More than a degree: a real opportunity to be influential

Recently, the MHRM students participated in a case competition where we sought to resolve a current HR challenge that PepsiCo is facing. The reason I want to talk about this experience is not only because it’s a cool activity the program provides, but because of what it means for the entire program’s approach to our development as business professionals.

The case competition consisted of 13 teams who presented in front of a variety of influential HR executives. PepsiCo presented the case early on a Friday morning, then we had 24 hours to come up with recommendations and craft a formal presentation. During the first round, we were split into three big groups so that about four teams presented to four judges per room. Out of each presentation room, a team was selected to move on to the next round. During the final round (as if the stakes weren’t high already), each winning team presented to all other competing teams and to all the judges together. An overall winner was picked at the end!

MHRM team (Julie, Christine, Mallory, Tessa)
“Cha-Sha” Team (Sharmeen, Champaigne, Shannon, Charlotte)

The greatest part of this experience was the opportunity to present in front of judges who would interrupt and ask all kinds of tough questions. It teaches you to answer on the spot, how to read a room, how to clarify your ideas, how to maintain poise in the midst of nerves and challenging questions, among other great presentation skills. It truly was all about the delivery of your idea! Forget about school presentations where everyone knows exactly what they are going to say and how long it’s going to take. My team didn’t even get through four slides!

My team: “Crisp Solutions”

In my team’s case, pretty early into our presentation, one of the judges expressed that he didn’t like the idea. What do you do with that?! It’s not like we could go back to the drawing board and adjust. We had to keep going. I loved that this happened to us, though, because it taught me two key lessons.

The first was that I knew and believed in my presentation more than I thought I did. I surprised myself with how confidently I was able to walk the judges through our thought process and to build on what my teammates were explaining to get our point across. I think the minute we saw we were losing the judges’ buy-in, we looked at each other and knew exactly how we would stand our ground.

Yes, we had just worked 24 hours on developing a solution together, but it was the intentional trust-building efforts that taught us how to move forward as teammates not just as a group. By asking each other questions further outside the box every time, the more we deepened how to be highly in tune with each other. I felt very proud that we gave a powerful presentation despite not winning, and that I walked out of the room beaming with admiration for the way my teammates handled themselves and how they helped me handle my response too!

Crisp Solutions (Megan, Reid, Mai, Sarah)
Alex, Reid, Richard feeling accomplished!

 

 

 

The second key lesson was that you never know what new information you are going to have thrown at you. It may make you feel like all the work you did was for nothing, but in reality it has the potential to elevate your professionalism and expand your comfort-zone like never before.

Right when we left the presentation room, I felt cheated because the judges based their questions on information that we were not given. I complained about it for a while, which I realize was not my best move, but when we went back for a feedback session, I realized it was on purpose! The judges spoke about how well we defended our strategy and tried to connect their observations to our plan despite being caught off guard. Realizing my lack of awareness, I asked them how they have handled situations like this when new information came to light.

I learned a lot from their perspective, but most importantly how I could challenge myself to respond differently. It was a clear uncomfortable growth moment, yet the self-reflection that resulted from it is something I will treasure as I continue to develop my skills.

Me receiving “best presenter” award

To say that I recommend this competition is an understatement. I learned so much about myself and I feel really encouraged about the small and intentional ways the Fisher College of Business is helping me achieve my goals!

First Impressions, First Challenges, First Action Steps

Hello there! My name is Mai Erana Salmeron and I am a first-year MHRM student at Fisher College of Business. I want to start by telling you about my background, especially how and why I am here today. Then I would love to share, as my title expresses, the first impressions, challenges, and action steps I am embracing as I start my year as a graduate student at Fisher.

A little bit about me

I was born in Mexico City, but moved to Chile shortly after, then to Venezuela, back to Mexico City, and finally to Ohio! My family has been in Columbus for some time now; I actually went to high school around here. I left for undergrad in Boston and came back for graduate school. (Fun fact: I moved to Columbus for the very first time on July 6th, and on that date exactly seven years later, I moved back permanently for grad school. Meant to be? I think so!)

I have an undergrad degree in hospitality administration, which is a result of my love for taking care of others, and the tremendous impact gathering people around the table served to help me adapt to various cultures growing up. Most of my work experience has been in the Food and Beverage industry, but it’s through those opportunities that I recognized a tremendous need for employee development and talent management. I had some great “lightbulb moments” as I like to call them that made me realize how much I like human resources and how this had to be the next step in my career.

Graduation from Boston University
Some of my work at a local golf club in Columbus

So why OSU? I think it took me to get out of Columbus to realize how much I love it! There is nothing more welcoming than this beautiful, vibrant city with a great balance of city and suburban life. There is so much to do, so many places to eat at, and so much community involvement to experience. Being part of this city means you are a Buckeye in some way or another, so I truly looked forward to moving back and being a part of it all again. Fisher is an even more exciting part of this decision. As I looked for HR programs, I couldn’t find anything that compared! The school has phenomenal rankings, opportunities, and most importantly, people who demonstrated they wanted to invest in me as much as I wanted to invest in them.

Columbus heads into the fall:)
Ohio High School D1 Golf State Championship at OSU Gray
Columbus Zoo lights!

First impressions

If I had to describe how Fisher makes me feel after the first few weeks of classes I would use the words capable and dynamic. Even before we got to campus, the staff and faculty were engaging with the students. We had prep modules, books, and other interactive plans that helped me become a part of the culture at Fisher; these also allowed me to see that I have what it takes to succeed in this career. I am unbelievably grateful for all the ways in which Fisher guides its students to take small, yet meaningful steps to prepare for class, career fairs, networking opportunities, and most importantly learn about yourself. There is never a dull moment at this school; there is always some organization providing involvement opportunities, or a chance to connect with the staff, alumni, and professors.

First challenges

Being told all the steps involved in becoming a competitive business student is terrifying, and quite frankly, you can feel overwhelmed. So far, I have had to learn to pause and think of all the things that I have done, career wise, and ask myself why they mean something to me. I have learned that it is invaluable to be patient with myself to process all these expectations, so I can figure out what to work on that will truly help me grow. I have had to get out of my comfort zone and just jump in, as I learn to solve problems whenever they arise. It’s a bit uncomfortable, but it has also been truly rewarding.

First action steps

These are a few pieces of advice I have heard in my time at Fisher thus far. I would encourage you to keep them in mind because they can help you be very successful and enjoy the program to the fullest. I also think they are helping me stay accountable and motivated🙂

  • Be present
  • Prepare
  • Be a life-time learner
  • Take on leadership fearlessly
  • Be kind to yourself