Double the Overtime, Double the Anxiety

Experiencing my first “TTUN” week (keep reading…) was and will be one of my best memories here at The Ohio State. The *ichigan rivalry is a long-standing source of angst in college football. During the week leading up to the big game, all the “Ms” are crossed out on campus and the team is referred to as “that team up north.” Being from out-of-state, I had a decision to make: fly home for Thanksgiving and miss the game, or go to the game to cheer on my Buckeyes. I chose the latter of the two. I have a flight home in three short weeks for winter break so I decided to save the money of booking two flights and stay up here for Thanksgiving to go to one of the all-time greatest college football games I have seen.

No “M’s” allowed!
Storming the field!

It was a noon game so the MAcc program decided to put on a tailgate in the morning so we could all get together before the big game. We had it at a house close to campus (shout-out to Kaitlyn) and then for those of us whot had tickets, we walked to the game together. Once we were at the game, time flew! It was so exhilarating just to be in the stands experiencing the ups and downs of the game, but mainly the ups! I have never seen a double overtime game, but once Curtis Samuel ran it in for a touchdown, the entire student section just started running for the field. People were hopping over the railings and helping each other on to the field to celebrate a breathtaking Buckeye win! I made it onto the field and listened to the band play the fight song and cheer. A 30-27 double overtime win was an amazing way to end the last home football game during my time here as a MAcc student.

Social Events at The Fisher College of Business

Some people might say that a school like Ohio State is too big and overwhelming. In my experience, this has not been the case at all. Ohio State has almost 60,000 students! However, the MAcc program has about 80. This really gives it that small campus feel, with the resources of a major university.

Because the MAcc program is comprised of about 80 students (81 to be exact this year), we are a very close-knit group. I am in classes all day with these people, eat lunch with them, and hang out with them on the weekends. It makes Ohio State feel that much smaller.

If you are shy or nervous to meet people, there are so many great img_1779opportunities to meet people! Each program has a council (MAcc, SMF, MBA, MHRM) and each of those councils have a social chair and community service event coordinator. In addition, there is the Fisher College of Business Social Chair club that encompasses students from all of the specialized programs to put on events for everyone. One example of events we have is home football tailgates at Fisher Commons. This is put on by the Fisher Social Chairs (for all programs) and they have someone grilling… and cornhole. We also recently had our Fisher Halloween Party for all programs.

The MAcc program had its own event over the weekend, as well, where we all went to a local farm and picked apples and pumpkins. Point being, there is numerous opportunities to meet people from within your program and within the Fisher College of Business as a whole. Later this month we have a MAcc toy drive! Many more fun events to come. img_1780 img_1781

5 Things I learned Moving From the South

1. Coat Closets

Coat closets exist. When I first moved up here and checked out my apartment, I was a little surprised by this random closet by my front door. I honestly assumed it was there because I live in a one-bedroom with a funky layout. Low and behold, this mysterious closet space is meant for coats! Over time, I have slowly filled it with the very few coats I own.

It is interesting because this affects the layout of Gerlach Hall (the graduate building of the Fisher College of Business). In your classroom buildings there are hooks near the door for your coats, as well as throughout the building– there are miscellaneous areas for your coats and winter gear. I think most important is the excellent use of lockers that Gerlach Hall has captured. Now, this isn’t something that you decorate and write your friends notes in. Rather, as a graduate student you will be spending a good amount of time on campus and more specifically Gerlach Hall, as all of my MAcc classes are in this building. It is extremely convenient to have a lockable space for your coats, your lunch, and your school supplies.

Fisher Lockers

2. Basements

Coming from the south, basements are a foreign concept to me. It took me the first few weeks of classes to realize that there was a whole other level below us. One of the many things that sold me on Ohio State was the Fisher College of Business tunnels. The College of Business is comprised of four main buildings: Schoenbaum, Mason, Fisher, and Gerlach Hall. Schoenbaum and Mason Hall are primarily undergraduate business buildings, Fisher is mostly faculty offices, and Gerlach is where most graduate business classes are held. There are tunnels that connect all of these buildings. When I first heard this, I imagined walking through scary, cold tunnels. However, this is not the case. The tunnels are a great resource to have on a rainy day or when you just don’t feel like dealing with the cold.

3. Soda = Pop

Columbus, Ohio, is a great city to live in. With such a diverse group of people, there is exposure to so many different cultures. One thing that the city of Columbus and more broadly, the Midwest region have in common is their usage of the word “pop.” If you ask for a pop in the south you will get some funny looks. People are much more accustomed to the word “soda” where I am from. For those of you that do not know what either of these terms are referring to, it is a sweet, carbonated beverage.

4. Humidity– or lack there of

Great hair days.

One great thing about moving north is the lack of humidity. The south is known to be extremely humid and almost like a sauna in the summertime. The great thing is that Columbus, Ohio, is pretty mild in temperature. There is way less humidity which leads to better hair days.

beyonce

On the flip side, because of this drier air, chapstick will be your best friend. Not everyone feels like this, but I think because I am used to the humidity, my skin is in shell-shock.

chapstick

5. There’s no Publix…

For those of you who have not had the pleasure of shopping at Publix, it is truly an amazing store. Publix is a grocery store found in the southeast. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of great grocery stores up here but it is definitely an adjustment. In Columbus, Ohio, within about a five-mile radius of Ohio State, you have Meijer, Kroger, and Giant Eagle grocery stores. Still, there is just no comparison to the happiness that shopping at Publix brings me. The absolute greatest thing about Publix is their chicken tender subs. Sweet and savory, yet crunchy and warm, there is no better way to eat lunch. If you don’t believe me, local newspapers even report when these subs are on sale.

publix

Case Comp – A Rite of Passage

Last weekend, first year Master of Human Resource Management (MHRM) students underwent a kind of “rite of passage”: the annual MHRM Internal Case Competition.

pepsico

The competition was sponsored by PepsiCo this year, and real executives from PepsiCo as well as other companies that recruit heavily on campus—Marathon, The Wendy’s Company, Ford, Rolls Royce to name a few—were on the judging panels. At 8 AM Friday, we were briefed on the case (a real problem that PepsiCo HR professionals were currently facing), and after a 20-minute Q&A, we broke off into respective 4-person teams to begin our work. We had until the following morning at 8 AM to conceive a solution and figure out a way to sell it to the judges in 20 minutes. If you ever participated in some sort of “lock-in” at your church or school, then that’s a good starting point for understanding. We spent 15 hours in Gerlach Hall that day—or as I like to call it now—my second home.

My team’s day consisted of some serious brainstorming, followed by changing our minds several times, and finally settling on a simple and practical solution to the problem. Was it too simple? Had we thought through all the details? What if they throw us a curveball? These were the questions rattling in my brain all day. But we were in a time crunch (yes, that’s on purpose), so we had to roll with it.

Fast forward past lunch, dinner, laughing, crying, sleeping (there was not actually any crying) to the next morning. We arrived back at Gerlach Hall the following Saturday morning at 7 AM and received our presentation room and time slot. At that point, we scurried back to our room to hammer out the last few details and practice, over and over…and over…and over………………………and over.

We had a tough room—the judges are trained to interrupt you and throw you off to challenge your ideas and assumptions. Now seems like an appropriate time to introduce the idea of Type II Fun:

“Something that is fun only after you have stopped doing it”

– Type II Fun

At the end of a nerve-wracking and intense Q&A session, we left our room to debrief how we thought it went. What was most difficult for me was not having anyone to compare ourselves to. We were not permitted to collaborate with other teams, nor see their presentations. So, it was difficult to know how competitive our idea was. Situations like this definitely challenge my discomfort with ambiguity.

At the end of deliberations and a delicious lunch provided by the Fisher College of Business, the results were in. I am proud to say that my team won our room, which is especially exciting considering we were strangers just a few days before. It is so satisfying to be able to come together and leverage our strengths as a team so quickly and effectively. And I feel lucky to have made some new friends along the way!

img_0511
That’s us! Myself, Irinka, Krista, and Katie.

What is Change?

What is Change?

This is the question Professor Jeff Ford posed to us during our first class. Most of us took a stab at answering and the usual responses surfaced–a process of making something different than it was before, an equation of addition or subtraction, a state of transformation. No single answer seemed to entirely encompass the definition of “change.” And like most philosophical questions, the concept seemed to slip through our fingers like fine sand as we tried to wrap our arms all the way around it. I knew immediately that I was going to love this class.

During the second 7-week session of the first semester, all 1st year MHRM students take Organizational Development & Change with Professor Jeff Ford. The course is structured around a series of short cases that we explore each week. We are given a simple question that we work together to answer. The first week, we defined change. This past week, we talked about how to identify–exactly– what we want to accomplish and how, specifically, we would know if we accomplished it.

images

Professor Ford’s teaching style is exactly what I envisioned of a graduate-level class. He challenges us to tease out the essence of what we are saying. In undergrad, I felt it was much easier to get away with saying a bunch of pretty words and hoping my main points and ideas would materialize for my audience. But, when forced to focus on word choice and detail the way Ford urges, I find that stripping away all the excess is the best way to solve any complicated problem. He doesn’t lead you into the answer or finish your sentences; he waits for you to distill your message down to the very essence. I think it is so important to practice thinking like this in a world littered with so much information to sift through.

Another unique feature of Ford’s class is that his wife, Dr. Laurie Ford (an experienced consultant), sits in on class and contributes her insights. This is fantastic–Laurie shares real-life examples of how she has initiated change from diagnosis to implementation in organizations she has worked with. With a concept as cloudy as change, I’ve found it is tremendously helpful to have access to multiple perspectives to help us apply what we are learning to real cases that we analyze from start to finish. I also think Laurie’s involvement is such a palpable example of how Professors at Fisher (and their spouses in this case!) truly invest their heart and soul in their students.

Last week, we studied an example of a utility company struggling to complete installations accurately according to the specs provided by the engineers, leading to delays and complaints. We were asked by Professor(s) Ford to get into small groups and provide recommendations for what we would “change,” how we would change it, and how we would know if we succeeded.

Many of us fell victim to the “action imperative”–doing too much too soon and all at once. We suggested lofty ideas like streamlining the communication systems, instituting various task forces (what are those anyway?), implementing and training and project managers, relationship-building among the installers and the engineers…all of which could have worked, but they very quickly became too abstract and unmanageable. Then we started to think about how we would know if our changes worked. Increase in revenues? More timely installations? And how would we implement the changes? Company-wide training initiatives, team-building, eLearning…at a point it began to feel like we were vomiting every HR-related word or phrase we had ever heard in a desperate attempt to hit the right answer. It turns out, we were overcomplicating things.

unknown

This case study was actually a client that Laurie had worked with. She encouraged us to think about the “lines” that represent the connections between the different players. The issue clearly became the communication that was (or wasn’t) happening between the installers and the engineers. They weren’t speaking the same language, and directives were being lost in translation and leading to mistakes and delays in the work orders. Upon further discussion, we discovered that the work order template hadn’t been updated for over a decade. The simple solution was to update the template. Brilliant.

My takeaway from this class so far is to keep it simple. Change can be an intimidating concept for many organizations that need it, and so it is best to change as little as possible that still allows you to accomplish the goal. Tread lightly, and don’t rock the boat if you don’t have to. I’m sure these will be important lessons to remember after grad school when we will be brand new HR professionals trying to make our mark on the world. It will be a tough balance to strike, but I already feel more prepared to tackle it.

unknown-1

#blessed

Maybe it is because Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching, but recently I have found myself reflecting on all the things I am grateful for. I could write for days about all my reasons for giving thanks this year, but I will stick to just three highlights of my MAcc experience:

  1. I have a job! The recruiting experience was definitely stressful but I am proud to say that I made it through to the other side and have officially accepted a full-time offer with Deloitte in Columbus. I will be a part of their audit practice and I could not be more thrilled about the opportunity!
  2. I am back in the Midwest! Being in South Carolina for undergrad definitely had its perks, but it has been so nice to live within 150 miles of my hometown. The two-and-a-half-hour distance is perfect – it’s close enough to justify weekend trips while still far enough to prevent me from simply jumping in the car and making the drive just because. I love that I have so many more opportunities to stay involved with things in Perrysburg.
  3. I am almost half a Master of Accounting! It is surreal to think that I am almost halfway through the MAcc program – not sure where the time has gone. This semester has been difficult at times, but on the whole it has been beyond incredible. I feel so privileged to be surrounded by highly-motivated peers and phenomenal professors. Every day has brought a new set of challenges, which has only made these past few months that much more rewarding.
Living the "Suite Life" with Gene Smith
Living the “Suite Life” with Gene Smith

Electives in the MAcc Pt. 2

As mentioned in my previous blog post, I have interviewed several of my peers within the MAcc program about some of their favorite electives offered in the MAcc. Here are some of their responses:

Erica Yoder:

What is your favorite elective?

My favorite elective so far has been ACCTMIS 7620 Management of Corporate Data. It’s a 7-week session course, and each week you learn about a new data system.

Why did you decide to do this class?

I decided to take this class because I had an interest in risk advisory and technology, and felt that this class would be beneficial in pursuing that as my future career.

What is the format of the class? (i.e. lecture, cases, group/individual)

The format of the class is an interactive lecture. More often than not, half of the class is going over lecture material and the other half is walking through the data system of the week, following along on a personal computer. There is one assignment every week, to help you grasp the new data system that has been introduced.

Favorite thing you learned/biggest takeaway from the course:

The class was fast-paced, but I thoroughly enjoyed getting to see a variety of different systems in such a short amount of time. I am taking data mining next, to expand on my knowledge and understanding of data systems and data usage.

Kate Sabin:

What is your favorite elective?

Sports Marketing.

Why did you decide to do this class?

I chose to do the class because I loved my Marketing class during undergrad and I am a huge sports fan.

What is the format of the class? (i.e. lecture, cases, group/individual)

The class is primarily a lecture format, though we have had several guest speakers. All the speakers completed the Sport Management program at Ohio State and have gone on to work in various sectors of the sports industry. There is also a group project component. We were split into teams of 8-9 students and each team was responsible for doing the promotion for both a men’s and women’s hockey game. This included everything from pre-game marketing strategies to actually executing in-game promotions. I had actually never attended an ice hockey game before! Before the end of the semester, we will also create a social media plan for a sports paraphernalia item, as well as a marketing plan for a Columbus Clippers event that another class will go ahead and put into action during the spring semester.

Favorite thing you learned/biggest takeaway from the course:

This class definitely got me out of my comfort zone. The Fisher College of Business can function a lot like a bubble and it is very easy to spend all of one’s time within the walls of Gerlach Hall. By taking a course outside of the “norm” for MAcc students, I have had the opportunity to interact with students who I might not have met otherwise.

Me interviewing one of my friends, Kate Sabin
Me interviewing one of my friends, Kate Sabin

Samantha Daugherty:

What is your favorite elective?

My favorite elective is my Negotiations class.

Why did you decide to do this class?

A friend who took this class in the MAcc program last year suggested I take this course.  In addition, I wanted to increase my negotiating skills and learn different tactics on how to negotiate certain topics.

What is the format of the class? (i.e. lecture, cases, group/individual)

The format of this class is a little bit of everything.  On one day, we will break out and negotiate with a partner, each having our own set of information and needing to negotiate in order to receive a favorable outcome.  Once we finish this negotiating day, there will be a more lecture-based discussion debriefing the negotiation and talking about the different tactics and takeaways from the negotiation.  In addition to these individual negotiations, we have an ongoing three-step group negotiation, where we negotiate with a different group in order to receive a favorable group outcome.

Favorite thing you learned/biggest takeaway from the course:

So far, my favorite thing I am learning is how to confront certain situations that would otherwise be uncomfortable.  For example, a salary increase or a lower purchase price.  I have learned how to interact and work with different personalities, which I believe is an important takeaway when I enter the workforce.

Chloe Lam:

What is your favorite elective? 

Managing Product and Process Innovation is my favorite elective. The compelling factor about the MACC program here at OSU is that students are encouraged to take classes that interest them. I knew from the start that I wanted to take more management classes to broaden my general business skills and learn from the MBA students.

Why did you decide to do this class?

The topic of innovation has always intrigued me – I wanted to learn more about how big companies, like Siemens and 3M, have succeeded/failed through innovation.

What is the format of the class? (i.e. lecture, cases, group/individual) 

Primarily lecture and group cases.

Favorite thing you learned/biggest takeaway from the course:

The biggest takeaway from this course is to not be afraid of speaking up to share your ideas/opinions. I tend to shy away from participating in classes, but management classes encourage students to participate and learn from each other. Through participating, I was able to learn so much more.

Sunday Night Lights

The Specialized Master in Finance (SMF) program draws students in from all over the globe. Our class is roughly 70% international, with students coming from many different cultures and backgrounds. Just this year alone, we have students from Thailand, Nigeria, and El Salvador. It certainly allows each and every one of us to better understand the truly international world we live in.

While there are some cultural differences between each and every one of us, there are more similarities among us. For instance, some of the men played on intramural soccer and flag (American) football teams. Some of the women in the class even cheered them on. Also, we have had numerous dinners together where we try different types of food: Chinese, Indian, Mexican, American, etc. In addition, we have had get-togethers on the weekends– and a few of us went to the football game the other weekend.

As you can see, there is plenty that we have done so far. One specific gathering I want to write about today, though, has to do with the past few Sunday nights. Basketball, or 篮球 for my Chinese speakers, is a very international sport, one that a good number of us in the program enjoy playing. This past Sunday night, we all met up at the Adventure Recreation Center on West campus (this has a rock-climbing wall) around 7:00pm. Over the next two hours or so, we played several games of 5-on-5 hoops.

Rock Climbing Wall at the ARC
Rock Climbing Wall at the ARC

Several players really stood out. Havish, an Indian classmate of mine, was arguably one of the best players on the court that night. He was quoted after the game saying “My jump-shot was firing on all cylinders tonight. They could not stop me out there.” Meanwhile, Brian Perry (SMF President-Elect) spoke about the play of Chad Dixon in the post, “He was all over the glass tonight, and once he got going on offense, it was game over.” There has been a lot of chatter in anticipation for the upcoming weekend’s game, so it should a fun time!

Since this went so well, we have planned to make it our new Sunday night activity, where we can come together and enjoy some exercise before the academic week begins again. At the end of the day, it’s great to get out there with the fellas and “ball out” for a few hours. I have had some unforgettable experiences with my classmates so far, whether that be in class, at dinners, or on the court; I am looking forward to the next 6 months that we all have left at Ohio State.

Organizational Development: Lines, Nodes, Agreements, and Deliverables

So, let’s say you want to make a change in your life– in any aspect. You want to change your job, your spouse (yikes), your relationship with your next-door neighbor, your health. Big changes. Small changes. We all want to change and grow in new ways… especially in the upcoming New Year.

img_12711
This was near the beginning of one class… before the board got much messier.

But how do you actually make the change happen? Introducing BUSMHR 7308 Organizational Development and Change. This class really makes me think and has real-world application. Therefore, it’s my absolute favorite so far! It’s taught by Professor Emeritus Jeff Ford. Professor Ford is extraordinarily accomplished and well-respected in the area of organizational behavior, specifically change management (a hot topic, particularly in HR). He’s written a book which we use in class, The Four Conversations: Daily Communication That Gets Results. And he has a very specific framework about which teaches. I won’t get too into it, but… in short order…

You have to know what you want to accomplish and how you’re going to do it. And you have to make agreements regarding what you’re going to get from who and by when. It’s something you need to map out–using lines and nodes. This is the extremely high-altitude summary; there are obviously much more nuanced and granular details to the process that require a lot of deep thinking during class. It sounds logical– and it is. He’s able to take the abstract complaint of “miscommunication” and dissect specifically why it occurs and how to avoid it.

Best of all, he’s… intense in class. Quite a bit of the discussions focus on case studies that are rife with detail about an organizaton’s woes: lack of communication, unrealistic goals, blame, politics and game-playing, sexism– you name it. And our job as students is to come up with solutions to fix the organizations and get them on the right path. Professor Ford analyzes every word we utter and firmly asks for clarity, disagrees, or otherwise challenges our assertions. This is not a class for the thin-skinned (I’ve made a few observations about which he’s disagreed; it hasn’t felt good, but his willigness to question students is what forces impactful thinking). And his approach is a gift; those without any or much work experience haven’t learned the sometimes harsh realities of the professional world– and his candor is a good primer.

Now… let’s talk about that decision to apply for the MHRM program at Fisher. What’s your “from” state? And how will you know when you’ve arrived at your “to”? Is your “to” admission to Fisher or is your “to” a certain GPA or certain thing you want to learn? What agreements do you need to secure from others? How will you know you have the agreements? And what outputs will you need to generate? And what inputs must you secure? Decisions, decisions…

The Story of & a Night Out at Ohio Theater

This blog post uncovers one of the beautiful buildings here in Columbus. Ohio Theater opened its doors 1928 and is still a cultural center to this day. The theater houses many events and is the permanent home of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. I recently visited the theater for the Columbus Symphony’s Beethoven Marathon.

The view from the top of the balcony

The theater originally opened as an elegant movie theater. The designer aimed to separate guests from their daily lives by making a luxurious and fantastical environment. The design of the walls points attention to the ceiling. Here, the intricate patterns in the ceiling change from section to section and invite the guest’s attention.

The theater successfully ran until it closed in 1969. A development company planned to tear the building down and build a more profitable office complex. Community leaders responded by working together to save the theater. The Columbus Symphony Orchestra made the theater its official home and national musicians such as Frank Zappa, Alice Cooper, and The Grateful Dead came for fundraising performances to keep it open. During the next decade, the theater was fully restored to its original design.

The view from stage left

 

Now, the theater is again the home of movies, music, dance, and theater performances. Many of these events offer discounted tickets through the university’s DTIX Program open to all students.

The main chandelier

The story of Ohio Theater is a testament to traits that all Fisher graduates should emulate. First, Fisher Grad students are being trained to be self-motivated leaders effective in both local and global teamwork environments. Saving and preserving the building was a local effort that required a strong team environment to be successful. Second, Fisher students are ethically sound by being committed to excellence in all aspects of life. Architecture and art often go unprotected. Business analysis showed that the land had more economic utility as an office space. Even so, people stepped in to say that more needed to be considered than just numerical analysis. Preserving the theater shows how supporting excellence in all aspects provides a better outcome for our communities. Not only does the theater provide an example for Fisher students, a visit provides a wonderful start to your evening. Make sure to stop by!