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USC Marshall and Leventhal Announce Commencement Speakers

The USC Marshall School of Business announced that Elon Musk, CEO and product architect of Tesla Motors and CEO and chief designer of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), will be the commencement speaker for the USC Marshall Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony at 11 a.m. on Friday, May 16, 2014, at the Galen Center on the USC University Park Campus. Later that same day, Steven A. Ballmer, recently retired CEO of Microsoft Corporation, will be the commencement speaker for the USC Marshall Graduate Commencement Ceremony at 6:30 p.m. The USC Leventhal School of Accounting announced that Dean Hallett, executive vice president of operations and strategy and CFO for Twentieth Century Fox, will address accounting undergraduates and graduates in a special ceremony at 2:30 p.m. in Alumni Park. These satellite ceremonies, to be held after the main University Commencement at 9 a.m., will individually recognize graduating students from Marshall and Leventhal.

“We are pleased that Elon Musk, Steven Ballmer and Dean Hallett will share their business insights and wisdom with USC Marshall and Leventhal students,” said James G. Ellis, dean of the Marshall School of Business. “As executives at the forefront of innovation, they represent the caliber of business professional we aim to connect students with throughout their educational career.”

At Tesla, Musk manages product development and design of the company’s electric vehicles, including the Roadster, Model S and the upcoming Model X. Transitioning to a sustainable energy economy, in which electric vehicles play a pivotal role, has been one of his central interests for almost two decades, stemming from his time working on ultracapacitors as a physics student.

At SpaceX, Musk oversees development of rockets and spacecraft for missions to Earth orbit and ultimately to other planets. SpaceX’s goal is to improve the reliability of space transportation while reducing costs in order to enable the colonization of Mars. SpaceX was the first private company in history to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station, and the company is currently in development on the world’s first reusable rocket—a breakthrough that will revolutionize the future of space exploration.

Prior to Tesla and SpaceX, Musk co-founded PayPal, the world’s leading Internet payment system, and served as the company’s chairman and CEO. Before PayPal, he co-founded Zip2, a provider of Internet software to the media industry.

Musk grew up in Pretoria, South Africa, during the last decades of apartheid. He is the oldest of three siblings. At age 17, he moved to Canada and, in 1992, began attending the University of Pennsylvania where he received a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Wharton School. The next year he earned a second degree in physics. He became an American citizen in 2002.

Ballmer joined Microsoft in June 1980 and became Microsoft’s 30th employee, the first business manager hired by Chairman and CEO Bill Gates. In the 20 years following his hire, Ballmer headed several Microsoft Divisions, including operations, operating systems development and sales and support. In 1998, he was promoted to president, working even more closely with Gates.

Ballmer was officially named CEO in January 2000. Under his tenure as CEO, Microsoft’s annual revenue surged from $25 billion to $70 billion and profits doubled. Ballmer also built several new divisions of Microsoft, such as the data centers division and the Xbox entertainment and devices division, and oversaw the acquisition of Skype.

Ballmer grew up near Detroit where his father worked as a manager at Ford Motor Company. He earned a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics and economics from Harvard University and later attended Stanford University Graduate School of Business. Ballmer married Connie Snyder in 1990, and together they have three sons.

At Twentieth Century Fox, Hallett is instrumental in shaping the overall strategy of the studio, providing strategic direction and operational guidance to all divisions, including theatrical production, worldwide theatrical marketing and distribution, worldwide home entertainment, television distribution, digital exhibition and digital media. He also oversees strategic planning and business development, studio and post-production operations, information technology and finance.

Prior to joining Fox, Hallett was executive vice president and CFO for The Walt Disney Studios, a position he had held since 1999. In his previous role as senior vice president of planning and control, he drove international theatrical and home entertainment integration initiatives, served as executive sponsor for shared services across all of The Walt Disney Company and helped spearhead strategic sourcing and ERP initiatives for the corporation. Hallett joined The Walt Disney Company in 1990 as a manager in the Corporate Management Audit department. He was named director of finance at Buena Vista Pictures Marketing in 1991 and promoted to vice president in 1994.

A native of Los Angeles, Hallett received his degree in business administration from the USC Marshall School of Business in 1980. He is currently chairman of Marshall Partners (the premier academic support group for USC Marshall), a member of USC’s Board of Governors and a member of USC Marshall’s Corporate Advisory Board. In addition, he is a board member for both LA’s Promise and the American Cinematheque, and is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

To watch the Marshall and Leventhal commencement ceremonies live, visit the USC Marshall homepage at http://www.marshall.usc.edu to be directed to the live stream.

About the USC Marshall School of Business

Consistently ranked among the nation's premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world's leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 5,700-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. With an alumni community spanning 123 countries, USC Marshall students join a worldwide community of thought leaders who are redefining the way business works.

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