Posts filed under 'MHRM'

Business Excellence 2: My Favorite Course

It has been 3 months since I arrived in the U.S. and started my graduate life. It is hard to believe that the first semester is almost coming to an end. In this semester, I learned a lot from different courses, but my favorite course is MHRM 7321: Business Excellence 2, taught by Professor Schaffner.

Every class began with Professor Schaffner’s question: “What is in your mind or what did you find interesting about HR this week?” Then students brought their different topics and discussed. We might spend half of the class in these topics. In these discussions, we can talk about the problems we met in HR work and then classmates offer opinions and suggestions. Overall, we are free to voice our opinions and Professor Schaffner always pushes us to think deeply by asking thoughtful questions.


The exams of MHRM 7321 are different, too. Instead of concluding and remembering authors’ opinions, we analyze a certain case with what we have learned in the course. There are two principles of these exams. First is “show off what you have learned.” I think applying the theories, models, and approaches we learned in the class to a case maybe is the best way to link theory to practice. And the professor really encourages us to think beyond the case to our work experience. Second is “creative,” in which we can use different materials and our own experience to support our opinions. As Professor Schaffner says, “Surprise me. Teach me something.”


Last class was even more interesting. We spent almost one and half hours to “design a wallet for your partner.” It was not an activity but a process in which we learned how a design process works. What surprised me most is the result of design process: some really cool or even amazing designs! It is not just a process to design something different, but is a process to think differently.

I was not very used to the course at first because it was so different from classes I had before (both in China and in America). Actually, I never had a course as creative and thoughtful as MHRM 7321. After three months, I found that my mind was changed: now when I analyze cases or read an article from other courses, I tend to use the thoughts I learned from 7321. Some said this course will affect them in 5 years, while I think maybe this course will affect me in my whole lifetime.

What is the case competition like?

We finally got to experience the long awaited case competition! What an exhausting, but exhilarating process.  It is amazing how quickly the time passed by. The morning began with coffee, OJ, and bagels as we sat down in a classroom waiting for the information. Once they started talking about the case, there is a palpable air of competition that I have not previously felt from my classmates. Everyone wanted to win.

We broke off into our groups and found our way to our assigned rooms and we spent the next 16 hours preparing our solution and presentation to the case. The time actually passed relatively quickly. Looking back on the experience, it was fascinating to interact with my peers in a “serious” working context. The context was real enough to motivate us to do well in preparing and practicing for a board room context. Although their were moments when we become anxious and felt pressure by the looming deadline.

The people who organized this event did an amazing job from day one. The informational sessions, the visit to a plant, the food during the case competition, and the persistent and sincere help in all the logistics was amazing. Thank you to everyone who helped us to participate in this opportunity.

We stayed until around 11 pm and because I have a parking pass for the Lane Garage (next to Fisher) I was able to drop my group members off at their homes or their cars relatively easily. On a quick tangent, for any working student who is debating whether or not to get a pass for the Lane Avenue garage. Do it! It is very exhausting working full time and going to school full time. The pass has been so convenient. I have thanked my wife, so many times for encouraging me to make the investment.

I got home around 12 midnight and immediately fell asleep. I woke up about 3 hours later to get back to Fisher and practice for the presentation.  Thank goodness we arrived back early! We managed to get through a good rehearsal and finish up some last minute details.

We were one of the last groups to present, so we had about 2 hours to get nervous for the actual presentation. We presented the case and afterwards felt good about what we had done.

Of course, the judges evaluation was a little different than our expectations.  We were disappointed that we hadn’t won, but all of us were grateful for the experience.  There were moments when we experienced pressure by the looming deadline, but when it came down to presenting, I was thoroughly impressed by the abilities of our group. We didn’t win the competition, but we still received some irreplaceable takeaways: feedback (both wonderful and humbling), experience in presenting to executives, and a new set of friends with a unique shared experience.

MHRM Case Competition

One of the MHRM program requirements is to participate in the annual internal case competition during the first or second year in the program. Each student is placed on a team with 3 others, and teams are typically comprised of both first and second years. During the event, a company presents an HR-related problem they are currently facing, then the teams deliberate to create a strategy and solution to address the problem.


This year’s case competition was hosted by PepsiCo. Teams arrived at Fisher by 7:30am on Friday, and once PepsiCo shared the background of their situation, teams had from roughly 9AM on Friday through 8am on Saturday to develop a solution and create a presentation that would assist in pitching the solution to PepsiCo. Each team presented to 3-4 judges, who were either Pepsico HR professionals or local HR professionals. At the conclusion of individual group presentations, all participants gathered together to provide 1 minute executive summaries on their group’s proposal, and then awards were presented to Best Speaker, Best Question & Answer, and Overall Best.

Participation in the case competition allows students to analyze real HR problems and provide thoughtful solutions. It also provides students an opportunity to practice their communication, problem-solving, and presentation skills. Lastly, it is a great networking event. It not only helps connect students with HR professionals, but also connects them with their peers in the MHRM program. I was very fortunate to have been paired with 3 first year MHRM students, and we were able to speak openly and honestly with one another, challenge one another, and support one another throughout the process. We walked away from the case competition having both laughed and learned a lot!




MHRM Case Competition: Sponsored by PepsiCo

The MHRM Case Competition: I remember learning about it during my visit at Fisher and Day 1 of Orientation we were given the date (November 6th and 7th, 2015). As a graduation requirement, this is has been one of my favorite experiences thus far at Fisher!

The MHRM Case Competition at Fisher College of Business is a unique opportunity most other programs and schools cannot offer. Due to the fact Fisher houses the MHRM program in the business school, we are afforded unique opportunities and partnerships with companies like PepsiCo. PepsiCo sponsors our event and in exchange, our program is broken up into teams to work in a “hackathon”-like scenario to provide our best recommendations to the company’s latest HR issues they have not been able to find a resolution for. Professor Ankerman spearheads the competition with training, aid, food, and inspiration!

Step 1: Pick your team. This is a key step that doesn’t involve picking your friends (although the best players might be your friends like in my situation). Professor Ankerman taught us training day 1, if you want to win, you need to strategize by picking a team with a variety of strengths. GroupThink can be one of the biggest downfalls in any team, so it’s important to pick a team with diverse perspectives. It’s also equally important to pick a team you’re comfortable with. During the case competition you present to your teammates what you think are your best ideas, and you have to be okay with telling someone their idea may suck, while also receiving feedback that your idea may suck. Get cozy because you’re with your team for nearly a straight 24-hour period!

case comp 1

Step 2: Attend all opportunities presented by Professor Ankerman. Not only did he hold two info sessions for the MHRM students participating in the case comp, but we also took a “field trip” to the PepsiCo plant in Wooster, Ohio. This was a unique learning opportunity to take our best guesses at what the case could be about (you don’t get the case until Friday morning at 7:30am and teams present starting Saturday at 8:30am). We got to tour the Frito Lay plant, ask plant managers questions, taste Lays and Fritos right off the belt, and explore with eyes and ears open. I think having two of my four team members (myself included) go to the plant was a key factor in us winning in the case comp!

Step 3: Caffeinate, eat, laugh, and work hard. Friday and Saturday morning of the case comp weekend I was a regular at Starbucks. Although Panera is catered for breakfast with donuts, bagels, fruit, and coffee, I’m a firm believer that a cappuccino is my own secret weapon to get me on my A game. I’m fortunate my team consisted of my friends, so the entire experience could not have been more fun and rewarding for me. The first 45 minutes we individually put together a plan, so that we could avoid conforming to GroupThink. Then we put together what we felt like was our best plan (a hybrid of the best aspects from our individual plans), refined, practiced, refined some more, practiced some more, and presented Saturday morning as one of the first teams in room 305.

case comp 3

What I found as our key to winning: By the time dinner came around (7pm-ish Friday) we were growing weary. Our brains had been going endlessly on 110% all day. We took some time to play with a furry friend, practiced some more, felt extra defeated after seeing all the areas for improvement, and jammed to Hey ya Ignition remix, Sweet Caroline, and Its Gonna Be Me, and practiced one final time. We were determined to put together a top-notch presentation for PepsiCo and Fisher College of Business MHRM program, so we didn’t leave Gerlach Hall until 11:40pm Friday night. Truly, I believe what set us apart from other presentations, though, was our thought process. We went with a plan that was risky, different, and slightly unheard of. But I think that’s what PepsiCo needed and was open to hearing about. The case comp was an opportunity to have free reign with whatever ideas we had! The judges interrupted, criticized, but ultimately complimented by naming Team D (our team) the winners of room 305.

case comp 2

Fisher Impact Day

On Nov. 11th, I participated in a volunteer activity held by Fisher: Fisher Impact Day.

My friends and I arrived at Fisher Hall at 8:30 a.m. It was cold in the morning but I found many people already arrived, with immense zeal. After I signed in, we went to Mason Hall for breakfast: doughnuts and coffee were provided.


At 9:00 a.m. we went outside Mason Hall for Kick-off featuring the OSU Color Guard. From the speech, I knew it was the first time that Fisher held Fisher Impact Day. It was an honor to take part in the first Fisher Impact Day! But I really hope speakers could make their speech shorter as it was so cold standing outside.

Because my friends and I signed up for an off-campus location, we then got on bus and headed to our destination: Harmon Kitchen. After a brief welcome, the leader told us that Harmon Kitchen was set up for providing people who need food. To my surprise, they also provide food to their pets. The leader explained that because pets are these people’s families and friends, they deserved to be treated well. It was really thoughtful. We were assigned for different work: 6 of our group members worked in the kitchen and my friends and I (4 people) helped to pack tableware.


There were a set of requirements on packing tableware. For example, the knife must to the left, the fork must be above the knife and the spoon must be on the top. There were also requirements on napkins, too. Because I was not good at folding napkins, we followed the leader’s suggestion and decided that I place the tableware while my friend folded the napkins. As time passed by, we worked faster and better. Look at what we packed, they looked nice, right?


Time flied by fast. At 12:30pm, the bus picked us up and back to Fisher. Although I was hungry and tired, I felt a sense of satisfaction and achievement. My friends were also excited about our Fisher Impact Day. In my opinion, Fisher Impact Day provided an opportunity for us to do something meaningful for society, gain a sense of responsibility, and meet different people.


A New Toy

One of my classmates and I were chatting about doing the program full time, working full time, and raising a family full time! I told him, “Classes are invigorating, because I feel like I am constantly getting new toys to play with!” Both of us are fortunate to be working in HR fields and have the capability and opportunity to “play” with these new models in practical settings. On another level, it was nice to be able to talk to someone else that could empathize with managing multiple life roles.

We visited a Frito Lay company today in preparation for the case competition next Friday. I enjoyed the whole experience from being on a bus with my cohort to the plant visit. One classmate had a ‘charades’ app in which you place the cellphone across your forehead. A phrase, name, etc pops up and the group gives you clues to help the person holding it to figure out what the word is. It helped the time pass pretty quickly. We also discovered that one of my classmates is extremely adept at recognizing pokemon names. In two minutes, he was able to name 16 pokemon characters. The day ended with me coming home and carving pumpkins with my little ones.

On class days, I come straight from work to campus (getting here around 4:30 pm) and sit in the grad lounge to smarten myself up before class by looking over the notes I took while reading the class material. Sitting here today, I realize why there is a recommendation not to work full time and go to school full time. I can already see the orientation people smacking their heads in exasperation for my late recognition of this phenomenon. I recognize what I am missing out on. I hear many of my classmates talk about the parties they attended together or the intramural sports that many of them are participating in together. It is likely that many of my classmates are truly getting to know each other and are beginning to form deep friendships. Although it may not be in the same method as many in my class, I have been fortunate enough to find quite a few friends myself! I think the key takeaway is that there are many different strategies to find connections, but it is absolutely crucial to do so if you are to gain more than a piece of paper by the time that you graduate. In my earlier post, I wrote about the benefits of working full time and going to school full time and that works for me! However, there are definitely some benefits into really diving into the experience of getting to know people as not just classmates, but friends.

A different mood

Please forgive the unique composition of this blog!  I have been concerned that I was posting too much and wanted to approach it using a different method to see how it goes!  I am going to post a summary of my week, so it will be a bit disjointed until I get a better feel of how to summarize the experiences of the week.

My wife and I thought it would be nice to Skype on the days that I went straight from work to school, since I most likely would be unable to see my kids that day. My kids were thrilled.   My daughter showed off a pretty ‘Minnie’ dress that she was wearing while my little boy kept kissing towards the screen.   My daughter kept saying that she wanted to “see the people” and so I turned the screen towards two of my classmates that I was with.  They said, “hello” and my daughter turned away silently.  My boy just sort of stared at them, not saying anything.  Turning back to the screen, I talked to them for a bit and then had to say “goodbye” as I went to prepare for a new class.

Sitting in the classroom and getting ready for the Talent Management course.  The most noticeable thing is that we are in a different and smaller room than we were accustomed to.  Despite the decrease in the availability of seats, everyone is actively talking with each other as if they have all been friends for a long time.  This is only month three of our program and the dynamic is much different then the first class that we shared where everybody was more hesitant and cautious.  It truly seems to be shaping up to be a cohort.  Everyone is getting more comfortable with each other.

There are so many “unscheduled” opportunities to take advantage of while you are pursuing your degree.  Taking the opportunities to get to know your classmates (future working colleagues) by spending a few minutes after class discussing how classes are going or debating various topics.  One of my classmates and I sometimes will spend an hour or so after class, just talking to each other about the program and classes we are in.  It’s really nice to talk to another person who can empathize with the experiences at Fisher.  In another sense, it reminds me of the potential that all of us have and how listening inspires so many new ideas.

The more that I am in this program, it seems like ideas perpetually creep in to my head.  I am in the midst of proposing a staffing coordinators conference and keep getting more and more information to make it better.  There is a certain allure to running something on this level.  It is the kind of thing that would be a great way of encapsulating concepts that I am currently learning and at the same time, strengthening the organization that I work for!  Almost every class provides ideas to implement in the work setting:  Getting to know the clients of our company better and learning more about how to effectively develop solutions while experimenting with innovative ideas.

To end this week, I want to express my gratitude to everyone who has been reading my blog.  Please let me know if this has been interesting, helpful, or if there is something else that you want to know!  I look forward to hearing from you!

Pumpkin Carving

Last Friday (October 30), I went to an activity held by IFI. In this activity, I learned how to carve a pumpkin and I made my first pumpkin carving. Just like make-up party and “trick or treat,” pumpkin carving is a tradition for Americans to celebrate Halloween.

Thinking “Do in Rome as Rome does” and believing it would be fun to learn more about American culture, I joined the activity. When I came to the activity, I found most people who came here are Chinese. After the host introduced how to carve a pumpkin. I picked a pumpkin and several tools.


At first, I was not sure how to carve a pumpkin. After the introduction, I first made a draft of the pattern that I wanted to carve. As it was my first time to carve a pumpkin, I decided to choose the simplest design. Then I stopped because I hesitated on where I should make my first carve. I was afraid I would ruin the pumpkin. A man noticed my hesitation and came to help me. With his help, I succeed to cut the top of the pumpkin and scooped out the flesh.

After that, I felt more confident about my carving. So I affixed my design to the pumpkin. But when I trace the design by poking holes with a sharp awl, I found the pumpkin was a little bit hard so that I had to carve hard. I first make holes in the pumpkin for eyes, then for a nose, finally the mouth. When I finally finished it,  I took many pictures and you can see from above, I was very happy!


Soon, people around me all finished their pumpkins. When we turned out the light and light the candles inside the pumpkins, it was like going into a fairy tale world. I was surprised that there were so many wonderful pumpkin designs: Statue of Liberty, Harry Potter, Winnie the Pooh… I thought these people must be pumpkin carving masters and their rich imaginations really surprised me.


In China, we also eat pumpkins. Actually, we have different ways to make pumpkins: pumpkin soups, pumpkin congee, fried pumpkin and so on. But we do not eat pumpkins for a special season: they are just like other common vegetables we eat for our daily life. We do not carve pumpkins, either. I knew when fall season comes, Americans have all kinds of food with pumpkin favor. Pumpkin kind of means fall and harvest for Americans.  It is interesting to know this culture difference and experience a different tradition.

Buckeye Traditions

The Ohio State University has a rich history, which has inspired passion, pride and traditions. Some of the traditions that exist on campus today are the following:

“Carmen Ohio” – This song was written by The Ohio State University’s four letter athlete and Glee Club singer, Fred Cornell. This song is sung multiple times throughout football game days, as well as different commencement events (i.e. Candlelight Ceremony and graduation). The title means “Ohio Song,” and continues to be one of the university’s oldest school songs and traditions.

“Buckeye Battle Cry” – This song is recognized as Ohio State’s fight song, which is performed by the acclaimed Ohio State University Marching Band (also known as TBDBITL – The Best Damn Band in the Land).

Script Ohio – This has become a trademark associated with OSU football. TBDBITL forms a looped “Ohio” script on the field. Another tradition tied to Script Ohio is Dotting the I. Each game a different fourth- year or fifth-year sousaphone player is selected to stand as the dot in the “I” of “Ohio.”


Homecoming – There are several homecoming events that celebrate OSU students past, present and future. The Homecoming Parade and Homecoming Pep Rally help kick-off the festivities, and throughout the weekend there are tailgates, football, and more!

Mirror Lake – The Ohio State University and University of Michigan athletic rivalry is one that has caught the attention of sports fans around the world. As a result, the week leading up to the OSU vs. Michigan game is referred to as “Beat Michigan Week.” One of the events that students participate in is known as the Mirror Lake jump. Mirror Lake is a man-made pond near the Oval (also known as the heart of campus), and students gather to jump into the lake the Tuesday night of Michigan Week. It may not be sanctioned by the University, but it’s a tradition that continues to build camaraderie amongst Buckeyes.

Commencement Week – This week is filled with celebratory events for graduating students, and one of the traditions within Commencement Week is the Commencement Eve Candlelight Ceremony. This is an event where undergraduate, graduate and professional students and their families and friends gather on the Oval on Commencement Eve. Guest speakers share remarks, and then attendees light a candle and sing “Carmen Ohio.”

The Long Walk – Being a romantic, one of my favorite traditions is known as The Long Walk, which takes place on the Oval. It is said that if couples are able to walk the brick path from College Road to Thompson Library holding hands without interference or another crossing their path, then they are destined to be together forever.

These are just a few of the traditions that exist here at OSU, but there are many more. The traditions exist to bring people together, build community, and make memories.

Note: Since there are several references to TBDBITL, you can check them out at:

Autumn Break is Great, but Getting Hired during Autumn Break is Even Better!

Here comes the autumn break after all the exams for the first portion of the semester are done. I am really cheerful about this break, although without a car and money, it might be a little difficult to come up with an exciting plan for the vacation. However, 4 days ago, I wrote an email to apply for a part-time job on campus and got a reply the day before my final exam. My mind was so occupied by the exam, but I still went to the interview in the next building, guessing they probably will say “thank you and goodbye” after hearing my English. I am applying for front desk work which expects me to answer the phone. Figured I would just take it as an experience of an interview. But surprisingly, the only interview question is “are you available this Wednesday and Thursday?” An interesting thing is when the lady in the office asked me if the salary is ok for me, I said “much better than nothing.” I actually mean having a job and earning some money is better than not working. I probably shouldn’t have missed that lecture for compensation negotiation on the HUB. I’m really grateful that I can get a job as an international student. I hope my English skills will prove to be worth the payment. Maybe Fisher is really my perfect predestined choice. Anyway, life is getting better and better. I’m really grateful for what Fisher has given me.

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