Tommy Talks

Marshall researchers offer expert insight into how business is coping with the pandemic.

May 06, 2020

When COVID-19 handed the world a lemon, USC Marshall made lemonade. For the school of business, this has meant introducing webinars for small businesses and Tommy Talks, a new USC Marshall research video series dedicated to providing insight into the pandemic and its fallout.

For the series, scholars on faculty have been recording presentations of their research and its relevance to understanding the impact of the virus on employment, testing, and the economy, as well as ethics, best business practice and decision-making, to name a few of the Talks already online. Each week a new video is posted, and a sign-up sheet for notification of the latest recording is available on the webpage.

“This is our academic version of making PPE at home to donate to frontline medical workers,” said Tom Chang, associate professor of finance and business economics, and a key player in launching the series.

Tereza Alexandre, assistant dean for research initiatives, also has been instrumental to the creation of Tommy Talks. She had been developing the idea for research videos for nearly a year when the virus came along. “Sometimes,” she said, “an emergency is just what it takes to propel a good idea forward. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, we fast-tracked our plan.”

“This is our academic version of making PPE at home to donate to frontline medical workers."— Tom Chang, associate professor of finance and business economics

Support for the Talks has been widespread. After an initial email to the faculty, an organizational meeting included the communications office, IT services, online learning, Marshall leadership and faculty members. “There was a willingness from all the groups to make this happen,” Alexandre said. “Talks have come from every department in Marshall. It’s been a great opportunity to display some of our research to a broader audience”

COVID-19 and its effects on business and the economy is the current focus, but in the future, the video subject matter will broaden. “We will keep Tommy Talks going,” she said. “We have so much more to show of Marshall’s faculty research.” 

An early challenge was how to create videos without the use of Marshall’s production studio, heavily used in creating its online curriculum. Members of the online team stepped up to help. 

“The faculty have been wonderful,” Alexandre said. “Many don’t have experience with making a video of themselves and their work on a phone. There’s no studio. How do you make it look polished?”

She said in addition to the expertise of the people at IT services and online learning, Tom Chang has been pivotal to the process. He has not only provided guidance but helped keep everyone on a schedule. Now that the initiative has been going for several weeks, the challenges have leveled out.

“At this point,” Alexandre said, “we are encouraging all faculty to send ideas. Tommy Talks provide a great opportunity to provide insight during the pandemic as well as to showcase Marshall’s outstanding scholars.”