April at Fisher

Nice weather is back again! Although sunny days come hand in hand with rainy days, I’m excited to announce that snow has stopped, and trees are started to blossom again. While experiencing beautiful weather throughout these past few weeks, Fisher organized a couple of events that were unique in nature.

We had an Indian Festival celebration, and the Black MBAs organization’s An Afternoon of Culture. I found it quite brave from many students to stand in front of the entire Fisher student body and staff to dance and walk in a fashion catwalk. Both events included a dance out session, ethnic food and a fashion show. My fellow SMF GA Tatenda got to participate in the second one (fashion show) and I got to witness the great dances during the Indian Festival presentation.

It is great that Fisher organizes a series of activities during the year for student to participate – or in my case to observe, ha! – to get their minds out of their busy academic schedule. This past week I had two final presentations for two of my classes: Private Equity and Corporate Restructuring and Bankruptcy. It is bittersweet that classes are getting to an end, but it has been an enjoyable ride so far and I still have two more weeks until I graduate. As I type, I am thinking that I need to go find my tassel and graduation cap soon as a group of students are planning to take graduation pictures with our graduation outfits soon.

During campus tours with prospective students, sometimes we get to visit the 11th floor of Thompson library. If you come visit The Ohio State University at some point, I highly recommend you check out this view.

The Oval view from 11th floor Thompson Library

I went for a jog the other day around the Oval (as I mentioned the weather is beautiful these days), and saw students playing frisbee, reading books, just hanging out and having a good time.

Also, in my last post I mentioned I was crossing fingers to win one of the gift cards or giveaways that were distributed during the Fisher Graduate Appreciation Week (especially for one of favorite places in Columbus). Unfortunately, I did not get a gift card for the place I was hoping for but received a gift card from one that is in my top 5. Not too shabby!

Fisher Graduate Student Appreciation Week

A couple of weeks ago was Fisher Graduate Student Appreciation Week. I wasn’t aware of this precious week before starting my Master’s program but it is honestly a golden opportunity for student to win free prizes and get fantastic discounts in many restaurants in town!

Throughout the week, Fisher had a random drawing every day of the week to determine the lucky winners! Some examples of things you could win included: hot/cold tumbler, free food (gift cards), free coffee and donuts, among others! One place offering a free tour was Watershed Distillery, a micro-distillery in Columbus, owned by a Fisher alum Gregory Lehman. Among others, I was happy to hear that one of my favorite restaurants, Brassica, was participating in the gift card drawing process.

In fact, I had just been in Brassica the other weekend with a couple of friends from the program, and of course, our meal was delicious.

Love at first bite!

After my meal, I definitely felt appreciated as a Fisher graduate student! 🙂

Cupcakes and Canvases at Fisher!

Besides professional events (career fairs, networking sessions, case competition, alumni visits) and cultural events (Noche de Muertos- Mexican, Diwali – Indian, etc.), Ohio State and Fisher are always organizing a plethora of miscellaneous events that help students find relaxation amid demanding school time schedule.

This semester, the Graduate Programs Office in coordination with the Ohio Union Activities Board organized “Cupcakes and Canvases,” an event where students could have fun painting in canvases while enjoying delicious cupcakes!

I’m certainly not an experienced artist, rather I’m quite the beginner. However, the instructor made the painting process run very smoothly for all of us. In fact, it left me wanting to do even more canvas painting in the future.

Students from different programs (I got to meet some MHRM students and saw many MBAs) came together and enjoyed this fun activity that was honestly a brain-relaxer. After talking to some friends, they also shared a similar point of view that the activity in general was really helpful on getting our minds to think something else besides financial models, capital structures, and M&A transactions.

If you are a fan of canvas painting, want to do something fun for yourself or for a friend, or simply you just want to explore your artistic side, the process to complete this sunset was quite straightforward.

We used 5 different colors: white, black, red, yellow and blue. We started by paining the sky red and then mixing with yellow to fill out the rest of the sky down until we reach the sea level. (It also helps to have a template picture printed next to you).

Final piece of art result!

Then, you want to do the ocean starting with blue and again, mixing with white this time to choose your preferred tone of blue. You can paint all the way or just leave a narrow space at the end, it doesn’t really matter because afterwards you will be covering the bottom of the canvas with black. Next, you could move to the sky by mixing red and blue that you just used for the ocean and painting the top of the canvas.

It is pretty much up to you and your imagination on how much red/blue you want to use. My personal preference is not trying to look at what the others are doing because you could get distracted by their style, and your painting will not look as original as you would want it to be.

Once you have covered the whole canvas, you can use a new brush to paint the moon. Again, for the moon it is up to you how big you want to draw the moon, small, large, etc. Finally, it is time to use the black brush and paint the little hill surface as well as the trees and some people did birds if you are into that.

I did it! I explained how to paint a canvas without having any previous knowledge before this Cupcakes and Canvas session. See, that is what activities like this do to you–they make you expand your creativity!

Tips for Admitted Students

As the application season goes on, many students wait for the results of their applications (and some were already admitted, if that is you, congrats rockstar! ) Either if you are on the fence about multiple admission from different schools or trying to decide whether OSU is the right choice for you, I wanted to share some tips for students as they make their final admissions decisions.

Location
For me location was very important in a sense that I wanted to stay in the Midwest after completing my undergraduate degree. I also knew that I wanted to be close to major financial hubs such as Chicago (6hr drive) or New York (8hr). Random reason is that I also wanted to experience the four weather seasons, I have to admit fall is short but beautiful at OSU, and coming from warm weather in my home country I wanted to live through a real winter with snow since I have never seen snow before. My advice is to at least have a general idea of where you would like to work post-graduation and don’t forget to factor cost of living into your list.

My friend and classmate Jeff Chiu won a snowman contest in his resident complex as best snowman this January. Go bucks!

Alumni Network
One of the biggest factors for me in choosing the SMF program was the extensive and global OSU alumni network . This can be particularly helpful when job searching as there is a high likelihood to find an OSU graduate working for a particular company of interest, and Buckeye alums are certainly willing to connect you with other people. TIP: After my graduation once I become officially a Buckeye alum, if you are connecting with me just don’t forget to mention the ‘Go bucks’ at the end of your email 😉

Faculty and Program Curriculum
If you are intellectually curious, I’m very certain that you care about which professors will be teaching you in the future. When deciding programs don’t forget to review the school’s websites and learn more about the faculty at that school. I believe the OSU SMF program has excellent faculty including industry wide well-known professors due to their academic research and publications as well as professor with corporate work experience. Personally, I found the mixture between both intellectually stimulating as in some classes I was able to learn the theory, frameworks and technical concepts while other will allow me to practice these concepts such as in the Core Capstone class. I have heard about this from previous SMF students, so don’t hesitate to reach out to GAs to ask them about their experiences in the program.

Cost
Most of us as graduate students are trying to save up as much as possible during school, therefore the cost of the program (and the amount of scholarship received) ends up being a determinant factor to our commitment to a program. Personally, Columbus Ohio is one of the cities where you would get the most bang for your buck with cost of living being considerably lower than many big cities while still experiencing the vibe of a metropolis and having exposure to Fortune 500 companies HQs.

Opportunities
One of my favorite sections! As the number one/two largest university in the country, Ohio State has SO many extracurricular opportunities tailored for everyone! Some of them include:

Career Fairs

• Networking Events: with SMF/Fisher/OSU alums and corporations

Case Competitions: CFA Research Challenge, ACG Cup, NBIC Investment  Banking, Real Estate Case Competition

• SMF Educational Visit: Chicago Companies Visit, Venture Capital Tour

• Getting involved with a Student Organization

• Leadership roles in the SMF Student Council

Speakers at Fisher, and much more!

International Reach
OSU graduates are literally in every part of the world, I can tell from experience. If you are walking in an airport and someone sees you wearing OSU clothing, they would yell at you ‘Go Bucks!’ or ‘OH’. One time, I was in Peru and a couple of men, saw me wearing an Ohio State pullover and said you go to Ohio State? Oh great, go bucks! I was truly amazed by how many Buckeyes we have abroad including in far away places such as Peru.

 

FUN
After all that hard work studying, you also want to have some time to distress de-stress and bond with your fellow classmates. Columbus is a vibrant community with many enjoyable things to do across the board. Besides all the fun activities within Ohio State and Fisher, we have the Short North, Easton Mall and Polaris, Columbus Downtown, many local restaurants, breweries, and coffee chops, activities such as skiing, snowboarding,  snow tubing, zip lining, The Columbus Zoo, and so many other!

Short North

Regardless of what school you decide, I hope this blog helps you consider important factors when making your decision besides from ranking or school reputation. All for all, I wish you the best in your future endeavors.

Ferny

Participating in the ACG Case Competition

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to participate in the ACG Case Competition. ACG is the global community for middle market M&A as well as broader corporate finance dealmakers and business leaders. The organization represents a variety of financial sectors including private equity, investment banking, family wealth management, lending institutions, accounting, among others. The Association for Corporate Growth hosted around 10 teams in this annual investment banking and private equity competition.

The ACG Cup provides a unique opportunity for MBA and graduate students in the finance field to get real-world experience while interacting and networking with leading financial professionals and companies. My team was tasked with solving an M&A case that involved valuation of an LBO, M&A synergies and valuation of a stand-alone company through different valuation techniques. The event is a highly valuable experience for those interested in pursuing a career in investment banking/private equity/wealth & asset management.

For those of you interested in participating in a case competition, ACG is a great opportunity to get involved in a competition related to the finance field. Besides the opportunity to develop your own valuation model with your team and practice presenting in front of an audience of final professionals, there is also opportunity to network after the competition. I found this opportunity extremely valuable if you are looking for a job or looking to join a professional organization. Regardless of the outcome, ACG members which ranged from managing directors, associates, and analysts were very welcoming and willing to connect you with other professionals in the field that you were interested.


Details

  • Valuation techniques involved: LBOs, Exit Multiples, Precedent, Comparables, DCF, Synergies valuation
  • Location: Cleveland, OH
  • First, second and third place receive cash prize and the first-place team was invited to join InterGrowth – ACG’s yearly conference for private capital professionals in the middle-market – this year taking place in Orlando, Florida.

Winter Break Road Trip Adventure

Hello, everyone! I hope you all had great, relaxing and recharging holidays!

One of the great things about being in Ohio is how close we are to many cities that are easy to visit in a road trip. After I was done with my exams, a couple of friends from the program and I decided to take a three-day road trip to Nashville, Tennessee. I have heard great things from several people about that city so I was excited. I had the chance to visit Nashville very briefly when I was for a tennis tournament around three years ago but we did not get to explore much of the city.

My friend and I planned the road trip and we decided to stop at different cities along the way:

  • Yellow Springs, OH
  • Louisville, KY
  • Bowling Green, KY
  • Nashville, TN
  • Cincinnati,OH

The whole road trip was a blast, strongly recommended if you have three free days and a group of friends you want to have a good time with.

Part of the Road Trip – Parthenon in Nashville, a full-scale replica of the Parthenon in Athens

Our fun little trip started by visiting Yellow Springs, which is a very colorful, chill and cute small town close to Dayton. We ate breakfast there and walked around the streets exploring different shops. The town had such a happy vibe (see below picture of the colorful trash cans) that we stayed exploring for around two hours.  Unfortunately, it was getting dark and we needed to make it to Louisville on time if we also wanted to explore the city there.

We left Yellow Springs around 3 p.m. and arrived at Louisville around 7 p.m. We were starving at that point so we stopped by a Vietnamese pho place to grad dinner. It was delicious! After dinner, we headed back to our Airbnb, which, by the way, had the best hosts we could imagine!

For day two of our trip, our hosts had some coffee and cookies available for breakfast before we took the road to head out to Bowling Green. One of our friends who was initially coming with us is a big car lover, why is why we decided to include the National Corvette Museum as one of our stops. Once we arrived, the place was not too fabulous thus we were a little bored and one man at the museum suggested us to go visit the Mammoth Cave.

The Mammoth Cave turned out to be a blast!

Mammoth Cave – part of the longest cave system known in the world

After our tour at the Mammoth Cave, we headed over to Nashville! We arrived quite late that day around 6 p.m. and were exhausted and almost decided to go back to our Airbnb and go to bed. But we were at Nashville, and Nashville is known besides its food for its fabulous nightlife so we pushed through it and ended up having the best time.

Nashville!

On our way back from Nashville, we stopped by Cincinnati, which is less than two hours from Columbus, and we regretted not having planned more time to visit. The city was so beautiful, especially at night. Cincinnati was our last stop before we returned home.

I came back to Columbus, Ohio recharged for this last semester of studies.

O-H!

Class Dinner Time!

One of the things I love most about the SMF program is the diversity of our students. Last Friday, the SMF Council organized a dinner to celebrate the culmination of our capstone class. During the capstone class, all the teams were able to develop an equity research report about a company of our choosing. Two Fridays ago, all teams presented their final report to a panel of professors and the entire class.

SMF Capstone Presentation

That same Friday, the Fisher Indian Association was celebrating Diwali Night. One of the SMF students, Sowmya Mikkilineni, introduced me to this beautiful dress (see picture below).

Kurti dresses!

Our initial plan was to attend the SMF dinner and then head over to Diwali night at Fisher. The SMF dinner end up taking longer than planned—it had been a long day presenting our equity research reports. However, we were able to take a group picture with everyone before they headed home!

Group Picture at Tadka

Big shoutout to Sowmya and Jayaprabha for being kind enough to introduce us to all the exotic dishes. We ordered so much food but I’m really glad we did!  The food was truly delicious.

I look forward to our next group dinner soon!

Ferny

Planning and CFA

Hey everyone!

I am back to blogging again! I mentioned I would talk about how planning helps us in grad school. Developing time management and planning skills is particularly useful especially during the holidays. This year many of my peers traveled back home to spend Thanksgiving with their families. Thus many teams had to plan ahead how our schedules would look like, what times would be best to meet, before or after the holidays, dividing up the work, etc.

One thing that was particularly helpful in our planning process was the development of a project management plan. I was given the opportunity to develop a project management plan following a template that we were provided after one of our speaker’s presentations. In this project management plan, we assigned tasks to each member of our group would be responsible for and set deadlines to complete each milestone of our projects.

CFA Planning

I have been amazed by the level of effort, skills and diversity of knowledge that peers bring to class every day. I asked a couple of my peers preparing for the CFA and CFA Research Challenge to share about their experiences. This is what they said.


Joey Nguyen, Interested in Investments Track

How has your experience been getting ready for the CFA exam?

Since I’m taking it in December, while we are overloaded with a lot of projects and I also have to work on the CFA research challenge, I just think I would try my best for the exam. Everything you learn in the exam materials is what you need if you want to work as an equity analyst or break into investment management.

What are some takeaways of studying for the CFA?

Two things I learned from the preparation for the exam: first is stick to your schedule because it’s a big commitment, and second is being patient because you might have to take one level more than one. So just do it when you are really interested in asset management. One good thing is that 70% of the materials for level one will be covered from all courses in Fisher.

How has your experience been preparing for the CFA Research Challenge?

I have applied what I learned from class to a real investments project, also to work and to think as a real analyst. Bloomberg and modeling are two big key skills you can leverage from the classes while working. You also have to read a lot and try to find the key points (conceptualize it), learn where to start while reading a 10K and spot out the company’s problems. The CFA society also asks the company selected for the challenge to give a presentation about their company to all the participant teams so we need to know which questions we should ask to make them disclose some unique information.


Rizvi Bari, Interested in Investments Track

What are some takeaways of studying for the CFA?

I would say start as early as you can and do a lot of practice questions. I’m still trying to find more sources, but I think the professors are good resources. Working closely with the CFA institute helps a lot as well.


Jayaprabha Dhavale, Interested in Investments Track

What advice do you have for someone who is thinking about taking the CFA?

Personally, as I was already working, I studied on weekends only. Many of the topics were not as hard but some topics were new. Topics covered in the Financial Analysis Valuation class are covered in the exam. Regarding planning, I’d say you have to have a time line such as finish studying equity by this date, derivatives by this date.


Thank you to my peers who collaborated on this 😊

Cheers and Go Bucks!

How to Become a Time Management Ninja

Happy Fall, everyone! The temperature is dropping here in Columbus but some beautiful fall colors were seen these past few weeks!

Fall at Ohio State campus

I was recently advised to blog about how my experience as a student-athlete has helped me as a finance graduate student. That gave me the idea to write a post on what skills will help you be successful in grad school and detail along some specific examples where these skills are put into play in the SMF program. So here it goes!

In my first post, I mentioned used to be part of the Ohio State University tennis team when I was an undergraduate. During my time as a student-athlete, I found myself juggling school, academics and life in general. Life as a student-athlete is very busy, especially during the season when you are playing two matches per week, sometimes even either at home or away, or when there is a tournament happening out of town and you have to miss class for a whole week. Also, the more your team wins, the more days you will need to take off school to play matches if you are playing a tournament. Therefore, you learn to use every minute of your time productively.

I was thankfully able to begin to develop my time management skills back when I was younger, as I used to juggle tennis, school and life since I was 11 years old when I started traveling for tennis tournaments and would come back home to catch up with school.

Time management skills developed in my earlier years are definitely helping me with my responsibilities between school and being a graduate assistant. I would share to anyone applying to graduate school that time management is something you will need to master during your years as a graduate student.

In graduate school, you are taking around fifteen credit hours per semester but most of your time will be spent working on group projects outside the classroom. For example, I am currently part of two teams for three different classes. One of my teams is working on an R (coding) project, my other team is working on our core capstone equity research project and several Excel presentations. I would say at least five hours each week are out put into group work, and that is keeping it short. Another SMF team was meeting for six hours straight one of these days. Kudos to them, seriously!

Either you run the day or the day runs you. — Jim Rohn

I was not familiar with Jim Rohn’s background as a motivational speaker but found this quote on the Internet and decided to include it in this post because it could not be more true.

Either you start working on that long assignment today or the length of the assignment will seem more daunting tomorrow. Either you read that one more chapter of the book today or are lost in class and have to read two more chapters tomorrow. Time is so valuable in the life of a business student and professional in general, that either you control it or it starts controlling you.

But what is the best way to control time, you may ask? Some might have different answers for this one but this leads me to another topic for my next blog: planning! No pun intended, but I’m planning to ask some SMF students who are currently preparing for the CFA about their experiences studying for the exam and how they are dealing with time management. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

First Semester, Second Session

Hi everyone!

Second session classes have just started and I can’t believe it is already time for us to schedule classes for next semester. As the other SMF Ambassador Tatenda wrote in his blog, time is really flying by. It feels like yesterday when I was sitting in Gerlach 305 for our first Financial Analysis and Valuation class. During this first half of the semester, I had the opportunity to meet my fellow classmates a little bit more, participate in several networking and career fair activities as well as have some fun attending a Beyoncé concert and Ohio State football game.

Ohio State Stadium
Beyonce at the Ohio Stadium (Aug 16th)
Fisher Graduate Latino Association at the Prospanica Conference in Milwaukee, WI

As an undergraduate, I had the opportunity to make it to a football game several times and I just love the atmosphere while at the stadium. As a graduate student with more loaded schoolwork and less availability over the weekends, I wasn’t really planning on going to the stadium this semester. However, a couple of weeks ago, Tatenda was kind enough to invite me and some of his friends to the OSU vs. Minnesota football game. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed being at the stadium and experience a football game.

I LOVE the school spirit here at Ohio State, especially when it comes to sports!

When I first arrived to Ohio four years ago, one of the things that impressed me the most about Ohio State folks was their love for football and college sports. People really get into it when it comes to college football and I can certainly understand why. Initially I had no idea what was going on, or even how the scoring system worked. Coming from a country (Peru) where soccer is the most popular sport, I really had no chance to learn about football when I was growing up. However, people from my tennis team and friends in general were really patient explaining me the rules to help me become a master of football rules. Totally kidding—I’m far from being an expert, but hey, I do understand enough to have fun while watching! 🙂

The marching band also had an astonishing performance during halftime.

As second session continues, I look forward to more learning experiences in and outside the classroom, and sharing those with all of you!

Go Bucks!

View of the Fisher Courtyard