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Taking Another Leap in Technology

USC Marshall School of Business graduate Fiona Torrance hit an academic trifecta this spring.

Photo/Allison Engel

To make a mark in the corporate world, most business students at least need to graduate and get hired by a firm. But Fiona Torrance, a newly minted USC Marshall School of Business graduate, became well known in the corporate blogosphere as an undergrad.

Originally from South Africa, Torrance hit an academic trifecta this spring.

First, she won the USC Undergraduate Writing Competition for a professional paper, which led to an internship at iMedia. Second, her blog � which covers corporate blogging � won first prize at the USC Webfest competition. Third, her independent research on academic and corporate blogs garnered an honorable mention from the USC Symposium.

Torrance began her work on corporate blogging by following her interest in the organizational change that follows leaps in technology. In January, she signed on to do an independent study under Sandra J. Chrystal, who teaches in the Center for Management Communication at USC Marshall.

By happenstance, Torrance had clicked on the MySpace site for the first time the very weekend Chrystal had returned from a conference that included a discussion of corporate blogging. Using the MySpace model, “I suddenly could see the potential of corporate blogs as a legitimate business communication tool,” she said.

She set up her Biz Blog Review at http://bizblogreview.blogspot.com and started using it as a platform to generate discussion among students, faculty, corporate executive bloggers and other business professionals.

Torrance knew next to nothing about creating a blog when she dove into the field. Using the time-honored trial and error method, she taught herself. Her results were professional enough that her blog was favorably mentioned in March by Bob Sutor a top corporate blogger and IBM’s vice president of standards and open source. (As proof of her fledgling blog status, it took Torrance a month to discover the compliment.)

Her primary interest is reviewing corporate blogs and how they can help teach students about business. “The executives offer their knowledge, experience, thoughts and reflections on business or organizational culture that I � through my blog � can share with students and others,” said Torrance, who calls this mentoring process “critical thinking in action.”

Chrystal, her independent study adviser, said that Torrance’s “intellectual curiosity, superior research and writing skills and amazing enthusiasm” have made her a standout student.

Torrance would like to continue with her research � and her blog � and is applying to the master’s program in communication management at the the USC Annenberg School for Communication, where she would like to study online communities. She also may go directly into a Ph.D. program on information systems since she’s already had one request from a Ph.D. student for her research.

And how does she plan to spend her summer vacation?

“Writing thoughtful posts to my blog and generating discussion on those posts or the posts of others.”

Taking Another Leap in Technology

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