Every year, Fisher hosts an internal case competition for all first-year Full-Time MBA students. Teams who win get an opportunity to represent Fisher at the Big Ten Plus MBA Case Competition, which is held at Fisher, in April. The internal case competition was held last weekend.
Exactly a week ago (Friday), my team, along with 17 other teams, were presented a case at 8 AM. It was a “live” case– meaning that the company is currently going through this situation and we were asked to solve, invent, and/or create a new idea. We had to work with a fabrics and crafts store (one you have certainly heard of) that recently opened a new kind of store specially catered to bulk ordering. Our mission was to find innovative ways that would grow the new store’s customer base without cannibalizing the original brand.
Each team was assigned a room and told to submit all materials by 7 AM the next day (Saturday). We were given snacks and food throughout the day. My team (consisting of Kyle, Mariel, Carl, and myself) came up with a plan of attack: we were going to take some time to generate ideas, do preliminary research, then get together and hatch out a model. We were then going to delegate each a portion of the project to a team member. Carl was our slide deck specialist, Mariel was awesome at market research, and Kyle was our financial guy. I was in charge of putting the different components together and filling in as needed.
We worked in 3-4 hour chunks, stopping for lunch and dinner. I am not going to go into detail for the rest of the day, but there were some unforgettable moments: 1) Mariel brought in chocolate covered espresso beans and we were on a caffeine high for a few hours, 2) Doing push-ups as our group activity in order to keep Mariel’s fitness plan in check, 3) Doing laps around the building to keep my sanity after being in school for 15 hours, and 4) stuffing our faces with fruit snacks.
We left on Saturday at 12:30 AM and were back in the building at 8:30 AM. You could see walking zombies everywhere as some groups left at 3 AM, and others arrived at 5 AM to tie up some last minute details. My team presented well, delivered what we needed to know, and we walked out in good spirits. We celebrated by grabbing a beer at the nearby Varsity Club with some other groups (a popular hang-out for Fisher grad students).
The results came in and my team didn’t win. There was a brief moment of sadness, but we knew that we worked well together and had a wonderful time. The journey and experiences we shared are something that I will never forget. Here are some of my key takeaways:
Find a team that you can trust and respect. Build the relationship by meeting outside of school for meals, drinks…etc. My team met several times at our favorite Condado Tacos several times before the competition.
It is impossible to be productive for 12 hours straight. Mix it up with some funny moments, sleepy periods, and productive sessions to get the best out of everyone.
It is interesting to see how a group works under intense pressure, high competition, little sleep, and in close proximity. It sometimes brings out the best and worst in yourself and others.
If you focus on just winning, you sometimes miss out on special moments shared.
I am proud to present my team: the MACK Consulting Group. Pictured below (from left to right): Kyle, Mariel, myself, and Carl. I’m also proud of Kyle (who won Best Presenter) and Carl (for winning Best Q&A). Go, team!
After being in college for four years, I never thought this day would come:
I have a job! This is not one of those jobs that I had in college or high school where I worked for a few hours a week or even an internship. I actually have a real job where I wake up every day, put on a suit, tie, and help provide advice to others. I guess you could say I am (almost) an adult now…
Many of you must be wondering how I reached this stage and what the process looked like. Well, to be honest, it involved a lot of preparation, stress and free meals!
Step 1: How to get an interview
The first step to getting a job is by locking up the first-round interview. This is probably the hardest step of the entire process, but if you do it right, it is one of the easiest steps. First thing is to have an exceptional resume: solid work experience, leadership, and good grades. The issue is that having a good resume isn’t enough, as it turns out there are hundreds of student who have “exceptional” resumes as well. So, how do you differentiate yourself? Network, network, network!
I learned early on in my college life that it is not what you know, but who you know that will help you succeed in life. So that is what I did. I networked and created connections.
As a result, with every firm that I applied to, I received at least a first-round interview. These firms included all your prestigious Big 4 accounting firms and the top tier-consulting firms.
**A few of the firms that I applied for do not recruit at Ohio State, but that should not hold you back. As long as you network well, you should be fine!**
Step 2: How to excel at the interview
Be yourself! Since most interviews are behavioral, just be yourself. You should educate yourself about the role and organization, but as long as you be yourself and have a few stories to tell, you should be fine.
However, if you are like me and decide to pursue a career in consulting, you will need to prepare for the case interview. During a case interview, the interviewer will present you with a business scenario and you are expected to present a logical solution at the end of the interview. These can be difficult, but are really fun! All you need to do is practice– a lot. I ran through close to 30 mock case interviews before my first official case interview.
Step 3: Accept the job
This is the best part! Be proud of where you work, and accept a job that makes you happy. As for me, I will be working in Columbus as a consultant for EY in their financial services practice. I could not be happier and I am excited for a career at EY!
One of the things I love about HR is that– when it’s done in an ethical manner– it creates opportunity for people from all walks of life. It’s a function that emphasizes fairness and an equal “playing field” in the workplace. And more discussions than ever are centering upon diversity and inclusion (D&I). The challenge, though, is how to take an abstract concept like D&I (which even those who have no interest in advancing will likely never criticize in front of others) and relate it to business needs.
Last night, I was honored to meet Todd Corley, the former Chief Diversity Officer at Abercrombie & Fitch. As part of Business Excellence 2, he shared with the class his background and his responsibilities at A&F– and sparked very insightful conversation about the role D&I plays to ensure organizational success (it is not just a social cause). His role was created as part of a consent decree by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission– in short, after a class-action lawsuit alleging discrimination, the EEOC forced A&F to create the role and Todd was hired. Imagine stepping into that.
Todd described growing up in New York, the son of a single mother. He also shared a pivotal moment in his career. He was attending an event on the top floor of a major employer on Wall Street and had noticed that several women were intermittently leaving the table. The time in which they were away seemed long. He later found out that these women were taking awhile because they had to go to a different floor of the building to use the restroom. In this lavish business environment, a women’s restroom wasn’t present and no one seemed to find this unacceptable.
Tales like this remind me of how insidious discrimination remains– and how what underrepresented groups ask for is often something others would see as nothing more than a basic right.
He described his three categories of co-workers: strugglers (who don’t value D&I), neutral observers (people who are not active proponents, but will “go with the flow”), and diversity champions. Each category requires a different leadership approach to yield the change that’s sought.
The most fascinating part of his discussion came when he described how millennials helped spark a lot of his success. At the time he began his role at A&F, Facebook was in its infancy and Twitter didn’t even exist. So, the millennial generation was ready to take advantage of social media– and to use the media as a platform for sharing progressive views about diversity. For as much as millennials are criticized, he stressed the value they brought (and still bring) to the proverbial table when it comes to speaking up. I was impressed by his humility– and thought it was refreshing to hear a positive opinion of millennials.
During the entire time, Todd was candid, kind, and helpful. He went out of his way to ensure that everyone’s questions were answered– and stayed after class to continue the conversations. His presentation is one rewarding benefit of having the MHRM program inside a college of business. We’re introduced to (and sometimes, build relationships with) people who are at the forefront of change– at leading employers facing large-scale challenges (like Abercrombie & Fitch). We are helped to understand how our HR duties help resolve (or prevent) these challenges. And we are inspired to do the right thing.
I love to be involved. By the end of my undergraduate career at Cornell University, I was an active member of five different student organizations. So, when choosing an MBA program, I had to be sure that there were ample opportunities for involvement. When I arrived at Fisher, I quickly realized that there are more student organizations than I could ever hope to join… and that’s a good thing! I’m currently a first-year leader for Fisher Graduate Women in Business (FGWIB) and the Association for Marketing Professionals (AMP), as well as a member of the Fisher Sports Business Association. I also joined the Ohio State Hunt Seat Equestrian Team, a club sports team. Am I really busy? Definitely, but I love every minute of it!
My AMP membership has been particularly rewarding. It’s incredibly valuable to me as a marketing student, as the second-year leadership team has gone out of its way to help everyone looking for marketing internships (myself included), from recommending companies to resume reviews and internship workshops. The club also organizes annual visits to companies in Columbus and nearby Chicago called a “Marketing Hop.” I was fortunate to participate in the Columbus Marketing Hop over fall break, and it got me very excited for what’s to come in Chicago in December. We visited three companies – The Oneida Group, Homage and Alliance Data – with a lunch stop at Easton and a happy hour at Land-Grant. Here’s a rundown of our action-packed day:
The Oneida Group
As a young, single student who has yet to “settle down” and with a limited budget, my current sets of dishes consist of a random mix of boring white plates, some very basic silverware, and a collection of glasses from my parents’ attic in New York. My cooking skills are less than stellar, and my tiny kitchen barely has enough storage space for both me and my roommate. Needless to say, cutlery and cookware aren’t things I spend much time with. But as soon as I walked through the door of The Oneida Group’s new office in downtown Columbus, I felt inspired to become the next Martha Stewart. CMO Jeff Jarrett and Director of Retail Marketing & Innovation Sean Gibson gave us a sneak peek at Oneida’s upcoming marketing campaigns, and we all took home an Anchor Hocking LifeProof water bottle.
Next stop was Homage, a clothing company that specializes in retro t-shirts. It also makes a lot of clothing for sports fans and being a Columbus-based company, that includes apparel for the Columbus Blue Jackets, Columbus Crew, and of course, the Ohio State Buckeyes. We took a tour of the company’s warehouse and office space – complete with a wall of the employee’s favorite t-shirts – and talked to the marketing staff about their strategies. On our lunch break in Easton, we were able to check out one of Homage’s stores and get some swag.
Our final, official stop of the day was Alliance Data, specifically the card services division. Alliance Data is responsible for numerous loyalty programs and collects data to help a wide variety of companies in their marketing campaigns. We were first brought into the Innovation Lab where we got a first hand look at some prototypes Alliance Data was testing for clients. While I am unable to disclose exactly what we saw, I can say it was almost like getting a glimpse into the future. We wrapped up our visit with a presentation from Tim Sweeney, Sr. Director of Marketing Analytics, on what Alliance is working on as well as a panel and Q&A with Fisher alumni. While our Data Analysis class is not exactly my strong suit this semester, I found myself fascinated by everything Alliance is able to accomplish through data and walked out feeling like we, as future marketers, truly have the power to affect change.
Sad at the thought of the hop coming to a close, I made my way to Land-Grant along with some fellow AMP members for an optional happy hour and tour of the facilities. While I’m not normally a beer drinker, I’ve started to explore the craft brewery scene in Columbus thanks to the Columbus Ale Trail. Creative Director Walt Keys treated us to some of the most delicious beer I have ever had (still kicking myself for forgetting what it was called) and showed us the brewing facilities that are conveniently attached to its taproom in Franklinton. We also learned about Land-Grant’s start through a successful Kickstarter Campaign and subsequent partnerships with the Columbus Crew and the Columbus Bluejackets. It was amazing to hear how supportive the Columbus community was of this growing business and to see how a grassroots marketing campaign turned into a thriving craft brewery whose beers I recently spotted on the shelves at Kroger.
The Columbus Marketing Hop was a fantastic kickoff to what was, for me, an action-packed fall break. I’m so grateful to be part of an organization that can offer me hands-on opportunities to explore my chosen career path. I’ll be counting the days until the Chicago Marketing Hop in December!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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!
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.