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USC Marshall to recruit ambassadors for 2015 world’s fair

Expo Milano turns to business school for leadership at upcoming event

The USC Marshall School of Business has been selected to help shape the U.S. presence at Expo Milano 2015, the latest incarnation of the historic world’s fair.

Scheduled to open its doors next May, Expo Milano — built around the theme “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life” — will offer countries around the world an opportunity to showcase their strengths and capture their national spirit as they take on the pressing issue of hunger and food insecurity. For the second consecutive Expo, Friends of the USA Pavilion Milano 2015 has tapped USC Marshall to lead recruitment and training of its student ambassadors, a pivotal role in ensuring the pavilion’s success.

The U.S. has something unique to offer in the fight against hunger.

Charlie Faas

“Through the Center for Management Communication, USC Marshall will choose approximately 120 American undergraduates, graduate students and recent graduates from colleges and universities across the country and abroad to staff the USA Pavilion,” said Professor Gerald Giaquinta, who will oversee the selection and training process. “It’s a big honor for students. Not only will they get to host heads of state, leading corporate executives and celebrities, but they will also literally be the face of the United States for an expected 20 to 30 million visitors from nearly 150 countries.”

Assignment is a feather in the cap

The expo will run through October 2015, and the student ambassadors will rotate in three-month shifts. Their responsibilities, said Charlie Faas, CEO of the Friends of the USA Pavilion, will go “from soup to nuts — they’ll be the first people you see when you enter and the last people you see when you leave. And because they will interact with every visitor to the pavilion, they will truly be ambassadors for our country to the world.”

The workload will be intense, Faas said, but the reward will make it all worthwhile.

“Aside from getting a pretty cool trip to Italy, it’s a tremendous resume builder,” he said. “The ambassadors will have access to top government officials, business people and other high-level individuals. For students interested in fields like political affairs and marketing, this would be a huge feather in their cap.”

Though U.S. involvement in the expos is approved by the State Department, funding for the pavilion comes exclusively from private sources. For the USA Pavilion at Expo Milano, the Friends organization (a collaboration of the James Beard Foundation and the International Culinary Center, in association with the American Chamber of Commerce in Italy), is designing a visitor experience that explores “American Food 2.0: United to Feed the Planet.”

“The U.S. has something unique to offer in the fight against hunger,” Faas said. “Today, our society is less focused on convenience when it comes to food and more concerned about quality and healthy choices — that’s ‘American Food 2.0.’ With our entrepreneurial spirit and unique problem-solving ability, American business can pioneer new ways to bring that quality and those healthy choices to hungry people everywhere.”

Exhibits in the pavilion will encourage visitors to learn about the United States through its diverse cuisine (from Maine lobsters to Korean taco trucks to Napa Valley wines), food policy and approaches to food distribution.

Under Giaquinta’s direction, USC Marshall will start recruiting this month, with online training slated to begin in February.

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USC Marshall to recruit ambassadors for 2015 world’s fair

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