So as I mentioned in my last blog, this past weekend I went to Anaheim for ELAB—the Engineering Leadership and Business Retreat put on by the Viterbi School of Engineering and the Marshall School of Business.

Nearly 70 business and engineering students met on Friday afternoon, where we met our teams for the case competition later that weekend.  We boarded the buses and were on our way to Anaheim—we stayed at the Disneyland hotel Paradise Pier and had a great view of the California Adventure theme park.  The coolest part of the retreat? It was with the Disney Institute—so all the examples, videos and activities for the weekend were connected to Disney.  Its amazing how much more interesting it can be to discuss the communication and collaboration between marketing, food, merchandise and management when you’re talking about fairy princesses!

The Friday night we spent the evening in a workshop/lecture on the importance of creativity and how sometimes the best ideas can arise from the most unexpected things, places or individuals.  To end the evening we all went down to Downtown Disney together and walked around for a bit, before turning in early.  Early to bed, early to rise, right?!

And early it was. Saturday morning we hit the ground running and spent a full day discussing leadership qualities, how essential group communication is within a large corporation (like Disney), and doing some small group activities.  And then the main event: case competitions! We had 16 teams of four students (two business and two engineering), and four different cases on solar energy, electronics, water filtration and tracking of medical equipment/information.  We received our cases at 7pm and had twelve hours to do research and submit our powerpoint presentations by 7am—the race was on!  Although we didn’t win, I certainly learned a lot not only about new technologies currently in development, but also about working with business students and experiencing the difference between the “Marshall way” and the “Viterbi way.”  Gotta love that Viterbi Pride!

So after a long weekend away, learning about leadership, Disney as an expanding global company, and making new friends we drove back to USC.  I’ll be the first to say I was exhausted (and in bed before midnight which never happens!) but had a wonderful experience!



Claire, Class of 2012