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USC Marshall master’s students meet the marketers

Top entertainment executives share strategies as part of a multipart career-development program

Farmer John marketing exec Martin Chen
Martin Chen, vice president of sales and business development at Farmer John Foods, speaks to marketing students. (Photo/Dan Avila)

Consider the best ways to spend a Friday night: Catch a movie with friends … stay in and watch TV … hit the Happiest Place on Earth.

Graduate students in the Master of Science in Marketing program at the USC Marshall School of Business chose to stay on the University Park Campus Nov. 13, meeting with top executives from Lionsgate Entertainment, ABC Home Studios and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts in the second of a six-part seminar series.

“We invite high-level marketing professionals to sit down with our students and discuss the state of the industry,” said Diane Badame, professor of clinical marketing and the program’s academic director. “Students get to query them personally, and of course they get to network before and after.”

Executives included Karin Kricorian, director of management science and integration at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts; Anne Parducci, executive vice president of marketing and family entertainment at Lionsgate; Jeff Shantz, executive director of sales planning at Sony Pictures Entertainment; Jyoti Sarda, vice president of marketing at Paramount Pictures Home Media International; and Lisa Solana, vice president of marketing and strategy at ABC Studios.

You ask, they tell

The evening opened with general questions posed to the panelists who later sat at tables with the students.

Shantz, who began his career at Nestle before moving to entertainment, said that a few years spent in consumer packaged goods would serve them well.

“You’ll learn marketing skills in CPG that will translate anywhere,” he said.

Preparing for recruitment

The seminars are the second in a three-phase career development program, said Gene Del Vecchio, an adjunct lecturer of marketing.

After learning how to refine résumés and polish interviewing skills, the students go face-to-face with recruiters.

“The recruiters are tailored to this particular class,” Del Vecchio said. “If next year’s class wants different industries and marketing functions represented, we will tailor it to them.”

Badame and her colleagues tap into their professional and alumni networks, she said: “We’ve found that even for non-Trojans, when they are invited to speak to students at USC, they agree to make the time. This is the Trojan Family Network at work for us, front and center.”

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