The Global Scholar

USC Marshall WBB student Richard Huang wins prestigious Schwarzman Scholarship

December 13, 2019

Richard (Songzhi) Huang (WBB ’20) got the email at 2 a.m. as he was slogging his way through the financial modeling portion of a case competition. He was tired and on deadline, but the news that he had been chosen as one of a select group of Schwarzman Scholars buoyed him so much he finished up and allowed himself to go home for a few hours of sleep.

That’s when the gravity of his accomplishment truly hit him. And the congratulations began to flow in.

As a member of the incoming fifth cohort of Schwarzman Scholars, Huang is one of only 145 students chosen from more than 4,700 applicants around the world. Huang is one of three students chosen from USC, and the only Marshall student, where he is in his fourth and final year of the World Bachelor in Business program (WBB), a unique undergraduate program in which students study business at three universities on three continents.

Huang will spend his next year studying for a master’s degree in global affairs at China’s Tsinghua University on a full scholarship.

“Tsinghua is the top university in China,” he says. “And it’s the opportunity to study cross-cultural, multi-disciplinary topics with a diverse group of like-minded scholars that excites me.”

Created and funded by Stephen Schwarzman, the co-founder, chairman and CEO of Blackstone, the Schwarzman Scholars program was inspired by the Rhodes Scholarship, and is designed to prepare future global leaders to meet the geopolitical challenges of the 21st century. It convenes the best young minds from across disciplines to explore and understand the economic, political and cultural factors that have contributed to China’s increasing importance as a global power.

“The WBB was a window into my interests and abilities. The Schwarzman Scholarship is more like a gate; a deep dive into China. I am very grateful to have been selected.”—Richard (Songzhi) Huang (WBB '20)

Scholars chosen for this highly selective program have demonstrated exemplary leadership qualities and the potential to bridge and understand cultural and political differences.

Marshall on the Case

Huang knew the competition would be fierce, and in fact says he didn’t expect to even land the interview. When he did, however, he had to carve time from his already busy schedule to prepare. The interview process was long and harrowing, but he credited Marshall and WBB for giving him the tools to nail it.

“The education at Marshall built a solid foundation for me to realize my career path, and the training I’ve received through participating in case competitions in the WBB helped me stay calm and perform under incredible pressure,” he says.

At Home in the World

Even before he heard about the World Bachelor of Business program, which sends admitted students to business schools on three continents, Huang had envisioned his future as a global citizen. “I felt this program would put me in the company of other globally-minded, inter-disciplinary students,” he says. “I never intended to be a business student, but the WBB isn’t just a business program—we learn how to apply business to anything we do in a multi-cultural context.”

The first year at USC involved a good amount of culture shock. “Universities in China don’t have a lot of campus life or school pride,” he said. Game day and tailgates were all completely new to him. Fun—but different from anything he’d known.

But as a freshman he discovered case competitions. Digesting and making sense of new information suited him, and he would go on to win many such competitions over the next four years.

WBB students complete their second year at the Hong Kong University for Technology and Science. No culture shock, but still a lot of opportunities to push himself out of his comfort zone. “HKUST is where I grew myself professionally on a clear career trajectory.”

His third year at Bocconi University, in Milan, was the first time he’d ever been to Europe—another eye-opener for him. He traveled to many countries in Europe and Africa with his fellow WBB classmates. He chose to return to USC for his fourth and final year, and already has a job offer at a prestigious consulting firm—but he’ll have to defer for a year first.

Having lived in and travelled to many cities around the world, Huang is particularly interested in studying sustainable infrastructure for cities and companies, using business as a lens.

“The WBB was a window into my interests and abilities,” he says. “The Schwarzman Scholarship is more like a gate; a deep dive into China. I am very grateful to have been selected.”