Intro to Organizational Business Coaching

One of the reasons I enjoy the MAcc program so much is because it allows me the flexibility to take elective classes that spark my professional interests. As a student who one day aspires to be the CFO of a company, I wanted to take extra HRM (human resource management) classes to understand more about organizational structure, what makes people tick, and how to be an effective leader.

One of my favorite classes I’m enrolled in this term under the HRM designation is called introduction to organizational business coaching. The class focuses on ways to be a better coach for young professionals looking to get from point A to point B in their lives. While I probably won’t be putting these coaching skills to use in public accounting as an entry-level associate, I have learned many valuable skills that I’ll be able to use further down the road in my career to inspire and motivate others. In the picture above, I’m actually giving some coaching advice to a peer of mine as part of one of the class’s learning exercises!

Although I encourage prospective students to remain diligent in their accounting courses, I also want to acknowledge how important it is to take a few electives that are not accounting-designated courses. It has helped me view the world of business from different perspectives and has definitely made me a more knowledgeable and well-rounded professional.

New Classes, New Insights

My group presenting in Tax Business Strategy

School continues grinding along at Fisher for MAcc students. This semester gives us a lot more freedom with electives because there are ZERO required classes.  It’s definitely a different experience and it’s pretty exciting to hear about all of the diverse electives my friends are taking. We aren’t restricted to only accounting or even only business classes. If you can make a case for a class helping you in your career, you can receive credit toward your degree. I have a friend continuing his Mandarin studies from undergrad as a part of the MAcc.

One of my favorites this semester has been Tax Business Strategy. Even though I’m starting my career in audit, understanding taxes more will be helpful for the CPA exams and my professional skills. Some of my classmates going into audit shudder whenever taxes are mentioned but the material has been manageable for me so far. It helps that I’m taking two tax classes at once – some of the material overlaps and seeing things from different perspectives from different professors gives a deeper understanding of the concepts.

The photo above shows my group giving a presentation on taxes in the news, which is why I love this class so much. Each lecture starts with a brief discussion about a news headline surrounding taxes. We break down the media hype around the story and get to the technicalities of the tax code behind it. It’s a subject we see in the news so often, especially with this being an election year, so learning what’s really going on connects my education to feeling more informed in daily life.

First Session of Second/Final Semester

https://fisher.osu.edu/

SMF students have a lot more flexibility/choice in the second semester since we’re done with all but one core class (Finance Consulting Practicum). There are a variety of electives one can choose from within the finance department but also from other departments like Management, Accounting, etc. The following three classes are my electives for the first session of this semester:

Fintech (BUSFIN 7234) : The course provides an overview of the most recent technological advances that are radically changing the financial services industry. Technological breakthroughs offer new ways for people to save, invest, borrow, and transact. We analyze how new technologies create value in the financial industry, from reducing unit cost, increasing transparency, increasing competition, creating network effects, leveraging economies of scales, and lowering asymmetric information. We also study the competitive landscape and the market opportunities and threats for incumbents and new entrants*.

This class is taught by Professor Shams, and has two sections, one in the morning (8:30am) and the other in the afternoon (4:30pm). My section (the 4:30pm one obviously) has about 35 students. The class is a mix of lectures and case discussions.

Data Analysis and Visualization (BUSMGT 7257) : Designed to equip students with competencies in translating real-world problems into forms that such technologies can assist with, to portray/visualize these translations in ways that enhance the understanding of the dynamics of these problems, to structure mechanisms that derive suggested solutions, to clearly convey the justification and practicality of final solutions to others*.

This class is taught by Professor Greco, and has one section (6:15pm). It is a semester-long class. We’re about 60 -65 students (it’s a very popular class!). We will be learning to use Tableau, R and Excel to analyze our data sets.

Derivatives Valuation (BUSFIN 7232) : In this course, we will first start in valuation of derivatives products. There are large number of literatures on option valuation. While the theory might at first look advanced and difficult, it is in fact quite accessible. The purpose of this course is to give you an overview of pricing methods on option contracts. During the course we will examine different types of option contracts and how they are priced. Most of the pricing will be done in the context of the binomial option pricing model. This is a simple but powerful approach to valuing a wide variety of derivative. Then we will talk about famous Black and Scholes formula and applications to various derivatives products. And then we will cover Option Greeks and delta-gamma hedging. Last, we will end this course with Exotic Options*.

This class is taught by Professor Pirim, and has one section (10:15am). We’re a class of 14 students. I think this is my favorite class so far for two reasons – it reminds me of my undergrad (small liberal arts college) classes’ size, and it’s quite math/quant heavy.

Since we have all the freedom to choose this semester’s classes, one’s classes will reflect what they like/enjoy studying!

 

* Course descriptions have been taken from the classes’ syllabi.

How to utilize the Fisher MAcc program to be eligible for the CPA exam in another state

Getting a Master’s degree in one state but sitting for the CPA exam in another state can be a tricky situation depending on the jurisdictions involved. However, before making my decision to come to Ohio State, I  outlined how I would best use the program to be eligible to sit for the exam in Texas, which is deemed one of the strictest states in terms of requirements. I’m so glad that everything is working out smoothly so far.

COMPLETING MY RESEARCH COURSES

Specific courses that count for the research and communication requirements, as given by the Texas State Board

Texas specifically requires 2 credit hours of accounting research, and fortunately, the Fisher MAcc program offers two electives that satisfy this requirement. I took Professional Research in Accounting in the Fall semester, and will take Tax Research in the second session of this Spring semester to fulfill this requirement.

COMPLETING MY WRITTEN COMMUNICATION COURSE

Texas requires 3 credit hours of business written communication, which I didn’t complete at my undergraduate college, since they built this requirement into its graduate program. The Fisher MAcc program doesn’t offer any class at the graduate level to fulfill this requirement. However, I’m allowed to take an undergraduate class, which is Business & Professional Writing in the English department, as a graduate student. I’m currently taking it now, and I’m so glad that the MAcc program provides me with this flexibility to complete this requirement. In fact, the MAcc program requires a total of 31 credit hours to graduate. However, students can take up to 18 hours per semester, so besides the 31 credit hours, students can take an additional 5 credit hours, which I use for purposes like this.

I think educational credit requirement is one of the reasons most students may be hesitant to venture out and go to a different school for the graduate degree. However, with good planning, it is totally possible. Many of my fellow classmates are planning to sit for the exams in different states, such as New York, Illinois, and California, and they have all have worked up their strategies on how to build their class schedules to best fulfill the requirements of the states they want to register with.

 

Always Improving!

I hope that your New Year is off to a good start!

The past few weeks were very much needed after a busy and fast-paced semester. I managed to spend some quality time with my family on New Year’s Eve and waste a lot of money on food (no regrets here). 

My Family in San Diego
My Family in San Diego

This spring semester is probably the more exciting semester for Fisher SMF students because we get to customize our path by selecting a handful of different electives. As I have mentioned in my previous blog post, the SMF program offers 4 different tracks that students can follow: corporate finance, investment management, risk management, and real estate.

Course Distribution
Course Distribution

One of the many things that I’m impressed with the program and the faculty is their commitment to never stop improving the program and provide students with all the tools and skills that they need and also want to learn. Take this year for example, to address the increasing integration of technology into the financial sector, the program started to offer a FinTech course taught by professor Amin Shams.  A sneak peek of the syllabus:

We will analyze how new technologies create value in the financial industry, from reducing unit cost, increasing transparency, increasing competition, creating network effects, leveraging economies of scales, and lowering asymmetric information.

Professor Amin Shams

Another good example is the incorporation of the Investment Strategies and Philosophies course, taught by professor Matt Sheridan, into the SMF program in order to provide students with limited finance background some basic fundamental investment mindsets and models. Yet another sneak peek of the syllabus:

This course is designed to uncover different investment strategies, reveal the beliefs that underlie each one, provide evidence on whether the strategies actually produce results, and what an investor needs to understand in order to implement a philosophy.

Professor Matt Sheridan

The faculties put a lot of weight on students’ opinions and evaluations of the courses in order to continue improving the program and to keep the students up-to-date with the evolving modern world and society. This, once again, has confirmed my decision of pursuing my Master’s degree at the Ohio State University to be one of the best that I have made.

Thank you for reading my blog post and I hope that you will have an enjoyable semester ahead of you!

Final Presentations

As the semester at Ohio State comes to a close, I had to give final presentations in many of my classes, discussing and explaining research that many of my teams had compiled over the course of the semester. However, I definitely had my most unique experience in my Business of College Sports class, in which I had to dress up as Jim Harbaugh for a recruiting pitch. (One of the Fisher MAcc program’s unique features is that up to half of your total credits can be in areas outside of accounting. The college wants its students to be well rounded in areas that complement knowledge and skills in accounting.)

As many of you might know, Jim Harbaugh is the head coach of Michigan football, Ohio State’s biggest rival. In a team with Celine (one of our MAcc graduate ambassadors) and five others, we got to present our recruiting pitch as a business idea to Gene Smith, the Ohio State athletics director. The experience was a little frightening- getting up in front of a world-renowned college AD and pitching him a business idea- but we made sure it was interactive and even got a few laughs along the way! Celine acted as the recruit I was giving my recruiting pitch to, and she played the role of “Justine Fields”, a highly-touted quarterback prospect out of Georgia. Needless to say, Justine Fields ended up choosing to go to Ohio State instead of Michigan in our recruiting simulation. Who would have thought?

Tackling Evening Classes as a MAcc Student

This semester I have one evening class, Advanced Topic in Accounting, that starts at 6:15pm and ends at 9:30pm every Wednesday. Most MAcc classes are offered during the day, with a few elective options that

Heading back to campus when most MAcc students heading out

are offered at night, so these classes are not common for MAcc students. Since I also have my required classes on the same day, which starts at 8:30am, my  Wednesdays seem to be very long. However, three weeks in and I still enjoy it a lot, especially due to the content of the class, as we’re learning about E-commerce, IT security, and some exposure to Python coding. I interviewed two of my classmates, Michael Kaufman and Shuo Li, who are also MAcc students, to get their opinions on taking evening classes and below are their responses.

  • What motivated you to select this class although the time may not be appealing?

Shuo: There are three main reasons for me, firstly, I think Python would be helpful in my future work, so I’m interested in learning about it. Second, this class meets only once a week, and I enjoy this kind of schedule. And our professor is knowledgeable and nice!

  • What is a perk of having classes in the evening?

Michael: [It would be] the flexibility of having a variety of courses offered to match my interests.

  • What are your tips on managing late night classes?

Michael:

– Eat a heavy meal. You will get hungry!
– Make sure to rest the night before you have your evening class.

  • Would you still choose evening classes next semester (as we have more evening elective options) based on your experience so far?

Shuo: Definitely yes! I have registered for two evening classes for the spring semester.

It appears that both of my classmates, and myself selected the class because we all enjoy the content and the professor, despite the late time. We also like the idea of meeting once a week as we can have more time for other tasks such as homework, group meetings, and work. Having evening classes is definitely manageable and helps you clear up your schedule during the day too, if you don’t mind getting back a bit late once or twice a week.

 

Teamwork!

The SMF program has a pre-term and seven core courses in the autumn semester. At the beginning of pre-term, we were assigned teams that we would be working with for the entire pre-term and all the core courses. We were put in teams on the basis of a variety of factors like academic background, work experience, gender, and race. My team has four students including me. One student has completed all three CFA levels and has work experience, the other two have done their undergraduate degree in finance, and I, as you know from my first post, did my undergraduate degree in math. We have different expertise and ways to contribute to the team. Sometimes, one of us will take the lead on an assignment and the other will work on citations and proofreading. We’ve been working together only for a month or so, but I’ve been able to learn so much from them in terms of academics but also in terms of soft skills.

In my opinion, the assignment that brought us together as a team, was the first assignment in our Financial Software Applications class, an industry and a company analysis. The first half of this course, is focusing on Bloomberg, while the second half will be on Excel.

The first task for this assignment was to choose an industry from the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS) sectors. We then, had to research about the industry, and look at the trends, patterns, market share, etc. After that, we had to choose the company (in that industry) who we believed would be the strongest over the next twelve months, and perform a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis. Lastly, we had to compile a report with our analysis of the industry and company. There were two caveats to this assignment – we could only use Bloomberg as our source, and we were not given a page limit for the report. If we wanted to look up some information about the industry’s market share or if we wanted to look at Pepsi’s latest news, we had to use Bloomberg. What this really means is we spent hours and hours in the Bloomberg Lab in Mason Hall.

Bloomberg terminal
Bloomberg terminals

The industry we chose was Beverages in the Consumer Staples sector. We took about nine hours over three days to conduct research on this industry, look at key players in and outside of the U.S, and notice where this industry is moving towards. After that, we “discussed” which company was the strongest according to the data we had on us. We then moved on to actually writing the report that had no page limit. We took about seven hours to do so. Two members started on it during the day, and the third member and I, completed it by the early hours of the next day. And finally, we worked on the presentation we had to give in class (two teams present on every assignment and we were the “lucky ones” to present on the first). Overall, we spent about twenty hours on this assignment, no big deal.

When we were first informed that our teams were going to be the same for the whole semester, I said to myself, “we’re either going to love each other or really not like each other.” I’m glad to realize that after spending so much time with my team over the past couple of days, I’m not going to “really not like” them.

P.S. If anyone was wondering, Coca-Cola was our choice!

Registering for spring semester in the Fisher MAcc program

As the leaves begin to turn a different color here at Fisher, it’s already time for many of the MAcc students to turn their attention towards spring classes. I registered Thursday, October 29, and this process was much different than registering for classes in the fall.

During the spring semester of the MAcc program, students are not required to take any of the core classes that we’ve been taking in the fall. This allows each student to pick an individual schedule tailored to their specific interests and career path, and it’s one of the main reasons I chose Ohio State’s MAcc program over others.

Aside from possessing the technical skills necessary to succeed in the accounting field, I’ve always been interested in leadership and learning new ways to motivate and manage individuals. I’ll be able to continue to pursue this interest by taking classes like Advanced Leadership, Negotiations, and Introduction to Organizational Coaching. While I’m keeping my options open as my career path progresses, I know I want to be in a leadership role down the road. The MAcc’s flexible class registration allows me to develop the skills necessary to be a future business leader, and hopefully create a positive influence on the people I work with.

3 Months as an MBLEr

We are now standing in the halfway of a semester. Looking back at the memories we made, I found countless sparkling moments. MBLEr is a noun created by me, which includes every student in this program. Once an MBLEr, forever an MBLEr! There are several highlights I would like to share with you here.

This is how we get started

Our new semester started with a lot of outdoor activities, I still remember the scenario at Ohio Union when we rushed to the papers listing out the activities we could participate in. Columbus Zoo left me with a strong impression. That was also the place where I met many of my classmates, and everything was like yesterday. There were a lot of kids in the zoo that day, compared to the animals. I paid most of my attention to the children around me. We were amazed by the third largest zoo in the USA, while laughing and discussing, we had a preliminary understanding of each classmate’s background and personality. This is super cool!

The most important thing as a student!—Study

Our first class started on August 20th. The overall class experience is: fast and inspiring. The most exciting part of the class is that we not only learn about fundamental knowledge but also do projects that are related to real-world logistics operations! Although the project has not started yet, I am looking forward to it now!

When asking about the question: “which course impresses you the most” to our classmates, I bet 100% of them will answer with: “Linear Programming”. Despite the difficulty, all of us worked hard. LP is very applicable for solving problems, for example, logistics, and transportation network. And since this is a data-driven world, learning LP helps us in the future if we learn programming languages. I love LP!

The most challenging thing right now—work

Fisher College of Business provides us with adequate resources to attend a lot of career fairs and supply chain symposiums. Thanks to these events, I got a chance to do an internship and strengthened my understanding of Supply Chain and Logistics. Career guidance is also very helpful. I did not even know how to polish my resume, but after meeting with Steve Singer and GAs, I am very satisfied with it and more confident about how it helps with my future interviews. Career service is one of the reasons that I chose MBLE, and I found that it never disappoints me.

Columbus Weather

As a southerner of China, I only experienced summer and winter. Late Autumn in Columbus is all I have expected for this beautiful season. Autumn colors are orange, yellow and pink. Season transition from summer to autumn takes a blink of an eye, and green turns to caramel. Because of Columbus, autumn becomes my favorite season in my whole life.

The first semester has not ended, but I already miss it! The next inspiring part is that winter is coming!