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Darla Moore School of Business

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Professional MBA program candidate will be one of first to complete new Strategic Innovation Certificate

Moore School candidate Yolanda Mills (’09 USC economics, ’22 expected MBA graduation) was inspired to learn more about strategic innovation after completing the Strategic Management of Technology and Innovation course. A Professional MBA program candidate since 2020, Mills will be one of the first students to complete the Strategic Innovation Certificate in summer 2022.

Mills is a human resources process re-engineering consultant for Deloitte, a multinational financial consulting firm. In her role, she assists various business leaders with ensuring systems, tasks and people are aligned, analyzing processes for efficiency and automation of redundant, manual tasks.

Her decision to pursue the Strategic Innovation Certificate came when she decided to take the Strategic Management of Technology and Innovation class with Moore School management professor Laura B. Cardinal.

“Quinn Jacob [the Professional MBA program academic student services manager] recommended the course with Dr. Cardinal,” Mills said. “The class was highly interactive, and Dr. Cardinal challenged us to think beyond the case readings and relate them to daily life. The students in these classes are also from different colleges within USC, which fosters a very diverse, thought-provoking learning experience.”

The Strategic Management of Technology and Innovation course, along with the other certificate classes, have enriched Mills’ professional skills, which she says are invaluable to her on the job.

“Since taking these classes, when I look to improve processes, I always think about the cases we studied and how the most profound innovators sought to solve people problems compared to process or system problems,” she said. “These individuals were successful because they were people centric, and I have used this mindset to create a happy medium for the clients and businesses I serve.”

Mills says the Strategic Innovation Certificate is something other Professional MBA program candidates should consider as they make their way through the degree.

“I highly recommend the certificate because of the course options, content and diversity of students it attracts,” she said. “So far, the strategic innovation classes have been the best opportunity for networking outside of my field to diversify my personal and professional circle.”

Along with the certificate, Mills is close to completing her MBA degree. Her decision to enroll in the Professional MBA program came after witnessing a coworker succeed.

“I watched a coworker thrive in the Professional MBA program at the Moore School, and as he progressed through the program, he transformed and re-branded himself,” she said. “It inspired me, and of course, being a part of a reputable, sustainably top-rated program was the main feature I looked for in a program.”

As graduation gets closer for Mills, she says the return on investment from enrolling in the Professional MBA program has helped her excel in her job.

“Being able to link my graduate educational experience with the Darla Moore School of Business has been a conversation-changing experience,” she said. “My family, friends, colleagues and leadership respected me for seeking development outside of the company, and it was no surprise when I was able to use my education and experience to land a consulting job at Deloitte and set up myself for further professional growth. I was able to use classroom and work experience to eloquently speak to my background and how I could leverage both to be a top performer at the firm.”

 -James Culbertson

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.