Fisher Board Fellows – Bridges to the Boardroom

Last April I attended Fisher’s Red Carpet Event, which was a great way to meet some of my future classmates and professors and to learn more about the program. I learned about Fisher Board Fellows for the first time at that event, and knew instantly that it was something I wanted to be a part of.  Fisher Board Fellows is a student-run organization that places MBA students on the boards of non-profit organizations in Columbus.

First year students go through an application and interview process, and those that are selected as fellows are invited to attend events throughout the year that help inform and prepare them to sit on a non-profit board the following year. During their second year, fellows attend board meetings (and sometimes committee meetings) and work on a project that adds value to their non-profit organization.  The project varies based on the non-profit and its needs, as well as the fellow’s major and skill set.

This Monday, several first year fellows had a Bridges to the Boardroom luncheon with Mr. Tony Wells, President of the Tony R. Wells Foundation.  The foundation focuses on developing stronger non-profit leaders and is very involved in social innovations and entrepreneurship for non-profits.  Mr. Wells was passionate about the work his foundation does and told us about the many ways it helps other non-profits grow and develop.  He had wonderful advice, and he spoke about how non-profit work and volunteerism had impacted and helped his career.  He told us to really get to know our boards and the organizations we’re serving, and to learn as much as we can through mentors and committees.

Mr. Wells’ advice was extremely helpful for us.  None of us have ever sat on a non-profit board before, and although there’s a lot of excitement, there’s also some nervousness.  I definitely think we all walked away from that lunch feeling more prepared and with a better idea of what next year will be like.  And I have to tell you, I cannot wait to see what the next year brings!


If You’ve Ever Wanted to Sleepover at School…

You’ll have the chance at the Fisher College of Business. Not just once – but TWICE!

Kidding. Sort of.

The Annual Fisher MHRM Internal Case Competition was held the previous weekend (November 7 and 8) and I’m 100% certain I’ve never spent that much time at school in my undergrad – or ever. While this might not sound like the party you’d expect to have during your weekend, it was an absolute blast.

The case competition goes like this: you wake up at an ungodly hour, attempt to make yourself look like a normal person, and arrive at school by 7:30am (how on earth did I do this on the regular when I was in high school?) Don’t worry; coffee and breakfast are supplied. Shortly after, you’ll be given case rules and then be presented with a live case*. Once the case has been introduced, you break into your (previously determined) teams and begin to come up with a viable solution for the company which presented the case. Some teams may finish quickly…others may not finish until well after midnight. My experience was the latter.

Despite being in the same room on campus for more than 15 hours, the time flew by because our team was coming up with great ideas as well as having a great time (pretty sure we played Taylor Swift’s new album at least three times).

The next day we had to be on campus again at 7:30am. More coffee – more breakfast. We were then given our presentation times and set out into our team rooms to practice our pitch. We definitely played T. Swift a few more times to harness some positive juju.

Nerves were high until we were in front of the judges ready to present. Rather than a lecture-like presentation which we’ve all experienced when presenting a project for class, the presentation is very conversational. The judges ask questions, you answer. Generally, your classmates don’t have a ton of questions for you regarding your presentation. But many of the judges are from the company which presented the case or a company facing a similar problem. They want to know why you came up with the solutions you came up with. Everyone in the room is very engaged. You’re allotted 25 minutes to present your solution and most people still have plenty they want to say when the time is up.

My suggestions for anyone interested in participating in the case competition: bring a pillow and blanket (kidding – sort of); get up and walk around when you’ve been sitting for too long; make sure you’re well-fed and hydrated (food and beverages are provided the whole day. Take advantage of that); you’re not given enough time to present all of your ideas – pick two to three of your best ideas and prepare to go into detail about them; have proof about why your ideas will work – while businesses generally value creativity, they also value results. Prove that your solutions will give them what they want.

Most importantly – HAVE FUN.

*Case details are omitted for confidentiality.


The CEO of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams Speaks at Fisher

Columbus has a very vibrant, up-and-coming, and creative population. It should come as no surprise that there has been some incredible innovations that have started here. A favorite local artistic creation is Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. Founded in 2002 by Jeni Britton Bauer, Jeni’s scoops out tasty flavors year-round such as Salty Caramel, The Buckeye State, and Ndali Estate Vanilla Bean. Honoring seasonality, they serve unique flavors during certain times of the year like Sweet Cream Biscuits & Peach Jam, Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk, Sweet Potato with Torched Marshmallows, and Middle West Whiskey Eggnog. In recent years, the business has expanded to other locations such as Cleveland, Nashville, Atlanta, Chicago, Charleston, and New York. Through its growth, Jeni’s has stayed true to its artisan roots and values.

What sets Jeni’s apart is its commitment to finding the best ingredients- whether that’s using milk from cows that graze grass on a family farm less than 200 miles from Columbus or locating the finest Fair-Trade-Certified vanilla beans in Uganda. After a bite of one of Jeni’s creations, all other ice creams pale in comparison. You can just taste the exquisite quality and truly savor the special treat.

Jeni’s is really something special, and so when I heard that its CEO, John Lowe, was going to speak at Fisher, I knew I’d have to attend. Delta Sigma Pi, a business fraternity, sponsored the event and opened it up to all Fisher students. It was a well-attended and excellent presentation. John was relatable, a great story-teller, and used his talk as an opportunity to reflect on his background, mistakes, and aha moments. He was good friends with Jeni before he was asked to take on the role of CEO of the ice cream company, and he attributes all of the creative success of Jeni’s to her. What John brings to the table is business acumen and persuasive speaking skills. During his presentation, he emitted a true entrepreneurial and competitive spirit. He wants the world to know that Jeni’s is the real deal in the world of ice cream, and they dream of expanding their scoop shops and wholesale business so more people can taste Jeni’s true artisan creations.

Learn more about Jeni’s here: https://jenis.com/

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Fisher’s New Dean: Anil Makhija

Recently The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business announced their new dean, Anil Makhija.  All graduate students in the FCOB were invited to stop by and meet the dean during our lunch hour.  This was a great opportunity for students to go and listen to Makhija talk about his appointment to dean.  Makhija started off by speaking about his background.  Makhija has been a Buckeye since 1998 and has held numerous prestigious roles within the college including senior associate dean and the chair of Fisher’s Department of Finance, which ranked among the top 10 in the world for research.

Makhija was also very open to questions from the students that attended the event.  The students asked great questions about what direction he saw the college heading, how the students can help him accomplish the college’s goals, and how he was going to continue to establish the network between the college and alumni.

It is no secret that the Ohio State name brings with it a network that is second to none, but what is greatly underestimated is the connection and bonds that the Graduate Programs establish between the faculty of the college and the students.  There is no shortage of great opportunities, like “Meet the Dean”, that are available to MAcc students.


Welcome to…America?

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      Some people say that if you come to the United States only to visit the big metropolis such as New York, Miami, or LA, you don’t really know what America is. You don’t really know the Americans. As a Brazilian who has lived in New York and also in a small town in Ohio, I have always been a firm believer of that saying. However, after coming to my MBA I realized one does not need to be in a huge capital to completely miss the American lifestyle, it could happen right here in Columbus- and that could be a good or a bad thing, depending on what kind of experience a person is looking for.

During my junior High school year I was an exchange student in a small town in Ohio. I lived with American families and there was only one other foreigner in my school. I got to live an all American lifestyle, making a pledge to the American flag in the mornings, having American food for all my meals, going to church on Sunday mornings, and really engaging in the life and responsibilities of any typical American teenager. So in many ways I can say I got to experience everything from the perspective of an insider. But of course my obsession with nailing peculiar “American details”, or my pleasure in listening to people who lived during WWII, JFK, Space Race, or just my History teacher telling me history from a completely different perspective than what I was used to, reminded me at all times that no matter how immersed I was, I was still the outsider in a trip to observe.

In New York my experience was completely different. I was older and more independent, and even though I lived with an American, I would spend the greatest part of my days with people from different nationalities. I would eat whatever I wanted and go wherever I wanted, and while that kind of gave me a more multicultural experience, it also allowed me to stick closely to my own culture.

When I came to Columbus, even though I was expecting to interact with many foreign people, I assumed my experience would compare more to my first time in the U.S. And for a little while, it did. During my first weeks in Columbus I temporarily rent a bedroom in the house of an American girl, in a residential neighborhood. Upon walking out of the house, my part Yankee, part redneck soul still felt surrounded by the atmosphere that rings the “You are in America” bell to me. The America of the Americans. However, a few days later I finally got my own place in an apartment village. I got a house by the pool though, not an apartment. House searching had been a very stressful time for me, and I remember going to my window on the first afternoon in my house and just being glad that for a moment I could finally relax and enjoy a drink overlooking the pool…I was not on vacations, and I was surely not in California, but that looked like a very clear picture of the American dream. Except one thing was odd in that cliché scenario: the pool was packed with Asians.

Soon I started noticing, after walking around, that most people in that complex are Asians. An 80% estimate, I would say. I have always been extremely involved with the Asian community back home and many of my closest friends are Asians, so for me that was interesting. I could not help noticing though that ever since I moved to that house things changed a lot. When I walk outside of my house I see Asians. I ride the bus with Asians. I get to school and I find a diversity of people from all around the world. And then I go back home, or sometimes get to hang out with my mixed group of school mates. One day I realized that even though I am still in Columbus, the world where I live now is completely different from the world I was inserted in during my first two weeks here- and that being just a few miles away! I was expecting to relive my High school experience, or a mix of my High school experience with my NY days, but it has been a whole new chapter and a whole new story. And for me, that is ok, and more than that, it has been an enriching ride- after all, in the context of my apartment complex, I am still an outsider observing cultural differences.

Evaluating my own experiences, however, I was led to think about some of the foreign students who are experiencing the US for the very first time. Just like people who only travel to touristic places in major capitals, these students might live here for several years and never really know the America through an American perspective. Many of them are usually surrounded by people from their home countries, speaking their own language and eating their native food, so I assume their perspective of things are very different from mine. I realize for many staying close to their own culture is a personal choice, it definitely eases the adjustment process. In the end I guess that is just something that I have been reflecting about and thought I’d share so that new students moving here get to maybe put some thought into what kind of experience they want for themselves. While school is certainly important, we surely take a lot from the experiences we have outside of class. And of course, every experience has its ups and downs, and there is no way to completely control our environment. For those like me who are just completely fascinated by surprises, that’s what makes it even more exciting.


Class Projects in the Fisher MHRM Program

The majority of MHRM courses have a group project as one of the graded assignments. I know what you’re thinking, and I’m fairly certain that everyone could admit that working in teams isn’t “always” easy. Multiple people often means multiple and/or differing communication styles. On the flip side though, multiple people also means multiple strengths, abilities, and ideas that can contribute to the final product. Overall, I think this is good practice for the real world. We all need to be able to work effectively in teams and groups because we are going to have to do so after we graduate, so why not start practicing now?

Quite a few instructors will assign groups, which has been another great way for me to get to know people in the program. The program utilizes several ways to connect with peers, such as orientation, classes, extracurricular activities, socials, and yes, group projects.

Another benefit to the group projects is learning more about Human Resource practices currently being used in different organizations today. Through your own research and listening to peer findings, you learn more about HR best practices and what a high performing organization looks like.

 

Homage founder and creator, Ryan Vesler.

Business Excellence I assigned a group project that required each team to analyze an organization using the VRIO and Five Forces models. My group and I interviewed Homage, which is a vintage inspired clothing company that highlights moments and history around pop culture, sports, colleges, and cities. They are also known for their quality materials and products, as well as their comfort. We had the opportunity to meet the founder and creator of Homage, Ryan Vesler. His passion, innovation and motivation were truly inspiring, which made this a really fun experience. Plus, I got to take home a super comfy hoodie (an added bonus). It feels like I’m walking around in a snuggie. Needless to say, but it’s a new favorite of mine!


Hook Me Up With a Job

Don’t think you’re going to show up to business school and they’re just going to hand you a job. Unfortunately that isn’t the way it works, but Fisher has done an amazing job of providing you with the tools you need to help you attain your dream career.

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As a first year MBA student I’m constantly stressing about getting an internship and learning the necessary lessons inside and outside of the class room that will propel me to my ideal job. Fisher matches you with a career consultant you can reach out to for help. This past month I’ve been meeting with my career consultant weekly and love to brag about how awesome the office of career management is.

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My career consultant Monica has worked with my resume, provided me with examples that I can use to restructure my work experience and cover letter. Prior to my first interview she scheduled a mock interview to help me answer behavioral questions and sculpt my story. I’ve expressed my interest in a few companies and she was able to put me in contact with an alumnus that could give me further insight about the company and internship opportunities.

 

This is definitely one of the most beneficial resources I utilize at Fisher!


Nuts for Sports!!

So as shocking as it may seem, I have never been to a men’s basketball game. I know that seems blasphemous to some but no worries, that was remedied Friday night. I had the pleasure of attending the first basketball of the season against UMass Lowell. Now I know UMass Lowell doesn’t seem like a super intriguing matchup, but it was actually a lot of fun. Students are able to sit super close to the action and members of Block O make sure to keep the energy up in the Schott. OSU ended up winning 92-55. Don’t feel too bad for Lowell though, they are the “Cradle of the American Industrial Revolution” which is a title Columbus is unable to claim.

The weekend of sports continued to Saturday when the Buckeyes took on the Gophers. This was a more important game than everyone had anticipated with Minnesota eking out a top 25 ranking. The MAcc class watched at Hounddog’s Pizza, the best pizza place in Columbus (well at least I think it is the best pizza place in Columbus…)

My table at Hounddogs!

My table at Hounddog’s!

We all had a great time eating pizza, hanging out, and cheering on the Buckeyes to a 31-24 win. Hopefully we can win this weekend against Indiana before taking on Michigan. The Michigan game is a horse of a different color, can’t wait to attend over Thanksgiving and fill everyone in on the adventure!

The whole group!

The whole group!


A November Treat

“A snowball in the face is surely the perfect beginning to a lasting friendship.” 
― Markus ZusakThe Book Thief

 

One of the misconceptions about Ohio and snow is the need for there to be unbearable temperatures and for it to be just down-right cold! Well, I got hit in the face with a snowball today and found a lasting relationship with Columbus. I looked outside and thought, “UGH! Snow…”

Now this looks cold!

Now this looks cold!

Then…

I walked outside and thought it’s not even cold, and the snow is actually snow and not ice and slush and all the other nasty things that make me hate winter. Coming from the south, I thought this experience would be an awful one, but I am in love with this weather.

Fisher

Doesn't even look cold!

Doesn’t even look cold!

 

Other than the weather not being nearly as bad as I thought it would be, you can see 3 of the 5 buildings at Fisher in the pictures above. One of the best things about Fisher is, I can get to all 3 of these buildings through temperature controlled underground tunnels.

Yes… You read that correctly. There are underground tunnels at Fisher. I can go to Mason Hall and get a hot chocolate or coffee and walk back to class without ever stepping outside.

I can definitely say that when I was hit in the face with the snowball this morning, it made a lasting relationship. I cannot wait for the months to come in Columbus and at Fisher!

 

 


Valuing Public Companies

Sometimes you do assignments for classes or complete classes without realizing just how valuable that assignment or class was. One such assignment for me was a comprehensive valuation report on a publicly-traded company in our introductory finance course in the SMF program. Our professor and the academic director of the program, Dr. George Pinteris, gave us certain parameters for the projects—such as no companies in the industrials or financials industry verticals. He also restricted us from valuing certain companies that other students had done before, such as Nordstrom, L Brands, and Coca-Cola. Professor Pinteris segmented our class into groups. My group chose The Boeing Company. For the report, we had to use Capital IQ, Bloomberg, IBIS World Industry Reports, and several other sources of information. For example, in understanding the operating margins for Boeing, one must understand the price directions for key inputs, such as steel, composites, titanium, and aluminum. To understand which way those prices are moving, one must understand key economic assumptions and inputs for the prices of those commodities.

Capital IQ allows users to generate fast tables of comparable companies

Capital IQ allows users to generate fast tables of comparable companies

I especially enjoyed this project because it drew on the strengths of my team members. One member has a background in energy investments and so had keen insights into oil and natural gas commodity markets. My own background in public policy and politics informed the analysis of Boeing’s strategic direction as the United States Congress wrestles with the issue of how to stimulate exports (Boeing earns half its revenues by exporting goods). All of us were proficient at financial modeling, but one team member was especially adept and provided the team with reams of data and analysis on Boeing’s historical and projected financials. Her analysis includes several valuation methods, such as dividend discount model, discounted cash flow using multiples, transaction multiples, and market multiples. Dr. Pinteris stressed the need to produce a professional report, with an accompanying Powerpoint and presentation. In short, Dr. Pinteris’ project stressed a number of skills needed in the financial industry: teamwork, professionalism, modeling skills, and strategic thinking.


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