Professors Deborah MacInnis and Valerie Folkes discuss why Marshall is a great place for women

The marketing department at USC’s Marshall School of Business is a leader in a number of arenas, including opportunities for women.

“Marketing is a big industry for women because I think it taps so many different dimensions of people,” said Deborah MacInnis, the Charles L. and Ramona I. Hilliard Professor of Business Administration and professor of marketing. “Understanding yourself and knowing whether you are that analytical thinker, that conceptual thinker, that social person who really enjoys being in the company of others, will help you understand what particular aspects of marketing will resonate with you.”

Marketing is a popular subject of study at USC, with many paths into the discipline. Marshall offers undergraduate students a minor in marketing, graduate students a one-year master’s degree program, a graduate certificate, special courses at the MBA level and doctoral level classes leading to the Ph.D.

MacInnis points to the gender parity at each of these levels, as well as on the faculty. “Women feel very accepted here,” she said.

“Many of the courses within the department are collaborative,” said Valerie Folkes, the Robert E. Brooker Chair of Marketing and professor of marketing. “This allows and encourages students to work together in group projects. This is very rewarding, and is a great opportunity for students to get a sense of their own strengths, get to know other students, and also get to work in a way that mirrors what goes on in the real world.”

When asked why the marketing field appeals to women, Folkes, who is an expert in consumer behavior, said it may have to do with women’s innate interpersonal skills.

“Perhaps women are more people oriented than a lot of men. And marketing is a great industry if you’re people oriented, because that’s really what we’re focusing on in marketing, trying to understand what people do and why they do it,” she said.

“People who are interested in people tend to like marketing.”



Video Showcase

Gerard J. Tellis is an internationally recognized scholar and expert in the field of innovation. He is the Jerry and Nancy Neely Chair in American Enterprise and Professor of Marketing, Management and Organization at the USC Marshall School of Business as well as the director of the USC Marshall Center for Global Innovation.

In these videos, Dr. Tellis discusses the central role innovation plays in today's global economy.

1. Why Market Leaders Fail

Established companies have a hard time innovating. Dr. Tellis explains why.

2. Barriers to Innovation:

What keeps established companies from innovating? Dr. Tellis explains the reasons that keep many from breaking into the next new

3. Empowering Innovators Internally:

The old model of top-down inspiration won't work anymore, says Dr. Tellis. He explains why here.

4. Why I chose USC and L.A.:

Dr. Tellis describes what lured him to Los Angeles and to the University of Southern California.

5. Why the U.S. is the world’s innovation Leader:

An expert view on why America is still the most innovative country in the world.


USC Marshall Marketing Professors Keep the Next Generation of Scholars on Track

Professor Duke and Professor Yang

It isn’t easy getting accepted into the doctoral program of the USC Marshall School of Business marketing department. Out of the 100 or so hopefuls who apply each year, only two or three are chosen. Who sifts through those many applications to discover the hidden gems? That would be the Ph.D. coordinators, Professors Sha Yang and Anthony Dukes.

“Being admitted is just the very first step,” said Yang, a professor of marketing who will be taking over the role of Ph.D. coordinator from Dukes, an associate professor of marketing with an expertise in the economics of marketing strategies. “One of the key jobs in this role is to help screen and select the right candidates.” Very few applicants have the necessary ingredients to successfully undertake five to six years of rigorous study, all of it under the spotlight of discerning faculty, she said.

It’s tough to make the cut. Yang says applicants need a strong academic background with demanding classes, excellent grades, high test scores and impressive letters of recommendation, ideally from a notable scholar under whom they have worked. “We are looking for early signals about their ability to conduct rigorous research,” she said.

A successful candidate interested in the consumer behavior side of marketing might bring a background in psychology or sociology, for example, said Dukes. A quantitative student will bring a math or economics expertise. “Our Ph.D. program places a significant emphasis on training high-level academic researchers,” he said. “This isn’t about learning how to best market the latest product.”

The Ph.D. coordinator helps newly admitted doctoral students navigate the maze of dissertation discovery, research seminars and coursework until they successfully finish their dissertation and are awarded the doctorate, usually in five to six years. The coordinator helps the students meet important milestones in their progress and ensures they are paired with the ideal faculty adviser for their particular areas of research. It’s a time-consuming but important role. And it pays off for the students.

Arianna Uhalde, a Ph.D. student studying consumer psychology and behavior, recently helped conduct research on brand betrayal with two prominent professors; Deborah MacInnis, the Charles L. and Ramona I. Hilliard Professor of Business Administration and a professor of marketing, and Valerie Folkes, the Robert E. Brooker Chair of Marketing and professor of marketing. Both are experts in branding and consumer behavior.

“The Ph.D. Coordinator assigns each student with input from both the student and faculty,” said Uhalde. “Because of this process, I had the opportunity to work with Valerie during my first semester and Debbie during my second semester.” She was listed as a co-author along with MacInnis and Folkes on a research paper titled, “Brand Betrayal: The Dark Side of Brand Attachment.”

Recent graduates have landed at marketing departments at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business, said Dukes.

Yi Zhu Ph.D. ’13, now an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota, credited Dukes with not only keeping him on track, but mentoring him through issues large and small.

“He responded to me with care and concern, no matter how busy he himself might have been at the time,” said Zhu. “I can’t remember how many times I went to him with what might have seemed to be trivial research questions for him but were big hurdles for me.”

Although he is handing the reins to Yang, Dukes will still advise doctoral students. Yet he says he will miss tracking their progress from their first days through to their commencement. “To watch these students as they learn how to conduct research is just so enjoyable,” he said. “To watch them harness their ideas into something that becomes new knowledge is incredibly gratifying.”