs in the U.S. It’s also unique because USC has such a strong relationship with the Pacific Rim.”

Unleashing creativity

Her favorite class at USC Marshall was Fostering Creativity in Business taught by Professor Joe Priester. “It uses techniques such as yoga and meditation to unleash your inner creativity, helping to expand your business mindset and develop ideas that are completely out of the box,” she explains.

“It makes you think in a different way, which I really needed as a very numbers-focused, straight-and-narrow person,” says Bianca, who majored in finance at William and Mary.

Another course she particularly enjoyed was Market Demand and Sales Forecasting, taught by Professor Sivaramakrishnan Siddarth. “He’s just a wonderful professor and the class was truly valuable in balancing the technical data [behind consumer behavior] with the creativity of marketing.”

Finding an unexpected career path

Originally Bianca planned on pursuing an MBA concentration in finance, but switched to marketing—and specifically brand management—after hearing an on-campus presentation by her future employer, Nestlé.

“Brand management requires true cross-functional expertise,” she says. “You have to be able to do finance, marketing, sales, understand manufacturing…that’s when I really got interested.”

She interned for Nestlé in summer 2009 and joined the company full time in August 2010 as an associate brand manager.

Preparing for the future

“From giving me access to the Trojan network and the marketing faculty to the classes that provided such a good overview of all aspects of marketing, USC has prepared me really well for Nestlé and my future career,” says Bianca.

In turn, she has played a role in helping USC Marshall prepare for its own future. Among her many student and volunteer activities, Bianca served on the Marshall Student Executive Committee as chief academic officer. Through that role, she worked with students, faculty and staff to develop initiatives to help fellow students succeed academically.

“I felt like I was helping people and giving back,” she says.

She also participated in planning for an innovative restructuring of the full-time MBA core curriculum unveiled for fall 2010. Students now start a month earlier and complete all their core curriculum by the end of the first semester, providing more flexibility for electives in the rest of their time in the program, as well as better early preparation for internships.

“It’s going to put USC Marshall in a different position than its competitors,” she says.