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An MBA for Entrepreneurs and Beyond: A Q&A with Alumnus Raymond P. Scannell


usc online mba alumni raymond scannellAs we recently explored, entrepreneurs can benefit greatly from earning an MBA. Pursuing this popular business degree offers these self-driven business professionals priceless networking opportunities and the ability to explore and expand upon their current business knowledge. More importantly, entrepreneurs get to try their hand at designing and implementing new business strategies with helpful feedback from like-minded peers and expert faculty.

While our previous article focused on the benefits of an MBA for entrepreneurs, Raymond P. Scannell, a recent graduate of the USC Marshall Online MBA program, shared insight into the many other ways obtaining an MBA from the University of Southern California has benefited his personal and professional life.

Read our full interview below for a look into how our top-ranked online MBA program cultivates an entrepreneurial mindset and challenges students to reach their full potential beyond their time at USC.


Q: Tell me about your professional background.

A: I own a group of financial services companies in Chicago. I started out in 1988 as a college intern, and in 1989, I started my own firm. I’ve spent the last 30 years building businesses, and I’ve been actively involved with my industry associations.


Q: What are your primary professional goals?

A: First and foremost, I have a desire to continue learning. I’m 51 years old and I intend to work every day of my life, so I consider myself to be in the middle of my career. Investing for the average consumer has become formulaic. This trend, along with artificial intelligence platforms, has led to a commoditization of financial advice. I need to offer additional value. The MBA is an opportunity to demonstrate to my existing and future clients that I’m able to provide more than my competition.


Q: Why did you select the University of Southern California’s Online MBA program among others that you may have been considering?

A: USC Marshall has an incredible reputation. I want to be on the cutting-edge of data analytics, digital strategy and the effective communication of sophisticated business concepts. That’s where I felt USC was different.


Q: What would you like others to know about the program?

A: The support systems in place at USC Marshall are excellent. The Trojan Family is a real thing. It’s a culture of commitment to service and reaching back to help and support the students. The incredible network of alumni and supporters is there to provide advice, support, future jobs and business opportunities. I’ve never experienced anything like it.


Q: What was the online learning experience like for you?

A: I loved every single day of the program. After working for five to 10 years, business professionals are finding it too difficult and time-consuming to go back for a residential MBA. Interactive programs like these allow students to manage their time more effectively and spend more time with family or other interests. It also creates the opportunity for international students and military personnel to be included.


How were your experiences with faculty, staff and fellow students?

A: The faculty for the Online MBA program at Marshall is a “who’s who” of top minds in their respective fields. I am so honored to have had the opportunity to learn from these academic legends that I was frequently questioning, “How was I able to get into this program?” My fellow cohort members are my friends for life. As students, we stay in contact with each other via WhatsApp daily. This messaging platform helps us to provide academic support to our peers while also creating an incredible bond between us. My peers come from all parts of the world and bring a diverse blend of knowledge that I don’t think can be duplicated with an on-campus program.


Q: What was the most interesting thing for you to learn or work on in the program?

A: I personally realized that my business practices were old and stale. Each semester, I learned new ideas that I was able to make changes to the structure, staffing and strategy of my business. The perspectives I gained from faculty and peers in USC’s Online MBA program let me break through my own preconceived misconceptions of what my customers want and make dramatic changes that have already produced higher revenue and reduced costs.


Q: Was there a particular course you most enjoyed?

A: We had some incredible instruction on communication, negotiation and digital marketing that I’ve made a part of my everyday life. I love economics, and the analytics and finance classes were great, but I’ve always felt like knowledge is only as helpful as your ability to communicate it in a meaningful way. I’ve sharpened my skills in both areas.


Q: How has the program benefited you already and how do you foresee it benefitting you in the future?

A: After 30 years as an investment and financial advisor, I’ve observed that the clients of mine who live the longest and are at their sharpest to the end are those that use their minds every day. The brain seems to work like your heart — you need to use it or lose it. This program has challenged me to use my brain every day and push it to its limits. This was a very difficult and rigorous program, but it was also two of the best years of my life.


Q: What knowledge and skills did you acquire that you find especially valuable?

A: I feel like I was able to gain much greater business awareness. I’ve spent a small part of every day for the last 20 years on introspective thought as a continuous journey toward self-awareness. It has been a great asset in my personal life and interpersonal relationships. I think I’ve always kept my business and personal life in separate compartments. Challenging my own business instincts was not something I was doing on a regular basis. Today, I’m spending a great deal more time questioning my business instincts with reality. This program gave me that gift.


About the USC Marshall School of Business

USC Marshall is one of the premier business schools in the U.S. and internationally recognized as a home for path-breaking research that emphasizes entrepreneurship, innovation, leadership and social responsibility. The USC Online MBA from the Marshall School of Business is built to help students succeed in the digitally driven business landscape, providing a curriculum focused on the practical skills expected of today’s global leaders. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, Marshall brings undergraduate and graduate students a unique perspective on the world, including global opportunities for experiential learning. The vibrant and active Trojan alumni community includes more than 89,000 people in 92 countries.


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