Brett Has Left the Building

Dear Loyal Following,

Over the past nine months, we have shared so much. You have witnessed a special and intimate viewing of the journey from the beginning of the Specialized Master in Finance program to this final week. From my introductory blog to my first semester recap to this final thank-you letter.

Roughly one year ago, I submitted my deposit for the program and solidified my change from a Political Science/International Affairs undergraduate student to a Candidate for the Specialized Master in Finance program at the Fisher College of Business. Arguably one of the biggest decisions of my life, I switched from a pre-law track to a finance track. Looking back, it was the defining moment in my life.

I have been exposed to a vast array of financial instruments and models that I will use in my future career. The amazing faculty and staff here have been awesome in supporting my growth as a student of finance and a student of The Ohio State University. In addition, the friends I have made here will last a lifetime, coming from backgrounds all across the globe and from different avenues of business. One thing you may have noticed throughout my blogs was the influence of the different cultures in the restaurants we visited. That is one of the greatest attributes of our program.

With all that being said, this is my final week at Fisher and my final week serving the program as a graduate ambassador. I have never been great at goodbyes and thus will keep this soliloquy short and sweet. To everyone at The Ohio State University, it has been an amazing ride. I am excited to see what the future holds for us in our future careers.

Adiós. 再见. 안녕. Tạm biệt. αντιο σας. अलविदा. Ijeoma. ลาก่อน.               Goodbye, Blog World.

Brett Hornung                                                                                                     Specialized Master in Finance, Class of ’17                                                       The Ohio State University – Fisher College of Business

 

The Ultimate Settler

For some, holidays are a time for gathering with family and friends, reminiscing on stories of old, and just having a splendid time among company you truly enjoy. While this is certainly the case for my family, we take it one step further with our competitive nature. After all the delicious food, our family takes to the dining room table and plays one of the many games in our arsenal.

The vast majority of these games are card games, including: Rummy, Shanghai, Yuker, Exploding Kittens, and Pinochle. The other games are board games: Labyrinth and Settlers of Catan. All of these games are definitely amazing and enjoyable in unique ways; however, my family’s favorite is Settlers of Catan.

Cover of box for game.

Ranked #1 board game in the world for the past several years (not 100% certain that this is true), Settlers is to board-gamers what peanut butter is to jelly, what cheese is to crackers, and what butter is to toast; it is just an absolute necessity. Now, you may be thinking no way, that can’t be true. But trust me, this game is the GOAT (greatest of all time).

Essentially, the goal is to build up your cities and settlements to obtain 10 points to win. Along the way, there are development cards that throw some twists into the game, as well as specialty point cards like Longest Road and Largest Army. There are different strategies that people argue for: some like to stretch their territory, others (like me) are fans of building a small but powerful community around numbers with the highest odds of being rolled. Either way, this game has it all and can be played in under two hours.

What the actual board looks like during a game.

Last night, after a nice day with extended family: my parents, younger brother, and I sat down at the dining room table for a game. While it didn’t look great for me early on, I pulled away on a three-point play to take the W: combining a victory point (from the development cards) with building one city and one settlement. It was an electric atmosphere after the win and I couldn’t have happier (sorry family).

All in all, go buy Settlers of Catan, teach your friends and family to play, and truly enjoy this epic board game for all that it offers. Happy Easter!

The End Is Near

I spent a part of this morning going through photos from the past year, and man, it is crazy how quickly these past eight months have gone. Reminds me of this old country song by Trace Adkins. As our email inboxes get flooded with graduation information, ways to purchase regalia, and other information regarding diplomas; graduation is starting to become a real idea indeed.

Looking back on these photos brought back great memories. For example, I remember our orientation and our Turbo Finance class, where I was planting the foundation of my current financial knowledge and getting to know my new classmates better. Another example is the numerous dinners that we went to as a class and all the great food and conversations we had.

My first team at Fisher

Fast forward to the Fisher Follies Auction event in the fall, to accepting my job, to traveling to NYC and meeting with the banks, to finishing out the first half of the program on a strong note. Christmas vacation was an awesome time to have some rest, start studying for the CFA exam, and begin to prepare for the second half of the school year.

Classmates and me in NYC in the fall.

Looking back on the past two months, I also did a lot of traveling: Denver, New York, Chicago, and Islamorada. It was awesome being able to enjoy these places with family, friends, and classmates. It was also nice to do a little traveling while I was still in school and before I started my job.

Skiing out in Denver at Keystone.

Now, we have just over one month left and I am going to cherish these moments a little bit more than the rest as I recognize that this is the end. We have a few more events planned, including the Fisher Follies Variety Show event and a few other SMF events. I am looking forward to this next month and walking across the stage with my classmates at graduation.

The Global Food Map of Columbus

One cool aspect of the SMF program is how diverse it is. We have students from all over the globe who have their own unique cultures and culinary backgrounds. The latter is something that I have found most interesting over the past few months. Below you will find the different eateries that I have tried since we arrived back on campus from winter break:

First up: Saigon Asian Bistro out in Lewis Center, OH. We had a class dinner here, where the majority of the class showed up; even some of our professors and their families came. I ordered the Beef Pad Thai and it was pretty good. Unfortunately, God did not give my mouth the ability to handle spicy foods so I always have to order no spices. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this meal.

Next up, a few of my classmates and I headed to Taco Loco in nearby Dublin, Ohio, for a friend’s birthday celebration. One thing about this place is the guacamole. Man, oh man, they have some of the best guac in the state of Ohio. In addition to filling up on guac, I also indulged with one of their burritos, which was also very tasty. All in all, a solid little spot.

SMF Group at Taco Loco

Third, headed to New Taj Mahal on High Street near campus for some Indian food. This was my first attempt at Indian food since the summer of 2014. As mentioned above, I was not blessed with taste buds that are cool with spicy foods, so I was a bit scared. However, I ordered the shrimp biryani and really enjoyed it. Also, the buttered naan that we ordered for the table was delicious.

Fourth and final destination: a few weeks back a group of us headed out to Drelyse African Restaurant in Columbus, OH. This place specializes in West African cuisine and it was my first ever try at this style of food, so I was pumped up. I ordered the jollof chicken, which is pictured below. It was AMAZING. Also, my friend ordered the fried plantains and those were a nice little side dish. Would recommend this place to anyone who is interested in trying West African food.

Jollof Chicken at Drelyse

Four great experiences so far this semeste– really looking forward to continuing to explore the different cultures that we have here in Columbus and expanding my food palette over our final few months in school!

Team Projects: Unveiled

One of the cooler aspects of the Specialized Master in Finance program here at The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business is the Team Projects class that is taken in your last semester.

The course is designed to allow students to apply for teams on projects with real companies who submit real projects, which the teams work on through the months of March and April, culminating in a final presentation during the last week of school. The “objective of the course is to give SMF students an opportunity to practice their analytical and soft skills by working in teams on real finance related projects with clients” (syllabus).

Throughout the program, we have taken core classes in Economics, Corporate Finance, and Investments; as well as our elective classes in our chosen academic paths. We have also developed our professional skills through networking events and extracurricular club activities like the Fisher Graduate Finance Association. In addition, we have developed our teamwork skills through group projects and presentations, as well as through our core Leadership class. All of the skills and knowledge that have been developed during our seven months at Fisher are now going to be tested and applied in real world situations. It is truly an exciting class!

FGFA Logo

Last week, the Specialized Master in Finance class of 2017 got together for the grand unveiling of the companies that were participating this year. Professor Pinteris walked us through the class syllabus, as well as the expectations of each student during the time period working with these companies. The projects cover all four of the main tracks within the program: Corporate Finance, Risk, Real Estate, and Investments. Thus, there are plenty of options for each student to apply for in their desired path.

Now we have to submit our applications and will find out later this week which company’s project we have been selected for. Once we have this information and we make contact with the company, our work truly begins. I think I can speak for the entire SMF class when I say that we are excited for this amazing opportunity.

 

Ball is Life

I believe the legendary NASCAR driver Ricky Bobby once said, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” How is this relevant? Well, the Specialized Master in Finance program fielded a team of Grade-A all-stars to play intramural B-league basketball every Tuesday night at 9:50pm, and the fellas are undefeated. Led by team captain Brian Perry, Big K & The Gang is already paving its path to the Finals: the internet has been blowing up with memes about how the squad is taking the Finals home in 6 games this year.

One of the internet's meme renditions of the team.
One of the internet’s meme renditions of the team.

Last Tuesday night was our opening night, in which we faced a fierce competitor; however, the SMF team ultimately pulled ahead towards the end of the game and notched our first victory of the season. Coach Terence Mordi after the game was quoted saying: “These guys started off a bit rough, shooting a dismal field percentage; however, in the second half they played as if it was their last game ever. I can’t get over how proud I am of these guys and the effort it took to pull out that W.”

Steve “Big K” Mowry was a dominate presence in the post, while Mark Venzor was an absolute weapon on the defensive end of the court. Ian Ding also provided valuable minutes at point guard, notching several assists in the process. Overall, each of the 8 team members showed strong initial performances, providing ESPN and other basketball analysts with some positive insights for what is to come throughout the rest of the season.

Rumor has it (albeit unconfirmed), this is the most wins that an SMF team has had in an intramural sport this school year. From what I have seen thus far, this team is the epitome of hard-working and blue-collar. Although the team has been surrounded by media and fans looking for comments and autographs, respectively, this group of financiers is looking to carry this momentum heading into our second game of the season this Tuesday night.

Third Semester: Time to Narrow Your Path

Back to school, back to school…

The Specialized Master in Finance program’s third session of the year started this week and it’s good to be back on campus. It has been almost a month since we have all seen each other and it’s nice to catch up with the friends I made in the first semester. It seems like everyone enjoyed their breaks: a few even did some traveling to cities like Miami, Chicago, and New York City. For me, I traveled to Denver and did some sightseeing and skiing– check out the cool picture of me below at Keystone!

Skiing out in Denver at Keystone
Skiing out in Denver at Keystone

While that was fun and enjoyable, it’s back to focusing on school and my classes for this semester. A cool part about the SMF program is in the third session when you narrow in on which “path” you want to take between the four: Corporate Finance, Investments, Risk, or Real Estate. While you do not have to pick only one path, it is recommended that you focus on one area of study to master it. For me, I have chosen the Corporate Finance path and am excited to take the elective classes that most interest me.

On my schedule this session are: Corporate Financial Reporting, Financial Statement Analysis I, Corporate M&A, and Corporate Financial Management III. The first two are accounting courses that will help me better understand the financial statements and how the line items are connected. The third class is more of strategy behind M&A decisions and what the inputs and factors are that go into these choices. The fourth class covers distressed and declining companies, including the valuation of these companies.

corporate-finance

Overall, I am extremely excited about my schedule. One cool thing about the third and fourth sessions is the overlap with other programs. Now we get to interact with Masters of Accounting, MBA, and MHRM students in our classes. In addition, there are several SMF students also on the Corporate Finance track going through these courses with me. While this session will be challenging, it will definitely be rewarding and I am looking forward to the next six weeks with my classmates.

It’s the Holiday Season

It truly is the most wonderful time of the year, the Christmas season! With Black Friday sales just a few weeks ago, the “official” start of the holiday season has begun. Everywhere you go, people are putting up Christmas lights, decorating doors with wreaths, and playing familiar Christmas tunes. These are just a few things I love about Christmas, but for an exhaustive list, check this out.

Our Specialized Master in Finance class decided to follow this trend and get into the holiday spirit, as well, before Finals kick off here at the end of the week. The majority of the class attended a holiday celebration at Professor Fuller‘s home this past Sunday night. We are very grateful to be able to celebrate together, and enjoy the wonderful appetizers, cookies, and hot cider that Mrs. Fuller had for us.

Appetizers & Cookies
Appetizers & Cookies

In addition, the Christmas tree was left undecorated for all of us to help. For some, it was their first time putting ornaments on the tree and this was a cool experience to be a part of. Also, I had the honor of placing the angel on top of the Christmas tree (mostly because I am a tall human being); nonetheless, it was a cool thing to do.

The decorated Christmas tree from the house.
The decorated Christmas tree from the house.

During the week prior, our Specialized Master in Finance Council also had organized a Secret Santa gift swap. For those unfamiliar, basically you are assigned another person in the class and you get to give that person a gift (we had a $20 limit on gifts). At Professor Fuller’s, we all exchanged gifts with whom we were assigned. I received an exquisite box of delicious chocolate mints– thank you very much to my Secret Santa!

Finally, the neighborhood of German Village had its Village Lights Festival, in which houses and businesses in the area are decorated and all lit up, to put the neighborhood in the holiday spirit. We drove though the neighborhood instead of walking, due to the cold rain that was falling, but still were able to enjoy the Christmas spirit.

It was a great event to kick the season off, and I am looking forward to getting back to Cleveland to celebrate even more with my family!

The Final Countdown

The first 7-week session came and went, then Fall Break was a treat. Halloween was a blast and the month of November has went by so fast. Now, with Thanksgiving and a HUGE victory over The University of Michigan in the rear view mirror, we are heading into The Final Countdown. Throughout this blog post, I am going to share a few of my memories from this semester in chronological order by using a series of pictures.

First, this is a picture of my group and me in August– we go by the title of Team 6. Over the past few months, we have spent countless hours together working on projects like an Equity Research Report, Corporate Finance Team Cases, and an Economics Presentation.

Team 6
Team 6

Second, this is a picture of some classmates of mine, enjoying lunch outside while the weather was still warm in early September. However, “Winter is Coming.”

Some of the Fellas
Some of the Fellas

Third, a throwback to the New York City trip a few of us in the SMF program went on towards the end of September. It was awesome seeing the big banks and doing some of the touristy stuff.

Raging Bull
Raging Bull

Next up, the SMF class takes a class picture after delivering our Equity Research Report presentations in early October.

SMF Class of 2016-2017
SMF Class of 2016-2017

Throughout the month of October and early November, I drove back and forth from Columbus and Cleveland to watch the Cleveland Indians play in the playoffs of the World Series. Unfortunately, we lost, but I have some great memories with my family and friends.

World Series Games
World Series Games

Next up was the Fisher Follies (a charitable graduate organization that helps students in need). It was a formal auction event that was a great time with other graduate school programs during the month of November.

SMF Classmates at Fisher Follies
SMF Classmates at Fisher Follies

Finally, here is a picture of my friend and SMF classmate, Hector. He drove up to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family this past Thursday, and it was a nice little break to rejuvenate before finals.

Thanksgiving in Cleveland
Thanksgiving in Cleveland

These are just a few of the great memories that I have made as a Specialized Master in Finance student here at the Fisher College of Business. I am looking to finishing up the semester strong as we head into our final presentations, reports, and exams and looking forward to more memories after the Christmas break!

Sunday Night Lights

The Specialized Master in Finance (SMF) program draws students in from all over the globe. Our class is roughly 70% international, with students coming from many different cultures and backgrounds. Just this year alone, we have students from Thailand, Nigeria, and El Salvador. It certainly allows each and every one of us to better understand the truly international world we live in.

While there are some cultural differences between each and every one of us, there are more similarities among us. For instance, some of the men played on intramural soccer and flag (American) football teams. Some of the women in the class even cheered them on. Also, we have had numerous dinners together where we try different types of food: Chinese, Indian, Mexican, American, etc. In addition, we have had get-togethers on the weekends– and a few of us went to the football game the other weekend.

As you can see, there is plenty that we have done so far. One specific gathering I want to write about today, though, has to do with the past few Sunday nights. Basketball, or 篮球 for my Chinese speakers, is a very international sport, one that a good number of us in the program enjoy playing. This past Sunday night, we all met up at the Adventure Recreation Center on West campus (this has a rock-climbing wall) around 7:00pm. Over the next two hours or so, we played several games of 5-on-5 hoops.

Rock Climbing Wall at the ARC
Rock Climbing Wall at the ARC

Several players really stood out. Havish, an Indian classmate of mine, was arguably one of the best players on the court that night. He was quoted after the game saying “My jump-shot was firing on all cylinders tonight. They could not stop me out there.” Meanwhile, Brian Perry (SMF President-Elect) spoke about the play of Chad Dixon in the post, “He was all over the glass tonight, and once he got going on offense, it was game over.” There has been a lot of chatter in anticipation for the upcoming weekend’s game, so it should a fun time!

Since this went so well, we have planned to make it our new Sunday night activity, where we can come together and enjoy some exercise before the academic week begins again. At the end of the day, it’s great to get out there with the fellas and “ball out” for a few hours. I have had some unforgettable experiences with my classmates so far, whether that be in class, at dinners, or on the court; I am looking forward to the next 6 months that we all have left at Ohio State.