Jobs Vs. Grades? You can have BOTH

One of my favorite parts of the MAcc program is its unique program structure. It squeezes so much knowledge into nine months and allows the time to meet recruiters and find a full-time position. Keep reading for some helpful tips!

MAcc follows a semester system which means we have 15 weeks for each semester excluding the finals week and a three-week Christmas in between the two semesters. The interesting part of the MAcc program and some other business-related specialized graduate programs is that within each semester, we have two separate sessions. The idea is that these sessions allow the students to have breadth (choosing from many subjects) and some subjects don’t necessarily require a full semester.

In the MAcc program, most of our courses are case-based and group-based which means you need to invest a lot of time with your group members to come up with a final product. Make sure you can manage time wisely, but leave some time for yourself to relax and search for jobs.

You’ll need it– because recruiting season for accounting starts in the fall. Most of the companies accept resumes in early and mid-September, then start the first round interviews in the late September and second round interviews in mid-October. To prepare yourself, I HIGHLY recommend taking four courses in your first session and five courses in the second session in the fall semester. That way, you’ll have more time to prepare for the interviews and informational sessions held mostly in the first session. Otherwise, you may end up with three interviews and five final exams– all happening in the same week.

TED: The Real Reason I’m in HR

I am a complete and utter TED Talks junkie. Seriously. Whenever a professor introduces a TED Talk in a lecture, I am transformed into someone with the excitement of 9-year old girl at a Spice Girls concert in the mid-1990s. I am qualified to say this, because I was in fact, a 9-year old girl at a Spice Girls concert in the mid-1990s.

Girl Power.

Ted Talks (swoon). Why do I love these bite-size morsels of informational goodness? Mostly because they introduce people to extraordinary ways of thinking about ordinary things. I subscribe to the notion that in order to change the world, you have to challenge people on the assumptions they make every day that guide them to behave in the ways they do.

You have to change the way people think.

I say that very cautiously, because I believe there are effective and ineffective ways of doing so. Making more rules, telling someone they’re wrong, telling someone you’re right—typically not very effective in my experience. Understanding someone’s motivation for doing what they do (Fear? Insecurity? A need for power and control?), and guiding them to the realization that the method they’re using to fulfill that need may not be healthy or sustainable—much more effective.

But the first step in all this is truly understanding how the world has come to be this way, and how the world has shaped how people think. How has our history led us to this exact moment in time? That where my one true love, TED, comes in.

I thought I’d share a few of my favorite goosebump-worthy TED Talks below. Ultimately, I credit my commitment to changing the world—using HR as a vehicle to do so—to the four individuals below.

The first, psychologist and author Barry Schwartz talks about how work came to be seen purely as a means to an end and what we can do to change that notion.

Shawn Achor is one of the funniest storytellers of all time. And in this TED Talk, he speaks about the power of positive psychology in rewiring our brains for gratitude and happiness.

Regina Hartley posits that organizations should “hire the scrapper.” She explains why candidates get looked over every day for gaps in their resume and non-traditional work experience. She argues that these are the very people we should invest in.

5-time CEO Margaret Heffernan challenges the notion that competition is the way to get ahead. Unsuccessful teams are comprised of high achievers, while successful teams are comprised of helpers. And she does it all in a fantastic British accent.

If you have a favorite TED Talk, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Meaningful Careers Await

It’s wonderful to be back at Ohio State, my alma mater, in Columbus, Ohio– a home away from home for me. Although it might seem short, it has been three weeks since the autumn semester began, and if I had to choose one word to describe my experience in the MBLE (Master of Business Logistics Engineering) program so far, it would be “busy.”

My busy schedule, like those of my peers in their first year of MBLE, consists of not only knowledge-building classes but also job hunting battles which are very likely to be a first-time experience for some MBLE fellows. We are challenged by engineering courses that demand a significant time investment and we are squeezed by career fairs that need us to invest our precious minutes very wisely with our target employers. The state of constant “busy-ness” and pressure, I believe, is a tradition of students in this uniquely-designed program integrating business and engineering. Sometimes I can hear my inner self shouting out “Give me a break!” I believe my MBLE peers can, as well.

However, my busy schedule, and more precisely, our busy schedules are paying off. It was surprising for me to find out that a significant number of our first-year “MBLErs” (yes, I just coined a new word!), including myself, have received next-day interviews, being officially in this program for only less than three weeks. Isn’t this a powerful illustration of how much the supply chain/logistics industry values the unique integration MBLE has been providing and the hard work MBLE professionals have done? I believe so.

One thing I particularly like in MBLE is that coming out of this program, I can expect a career in the real economy, which is the career I prefer. If we MBLErs call ourselves “engineers,” we should create something solid (yes, I’m being a little old-fashioned now and no offense to other professions that deal with virtual stuff). It’s not hard to discover that companies at the career fairs most valuing MBLErs are those from various real industries, which in my opinion form the backbone of our well-being. The belief that my career after MBLE can be part of the “backbone” makes the journey very meaningful to me.

And I just got started. We just got started. Many more meaningful careers await. Go MBLErs! Go Bucks!

My Summer in Steel-Toed Shoes

Wow. Did that just happen? It’s time to catch up on a whirlwind summer. Last time, we “spoke,” I was preparing to join PepsiCo as a human resources intern at its Frankfort, Indiana, site. I went into this experience very excited, but cautiously aware of its telling importance: what would this reveal about my decision to change careers (in my late 30s!)? Could I see myself doing this for years to come? Would this internship affirm my choice to enter HR or serve as a foreboding reality?

I lived in Lafayette, Indiana, and drove to Frankfort. This is what my drive looked like each morning…
This is the East plant parking lot. In the background is an ADM plant that did some kind of soybean refining. There’s quite a heavy manufacturing presence in Frankfort which, of course, has ramifications for recruiting and staffing.

When I entered the plant on my first day, I felt out of place. I’d never stepped foot into a factory that makes food! But I was immediately welcomed by people whose kindness and support were unlike anything I had experienced in the professional world. They were good people who believed in treating others the right way. I’d find out later– through their actions and through the actions of others in the company– that this way of doing business is an expectation of PepsiCo. There is an ethical mindset that guides the decision-making process.

This is THE awesome Frankfort HR team: Melanie, Kristi, Ramona, Shelby, and Alicia. They were nice enough to give me this framed picture at the end of the summer.

Not to say decisions were ever easy. I was given free rein to take part in almost every project on tap for the HR team, including staffing and interviewing; investigations; succession planning; performance management; and more (it all kind of blends together in the HR world). I found that Professor Inks really is right when he says that– so often– the answer to problems HR challenges is, “it depends.” Making the right decisions requires a focused analysis of all the facts, alignment with colleagues on desired outcomes, and careful consideration of the decisions’ ramifications– good and bad.

In addition to the daily HR generalist functions, I worked on two projects (most internships include one or a handful of “side projects” in addition to daily duties). The first and most all-encompassing was the migration of printed employee handbooks to digital platforms. I worked closely with my mentor and with others in the company to research the payoff of putting handbooks online, the pitfalls, and– of course– the cost. The scope of the project was huge and entailed many facets: legality, technicality, and culture, to name just some. But I was happy to take on the challenge and think it speaks volumes of PepsiCo that I was allowed to work on it.

The second project focused on outreach optimization. Specifically, figuring out how to do more than a standard outreach event where local organizations are invited onsite to learn about open positions– how to make sure the right people attend and how to turn attendance into relationships that will yield applicants.

Both projects were discussed during an end-of-summer “report-out” in Las Vegas. A “report-out” is generally a standard feature of internships; most often, people at fairly high levels (decision-makers) will watch the interns’ presentations and their input will help decide which interns are invited to return in a full-time capacity. It was three days of presentations, mixing and mingling, and fun, of course.

Elvis was in the house on the final night of our Las Vegas conference! I couldn’t resist. Shelby was a good sport!
This is Chris, fellow MHRM. He interned at a plant in York, Pennsylvania.
Chester Cheetah made an appearance! Forgive the poor quality of the pic. It was a mad dash when he arrived; everyone wanted their moment to meet him. Pictured in the background is Matt, fellow “MHRM” and friend. Matt was in Birmingham.

I also was encouraged to take part in many other activities and events to get a better understanding of the business operations and the organizational values. PepsiCo expects its HR people to get out of their offices and truly know what its employees face every day. I even wore steel-toed shoes so that I could go out on the plant floor! (On a related note, the attire at a plant is nice and easy: khaki pants, a shirt with no buttons, and steel-toed shoes; I loved not having to wear a dressy outfit every day.) As a side note, the scale of the site was amazing. The size of the machines and the amount of product was quite impressive.

Interns are expected to get the “full flavor” of what plant employees do. This is me in a truck that took product to a bin in Illinois. Of course, the person who did all the work was the driver– who earned major respect from me. It’s a demanding job because they drive *and* unload product.

Among many epiphanies this summer, here are some of the most impactful:

  • HR is awash in change. Before the internship, I knew on some level that change is constant (thanks, in part, to the MHRM classes, including Organizational Development and Change. But this experience reminded me that HR leads the conversation about change and how the change affects employees, individually and in teams. HR must be an overt change agent– supporting the change and explaining its effects.

 

  • HR professionals are always on-call and must respond immediately to unanticipated events; planning can sometimes (and often does) go out the window. They must have the ability to stay cool, calm, and collected– and to keep emotion out of the equation. I was amazed at the poise of the HR team in Frankfort, particularly the HR Director. Anything could come her way– any employee could come to her door with any kind of concern– yet she was able to calm the employee and work together to address the concern.

 

  • Most importantly, what is tolerated is taught. During our orientation in Dallas, the company clearly explained how it sees HR and what it expects from its HR professionals. Woven throughout the discussion was that ethical mindset I referred to above, but also other impressive values, including transparency and candor. I saw throughout the summer that good behavior is modeled– and emulated by those who witness it.
Speaking of values, PepsiCo is an inclusive company that, as was explained to me, wants its employees to “bring their whole selves to work.” This is me and fellow MHRM Irinka at the Chicago Pride parade. PepsiCo had an impressive turnout at this event!

I’m truly grateful for my time with PepsiCo over the summer. It was exactly what I needed to see that I’d made the right decision about changing careers to HR; to demonstrate the profound impact HR can have on both organizations and people as individuals; and– on a more personal note– to demonstrate that one doesn’t have to abandon his moral compass to succeed in business. I was able to walk into the plant every day and truly feel good about what I was doing and how I was doing it. That’s something I’ve struggled with in other professional environments.

It still impresses me that– as a student in the MHRM program– I’ve been able to take part in this amazing journey. I’ve learned so much. I’ve met fantastic people: peers, faculty, staff– and of course, professional colleagues. And I’ve been valued. Seen as someone whose talents, skills, and education are desired. It’s been a fun ride– and it’s not over yet.

 

 

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

 

Columbus Marketing Hop

As a 2nd-year student in the MBA program, I’ve had the opportunity this year to serve as VP of Programming on the leadership team for AMP, the Association of Marketing Professionals. In the fall semester, I enjoyed coordinating the Columbus Marketing HOP, which started last year as a way to introduce Fisher students to different companies in Columbus and understand how they do marketing.

We like to do the trip in the early fall to expose the 1st-year marketing students as early as possible to different types of marketing careers. The core curriculum marketing class is a quick intro in the fall and isn’t able to deep dive into all aspects of marketing. So, for some students this might be their first introduction to what agencies do or understand how different industries do marketing very differently.

Piada’s Headquarters

This year, we started the morning at Piada, which is a new restaurant start-up founded in Columbus. They have recently expanded from Ohio to Minnesota and Texas to test different markets with their Italian street food, fast-casual concept. We got to hear from Matt Eisenacher, their director of marketing, on Piada’s marketing challenges in being a small start-up dealing with explosive growth. He also compared his experiences in the restaurant industry to his background in brand management at traditional CPG (consumer packaged goods) companies like Nestle and Abbott.

From Piada, we traveled to Perio, which is the parent company of Barbasol and Pure Silk shaving brands. It was really interesting to hear from Amy Litzinger and the team at Perio about their different consumer segments and how that leads them to different marketing tactics. They spoke at length about sports and entertainment sponsorships, which opportunities they choose, and why they do them,(which personally I found very interesting because I didn’t know very much about that side of marketing).

The group at Perio, home of Barbisol and PureSilk

After loading us up with gift bags of shaving cream (thank you!), we stopped for lunch at, you guessed it, Piada! We got to try some of the seasonal specials that Matt talked to us about in the morning, and it was especially interesting to hear from half of our group who had never been to one of their restaurants before!

Baesman’s welcoming moose 🙂

Our last stop of the day was Baesman, a non-traditional marketing agency located in downtown Columbus. I was very excited to showcase an agency to our group because it’s hard to understand the agency lifestyle until you get to see it for yourself. So much creativity and flexible thinking is needed in their roles and that often translates into offices that look very different from the stereotypical cubes of the large companies they typically work for.

Baesman’s focus is on data-mining and creating content based on insights that they glean from their clients’ data. It was fascinating to hear about how their business and focus has changed over the past 5 years when they realized what an opportunity data-led marketing would be.

I worked with Baesman in a couple different capacities before I came to Fisher, and even I learned a lot about their business model, and how quickly things are changing in their industry. We got to hear from their president, Jeff Sopko, about starting the business, and we also heard from Evan Maggliocca, who is in charge of their agency branding. I confess that I had never really thought about how important branding and marketing efforts are for an agency as they compete for new business. I had only viewed them from a client standpoint, and it was great to realize their challenges as a business, and how they’ve set themselves up for success under those conditions.

Even though I’ve lived in Columbus for more than 5 years, I personally benefited from visiting these companies and hearing about their very different marketing challenges and tactics. The students who went on the trip learned a lot too, and were excited about the diversity of the companies we visited. I’m happy that AMP was able to share such variety in our own backyard and get our students thinking in different ways about their marketing career possibilities while exposing them to great companies.

Competing vs Running OSU HR Invitational Case Competition

A unique opportunity the Fisher MHRM program offers is the OSU HR Invitational Case Competition. In the past, we have hosted four other schools: Cornell, Illinois, Rutgers, and Minnesota. However, this year, OSU expanded the competition and invited West Virginia University, University of South Carolina, and Texas A&M University. WOW, eight teams total.

As an MHRM Student I have competed for THE Ohio State University and coordinated the competition. Both opportunities provided a unique opportunity and experience that I could only get here at Fisher. Here’s what was different…

Competing in the competition is the most fun I never wanted to do again, but secretly wanted to at the same time. It’s a strange, self-inflicted torture that I can’t get enough of because I’m inherently really competitive. The sponsoring company, in this case PepsiCo (also a recruiter on campus), provides a real-life, current business problem demanding a robust HR solution. There are many components to think of when crafting the solution including ROI, implementation, and possible challenges. This competition is unique because it forces you to think outside the box. For example, if during brainstorming all four team members come up with the same idea, that means the other teams (a.k.a. the competition) have already thought about it too, and you need to come up with something more creative. Right before presenting to the judges, you can’t help but have a nervous adrenaline rush because you’ve really only prepared for 24 hours. Yet, at the same time, you know your team is going to present with such conviction in what you came up with. Participating in this competition during my first year in the MHRM program was a unique opportunity to gain exposure to business challenges I faced during my internship over the summer. Our dream team placed 2nd in the 2016 Invitational and I could not have loved the experience more. I have leveraged this experience, and I wanted to make it just as great for the students that would be on the OSU team the next year. So, why not run case comp?!

2nd Place: OSU HR Invitational Case Competition Dream Team Circa 2016 + Coach Ankerman

The MHRM Council is an opportunity to be involved with a student organization that contributes towards the MHRM Program at Fisher. As a Council member, myself and a fellow classmate organize and execute the two case competitions for the MHRM program: Internal – Fall, and Invitational – Spring. While the internal has been traditionally larger in the past because all of the MHRM students participate, the Invitational is larger in terms of scale because many other programs/schools attend. The two case-competition chairs on Council handle a majority of logistics and coordination for both competitions… This is event planning and execution on steroids. The Invitational (a.k.a. external) has grown in size and this was the sixth annual competition. Overall, running the competition didn’t have the same level of “adrenaline rushing,” but let’s be honest… that feeling is hard to get when you’re the party planner. But I was just as excited for all the teams to get to Fisher, explore Columbus to see how great it is, and be one of the first faces our guests would meet. Another great part about running both the internal and the invitational was the opportunity to sit in on the presentations. As a participant competing, there is a strict rule that prohibits sitting in on other teams’ presentations. However, as one of the two case comp chairs I got to sit in on the presentations and observe teams, judges and Q&A. I felt like I was looking into a fishbowl that I vividly remembered being inside of one year earlier. I learned a business executive’s perspective and where their curiosity comes from around a team’s idea(s).

The winning team! OSU HR Invitational Case Comp 2017 + David Harris (VP HR – Corporate Functions & Strategic Projects at PepsiCo)

Post-graduation, I am sure I’ll be responsible for both presenting new ideas to my company’s executives and responsible for organizing and executing events that involve multiple stakeholders. Both opportunities are very unique to being a Fisher MHRM, and I’m fortunate I had the chance to be a part of both teams for the case competitions – on the team and running the show.

As always, go Bucks!

OSU HR 2017 Invitational: OSU, Cornell, Minnesota, Rutgers, Illinois, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Texas A&M

 

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.

 

Case Comp – A Rite of Passage

Last weekend, first year Master of Human Resource Management (MHRM) students underwent a kind of “rite of passage”: the annual MHRM Internal Case Competition.

pepsico

The competition was sponsored by PepsiCo this year, and real executives from PepsiCo as well as other companies that recruit heavily on campus—Marathon, The Wendy’s Company, Ford, Rolls Royce to name a few—were on the judging panels. At 8 AM Friday, we were briefed on the case (a real problem that PepsiCo HR professionals were currently facing), and after a 20-minute Q&A, we broke off into respective 4-person teams to begin our work. We had until the following morning at 8 AM to conceive a solution and figure out a way to sell it to the judges in 20 minutes. If you ever participated in some sort of “lock-in” at your church or school, then that’s a good starting point for understanding. We spent 15 hours in Gerlach Hall that day—or as I like to call it now—my second home.

My team’s day consisted of some serious brainstorming, followed by changing our minds several times, and finally settling on a simple and practical solution to the problem. Was it too simple? Had we thought through all the details? What if they throw us a curveball? These were the questions rattling in my brain all day. But we were in a time crunch (yes, that’s on purpose), so we had to roll with it.

Fast forward past lunch, dinner, laughing, crying, sleeping (there was not actually any crying) to the next morning. We arrived back at Gerlach Hall the following Saturday morning at 7 AM and received our presentation room and time slot. At that point, we scurried back to our room to hammer out the last few details and practice, over and over…and over…and over………………………and over.

We had a tough room—the judges are trained to interrupt you and throw you off to challenge your ideas and assumptions. Now seems like an appropriate time to introduce the idea of Type II Fun:

“Something that is fun only after you have stopped doing it”

– Type II Fun

At the end of a nerve-wracking and intense Q&A session, we left our room to debrief how we thought it went. What was most difficult for me was not having anyone to compare ourselves to. We were not permitted to collaborate with other teams, nor see their presentations. So, it was difficult to know how competitive our idea was. Situations like this definitely challenge my discomfort with ambiguity.

At the end of deliberations and a delicious lunch provided by the Fisher College of Business, the results were in. I am proud to say that my team won our room, which is especially exciting considering we were strangers just a few days before. It is so satisfying to be able to come together and leverage our strengths as a team so quickly and effectively. And I feel lucky to have made some new friends along the way!

img_0511
That’s us! Myself, Irinka, Krista, and Katie.

#blessed

Maybe it is because Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching, but recently I have found myself reflecting on all the things I am grateful for. I could write for days about all my reasons for giving thanks this year, but I will stick to just three highlights of my MAcc experience:

  1. I have a job! The recruiting experience was definitely stressful but I am proud to say that I made it through to the other side and have officially accepted a full-time offer with Deloitte in Columbus. I will be a part of their audit practice and I could not be more thrilled about the opportunity!
  2. I am back in the Midwest! Being in South Carolina for undergrad definitely had its perks, but it has been so nice to live within 150 miles of my hometown. The two-and-a-half-hour distance is perfect – it’s close enough to justify weekend trips while still far enough to prevent me from simply jumping in the car and making the drive just because. I love that I have so many more opportunities to stay involved with things in Perrysburg.
  3. I am almost half a Master of Accounting! It is surreal to think that I am almost halfway through the MAcc program – not sure where the time has gone. This semester has been difficult at times, but on the whole it has been beyond incredible. I feel so privileged to be surrounded by highly-motivated peers and phenomenal professors. Every day has brought a new set of challenges, which has only made these past few months that much more rewarding.
Living the "Suite Life" with Gene Smith
Living the “Suite Life” with Gene Smith