When he began the MS Food Industry Leadership program in 2019, Jiashu Du was the youngest member of the first cohort. With a background in Food Science, Jiashu had first looked into pursuing a traditional MBA but quickly realized the more specialized Master’s in Food Industry Leadership was more in line with where he wanted to be.
Jiashu wasted no time and jumped in to work with other Cohort 1 students, including Mike Stigers, CEO of Cub Foods/UNFI, and Lori Brown, VP of Post Consumer Brands, both of whom appreciated his enthusiasm and willingness to work long hours to achieve his goals.
In fact, it was while working on their Capstone project for the MS Food Industry Leadership program that Jiashu was inspired by a business review article that Lori shared regarding CloudKitchens, a “ghost kitchen” for restaurants who want to expand their business. With the support of his teammates, Jiashu applied for a job there; and, within weeks, he was offered a position as a member of the growth team for the start-up company.
Jiashu credits his Master’s in Food Industry Leadership with getting him the job and helping him to succeed. “It’s a very tech-driven company. I might not be as valuable without a master’s degree in business. I can provide a lot of strategic advice right now that I could not without my education at USC Marshall. Also, just the enormous amount of research we did as graduate students really helped me to thrive in the virtual food industry.”
When asked what the most impactful thing about the program was, Jiashu doesn’t hesitate to respond: “The people. The students, the USC professors, the supportive staff. Whenever I have questions, I reached out to the professors. They were always available. If we sent out an email, even late at night, they all responded right away.”
Jiashu still keeps in touch with the other cohort members and even calls on them to help him problem solve when faced with a complicated issue. He also attends other USC alumni events. “The other day, I attended an event on how to negotiate better at work. I wish I had listened to that earlier,” he says with a smile.
A lifelong learner, Jiashu hopes to continue his education in business operations and technology. “I think my eventual goal is to get my PhD someday and to be able to transfer the knowledge to the next generation.”
Now living and working in Downtown LA, Jiashu reflects on his time in the MS Food Industry Leadership program: “I think my purpose has changed through the program. Before I was focused more on self-development—how can I get promoted, how can I get more pay—and after the program my purpose shifted to how can I help other minorities who share different intersectionalities. People of color, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+…How can we support these people. I am making this my lifetime goal. We still have a long way to go to eliminate systemic racism and inequality in the U.S. workplace.”