USC Leventhal MAcc/MBT Student Blog

Stories straight from the students

China Trip 2014

Over Spring Break, 23 MAcc and MBT students have made a memorable trip to Shanghai and Beijing as part of the ACCT 526 Global Accounting Experience course. This year, we had the opportunity to visit two Big 4 firms (EY and PwC), Baosteel (China’s largest steel producer), CSRC (China’s equivalent of SEC), CICPA (China’s equivalent of AICPA), Peking University (China’s equivalent of Harvard), and BOE (giant manufacturer of liquid-crystal display products). Needless to say, there were also a lot of sightseeing, eating, and drinking involved. Through these visits, we were able to learn firsthand about China’s accounting and business environments, economic and political systems, and most importantly the cultural differences. Below are some pictures from the trip.

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EY Shanghai office

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Steel mill at Baosteel

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Yu Garden

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Bullet train from Shanghai to Beijing

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Transparent touchscreen LCD refrigerator door at BOE

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Great Wall of China

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Tiananmen Square

This was truly a once in a lifetime experience, and we enjoyed every single part of it!

Fight on!

Joe Urano

MAcc Class of 2014

Social Networking

imageMAcc students Julio, Kevin and Simeon enjoying some social networking

I recently got the chance to attend a bi-monthly mixer held on the lawn outside of Popovich Hall. It was a great chance to interact with my classmates and MBAs alike, who, especially during spring semester, you see a lot more of. It gave me a chance to finally put a name to all those faces who may not know their debits and credits as well as us, but are great with business acumen!

Wednesday was International Food day, so along with good-ole fashioned American drinks, there were some exotic, tasty food items! It was a blast to get a chance to enjoy some great food, drink, and conversation on a lovely 70° evening in Southern California (as I write this, my hometown on the east is still getting snow!).

Marshall (the overarching school of USC encompassing the MBA and ACCT programs) sponsors these events every other Wednesday evening. I only just attended my first one but definitely plan on going back in 2 weeks! And this serves as your heads up, with a bit of time to plan, to make your way to these events. It’s a great way to hang out with classmates and meet new friends alike, even in the waning time of the semester!

So instead of face-booking, make the decision to social network at the Wednesday night mixers next year!

Until next time, fight on

Mike Uhle, MAcc Class of 2014

MBT Electives

The MBT program is structured so that most core classes are completed in the fall, leaving the spring for electives. I’m taking five tax electives, and each one is very different.

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In Advanced Partnership Taxation we’re currently learning about liquidations and sales of partnership interests. Partnership taxation is unique because, though certain transactions are handled in different ways, the right person almost always ends up being taxed in the right way and at the right time.

International Taxation looks at how U.S. entities and their foreign subsidiaries are taxed by the U.S. government when operating abroad. This week we’re learning about foreign tax credit limitations.

Advanced Corporate Taxation focuses on how to qualify mergers and acquisitions for tax-free treatment and satisfy the conflicting needs of stakeholders involved in a transaction.

Tax Accounting Methods is a timing course. We learn how to plan a transaction to accelerate a deduction or defer income and whether to capitalize or deduct certain costs.

Income Tax Accounting and Auditing gives a firsthand look at tax provisions and how tax expense on the income statement is impacted by a certain year’s activities by accounting for differences in how items are treated for tax versus book purposes. Groups are given a challenging tax provision project to work on throughout the semester.

The tax electives in the MBT program each provide specialized knowledge in certain areas. As I learn more about tax I realize how little I actually know and how much more there is to learn.

Joel Facchinelllo

MBT Class of 2014

 

 

 

  

Field Trip to SpaceX

As Joe mentioned in a previous post, spring semester is full of choices. I chose to take Management Accounting and Control Systems as one of my electives and the class deals mainly with cost accounting and how businesses can make better management decisions. One of the best ways to learn cost accounting is to visualize it, so Professor Wride decided to take our class on a field trip to SpaceX headquartered in Hawthorne, California.

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After arriving in a bus from campus, our class had to check in at the front desk. The security at SpaceX is fairly strict. We had to give our information ahead of time and bring our driver’s license.  Bags, cameras or cell phones were not allowed on the factory floor. After checking in, we met Bret Johnson, the CFO of SpaceX. We listened to his presentation and watched a video about SpaceX. The video gave us an overall picture of the business.

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After watching the video, we started our tour of the factory floor. We had a chance to see the production process first hand. When producing a rocket, SpaceX moves the rocket from one part of the floor to the next. The factory floor was huge and it had a modern feel to it. There were offices located high above the floor. According to Bret, it was built that way so that they can watch the production process. A few other interesting things I saw during my trip was SpaceX’s mission control. It is a room with many big screen tvs and computer monitors.

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Overall, the experience gave us a better understanding of SpaceX’s cost accounting. It also made it easier for the professor to explain some of the cost accounting concepts during lecture. He used the lessons learned from the trip as examples and made it much easier for us to visualize the accounting concepts. 

Sights Around USC and LA

There are many places to see in the immediate vicinity of USC and in the Los Angeles area as a whole.

Exposition Park is just south of the USC campus and right across the street from Popovich Hall, where most of my classes are. Besides holding the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the California Science Center, and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, Exposition Park is a great place to relax or take a jog.

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Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum at Exposition Park

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Exposition Park

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Shrine Auditorium, across the street from the north side of campus

For those who enjoy outdoor activities, Griffith Park is about 10 miles north of USC. It has great hiking trails and a wonderful view of Los Angeles.

Time for Coffee!

I became a coffee addict once I started the MAcc/MBT program.  Thankfully, there are so many cafes in LA to choose from and each place is uniquely decorated.  I especially enjoy it when baristas design my coffee.

Below are pictures of a few of my favorite cafes to study or spend time with my classmates outside of campus.

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Here is Urth Caffe in the Arts District of Downtown LA.  My favorite coffee is the Spanish Latte.  It’s not too sweet or bitter, but most importantly, it keeps me alert and ready for my tax classes.

imageThis is a picture of a vanilla latte from Caffe Bene in Koreatown.  I come here quite often to study because I love the high ceilings and the second floor is specifically designed for people to study.

Selena Han 

Macc Class of 2014 

Accounting and Ethics

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Spring semester has been going exceptionally well, and I am truly enjoying all of my accounting courses. Of all my classes this semester, I must say that Acct 530, Ethics for Professional Accountants, has been by far the most intriguing. In this course, we learn about various theories relating to ethics and we also have prominent speakers visit our class on a frequent basis to talk to us about ethical issues. The guest speakers really add value to the class because through the sharing of their stories, we are able to better understand the complexities in ethical decision making. The guest roster so far included former CEOs, CFOs, and even a Big Four Partner. Being able to interact with such prominent individuals in a classroom setting has been an invaluable experience which served to further enrich my learning at USC.

Fight On!

Lisa Yu

MAcc Class of 2014 

Choosing Spring Electives

Spring semester is full of choices. Unlike the fall semester, which mostly consists of the required courses, the spring semester is wide open for taking electives. In fact, 4 out of 6 of my spring courses are electives. Here are the electives that I have chosen to take:

Global Accounting Experience

In this course, we will learn China’s accounting, tax, and legal environments, as well as economic, political cultural systems and differences. With a field trip to Shanghai and Beijing, this course will give us a once in a lifetime experience.

Performance Measurement, Evaluation, and Incentives

As the course title suggests, this course takes a deep dive into how firms use management control systems to measure, evaluate, and incentivize their financial responsibility centers. I took this course because I wanted to learn more about the uses of accounting from a management perspective.

Strategy and Operations Through CFO Lens

This is perhaps one of the most popular courses to take as an accounting elective. We need to combine all the knowledge and skills we have gained in the fall semester to tackle real-world business issues. The most exciting thing about this course, of course, is that we get to meet actual CFOs from many different industries. A detailed course description is given on the March, 27th 2013 post of this blog.

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Environmental Sustainability and Competitive Advantage

This is my floating elective that I chose from the MBA courses. Yes, it doesn’t seem to have much to do with accounting. Indeed, I am the only MAcc/MBT student in the classroom. But that’s the whole point of having a floating elective in this program. I chose to take this course because someday I wish to work in the field of environmental accounting. As long as you have a legitimate reason behind your choice, you can choose any course you want as a floating elective.

There are literally countless courses you could choose from, including accounting, tax, law, finance, management, and information technology. So it’s no surprise that many students struggle to make up their mind. I too switched two courses during the first week of the semester. It was a tough decision, but after three weeks into the semester, I know I made the right choice.

 Fight on!

Joe Urano

MAcc Class of 2014

How would you like to study at Hogwart’s?

Attention all Harry Potter fans! Yes, you, all of you (even those who won’t admit it). I figured I would turn your attention to a favorite study spot of mine. This will undoubtedly be helpful information when the fall rolls around and you realize you aren’t in Kansas anymore (or an undergraduate). I happen to be a fan of quiet study spaces- places where I don’t have to put in headphones to concentrate.

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Meet Doheny Memorial Library. Yes, you have a plethora of library options on campus, and even the courtyards of Popovich Hall  (a favorite of many MAccs and MBTs). But if you prefer a quiet environment without glares on your computer screen, Doheny is for you. Doheny is one if not the oldest library on campus. It has a certain classical ere and charm that really draws you in, and coaxes the most work out, most likely due to its lack of distractions. It may not be open 24 hours, but for you morning folk, it opens its massive steel doors at 8 am sharp.

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In my opinion, Doheny is the place to go when you need to get work done and want to be surrounded by an elegant, classical environment. But be sure not to talk, Dumbledore may be around the corner! 

Fight On!

Mike Uhle

MAcc Class of 2014

Los Angeles Restaurant Week “dineLA”

DineLA’s Restaurant Week is a twelve-day dining event (January 20-30, 2014) that showcases premier dining places in Los Angeles. More than 300 higher-end restaurants participate in this program, and diners can enjoy the experience of tasting menus at a more affordable price than usual.

Friends from the program and I went to Fogo de Chao, which is an authentic Brazilian steakhouse. The restaurant offers 16 cuts of meat prepared by gaucho chef, gourmet salad bar, and award-winning wine list. DineLA was a good opportunity for me to try out new dining restaurants that I would not have been to. Apparently, many locals enjoy this opportunity too, because the restaurant had a long waiting line and we had to wait long even though we made reservation.

The price was worth it, because all of us walked out of Fogo de Chao with stomachs full with delicious Brazilian meat. I encourage prospective students to utilize this opportunity to enjoy all the popular restaurants in Los Angeles.image

Wooin Park 

MAcc Class of 2014