And, on to the Next Chapter

To say the Fisher MBA program has been a whirlwind is most definitely the understatement of the year. It has been the opportunity of a lifetime, the chance to pivot my career trajectory back toward social impact, an environment of experiential learning and continuous growth, one of the hardest things I have ever done, and, ultimately, an experience I will never regret, but rather, value now and into the future.

Looking back, I wonder how well prepared I was for this experience. The first year was definitely challenging and included many ups and downs. From constant interviews and internship rejections to an amazing entrepreneurial summer internship with NAWBO and a global consulting experience in Ethiopia and Kenya through GAP, first year included both some of the hardest and most rewarding parts of the program.

Going into the second year, after taking time to self-reflect and refocus over the summer, it was a slightly easier transition back into the academic world. However, the hunt for a full-time job was overwhelming at times. With the constant pressures surrounding us in this program, I found the time to take a step back and self-reflect to be essential for my journey.

Now, looking back, I wish I would have taken more time for this, as well as more time to develop relationships outside of student organizations/course work. This 2-year experience not only provides an education and opportunity for career growth, it is a chance to build and grow your network of personal and professional relationships with some of the most intelligent individuals you’ll ever meet.

Sitting in Gerlach Hall on this beautiful spring morning, I cannot help to embrace the bittersweet feeling of graduating and heading into the next chapter as an OSU alum. I am so excited for this next part of our journey, as my husband and I will be moving to Washington, DC where I recently accepted my dream job! I will be working with Management Sciences for Health (MSH), a global health NGO, in their operations and business development team. Without a combination of the experience in this program, along with taking time to self-reflect on why I came back to school in the first place, I would not be in this position today. To all pursuing this journey in the near future or finishing the program next year, I wish you all the best!

Growing Professionally and Giving Back with Fisher Board Fellows

“I now call this meeting to order…”

Sitting in on your first nonprofit board meeting can be an eye-opening experience, especially if you have never worked on a board in the past. Now, heading into my eighth month as a Board Fellow for Dress for Success-Columbus, I am able to actively participate in board meeting discussions and share updates on my resource development committee projects.

Reflecting back, being a part of Fisher Board Fellows has been a wonderful opportunity to give back to my community, better understand the governance of nonprofit organizations, apply lessons from business school to a real-world setting and grow my network. In addition, committing to the mission of Dress has grown my perspective regarding our local community needs and areas of opportunity in Columbus.

Fisher Board Fellows is a student-run organization that places students on local nonprofit boards during the second year of the program, attracting candidates from the full-time MBA, MHRM and MBA for working professionals programs. Candidates go through an application process to join the organization, complete training in the second semester and join their board in the second year of the program. As Co-Vice Chair of the organization, we work hard to maintain our relationships with our nonprofit partners and will have 34 partners this coming year!

Some of our partner boards include: United Way of Central Ohio, BalletMet, A Kid Again, LifeCare Alliance, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Local Matters, and many more. Please check out our full list here. This year, we are also excited to add several new partners including: YWCA, Flying Horse Farms, Columbus Humane, MBA Research and Curriculum Center and SmallBiz Cares.

Fellows work on a wide range of strategic projects for their organizations, ranging from donor engagement research and improvement planning to marketing and communication plans and inventory management system recommendations. In addition, fellows are provided a board mentor during their time with the organization to help navigate the new experience and set them up for success in providing impact!

This organization has been, hands-down, one of the best experiential learning opportunities during my time at Fisher and I look forward to continuing my relationship with the board post-graduation this May!

“The meeting is now adjourned!”

The Fisher Coaching Experience

Some of my favorite aspects of the Fisher MBA program are the experiential learning opportunities we have available, like GAP and consulting projects with local companies. However, with new additional program advancements, we have recently had the chance to pilot a personalized coaching experience as well. This is a part of the program I was not expecting to be offered, but has been an amazing opportunity for both personal and professional growth.

Through the pilot, current second-year MBA students were able to sign up for a personalized coaching program based on our goals for professional development. For example, students are focusing on presence, career search, leadership skills, self-confidence, etc. Coaches consist of alumni who went through the Fisher Coaching courses, along with professional coaches who are connected to the Fisher community. We were able to choose our top three coach preferences based on their profiles and are now participating in five personalized coaching sessions.

I have had three sessions with my coach so far, and the experience has been both impactful and engaging! As a part of the process, we leveraged the BUILD assessment, a leadership model developed by the Fisher Leadership Initiative to determine our leadership competency level from both our perspective and the perspective of others across: Stewardship, Relational Skills and Self-Leadership. With this feedback and the ability to talk through with a coach, I have been able to focus on key areas where I hope to improve. My coach has built safety around our conversations and enabled me to feel comfortable in discussing difficult challenges.

In the future, this personalized coaching opportunity will be incorporated in the student experience from the start of the program.

For those interested, students are able to learn more about coaching from Professor John Schaffner through electives in the program as well. I took the Introduction to Organizational Business Coaching earlier this semester, and look forward to taking the Advanced Coaching class next semester. Through this course, we are able to put coaching skills into practice and learn how to improve our listening, presence, business acumen and powerful questioning.

Coaching practice with a classmate

Making Strides – Women in Business at Fisher

Have you ever felt hesitant to speak your mind in a meeting, own up to your recent accomplishments at work or take the first chance to raise your hand in class? These are thoughts common to many women in the business world. Fisher Graduate Women in Business (FGWIB) just hosted a workshop to help bring women together and begin combatting these very issues.

The first of four workshops in the series, “Raise Your Hand: A Workshop for Fisher Women,” led by Dr. Claire Kamp Dush, was both encouraging and inspiring! We learned and compared with other women how much we are affected by imposter syndrome, or the tendency for successful individuals to not accept their own accomplishments and develop a fear of being seen as a fraud. We shared stories and created action steps to support one another in preventing some of our default imposter syndrome actions moving forward. Overall, the workshop provided a confidence boost through developing aspirations for being fearless in work, life and school. I am looking forward to the next workshop focused on the best ways for women to self-promote.

Throughout my time at Fisher, FGWIB events and workshops like these have helped bring women together in support and empowerment. I am also a Forté Fellow, and as a part of the Forté Foundation, I am able to expand my network beyond the Fisher community. All female MBA students are able to join Forté as soon as they start the program. Through Forté, I attended one of their annual conferences to network with organizations and other schools, I have listened in on inspiring webinars led by female business leaders across the US, and I have leveraged their job center through posting my resume and interviewing for several positions targeting Forté members.

Overall, despite some of the challenges we face as women in business, being surrounded by conversations bringing these challenges to light, workshops to rise above and resources to expand and grow professionally has made a significant impact on my experience here at Fisher. I look forward to seeing these experiences continue on into the year and for future Fisher women!

Organization Design Strategies: A Look at the Global One Health Initiative GAP Project in Ethiopia and Kenya

Rolling out of bed after finals week at the end of our second semester in the MBA program, it was both exciting and nerve-racking to be packing for a three-week trip for Ethiopia and Kenya. After making it through final group projects and coursework, I kept wondering if I was truly prepared for our in-country portion of the GAP global consulting project. On May 4, 2018, most of the members of my GAP team met at the Columbus airport for our journey to Addis Ababa. We were headed to our client’s regional office that was recently opened at the end of 2017. Our client, GOHi, is an NGO based at The Ohio State University focused on education, research, training and outreach programs to build capacity toward a global One Health approach.

My amazing GAP team!

Before leaving for Ethiopia, our team of seven MBA students met with GOHi several times to work through project objectives and develop a plan of action during the in-country experience. We were working toward developing recommendations for their organization structure and a list of potential partners for GOHi to establish a sustainable presence in the region. The months leading up to the trip, we identified organizations with similar missions to connect with in-country and learn more about their strategy and operations on the ground. We prepared interview guides, developed spreadsheets, laughed late into the evenings in Gerlach Hall, made nicknames for ourselves and bonded over Graeter’s Ice Cream.

After all this time, May 4th finally came around, and we embarked on our journey. Our team spent the first week in Addis Ababa getting to know the GOHi team and beginning our interviews with similar organizations working in the region. We were able to walk to the office every morning from the hotel where we stayed, passing by the ongoing building construction and liveliness of the capital city. The GOHi staff was extremely welcoming and supportive, inviting us to learn about their daily activities, taking us to a traditional Ethiopian lunch and dinner where we tasted our first authentic injera and later experienced the traditional dance of eskista, and allowing us to observe project sites and learn more about the on-the-ground project work taking place.

We met with organizations like Amref Health Africa, PSI Ethiopia and the Ethiopian branch of the CDC. We learned about the importance of maintaining relationships with government entities to gain support for organization success, we identified potential partnership opportunities and recommendations for increased visibility and flexibility in organization structure. 

Meeting with GOHi team and PSI Ethiopia

After our week in Addis Ababa, we traveled to Kenya to further our research with organizations based in Nairobi. There, we met with and learned from organizations like the International Livestock Research Institute, World Animal Protection and the University of Nairobi. Although most of our time was spent in meetings, we had time for a quick weekend safari to Maasai Mara as well!

After a week in Nairobi, we flew back to Addis to bring together our final report and presentation to the GOHi team. Throughout the entire project, we had established a strong group dynamic that enabled a strong final product for the client, one that they are still using today! Although a short trip, I found this to be an amazing experience, full of learning, the chance to build new relationships and the opportunity to consult for an organization working toward an important mission.

Beautiful sunrise on our last day in Addis!

A huge shout out here to my amazing Fisher MBA GAP team: Aziza Allen, Ariel Cooper, John Cox, Kaitlyn Kendall-Sperry and Obi Nnebedum

And to the GOHi staff and leadership team: Wondwossen Gebreyes, Emia Oppenheim, Ashley Bersani, Getnet Yimer, Kassahun Asmare, Tigist Endashaw, Tewodros Abebe and Joshua Amimo

Red Carpet Reflections

Little did I expect that Red Carpet this year would be just as an amazing experience as it was last year! This time, from the perspective of a current student and point person to welcome in part of the admitted class, I realized how much fun it is to share about Columbus and the program experience so far. Also, through other current students sharing their stories, I was reminded of many opportunities to experience this amazing city!

During the welcome reception at the Ohio Stadium, we learned a lot about the behind-the-scenes to game day and were reinvigorated with excitement for next season! Student ticket info will be coming this summer, and we can’t wait to buy the Big 10 package again. One thing to look forward to for all home games are the great Fisher tailgates at Fisher Commons. Not only an apartment complex to look into, Fisher Commons is in a central location to bring many current students together.

I also helped coordinate the significant others/partners/spouses (SOPS) breakfast on Saturday morning at Red Carpet, and I learned some great tips for managing time between work/school/home! For example, many current SOPS put together shared calendars for each other to find times to spend together. My husband and I try to eat dinner together almost every evening and spend at least one day of the weekend away from work and study. On the next nice weekend day, we plan to check out the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, while doing some background research for one of the consulting projects I am working on for the Professional Development core class.

Finally, Red Carpet weekend came to a close with our women’s breakfast on Sunday morning. We have a strong group of women coming into the program, and I cannot wait to see how Fisher Graduate Women in Business (FGWIB) and our Forte Foundation connections grow into next year. I had a great time connecting with classmates at the Forte conference last summer (see photo below) and hope to see many again this summer! Also, I hope to see a few admitted students at our first Fisher Women’s Conference on April 6th!

Overall, it was an amazing weekend, and I am looking forward to our incoming class next year!

Power to my core team!

At Fisher, incoming MBA students are assigned to a core team that will tackle projects together. As the year comes to a close, this is a huge shout-out to my amazing core team a.k.a. Team 9! Neethi, Adam, Sangyoun (Shin) and Andrew have made the core team adventure a valuable experience from the start!

Beginning with team announcements during pre-term and into our first team-building exercises, we took time to get to know each other and have fun. During pre-term, before classes began for the semester, we had the chance to compete in a mini-case competition and take on a ropes course! Not only did we win the case across the teams presenting in our room– we also won the photo contest from the ropes course (see one of the winners below)! We spent these challenges taking time to get to know each other’s backgrounds and not taking things too seriously, resulting in effective teamwork and great times!

Throughout the year, we have worked hard to keep each other in mind outside of class projects… from having birthday celebrations to venting about the internship search to sharing favorite snacks. Most importantly, we are all very lucky to have Neethi who brings delicious snacks for our group meetings and Shin who brings some of his favorite snacks from Korea (see below).

Overall, we stay motivated, but have fun while we’re working on assignments together! This semester, we’ve discovered the power of communication and working as a virtual team. With interviews ramping up, along with group projects, we have realized the power of working together remotely.

After things die down in a few weeks, we’re looking forward to a celebration together over Korean BBQ! From case analyses to marketing plans, we have found ourselves frustrated, giggling, sweating from spicy ramen snacks, and in deep concentration to meet deadlines among all of the other activities going on at school. It’s been a challenging and rewarding experience, and I wouldn’t trade my core team for another!

Experiential Learning in the Community

One of the main reasons I decided to pursue the full-time MBA at Fisher was because of the many experiential learning opportunities offered, especially the GAP international consulting experience. However, little did I know that other opportunities would present themselves even within our first semester here!

One afternoon, while exploring the events on our Event Hub webpage, I stumbled across an information session to get involved with “Fisher Serves” and engage in a consulting project for a local non-profit. Fisher Serves is a student-run organization committed to promoting awareness and connecting Fisher students to service-based opportunities in the community. The information session I signed up for was about working  on a consulting project for the Columbus Museum of Art.

After attending the session, I realized what an opportunity this would be to not only get more involved in my new community and engage in the art scene of the city, but also build relationships with students outside of my core team and apply some of the key concepts we’ve been learning in class.

http://www.columbusmuseum.org/host-your-event/plan-your-event/

After a group meeting and tour of the museum with museum staff, we’re working in two teams to help improve museum event revenues and the café experience. It’s been a great opportunity working with the Fisher Serves team and we’re excited to build out strategies for the museum moving forward. Hopefully, you will see some of our new ideas come to fruition at the museum next year!