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Got Cabin Fever? Hit the Gym!

We’re just four weeks into the first term of spring semester, and I’m already longing for spring break!  Midterms are coming up next week, and I’m itching to do something other than sit in class or study at home.  I’ve found a great way to escape this cold weather by hitting the RPAC!  Here are some of the great amenities this workout facility has to offer:

  • Cardio Canyon – a ton of treadmills, ellypticals, and bikes
  • Countless basketball courts (they’re literally stacked on top of each other)
    • also used for volleyball, badminton, and cardio classes
  • 10 racquetball courts
  • 4 squash courts
  • Four-lane jogging/walking track
  • Weights, weights, and more weights (I avoid these areas, but I assume they have anything and everything)
  • Lap pools

A beautiful shot of the RPAC at nighttime!

This is by far one of my favorite buildings on campus, but there are plenty of other workout facilities across campus.  JO North and the ARC are a couple of popular spots for Fisher grad students.  The ARC even has climbing walls, which I intend to check out later this semester!  We’re not going to be lucky enough to have access to such great workout spaces when we leave Fisher, so I recommend checking some of these out this winter.

Now, back to studying for these midterms.  Just three more weeks and I’ll be onto my last term in the Fisher MAcc!  Could time slow down, please?!


As Tax Season Begins, MAcc Students Serve

It’s finally here!  VITA – Volunteer Income Tax Assistance – has begun!

Each winter for six weeks, Fisher MAcc and select undergraduate students volunteer at Godman Guild and the OSU Law Extension Center in Columbus to provide tax preparation assistance to low-income individuals and families.  After weeks of organizing training and compiling schedules (with much help from other volunteers), we kicked off our first volunteer session on Friday at Godman Guild.

A great group of volunteers for our first week of VITA!

We had several individuals come in and were able to prepare their federal tax returns to be submitted at the end of the month.  These Columbus residents are able to obtain refunds through several different credits including the child tax credit and earned income credit.  What is more important than learning how to complete the tax returns is the time we spend hearing the stories of these people who are really our neighbors.  For many of the people we help, their tax refund will be the largest sum of money received in the year and will help them make it through the winter.  We had a few familiar faces as well – people have been coming to Godman Guild for our assistance since the program began ten years ago.

I’m excited to see how the rest of the tax season goes as we continue to complete returns at Godman Guild and the Law Extension Center.  I’ll be sure to give an update at the end of the season to share how many individuals we were able to help in these six weeks of service!


Spring Classes

Having been at Ohio State for my undergrad, I’m accustomed to the term “winter quarter.”  So this whole concept of “spring semester” is a little unsettling.  Where did winter go?!  When I’m trekking across ice and snow to my first day of class, the word “spring” seems a little misleading!  Nonetheless, spring semester is upon us, and with that comes new classes for the next seven weeks in the MAcc!

  • Accounting Policy & Research w/Professor Zach – this class is already my favorite!  We’ll be covering several papers and studies on financial accounting and reporting, but we also have the opportunity to create our own event study.  Basically, we pick a significant event that we believe would have an impact on stock prices of certain companies.  We collect data on historical stock prices and perform an analysis to see if that event actually does have an impact on the stock prices, thereby allowing us to conclude that the event had or released information about the company previously unknown.  Some classic examples are earnings and dividend announcements, but my group is getting a little creative.  More to come on that later….
  • IFRS w/Professor Turner – this class will cover the major concepts of the International Financial Reporting Standards, which are the accounting guidelines used by many countries (although not currently the U.S.).  We’ll be using a French company’s financial statements to learn about different accounting policies throughout the term.  Although the class is focused on IFRS, we’ll also learn quite a few things about U.S. GAAP that we haven’t learned before.
  • FFR w/Professor Spires – another audit-related class with Spires is always a good thing!  In this class we’ll focus specifically on fraudulent financial reporting (FFR), which is perpetrated by management of a company to intentionally misstatement financial reports.  Our first day included an activity where we were each asked to perpetrate a fraud involving misstating inventory.  The next class, we received our results, and my fraud wasn’t caught!  I was pretty proud of myself – I have to admit – although I’m not quite sure if that’s a good thing…
  • Managerial Negotiations w/Professor Dumas – almost every day we get to simulate a business negotiation?  Sign me up!  I’m really looking forward to improving my negotiation skills and learning how to have difficult conversations with people of higher rank in a business.  I consider myself to be a non-confrontational person, so this will give me plenty of opportunities to step outside of my comfort zone and manage difficult situations.
  • Tax III w/Professor Raabe – this class will cover more advanced topics related to taxation of corporations.  After this class, I’ll have covered my entire tax textbook (which I judge to be pretty thick)!  Between this and VITA, I’ll be getting plenty of tax exposure again this term.

As this term involves plenty of reading and work outside of class, I’ll keep this one short!  Looking forward to another term at FCOB!


Winter break 2012 :: Europe Trip Part III: Frohe Weihnachten!

(This is installment #3 of 3 blog posts recounting my 2012 winter break trip. See here and here for the earlier installments.) On Friday, December 21, we made it to our final destination:  Nuremberg, Germany.  The first order of business was to walk through the Christmas market, known as “Christkindlesmarkt.”  Hundreds of booths are set up to sell handmade Christmas ornaments, wooden toys and nativity scenes, and plenty of warm wine and sausages.  Shoppers come from all over Germany but also all over the world, so I was happy to learn that most vendors spoke English, too!  Some of the most beautiful displays were the ones containing hundreds of glass ornaments like the one below.

Ornaments hang from a display at the famous Nuremberg Christmas Market

On Saturday, our first full day but also last day in Germany, we walked around the “Old Town,” the part of the city completely surrounded by a wall.  At the north point of the Old Town stands an old castle which provides great views of the city.  The architecture here was much different than that of England and France, but beautiful nonetheless.  We also stopped in a church that stood in the same square as the Christmas market for a short organ concert of some recognizable classical tunes.  Many people took a break from the cold, windy outdoor market with us to enjoy the music.

Bird’s eye view of the “Old Town”

Our last night in Nuremberg was spent again at the Christmas market, where my family and I finished up our Christmas shopping.  Some of my favorite booths to visit were ones containing intricately decorated nutcrackers and little smoker men, seen in the picture below.  It was hard to stop myself from buying something from every booth, but my limited remaining euros and limited suitcase space kept me in line!

German hand-crafted nutcrackers and smokers for sale at the “Christkindlesmarkt”

As I was flying across the Atlantic for ten hours to get back home the next day, boredom ensued and I settled on reading my passport for entertainment.  Yes, there are quotes in that thing – several well-known ones from Lincoln and the Declaration of Independence – and others new to me.  I found one to be relevant to us students, coming from astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka:

                      Every generation has the obligation to free men’s minds for a look at new worlds…to look out from a higher plateau than the last generation.

As we Fisher MAcc students return to campus for our last semester of school, we should keep this in mind.  We are the future our profession, and we have an obligation to make progress and push farther to reach greater heights than before.  With that, I’m looking forward to a great spring 2013!


Winter break 2012 :: Europe Trip Part II: Parlez-vous Anglais?

The second stop on our tour of Europe (aka “winter break 2012″) was the beautiful city of Paris!  We kicked off our four days in the French city with an “Illuminations Tour,” where we took a cruise along the River Seine to view some of the most beautiful buildings, bridges, and statues lit up at nighttime.  One of the coolest buildings in the night lights to me was “La Conciergerie,” which was a prison during the French Revolution and held prisoners before they were sent to the guillotine.  Dark history, I know…but beautiful building!  The tour also allowed us our first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower all lit up at night – what a beauty it was!

La Tour Eiffel glowing bright in the Paris night sky!

Another highlight of my time in Paris was walking up the steps to the top of the Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris, or better known to Americans as the Notre Dame.  My knowledge of the cathedral was limited to what I could remember from the Disney movie (which wasn’t much), so it was great to hear a little bit about its history, dating back to its construction in the 12th century.  There were a couple of huge stained glass windows in the cathedral that contained colorful glass that dated back to the 13th century, which was a little hard to wrap my head around!  What was amazing was all of the people who had come to see this Parisian piece of architecture that once represented a sanctuary of safety and hope during the French Revolution, and still serves as a place of peace for people today.  The views from the cathedral weren’t too bad, either!

View of the French city from the Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris

A trip to Paris wouldn’t be complete without a tour of the palace at Versailles.  I don’t have enough space to go on about all of the history of the palace, its surrounding gardens, and former residents, but I will tell you about my favorite room.  It was called the “Hall of Mirrors,” and it was literally just that – a long hallway lined with mirrors and windows.  Giant chandeliers hung all along the hallway so that it was completely full of light.  There were beautiful scenes painted on the ceiling that seemed to glow from all of this light.  This was one of many stops on our tour that reflected just how detailed and grand this palace was – just like the gold accents on the palace in the picture below.

My sister and I outside the grand Palace of Versailles

Our trip to Paris was complete with a stop at the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa, the Musee d’Orsay for some Monet and Renoir, plenty of shopping on the Champs Elysees, and quite a few baguettes and bistros.  Much too soon, it was time for us to hop on another train – this time heading to Nuremberg, Germany!  Au revoir, Paris!


Winter Break 2012 :: Europe Trip Part I: London Calling

What’s the best Christmas present I’ve EVER received?  And the best way I’ve EVER spent winter break?

Well, that would have to be our family trip to Europe!  My mom, sister, and I traveled to London, Paris, and Nuremberg, Germany, from December 13-23.  Lots of travel, sightseeing, shopping, eating, and simply spending time together made for an unforgettable experience.  I’ll be breaking my re-cap into three blog posts – one for each destination.  So, here’s LONDON:

Tower of London on a bright, sunny afternoon near the River Thames.

To prevent myself from carrying on and on (you should see my 500+ pictures on FB), here are a few great moments:

1.  Les Miserables – no, not the movie – the on-stage performance!  This is one of my favorite musicals, adapted from Victor Hugo’s novel depicting 19th-century France on the brink of revolution.  We enjoyed this spectacular show on our first night in London.  Check out this video of my favorite song from Les Mis, performed at the 10th Anniversary Concert by Lea Salonga:

“On My Own” from Les Mis

St. Paul’s Cathedral in the background as we strolled across Millennium Bridge.

2.  Double-Decker Sightseeing Tour – this was the source of about half of my pictures from the whole trip!  Having never been outside of North America, I was excited to see buildings that were more than one or two-hundred years old. London did not disappoint!  We saw Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Elizabeth Tower (often confused with Big Ben, which is actually the name of the bell inside the famous tower), the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, and countless other well-known sites.  Our tour guide gave us a great historical overview of the city – including the Great Fire of 1666, the reign of Queen Victoria, the construction of Shakespeare’s Globe, and many other significant points of history to the Brits.  She even pointed out fun sites like JK Rowling’s apartment and Margaret Thatcher’s home.  I definitely recommend tours like these if you want to see a lot of the city in a short amount of time.

3.  Carols at Westminster Abbey – what a concert this was!  A young boy’s choir sang Christmas carols on the evening of Sunday, December 15, our last day in London.  The church is not only home to normal worship services, but also major events such as Prince William and Kate’s wedding a couple of years ago.  The building looked even more beautiful at night than it did on our tour during the day!

The beautiful Westminster Abbey lit up on a cold winter’s night!

4.  Tea at Bea’s of Bloomsbury – oh the desserts!!!  The three of us enjoyed afternoon tea and a huge tiered platter of desserts at this little tea shop in London.  The Brits take their tea seriously, and as I was recovering from strep throat, I had to take the green tea seriously as well.  We enjoyed vanilla caramel cupcakes, scones with strawberry jam, double chocolate brownies, chocolate meringues, and many other delicacies.  If your mouth isn’t watering yet, check out their website for pictures that will certainly do the trick!

5.  Shopping at Harrods - the world’s greatest department store!  If you think Macy’s in New York is the best, what with that great big parade in November and all, think again!  Harrods has to be the most luxurious, grandiose shopping experience on the planet.  I’m not just talking multiple stories, but rooms across rooms of perfumes, furs, fashion boots, Christmas toys…and then you have the food!  An ice cream parlour, a room dedicated to seafood, another to wine, and the list goes on and on.  Unsurprisingly, we had quite the task in trying to simply find the exit!

Overall, London was a great way to kick of our trip to Europe!  On Monday morning, it was time to take the “Chunnel” to Paris, where the Eiffel Tower and Champs-Elysees awaited…

 


Need a Study Break? Volunteer!

Feel like you’re swimming in notes, practice problems, and formula sheets?  That’s certainly how I feel when the end of the term rolls around and I start to look over everything we’ve learned over the past seven weeks in the MAcc program.

In all honesty, we’re given plenty of time to study for our finals.  Enough time, in fact, that twenty of us MAccers took a break on Thursday to volunteer at the Mid-Ohio Food Bank.  We wrapped up a holiday season canned food drive by packing a total of 647 boxes of food for the CSFP program.  The food bank’s Commodity-Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) provides a monthly box of nutritious food to low-income seniors.

A great place to do some community service!

After community service, I wrapped up the week with all of my friends at the MAcc Autumn reception.  We enjoyed dinner with Fisher faculty and staff, which was followed by a keynote speech by MAcc alumnus Jeff Howard and the recognition of two autumn graduates of our program.  It was an especially nice way to end the semester and see classmates and faculty before leaving town over break.

My apologies for the short post, but it’s back to studying for me.  After finals, I’ll be traveling to London, Paris, and Nuremberg, Germany, so no worries – there are many exciting posts to come!!


Lots of Lasts for a Buckeye Fan

What a sentimental week for a senior…

As a combined BSBA/MAcc student, this is my fourth and final year at Ohio State.  This past week was what I would fondly refer to as an epic one – complete with the Mirror Lake jump, my first OSU men’s basketball game of the year, the Michigan game, and of course Thanksgiving and all the food and napping that may imply!

The epic “Beat Michigan” week started off with the Mirror Lake jump on Tuesday night.  Let’s put it this way:  tens of thousands of students jumping into a waist-deep, unclean pond in what was actually mild weather for late November.  Words really can’t describe the experience, but it’s a great way to feel some Buckeye pride and pump yourself up for the big game on Saturday.  I’ll leave the rest to the imagination…

The first of many basketball games this season!

After spending a wonderful Thanksgiving with my family, it was back to campus on Friday evening for the OSU men’s basketball game versus UKMC.  I’ll play the role of stereotypical accountant here and refer to the numbers by pointing out the final score of 91-45 does indicate that our boys scored more than twice as many points as those “Roos” from Missouri.  Some people to watch out for this season:

  • Aaron Craft – our star point guard…yeah, not much else needs to be said there
  • Deshaun Thomas – so glad he came back this year!  Look for him to become the 49th player in OSU history to hit 1,000 career points…he’s only 7 away!
  • Sam Thompson – one word:  aerodynamic
  • Lenzelle Smith Jr. – this kid knows when to light up a game.  He had some great moments in the playoffs last year, so I’m looking forward to more this year!
  • Evan Ravenel – yep, he can dunk
  • Amadeo Della Valle – our only freshman and the kid with the coolest name ever

After a nice win on Friday, I was ready for the THE GAME.  The Buckeyes’ big win over TSUN (“that school up north”) was the perfect last OSU football game as a student at Ohio State.  It was bittersweet singing “Carmen Ohio” in the stadium after our big win; I felt so proud of the team and so proud to be a Buckeye in that moment.

Big win for OSU against that team up north to complete a perfect season!

Before I start tearing up as a realize all of the “lasts” that I’ve experienced in the past few weeks, I should probably wrap this one up.  So, after a great weekend for sports, here’s to being a Buckeye!


Breakfast with Dean Poon, Lunch with CFOs

A couple of weeks ago, a few classmates and I had the pleasure of sitting down to breakfast and a chat with Dean Christine Poon.  It was a great chance for us to provide feedback on the MAcc program so far this year.  Among the topics discussed were first session courses, interviews for full-time positions, academic and applied speakers, and many others.  I was happy to hear that many of my classmates had made it through the interview process and were actually juggling multiple offers for jobs starting next fall.  We also spoke about the transition from quarters or traditional semesters to the 7-week terms that are now followed by Fisher graduate programs.  The verdict seemed to be that although we now face a vigorous pace in classes, we’re able to take advantage of so many electives, ranging from Finance to HR to Operations – and even some outside of the business school.

Not a bad way to start a morning in the MAcc!

Overall, I was very pleased with our discussion and was happy that Dean Poon took the time to meet with us!

Last Friday, a handful of students from Fisher’s MBA, MAcc, and SMF programs had the unique opportunity to sit down for lunch with CFOs from Fortune 500 companies throughout Ohio.  I had the pleasure of dining with Jeffrey Weeden, CFO of KeyCorp, and Ron Lovell, VP of IBM’s Client Center for Advanced Analytics.  Both business leaders had some interesting insights on the demand for highly complex business analytics that will change the pace of financial decision making for large public companies.  They also commented on the approaching fiscal cliff, Dodd-Frank requirements for financial institutions like KeyCorp, and other hot topics in Jeff’s industry.

It’s opportunities like these that remind me why I chose Fisher.  Whether a current or future grad student, I highly recommend taking advantage of these opportunities to network with fellow classmates, academic leaders, and members of C-Suites around the country.  Events like these serve as great compliments to courses within Fisher, so take advantage!


A Lesson in Ethics: Aaron Beam Visits Fisher

Greed.

This one word was what Aaron Beam used to describe the cause of his and other top executives’ motivation for “cooking the books” of Healthsouth.  The former CFO of one of the nation’s leading outpatient healthcare providers visited Fisher for a MAcc Applied Talk unlike any other I’ve attended.  If you’re unfamiliar with the story behind Healthsouth and the fraud Mr. Beam was involved in, I’ll do my best to fill you in.  While Mr. Beam was acting CFO, he and other accountants falsified revenue and misstated financial statements in order to meet Wall Street analysts’ expectations.  He plead guilty to involvement in the fraud and served three months in prison.

Mr. Beam’s stories of the fraud, his relationship with former CEO Richard Scrushy, the trials, etc., were all enlightening.  The former CFO made a few points that I found to be full of wisdom and extremely good advice for us as students and future business people.

Success, as defined in the Webster’s dictionary in 1806, meant “being generous, prosperous, healthy and kind.”  Today, the definition of success is “the attainment of wealth, fame, and rank.”  Culture, especially in business, has transformed over the years to where many people are focused on getting rich no matter how many lines they cross.  If everyone is doing it, that means it’s okay, right?

Mr. Beam told us that we, as students, are the beginning of the change of the culture in the business world.  We don’t just do something because we’re told – we want to know why; we want an explanation.  We’re not afraid to blow the whistle when we know decisions being made are unethical or unlawful.

One student asked Mr. Beam what he would have done differently.  After the first white lie he was asked to go along with, he said he would have left.  He wouldn’t have stayed at a company that pushed employees to go outside their ethical comfort zone.  In giving us advice, he suggested to look at the tone at the top.  If it’s one we’re not comfortable with, we’d better have an exit plan.

Lastly, when asked how his friends and family reacted to the fraud, Mr. Beam was quite short.  He was ashamed of his cowardly behavior and was disappointed in how he hurt his wife, daughter and friends.  I think if he had been thinking of all of his loved ones when Mr. Scrushy had asked him to commit fraud, he would have acted quite differently.  That’s something that we should all take with us as we go into the business world and will undoubtedly be faced with ethical decisions down the road.

And we could probably all be a little more focused on being generous, prosperous, healthy, and – most of all - kind.

 


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