Dear Class of 2020,

Before I get into the heart of this post, I want to apologize to my readers who may have been wondering where I’ve been for the past few months. The answer is all over the place! My spring semester was pretty crazy, so here’s a very quick summary of what I’ve been up to:

Traveling

Between the fact that my family all lives in New York, and I generally love to travel, it seems as if I was barely in Columbus last semester! In March alone, I spent a weekend in Philadelphia for the Cornell Alumni Leadership Conference, a weekend in Boston for the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, a weekend in Lexington, Kentucky to visit some famous thoroughbreds (like Triple Crown winner American Pharoah), and a week in Singapore as part of Fisher’s Global Business Expeditions program. Finally, I spent a fantastic three weeks in Ethiopia and Kenya with six of my classmates as part of the Global Applied Projects program. I will dedicate a later post to my GAP experience (I would HIGHLY recommend it if your internship allows), but for now here’s a sneak peak of how we spent some of our free time in Kenya:

Internship hunting

I’m not going to lie to you: my internship search was incredibly long and painful. I watched and celebrated as classmates landed great offers, while I continued to scramble even as I headed off on my GAP trip. In the end, I got a fantastic offer from Boehringer Ingelheim, a large pharmaceutical company, to join the Equine Marketing team in Duluth, GA for the summer. As a horse lover, working in the equine industry is my dream, so I could not be more excited. I will dedicate another post to my internship search process. Shout out to Allison Jones from the Office of Career Management for the incredible support I received throughout my search!

Classes

If you think that your Fall semester classes are rough, I am sorry to say that you’re in for a rude awakening. The group projects that come with the first half of the spring semester will hit you like a ton of bricks. I ended up enrolling in 18 credits this semester (including the GBE and GAP), and it is not something I plan to do ever again. Between my classes, internship search, and travels, I didn’t have much time left to breathe!

Student Orgs

One exciting thing that happens in the Spring Semester is student org elections. As the second years depart, it is up to them to figure out who should take over club leadership for the coming year. I was chosen as the VP of Communication for the Fisher Sports Business Association and the VP of Major Events for the Association of Marketing Professionals. I am excited to work with the rest of the team that was chosen by both clubs and can’t wait to meet our new members!

As I begin my summer internship, I  have been thinking a lot about the Class of 2020, who will arrive on campus in a few short months. There are so many things that I wish I had known before the first day of Pre-Term, and many things I heard as a first year from the Class of 2018 that I know my class is going to repeat. So, without further ado, here are a couple of things you might hear from the second years and during your first year of business school and how to handle them:

“Grades don’t matter.”

If like me, you’re not that far out of school, this will be a hard one to swallow. After all, everyone is expected to maintain a certain GPA to remain in the program, besides the fact that certain companies will ask for your GPA when applying to internships or jobs. On the other hand, as long as you put in the work, you will be successful in class, so it’s not something you should be stressed out about either. I’ve learned more from my experiences outside the classroom than I have in it. The courses set a great foundation of the underlying business knowledge you will need to navigate the business world, but the networking events, conferences, and company visits I attended during my first year provided valuable experiential learning that shaped my decisions as I chose electives and searched for an internship. In short, classes are important, but they aren’t something to be stressed over. Don’t pass up an opportunity to network with representatives from a company you are passionate about or even spend some time learning about your classmates because you’re panicking about the exam you have next week – opportunities abound at Fisher and the larger Ohio State community, and this is your time to take advantage of them!

“My core team was incredible” or “My core team was the worst.”

Team 12 bonding during pre-term

The core team experience, whether it works out for you or not, is an essential part of your first year. You will probably go in with certain expectations, colored by testimonials from previous students about their own experiences. After the first few weeks of classes, you will find yourself either hearing from other students about how much they love their core team and wondering why you don’t feel the same way, or listening to the gripes of those who are having some challenges with their team and feeling fortunate that you can’t relate. The best way to handle the core team experience is to go in with an open mind and be prepared to learn a lot about yourself and how you work with others. You will likely spend the rest of your career working in teams, so your core team will help you figure out what kind of team member you are and leave you better prepared to work with groups in the future, regardless of whether you become best friends or go your separate ways when the year is over.

“Your class doesn’t seem as interested in going to events as ours was”

Here’s the thing that second-year students tend to forget: the first year is HARD. You have little say over your schedule, tons of group projects and assignments to work on, and are navigating the internship search, leaving virtually no breathing room for anything extra. The second years have it relatively easy in comparison, with full control over their schedules and many returning from their summer internships with job offers already in hand. The issue of low attendance at events is typically brought up by the second year students who took the time to plan them. After all, what’s the point of hosting a cool event if no one wants to come? Do the second years and yourselves a favor by attending all the events you can. The student organizations put a lot of time and effort into making sure there is always something happening at Fisher, and there were few events I went to in the first year that I felt weren’t worth attending. In fact, I found myself wishing that so many people hadn’t missed out. Don’t let anyone feel like your class is the only one resistant to attending events – every single class experiences similar struggles in the first year. Make sure you’re one of the students that makes time in their busy schedule for events. 😉

Good luck, Class of 2020, and to all future incoming first-year FTMBAs!

A Classmate’s Top Three Recommendations for You

Recently, fellow MAcc student, Rachel Cox, interviewed me for my thoughts on the MAcc experience. Now, it’s her turn to be “in the hot seat”! Hopefully, she can help you better understand the MAcc Program as well and why you should apply.

Rachel Cox, MAcc program
  1. Where are you from? 
    1. Hayesville, North Carolina. It’s a small town in western North Carolina.
  2. Where did you earn your undergrad degree?
    1. I earned my undergrad at the University of North Carolina (UNC) in Charlotte. I originally picked UNC for its engineering program, and then found myself in an “intro to accounting” class. After this class, I decided to double-major in accounting and finance.
  3. What brought you to Ohio State?
    1. After visiting the university and meeting with the faculty and staff, I knew I wanted to attend the MAcc program at the Fisher College of Business. The program structure is incomparable to other MAcc programs. All MAcc students are only required to take four core classes and the remaining classes are electives. This structure allowed me to take courses outside of accounting with non-MAcc students, which I believe is very beneficial to my learning experience and career. A second main feature that attracted me to Fisher is the University and atmosphere of Columbus, Ohio. Having always lived in North Carolina, I was ready for a change of pace and location. Moving to a new location (and not knowing anyone) has been an enriching process. I have been able to challenge myself academically, while continuing to grow as a person. I have also met amazing friends and peers.
  4. What’s your favorite class in the MAcc program?
    1. My favorite class in the MAcc program was Professional Research in Accounting, taught by Professor Turner. In this class, we conducted research in Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and auditing standards within the PCAOB. This class taught me how to properly research accounting topics and interpret the topics, which is a necessary competency when working in accounting.
  5. What’s your favorite place to be on campus?
    1. My favorite place lately has been the circuit classes in the RPAC or North Rec gym. These classes have an instructor who also plays music in coordination to the workout. This is a nice break from the academic life while staying healthy.
  6. Any recommendations for future students?
    1. Come to the program with an open mind and don’t be afraid to engage in student activities.
    2. Don’t stress over the little mistakes in your classes. Everything will work out in the end.
    3. Take advantage of all the resources on and off campus in Columbus.

I would like to thank Rachel for taking the time to be interviewed and sharing all her insightful experience with us. Making the decision to come to Fisher and join the MAcc program is one of the most important decisions that I have ever made and I am grateful for it. If you have any questions, please feel free to email fcob-fisher_macc@osu.edu to get connected with one of the graduate administrative ambassadors. 

 

Global Business Expedition (GBE) – Spring Break 2018

Everyone loves Spring Break– the perfect week to enjoy right before craziness sets in with projects, exams, and papers due before the academic year ends. Each student’s experience is different. Some students in the MBA program embark on a Global Business Expedition (GBE). GBEs are short-term, high-intensity global programs where students travel on a private tour to visit globally successful, multi-national companies, as well as the must-see historical sites of the region. This year, Singapore and Israel were on the list. I decided to interview two of my classmates, Andrew Page, and Carl Shapiro, who visited Singapore, and Israel, respectively. Continue reading to learn more about their journey and enjoy the beautiful sights!

Andrew Page
First-year Full-Time MBA student with a focus on marketing

  • Why did you choose Singapore for your GBE?

AP: I chose to go to Singapore for several reasons. First, I have never been to Asia and I felt like I would be able to get a great experience with many different cultures in a short amount of time. Secondly, this GBE was focused on experiences with doing business throughout Asia and we had opportunities to meet with companies that had operations in Singapore and throughout Asia.

  • Who else was on this trip with you?

AP: There were 25 other students and two faculty members.

  • What were some memorable experiences that you would like to share?

AP: First: the food! We tried all the great food that Singapore has to offer and although it may seem weird that this is such a memorable experience, it is such a unique part of the culture throughout all of Singapore. Everyone has food recommendations for you whether you ask for them or not.

Another memorable experience was visiting the different culturally-specific areas, for example: Little India, Chinatown, and Arab Street. It felt like we were walking into a different country when we went into these areas, but at the same time the cultures were so integrated with each other. There were Chinese jewelers selling to Indian customers in Little India and an Indian clothing shop owner selling Islamic clothing on Arab Street. It was just so unique to see these cultures intertwine.

Finally, I was able to interact with a lot of people with whom I have not had time to spend before. Out of our group, the majority were in the Working Professionals MBA program, so I was able to speak with them about their experiences and make some great network connections. I was also able to spend a lot of time with our faculty member and get to know him outside of the classroom setting.

  • Was there anything that you did not expect or would have done differently?

AP: I did not expect the opportunities that were available to us as students in that part of the world. There were many instances where we were able to make connections for future opportunities with the companies we were meeting.

  • Would you recommend others to join the GBE next year? 

AP: I would recommend GBE to every student who can do it, and I might try to do it again next year!

Carl Shapiro

First-year Full-Time MBA student with a focus on marketing and brand management

  • Why did you choose Israel for your GBE?

CS: The focus for my career is marketing and brand management which has a strong relationship with the culture in which the brand is doing business. Israel is unique in that the domestic market is too small to support a major company on its own, so as a means for survival, Israeli firms have to export and market themselves in foreign markets. To be on the ground and start to understand the strategies that these firms develop is incredibly powerful.

I also have a personal relationship with Israel, having family there. I am personally invested in the success of the country. I think the unique aspects of Israel– bringing the Hebrew language back to life, establishing the first independent Jewish state in 2000 years, and transforming a desolate environment into fertile land– show what grit and hard work can accomplish.

  • How many students/faculty were on this trip?

CS:  I went to Israel with Oded Shenkar (faculty) and there were nine students on the trip.

  • Any memorable experiences that you would like to share?

CS: Some of my most memorable moments were interacting with Israelis outside of the corporate environment to develop a deeper understanding of their culture. By spending my free time out in Tel Aviv on the beach, or in the markets of Jerusalem, I could really get a feeling of where the entrepreneurship begins and what makes the Israeli condition so relevant to the success of disrupting technology. In the corporate environment, we had the opportunity to talk to the leaders of the businesses we visited, the decision-makers at the highest levels. Because Israel’s culture is so casual, we were encouraged to ask probing questions and get very honest and valuable answers that in the United States might not be possible.

 

  • Was there anything that you did not expect or would have done differently?

CS: I would have liked to have more time for one-on-one networking with some folks from the different companies. Many of the companies we visited introduced us to several high-level managers, but we didn’t have the opportunity to hear them all speak, and it would have been helpful to break out into smaller groups or have unstructured time when we could focus more on the things that interest us with someone from the company who also shares that interest.

  • Would you recommend others to join the GBE next year? 

CS: I absolutely recommend the trip. The reality of the closeness of the Israeli economy with the American economy means that if you work in tech, you will encounter an Israeli firm. It can be an incredible asset to understand the differences and similarities of the two cultures to get the most out of the relationship.

 

Red Carpet Reflections

Little did I expect that Red Carpet this year would be just as an amazing experience as it was last year! This time, from the perspective of a current student and point person to welcome in part of the admitted class, I realized how much fun it is to share about Columbus and the program experience so far. Also, through other current students sharing their stories, I was reminded of many opportunities to experience this amazing city!

During the welcome reception at the Ohio Stadium, we learned a lot about the behind-the-scenes to game day and were reinvigorated with excitement for next season! Student ticket info will be coming this summer, and we can’t wait to buy the Big 10 package again. One thing to look forward to for all home games are the great Fisher tailgates at Fisher Commons. Not only an apartment complex to look into, Fisher Commons is in a central location to bring many current students together.

I also helped coordinate the significant others/partners/spouses (SOPS) breakfast on Saturday morning at Red Carpet, and I learned some great tips for managing time between work/school/home! For example, many current SOPS put together shared calendars for each other to find times to spend together. My husband and I try to eat dinner together almost every evening and spend at least one day of the weekend away from work and study. On the next nice weekend day, we plan to check out the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, while doing some background research for one of the consulting projects I am working on for the Professional Development core class.

Finally, Red Carpet weekend came to a close with our women’s breakfast on Sunday morning. We have a strong group of women coming into the program, and I cannot wait to see how Fisher Graduate Women in Business (FGWIB) and our Forte Foundation connections grow into next year. I had a great time connecting with classmates at the Forte conference last summer (see photo below) and hope to see many again this summer! Also, I hope to see a few admitted students at our first Fisher Women’s Conference on April 6th!

Overall, it was an amazing weekend, and I am looking forward to our incoming class next year!

Becoming a Volunteer Income Tax Assistant

Each year, the Master of Accounting Program organizes the Volunteer Income Assistant (VITA) program to help local individuals file their Federal and state income taxes. We, as volunteers, go to a site twice a week to help individuals who have made appointments.

Most of the tax preparers are either enrolled in the MAcc program or undergraduate accounting students. In order to be certified to help file taxes, we need to pass at least four different exams.

The VITA program not only helps the public to file their taxes for free but also helps our students to apply  in-class knowledge to the real world. It prepares our MAcc students to be more comfortable communicating with the clients and to improve various “soft skills” which are necessary when we start our professional job.

It is definitely rewarding to see what you prepared then get approved– and, in some cases, result in tax refunds deposited to the clients’ accounts. It was a little more difficult when clients would have tax due, meaning that they didn’t have enough tax withheld during the year and they needed to pay the IRS out of pocket. We needED to be very careful about how to deliver the message.

Besides the VITA program, the MAcc Council also organizes other community service events to do our best helping the local organizations and to take part in fun activitiesin and around Columbus.

Power to my core team!

At Fisher, incoming MBA students are assigned to a core team that will tackle projects together. As the year comes to a close, this is a huge shout-out to my amazing core team a.k.a. Team 9! Neethi, Adam, Sangyoun (Shin) and Andrew have made the core team adventure a valuable experience from the start!

Beginning with team announcements during pre-term and into our first team-building exercises, we took time to get to know each other and have fun. During pre-term, before classes began for the semester, we had the chance to compete in a mini-case competition and take on a ropes course! Not only did we win the case across the teams presenting in our room– we also won the photo contest from the ropes course (see one of the winners below)! We spent these challenges taking time to get to know each other’s backgrounds and not taking things too seriously, resulting in effective teamwork and great times!

Throughout the year, we have worked hard to keep each other in mind outside of class projects… from having birthday celebrations to venting about the internship search to sharing favorite snacks. Most importantly, we are all very lucky to have Neethi who brings delicious snacks for our group meetings and Shin who brings some of his favorite snacks from Korea (see below).

Overall, we stay motivated, but have fun while we’re working on assignments together! This semester, we’ve discovered the power of communication and working as a virtual team. With interviews ramping up, along with group projects, we have realized the power of working together remotely.

After things die down in a few weeks, we’re looking forward to a celebration together over Korean BBQ! From case analyses to marketing plans, we have found ourselves frustrated, giggling, sweating from spicy ramen snacks, and in deep concentration to meet deadlines among all of the other activities going on at school. It’s been a challenging and rewarding experience, and I wouldn’t trade my core team for another!

HR + Brainpower + Snacks = Magic

Question

What do you get when you combine a real-life HR business problem, a room full of PepsiCo products and snacks, and brainpower from 8 of the highest-ranked HR Master’s programs in the United States?

Answer

The 2018 HR Invitational Case Competition!

The lovely Team OSU-Fisher: Adam Daniels, Ashton Preston, Whitney Flight, Billy Dunn

Every February, the Fisher College of Business invites teams from 7 of our peer schools to participate in the “External HR Case Competition,” giving students an opportunity to stretch their problem-solving muscles against students from other HR master’s programs across the country. This year, we had teams representing Cornell, University of South Carolina, Texas A&M, Rutgers, Minnesota, Illinois, and West Virginia University– and competition was fierce! (okay, friendly, but fierce)

The case competition is structured such that the business problem is presented by the sponsoring organization at 8:00am on Friday morning and teams have 24 hours to generate a solution, organize a pitch, and prepare to defend their ideas in front of a panel of judges from the sponsoring teams. This year, PepsiCo and Eaton co-sponsored the competition, providing both a challenging, real-life HR problem and a variety of Pepsi and Frito-Lay treats to keep teams sufficiently sustained over the course of the weekend.

The Case

The case is kept top-secret until the big reveal the morning of the competition to ensure no team gets an advantage. This year, the challenge turned out to focus on compensation. Specifically, Eaton wanted ideas for how to structure compensation for a new branch of the business which was home to mostly software developers and engineers. These folks did not fit into the traditional compensation structure, and they needed a compensation system to match and reward innovative product development. It was a doozy!

A variety of solid and creative ideas surfaced with the ultimate goal of driving innovation and retaining tech talent at Eaton. Some of my favorites include Hackathon, training simulations, and spot awards for extraordinary ideation. All of these were strategies to appropriately reward employees for innovation and to ensure they felt that the company invested in their success. Competition was tough and I am proud to report Ohio State took third overall.

Basking in the post-presentation glow.

Last year, I had the honor of representing Ohio State on the external team, so this year was all new for me as an observer. Although I wasn’t judging the competition, I sat through all the presentations and was able to glean some insight into what judges look for in a winning teams. A few of my takeaways are below.

Are you answering the question? But really, are you?

1. Answer the question. I recall a piece of general feedback from the judges last year. I remember it so vividly because it was both shocking and accurate. He said, “You’d be surprised how rare it is for us to see an answer that actually answers the question.” Thinking back on the day prior when we were prepping our presentation, it was so easy to lose sight of the “why.” You get caught up in wanting to be different, or creative, or edgy with your idea that you lose sight of the reason for the Ask in the first place. I cannot stress the importance of returning to “why” in every step of the ideation process, and especially when organizing your pitch.

Image result for the golden circle idas why how what sinek

2. Give them a road map. If this problem made it to the case competition in the first place, you can bet it’s complex. You can also bet on the fact that the organization has likely tried most of the obvious solutions. So think about it: the last thing you would want after having pored over an issue for months is an idea you can’t wrap your head around. So, your role as a consultant is to find the intersection between simple and clever. You want the judges to walk away with a clear understanding of the idea, and an even clearer understanding of how to go about implementing it. Give them a road map.

 

3. Don’t be something you’re not. People think that in order to win, you have to have all the answers (or at least convince the judges you do). This just isn’t true–at least not anymore. It is refreshing to see a team present with humility and authenticity–to be thought partners rather than parents telling them what they should do. Offer your recommendation, and what you believe are the positive consequences that will result from it. The best consultants built trust and buy-in by solving the problem with their client.

These are just a few of my musings after reflecting on last weekend. As always, I was impressed with the respect and graciousness of all teams that attended. Not only was it a robust learning experience for students, but I think Eaton got some exceptional ideas for solving their challenge.

 

Chat with Katharine Garrett

Recently, I had the opportunity to catch up with one of Ohio State’s finest MAcc students, Katharine Garrett. She is a very energetic, smart, and authentic individual. We were able to talk for a little bit about her MAcc experience earlier this week.

Image result for katharine garrett

Chehade: Why did you decide to get a MAcc degree?

Garrett: I chose to get a MAcc degree because I wanted more of a challenge and the combined degree gave me an opportunity to get a master’s degree without extending my education (Fisher offers select undergrad BSBA students concurrent admission into the MAcc program). I also believe that a MAcc degree will give me a starting advantage in my career.

Chehade: And why did you choose Ohio State?

Garrett: Ohio State’s MAcc degree is nationally ranked and I was excited about the opportunity to learn more about accounting from both an academic and practical perspective. Additionally, a unique thing about Ohio State’s MAcc program is that you are given the opportunity to take other graduate-level business courses such as HR and finance while you are a MAcc student.

Chehade: Almost being ¾ done with your MAcc, what so far has been your favorite experience and memory?

Garrett: Presenting and watching other student’s presentation for Professor Zach’s final project. Professor Zach provided us the opportunity create and build our own project to investigate anything we found interesting. This led to some of the most interesting and educational presentations I have ever seen.  I most enjoyed watching other presentations and seeing what amazing projects and analyses my classmates were able to put together. Truly inspirational!

Chehade: Now I am going to ask you some quick questions: What’s been your favorite course so far?

Garrett: Pat Turner’s Professional Research

Chehade: Funniest professor?

Garrett: Professor Arya. He was quick and witty!

Chehade: Favorite Place to eat in Columbus?

Garrett: Harvest in Clintonville. They have delicious pizza!

Chehade: Best thing to do on the weekend?

Garrett: I like to explore Columbus restaurants and neighborhoods.

 

 

 

 

“And What Else?”

This semester I am taking Intro to Organizational Business Coaching taught by instructor John Schaffner (“Coaching”, for short). This is the second time I’ve had  Mr. Schaffner and he is authentic, relatable, insightful, and brings a sense of humor to the classroom – with just the right amount of snark sprinkled in. I thought I would give the world a taste of just that in this interview with the man himself.

John Schaffner, everybody.

Jen: Okay, what exactly is coaching?

Schaffner: Coaching—and this is the definition we use in class—is taking a very important person from where they are to where they want to be. It is oriented around this idea of the “ideal self,” and is predicated on the belief that the person you are coaching has all the answers within them. A coach is both someone who co-creates a relationship to an ideal goal and is a thought partner for the person they are coaching.

Jen: And why is coaching important in organizations today?

Schaffner: Well, my research really talks about the headwinds of VUCA—Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. And I think in a lot of organizations where coaching is prevalent—Google, for instance, has a Director of Coaching—it is because the issues that the folks at these organizations have to deal with involve paradoxes.

Related to that, in class we discuss the difference between a puzzle, which has a finite amount of pieces arranged to form one solution… a problem which can have a myriad of viable solutions—think work-life balance. Problems have a multiplicity of solutions while a puzzle does not. And finally… the idea of a dilemma, which is a problem that isn’t really solvable—world hunger and racism are gnarly problems that we can’t seem to figure out, at least not in the way that we’re thinking about them. All of these exist in the workplace, and coaching can help us begin to tease apart some of these issues that are roadblocks to our goals.

Jen: What are the three most important qualities of a good coach?

Schaffner: Oh, three most important? So we’re in this like “top 10” list world right now, aren’t we?

(Jen laughs)

Schaffner: Well, I would say compassion. Compassion is empathy in action. I can feel bad for you, or I can ask you about how you’re feeling and truly listen and explore that with you. Compassion is elemental to being a good coach.

Then there’s listening—listening is fundamental and it’s something that we struggle with these days. There are more distractions these days that inhibit our listening than there are augmentations. The digital world, the internet– are things that preclude us from listening as well as we should or could.

And, I also think there has to be a sort of core curiosity and desire to help if you’re going to coach. Curiosity helps you guide the individual to think around the problem in ways they haven’t before. The motivation to help is part of this new world of coaching which is oriented around compassion, compared to coaching for compliance. Example—imagine if I said, ‘Jen, you really haven’t met your goals this month. Why haven’t you met your goals? Okay, now I’m going to suggest some ways you can meet those goals.’ No– those goals may not be your own, but rather the agenda of the organization. That’s really where coaching started. Coaching with compassion, which is the basis for this class, is oriented around the goals of the individual.

This ties into your previous question—why is coaching needed in the workplace? I think the business world is entering this new consciousness where concepts like well-being and looking at associates very holistically is relatively new. When I was in business school 17 years ago, that was far from the way we thought of things. Well, people in HR have been thinking about this forever, but what has recently emerged is this notion that things like well-being have an impact on the business from a quantitative perspective.

Jen: In class, you talk about how important it is to “ask a good question” when coaching. How do you do this?

(Laughs). There it is! That’s a good one right there. Let’s break that down and find the source code. A good question has to do with getting people to think differently and make connections differently than they have before, much like a good metaphor does. That opens up a part of your brain where abundance and creativity live. So, asking a good question kicks you into that mode. We’re the only creatures on earth that create metaphor—unless, like, Dolphins are doing it and we just haven’t figured them out yet. I think they might be. Anyway, and it sounds corny, but a good question allows you to get to a very human level with someone. It’s free of judgment, and in many ways it’s focused on getting at truth—and we can discuss what truth is but that’s probably for another conversation. A powerful coach seeks the truth for the person they’re coaching.

____________________________________________

So far, the class has helped me practice strategies for listening to truly hear and understand (not just respond) and craft questions that are powerful and thought-provoking to move the conversation forward. I had my first practice session coaching a fellow classmate last week, which was awkward and clunky and an exercise in vulnerability for both of us. But it feels good to be improving and I’m excited to continue to become a more powerful communicator with clients I am coaching. And, for when I’m really stuck, Schaffner gave us a fail-safe if we run out of things to say to our client:

A.W.E – “And what else?”

2018 MBA Internal Case Competition

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!