Anthea Xiao ’21 knows all about ROI (return on investment). She considers herself a living example of the concept.
As the recipient of the Scanlan Family Endowed Scholarship, Xiao was asked to speak at the annual Scholarship Luncheon, held virtually on January 29.
“If we think about it, the scholarships we students receive from our donors are actually no different from investments,” she said. “They are allocating their capital to fund our education in the future. Our donors chose to invest in us students, which are people they have never met before, because of the power of the Marshall community.”
Joining the Family
She knew the minute she saw campus that USC was the school for her. “They brought out the marching band and everything! How are you not supposed to love it?”
Still, she admits to thinking the Trojan Family talk was just a good marketing stunt.
She has since learned otherwise. “I know it sounds cliché, but the Trojan Family is real,” she said. “When I’m in the Bay Area in my USC T-shirt, random people would come up to me and say ‘Fight On!’ When I was asking for informational interviews on LinkedIn, the Trojans always said yes.
“I think it’s a virtuous cycle,” she said. “If you got the help, you’re going to give the help back.”
She certainly saw the Trojan Family in action during her time on campus, pre-COVID.
“Although it’s unfortunate that my last semester is remote, looking back, glad I spent most of my college career on campus,” she said. As a freshman she lived in Marks Hall, very close to Fertitta “I would just roll out of bed as a freshman,” she laughed.
Xiao also fondly remembers late night study sessions in Fertitta, booking study rooms with her teammates. But what’s really stuck with her are all the club activities, internships, and connections she’s built outside of the classroom that have enriched her identity.
Instead of joining a sorority she joined a career-affiliated group, Smart Woman Securities. “It’s a national club for women interested in finance, because it’s a male dominated industry,” she said. Started at Harvard, there are chapters across the nation. Stanford, Berkeley and USC are the three business school chapters on the West Coast.
She credits the group with introducing her to finance and wealth management. “We learned to invest early and about compounding. Later, we’d do equity research on stock picks.” Each chapter would create its own investment portfolios and compete with one another. “One year we actually won second place,” she says. “I recommend the group to all students who are interested in investing.”
Xiao is graduating with a double major in business administration and accounting. In addition to serving as a teaching assistant for both Marshall and Leventhal courses, she has been heavily involved in the community, from the USC Chapter of Smart Woman Securities, to working for the Daily Trojan, to acting as director of the Marshall Community Service Day.
Among her most memorable activities was studying under and working as a teaching assistant for Smrity Randhawa, associate professor of clinical accounting. “She can explain a really complex advanced financial accounting matter in a concise manner, and I learned a great deal from her,” she said. “But she is also so supporting and caring. She would call students and even text me when I was having problems with a question. What kind of professor does that?”
She also enjoyed TAing for another accounting professor, Herbert Perlmutter in ACCT 470. “He’s one of the biggest partners at Deloitte, but you’d never know it because he’s so down to earth. He is a role model for the kind of boss I want to be in the future.”
She says she misses interacting with her classmates and her professors since she can’t be on campus, especially now that she’s a senior. But she has used her time productively—learning new languages, taking up running, and even teaching herself how to crochet.
In July, Xiao moves to New York City to launch her career in merchant banking with Goldman Sachs in asset management-under the private equity arm.
“I always knew that I wanted to work in New York,” she said. “I’m passionate about finance, and New York is were you want to be starting out.”
She chose merchant banking because she saw a lot of women in leadership positions in that function, which suggests the possibility of future work/life balance.
“It’s not necessarily where I want to be so much as who I want to be,” she said.
With her graduation soon behind her, Xiao certainly is on her way wherever she wants to go.