Archive for October, 2013



Fisher MBA… did I make the right decision…?

I was an attorney from northern Californian, born and raised.  And I love the sun and surfing.  So when I had to decide between Ohio and California for my MBA, it was an easy choice….  Ohio.

Wait, what?!

Surprisingly, this truly was an easy choice, and I don’t regret it for a second.  There were two major reasons why I chose Fisher: the opportunities it provides, and Columbus.

One quick caveat though… you will be busy with this program if you want to be.  In fact, it’s been so hectic that my teammate showed up to school with different colored shoes (as seen below).

But this hectic schedule is surprisingly fun.  The classes are interesting.  There’s a great vibe among classmates.  There are loads of seminars regarding careers and companies (some that I never knew existed) that you can voluntarily attend.  For example, Gallup came to the Fisher campus and I found out that it’s actually a very dynamic forward-looking consulting firm.  Call me ignorant, but I thought they were just a presidential polling firm…

 

Anyway, there are so many events to learn about new companies and opportunities.  In my last job as an attorney, I was providing services, value, blah, blah, blah…. But I felt like I was in a rut and my mind wasn’t being fully utilized.  Now, it’s definitely being utilized (possibly over-utilized).  But in a fantastic way.  I’ve never been so excited to be so busy!

 

My take is this: I’ve lived all over the world, been involved in different schools and different careers, met people of all backgrounds, and I KNOW that going to Fisher is the best decision I’ve ever made.  Better than going to law school.  Better than living in China, or England, or Spain.  It’s only been one month, but I see an amazing opportunity should I choose to take advantage of it.  And I’m certain I will!

 

But wait, I never talked about Columbus and why it’s great.  Guess you’ll have to wait until my next blog…. ;)


Pre-Nights and Recruiting Events

You hear all about the importance of how you conduct yourself at an interview and how to put together a perfect resume but one of the most important things you can do when going through the job interview process and in applying for jobs is to go to the recruiting events and pre-nights held by firms and companies. I made a point of attending every event that my companies of interest held and it really helped me get to know the recruiters and people from the company and most importantly I learned more about the company itself.  Firms that I had only a fleeting interest in became my top choices.

Attending recruiting events allows you to learn more about a company in a more relaxed environment.  Mixers, recruiting events and pre-nights are all very important for Fisher MAcc students and I would never discount any of them as “simply a dinner” or “just an event”.  Every dinner, party, recruiting event and career fair is an opportunity to learn more, get noticed/remembered and to find the company that is the right fit for you.

Another point of these events are so that the interviewers and recruiters and members of the company can get to know you better. Together you can begin to discover whether the company is a good fit for you. It can’t hurt to get that extra exposure and when it comes to interview decisions and job offers you will be remembered.

My favorite recruiting event was attending a baseball game with Plante Moran. They took a group of us to a Clippers game at the beginning of the semester so that we could get to know more about the firm and more about them.  I got to know the staff at Plante Moran and as an added bonus we had first row seats right along the first base line!


P&G Marketing Case Competition

This week I had the opportunity to participate in the first big case competition of the year on campus, which was sponsored by Proctor & Gamble (a consumer brand goods company based in Cincinnati, OH).  The case was marketing based, using a real P&G brand, and interacting with members of the brand management team that actually works on the product’s marketing strategy.  About 6 hours of time were devoted on Thursday for the teams of 4 to come up with a brand marketing strategy and develop a presentation, and then 5 hours on Friday were used to give each of the 10 teams involved a chance to present their ideas to marketing professors and professionals.  So, all in all, if you include the social events associated with the competition, it was about a 12 hour commitment.

Now, in case I haven’t mentioned this before, I do not intend to major in marketing for my MBA degree, so, some people might wonder why I wanted to dedicate that much time to a competition in a field that isn’t my primary interest.  The answer to that is really quite simple, and that is because there is much more to a competition than just the main functional area.  Case competitions give MBA candidates, like myself, the opportunity to work on things like time management, team skills, leadership skills, creating presentations, innovation, and presentation/communication skills.  All of those, to me, sound like skills that are crucial in order to be successful in the business world.  A case competition gives students the opportunity to work on all of those skills in a controlled environment, it really is a practical application training exercise.

In the military, we didn’t just go into a high risk activity without a degree of training in advance.  Before we went overseas, we would spend months or years training, refining our knowledge and skills, so that we would be more successful when we went downrange.  Training is never perfect, because all elements of real world scenarios can’t be included for a number of reasons, but training is still an important part of preparing for real world application.  Most of my colleagues and myself are getting MBA degrees in order to move into management, or leadership type roles after graduation.  And while the risks for an infantryman overseas and business executive clearly have some differences, both roles have inherent risks.  So it makes sense to work on the skills required to be successful at either in a training environment, which is something that case competitions provide.  Because people revert to their previous training and experiences in a high stress situation, I don’t want the first time I have to do something stressful, like need to sell an idea I have to a board of executives to be during my internship, or in my new career.

So, that is my rather long-winded answer, as to why I thought it made perfect sense for someone who wants to major in operations & logistics to be in a marketing case competition, and why I plan to be in several more competitions in various fields.

 

Here is my awesome team (from the left: Me, Lindsey, Jeff, and John) from the competition. In case anyone is wondering, we won.


MAcc Applied Talk with Aaron Beam

We have our fourth MAcc Applied Talk today during the lunch hour. It talks about business ethics, and Aaron Beam is the speaker, a founder and the first CFO of HealthSouth. Beam was sent to prison in 2003 because of the accounting fraud he made. He told us his life story associated with the accounting fraud, including the how he started HealthSouth, how and why he started the fraud, and how he faced the fraud. The key point of his speech is that people should be taught about business ethics and receive ethics training. One day in your life, you may encounter the same situation as Beam did. How will you choose between financial profit and ethics? Will you compromise to the pressure of management or insist on  integrity? How would you make a decision at some certain point in the future?

I have these questions in my mind after the speech. I realize that it is easy to insist on integrity when you are not facing any problems. One may choose to commit fraud to release himself (herself) from high pressure of management or to meet expectation of his(her) colleagues.  It will work for a short-time period, and one may look successful during that time. However, when the fraud is discovered, one’s life will be totally changed. The money one has earned will be gone, even the part he or she has earned through hard working. Individual’s reputation will be ruined, and never recover as it was. Could you imagine all of these? No one is willing to face this one day. Therefore, we should pay attention to our ethics formation from today and add it to the subconscious mind.

MAcc Applied Talk is my favorite element of my weekly life now. I am looking forward to listening to next speech soon.


Voluntary Disclosure with Phillip Stocken, Ph.D.

One of the great opportunities available to students in the Fisher MAcc program is the MAcc Academic Speaker Series. The speakers for this program typically consist of professors, both from within Fisher and from other universities, and they speak about a variety of topics that are of interest to graduate business students.

As part of the MAcc Academic Speaker Series, Phillip Stocken, Ph.D., Associate Dean for the MBA Program at Dartmouth College, came to Fisher to speak about voluntary disclosure. The talk touched upon issues that are very relevant to accounting students since many of us are planning on pursuing careers in either audit, advisory or tax within public accounting firms. Stocken emphasized the importance of the role that auditors play in terms of the financial disclosures made by a firm. He reiterated to us the importance of being skeptical when there is insufficient proof or material discrepancies before making a determination on the reliability and accuracy of a company’s financial statements. He reminded us of the dangers of misrepresenting information and explained that whenever we choose to disclose information, since there is usually the option to withhold information, we must disclose accurate information. As mentioned by Stocken, “In the absence of information, capital markets fail.” This quote really resonated with me because it stresses the importance of voluntary disclosure within the realm of business.

Associate Dean for the MBA Program at Dartmouth College


Fisher 1st Years vs 2nd Years Softball Game

A little over a week ago, students from the full-time MBA program gathered together to participate in a fun-filled softball match at Beekman Park.

It wouldn’t have been hard for any old random Joe off the streets to realize which team was full of first year MBAs. It’s fairly similar to walking around Gerlach. Let me break down the major differences both on the field and in the class.

Fisher MBA

Softball

  • First years tape their wrists. Second years break their wrists.
  • First years wear sunglasses at night…and eye-black. Second years don’t.
  • First years all wear the same color shirt and have 28 players. Second years are lucky to field a team. Shirts? If all the second years are wearing one that’s a bonus.
  • First years wear themselves out like dogs during batting practice. Second years bring their dogs and let them loose during the game.
  • First years win and get soaked in the rain. Second years leave early and enjoy the first round of beers and burgers.

Classroom

  • First years are taking data analysis. Second years enjoy sleep.
  • First years study in the lounge. Second years study at Varsity Club.
  • First years sign-up for clubs. Second years are busy swinging clubs on the Scarlet Course.
  • First years have class on Friday. Second years travel on Friday.

All in all, we are pretty similar. This is just a fun list of semi-sarcastic differences between students all striving towards the same goal…a great education and career opportunities. Fisher delivers both of those in various shapes and sizes. Regardless of the year in school, Fisher students are dedicated to helping one another and enjoying fun activities together when not in class. The softball game was a perfect example of that – I just wish I would have been on the winning team!

 

 


Strategic Innovation – so what ​exactly do you do?

This past summer, I was one of the Strategic Innovation Interns at Alliance Data Retail. Their office is over by Easton Mall, so a fairly easy commute from my apartment.

For those of you not familiar, Alliance Data is a company with three subsidiaries – LoyaltyOne, Epsilon and Alliance Data Retail. Looking specifically at Alliance Data Retail, they provide marketing and credit services that include private label, co-brand and more. They have approximately 110 clients across the United States.

Still a little confused? Think about a Victoria’s Secret, Pottery Barn, HSN or Express credit card – Alliance Data uses data to understand how customers shop to grow business for their clients through marketing and loyalty solutions .

It was a fantastic summer and I had an absolute blast! I learned so much and really grew as a business professional.

Ok, so now that we understand Alliance Data, let’s move on to Strategic Innovation. These are some pretty strong words with lots of  ambiguity.

As an Innovation Intern, I supported the team and helped move initiatives through the innovation pipeline. This included writing business plans to help “sell” initiatives to internal partners, holding ideation session to address customer needs and activated prototypes for specific clients.

Bottom line, my team uses data to help you shop better, and with  greater ease.

The best parts of my internship was feeling challenged by my projects, learning about ins & outs of an amazing company and meeting so many new people – but also feeling prepared. I loved that what we had discussed in class, was coming true right in front of my eyes. Business school teaches you how to think and a different way to approach problems. I reached out to my fellow students, along with Fisher‘s faculty, when I felt like I was struggling with my projects, and received such incredible support and guidance.

Really, where else can you find this? And my internship title? Pretty cool addition!

 


Acing That Interview

Let’s be real. Part of the reason for going to graduate school is to land that dream job you always aspired to achieve. As I see all my peers around me in suits it reminds me of when I was in their shoes just a year ago today. I cannot say enough how much Fisher College of Business has prepared me for my future career in Chicago. Maybe I’m biased, but numerous outside sources have ranked Fisher’s Career Services as leaders in the country. Ever since I joined the business school at the end of my freshman year, Fisher has encouraged me tremendously to partake in the job search early and has prepared me as best as possible. I will never forget the QUIC (Qualified Undergraduate Interview Candidate) Program, a module-based seminar followed by a mock-interview, required by all in order to interview with future employers. Graduate students can elect to go through a similar mock-interview process in order to help them in their job search. Graduate students even have their own go-to person to assist them with their job search, and he holds walk-in hours at least once a week for any questions. As I have already been through the process twice, I have a little advice to newbies going through our program:

  • Take advantage of career services (cannot stress this enough!)

There are so many resources at your fingertips, just need to do a little digging on the website or schedule a meeting with a Career Services counselor!

  • Make a list

Before you even start the year, make a list of five characteristics you would like of your dream or ideal job (hours, location, responsibilities, team, salary, benefits, perks, really cool office, travel, etc.). What traits are you look for in it? Rank your preferences in order from MUST HAVE IN THE JOB to eh not a deal breaker and that should help you focus.

  • Go into the year with a plan

Make sure you know a little bit about your interests before starting the year. I am not saying you should know exactly what you would like to be doing but definitely have areas in mind (Do I like technical accounting? Do I want to travel? Do I want to work for a big company or small? What about hours? Location, location, location…).

  • Be open-minded and listen

I know everyone is concerned with nailing the “big interview with the big firm”, but culture-wise you may fit in at a smaller firm working in a completely different department than you ever imagined. Also, make sure you pay extra attention to the job description to know exactly what your responsibilities will be. As many of you are looking for full-time jobs, internships (what I like to call trial runs) aren’t likely to occur. Doing your research, listening to the interviewer, and not being afraid to ask meaningful questions, will allow you to have the best job prospects.

  • Use your peers!

Some students will have prior internships and can give you very helpful advice when going through the initial job search. Job fairs can be overwhelming so it is good to go in with a mindset of where you could (potentially) see yourself after graduate school. Talking to fellow students who had similar responsibilities will help narrow down all the prospective employers on your list so you can focus on what you really want!

Although overwhelming, the job search is such an exciting and unique time for you! Fisher is giving you the opportunity to build and extend your network and take advantage of every moment of it. It puts a smile on my face to know that so many of peers will be either working with me or at neighboring firms next year!

 

 


Class is in Session

As we begin to wrap up the first of our seven week sessions, our first set of SMF classes is coming to a close.  These classes are imperative to success in the program as they provide the foundation for many of the other classes that we will take.  For those students without a finance background they also give them the opportunity to learn many of the basic financial concepts and theories.  During the first 7 weeks all members of the program have taken the same four classes: Turbo Finance, Financial Modeling, Industry Risk and Pricing, and Data Analysis.

  • Turbo Finance:  This class is taught by the SMF program director, Dr. George Pinteris, and as its name suggests, provides a full overview of the many financial theories and concepts that are necessary for success in a rigorous program such as the SMF.  This course covers a set of fundamental techniques for financial analysis.  In this class we have examines the investment decision in detail looking at both the NPV and IRR of projects to determine their viability. We have also spent a third of the class on valuation analysis looking at both the multiples and DCF methods.  The third key focus of this course is financial statement analysis and we will focus on using a set of tools and methods to analyze companies and sectors.  This class also involves a company report where we will apply all of the techniques that we have learned in the class to analyze a particular company.  In my case we are working on an analysis of FedEx.
  • Financial Modeling:  This class is taught by Professor Daniel Oglevee, a former Wall Street Professional with a great deal of experience in financial modeling from his time in the private sector.  In this class we have constructed dozens of models that could be applied in our future jobs from NPV analysis to forecasting financial statements.  This class serves as one of the foundations for the program because the skills learned will be used in every other class we take.  In addition, in almost any job in the business world, knowledge of Microsoft Excel and financial modeling are extremely important and employers actively seek candidates with these skills.
  • Industry Risk and Pricing:  This class is taught by Dr. Michael Brandl, and provides an overview of applied microeconomics.  What sets this class apart from many other economic courses I have taken is not only Professor Brandl’s enthusiasm for the subject, but also the application of economic theory to real-world financial situations.  He stresses for each of us to think as an analyst and in order to fully understand the influences and forces on a company or sector, you must understand the economics behind the growth or decline.
  • Data Analysis: This class is taught by Dr. Daniel Magestro, explores some the most common techniques used in financial and investment analysis.  One of the main focuses of the class, as evident by the title, is data analysis which is the application of quantitative methods to characterize financial datasets, including which to use in different situations.  In this class we also create analyst reports on various topics that allow for students to apply many of the techniques we have learned in a real world application.

What makes Columbus great

I lived in Columbus for 5 years from 2006-2011 and during that time I came to realize that Columbus is an AMAZING city with so many unique places to experience! It was especially apparent how much I loved Columbus when I moved down to Texas after I graduated from undergrad. Here are just a handful of the reasons why I love Columbus:

Donato’s 

I LOVE pizza and Donato’s is definitely my favorite pizza place. It was founded in Columbus in 1963 and now I think you can get it throughout Ohio. They specialize in crispy thin crust pizzas with topings going from edge to edge. I was happy to find out that the campus location started offering a lunch buffet during the week, it’s definitely a great deal if you want to try a variety of pizzas.

North Market

North Market is Columbus’ only remaining true public market. Conveniently located near downtown Columbus, more than 30 merchants vend a wide variety of fresh, local, authentic food. Offerings include organic produce, grass-fed beef, pork, lamb and goat, pastured poultry, sustainably raised seafood, locally roasted coffee, baked goods, cheeses, flowers and other artisan food items.  The Market also provides an international selection of freshly prepared foods, authentic ethnic specialties, distinctive gifts and personable service from its merchant owner operators. On Saturdays during the growing season Columbus’ oldest operating farmers market takes places on the outdoor market plaza. Sundays from May through October local artisans and crafters converge on that same plaza to sell their handmade wares at Artisan Sundays. It’s great to just browse around North Market on a Saturday and enjoy some delicious local foods.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

Jeni Britton Bauer started Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in 2002 with the first location at North Market. There are now 9 locations in Ohio and you can buy pints in grocery stores across the country. Jeni’s uses only the best ingredients to make some of the most unique flavors I have ever seen. Some of their signature flavors include: pistachio and honey, salty caramel, the buckeye state, and whiskey & pecans. Everyone needs to experience Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams!

Homage

Homage is mainly a t-shirt shop that has softest shirts and best designs around if you like sports, music, politics, or popular culture! I discovered Homage during the summer of 2011 right as I was getting ready to move to Texas. I saw a number of people walking around Columbus with script Ohio shirts and I just had to get one for myself; this is when my love affair with Homage began. I desperately missed Columbus and Ohio State when I moved down to Texas, so with each new shirt I bought I felt more connected with Ohio. I consider myself somewhat of a super-fan and I probably have 30+ items from Homage :-) Homage started as an online retailer, but now they have 2 stores in Columbus and they are gaining popularity with celebrities, athletes, and other people across the country. If you are looking for the perfect Ohio State shirt, I definitely recommend checking out Homage!

Columbus Zoo

The Columbus Zoo is one of the best zoos in the country and it’s awesome to be able to visit it whenever I want. The famous animal expert Jungle Jack Hanna is the Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo. They have some great events for the holidays such as Boo at the Zoo and Wildlights.

COSI

COSI is the Center of Science and Industry. COSI is an awesome place to visit if you are interested in science or innovation. They have tons of hands on activities and they make learning about science fun! The mission of COSI is to provide an exciting and informative atmosphere for those of all ages to discover more about our environment, our accomplishments, our heritage, and ourselves. They motivate a desire towards a better understanding of science, industry, health, and history through involvement in exhibits, demonstrations, and a variety of educational activities and experiences. COSI is for the enrichment of the individual and for a more rewarding life on our planet, Earth. The Ohio State University is one of the many partners that COSI has, these partnerships allow the general public to participate in cutting edge research and technology and learn about the latest in scientific advancements!

Olentangy Trail

The Olentangy Trail is my favorite place to go for a long bike ride on a Sunday afternoon. The trail offers a seamless 13.75 miles through various Columbus neighborhoods along the Olentangy River. People bike, roller blade, run, and walk along this scenic trail. I love to hit the trail when the weather is nice.

Columbus is a fabulous city and I’m excited to get to live here for another two years!


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