Last term I took a class that focused on fraudulent financial reporting. This course focused on methods to detect whether the financial statements can be analyzed in ways to determine if fraud is being perpetrated by the company. This would normally involve managers or executives. This term I am in another fraud class, asset misappropriation. This course focuses on ways employees one way or another steal assets from the company. This type of fraud tends to be more common amongst companies but usually results in a smaller amount of loss as compared to fraudulent financial reporting.
In the course we have been learning about different ways employees steal from their company. Usually it involves employees with trusted responsibilities over some type of asset. This can range from an employee taking cash out of the register to more elaborate payroll or billing schemes. While there are way too many different methods for us to cover in 7 weeks, we hit the major and most common approaches used by fraudsters. As part of the class we also talk about how to prevent or detect these frauds. This is clearly a very useful skill to acquire when going into a career as an accountant.
I have really enjoyed this class so far. It is interesting to discuss how creative some of these fraudsters get when perpetrating the crime. Classes involve a mix of discussion about schemes, cases, and videos featuring real world examples. I am looking forward to learn about other kinds of fraud schemes as the course continues.
As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs the Fisher MAcc program is broken up into four 7 week terms. With the first three terms already done and over with, we have reached the homestretch. It’s hard to believe that there is already less than seven weeks left in the MAcc until we graduate. With that being said, there is still plenty of things going on that I am looking forward to this final term:
MAcc Field Day: The MAcc Council and MAcc Social Chair have been working hard to plan a field day for the MAcc program. With winter coming to an end and the weather warming up, it’ll be nice to spend an afternoon in the park doing some field day activities. This will be a great chance to spend some more time with the other students before we all go our separate ways.
March MAcc-ness: It’s that time of year again and College Basketball is taking over. Clearly at Ohio State football is king, but everyone still loves March Madness. Everyone enjoys filling out a bracket and seeing if they can get any upsets right or pick which team will be Cinderella. Our program has set up a bracket online to compete against each other and find out who picked the best bracket.
MAcc Gives Back: MAcc Gives Back happens once a semester, so you may have read a blog about this event in the Fall. Unfortunately I was unable to participate in the Fall. This semester I am looking forward to being able to participate in this service event the MAcc program helps with. MAcc Gives Back has multiple locations available to volunteer and I am excited to be able to be part of this service activity.
One perk of being part of Ohio State is being able to take advantage of all the events the Ohio Union Activities Board (OUAB) puts on. Last month they welcomed Daymond Johnto the Union. For those of you who don’t know, Daymond John is one of the judges on ABC’s Shark Tank, as well as founder, president, and CEO of FUBU. They set up his presentation into two separate sections. First, they allowed four individuals/groups to present a pitch for their product to the “sharks”. The “sharks” consisted of three professors and John. All of the product pitches were very interesting and John provided great constructive feedback to the students.
After the pitches were over they started a moderated Q&A. John shared with the audience his story of starting his own business to his experiences on Shark Tank. John was able to provide a lot of solid advice for future entrepreneurs and businessmen and women. One major piece of advice he gave was to learn how to be financially responsible. It doesn’t matter whether you learn this “on the job” or through formal education, just as long as you become financially educated. He stressed too many times startups fail due to poor financial decisions or poor financial structuring. He also talked a lot about his perseverance and how it is important to set goals and attain those goals. His strategy was to set long-term goals and short-term goals to gradually achieve the long-term goal. Through his perseverance and his dedication to completing his goals he became a successful entrepreneur and investor.
This past weekend myself and six other MAcc students participated in BuckeyeThon. BuckeyeThon is the largest student-run philanthropy at Ohio State with an ultimate goal of ending childhood cancer. BuckeyeThon raises money to support the kids treated at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. More than 5,100 students registered for the 24 hour dance marathon with the ultimate goal of raising $1,000,000. Hearing about the event last semester we formed a MAcc team, “The Bad Assets”, and raised money all For The Kids (FTK). BuckeyeThon is set up in 2 shifts of 12 hours each. During your shift you are supposed to stand for all 12 hours, showing that together, as a university, we stand with the kids through their fight. Our shift was from 11:00am to 11:00pm. Every team was assigned a color team and The Bad Assets were part of the Pink Team, so that is why all the pictures we are wearing pink.
Before it started every color team met in an assigned room and they brought in one of the Miracle Kids and their family. This was a great chance to meet the people we were trying so hard to benefit. After that the official start was with the opening ceremonies which included multiple speakers ranging from the President of BuckeyeThon to the Vice President of Student Life. One of the speakers was a mother of one of the Miracle Kids. She told us about how her daughter was diagnosed and the struggle the family went through. Listening to her speak really put into perspective the impact we were making.
Throughout the day they had different things we could do to keep us on our feet. There obviously was plenty of dancing throughout the day. They also set up a lot of games. We played Gaga Ball for a couple hours which if you don’t know what it is look it up, its incredibly fun. They had a tug of war competition between the different color teams (we got 2nd), and also had rooms where you could play board games or video games. Overall there was plenty of activities going on to help keep us busy and not think about sitting down.
As it got close to 11:00pm we gathered back to watch the closing ceremony and the big reveal of how much money was raised and if we reached our goal of $1 million. The closing ceremony had more speakers including a 14-year old Miracle Kid and three current Ohio State students who have personally been affected by cancer. The final reveal showed that we raised a total of $1.23 million all FTK. Overall it was a great experience and I would highly recommend participating to any students that get the chance.
One of the best things about the MAcc program is the flexibility students have when completing the program requirements. The program only has four core courses all students must take, accounting for 10 of the 31 required credit hours. Outside of these required core courses, students have the ability to take MAcc, Finance, Human Resources, and MBA courses. While students don’t specify a “concentration” or “specialization”, students can gear their class schedules to topics of interest. Another way the program is flexible is by breaking semesters into two terms. This makes classes only 7 weeks and allows students to take more courses over a variety of different disciplines. Here are a couple elective courses I am currently in, and some I am looking forward to taking next term:
Fraudulent Financial Reporting – This course focuses on developing techniques for detecting fraudulent reporting in financial statements and accounts. The course is case-based, and we focus on detection techniques, which in turn shows us how the fraud was perpetrated. Every class is very interesting and it forces you to think outside the box and get creative when trying to detect fraud. I can imagine this course coming in handy when I least expect it as I continue with my professional career.
Negotiations – Obviously we are all familiar with negotiating, even if we have very little professional experience. This course provides us with the theory and processes of negotiating as it occurs in different situations. The course is structured around practice negotiations to help students gain a little bit of experience and confidence when they start to negotiate professionally. Whether it is negotiating a job offer or negotiating a contract between a buyer and seller, I would strongly recommend this course.
Developing High Performance Teams – I am really looking forward to taking this course. Working in groups and teams are becoming more and more commonplace in the business world. While I won’t start off my career managing a team, I imagine in the future I will be in a position where this course will provide me with knowledge to lead and work effectively in a variety of different team settings.
Fraudulent Examination: Asset Misappropriation – Clearly you can tell fraud interests me. While the first fraud course focuses on financial reporting which is more often perpetrated by management, this course focuses on asset misappropriation which is more often perpetrated by employees. This course will emphasize motives and factors that play into employees committing fraud, as well as prevention and detection methods.
As the first semester of the MAcc program came to a close, some students had more than just finals on their minds. The last week of finals corresponded with the announcement that The Ohio State University’s football team made the first ever College Football Playoff and would be playing Alabama in the Sugar Bowl on New Years Day. Hearing this news numerous MAcc students had their sights set on making it down to New Orleans to be part of the game and support the Buckeyes. Luckily, around 10 or so MAcc students got tickets for the game either through the student lottery or other various ways; I was lucky enough to receive a free ticket from the student lottery provided by Taco Bell. Through group messages and talking at lunch, we were able to plan the drive and hotel situation. Since we were on break, many people were driving from different parts of the country (including one person who took a 16 hour megabus trip).
Once we all got to New Orleans we made a plan for the trip. We spent all of New Years Eve day in the city, seeing the sights and fully exploring the culture of New Orleans. We stopped by Cafe Du Monde to enjoy some beignets and coffee, which is a must if you are ever there. We also enjoyed an early dinner on Bourbon Street and were able to get some signature Louisiana dishes you always hear about. New Orleans is without a doubt a city worth visiting if you get the chance (go to Pat O’Briens).
Luckily for us we weren’t there just to see the city, we went for the Sugar Bowl. New Years Day we got to the Superdome early to pick up our tickets and check out the pregame festivities. The atmosphere surrounding the game was unreal and the streets were packed with both Ohio State and Alabama fans. Having won a ticket in the student lottery I was able to be part of the student section and had seats only 11 rows up from the field. It was a great game to be a part of and Ohio State was able to come away with a win, putting them in the National Championship against Oregon. The whole experience was something I will never forget and it was wonderful to be able to share it with some of my best friends from the MAcc program.
One cool thing about the MAcc program is how open and inviting the professors and faculty are to the students. This can very easily be seen through the MAcc Breakfast. Once every couple weeks the MAcc program hosts a breakfast for around 10-15 students. The breakfast is invite only, but throughout the course of the semester every student gets invited. In addition to the students, available professors and members of the Graduate Programs Office attend. They are held before classes start in the morning so most people won’t have any conflicting scheduled events (besides sleeping in). The breakfast is pretty laid back and informal creating a comfortable environment to interact with other students and the faculty.
How the breakfast worked was we got there and picked up some breakfast goodies from Panera as well as coffee or OJ and sat around a conference table. We small talked for a little bit until everyone got there and got settled and then we individually went around the table and introduced ourselves, said where we were from, and talked about one interesting fact about us that is not on our resume. The interesting fact then spawned a short discussion and some of the professors or staff would ask questions about it. Clearly our MAcc class is extremely interesting; here are some things I learned during the breakfast:
Two students in the program are twins (not identical)
One MAcc student has been an extra in two movies
This is the first time one international MAcc student has ever left China
One MAcc student has pet chickens
One MAcc student played water polo in high school
The MAcc breakfast is a great way for students and faculty to interact and bridge the gap a little bit. The professors are all interested in getting to know the students and learning more about our background. This laid back environment helps students feel comfortable asking questions and going to office hours. Overall, I found the MAcc breakfast beneficial to not only learning more about fellow classmates, but also the faculty associated with the program.
Recently The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business announced their new dean, Anil Makhija. All graduate students in the FCOB were invited to stop by and meet the dean during our lunch hour. This was a great opportunity for students to go and listen to Makhija talk about his appointment to dean. Makhija started off by speaking about his background. Makhija has been a Buckeye since 1998 and has held numerous prestigious roles within the college including senior associate dean and the chair of Fisher’s Department of Finance, which ranked among the top 10 in the world for research.
Makhija was also very open to questions from the students that attended the event. The students asked great questions about what direction he saw the college heading, how the students can help him accomplish the college’s goals, and how he was going to continue to establish the network between the college and alumni.
It is no secret that the Ohio State name brings with it a network that is second to none, but what is greatly underestimated is the connection and bonds that the Graduate Programs establish between the faculty of the college and the students. There is no shortage of great opportunities, like “Meet the Dean”, that are available to MAcc students.
The MAcc program does a great job of setting up social events for everyone in the program. Getting the feel for the season, we obviously had to go to a pumpkin patch. One Friday after class we carpooled our way there and enjoyed the beautiful fall Ohio weather. The pumpkin patch included a corn maze and a sunflower maze, and even a small petting zoo. Clearly the best part though was the tractor ride through the pumpkin patch. We got to go out and rummage through all the pumpkins until we found a keeper. This may sound simple, but finding the perfect pumpkin is harder than it sounds. Eventually I was able to find my perfect pumpkin! The entire event was a great way to be able to hang out with people in the program and just relax outside of the classroom.
After we went to the pumpkin patch everyone took different approaches on what to do with their pumpkin. I got together with a couple friends in the program one night to carve our pumpkins so we could display them outside.
It is amazing how quickly this first term has flown by; it is already our last week of the first session for Fall semester. Here are some of my quick observations from the first session:
The Courses: Most courses for the program are only 7 weeks long. Because of this, material is covered fairly quickly and a topic is usually not discussed for longer than one class period. Since the courses are fast paced, it is important to stay organized and stay ahead of the material, otherwise it will be easy to fall behind and stay behind. Overall, the courses have all been interesting and it was wonderful to see how approachable and helpful the professors have been. It is crazy to think that we have finals this week and are starting all new courses next week.
The Class: Coming to Ohio State not knowing anyone was a little frightening, but from the first day of orientation it was easy to see that the MAcc Class of 2015 would get along well. Whether it is eating lunch every day together in the student lounge, studying after classes together, going to trivia every Wednesday night, or hitting the bars on the weekends the MAcc kids are always together.
The Culture: The environment surrounding the MAcc program is unique. Everyone has different backgrounds and different experiences that have brought them to Fisher. Because of this, it is nice that the program involves so many group projects. For example, one of my groups had three international students from China, a student that worked professionally for a couple years and is coming back to school for his Masters, and another student from Texas. Combined we all brought different knowledge and skills to the table and worked well as a team. The culture of the program may be hard to describe in words but it is something I am happy to be a part of.