Just Keep Swimming

A lot of people return from spring break feeling like they got a little taste of freedom and now are ready for summer. So here are a few tips to help finish the school year strong!

finding-nemo-dory-just-keep-swimming

Set goals for yourself: Setting personal, professional and academic goals for yourself can help you stay on track. Once they are made, make sure to continually assess the progress of them. Consider telling someone you know (friend, colleague, peer, etc.) about the goal so you build in an accountability system. It works!

Stay organized: When you’re tired and feeling like you are running on empty it becomes that much more important to prioritize. Once you set your goals and create your to-do-list then figure out the priority ranking of each item.

Don’t delay – Start right away: A lot of people make the following comment, “I do better under pressure.” I’m not sure I quite buy into that though because had you given yourself proper time to brainstorm and edit, think about what you could have accomplished! Delaying the inevitable often results in added stress, so starting sooner rather than later may assist with the creative flow and process, as well as alleviate additional stress toward the end. If it’s a big assignment, paper or project then break it down into smaller chunks so you do not become overwhelmed, and create milestones to hit along the way.

Find a support network: Family, friends, mentors and peers are all great networks to tap into for support. Don’t be afraid to reach out to those around you for guidance, development, motivation, a listening ear or sounding board.

Take care of yourself: You know yourself better than anyone, so make sure you are taking time to remain healthy in all aspects of your life, including spiritual, physical, personal, financial, social, and more. “We’re adults,” but don’t forget to rest and get sleep because it will help you remain focused and productive. Also, know when to say no! Make sure to take time to have fun and reward yourself for a job well done!

Focus on the end in sight: Remind yourself of all the time and effort you have put in thus far, and the impact your current work can have on that. Stay motivated and push through whatever you are working on to run through the tape as you finish the race. As Dory said, “Just Keep Swimming!”

Rounding Third

It’s hard to believe that we only have five weeks left of our time at Fisher, which is both exciting and sad. This is my second graduate degree, so I knew it would be fast, but somehow, I’m still surprised to find myself this close to graduation. So here is my advice to the current first year class and the incoming class of Fisher MBA’s, as the Class of 2016 rounds third base and heads towards home:

1) Do you. I said this in a post I wrote last year, and I stand by it. You will be in class with people who are brilliant, people who already have established careers, people who have started successful businesses, and people who already have graduate degrees. There won’t be anyone who is exactly like you or who wants the same things, and if you find that you’re on a more non-traditional career-path like I was (non-profits) that’s perfectly okay. Don’t compare yourself to others. Twirl down your own road. There are opportunities at Fisher and ways you can network to get yourself where you want to go. I joined Fisher Board Fellows simply because it was something I loved, and that’s how I got my job.

2) Find kindred spirits. They will advocate for you harder than anyone else. I doubt I would have made it through my program without Dr. Shashi Matta, Michelle Petrel, and Professor John Barker. They are wonderful human beings and I am so grateful for them. If you aren’t finding help through what seems like the more traditional pathways, start knocking on office doors and see who will sit down and talk with you.

3) Never stop asking for help. Ask for help from your teammates, from your friends, from professors, from staff, and from alumni. People are much more willing to help than you think they are, because everyone had someone to help them (or several someones). So ask. And make sure to follow through with a thank you and maybe some chocolate. Everyone likes chocolate.

4) Learn how to be a team player. Work hard to learn how to work with other people. This doesn’t mean be a pushover or a people-pleaser, it means learn how to work together to accomplish a goal. Be a leader when you need to be, but know that the best leaders know how to step back and let others lead, too.

5) Network. Look at everything as a networking opportunity, and a way you can meet new people. Don’t think of it as work. Don’t think of it as asking someone for a job. Think of it as making friends. And you can never have enough friends.

6) Take a leadership position in a student organization. My time on a leadership team pushed me in ways I didn’t expect it to, and it taught me how to adapt to the very different needs of the people on my team. I learned the most about leadership by being on that team, and I’ve seen the most growth in myself because of it.

7) And last, but not least, try not to stress out too much. Two years goes fast, folks. So go to follies, go to girls’ night, and hit all the happy hours. Because the work will be there, whether or not you panic. So try not to panic, and enjoy the time you have at Fisher.

It’s about life not money

When talking about business schools, it seems people automatically link it with making money. But here, I learn to be yourself and money will follow.

“Leadership” is the buzz word in business school. The course Advance Leadership is recommended by a lot of students. I do not consider myself a leader type of person, but after taking this class, I now feel every one is obligated to take the lead. Not everyone can become a CEO, but every one of us is the leader of our own life. I wrote my assignment not for the score, but how I can be an authentic leader, who I am and want to be, and how I want to be remembered after I die. In class, we listened to stories of CEOs, for example, one who gave every employee a milkshake because he didn’t get one when he started to work at a restaurant and another who committed himself to people’s dignity because he was looked down upon by a rich teenager when working at a car wash. We also heard stories from our classmates, such as one who is determined to be a successful woman in business despite disdain from a Catholic family and one who always gives credit to other people’s devotion because of his own bad experiences.

Any business or profession is just part of our life. What really matters is to live our life, have a positive impact on others, and make a difference.

CEO Milkshake

Favorite Class This Half Semester – Negotiations

Negotiations

After I finished my first semester of the SMF program, I thought to myself, I am going to take all classes that I can classify into a favorites pool. I signed up for classes from simulation and risk, entrepreneurial finance, fixed income, Negotiations, and a couple of more. I thought to myself, these are all electives, so I should elect to take the classes that I feel will get me where I need to get. I was surprised when after a couple of classes of all the aforementioned, a clear winner began to emerge. Negotiations, a clear underdog in the beginning won the upper hand. While most of my other classes are technical in nature and help me master my analytical skills, Negotiations stands on the other end of the spectrum where I have to understand where I stand as an individual. Most classes are spent with the students negotiating between themselves and seeing if they can achieve their personal and group goals. It is the most interesting class I have ever taken. I have had to think more in this class than I have in other classes because of the construct of the class.

Every day in class is setup with a goal to achieve by the end of class. One has to decide if they are going to negotiate or if they are going to step away from the table. One has to decide if they are going to share personal information with the counter-party and reach an integrative decision or if they are going to keep information hidden so as to win the negotiation and have a distributive decision. It just shows a lot about how the classmates think and who, I personally think, they are on a personal level. Are they a person who is willing to share information and win with you or a person who is willing to take advantage of the situation to win as much as possible. That might be an extreme example but it does count for something. It does open eyes to what the business atmosphere is like. It prepares us for the extreme sides as well as the non extreme sides of personalities.

The other great thing I like about the class is that there is a group negotiation component where groups get to negotiate together. I think it trains the mind to be able to accept ideas from other people and try to arrive at Pareto principled decision rather than one that is divisive. Professor Dumas as well is a great Professor who guides the class really well. She is very knowledgeable about the subject and is able to reference to the smallest details that we might miss and help us adjust accordingly.

I would definitely recommend this class to those who want to learn how to interact with people, may they be family or colleagues.

Finals – Term 3

How is it March already? I swear just a few days ago we were learning about basic capital structure in our “turbo-finance” course in the middle of August. All of a sudden, Christmas break had come and gone. I guess time really does fly when you are busy learning in courses that you enjoy. I knew six courses would be a great deal of work but I didn’t know they would go by so fast! May marks the turning of a new chapter in my life and I am not ready to leave this place just yet! Columbus is home.

On February 29th, I had three finals for my third term courses. As a reminder, the SMF program is split up into five separate “terms”. There is the pre-term or “turbo-finance” course in the middle of August followed by two semesters that are split into two terms each. For the most part, the SMF program offers single term classes but some full semester courses are available. My first exam was Derivatives II at 10am followed by Corporate Financial Reporting at 3pm and finally Financial Statement Analysis at 6pm. Sound like a lot to handle? It wouldn’t have been if I had prepared correctly. Let’s just say I had some distractions when I was trying to studying.

Goodale 1

The week before that Monday, I told myself I would start studying and get ready in advance for my three finals. What happened? Classic procrastination – “I can wait, I still have five days!” “No worries, Monday is three days away still” “Oh no, my finals are tomorrow!”. It also doesn’t help that there were some distractions. Saturday and Sunday just happened to be the nicest days Columbus has had in weeks. So naturally, I indulged by wasting my studying time walking around the North Market and Goodale Park. Then came Sunday night. This just happened to be the night my favorite EDM DJ, Hardwell, decided to play a show in Columbus at the Bluestone. I couldn’t and wouldn’t miss this show.

Hardwell close (1) Hardwell far

Somewhere between walking around downtown in the beautiful weather and going to the concert, I found time conceptually understand Derivatives II. I still needed to practice and start studying for the other two exams. Monday morning was a little stressful, waking up at 4am to do practice problems and start Corporate Financial Reporting. Derivatives II came and went pretty well (I believe) and then came crunch time. Would I be able to study enough to be successful on my other two exams? You bet! I even had time to grab a coffee with a friend as a study break. I guess it goes to show that when you are studying material that you truly enjoy, it sticks much easier and makes a whole lot more sense (especially when I think about the physics and chem exams I used to have to take).

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.
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