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Creating Her Own Brand

At Marshall, Kate Donenfeld ’22 learned the benefits of a competitive advantage early on and earned a place among Poets & Quants’ top 100 undergrads
Kate Donenfeld
Kate Donenfeld '22

As a freshman in USC Marshall’s Global Leadership Program (GLP), open to the top 10% of the incoming class, Kate Donenfeld ’22 learned some of the essentials that set the stage for her entire Marshall experience—how to conduct herself professionally, how to speak up in meetings and how to create her own personal brand.

“I need a competitive advantage to stand out in the job search, day-to-day work and even simply as a friend,” Donenfeld said.

A stand-out scholar who started USC with a Trustee Merit Scholarship, she declared a double major in business and applied and computational mathematics at the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. A competitive dancer with an unstoppable passion for “dancing in the rain, literally and figuratively,” Donenfeld added a dance minor with the Kaufman School of Dance, and has been studying and teaching ballet all four years. 

A true “people person” with seemingly perpetual energy, Donenfeld made relationships, mentorship, engagement and leadership priorities. She became president of the Marshall Business Student Government and VP of the Value Investing Group as a sophomore. A mentee and mentor with the Trojan Investing Society, she is also a mentor and teaching assistant with the GLP. Her mentors through the Career Advantage Program also made a big impact.

“I would love to come back and be a mentor for other USC students,” she said. “I think having a mentee just shows the progression that I’ve made because if I’m able to help someone younger than me, then it would be very gratifying.”

Her fellow students were one of the biggest highlights of her Marshall experience. “Marshall really brings like-minded students together and allows us to find people that we can really connect with and share passions, motivations and lifelong goals, and push each other along toward our dreams.”

Up until a few weeks ago, her proudest accomplishment was the two-semester project for her Honors Research Seminar that resulted in a 20-page paper on the connection between executive compensation packages and financial misstatements. “Digging deep into information online and doing my own research through data was very challenging,” she said, “and having completed that paper was very gratifying.”

Then, Donenfeld learned that she had made Poets & Quants’ list of the 100 Best and Brightest Undergraduates. “That was a big achievement as well, though I think of it as recognition for all my work.”

After graduation, the Los Angeles native will relocate to New York for a role in investment banking with the M&A group at Credit Suisse. “I’ll be continuing on from my internship, with the same people and the same type of work, and I look forward to going back.”

Long term, she wants to stay in finance, perhaps moving toward the buyer side. “My role as an ambassador with the Women’s Association of Venture and Equity has had a big influence on my desire to do something in private equity,” she said.

But first, she has some summer plans. “I’m going to Thailand with the GLP class. So we’re currently in the process of planning that. As TAs, we have the responsibility of making the activities, and that is very exciting,” she said. “After that, I’ll pack my stuff up, move across the country and then hop back abroad for a little celebratory trip to Europe.”