Building our Team!

"We're always better when we're together"
“Always better when we’re together”

It’s hard to believe it’s September. As August wrapped up, our SMF class excitedly looked toward the start of new projects and classes in our autumn term– and now, we’re in the thick of things. We spent the last month getting to know both our fellow SMF candidates and program alumni. As this team grows together, we anticipate great results both on campus and during our career search.

Getting to Know Our Classmates

The SMF class spends time getting to know each other both inside and outside the classroom. After class, we frequently play soccer (or football, as some of us call it!) and badminton. Besides playing games, a group of SMFs and I cheered on the Columbus Crew Major League Soccer Team and another group attended a concert with Kesha. There’s a lot do do here! These events, and many more throughout the year, are free to all Ohio State students. Events are fun, but often the best way to build relationships is over food. The past three weekends, about 15 to 20 of us have met for dinner each Friday evening. This has been a time for us to share favorite international dishes and explore new restaurants.

Building strong bonds among the SMF candidates will pay dividends as we finish the month of September developing a company analysis report. This week, our team finalized our collective “story” of where our company is and where we see them heading. This project is a tangible report that we can discuss with potential employers. As we begin our job search, it is important to know that not only do we work well together–we are also building our network with alumni.

Getting to know Alumni

A great part about being in the SMF program, is that the team extends beyond the walls of Fisher College of Business. About 30 alumni attended an August alumni reception. This event allowed the current class to learn about different careers in Finance and ask questions. Alumni also come back to visit during career fairs and panel discussions. I’ve talked to a number of them already. Coming to Ohio State from a smaller school, I was not used to calling people that I had not met in person; but, after many friendly phone calls, I know that there are a lot of professionals cheering us on and offering their support.

Two Weeks Down, 54 To Go

Although I am in the initial phase of my MBA experience, I can report with confidence that Fisher has already exceeded my expectations in many respects. From the multi-faceted academic modules that all incoming students complete before arriving on campus to the intensive two-week Pre-Term program, the experiential learning at Fisher begins even before a candidate sets foot inside of a classroom.

As a resident of central Ohio, I was fortunate enough to not only visit the campus during my admission interview but to also take part in many invitation-only activities for admitted students after I successfully completed the interview process. At these initial gatherings that occurred in the Fall of ’15 and Spring of ’16, I met quite a few other admitted students as well as faculty, admissions, and other members of the Fisher family: an impressive group of people. However, it was at the beginning of the Pre-Term program (which all incoming students are required to attend) that I truly appreciated the caliber and the diversity in all of its glorious forms that is embodied by the Fisher MBA class of 2018. There are 14 countries represented in our class, but that is only one aspect of the innumerable dimensions of diversity that can be found in my class. Random interactions with my classmates in between lectures or at lunch have given me opportunities to learn from their experiences, and it’s only been two weeks since classes started!

MBA Class of 2018

My experience has so far been full of challenges and ‘aha’ moments. The course load is heavy and the material is challenging. Add this to all of the other wonderful opportunities outside of the classroom that a student would be remiss not to take advantage of, and it becomes easy to see why time management and maintaining an agile schedule are crucial. The first year in general and the first semester in particular is specifically designed to stretch students’ abilities both in and out of the classroom and for that reason, organization is paramount. I should, however, make it clear that a great deal of effort and thought goes into the design of the curriculum at Fisher and admitted students have already proven through the rigorous admission process that they have what it takes to thrive at this school and to represent the Fisher College of Business well in the future. Having said that, the school also does a fantastic job in the selection of core team members. No matter the subject matter or topic, there will be at least one member of your core team who is particularly strong in that area. This, I believe, forms the basis of the great student-led learning that occurs outside of the classroom and augments the structured in-class learning.

I am sure there will be many challenges ahead of me but I really look forward to taking them on, one and all. After all, challenges are nothing but opportunities in disguise!

Core Team

“Shape the Game”

Well, I am hot ‘n’ heavy into my first semester! I must admit that I feel a bit overwhelmed. It’s a manageable “overwhelment,” but it’s become clear to me that time will be precious while in the MHRM program. In addition to the core courses, I’m taking two electives this session (and probably one elective next session) and serving as a graduate administrative assistant for the college. I also am going to try to re-launch the Fisher LGBT affinity group (called “Out in Business”) sometime soon if I can get the time to do it! (For a myriad of reasons, the group is currently inactive, although Fisher is absolutely inclusive and welcoming with LGBT students.

Anyway, one of my favorite courses thus far is called “Organizational Turnarounds.” The crux is: how do you turnaround failing organizations? Senior Lecturer Jeff Rodek teaches the (popular) course. We’re learning that this difficult task requires a lot of structured, but quick decision-making. In addition to a textbook, we’re gleaning insight from case studies and articles… AND Mr. Rodek himself. He’s a former CEO of Hyperion Solutions– and he was charged with doing his own turnaround of the company. You can read quite a bit online about his time there. What’s awesome about the class is that the students are required to analyze and assess HIS performance at Hyperion– the good, bad, and ugly. It’s part of our first group paper.

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Mr. Rodek himself

He’s incredibly open and honest about his experience as CEO. He doesn’t sugarcoat it. He’s reflective of things he did well and things he’d like to go back and change. And he wants us to learn from it. How cool is that? This isn’t some professor who’s been buried in research for years; he’s been in the thick of things and he’s sharing his insight and knowledge with us. He also has a great sense of humor and really tries to spark good conversation in the classroom.

One thing he said in class this week– and this was really a very small comment related to the topic at hand, but immediately hit me– is the need to “shape the game” as leaders (particularly during a turnaround), not just “play the game.” As someone who’s told friends and colleagues many times to play the game, I really appreciated his revision of this mantra. It resonated with me. Shape your experiences and relationships in the way you want them to be shaped; take change of your own destiny rather than being a willing bystander.

And it applies to what I’m doing now as a student. Despite the stress, I’ve reminded myself that I am here because I want a challenge. I’m here to grow. I’m here to be the best. So, I’m going to work hard, build relationships, and learn as much as I can to shape my professional and personal life in the way I want it to be. O-H-I-O!

The Most Popular Course: Negotiation

This semester, I decided to take what may be the most popular course at Fisher: Negotiation. It’s taught by Associate Professor Lount. Many Fisher students (in all programs) rave about it and our program director also highly recommended it to me. I’m beginning to understand why!

After the course introduction and our self-introductions, the first class actually began with a negotiation. Every student was assigned to a role: either a seller or a buyer. We picked up confidential information based on our roles. I was so nervous for my first negotiation because I believed I was not good at negotiating. I would rather obey what the other party said than start a negotiation. Due to my nervousness, I did not say much during the negotiation– which may press my partner (the one with whom I was negotiating) to rise his offered price (I was a seller and my partner was a buyer). To my surprise, I got the second highest price in the class! I learned from the first negotiation: be comfortable with silence. More importantly, I started to gain confidence.

After we learned basic concepts of negotiation, we started to learn some useful negotiation tactics. For example: providing several offers which are of the same value can show our flexibility as well as learn give the chance to learn the other party’s needs and wants. I’ve already conducted this tactic in one of my negotiations. In this negotiation, we had four roles: buyer, buyer’s agent, seller, and seller’s agent. My role was as seller’s agent and my task was to negotiate with the buyer’s agent and help my client sell her house at a reasonable price. We had several rounds of back-and-forth. Every round, I offered 2-3 offers with different prices, closing costs, and pay methods. After the negotiation, I counted my offers: I provided almost 10 offers in a negotiation. Although we did not reach a deal at last, both my client and the buyer’s agent were satisfied with me. It was a tough exercise– conducted via e-mail, so most time I just waited for a reply and when I heard from my client or the buyer’s agent, I had to consider my target and then different offers I would like to provide. Also, because we couldn’t talk face-to-face, I had to consider my words and tone in the emails carefully.

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As the course went on, the negotiation became more complicated and more people were involved. For example, 4-6 people with different roles may have been involved in a negotiation and each would have had different interests and targets. Or it was likely that we had to solve 3-5 issues in a negotiation and each issue was not independent. But after practicing in the class, I was more comfortable and confident to deal with different negotiations.

Negotiation is a practical skill. Therefore, we spent much time in the class practicing. Every time after a negotiation, we would conclude with what happened in the negotiation and what we learned. I think that by the time the class is over this semester, my negotiation skills will be much improved!

Exciting Semester Starts with FINAL EXAM for SMF!

Aha! The new semester begins! Believe it or not! SMF students are preparing for their first final exam this week! How exciting! : )

SMF stands for Specialized Master in Finance. There is no doubt that we are a special group who has already done two group assignments and five case studies before the new semester begins and is going to take a FINAL EXAM in the first week of the new semester.

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There are maybe many question marks in your head: Are you kidding? Do you finish a course for only one week? How is that possible?

Well, that’s because we have been on campus for three weeks before the semester officially begins! We were taking a course called Turbo Finance which covered almost all basic ideas of Finance, from Monday to Friday, 10 am to 3 pm.

Additionally, we met successful alumni of our program and took Bloomberg training with the legendary rock star of Bloomberg, Professor Matt Sheridan, during the busy pre-term schedule.

This sounds like mission impossible, but we did it! The awesome staff of Fisher and the director of our program who is also our professor for Turbo Finance, Dr. George Pinteris, prepared and scheduled perfectly to make all of these happen.

& Here is some beautiful view of campus and Columbus!

Fisher College of Business:

Fisher

The Oval:

The Oval

The One & the Only RPAC:

RPAC

Ohio State Fair (Annually August Event in Columbus):

Ohio State Fair

Columbus at night:

Columbus Nightview

Wrap Up!

As the fourth session begins to wrap up, I look back on the past year in the MAcc program and think “wow, where did all of the time go?” It truly does not feel like 9 months ago I was sitting in orientation, eager to begin working towards a master’s degree. However, as I write this last blog post, I am reminding myself of all the memories that I have had in the MAcc program, all of the incredible people I have met, and all of the information and skills I have learned over the past 9 months.

Commencement at The Shoe!

The most obvious part of my MAcc experience that I can reflect on is the classes. Like any program, there were some classes that I absolutely loved, and some that were a little more challenging to get excited for. However, all classes had extraordinary professors who provided valuable learning experiences. After my first three years in Undergraduate classes at Fisher, and this past year in the Graduate classes, it is clear, the professors are the best assets that Fisher has. Regardless of class title or professor, you are going to be challenged in the way that you think, which is the best way to learn.

Another place where I spent a large portion of my time this year was working as a Graduate Assistant. As a graduate student ambassador, I was the first point of contact for many people who were interested in or being recruited by Fisher. Seeing this other side of the business school has taught me many hard skills that will make me a better business person, but has also instilled a strong sense of Fisher pride in me. Having to pitch the program and the College to people I hardly know has made me realize that I truly love the Fisher College of Business, and more importantly The Ohio State University.

It will be a very bittersweet moment when I walk across the stage for graduation in a few Sundays. Bitter because I am leaving campus, friends, and memories, yet sweet because I have so many memories to look back on as an Alumnus (wow, that sounds weird)! After graduation, I will begin studying for the CPA exam. If all goes well, I will hopefully be majorly done with the exams prior to starting at EY in Chicago come September!

Misappropriation of Assets

 

This session I am enrolled in ACCMIS 7520 Misappropriation of Assets, which is an accounting elective course. The course is taught by Douglas Huffner, who is the Chief Risk Officer for The Ohio State University.

Topics covered in the class so far have covered everything from identifying fraud to common fraud schemes. We have also discussed various misappropriations of cash, such as larceny, fraudulent disbursements, and skimming. The course also covers how companies can prevent fraud. Inherently, if you can understand how fraudulent schemes are developed, you can design a company’s internal controls in such a way to deter or completely eliminate fraudulent behavior by employees.

The class topics are all incredibly interesting, but by far, my favorite portion of the class is hearing real-life examples of fraud that Professor Huffner can cite in his past experiences. Since he is the Chief Risk Officer, he works on problem-solving the most sensitive situation on campus and in the Ohio State community (such as campus emergencies and internal fraud investigations). His experiences help to break up the materials and leads to great class discussion!

I don’t know everything!

Being one of the more life experienced individuals in my class, I still find myself keeping a child like openness to learning. Being in this program has helped to remind me of the importance of keeping my mind and approach flexible. There is so much opportunity to learn if I continue to listen. Below are a few examples of some of my experiences in learning and keeping flexible this semester.

Classes this semester seemed to be focused on minimizing the paper used. I’ve always felt comfortable printing out things, but the amount of reading that we have to do would require me to print out an excessive amount of paper. I decided to just start saving readings to my desktop and using the highlighter function to keep notes while I read. It actually turned out to be really efficient and helpful to use this option. Exciting stuff I know!

I was at the grocery store in the check out line and my daughter was sitting in the grocery cart and said ‘Totoro!’  Totoro is a character from an animated movie by Hiyao Miyazaki. I didn’t really give it much attention until she repeated ‘Totoro’ again. I said, “Where’s Totoro?” and she pointed to my left. I said, “I don’t see him here.” She kept emphatically restating “Totoro!” and I responded, “Sweetheart, I don’t see him.” No sooner did I say it then I noticed a woman with the character tattooed on her arm. I told Larissa, “I’m sorry that I didn’t notice it! Good eyes!”IMG_20160322_194320

One of my classmates broke an apple in half with her hands! She told me about a physics class that she had and the teacher told her how to do it. She taught me how to do it and after a few failed attempts, I was finally able to too!

Conference Completed!

Time has passed so strangely this semester! In addition to the extremely difficult course load, I have spent most of my “free time” developing and finishing one of the biggest projects of my professional career (to date). I just successfully spearheaded a company wide conference. In addition to running the conference, I presented on Social ‘Styles and Staffing’, ‘Communications’, and ‘Leadership and Followership’. It was an amazing experience to have the entire company learn together on some innovative concepts, talk to each other face to face and interact with the owners of the company. It was also an exercise in the effectiveness of my education. This conference was a vehicle for me to apply concepts brought up in my classes at Ohio State.  The ‘Social Styles and Staffing’ lecture integrated components from my undergraduate degree (in Psychology) along with components from the ‘Talent Management’ class that I took last semester. The ‘Communication’ presentation was a joint presentation with my boss on communication styles, based on concepts from a ‘Change Management’ class I also took last semester. Finally, the ‘Leadership and Followership’ presentation was the amalgamation of several lectures from an overview from the ‘Change Management’ course culminating in the integration of those concepts in my career development at my company. Underlying all of these presentations were the skills I developed in the ‘Excellence in Business’ lecture I also took last semester. I sent ‘Thank you’ letters to all the professors that influenced me in succeeding and feel truly grateful to be able to learn and apply my education!

The MHRM and Fisher latest

Wow, I haven’t blogged in awhile and I’m so sorry. Classes and life in general have been an absolute whirlwind! I want to provide some Fisher and MHRM updates, as well as personal updates since last semester. Let’s start with Christmas break!

1: MHRM goes to Columbus Zoolights!

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2: Student Experience provides Destress with Doggie Day. 

Everyone knows this was my favorite event because I desperately want a pug of my own!

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3: MHRM External Case Competition Sponsored by PepsiCo.

Our team won 2nd place competing against Cornell, Rutgers, Illinois, and Minnesota! We brought home the hardware for Professor Ankerman and Dean Makhija

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4: OSU Spring Break.

A great chance to escape from the chilly weather and head down South for some vitamin D (yes, I actually went here – Cabbage Key! 🙂 )

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5: Fisher Celebrates 100 years!

Fisher College of Business is officially 100 years old this year and there’s lots of celebration. Check out what the past century has looked like here.

Fisher 100th Birthday Celebration Blackwell - Ballroom Mar-07-2016 Photo by Jay LaPrete ©2016 Jay LaPrete
©2016 Jay LaPrete

 

6: MHRM Council Elections.

I’m very excited to serve on the MHRM Council for the 2016-2017 school year, and I can’t wait to meet the incoming 1st years!

With these past couple months means new classes for students. This semester I’m taking Staffing Organizations, Data Analytics & Decision Making for HRM, Labor Relations, Understanding Teams & Leadership for HR Managers, and I finished up one elective – Leadership Legacy with Dr. Rucci. Dr. Rucci’s class has been one of my favorite and I highly recommend it! Wondering about these classes and what the syllabus might look like? All of the course descriptions and some syllabi are available here.

My last piece of exciting news is that I’m starting my internship early at Huntington Bank HQ in downtown Columbus! I’m super excited for what’s to come and to get started on my summer projects. I chose to start a little early (April 11th instead of May 16th) so I could hit the ground running by the summer! More MHRM updates and details to come on what it’s like to balance two jobs and a full time curriculum!