The 2012 Warren Buffett trip

“It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction.”

Warren Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha, has said some of the wisest things anyone has, and the quote above is just one of them. A group of Fisher students applied this first-hand when we had the enviable opportunity to hang out with Warren Buffett himself!

We arrived in Omaha and had a great time at the Upstream Brewery in the downtown area. After a good night’s sleep at the Doubletree hotel, we were up and about in our best suits, ready to get started with the day planned for us. First stop was the Nebraska Furniture Mart. This place was HUGE! We had the honor of hearing from VP Bob Batt, who shared with us the history of the firm, its family business roots and its acquisition by Berkshire Hathaway. Here, we met with students from several other business schools from around the US.

Thanking our sponsor Sander A. Flaum, with VP Bob Batt

After an enlightening tour of the furniture mart, we boarded our bus and headed to the Field Club, where we settled into our seats, sipping coke and waiting with bated breath. Right on time, Mr. Buffett walked in with that endearing smile on his face and accepted the excited applause gracefully.

After a brief speech about his passion for meeting young business professionals, he dove straight into a Q&A session with the students. Each school had their turn and students came up with some excellent questions for Mr. Buffett. His profound wisdom and encyclopedic knowledge of value investing, and even life in general, shone through in all his answers. Mr. Buffett wove in some amusing and insightful anecdotes from his life and relationships that left us the better for having had the opportunity to listen to them.

Mr. Buffett emphasized the importance of doing what you love, with the people you love, from the home you love. He truly believes that opportunity exists for those who seek it, and advised us to be proactive in our careers. He was a careful listener, and made sure to fully understand a question before answering it. Of global economy and politics, he gave his honest opinion about his concern for certain policies and behavior, but indicated that he was very positive about the future of both the developing and developed world.

At Piccolo's

After more than 2 hours of this valuable interaction, we left for Piccolo’s, Mr. Buffett’s favorite restaurant! A few lucky students got to travel with Mr. Buffett in his limo, and a few more had the enviable privilege of sitting with him at his table. The rest of us enjoyed some excellent Omaha steak and the highly acclaimed root beer float! After a great lunch, Mr. Buffett humored each and every one of the 150 or so students with photographs both plain jane and goofy! Some of the guys got into arm wrestling matches with him, while a few gals actually got him to go down on one knee and “propose” to them! His humility and patience was disarming and truly inspirational.

With Warren Buffett!

I think we all left for Columbus rejuvenated by the experience and filled with a new found love for life and a motivation to strive for success. I am immensely thankful that I had the opportunity to meet such a marvelous human being.

After lunch at Piccolo's

Electing Electives in the Fisher MAcc Program

I’ve said this previously, but one of the coolest aspects of the MAcc program is the option to take electives … lots of electives.  Under the new semester requirements, you’ll take 31 semester hours of courses.  Of those, only 10 semester hours are core requirements!  You do the math…okay, okay I’ll do it for you…that leaves 21 semester hours of electives!!  Sarah asked what some of my favorite electives have been, and I’m more than happy to elaborate on my experience!

Last quarter, I took a course on Entrepreneurial Finance.  This was an awesome course that combined both the soft and hard aspects of starting a company.  We looked at valuations…how to determine appropriate cash flows, how to select a discount rate, what assumptions are valid for future growth, etc.  However, we also spent a lot of time discussing whether or not a given entrepreneur was the right person for the business – did they have an appropriate background and education, were they plugged in to the right circles, and was their personality and motivation matched to the task at hand?  The course was case based, so each of the scenarios we looked at involved real companies.  And Professor Berk Sensoy was excellent – I’d highly recommend this class (and Professor Sensoy).

This quarter, I’m taking all electives.  While it’s early, I’ve enjoyed each of them and will tell you what I can…I can give you an update on these courses later on in the quarter though!  I’ve got Accounting for Mergers and Acquisitions, Real Estate Finance, and Logistics Management on my plate for the quarter.  I’m trying to be well balanced here!

Accounting for Mergers and Acquisitions:  First of all, Professor Dave Williams is teaching this course.  He was our professor for a core course taken in the fall, so I knew before signing up that this course would be awesome.  Dave does a great job teaching the concepts, and makes going to class fun by analyzing transactions and firms using phrases such as “hey in the hall” (satisfactory performance) and “kick in the butt” (poor performance).  Back to the class though – we’ve had some interesting discussions on why mergers and acquisitions might be attractive for both parent and target companies.  We’ve looked at goodwill and goodwill impairment, as well as how this touchy subject has evolved over time.  The best part of the course?  If a merger/acquisition is happening real time, we talk about it in class!

Real Estate Finance:  This course is taught by Professor Izhak Ben-David, who is clearly passionate about real estate.  He’s discussed his research with us, which proved his interest and dedication to the topic.  So far we’ve just talked about valuation of real estate.  I’m a little bit biased because I have always been fascinated with real estate, and it’s an area I plan to invest in (specifically the residential rental market).  We’ve looked at valuations in the rental markets – both commercial and residential.

Logistics Management:  I am taking logistics management with Professor Michael Knemeyer.  I feel like a broken record here, but wow is this dude is passionate about logistics!  You know that UPS commercial “We Love Logistics”?  I’m thinking UPS just followed Professor Knemeyer around for inspiration.  Anyways, on to the course.  We’re going to learn about logistics, but Professor Knemeyer is setting up the course in some very interesting ways to help us really understand logistics management.  There is a simulation called LINKS that puts you in charge of making decisions for an imaginary firm.  You analyze all aspects of the firm, but it boils down to managing your supply chain in a competitive, dynamic environment that pits your firm against your peer’s firm.  He’s also set up an “Individualized Learning Project”, which gives me the opportunity to study the logistics (current and future trends, best practices, etc) of THE COFFEE INDUSTRY!!!  This project gives you a lot of freedom to learn about specific industries you’re interested in.

So – I hope I’ve helped, Sarah!  I’ll answer your question about leadership opportunities in another post.  Good luck picking your electives!  There is a lot to choose from, but I can assure you – you can’t make a wrong decision.

The Fisher MAcc program has a LOT of electives. Be ready to make some choices!

Benefits in applying for the Fisher WPMBA Program

The deadline to apply for the Autumn Semester for the Working Professionals MBA program is right around the corner!  May 15th is the deadline.  If you are unsure whether you want to participate in this program, here are just a few of the benefits that I have experienced over the past year of the program.

  • The majority of the students in this program have at least three years of work experience and are currently working during the day.  This leads to rich discussion in class with examples of concepts currently happening in the workplace.
  • Professors understand the students are working professionals and are willing to work with students on balance work and school commitments.
  • The core classes cover a wide variety of topics, from marketing to finance to statistics and the material used is (for the most part) current and relevant.
  • You can specialize in an area by taking a specific set of electives, or you have the ability to take a variety of electives that covers all types of topics.
  • The students in this program all want the same goal (get a MBA) and are willing to work well in groups, are all really friendly, and are willing to help each other out whenever possible.  This makes for a great class experience.
  • Along with the last bullet, the students in this program are the best.  There’s endless networking opportunities.  Plus, with so many different backgrounds and a lot of different workplaces, there’s opportunities to network if you needed to get a new/different job.

These are just a few benefits for applying for the WPMBA.  If you are still unsure, I’d recommend taking an evening and sitting in on a class or two and talking to several students who are currently in the program.

Getting Back to a Routine… with a Twist

This week’s focus was getting into a routine for the new (and our last) quarter. I enjoy being done with class by 12:30 every day and using the lunch hour to go to meetings and catch up with friends. I spent about 11 hours in Gerlach Hall one day this week without even realizing I was continuously there for so long! I was hanging out with friends between class and group work and loved having a fun and productive day.

Group work is once again the norm for this quarter, and I am excited to learn with and from a wide variety of people. I am also excited to learn from new professors in addition to professors who taught some of my previous classes.  By spring quarter, we are all very comfortable with each other, so it doesn’t take long to get into a routine. However, there always new and exciting opportunities to spice up any “routine” in the spring! I look forward to blogging about spring athletic events (including 5K runs, one of which will be hosted by Fisher), MAcc social events, and graduation preparation!

The End of the Internship

This week is it, the end of an era. Goodbye, internship. Started last April, I have been fortunate to experience a year-long internship at one of the most respected companies in business: GE. Not a quarter has gone by that my classmates and I haven’t heard of some human resources example from the world of GE. Admittedly, I have not seen many of these innovations at the plant level, at least not directly. Perhaps they are corporate keepers? Regardless, this has been an invaluable year for learning and development.

When I started at the Circleville Lamp Plant last April, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had never worked in a manufacturing environment, and my office, located inside a block building in the center of the factory, lacked a little bit in the “inspirational” setting department. But oh how each new engineering intern loved to look at those orange office chairs!

What the office lacked in ambiance, though, it made up for in opportunity. As a plant of about 230 employees working as tightly staffed as possible, each intern (or co-op as we were called) had to serve as a full member of the staff. There was simply no use for anyone who wanted to file and fetch coffee, only. Each quarter I served as an HR co-op recruiting engineering co-ops for four lighting plants. This entailed recruiting, selecting, interviewing, onboarding and tending to more than a half-dozen students who came through the door each quarter. I also assisted with staffing for permanent positions and created a harassment-awareness training program for the plant. It was a wealth of work and learning, and I relished every minute of it.

Being treated as a valuable member of the team, instead of as “just a co-op” made the difference between an average experience and an unforgettable one. My manager, a well seasoned HR manager who originally hails from Maine was equal parts sage, career advisor, manager and friend. As Darrell is fond of saying, “When you’ve been around for 110 years as I have, you learn a few things.” And each week I did my best to tap into that wealth of knowledge, knowing there is still so much I have left to learn!  I’m sure he will receive more than one panicked email from me in the future as I start my HR career.

Already I’m missing all of them. Robin, the HR administrator who spent some 20 years on the floor before coming to work in the office, who easily answered all of my questions and shared in my exhaustion as a student and employee. Ruth Ann, who will celebrate 50 years at the plant this year, and knows all there is to know about life at CLP. Saundra, her daughter, who has worked in the warehouse since the late ’80s, and taught me about loosening up just a little bit. Tiff and Lisa, the plant nurses who keep everyone safe; Mike, the engineering manager who I collaborated with daily; and Steve, the plant manager who gave me a glimpse of running an organization, mixed in with tales from West Point and Iraq.

So for any MLHR students who are still searching for that perfect internship, remember that appearances can be deceiving. Beneath the old office chairs or factory setting might just lie the best learning opportunity you’ll have during your grad school years.


The ‘Who’ and ‘Where’ of Graduate Living

This post is for Alice – and for all you other AU ’12 MAccers out there who were too shy to ask about finding a roomie!

Finding a roomie can be a tough task, especially when you’re new to campus.  You’re so excited to start the MAcc program and there are a lot of other things to think about, so finding that perfect roommate that you’ll be living with for an entire year and finding that perfect apartment can just add to the rush of it all.  Well, take comfort in knowing that the whole purpose of this post is to help you figure allllll of that out!

Let’s start with location:  Alice asked where most Fisher grad students live, and I’m not sure there’s really a great “here” answer.  What I can do though, is provide some insight on popular areas and why they are popular!  To begin, Fisher grad students have access to Fisher Commons, which are some really nice university-affiliated apartments on the corner of Lane Ave and Kenny Rd (this will make perfect sense once you’re familiar with the area).  These apartments are close to campus, but not necessarily walking distance.

Anything that’s on “North Campus” is very convenient for Fisher students.  This area is what is north of Lane Avenue, and includes streets such as Norwich, Northwood, and Oakland.  You’ll find a combination of apartments and houses for rent in these areas, all of which are close enough to Fisher that you can walk to and from class every day.  There are fun restaurants north of campus, too, which makes going out with friends easy and convenient.  Check out the Blue Danube, for instance.

South Campus is less convenient, but offers a totally different experience than North Campus.  On South Campus, you’ll have a good 15+ minute walk to class everyday, but I’ve been doing it for the past three years and have never had any trouble with it.  I wouldn’t recommend living further south than 8th Avenue, unless you skip a few streets and go into what is considered Victorian Village.  I’ve found that a lot of the apartments and houses on South Campus tend to be nicer in terms of upkeep, but sometimes are more expensive for this reason.  I’ve always felt incredibly safe on South Campus, too.  A huge bonus of South Campus is that you’re right by the South Campus Gateway, which has restaurants, bars, and a movie theater, as well as the campus Barnes and Noble.  You’re also pretty darn close to the Short North and downtown Columbus, so a night out is easy access.

For both North and South campus, you’ll want to check out what some of the area landlords have to offer.  I’d recommend Inn Town Homes and Apartments, and some others that I’ve heard of are Buckeye Real Estate and Pella.

Be sure to check out a few prior posts on housing to get other perspectives too!  Here are a few…

The Key to Graduate Housing

Fisher Commons – No Left Turn!

The Pros and Cons of South Campus Living

Village, District, Whatever the Name, They’re All Great!

Now – on to roomies.  Alice specifically mentioned finding roomies that are also prospective MAcc students, but note that you don’t have to live with someone from your program.  There’s a chance you’ll take MBA classes, so living with MBAs might not be a bad idea!  Just something to consider.

One of the best ways to find a roommate is to join and/or create a group for MAcc 2012-2013 students on Facebook.  In the admitted student gateway you can see the names and profiles of admitted students – go ahead and creep to find them on Facebook, then invite them to the group!  (And if you haven’t already uploaded your profile to the “Admitted MAcc Profiles” section of the gateway website, be sure you do so!) You’ll all be looking for roommates, so this will give you a place to talk and figure out if you’re roomie-material.

Speaking of the admitted student gateway, there is always a bulletin board in the gateway that is dedicated to helping students find roommates.  Be sure to take advantage of this!  Some MAccers won’t have a Facebook, or might join the group a little late.  Every MAcc student should be looking at the bulletin boards immediately though, so this might be a faster and more reliable method to find your roomie.  There will also be a Google Group that is dedicated to housing available through the gateway – take advantage of this resource too!

My biggest piece of advice is to simply not be shy.  Get on the gateway, find some other AU ’12 MAcc students and send them an email.  Go grab lunch to get to know each other – if things go well, you’ve found a roommate.  If things aren’t great, you’ve at least met a classmate which will still be extremely helpful in the very near future!  Don’t be hesitant to look at multiple apartments or houses when you call a leasing office – the first one you find probably won’t be your favorite.  There are a lot of great living spaces in the area, but there are some nasty ones too.  Take your time to make a good decision, because you’ll be there for a year.

Good luck!

Spring Quarter Is Here

Welcome back to another quarter; or your first (and last quarter) of the WPMBA program!  I’m sure many of you agree that Spring Break went by far too fast.  Spring Quarter brings warmer weather which makes sitting in class a little harder.

This quarter, the my classes are two of the core: Finance and Marketing.  So far, both classes seem interesting and engaging.  A positive this quarter is the minimal amount of group work.  After last quarter of having a group project or presentation in all three classes, a break from group work is welcomed.  Now, I’m all for group projects and see the benefits, but it’s such a challenge on the part of scheduling time to meet when you have a group of working professionals.  Like Sarah, I also welcome the Marketing class!!  What I do every day aligns more with Marketing aspects over any other area.

When I came to class on Tuesday, I sat by someone who was unfamiliar to me.  Marissa is starting her first quarter in the Working Professionals program.  As we were talking, I realized what a “veteran” I began to sound like about the program.  It does not seem possible that I’m starting my fourth quarter in the program.  For those of you who think that the (at least) two year program seems a long time, the time really goes by fast.  As a student, you get into a routine of work, class, and study time.  I do not feel as stressed going into the start of another quarter and I feel much more comfortable around my fellow classmates.

Welcome Spring Quarter – one week down, nine to go!!


The Last First Week

We’re back from spring break and have already completed the first week of our last quarter in the MAcc program.  It is going too quickly! After my final exams last quarter, two of my friends and I went to Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, which is only about a 6 hour drive from Columbus. It was a lot of fun, the weather was unseasonably wonderful, and I even saw two people that I knew from the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program in which we MAccers participated last quarter!

MAccers kept in touch quite well over break, but it was still wonderful to be reunited with everyone to start spring quarter. Once again, excited greetings could be heard throughout Gerlach, and catching up over dinner was a regular occurrence this week. For the first time, I decided to take all accounting classes this quarter (Government and Not-for-Profit, International, Managerial, and Mergers & Acquisitions), and I am looking forward to learning a lot through cases and group work.

Group work makes our class more close-knit, and our close friendships make our group work even more enjoyable. One of my autumn quarter groups planned a dinner and movie night to end the first week, and it was so much fun. Before a group meeting the next day, one of my friends identified me just by the sound of my footsteps. In part because we’re a detail-oriented bunch, MAccers really get to know each other. Sure, we commented on each other’s haircuts and tanner skin and new clothes after break, but our friendships go much deeper than that. I am looking forward to enjoying the last quarter in this wonderful program with such amazing classmates and friends!

The weather was beautiful, and we saw a rainbow at Niagara Falls!