Didier Hirwantwari aka “SMF for life”
Graduation = Closer to reaching Personal and Professional Goals.
I would first like to thank all my followers and fans. This has been a truly great experience and continues to become an even greater experience as I approach the finish line of this program. I have enjoyed writing these blogs and have put all my heart into them trying to share my daily musings and articles and great pictures. It is an experience that has given me much more than I have given.
I started my collegiate career here at the Ohio State University in 2010 and was granted entry into the business school as an undergraduate in Finance shortly thereafter. It was a great and challenging experience and it still is now as I finish up my graduate studies here. I think the biggest part of this school and university as a whole are the people whom I’ve met. I can honestly say with a hundred percent that it is because of the people I have met that I am here right now. I did well in my studies but it was always the people whom I would meet who would push me to even want to work harder and give an extra ounce.
Thank You to my family and friends for believing in me and carrying me when I was tired. From my stats professor Doug Evans who wrote my recommendation letter and made it possible for me to gain an internship with the FDIC; Thank You. To Professor Albert for everything, from advising to explaining the foreign exchange to listening to my worries. From my undergraduate adviser Jane Palmer who guided me throughout the halls of Schoenbaum so that I could work harder and harder to standout as a finance student and for hugging me at my undergraduate graduation and making me almost shed tears (don’t tell anyone) ; Thank You to Professor Kewei Hou for believing in me and writing a recommendation letter that I am sure helped a lot when I applied to this great SMF program. To Dr. Pinteris; Thank You for this great opportunity, it has been a blast meeting my classmates and learning from you. To Professor Lou Zhang, I would recommend your class to everyone; one of the best learning experiences I have had. To Caroline C., Thank You for your guidance throughout the first semester, it helped me grow in so many ways. Thank You Rebecca Z. for asking me about my experiences with the program and making sure that I have everything I needed; It definitely helps me to stay centered. To Rob C., I cannot say enough thanks for the opportunity, but many thanks. To Claudel; Our talks have made me so much more confident to go out and face the world, thank you. To all my classmates, if you ever read this. I would not be the better person (I think 🙂 ) without you all. Thank You all !!!
I am sure I missed some people but if they (you) ever read this…Thank You. So …. graduation is around the corner. I have been thinking if I will do the dab like Coach Urban Meyer did in my earlier posts. As I start approaching this date, the impact of what I am going to achieve here grows larger and larger. In such a short amount of time I have learned so much and met so many people. I never stopped learning while here and I doubt that I ever will. There are great things coming down the line for the SMF program and I am very excited. For the incoming SMFs if you read this; Welcome to what I feel is one of the top finance programs into one of the top business schools into one of the best states with the best football team, best damn band in the land, …..Welcome to your Buckeye Experience !!!
Yours Truly … Didier Hirwantwari
After I finished my first semester of the SMF program, I thought to myself, I am going to take all classes that I can classify into a favorites pool. I signed up for classes from simulation and risk, entrepreneurial finance, fixed income, Negotiations, and a couple of more. I thought to myself, these are all electives, so I should elect to take the classes that I feel will get me where I need to get. I was surprised when after a couple of classes of all the aforementioned, a clear winner began to emerge. Negotiations, a clear underdog in the beginning won the upper hand. While most of my other classes are technical in nature and help me master my analytical skills, Negotiations stands on the other end of the spectrum where I have to understand where I stand as an individual. Most classes are spent with the students negotiating between themselves and seeing if they can achieve their personal and group goals. It is the most interesting class I have ever taken. I have had to think more in this class than I have in other classes because of the construct of the class.
Every day in class is setup with a goal to achieve by the end of class. One has to decide if they are going to negotiate or if they are going to step away from the table. One has to decide if they are going to share personal information with the counter-party and reach an integrative decision or if they are going to keep information hidden so as to win the negotiation and have a distributive decision. It just shows a lot about how the classmates think and who, I personally think, they are on a personal level. Are they a person who is willing to share information and win with you or a person who is willing to take advantage of the situation to win as much as possible. That might be an extreme example but it does count for something. It does open eyes to what the business atmosphere is like. It prepares us for the extreme sides as well as the non extreme sides of personalities.
The other great thing I like about the class is that there is a group negotiation component where groups get to negotiate together. I think it trains the mind to be able to accept ideas from other people and try to arrive at Pareto principled decision rather than one that is divisive. Professor Dumas as well is a great Professor who guides the class really well. She is very knowledgeable about the subject and is able to reference to the smallest details that we might miss and help us adjust accordingly.
I would definitely recommend this class to those who want to learn how to interact with people, may they be family or colleagues.
Oil Freeze vs. Oversupply
For anyone who follows the markets, especially the energy sector, the news of Saudi Arabia and Russia coming together at the Negotiation table to limit the supply of oil in order to stabilize should come as big news. Unfortunately, the effect was not as big as expected. It was big in the fact that it is an agreement between an OPEC country and non-OPEC country in the case of Russia. A year ago Saudi Arabia kept up the supply of oil as the supply from the States kept steadily growing. This was a small struggle that saw the price of oil go from above $70 in 2014 to below $30 in 2015 and 2016. The image above grabbed from Bloomberg (https://fisher.osu.edu/blogs/gradlife/wp-admin/post.php?post=24082&action=edit) shows that oil could still go down further.
The above story is interesting for me because while I was working for an energy company I saw trends in oil prices that followed seasonality. For example as February ends prices of oil usually start to decrease as it is the peak season for demand along with summer. With the prices tumbling downwards with no outlook for appreciation in the near future, one has to wonder if this is a short term play by Russia and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia and Russia are two of the biggest exporters of oil so they have been hit the hardest with oil’s depreciation. They would not want to lose market share to U.S. producers hence their previous increased pumping of oil supply when others were supplying the oil as well.
I do wonder though if this is not a very short term fix that is not necessarily well thought out. Saudi Arabia almost certainly relies on oil for its economic growth. Russia does depend on its oil economy but not as much. Unfortunately, they both rely on oil enough to be affected when trying to change their economic make-up. All in all I thought it was interesting to see this article on Bloomberg News and to read what some of the analysts had to say about the move. It seemed that most saw this as a small insignificant act save for the fact that it was a deal between an OPEC country and non-OPEC country. For my part, back in 2014, while doing a research report on Chevron, I thought that the oil supply was going to start increasing with the development of shale gas and fracking in the U.S., causing the price of oil to move up slightly but to eventually slightly level off and decrease.
Good article for all those who love following the markets.
Speaker Series = Equality in the workplace & challenging the status Quo
I would first and foremost like to give a shout – out to Rebecca Kimball for making this happen. The other Thursday, I had the pleasure of attending CFO Kaufmann’s speaker event at Gerlach Hall. This has become one of the top speaker series that I have actually been to. The subject revolved around professional development in the workplace and equality of the sexes in the workplace. The latter in my view is not talked about enough. When he started outlining how he championed the initiative to encourage more women to speak out and take the international assignments and promotions as well as other positions, it hit home with me. I have had the pleasure of working with women who I thought were the best candidate for the promotions offered but whom did not put their names in the boxes for fear of not having the complete qualifications and reprisal by their workmates. I definitely have always asked myself how that issue can be tackled.
In his answer to tackling the issue, he alluded to what most of us fear doing but always imagine doing. He said just do it in short. If a workplace does not respect equality, then it behooves us as the employees to decide whether our values are aligned with the company’s. I definitely agree with that viewpoint, especially in this age where the workforce is so diverse and firms can benefit from diversifying and the different outlooks that different sides of the sexes can bring to problem solving. It definitely reinforced what I want to see in a culture at work.
He did also go over his personal professional growth which struck me as very courageous. A trained accountant, he decided that he did not want to keep going through that track and went the sales route which he had a passion for. It shows how doing the uncomfortable can often result in our utmost success. I think it hit a nerve with me because when I was working, I had those thoughts where I would see myself in the future and ask if I was challenging myself enough….if I was doing what I needed what I needed to do so that in the future, I could do what I wanted to do.
Overall it was a great speech and I learned a lot from his speech and again a big shout-out to Rebecca Kimball.
Speakers = Knowledge outside of the Classroom
In addition to all the intrinsic value we get from going to such a great school, we are often privy to great speakers who add yet more value to our education. I have had the pleasure of attending a couple of speaker series and would like to share some of these series with all of you. As I am a Finance Major and am pursuing the Investment track within the Specialized Master of Finance Program, I am always intrigued by what standards are practiced in the Industry. Mr. Brandes is a proponent of the Value Investing method made famous by Benjamin Graham and further made popular by Warren Buffet.
Mr. Brandes came to speak to the business school at the beginning of the semester last year and shared his experiences with us. To the ones who wanted to do equity research, he drove the point of value investing home. To be more specific, he imparted the importance of fundamentally valuing firms rather than speculating to the performance of a company. It takes time to truly understand what a business is doing, how it operates, and what its drivers are. When one understands that, then it makes it easier to value a company and not be part of the crowd.
More interestingly is what I just recently learned in my Trading and Markets class. Mr. Brandes was the second Investor to put money into the Investor Exchange founded by Brad Katsuyama as portrayed in Michael Lewis’s book. I definitely was able to understand why Mr. Brandes was and is such a proponent of value investing. I could not do justice to the whole subject of Mr. Lewis ‘s book (Flash Boys) in such few words but would recommend everyone who reads this blog post to read it and read his other books as well.
Finals, Midterms, Job Applications, Projects……. All those are words that have become part of my daily vocabulary. In fact I am willing to bet that it has become part of everyone’s vocabulary who is a graduate student at the Fisher College of Business. It is though what makes the school such a great place for students to develop. We are exposed to so many things and facets of life in such a short time even if it is 2 years. At the end of the day it is what brings in the big bucks or to put it better; it is what makes us better people, better members of society, people who question the status quo and push for better things.
There is a word that is missing from the afore-mentioned list though, at least in my case. I get so engrossed in all the technical aspects of what I am doing and learning here that I forget to breathe. I forget to ask a classmate how their weekend was or miss a smile from a passing friend because I am think of how I am going calculate the zero yield of a certain bond. It is not always the case because as the picture shows above, I do remember sometimes and better yet that passing friend stops me in the hallways and asks me how my weekend was. They ask me if I am free for lunch so that we can go to Diaspora (Possibly best Korean food in Town). This aspect of my graduate career so far is my favorite because I realize that as much as I am thinking about that zero yield rate, they too are thinking about it or another thing regarding classes and we discuss the subjects in a nonacademic way relating it to our lives.
Pictured above are two of my classmates Elijah li and Taylor Snare who remind me that sometimes a smile and some breathing is all one needs to get through the day. The rest, we learn as we go and ask questions so that in the future we can answer other people’s questions as well.
I definitely think that I should have posted this earlier or for those not familiar with Ohio. We’re in February and I was driving back from Dayton Ohio this morning sliding ever so slightly on i-70 and I remember just how fast the weather can change in this great State of ours. I remember seeing runners two weeks ago running in shorts and even homeowners mowing their grass. That was at the beginning of February and I was amazed. I actually drove around the city with my windows down so that I could enjoy the warmth and sunshine. I even took a walk by the river but I had a sweater on because I know you Ohio and weather appearances can be deceiving.
I have to digress of course because I have lived in this state long enough to know how fast the weather can change. As mentioned above, appearances can be deceiving. I have had days where I have been wearing shorts inside the house to sweats, socks, a sweater and the heater blowing all in the same way. It in fact happened to me last week. I got caught off guard because I assumed that since we had had a mild winter so far (mild by polar vortex standards), the worst had passed. Of course I was fast reminded of that when yesterday while grabbing some groceries from Walmart I saw people people sliding all around as if there was a secret audition to “Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift ” that I did not know about. The most confusing part seeing these people driving though was that they were all going faster than me in cars that I know are not 4 wheel drive like mine and acting as if it was a regular June day. For my part, I am a fairly slow driver but even slower when there is snow, sleet, and ice involved.
The Ohio weather though is what makes Ohio the beautiful state that it is. For its part when it is cold and it is miserable people will still smile at you. You will still see the dedicated runners with spikes on their trainers clocking their 10 milers in. And when it cannot get any colder and the clouds part ever so slightly, we are privy to a little sunshine and are reminded that its just an Ohio thing!!!
I am going to be honest, I did not think that I would make it this far. Project after project, test after test…..add that a finals week and you have a recipe of no sleep, caffeine, subway (I have a subway card now!!! and I love their double chocolate chip cookies), and lots of back and forth bicycle rides from my apartment to Gerlach Hall. Riding the bicycle in the fresh cold air to clear my mind was probably the most value adding activity. It helped me strategize and put together my plan of action.
First on the list was finalizing the last project for Financial Modeling. It was challenging because my group members have different schedules, and because the project itself was open ended. We had our variables and our goal was to present both a dynamic and user friendly model for a firm to send employees overseas on business trips. Though challenging in itself with the added constraints of our schedules we accepted the task at hand and sat down, strapped in, and got to work. The feelings of relief and excitement we had after we finished and ran our model were unparalleled as we all thought “This might be the best model hands down.” We put the finishing touches on it, presented it, and walked away with our heads held high because we had done a good job.
Second and last order of the week were the Finals in Econ and Derivatives. I happen to love both those classes so the studying process was not as challenging as I thought it would be. There were times though that I thought to myself while studying especially for derivatives: “This is a lot of material to cover and my brain might not make it to see the light of day to post about this great experience on my blog.” All in all Finals were challenging. Some of the questions on both Finals were hard and a small percentage of the questions caused my mind to go blank. I thought hard and marked them and moved on to the next questions in the hopes that I would remember to come back and see if I could solve the questions. When the professor said time’s up, I was actually relieved and glad that it was all over…..for now at least. I was able to get through this which should make the next time easier as I shall be more prepared.
About a month and a half ago, the SMF student body group got to select the SMF council that would represent them and serve as a liaison between the students and faculty as well as staff and other councils within Gerlach Hall. I am proud to see that I was elected and received a seat on the council. I think that the SMF student group is very diverse and has a lot to offer. I want to tap into that as a council member and build stronger relations amongst students within the program as well as with the faculty and the staff. Many a times I think that we get caught up with assignments and forget to learn from each other which I think is very important. Additionally, there are other programs in the building whom the SMF students can benefit from and whom can benefit from the SMF students. There is nothing that I enjoy more than walking through the hallways of Gerlach and running into Mike Dean from the MBA program and talking “John Cena jokes” or Dan Simak from the MACC program and talking class schedules, or running into Carolyn Wong showing MACC visitors around, or talking music with Danny Combs from MHRM. Getting to know our fellow students is always a rewarding experience.
I remember the other day I was at the Buckeyemart and I ran into Professor Sullivan and we had a fifteen minute conversation. I cannot stress enough how great of a conversation that was especially knowing that the professors frequent the same coffee shops as we do. I hope to cultivate more relationships like this as a council member and help my fellow SMFs do the same as well. I remember after finals last Friday, the majority of the class met up after finals for a drink and to my pleasant surprise there were a couple of MBA students there as well. We all had a good time and people who had sat in the same classes across from each other for a semester got to interact with each other.
I am proud to be part of this council and what it will bring. I think Unity strengthens the bonds amongst people and I cannot wait until the semester starts and brings opportunities to strengthen those bonds.
The game of football in itself is exciting enough as it stands. Being a buckeye and loving the game of football….adds a notch to that level of excitement because….The buckeyes are just awesome. Now here is where things go from being exciting to outright dangerously exciting. You’re a buckeye fan, you or someone in your family attended the (yes I said “The”) Ohio State University and have known the Michigan (the M is crossed out here theoretically) Rivalry. I am building up to something here. So let’s continue…right, you are a buckeye fan, you have “hypothetically” attended the University, You love football (cannot forget that), and maybe….just maybe, you grew up in Ohio…..
Let’s see I grew up in Ohio, attended the University as a young (okay smart) undergraduate, currently attend the university as a graduate student, happened to play football in high school and happen to love football in general. So that means that I am on that dangerously excited level, especially when the buckeyes went to that school up north and not only got the V, but did so in a matter befitting the Buckeye way. I think I almost lost a vocal chord watching the game this past weekend. And they thought they could deter us by locking the OSU players out of their rooms. Tsk Tsk Tsk Michigan (my apologies for not crossing out the M).
Now let’s get to the real exciting story here. As long as athletics have been around the players have always gotten the accolades and come up with the dances. Lo and behold it seems the scripts have changed and now the coaches are partaking in the dance celebrations. The man up there in the picture, ” the man, the legend, the Urban legend,…..” has crossed that threshold and performed the dab and I could not be more excited to see it. Let’s examine the player to his right and you can almost feel the excitement. Now as I sit here and prepare for the finals and an end to this first semester, I am starting to think of what dances I can borrow when I finally do to finals what the Buckeyes did to that school up north.
Yours Truly, Didier H.