Dean Geoffrey Garrett
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Teaching + Innovation
Experiential Learning Center
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BS Business Administration (BUAD)
BS Accounting (ACCT)
World Bachelor in Business (WBB)
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Full-Time MBA (FTMBA)
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Online MBA (OMBA)
MS Business Administration (MSBUSAD)
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MS Global Supply Chain Management (MSGSCM)
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Master of Business for Veterans (MBV)
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Master of Accounting (MAcc)
Master of Business Taxation (MBT)
Master of Business Taxation for Working Professionals (MBT.WP)
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GC in Business Analytics
GC in Financial Analysis + Valuation
GC in Management Studies
GC in Marketing
GC in Optimization + Supply Chain Management
GC in Strategy + Management Consulting
GC in Sustainability + Business
GC in Technology Commercialization
GC in Library and Information Management – Online
Executive Education Redirect
Business Communication (BUCO)
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Finance + Business Economics (FBE)
Leventhal School of Accounting (ACCT)
Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies (BAEP)
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Peter Arkley Institute for Risk Management
Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab
Center for Investment Studies
Initiative on Digital Competition
Randall R. Kendrick Global Supply Chain Institute
Center for Effective Organizations
Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies
VanEck Digital Assets Initiative
Institute for Outlier Research in Business
Center for Global Innovation
Neely Center for Ethical Leadership and Decision Making
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Alumni Engagement + Resources
Michael Paranal Inspires at Spring Convocation
The Leventhal professor welcomed new Trojans with an inspiring story about confronting the discomfort of doubt.
Mike Paranal, Assistant Professor of Clinical Accounting at the Leventhal School.
Looking at his CV, you wouldn’t think Professor MIKE PARANAL could ever feel like an imposter.
He’s got a graduate degree in business taxation from USC Leventhal and a JD/MBA from the University of Pennsylvania and its Wharton School of Business. He has a post-graduate diploma in law from Oxford. He’s been an international attorney and winner of prestigious fellowships. He is currently the director of the Tax Transaction Advisory Group for the U.S. operations of Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW), even as he teaches accounting classes as an assistant professor of clinical accounting at the Leventhal School.
He also created and oversees the GEMS (Guiding Exceptional Minds) program through Leventhal, a select professional development program.
And yet, as he explained to new students at spring convocation, he recently experienced “imposter syndrome,” where he found himself in a situation where he doubted himself despite his credentials. Paranal’s inspirational speech to students urged them to acknowledge the self-doubt they might feel at times and accept it as the path towards growth.
“I wanted to convey to students that it’s OK to feel uncomfortable,” he said. “You do not get the reward of growth without the risk and that risk requires you to embrace the doubt.”
Paranal told a story about being asked to consult for SpaceX. “They were excited to be working with a professor from USC,” he told students. But then someone posed a question and looked to him for an answer — he felt like he was out of his league.
"When you realize that you gain so much more than you lose when you make mistakes, you liberate yourself. Because if you're not making mistakes, than ask yourself — are you really trying or pushing yourself enough to know the limits of your own potential?"
— Mike Paranal
Assistant Professor of Clinical Accounting
“They said, ‘Professor, what is the answer?’ And guess what? I didn’t have any!” he said. “In fact, I didn’t even understand the question because the terms were so uniquely technical and scientific, especially for someone like me whose background is in law and finance. As I walked out of that meeting and back to my desk, I asked myself, what am I doing here?”
In the speech he describes how he briefly mused about leaving the project behind and spending the summer in Hawaii instead. But he quickly rejected that notion. “Because I’m a Trojan. And we keep showing up, working hard, and fighting on. It’s in our DNA.” Within three months, he said, his team had the answer SpaceX was looking for.
He urged students to lean into their discomfort as they began their USC classes. “And we will celebrate your growth when we meet again in four years at graduation.”
"It is in your decision to endure and to show up day in and day out in the face of doubt, that will be the best decision you ever make. Because it is in our DNA as Trojans to always keep fighting on!"
Quoted: Kristen Jaconi in The Wall Street Journal
JACONI, associate professor of the practice of accounting, adds perspective in a piece evaluating the roles and responsibilities of risk management in the wake of recent banking failures.
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