Posts filed under 'Full Time MBA'

Teamwork

One of the things I was most nervous about when I first started business school was working on a team. I knew we would be put into teams of five at the beginning of pre-term, and that we would work together on all group projects for the entire year.  As an English major, I was used to writing papers and teaching classes by myself.  As the oldest of five children, I was good at organizing and ordering.  I had a lot of practice with being in charge, but I wasn’t sure how good I would be at NOT being in charge.  At the very least, I suspected I would have to be the group mom and make sure everyone was doing what they were supposed to be doing and our projects were handed in on time.  I braced myself for excessive goofing off during group meetings and mentally prepared to be the fun-sucker who brings everyone back to the project and keeps them on-task.

But none of my fears were realized. Literally.  None of them.  My team is as motivated and organized and determined as I am.  It’s a little weird – okay, it’s really weird – but it’s true.  It’s easy to give my teammates control of aspects of projects because I know they will do it right – they will do it better than I ever could.  A few days ago, I had a one-on-one meeting with a professor.  “Who is on your team?” he asked.  I told him.  “Oh.  That’s a very strong team.  A VERY strong team.”  I know.

I realize that sometimes teams struggle to work together.  I know teams can have conflicting personalities or difficult schedules.  I know some teams work well together, but never see each other outside of class.  I was warned about the variety of team differences, issues, and tensions before I started this program.  But none of that describes my team.  My teammates are wonderful people – they are smart and funny and driven.  We always laugh when we’re together, but we work our butts off, too.  We sit next to or within talking-distance of each other in almost every class, and we hang out on the weekends.  When I don’t understand something that’s going on in class, my teammates are more than willing to take the time out of their own busy schedules to help me.  I genuinely love my team, and I know that when this program ends, I will leave with at least four forever friends.  And that is a pretty epic MBA (and life) win.

Abhijit and Santiago are holding the map in front.  Joe is in the grey t-shirt behind them.  I'm the one in turquoise and hot pink, and Ben is next to me in navy.

Abhijit and Santiago are holding the map in front. Joe is in the grey t-shirt behind them. I’m the one in turquoise and hot pink, and Ben is next to me in navy.


Campus Hacks – Getting Around OSU

In the fall of my senior year of undergrad, my college offered a “career planning” class to help itinerant, liberal-art students like myself launch their career search. While I was excited to take some focused steps towards my vocational search, I was immediately skeptical when the first exercise of the class was to take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Test. The Myers-Briggs is essentially a multiple-choice test that asks test-takers questions like “Would you rather eat spaghetti with a friend or go see a horror movie alone?” I was already skeptical of personality tests, and while I was giving the Myers-Briggs an honest effort, the bizarre mix of wandering yet oddly specific questions seemed to confirm my doubts.

We received the results two weeks later. I got chills as I opened the results analysis and discovered that Myers-Briggs knew more about me than I did. The first sentence of my analysis was, “Despite the fact that you travel to the same locations on a daily basis, you take different routes and time each route to determine which is most efficient.” I was stunned – I do this constantly everywhere I go. Shocked and humbled, I changed my attitude about personality tests that day.

With the help of Myers-Briggs, I have learned to embrace my subconscious need for punctuality. A logistics/efficiency junkie and advocate of alternative transportation (i.e. walking, biking, and public transit), I have spent the last few weeks testing each bike and bus route to campus from my home in German Village. To make most efficient use of time, energy, and resources, I have developed a number of “Campus Hacks” that are helpful for those who (a) hate traffic, (b) don’t want to show up to class sweaty and disheveled, and (c) prefer to do their networking on COTA (Columbus’s public bus system). For my first grad life blog, I wanted to share some of these tips to help reach and navigate campus as efficiently (and comfortably) as possible.

BIKING
• Pack strategically!

  • Pack your dress shirt separately: I roll my dress shirts (to prevent wrinkling – it’s only semi-successful) and wear a different t-shirt (polyester – performance wicking) while I ride. Once I arrive at school and stand in front of an A/C vent for long enough to cool down, I change shirts and leave the sweaty shirt on my bike outside to dry off.
  •  Invest in good Tupperware: Nothing is more disappointing than a leaky lunch. Pay the premium for good containment supplies to keep your books dry and lunch intact

• Keep a small but ample arsenal of supplies in your locker

  • Coat and tie or Business Wear
  • Fleece: I am always cold in class, and carting a sweatshirt or fleece back and forth everyday takes up unnecessary space and weight in my pack.
  • Granola bars/snacks: Something that can supplement breakfast when time is against you
  • Comb/hair stuff: I get terrible helmet-hair when I ride my bike.
  • Gym Clothes: I keep a pair of tennis shoes, shorts, t-shirt, socks, and even dress shoes in my locker. This way, if I decide to work out during lunch or after class, I don’t have to carry these. On days I ride the bus, I bring the sweaty stuff home and replenish my locker supplies.

BUSSING
• Make productive use of time on the bus: sometimes the weather throws curveballs, and the real benefit from the bus (besides the socializing, of course) is the ability to get other things done in-transit.

  • Print readings and homework out a few days in advance. This way, if you have to take the bus on short notice, you can be sure to make best use of the time.
  • News Aggregators: It’s hard, but important, to make time to read about current events, the economy, etc. I use an app called Feedly, but there are several others out there. Basically, these allow you to build your own newspaper: you choose the media sources and even the categories. The app simply filters new articles from those sources into the categories you setup.
  • Download Podcasts: Podcasts are another great platform for keeping up with current events or other topics of interest – they are free, and sometimes after a series of busy days, projects, and other work it is much more enjoyable to sit back and listen. My favorites are NPR Planet Money, On Being, Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, and The Art of Manliness series. Downloading them in advance via WiFi will save you on your data plan!
  • Audio books: The Columbus Metropolitan Library is amazing. My next blog post will probably be entirely about why it is the best library chain in the world and why it is so valuable to citizens of Columbus. In the meantime, I will just mention that if you have a subscription to the library (free) you can download audiobooks to your smartphone or computer (free) through an app service called OverDrive (free). Okay, so it’s not “free” – you pay for it with your taxes – but it is an amazing, underutilized resource.

Travel well!

-Pete


Ge Case competition- importance of core classes

When you sign up for the core classes for the first semester, little do you realize the importance of the first semester. Economics, Finance, Marketing, Leadership and yeah, Accounting. They all look as stand alone concentration areas to me. However, if you try to dive into the analysis of a case, you will realize that you couldnt have been more wrong about them. I had my first official case presentation today for GE. The case was based on technology deployment in the energy sector. Very quickly, my team figured out that the best way to attack would be to analyze the scenario through all these different lens. I was amazed to find out that all these seemingly different concentration areas beautifully complement each other. Having decided on this framework, we woved our story by connecting all the dots. The learning from this case competition is that all areas are equally important no matter what you choose to specialize in at a later stage. My personal takeaway is to make sure that I develop my personal brand and have an open mind in analyzing the venues where I can leverage my strengths to maximize my utility and returns out of any decision( WOW! I did it!). Hope that fits into the happy ending note for a friday evening category. Wait a minute, is that a forceful fit?


Get Ready to Negotiate

Negotiations has been one of the most engaging classes I’ve taken all semester !  I opted for the once-a-week night class, and I’m glad for two reasons -

1. It’s better than the Tue/Thu day class combination since every class is designed in a way where you come prepared with the scenario, split into either team-on-team or one-on-one negotiations for roughly the first 90 minutes, and return to debrief in the second half to unpack what just happened. So it’s nice to be able to do that all at once without losing continuity.

2. The Working Professionals peer group makes for a very interesting class discussion. This is my first class with the WP students and it’s refreshing to hear their insights drawn from such a wide range of experiences, in addition to my own classmates whom I’ve come to know quite well over the past year.

Besides, if it’s a night class at the end of a long day, why not go for an interesting class like Negotiations where there’s a lot more ‘doing’ than ‘listening’. Some of the deals we are doing include job negotiations, multiparty deals, labor negotiations and dispute resolutions. There was even what I think was a ‘trick negotiation’, which was really a situation where walking away from the deal was the right thing to do. But we’d been making successful deals every week until that time and for some reason I felt the pressure to just make the deal.  Fell right into that trap, I should say.

Apart from learning useful tricks of the trade that will  help me enormously in my professional career, this class is a great confidence builder. And Professor Lount never fails to entertain !

ressume-negotiation

 

I  highly recommend Negotiations to students of all majors – it’s one of those classes with plenty of great takeaways. And for me personally, it’s a safe place to fail and learn as I continue to refine my leadership style.


P&G Marketing Case Competition

Fisher takes great strides to provide students with opportunities to apply the skills learned in class. One of these opportunities is the annual P&G Marketing Case Competition. Hosted by the world’s largest consumer goods manufacturer, the P&G Marketing Case Competition sees current P&G brand managers, many of whom are Fisher alumni, bring a real business problem facing P&G to teams of 4 first year MBA candidates.

 

The business problem this year regarded the multi-year stagnation of sales in the facial tissues category and how P&G can increase profits of their Puff’s brand of facial tissues. P&G brand managers gave us a brief presentation outlining the challenge and general details, after which we had 4 hours to brainstorm ideas, identify a strategy, and create a PowerPoint Presentation.

It was quite a challenge coming up with a strategy and prepare a presentation in only four hours. Taking the recommendations of 2nd year students, my team mapped out a timeline, allocating an hour for brainstorming ideas, two hours for building and justifying our proposal, and one hour finalizing our PowerPoint deck. By outlining our timeline, we were able to focus on one aspect of the project at a time and not waste time over-sharing ideas. Our time management was excellent as we finished right at the four hour mark. Admittedly, we did lose some time during dinner, as P&G graciously, or deviously seeing as we were time-constrained, treated us with catering from Moe’s Southwest Grill. We submitted our presentation and then joined the brand managers for a happy hour to unwind and get to know them in a more personal setting.

The following day, each team was given 15 minutes to present their proposal, followed by a 5 minute Q and A, to a 3-person panel made up of a senior brand manager at P&G and two Fisher professors. Though we didn’t get to ask any questions, each team was also in attendance and got to see each other’s creative ideas. I was truly impressed with how well-prepared and well-analyzed each group’s presentation and recommendation was. Every team had an excellent idea, incorporating unique insights and marketing acumen into their proposals. It was very affirming to see how quickly and fluidly we were all able to apply the skills we are developing here at Fisher. I was very proud of all my classmates. But…

Great job, Team Orange!

It was still a competition and one team had to win, and wouldn’t you know it, my team was declared the winner. We gave a strong presentation, clearly identifying who our target consumer was, why we were choosing her, how we would reach her, and why that strategy will work. I know synergy is an overused business school buzzword, but I can’t think of a better word to describe why my team was successful. We all came together with a clear team goal, a positive attitude, a willingness to assume multiple roles, and a degree of personal restraint, prioritizing the best interests of the project over our self-interests. I feel these team characteristics, along with our individual talents and creativity, are what led us to a successful and triumphant performance.

As a reward, we each got a P&G care package and an invitation to have dinner with Dr. Gil Cloyd, former CTO of P&G. It was an incredible honor to meet such a successful and high ranking individual. Over a delicious meal at the Blackwell, he shared with us his wisdom and wealth of knowledge about the consumer packaged goods industry.

Dinner at the Blackwell

Dinner at the Blackwell

This was the first of many case competitions Fisher has in store for us, and though I hope for the best for all my classmates, I am excited to defend my title!

 

 


Leading Student Organizations

5 weeks into the 2nd year of my MBA experience, I’ve noticed one key thing: I am BUSY –much busier than I had anticipated…. But in a good way. I’ve had the opportunity to take leadership roles as the President of two wonderful student organizations at Fisher, and I’ve loved every minute of it.

AMP

First – Fisher Association of Marketing Professionals (AMP), for which I am co-president with another 2nd Year MBA student – Melissa Roer. As the flagship organization for the marketing program here at Fisher, we’re not only working to involve students in marketing experiences and give them tools to learn and network, but also make the overall program the best it can possibly be. One of the goals of our executive team this year is to better prepare 1st Year MBA students for career fairs, interviews, case competitions, etc., so we’ve held workshop sessions and 1on1 mock interviews. We’re also creating a coaching program to give 1st year students direct contact with one 2nd year student. We’ve even created 1st year leadership committees to give students the opportunity to take a leadership role earlier in their first year. But that’s only in the first 5 weeks! As a team, we have so many great ideas for this upcoming year…. And it will only get better.

follies

Second – Fisher Follies, for which I act as president but work with an incredible group of classmates on a steering committee. Fisher Follies is an organization that celebrates the camaraderie of Fisher students, faculty and staff by not only poking fun at each other during our annual spring Variety Show, but also raising money for the Fisher Follies Fund. This fund makes gifts to Fisher students who are facing unexpected and extreme hardship. Every year, we raise money for this fund through our annual Fall Auction, in which all gifts and donations come directly from students, faculty and staff at Fisher. We are currently planning the auction now, so more details to come.

 

So, it goes without saying that I’m extremely passionate about both of these groups & their success. So even though I’m busy (and sometimes falling asleep in class), it’s completely worth it.


Fisher Family Network

One of the first things the Class of 2016 learned about during our two weeks of orientation was the Fisher Family. Community was one of the top buzzwords of the faculty and staff who presented to us, and they emphasized that everyone at Fisher – faculty, staff, and students – is here to help us grow and learn both academically and professionally.

And over the past few weeks, our class has bonded and become a family – a real one. Half the time I don’t even have to ask for help – people offer before I can.  Last week, one of my classmates, Michael, gave me the contact information for one of his friends who had interned with a company I was interested in.  “E-mail him!” Michael said.  “He’ll definitely be able to tell you about the culture and what their internships are like.”  So I did.  His friend wrote me a detailed mini-essay about the company.  It was awesome, and it really helped me.

Then, during the weekend, another classmate, Vlad, spent over two hours helping a group of people (including myself) figure out an accounting case. Two.  Hours.  It was a struggle-fest, let me tell you, as we slowly pieced together how to complete the case with Vlad acting as safety net in case we wandered too far off-track.  That was two hours he could have been napping.  Naps are scarce and highly valued commodities in grad school.  But he helped us anyways.

And it isn’t just our class that has become a family – the Fisher Family extends outwards to past students, too.  On Sunday, I was talking to my friend, Jessi, who recently graduated from Fisher.  I mentioned that I was interviewing with a certain company.  “Oh!  You’ve got to talk to Brian!”  She gave me the contact information of one of her classmates who had interned with and was currently working for the company.

And when I e-mailed Brian?  He immediately suggested we set up a time to talk.  When he found out I was a career-switcher, and a little overwhelmed by the tough marketing questions asked in interviews, he offered to give me interviewing help and said to e-mail him anytime I have questions.

I’ve never had so many people helping me succeed.  It’s pretty amazing.  If you have a weakness, your career counselors, classmates, and professors will help you strengthen that skill set.  The people at Fisher – both past and present – support one another and want to see each other succeed.  The Fisher Family is one of the things that most defines Fisher, and what makes it so special.


Talking with a CEO

Last fall, I came to The Fisher College of Business as an atypical business student—I graduated with degrees in International Relations and Geography, and the closest thing I got to a business curriculum was a single course in economics.   Also, I joined Fisher as an early career applicant, with just 2 years of professional experience.

Understandably, when I came to Fisher, my nerves were jumping off the charts: how was a 2 year master’s program going to help a student like me to become a business leader?

Two semesters and many classes later, I joined a start-up of sorts, as an intern, with one of the greatest business leaders in Columbus.  He asked me to stay with his company, through this fall, as I develop marketing communications for a new product launch.  It’s when my boss—who’s also the CEO of another successful company—comes into my office, sits down and talks with me that I realize just how much my business acumen has grown as a Fisher MBA.

When my boss shows me our company’s accounting statement, I can speak to and understand all of the figures on the page.  And when he talks to me about our operations, finances, and business sustainability, I can add value to the conversation by sharing my ideas.

Looking back, one year later, my nerves are still jumping off the chart, but this time, it’s for the excitement of joining the next class of great business leaders.  IRR, SG&A, and MTS inventory, no problem—being a Fisher MBA has taught me how to talk with, and like, a CEO.


Midterms, Accounting and Networking: Not that Bad!

Things have kind of ramped up here in the Fisher Full Time MBA program over the last couple of weeks. Even though we were already busy, our first set of midterms were upon us, our first accounting case was due and graduate careers fairs were beginning.

cf4Lmme

My Husky Energy dog from the Career Fair says “Arpha!”

This is going to sound as bizarre as having a football team with nobody over 5’10, but midterms were probably the easiest and least stressful part of the middle of September. There was only so much to study three weeks into school. Our Marketing Math quiz was literally based off of three pages, our Marketing exam was more application than memorization, Econ was more art (literally) than science and Finance could have been about 1000000% harder than it was. Like they say in business school, learning more than grades are what matters and once you realize the professors aren’t going to absolutely kill you on exams, the focus on learning becomes a lot easier to handle. It’s all about application and not rote memorization like many undergraduate exams tend to be.

The real big bad in all of this was an accounting case worth about 2% of our grade, if even that. Accounting has supremely thick barriers to entry, at least in the way we have been taught, and with CPAs being exempt from the class, it seemed like absolutely nobody knew what was going on. Thankfully, because our CPA Fisher Family brothers and sisters love us so much, they were happy to help us with our homework and at least give us a push in the right direction. We had study groups the two days before the case was due and even if nobody could completely figure it out, we’re learning and I think that’s all that matters. I hope, anyway. I’ll let you know how the next case goes.

And then there was the Fisher Graduate Career Fairs. The big one was in the Blackwell on the Fisher Campus and brought companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Nationwide, Wendy’s and PolyOne. It was a chance to try out our pitches of ourselves if nothing else and get used to talking to people at these booths about their companies and learning about places we could potentially intern next summer.

To say my first attempt at this was a trainwreck would be a lie as it was far, far worse than that. I’ll keep the details of this talk classified but let’s just say I won’t be getting a job with this employer. I slowly got better, however, and once I got to the companies I was actually interested in such as Wendy’s, as I am a longtime consumer of their wares, I felt like I was doing a decent job. Anyway, these fairs aren’t the end all be all of the job hunt but are good practice if nothing else.

Anyway, once these trials and tribulations of business school were over, there was still time to play soccer, do homework and do some intense Friday night networking in the Short North.

The best parts of all of these things though is that nearly every one of your classmates is going through the exact same thing and it helps you all bond and really become a Fisher Family (copyright someone, I’m sure). A lot of us have gotten closer or just met more people through studying at Gerlach Hall or going to talk to the same employers at info sessions and then having some hardcore networking seshes on Fridays.

This part’s really been my favorite as I haven’t always had the easiest time making friends in the past. In law school everyone was dispersed and it was hard to see anyone outside of class. Undergrad was more of a bizarre experience for me, personally. But here, I’ve done the best I’ve done since about 2nd grade socially and am apparently the class mascot somehow. My face is on the top of this Grad Life blog. I couldn’t have made a better decision to have come and even things like midterms and horrible accounting cases and scary career fairs haven’t dampened that in the least.


P&G Case Competition

As I write this its P&G Case Competition Eve – our teams are assembled, the 2nd years have given us the Competition run down/inside info. Claudel Nisingizwe, Christian Medeiros, Alison Schwalbe and I have joined forces to create the greatest super team since the Silver Snakes…

Wouldn’t it be nice if case competitions involved unfortunate headgear and giant talking rocks… food for thought P&G think it over.

Anyway, there will be eight teams of four competing in the competition, and on Thursday 9/25 we’ll be presented with the case at 3:00pm and have until 9pm to put together a full presentation. At 9pm, we turn the slides in and no changes can be made. The next day, Friday 9/26 we reconvene at 12:00pm and the rumble begins.

But for now we wait.

Procter and Gamble is one of the largest consumer packaged goods companies in the world, and we are lucky enough to have them on campus recruiting. Every year they host a case competition on Fisher’s campus for 1st year MBA students competing for glory, prestige, and a chance at business school immortality… or at the very least something cool to put on your resume. It really is a pretty special opportunity though – not only do we get to network with professionals from one of the most successful companies in the world, but we also get the chance to apply what we’ve learned in the classroom thus far to a real world problem. Granted we’re only a few weeks in, but they seem to find a way to really pack things in. Send out some good vibes for our team, and I’ll be sure to do a post P&G competition update.


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