More Than a Case

Nervous and a bit unsure…

Two feelings I endured while walking into the office of Professor Marc Ankerman. A couple of weeks before the start of the MBA program, I received an email from him about potentially representing The Ohio State University at the 2017 National Black MBA (NBMBAA) Graduate Case Competition. I chose to attend The Ohio State, in large part, because of the legacy built by David Harrison and Fisher’s Office of Diversity & Inclusion, so I was eager and hopeful for a chance to represent the University.

Professor Ankerman is… animated. He sat me down and asked me why I was interested in competing. He shared that the competition would be fierce. The team would have a month to prepare the case, while also acclimating to the program. Toward the end of the conversation, he extended his hand and offered me a spot on the team.

I would never have guessed that my decision to accept his offer would be one of the most transformative and rewarding experiences of my life.

Nervous and a bit unsure…

Two feelings I felt at the start of the MBA program. Coming from a small liberal arts university, I wondered if I belonged in the program. Have you ever heard of the “Imposter Syndrome”? Imagine going from a school without a football program to The Ohio State University—100,000 football fans pack out the stadium for home games. 100,000.

Growing up, my mother worked late nights to provide me a better life. She taught me about grit, hard work, and sacrifice. She always told me she believed in me. I leaned on her words as I felt pulled in every direction as a first-year MBA. New city. New school. New classes. New friends. Mixers. Info sessions. Interviews. Interviews. Interviews. Add to that the Case Competition… and attempts at a personal life.

It’s almost funny even mentioning a personal life. I bought football season tickets and didn’t make it to one football game. Looking back, some of the only things that kept me sane were my 5k and 10k runs through the trails. During those runs, I would often wonder if I had made the right choice about getting my MBA and if I had what it takes to succeed in the program. After my runs, I would call my mother and she would tell me she loved me and to keep at it. I needed that.

Nervous and a bit unsure…

Two feelings I felt waiting as the announcer called out the 10 teams that would compete in the final round of the NBMBAA Case Competition. Honestly, I didn’t expect to hear our name called. I had put my heart into preparing the final deck, but top schools from all over the country were there competing for their share of $50,000. Cornell was there. So was NYU.

I remember looking over to Professor Ankerman in disbelief when they announced that we had made it to the finals. Riding up the elevator, tears welled up in my eyes. When I finally got a minute alone, I called my mother. Crying over the phone, I told her we had made it to the final round. I had done it. I couldn’t hold back the tears. She told me she wasn’t surprised.

Thinking back, I can’t help but laugh. I would have never imagined that at 25 years old, I would be crying to my mother about a case competition. But it was so much more than a case.

It was so much more…

I went on to win one of ten Best Presenter awards at the competition. Later in the year, I was privileged to captain my own team in KeyBank’s 14th Annual Minority MBA Student Case Competition in Cleveland. My team took first place in Cleveland and it was the first time Fisher had won that competition in over a decade. We brought trophies back from both competitions, and I personally placed each of them into the trophy case on the first floor of Gerlach Hall.

As a two-time National Case Competition Finalist and Best Presented Award Recipient, I am no longer nervous nor unsure. I know I belong. Case competitions changed my life. Professor Ankerman changed my life. David Harrison changed my life. The Fisher College of Business changed my life.

Will you let them change yours?

My Career Search: Two Pieces of Advice

Something I haven’t written about yet, but that I know is important to students considering undertaking the SMF program, is my personal career search.  My case is a little different than the typical student, but I still think it would be beneficial to share.

As many of you know by now, I am from Oklahoma and graduated from Oklahoma State University last May.  Since I knew I would be pursuing the SMF degree, I wanted to undertake an internship for the summer before to get more work experience under my belt (and also make a little bit of money).  Through my network from my old university, I was able to secure an internship with Phillips 66 for the summer.

Phillips 66 might be unfamiliar to students not from the region, so I will go ahead and provide a little bit of background on the company for anyone who is interested.

Myself touring one of Phillips 66’s facilities

It is an independent oil & gas company that came into existence after ConocoPhillips spun off its midstream and downstream assets in 2012 (“midstream” and “downstream” are terms you’d learn about if you ever work in the energy industry).  It has approximately 14,000 employees in about 65 countries worldwide and is ranked #34 in the Fortune 500.  Based on my internship experience, I truly think it’s a great place to work and I highly recommend it to any future SMF students who are interested in either living in Houston or working in the energy industry!

At the time of securing the internship, I wasn’t necessarily planning on starting a career at Phillips, but after a summer immersed in the culture and meeting tons of awesome people, I decided I could really see myself coming back full-time.  I was fortunate enough to receive a full-time offer at the end of the internship and after soliciting advice from different people in the program, I decided to go ahead and accept the offer and secure full-time employment.

My last day of work outside the original Phillips Petroleum Company Building

The reason I tell you about my search is to give you a couple of pieces of advice.  The first is: just because you will be coming to a new university with a new network, that doesn’t mean that your connections from undergrad can’t still be beneficial.  There’s no shame in accepting a job that doesn’t directly come through the SMF program.  Second, I highly encourage students coming directly from undergrad to do an internship during the summer before the SMG program.  It could really pay dividends, and you might find that you really fit in well with the company.

All in all, I consider myself very lucky to have been able to secure a job so early, and I am very excited to begin working after graduation!

As We Go on, We’ll Remember…

As my MHRM journey comes to a close, I’ve found myself spending a lot of time in my head reflecting over what the the last two years have meant for me. But because you only ever hear from me, I wanted to give a voice to some of my classmates. Below, graduating MHRM students share some of their fondest memories in the MHRM program.

My favorite part of the program is the family I’ve created within Fisher. Being surrounded by students and faculty who are passionate about HR like I am have made me even more excited to start my career. Grad school can be intense, but I’ve had so much fun attending events like grad school prom, Fisher Follies events, Varsity Club outings after class, intramurals, and football games. The people are what I’m going to miss most! I can’t wait to see the success my classmates achieve and to continue to share ideas as the field of HR changes.

– Kelly Mayer

Fisher Follies Fall Auction 2017 (Kelly is on the right)

My favorite part was really day one. Sounds super cheesy, but being separated and away from Georgia for the first time ever was a daring (and scary) adventure. I just remember doing the scavenger hunt during orientation and meeting a lot of excited, eager people. That really brought to light that Ohio would be home for two years or more and I was ready.

– Chase Lakhani

Chase rushing the field after an OSU win

I will never forget winning the HR External Case Competition (Jen was on my team). I was so tired and so proud of our recommendation and presentation. It was really rewarding to win and be recognized for our hard work.

Also, on a lighter note, I really loved how good we were at potlucking. I don’t know if that’s an HR quirk or if we are all just awesome. We could have a potluck for anything and we always came through, it was so fun.

– Kate Clausen

MHRMsgiving = Thanksgiving for MHRMs

My most memorable day was when I realized that I had been accepted among all the domestic students here. It was the last day of Professor Shepherd’s class and we had a potluck. I had a chance to bring in an authentic Indian food. I was reluctant as I didn’t know if everyone would like Indian food, but then  I received a lot of appreciation from all of my classmates. I was overwhelmed with the amount of love and support everyone has shown. Be it group projects or team meetings, I have always been treated well.

– Divya Selvaraj

MHRMs celebrating Utsav together at the Fisher College of Business (Divya is on the left/second “row”)

Grad school can be really hard and life-consuming, especially when you are at a business school. We are consumed with cases, strategy, ROI, and all kinds of other things that many people don’t ever think about. The “business school bubble” is what I call it. Tell any average person outside the school what you obsess over in your studies and they just look at you with wide-eyed confusion. So with that in mind, one of my favorite grad school memories is the Fisher Follies Variety Show. At the end of the spring semester, we have a chance to pop our self-made bubble and make some fun of it. It’s always entertaining to step back are realize how ridiculous our business cocoon can be, and to have fun and laugh about it. Each year I attended, I was entertained and delighted by the level of craftsmanship and wit in each of the short videos. And in those moments, I realized how amazing our Fisher community is.

– Chris Schoo

MHRMs Chris and Billy Dunn posed for a partner headshot after class.

One of my favorite memories will always be winning Internal Case Comp my second year. I still can’t believe how much better Case Comp felt after a year in the program; just a real testament to how valuable the Fisher experience was for building my business acumen and professional presentation style.

Having the Varsity Club Thursday night tradition really was a special part of business school for me, too. Knowing you’d always have some time each week to catch-up, decompress, and just have fun. This is my second master’s, and my cohort never had anything like that in my first grad school experience. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for “the VC.”

– Billy Dunn

Team OSU after the 2018 HR Invitational Case Competition

When I think about my favorite memory from my time here, I wouldn’t say it’s a particular event. Rather, I think I would say it’s the overall closeness of our class with students at a wide variety of stages in their own lives– ranging from fresh out of undergrad to a recent grandfather or from being local to moving across the country and the world. Witnessing the relationships that have formed and the lifelong friendships that have developed is what I will truly value and remember for the rest of my life.

– Matt Shaffer

“MHRMs” doing the iconic O-H-I-O at Frito-Lay headquarters in Dallas at the start of their summer internship

“Now In My Day…”

Ohio State has been a central force in my life for almost a decade now.  As an undergraduate (2010-2014), employee (2015-2016), and graduate student (2016-2018), I have been able to see the University from many angles.  What always amazes me is this place’s ability to re-invent itself based on where you are in your life.  It never feels small, it never feels predictable, and it never feels like you have outgrown it—because there are constantly new worlds of opportunity opening up to you.  Eight years ago, I never thought I would work at a University.  Four years ago, I never thought I would get a master’s degree.  Yet, here I am!

Thinking back to my earliest days on campus, sometimes it is almost difficult to believe they really happened.  So much has changed in the world and in my life that it can be challenging to relate, fond as the memories may be.  That is why we have traditions—rituals that do not change with time—to help us connect with our past and with each other.  Time-honored traditions are what make higher education so special—because while everybody’s individual experience is unique, much of the experience in earnest is universal.  These shared experiences allow us to connect with past versions of ourselves and fellow alumni from all different eras.

One of Ohio State’s many notable alumni is Milton Caniff (1930), famous cartoonist and artist.  Caniff is an Ohio native and his instantly recognizable style is considered one of the most significant influences on cartoon and comic drawing of the 20th century.  Original copies of his work can be found around campus, both in the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum and the Ohio Union Cartoon Room.

Caniff drew this self-portrait (including samples of some of his popular work in the background) for the cover of Newsweek in 1950. Source.

Caniff has a wonderful poem he wrote in 1930 (his senior year) which captures the memories of his college years and the special connection all Ohio State alumni feel with this campus.  He made an illustration in 1968 to accompany the poem, which captures famous campus landmarks that any Ohio State student will recognize.  I am always struck by how relatable the words are, even though my experience at Ohio State was nearly a century apart. I am sure if you have ever spent time on campus you will understand!

So, to sign off my final post before graduation, I will leave you with Caniff’s words, “Now In My Day…”.  Wherever you are, I hope it brings back fond memories of your time on campus, as it always will for me.

Milton Caniff – “Now In My Day…

 

Practicing Gratitude

As our year in the MAcc program comes to a close, I asked a few soon-to-be graduates what participating in this program has meant to them. Although we were only here for a year, we know that we will continue to feel Fisher‘s influence throughout our lives.

Max Smith is grateful for the opportunities he found to give back to our temporary home in Columbus:

“I am grateful for the experiences and activities that are available outside of the classroom. As an undergrad, volunteer opportunities were around if you sought them out, but the MAcc program really makes it easy to get involved and help out in the community. Hopefully, this will be something I can continue in the future after the MAcc program.”

MAcc Council President Ace Lassman is grateful for the people he met along the way:

“I am most grateful for the friends I made here! It was a blast to be able to connect with people from such different backgrounds who all want to go out and make an impact in the accounting industry. I couldn’t be more excited to see how all of us will go out and change the world after graduation!”

And finally, I am grateful for the all the opportunities this program has afforded me. I engaged with research, participated in community service, and made lifelong friends. From Big Four recruitment to living in a large city, this program has pushed me and exposed me to ideas and opportunities I would not have otherwise had. So, on behalf of the MAcc Class of 2018, thank you, Fisher!

Special thanks to Maxton “Max” Smith and Andrew “Ace” Lassman for their assistance.

Spring Conference 2018

On Friday March 30th, 2018, the current full-time MBA students welcomed back the alumni of the Fisher College of Business for the “Spring Conference.” The Spring Conference is an annual alumni conference where alumni are invited back to speak to current students about life after the program and to share tangible insights for students heading off to their summer internships.

We welcomed back 13 successful, engaging, and knowledgeable alumni– all experienced in different aspects of business: finance, marketing, operations, and human resources. They represented well-established organizations such as Nestle, Nationwide, Abbott, NetJets, Ford, Wendy’s, P&G, and others.

The current students began the day with a high-level discussion about Transforming Data into Insights and The First 100 Days. Then, students attended presentations about Taxes, Savings, and Personal Investing, All About Buying a Home, and the informative Managing Up, Down, and Sideways. In this session, students were thoughtfully reminded to be authentic, on time, and present. It is important to present your best self at your workplace; people always notice. Then, students were able to go to a breakout session of their choice where they could earn more about the data and skills used in finance, marketing, and operations. The breakout sessions were one of the most important aspects of the day. One student said, “My favorite part of the day were the breakout sessions. I was able to ask specific questions I had pertaining to operations. I was able to gain clarity and felt more confident as I headed into my internship this summer.” Here, students were also able to ask the alumni about tangible skills used while on the job. Many students found this to be very helpful. We finished the day with all-encompassing presentations about Work/Life Balance 2.0 and The Intern’s Final Presentation. During The Intern’s Final Presentation, the students learned how to communicate recommendations for the company. After running the necessary tests and analyzing the data, what do we think the company should do next? Organizations want to see how each candidate goes beyond the data to deliver solutions and results. This puts our creative minds to the test. What is incredible about this insight is that at Fisher, we are given many opportunities to put this into practice. Through classes and group projects, we are consistently encouraged to go beyond what the data says and effectively find solutions. At Fisher, we not only learn how to sustain a business but propel it.

We ended the day with a delightful happy hour where the students and alumni we able to chat and connect. Here is where meaningful connections were made. Students engaged with alumni in a more informal setting which allowed students to feel comfortable asking more questions. The very kind and humble alumni not only offered their insights and expertise, but their willingness to connect further with the students. As the day was coming to an end, an alumni who currently works in the marketing department at Nationwide shared, “I felt extremely prepared for my position at Nationwide after going through the MBA program at Fisher.”

Students left the conference with new insights and new connections but most importantly, with a confidence that Fisher provides through its unparalleled alumni network and invaluable education.

Traditional Festival, New Family

Some of the “MBLErs” (Master of Business Logistics Engineering) are from China, including me. We celebrate the Traditional Chinese New Year which is also called “Spring Festival.” This is the first time for most of us to celebrate Chinese New Year away from China (and the first time to celebrate without our families), so we decided to celebrate this special occasion with all MBLE members and professors.

photo by Xiaoyue (Diana) Huang

On February 11th, 2018, the MBLE Council held the Chinese New Year Celebration in the Mason Hall rotunda. Several members from the MBLE program participated. We were glad to have faculty from both the Fisher College of Business and the Department of Integrated Systems Engineering enjoying this wonderful night with us.

Of course, we honored various traditions– including the enjoyment of making authentic Chinese food together (in this case, some people learned how to make dumplings for the first time). Also, we wrote spring festival scrolls and “Fu” characters. By giving the scrolls away to everyone who participated in this event, we wished everyone a happy and lucky new year.

Some modern activities also made things fun. The president of the MBLE Council gave a performance of the Chinese pop song Qinghuaci, and we played Mahjong and card games just as we would at home.

The holiday is an “ending day” for us since this is a time for 2017 to end, but a “starting day” for us since this is the beginning of spring. We will continue working on professional growth and finding our ideal jobs. During our time together, we felt like family members to each other and built what will hopefully be long-lasting relationships.

Maybe this is the true meaning of celebrating the new year, no matter where it is celebrated and when it is celebrated. We say goodbye to the old year by acquiring something valuable. We give a warm welcome to the new year by looking forward to new challenges and treasuring friends and family. Although this is a traditional festival, we have a new family at The Ohio State University.

Seattle Trek!

With the academic year coming to an end, and everyone finishing final presentations and papers for various courses, I look back and feel blessed to have spent a wonderful first year with some fantastic people at Ohio State’s Fisher College of Business. One of the things that I feel passionate about is serving as an MBA Ambassador. It gives me a chance to speak with prospective candidates from across the world, show them our campus, and take them for coffee and lunch while sharing my perspective about our program and school.

I recently took part in a new “career trek” to Seattle. The motivation behind creating a new career trek targeting tech companies for Fisher came from those innumerable number of phone calls that I answered over the first semester while working with the Admissions Office. Many students asked if we have established connections with organizations on the West Coast and I always wanted to say “Yes!” This consequently led to the development of a formalized trek to Seattle.

As soon as I decided to undertake this initiative, I approached a current second-year student, Thais Batista Ronconi, who interned at Amazon and will be joining Amazon in a full time-role this year in Seattle. She felt enthusiastic about this idea and was happy to mentor me throughout the development of this trek. We approached the whole process step by step and started reaching out to our alumni and talent acquisition heads/recruiters at various organizations in Seattle. In the meantime, we gauged interest from current students and started working on the timing of this trek. The response received from the students to this career trek was massive– something that kept us going even after hearing “no” from some of the organizations. After working with the companies for almost three months, we got our final “YES” list: Starbucks, Amazon, Microsoft, and Expedia. Yes, the Big 4 in Seattle. The timing worked out well with all the organizations and we were set to visit Seattle in mid-March during spring break with a group of 15 first and second year MBA’s.

Seattle’s Ferris Wheel at Pier 57

Day 1 started with Starbucks! As soon as we entered Starbucks’ board room, we received a bag full of coffee and goodies for each of us. We started with a session from one of the executives on Sourcing and Global Operations of Starbucks followed by learning more about how Starbucks is differentiating itself by investing in technology. We then toured Starbucks HQ, which was one of a kind. Every wall illustrates the company timeline by connecting Starbucks’ different product releases with prominent historical events. Also of note: as an employee, you can contribute to the less fortunate by buying coffee at a special store inside the building where people from all the departments also meet weekly to discuss how they are impacting people’s lives. From its coffee-tasting space to roasteries, everything at Starbucks is distinct.

Starbucks’ first logo!
At Starbucks’ HQ (top floor)

We commenced our Day 2 with Microsoft in Redmond, Washington. The first activity took us to the Visitor Center, a place that has a neat display of everything Microsoft (it features all of Microsoft’s current and upcoming products). From Xbox to Surface book, and from HoloLens to Microsoft’s Age Detection API, we experienced everything. The recruiter then introduced us to some cool initiatives by Microsoft and explained how it is utilizing technology to make this world a better place to live. One of the projects that stood out to me was how Microsoft is helping to find missing children in China. After spending some great time with the recruiter, we met a panel of Buckeyes (OSU alums) who answered our questions about “all things Microsoft.” Concluding our visit with lunch, it was overall a great day spent in sunny Seattle with our alumni members. Big shout-out to Rafael Williams, university recruiter at Microsoft!

Outside Microsoft’s Visitor Center

Expedia welcomed us with an overview of its organization and later gave a detailed description of its global network of brands. The best part was Q&A with the recruiter where she alone answered more than 50 questions from us.

At Expedia Group’s headquarters in Bellevue, Seattle

Amazon came at last–marking a perfect ending to our Seattle trek. This organization never fails to surprise me – it has now surpassed Google as the best place to work in the United States, according to one survey. We started at Amazon’s “Day 1” building (they consider every day at work to be the first day creating an entrepreneurial start-up environment) with a panel discussion featuring the head of Product Management and a mix of people covering different areas at Amazon! Conversation with each of the panelists gave us more clarity on what Amazon is seeking from its future employees and how its current employees live those 14 leadership principles in their day-to-day work. After touring the building, we went to the newly opened Amazon Spheres. These spheres serve as a “haven of carefully tended nature geared to letting Amazonians break free from their cubicles and think disruptive thoughts.” Going through each of its floors while experiencing more than 400 different species of cloud forest plants from all over the world was an exhilarating experience. It is definitely a “must-visit” for everyone visiting Seattle. Amazon will soon open the spheres to public.

Amazon Spheres (photo from https://www.instagram.com/seattlespheres/)
Inside Seattle Spheres (I am at the extreme left in a white shirt ;))

It was absolutely a delight to take part in this once-in-a-lifetime event and to learn new things about all these organizations. I hope this new trek becomes a legacy for Fisher College of Business.

Organizers (From left to right: me, Rajat Gugnani, current first-year MBA; Thais Batista Ronconi, current second-year MBA, and Alexander Toomey, advisor at the Office of Career Management)

Fisher MBA Opportunities for Law School Students

My Fisher experience is a little different than most other MBAs. Directly after graduating college, I enrolled at the Moritz College of Law to pursue a J.D., with the hopes of being a lawyer. After my first year of law classes and my internship experience working in a law firm, I discovered that practicing law was not something I wanted to do. I felt a little “stuck” in a program that would not present the type of opportunities I was looking for upon graduation. When I discovered Ohio State offers a dual-degree JD/MBA program, I was immediately intrigued. Coming from a business-based undergraduate program, this seemed like a logical next step. Still, I was little hesitant about adding on another year of school. Now, almost one year into the MBA, I could not be happier with my decision.

I have enjoyed every minute of my time at Fisher. The classes are interesting, the professors are engaging, and I have met some really cool people. Classroom discussions are engaging, with a good mix of different viewpoints being adequately represented on every topic imaginable. The environment is extremely collaborative: students are more than willing to work with each other and help everyone out. Even though my peers are competitive in classes and internship searches, everyone is genuinely interested in their each other’s success.

One of the most memorable experiences I have had at Fisher so far was the ability to participate in the ULI Hines Case Competition. The competition allowed me to write pro-formas for a multi-billion dollar mixed-use real estate development project. I was on a team of architect students, landscape architect students, and city planning students to help bring an idea of a development to fruition. The project was two weeks long and extremely time-consuming, but gave me insight as to what it’s like working with others in a simulated development project. Additionally, I was able to network with many in the real estate development industry in Columbus, as professionals served as mentors throughout the process. Being on the winning team of the Columbus competition was a plus as well.

I was able to work with the Office of Career Management to secure an internship at L Brands in its Real Estate division—something I want to do in my future career. Plus, I have a great opportunity in the GAP program to travel and work in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Bangkok, and Shanghai in May– and I could not be more excited for the opportunity.

As a member of Ohio State’s JD/MBA Class of 2019, I know I will be more than prepared to face the world. I cannot thank Fisher enough for my experiences here, and really have thoroughly enjoyed getting my MBA.

My Top 3 Memories at Fisher

As my two years at Fisher comes to an end, I can’t help but reminisce on the many experiences I’ve had while completing the Full-Time MBA program. When I first began the program, all the second-year students would say, “Enjoy your time. It goes by fast!” and I would just smile and think, “yeah, sure,”as I could only focus on my seemingly never ending to-do list of homework assignments.  Now that I am one month away from graduation, I finally understand.  It really does go fast!

So naturally, as I become sentimental and reflect on the last two years, I have to share some of my favorite moments– with photos!

#1 – Meeting my Core Team

So, this was slightly awkward at first. We all sat in silence for the first 10-15 minutes of meeting.  But now, we are actually the best of friends!  We look back on that day and laugh.  You become very close with your core team throughout the program and I am thankful to be graduating from the program with friends who feel more like family.

 

 

 

#2 – KeyBank Case Competition

There are numerous opportunities for development while at Fisher, and one that I feel helped me the most was competing in case competitions.  There are both internal and external case competitions and my favorite was the Key Bank Case Competition.  Working closely with this team was a great experience that challenged me to explore outside of my comfort zone and provided me the opportunity to work with two students who have now become close friends of mine.  Plus, we placed in the top 5!

 

 

#3 – UTSAV

Fisher has a diverse class of students and throughout the program, there are numerous opportunities to engage with individuals from different backgrounds and to celebrate their cultures.  UTSAV does just that! UTSAV is an event held by the Fisher Indian Student Association (FISA) in April each year and involves both faculty and students.  UTSAV shares Indian culture with the Fisher community through Bollywood music, Indian dance performances, delicious Indian food, and some fabulous entertainment.  “UTSAV,” which means celebrating life, is a manifestation and celebration of the diversity within the Fisher community.  I performed last year with my core team and had so much fun! I’m looking forward to attending this event again next week.