On Fisher’s Difference – A Reflection

Reflecting on my first three semesters here in the Fisher FTMBA program, I find the question that I’m most often asked by family, friends, and applicants to the program is: “What differentiates Fisher from other MBA programs?” Over time, I’ve realized that my best answer is not really my answer; it’s Dr. Tony Rucci’s.

Dr. Rucci is a clinical professor of management here at Fisher, and all first year students in the full time MBA program take his Leadership course as a part of the core curriculum. His impressive resume contains stints in the C-suites of Cardinal Health and Sears Roebuck and Co, and Dr. Rucci is actively involved in the community through several advisory roles and multiple philanthropic ventures.

Dr. Rucci could have continued his successful career in the private sector, but he chose to teach at Fisher.

Dr. Rucci could have gone and taught at any business school of his choosing around the country, but he chose to teach at Fisher.

During the first week of Dr. Rucci’s core leadership course, while leading a class conversation on a project concerning the development of our team’s purpose and values statements for Fisher, I recall asking him, “Why Fisher? What makes this program special to you?” After a contemplative pause, Dr. Rucci replied:

At many other MBA programs, students go to class against their competition, fighting to take their next step in life over the fallen body of their vanquished foe. Here at Fisher, students go to class with their friends, and everyone works to take their next steps in life together, arm-in-arm.”

Three semesters later, I can still remember Dr. Rucci answer my question as if it had just happened yesterday. I think part of the reason why this memory has remained so fresh is that I see this message in practice every single day in the interactions among Fisher students. “How firm thy friendship” from Ohio State’s alma mater Carmen Ohio and “Go Beyond” from Fisher’s branding campaign seem like nice sentiments on a page, pamphlet, or computer screen. But seeing them lived out in person packs a potent, palpable punch so powerful that even previously cynical me has become a believer in Dr. Rucci’s words.

Friends Giving With the Swimmers!

Have you ever heard of a Friends Giving?? I had no idea what it was until my roommate told me we should throw one about two weeks ago. Needless to say I wasn’t entirely sure what he was talking about and needed for him to explain. I had no idea how popular these things are but apparently a Friends Giving is when you assemble, exactly like you would on Thanksgiving, except the difference is a Friends Giving is more for seeing close friends rather than relatives. So I was hooked and decided we needed to go all out!

My roommate Rowan and I started this adventure by making a list of people we were going to invite (mostly old swimming friends who can eat..a lot) and a list of food that we wanted everyone to bring. Naturally, being the hosts, we decided to take on the turkey! Roaming around Kroger, we found a behemoth of a 25 pound turkey and I instantly called my mom to ask if we could borrow her roaster and of course…how to cook a turkey.


As the day approached, I started to get nervous that people wouldn’t show up, wouldn’t bring any food or that the turkey wouldn’t turn out! Just being a little worrisome I guess. We thawed our bird, seasoned it up, threw it in the roaster and got ready to wait! After two hours it was done…I didn’t know what to do because people weren’t coming over for another two hours so we just turned the temperature way down and got to work on setting up our apartment with the amazing aroma of turkey thick in the air.


I was blown away at what amazing culinary masterpieces people brought: mac ‘n cheese, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, bread and butter, chicken wings, buffalo chicken dip (dangerously good), ham and of course…the desserts: Oreo pudding, mini pecan pies, full sized apple and pumpkin pies, ice cream and cookies. Then came the moment of truth, it was time to cut into the bird. I was nervous but it turned out to be one of the best turkeys I’ve ever had!


The rest of the night consisted of watching football, stuffing ourselves, playing cards, eating more, recanting the funniest of stories from our golden days, trying to fit a few last bites in and a lot of sitting and digesting. All-in-all, our Friends Giving was a huge success and it made me feel like such an adult…not sure if I’m ready for that just yet!

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.

AICPA Legacy Scholarship

I think it would be helpful for students considering the MAcc program at Ohio State to know that there are not only fellowships, graduate assistantships, and scholarships from Ohio State, but there are also opportunities to receive scholarship money from external organizations.


After applying to Ohio State, I was made aware of the scholarships available through the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). The AICPA offers a number of different scholarships for aspiring CPAs who are attending undergraduate or graduate school to one day pursue a career in accounting. These scholarships are all part of a program called “The AICPA Legacy Scholars Program“. This program not only provides financial assistance, but also teaches leadership skills and allows students to network with other aspiring accountants and accounting professionals.

The four scholarships offered are:

  1. AICPA/Accountemps Scholarship Award: This is a $10,000 scholarship awarded to 4 students
  2. AICPA Scholarship Award for Minority Accounting Students: This is a $1,000-$5,000 scholarship awarded to 80 students
  3. AICPA John L. Carey Scholarship Award: This is a $5,000 scholarship awarded to 5 students
  4. AICPA Foundation Two-Year Transfer Scholarship Award: This is a $3,000 scholarship awarded to 15 students

Recipients of any of these scholarships must perform at least 8 hours of community service per semester to advocate for the CPA/Accounting profession. I recently completed a service event to meet this 8 hour requirement where I went back to my undergraduate institution and presented to the accounting club. I prepared a PowerPoint presentation that included information about the accounting profession, what the AICPA is, information about the CPA exam, and some general career and graduate school advice. I chose to complete my event at my undergraduate school because I thought it would benefit students at a small liberal arts school to learn more about the accounting profession, and having just graduated last year, I felt like any additional advice relating to my future career/graduate school I could have received would have been helpful.

If you are a current undergraduate student who is either going to still be an undergraduate student or a graduate student next year, you should definitely check out the AICPA’s website to see if you meet the qualifications for any of these scholarships!

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!




Top 10 Most Memorable Experiences from the 1st Semester:


1: Tepper Case Competition – This past weekend I traveled to Pittsburgh to participate in an international supply chain case competition with three others from Fisher. While our team didn’t advance to the finals, we learned a TON, networked with executives from a handful of companies, spent 30 hours working on a LIVE company problem and experienced a first-class wine and dine experience. #istillneedtocatchuponsleep


2: Football games – I used to think OSU was the evil powerhouse team that wins too much. Now, I’ve drunk the scarlet Kool-Aid. #punintended #O-H…

3: CEO of Cardinal Health – About every other week a C-suite speaker comes in for a lunch seminar. My favorite has been George Barrett from Cardinal Health. Here is the article (I was even quoted in the article!) #freepaneralunch #greatopportunity

4: Fisher prayer – every other week between 3 and 10 of us gather to talk about how life in Fisher is impacting our lives. Then we pray for 20 minutes. Great memories reflecting and opening up to classmates.

5: Winning the MBA poker tourney. We are a competitive bunch! #thisblogpostinnowaysupportsgamblingbutdangitsfun


6: Urban Meyer spoke on leadership to the College of Business just 24 hours before JT Barrett was arrested for a DUI. I snapped this picture from my seat!

Red Lobster

7: Red Lobster – Our marketing final involved a 24-hour deep-dive into a case about Red Lobster’s effort to re-position itself in the market. This required some memorable late night studying sessions and the obligatory trip with my family and classmates to Red Lobster for ‘market research’. #thebestcheesybiscuitsontheplanet

8: Diwali celebration – Learning about Indian culture from dozens of my classmates and professors. A true highlight and such a fantastic cultural exchange. #deliciousfood

9: This coming weekend…. There are still a few weeks left in the semester, but I’ve been looking forward to the coming weekend. Fisher Follies, MSU vs. OSU, and a families of Fisher parent gathering!

10: I love classes. Seriously, I am SO grateful for a number of my classes this semester. Honorable mentions also go to Data Analysis and Econ and Leadership. The personal development and challenge we have been given to grow our emotional intelligence in leadership is invaluable!

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.


Fisher Impact Day: Our Lady of Guadalupe Center

Fisher faculty and students with volunteers and staff of the Guadalupe Center.

Fisher faculty and students with volunteers and staff of the Guadalupe Center.

“There are green peppers under here! Everyone loves these!” I could see the joy on Megan’s face as she lifted up the last box of cucumbers to reveal the green peppers beneath. She paused to say something in Spanish to the two other regular volunteers. I smiled because everyone else was so happy, but I was also a little surprised to see such excitement over a vegetable. I can’t say that I’ve ever been excited to see a vegetable, but that is probably because I have always had enough to eat. For those that come to the Our Lady of Guadalupe Center, hunger is something that is all too familiar.

Megan is a senior Spanish major at The Ohio State University and regularly volunteers with the Our Lady of Guadalupe Center. She did the training for our work at the center on Fisher Impact Day. November 11th was Fisher’s very first Fisher Impact Day, and hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff, volunteered at non-profit organizations around Columbus. As the Chair of Fisher Board Fellows, I was asked to sit on the committee and help recruit organizations to participate. Some of Fisher Board Fellows’ partner organizations that participated were: Catholic Social Services, Ronald McDonald House, Local Matters, Mid-Ohio Foodbank, LifeCare Alliance, and the Columbus Zoo. In addition to these organizations, we had students helping out with the Red Cross and Goodwill, as well as students who made blankets for foster children, and students who helped create packages of food with The Pack Shack. I chose to volunteer with the Guadalupe Center because it is run by Catholic Social Services, which is the board I currently sit on as a fellow.

At the Guadalupe Center, myself and two other Fisher volunteers helped sort through and bag produce. While we worked, Megan taught us what each vegetable and fruit was in Spanish, and she explained to us how the center functioned. As a business student, I was impressed by the organization and efficiency of the center. Clients called in to make an appointment, and then each family was allotted a certain number of playing cards (dependent on the number of family members and the individual needs of each family), and each card was worth one point. Families were able to spend their points on whatever food they wanted, but produce didn’t cost any points – everyone got fresh fruit and vegetables. Volunteers were on-hand to help push shopping carts and keep the center organized and everything running smoothly.

For me, the green pepper moment was the most memorable of the day, because the volunteers were so genuinely excited. It showed how much the volunteers and staff at the Guadalupe Center care about those they serve. Their kindness and their dedication are invaluable because the clients at the Guadalupe Center come at their most vulnerable and in need of help. Compassion and respect are two of Catholic Social Services’ core values, and these values permeated throughout our entire volunteer experience.

Even though I was a Fisher Impact Day committee member and have been present through each step of the planning process, I am still impressed by how well it went, and by what a wonderful experience students had. I truly hope that Fisher Impact Day continues, and I hope the committee continues to partner with Fisher Board Fellows. Giving back to the community is so important for students, but it is especially important for business students. We spend our days in class learning about shareholders equity and market share and profit margins, but in the real world, where people are hungry and struggling to make it through the next day, those things don’t really matter all that much. Sometimes what matters most is a green pepper. And sometimes we need a reminder of that.

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