Accounting Policy and Research

During spring semester, all MAcc students take Accounting Policy and Research with Professor Zach. In addition to learning about accounting research methods, the efficient-market hypothesis, and Chipotle Mexican Grill (you’ll see when you take it), we worked in small groups on topics of our choice for session-long research projects that we presented during the final week of classes.

The words “accounting research” might not get your blood pumping right off the bat, but the projects were really interesting and much more entertaining to put together than I initially expected. My group worked on Petróleo Brasileiro (“PBR”), a Brazilian state-owned oil company that is currently embroiled in a massive corruption scandal. Using techniques that we learned from articles we covered in Professor Zach’s class, we ran regressions on the changes in PBR’s stock price during particularly important timeframes of the corruption probe, demonstrating that much of the loss in stock value could be attributed to the fall in the price of oil rather than the corruption investigation.

Not only did this give us the chance to show off our newly developed Excel skills (side note: make sure to take the Financial Modeling elective with Oglevee if at all possible), it gave us experience using accounting research as we would in a real-world scenario. We set up our project as though we were working with the PBR legal defense team against a shareholder class-action lawsuit, and used our research to argue that shareholder damages should be significantly reduced due to the impact of oil price changes.

This was interesting not just because of the dramatic background reading on the situation in which Petrobras currently finds itself, but because the techniques we were using could (and likely will) be used in actual litigation between PBR and shareholders. Instead of simply plugging in numbers, we had to strategically pick our event windows and market indexes, anticipate questions and counter arguments, and frame our data in the most persuasive manner possible.

I don’t want to get into technical details, as I certainly wouldn’t have understood them prior to joining the MAcc program, but I will include a few pictures of the more interesting charts we created as part of the project. We used our regressions to determine the abnormal returns during several specific event windows (the difference between the actual returns and the returns that would have been expected absent the relevant corruption event): 

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 7.28.30 PM

As you can see, the returns during these windows were actually better than would be expected given the drop in oil prices. We also created charts to show stock returns of PBR and several other oil companies during the period as compared with the price of oil:

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 7.28.06 PM

We concluded that while the corruption probe had increased stock volatility, the declines were much more correlated to oil prices than to developments in the corruption probe. And although we had a few classmates who seemed skeptical of our results during the presentation, it was a lot of fun to apply what we learned in a way that could actually be used in our future careers.

Q&A with a Part-time MHRM Student: Chanelle V.

 Chanelle
Hometown: Eagan, Minnesota
Undergraduate Major: Economics & Strategic Communication
How do you manage work and school (views on work/life balance, and tips): Planning, planning, planning! I have realized that my time management is better when I have more things to do. I have no choice but to allocate my time wisely; however, it is easy to get so caught up in work and school that personal life is often an afterthought. My advice would be to schedule time for yourself – just like you would schedule a group meeting or devote time to studying. It’s important to let yourself recharge by doing things you enjoy so school and work don’t become overwhelming. (My favorite thing to do is playing with my dogs!)
"Mom! Enough studying, I need belly rubs!”“Mom! Enough studying, I need belly rubs!”
Favorite MHRM class thus far in the program: One of my favorite classes in the program has to be Talent Management taught by Dr. Larry Inks. There are so many interesting topics covered in the course including talent acquisition, performance management, succession planning, and more. This class helped me realize my professional interests and challenged me to be introspective and think about how the course material has related to my personal experiences.
Favorite extracurricular activity at Fisher: I love being on the MHRM Council! It is so much fun to come up with ways to strengthen the MHRM community and watch them come to fruition. Our goal is to positively impact the program both in and out of the classroom, and the ability to watch the program evolve with the support of our efforts is incredibly rewarding.
Advice you would give prospective students considering the program part-time: Go for it! There are so many learning, networking, and development opportunities that are made available at Fisher, and having the ability to pursue the program part-time is an excellent way to further your education at your own pace. The MHRM program’s evening classes don’t conflict with the traditional workday, so students (myself included) have the opportunity to work toward their graduate degree while remaining employed full-time. As a part-timer, you also get to have classes with first-years, second-years, and other part-timers as well, so I’ve really enjoyed having such a large MHRM family!

Time Management: If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late

In the midst of a two and a half week onslaught, I write to you during a brief respite to talk about time management and the dire importance of learning how to manage your time, for sanity’s sake.

The past two weeks have, on top of the normal demands of daily MBA coursework, included seven team projects, two individual assignments and a marketing case competition. Sounds like a lot, right? We haven’t finished just yet. The cherry on top of the sundae is a blitz of finals this coming Monday and Tuesday to round out the term.

running man time management

To give you some insight, the breadth and depth of our assignments included:

  • Team Operations Management II Case
  • Team Presentation in Global Business Environment
  • Team Strategy Case
  • Team Marketing Management II Case
  • Team Global Business Environment Term Paper
  • Team Global Business Environment Term Presentation
  • Team Marketing Management II Term Project and Presentation
  • Individual Strategy Case
  • Individual Operations Management II Assignment
  • Macy’s Marketing Challenge
  • Yet to come:
    • Operations Management II Final
    • Marketing Management II Final
    • Global Business Environment Final

My classmate Danny already touched on the importance and ever-present inclusion of group work into our MBA experience. I can whole-heartedly say that the bulleted to-do list above would not be possible without an accountable core team. Thankfully, my team and I successfully worked together and spent hours and hours pushing to ensure we had quality deliverables. Yes, tensions can run high. No, you cannot escape it. It’s these experiences that best mirror working under tight deadlines with a team in the business world. Setting aside the individual for the betterment of the team, sharing responsibility and depending on each other to shoulder the burden each weigh heavily in the foundation of a high performing team.

time manaegment clock

Now, I’ve got to get back to it. If you think you possess great time management skills, be prepared to back it up. I thought I was pretty good, but I still have plenty to learn. The good news is, we all survived and by 2:45 pm Tuesday afternoon, we’ll have a chance to take a deep breath.

That is, until we start our next term the following morning at 8:30 am.

MHR 7310 (Labor Relations) Collective Bargaining Agreement

I am currently in a Labor Relations class (MHR 7310), and one of the course requirements is the completion of a Collective Bargaining Agreement simulation. Each student was placed in teams of 3-4 other negotiators (their peers). Half of the groups were assigned as Union representation and half  were assigned as Management representation. Then each assigned Union group was paired with a Mangement group, and the goal was to reach an agreement on a contract we were to renegotiate.

We were provided information about the company, and information about the demands that are likely to be proposed by both the Union and Management. Prior to negotiating, each group costed out the impact of different demands and options, researched market data, considered legal issues, and determined which clauses in the current Bargaining Agreement would be impacted by each demand.  After each group identified their strategy and tactics for the negotiation, as well as their priorities and anchors, both parties joined for the actual negotiation. The goal was to reach an agreement on the key issues each group identified to serve as the new bargaining agreement. It was definitely a learning experience, and a fun one as well!

Contract

New Challenge, New Mentors, New Partners

It’s almost the middle of the first session and I have finally written my first blog for this semester. We still have just 3 core courses in the evening, but having heard a lot of good words about the selective courses, I chose to take 3 of the selective courses after a tough picking process. I’m interested in a lot of topics, such as leadership, team performance, technology innovation, and so on.

I end up with 6 classes on my list. One week later I found myself buried in reading materials, and although they are all very interesting, I dropped one of my selective classes.

This semester, we’ve got more readings, assignments, quizzes, and exams. But luckily, we’ve also got experienced teachers guiding us through the valuable process and classmates making progress with us. For example, Professor Klein has our picture and names and tries to remember every one of us. His class always begins with an interesting riddle and a quiz. A quiz is always stressful to me, but it happens the same day when I finished the reading and learn about it in the lecture. The best part is if I do well in all his quizzes, I can choose not to take the final exam.

Why we choose this program? Here’s our answers from our survey.
1

Changing Strategies

What is the most ideal learning strategy? Some people would say sitting in a quiet place with little external distractions. Some might say by using the information in a practical setting to gain experience with feasibility. Some people would be okay with writing a detailed Data Analysis homework assignment, while listening to a 3 year old’s comments on her favorite part of Monster’s University as she watches the movie. Add to that a teething one year old who wants to be held and then doesn’t want to be held (repeat many, many times). You may have already guessed, but for me, the answer is all of the above.

The next most logical question might be, “How do you do that?” While writing the response, I chuckle, as probably most parents do, and say, “I just do.”  The truth is that there are limited options and I have to maximize the time I do have and prioritize the tasks effectively. This weekend I have several chapters to read (for all three classes), an intense homework assignment due, and preparations for a quiz on Tuesday. For this blog, I am not even going to mention the stuff at work!

The truth is, I could probably be doing much better if I had unlimited time and no distractions (an outcome I would never want). The benefit to be gained though, is that amidst all these deadlines and pressures, a thought emerged that everybody wants that. I am working with the best of what’s around and although I am not doing it “perfectly,” I am growing tremendously. Changing my thought process between what is comfortable and what is effective is not easy. Most likely, when I graduate, I will be in the midst of many projects, deadlines, and meetings. If I can grow and endure with all these considerations now, it is likely that I will be well-prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. “We all make time for what we want to make time for.”

EY MAcc Speaker Series—Susan Blasik-Miller

This past week Susan Blasik-Miller from the law firm Freund, Freeze & Arnold came to talk to our class. As a lawyer, most of her daily work is spent either training doctors how to avoid malpractice suits or defending them in court. However, unlike many of our other speakers, she chose not to talk about her work. Instead, Mrs. Blasik-Miller talked about things she has learned over her career that she wished someone had told her in college.
Some of her main points were:

Email vs. Personal Communication:

While it is often times easier to just simply send emails to a colleague, it is very beneficial to pick up the phone or stop by their office. By having live or face-to-face communication, you will be able to develop strong connections and strengthen your personal network.

Remember Who Owns Your Work Computer:

What you do or what you send from your work computer can probably be recovered by the IT department of your company. Never post anything from your work computer that you wouldn’t want your boss to see!

Own your Mistakes:

When you do something wrong, own up to it. It is much better for you to admit your mistake to your boss rather than having your boss find the mistake later on when it cannot be fixed. Be open with your communication and don’t try and cover anything up.

Find a Mentor:

Having someone who is experienced in the work you will be pursuing to bounce questions and ideas off of will help maximize your talent. These relationships develop over time so do not fret if you don’t have a mentor within the first 6 months of work.

Mrs. Blasik-Miller touched on many other topics related to career development. It was a terrific experience receiving advice from someone so successful!

Redeeming the dreaded GROUP WORK!

What does your group work scar look like? Maybe it’s just me, but I was all messed up from a few particularly dysfunctional group work experiences in undergrad. If you had asked me a year ago, I’d tell you that group work is where at least 1 person doesn’t pull their weight and everyone is trying to just get through it, but doesn’t really enjoy it.

Enter in Fisher CORE team to my life. 5 people (including me) assigned intentionally to work together for all of the 11 CORE classes. This system is brilliant, and something I like to highlight when people ask me, ‘what has surprised you about your time here?’ Here are a few quick reasons why the CORE team has been a redemptive group work experience for most folks.

  1. Desire: Everyone wants to be here and is much more mature than undergrad. You don’t just pause your career for 2 years without some serious intent to learn and grow!
  2. No more free loading: Having the same group for every class means we are all incented to put our best foot forward and build trust with a team for a whole year. #incentivesaligned
  3. Friendship: Teams often become good friends with each other given all the time you spend together. I recently hosted my team member Sahil (from India) at my parents’ house in Austin TX over winter break (pictured below).Core Team 4
  4. Logistics: Scheduling with just 1 group is much simpler than multiple groups for 1 class.

Thank you Fisher (and CORE TEAM #4!) for redeeming group work and giving my group work scar time to heal! I’m even more ready to enter the workforce and work in teams than when I started here. #teamlearning

Graduate Assistantships: Part 2

The other week I wrote a blog post about my Graduate Assistantship (GA) position of being a graduate student ambassador for the MAcc program. This week I will write about being a Teaching Assistant, the other GA position offered. To do this I interviewed two current students in the MAcc Program, Jeremy Cranmer and Kevin Slone, who are both TA’s.

1.What classes do you teach?

  • Jeremy: ACCMIS 2200 – Intro to Accounting 1 (Financial Statements) and ACCMIS 2300 – Intro Accounting 2 (Managerial).
  • Kevin: 2200 Intro to Accounting 1 Lab, 2300 Intro to Accounting 2, and an online version of 2200 Lab to the 4 OSU regional campuses.

2. How many classes are you required to teach each session? 

  • Jeremy: 3 semester long classes.
  • Kevin: 6 classes for the entire year.

3. How long does it typically take for you to prepare for a class? 

  • Jeremy: 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Kevin: It generally takes me about an hour to familiarize myself with the problems we are covering in class and know how to work the solutions cold.

4. How long are the classes you teach?

  • Jeremy: 1 hour 20 minutes, but the classes often end early.
  • Kevin: 1 hour 20 minutes, but I generally get done 10-15 minutes early depending on student participation.

5. What goes on in a typical class you teach?

  • Jeremy: We get a sheet of problems before class so we can prepare. Then during class we walk through those problems on the board with the students and attempt to get the students to participate.
  • Kevin: In a typical class we have 3 long story problems. Generally, I start class by going through the first problem on the board leading the students through the solution. The next two problems the students usually get 10-15 minutes to work in groups while I walk around and check on their progress. Then I’ll walk through the problem on the board. The students typically do not have many questions, about 5 during a class and they’re generally very simple.

6. What additional duties do you have besides teaching?

  • Jeremy: We also proctor the exams for ACCMIS 2200 and ACCMIS 2300 at night. We get to sit there and work on homework during this time. We also help grade the exams.
  • Kevin: Proctor exams, grade exams, and occasionally handle the intro email account. We proctor exams about 3-4 times per semester. Each TA usually grades about 80 exams. 1 out of every 4 weeks I handle the email account where students ask homework questions.

7. Would you recommend this position to a prospective MAcc student? 

  • Jeremy: I would recommend it because it’s a good refresher for our harder MAcc courses and really helps with fears of public speaking if you’re like me and hate it. You get used to standing up there quickly.
  • Kevin: I would highly highly highly recommend accepting this position if it is offered to you. You will be scared at the idea of standing in front of a room of kids and having to explain your way through basic accounting, but you will get over that fear within the first 2 weeks. You will instantly notice the improvement in your public speaking and presentation abilities. I was a timid public speaker coming into the program and now have no problem being the lead speaker for a team project presentation in class. It will deeply enhance your knowledge of basic accounting because as you prepare for your classes, you will try to anticipate student questions and then re-affirm to yourself the reasoning behind why we do things in accounting. It will also refresh your basic knowledge and help you in your path to becoming a CPA. You’ll find that the job is actually pretty easy once you get the hang of working the problems. I enjoy it.

8. Additional comments? 

  • Kevin: The supervisor, Marc Smith, is a very fun supervisor for which to work. He always buys decent food for all meetings, gets to know you very well personally, and will always stand behind your decisions in any disputes with students. You are expected to spend about 10 hours per week in your GA duties. Sometimes it ends up being more and sometimes less. It will keep you busy and is definitely a good investment of your time.

International Ethics

One great benefit of the Fisher MAcc Program is the ability to take elective courses in the business school outside of the Accounting Curriculum. This provides students the opportunity to take courses offered to Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Human Resource Management (MHRM), as well as Specialized Master of Finance (SMF) students.

This session I am enrolled in a Master of Human Resource Management course titled International Ethics that is taught by Professor David Freel. Professor Freel has a wide set of experiences from being a trial lawyer as well as traveling to Europe to help companies and governments solve ethical disputes. Throughout his career, Professor Freel has met several influential people abroad. Because of these connections, a component of our International Ethics course includes hearing from various professionals involved in compliance related roles abroad.

This past week the class was able to have Drago Kos speak to us over skype. Drago Kos is the current Bribery Chairman for the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OCED). In his presentation to the class, he discussed his daily responsibilities, recent projects he has been working on, as well as how we can continue to improve economic fairness through the banishment of bribes and other forms of corruption.

I am looking forward to an exciting session of classes and learning more about ethical practices overseas!