Talented Voices - Fisher’s Alumni
The heart of Fisher College is the students – past and present – who chose this institution to learn, connect, excel and ultimately, give back as mentors and leaders. Two such alumni -- Ami Scott, BSBA and MBA ’94, and Michael Harrington, MBA ’84, share how Fisher provided the critical foundation for their success as business professionals.
Scott is a partner in the international law firm Mayer Brown LLP, which employs 1,800 attorneys worldwide, while Harrington is president of advisor firm, Oak Ridge Investments.
Scott says earning her MBA before pursuing a law degree was extremely helpful, providing “added credibility” when consulting with her MBA-educated clients. She represents financial institutions and borrowers in a variety of secured and unsecured lending transactions. She also serves as the firm’s partner for associate career development, providing career coaching and training and development for the firm’s non-partners.
Her Fisher studies were pivotal in her cultivating teamwork skills. “There wasn’t much incentive to work together in law school. But, that’s what you do in real life – you’re always working as a team. Fisher taught me how to work well with a team and identify people’s particular strengths to get the deal done.”
Harrington joined Oak Ridge in 2003 to lead sales and marketing after working for several large asset management firms, including Scudder Investments and Deutsche Bank, a $600 billion global asset manager with 80,000 employees. “The entrepreneurial side of going to a small firm has been very fun and refreshing at this point in my career,” he says.
The core finance and accounting coursework he took at Fisher “was an excellent education – where I learned analytical skills and gained an understanding of the language of business.” While at Fisher, he began to understand that accounting “is not always an exact science – there’s some art to it as well.” The MBA program was “intense,” requiring significant time management and developing skills to filter through a lot of information to focus on the most important.
Scott loves how the law presents her with new and different challenges every day. Her decision was cemented after taking a Fisher business law class with then-professor John Blackburn. “I had the chance to bump into him at an Alumni Awards banquet and I thanked him for the influence he had on my decision. He used to be a practicing attorney. He gave me a great feedback and really encouraged me to apply to law school,” she says.
Scott has made it her mission to give back to Fisher in a variety of ways. She has served on Fisher’s Alumni Board for six years, an experience that afforded her the opportunity to return to campus and hear the latest developments and strategic vision from the dean and to get perspectives from current students. In 2001, the former recipient of a full scholarship through the Office of Minority and Student Services established the Phalander and Virginia Scott Fellowship Fund at Fisher in honor of her grandparents.
“It was amazing to go to such a high-caliber university and not pay a dime. I always appreciated the education I got, and planned to set up a scholarship as soon as I had enough money.” The award goes to a business student who wants to intern with a non-profit organization.
For the past six years, Harrington has met with Fisher students who are part of the college’s Student Investment Management Program. Students gain first-hand exposure managing a portfolio from Ohio State funds, and take an annual trip to Chicago to explore the financial stock exchange.
“They come into our offices and we tell them what we do and give a very real insider’s view into a money-management firm,” says Harrington. “I get a kick out of it – the energy of the students is infectious. They ask great questions and challenge me.”
The students are getting “real and practical investment management experience. They are living and breathing the portfolio. They have skin in the game and are being measured in a very real scenario with the college’s money,” he says.
Harrington encourages Fisher students to think long-term, not short-term, when they begin to job hunt, thinking about what they want to do at age 30 and 40, not at 25.
“It’s not only which company you’re working for and how much you get paid; rather, it’s how much control you have over your current situation, what type of people you are working with…and things like flexibility and personal freedom,” he says. “You want to start building those building blocks now.”
Harrington says students need to think about adding value – “recognizing what needs to be done and taking the initiative to improve your department, your business, your company. The most successful people recognize what needs to be done and they get the job done.”
Scott urges students to build and use their network. “Fisher has an incredible alumni network so I would encourage students to reach out to alums and start building connections. I get contacted two to four times a year by Fisher students who just want to chat about what I do, my experience at Fisher and Chicago. I am always happy to talk to Fisher students and help them if I can. We always want to make connections with students. People have to take advantage of us. It might not result in a job, but it could.”