Archive for March, 2014

Benefits of the Fisher Corporate Mentor Program

Last year I had the opportunity to participate in Fisher’s Corporate Mentor program. The program pairs first year MBAs with local executives from Columbus that are interested in helping mentor and develop students in their chosen career field. I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor last year and truly enjoyed the relationship we developed during the program. This year, I reached out to a first year student to gain their perspective and see if their experience was similar to mine.

Below is a question and answer session I had with Megan Tuetken, first year MBA with a focus on marketing.

 1 – Who is your corporate mentor and what is their background?
My mentor is Mary Beth Cowardin from T. Marzetti’s.  She is the Director of Marketing for the Marzetti brand.  She did her undergrad at OSU and earned her MBA from Fisher.

2 – What were you hoping to gain from participating in the corporate mentor program?
I wanted a non-student/non-professor sounding board to talk to about my internship search and seek advice. I was also looking for a professional perspective on life in the corporate world of marketing.  I was hoping for a mentor in brand management to get an additional perspective to compare to what I’d experienced working with brand managers at Kimberly-Clark over the years.

3 – What have the events been like? Have you been able to meet other students’ mentors?
I did not attend the kick-off event as my mentor was not able to attend.  Instead, I met Mary Beth for breakfast one morning for our first official introduction.  We’ve done breakfast a few times to catch up and chat, and we’ve found that this casual approach has worked well for us.  I went to the event at the Thompson Library, which was pretty informal.  There were quite a few mentor/student pairs.  Some were simply chatting as pairs while others were mingling as larger groups.  I mostly talked with Mary Beth directly as I was in the middle of some critical decisions regarding my internship opportunities.  However, the chance to meet other mentors was definitely available.  I did meet a former colleague of Mary Beth’s briefly.

The last event, which was targeted towards Marketing students/mentors, provided much more of an opportunity to meet other mentors as we were forced to switch our table arrangements throughout the event.  It was great to hear other professionals talk about their experiences regarding a host of business topics.

4 – What is the best piece of advice you have received from your mentor?
My mentor was very helpful in giving feedback regarding my resume.  She helped me expand it quite a bit and pushed me to really capture additional items that I wasn’t really considering.  She also helped me realize which direction I wanted to go with my internship.

5 – Would you recommend the corporate mentor program to other students? If so, why?
I would definitely recommend it.  I’ve had a very positive experience so far, and I plan to stay connected to Mary Beth in the future.  Even though the formally planned events through Fisher are complete, she’s going to give me a plant tour and we’re planning on doing a store walk-through so I can learn more about the categories Marzetti plays in.

To me, it’s a no-brainer to sign up for a mentor.  Fisher has so many amazing alumni and local businesspeople to tap for mentorship.  There’s absolutely no reason not to do it!  I know some students have had better connections than others, but it’s also what each person makes of it.  I found that having a goal for the relationship (for me, it was mostly about the internship search) really helped.  I’m glad to have participated and made a new connection in my network for the future.


Celebrating Holi Dinner at Fisher

The Fisher College of Business has been a great place for me to meet Holi Dinnermany students from various parts of the world. I have especially enjoyed learning more and more about the Indian culture. One way I have learned more about their culture is by participating in many of the student organizations’ activities.

Last week I was able to take my wife and son to one of my favorite activities that takes place each year – Holi Dinner. In an effort to celebrate Holi, the Indian student organization puts together a dinner with music, great food, and lots of chalk. The celebration is one focused on color and love, and welcoming in the colors of the spring and summer seasons.

1966667_10152344790519642_1435701083_nAt first, my son was a little reluctant to have some pink chalk marked on his forehead, but he eventually warmed up to the idea and enjoyed the music and food. The food was delicious and it was fun to have an activity where I could bring my family along for the fun.

I was surprised at how much chalk and color was thrown around the lounge, but hey, everyone seemed to be having a good time. I am now looking forward to the next Indian student organization activity taking place next month!


The Start-up Nation and Spring Break

Israel has recently received the nickname “The Start-up Nation” thanks to Dan Senor and Saul Singer, authors of a book with that phrase as its title.

israel 3As part of an international innovation and entrepreneurship course here at Fisher, I had the chance to travel to Israel over the break to learn more about its unique business environment. The trip was an incredible experience full of learning and networking opportunities.

As a group, we spent the first few days in Tel Aviv. I was surprised at how modern and diverse the city was. People from all walks of life lived in Tel Aviv and worked in various industries. As part of our visit, we met with many businesses in the high-tech industry. Some of my favorite business visits in Tel Aviv were to Venture Capital firms or the small business in which so many VC’s invest.

In addition to visiting traditional businesses in Tel Aviv, we had the opportunity to visit an Israeli Air Force base. It was enlightening to learn about the strategy and tactics that the Air Force uses in defending its land and country. On a daily basis, Israel faces threats from various enemies and needs to be ready to perform efficiently at any given moment. I was most impressed by the rigorous amounts of training that take place on a daily basis so that pilots and ground crew are always on top of their game in case they are quickly called into action.

Jerusalem was a totally different experience than Tel Aviv. The City is surrounded israel 1with conflict, history, and media. Because of this, it is harder for flourishing businesses to remain in the Jerusalem. Many successful companies head towards Tel Aviv once they have reached a point where they can afford to do so. However, on small business that we visited is focused on creating and keeping entrepreneurs in Jerusalem. The business helps budding entrepreneurs flush out ideas, provides them resources, and at times, invests in them during their early stages. This is all done in hopes to improve the local economy in Jerusalem, but to also show entrepreneurs that they don’t need to pack up and head to Tel Aviv to be successful.

Many of the cultural, religious, and historical site visits were also very fascinating. Even though the weather didn’t completely cooperate with us, we still had an incredible time in one of the most historic regions on earth. I’d definitely recommend the Innovation Israel class to future students at Fisher.

 

 

 

 


The Internship Search

The New Year started the busy time for finding a marketing internship. I was fortunate enough to make it through several phone screens and had final interviews with some great companies during January: L’Oreal, Nestle, Kellogg’s, and Amazon to name a few. Part of the fun of finding the right internship match is getting to travel to visit the headquarters of amazing companies. L’Oreal hosted an entire weekend, Taste of L’Oreal, in New York City at the Westin in Times Square.

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We met the CMO of the company, heard a presentation from the North American President, and participated in a day-long case competition for a L’Oreal product in either the Luxury, Consumer, or Professional Product Division.

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It was a phenomenal experience and really let candidates get a feel for the company, and its culture, and meet other MBA students from around the country (I still keep in touch with three of my case competition team members!). And we got a lot of goodies just for visiting!

Nestle hosted 60 candidates at their Solon, OH, office and treated us to a wine tasting led by their head chef, and a networking event with top executives. We also got dinner at the best restaurants in town, since everyone who works at Nestle (and planned our visit) is a foodie!

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Kellogg’s hosted a group of Fisher and Ross students for a Day at K at their Battle Creek, MI headquarters. After a harrowing drive through a snowstorm, we had a great day kicked off by a presentation from Kellogg’s CMO, a tour of Kellogg’s vault, and meeting with the company’s ad agency Leo Burnett.

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I also got to experience Seattle for the first time during my Amazon interview. Amazon hosted candidates in the best part of town, just a quarter mile from Pike’s Market, and I spent the morning checking out the market and visiting the original Starbucks!

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Amazon’s headquarters are very low-key, and you could drive right through the company’s campus and not realize you were at Amazon! They arranged a lunch with current Product Managers and then held interviews for 3 hours. It was intense. One constant across all the companies was the friendliness of the people and focus on employee development and culture fit. We have some amazing people and organizations recruiting at Fisher and I know wherever I end up, I am going to have a great experience this summer!


Ramon Gregory – Success to Significance

In any strong MBA program, you get plenty of opportunity to hear about the application of specific disciplines from researchers, experts, and professionals at the top of their field.  What you don’t get as often is the chance to hear a successful, dedicated leader talk openly and intimately about their life journey, their successes and failures, and values that led them along the way.

Recently, I had the privilege of attending a lunch event sponsored by Fisher’s Black MBA Association, wherein we heard from Ramon Gregory, who is Senior Vice President, Customer Care Shared Services for Cardinal Health.  With more than 25 years of experience leading customer service and contact centers, Mr. Gregory can speak with authority on multiple topics, but at this event, he focused on his professional journey, the way he and his family navigated the various forks in the road that they encountered as he balanced raisinRAMONg a family with leading in a company, and the mindset of a leader.

As he spoke, Mr. Gregory kept coming back to a phrase that seemed to be very important to him: “from success to significance.”  Although he never directly explained the phrase or specified how he came across it, he used it to underscore a shift in his professional perspective that seemed to occur over the years.  Although he is extremely successful, he seems to have come to a conclusion that I have heard expressed before from men and women of high achievement.  He communicated to us that success is great, and that we—as MBAers who are hungry to get out into the world and climb the ranks—should do so.  Success comes with a lot of benefits, and he recommends them.  But he said that once success is attained, there is something more important that he hopes we will set our eyes on.  That to lead truly significant lives, we should invest in the process of knowing, developing, and collaborating with people.  Mr. Gregory spoke with kindness, honesty, and humility about his dedication to serving others, developing leaders who work for him, and leading a life that will benefit not only his company, but the people who work there, in powerful and meaningful ways.  I am thankful to him for his transparency and willingness to speak to a room of strangers about some of his deepest convictions, and I hope I am blessed with the opportunity to put them into practice.


Innovation Israel Pre-Trek Meeting

Visiting Israel has been a lifelong dream of mine for quite some time. Because of this, you can imagine how excited I was to learn that Fisher was planning on offering a course this year that included a visit to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Of course, I signed up for the class.blog_telaviv

The class is centered around the economy and entrepreneurial spirit of Israel, specifically in Tel Aviv. Our instructor for the course was born and raised in Israel and has an incredible background in business and international consulting. As a student, I have really enjoyed learning about the Israeli economy and culture.

One way in which I was able to learn more about the culture was to attend a social gathering at the home of David and Bonnie Milenthal. The CEO and founder of Israel and Company attended the event, along with representatives of the Columbus Jewish Federation. We learned of their experiences and connections in Israel and had the chance to speak with them in a nice setting that allowed for a lot of learning to take place.

While in Israel, my class will visit various companies and organizations, ranging from global Fortune 500 firms to technology startups. Along with visiting businesses, the trip will include a visit to Jerusalem to see and learn more about the historic Israeli culture. I couldn’t be more excited for this amazing opportunity.



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