MAcc end of autumn semester reception

Can’t believe that we are already halfway through our MAcc program! Last Friday, the MAcc program hosted a dinner reception and invited all MAcc students, their spouses and children, as well as MAcc faculty and staff. Some of the MAcc students are involved in a unique partnership between Fisher and KPMG where they won’t return for spring semester but will be back in summer to finish the rest of their program. I was surprised by how sad I was when I realized that there were only about 10 days left with them.

A photo with our program director, Professor Zach.
MAcc students
Dzung Vu and me

One of my favorite memories with them centers around our Financial Reporting class, one of the core classes of the MAcc program. Just like the other classes, we self-selected our case group and came up with a name for it–“My Favorite Group.” Whenever the professor called on us, he would always say “Let’s go to ‘My Favorite Group’.” Some of the students didn’t realize that it was our group name until they confirmed with us. Here’s the group:

“My Favorite Group” — Financial Reporting Class

I, as well as other students, will miss them a lot. So, guys, come back for a visit soon!

An SMF Social Tradition Lives On

The SMF Class of 2018 has been trying to keep a tradition alive: the SMF class dinners. Over the past semester, the SMF Council, led by the one and only Nenson Wang (best event organizer at Fisher), organized two wonderful dinners for the entire class.

The council decided back in mid-October to organize the first SMF dinner of this academic year at a Chinese restaurant called Hong Kong House. Regardless of location, the goal of these dinners is to get us off campus and to really enjoy our limited time together. In this case, it was a great opportunity for domestic students and students coming from other countries to have a taste of authentic Chinese food.

Dinner at the Hong Kong House!

More than 40 students and Professor Pinteris (SMF program  director) attended the dinner and we can definitely say that it was a success. I had the opportunity to try multiple authentic Chinese dishes such as Mapo Tofu or Dumplings and was really pleased with it, as were my fellow classmates. For my part, I have to admit that prior to that dinner, the only Chinese restaurants that I had been to was Chinese buffets not representative of typical Chinese dishes. When not munching on the food, we talked about a lot things– classes, the finance world, and our own personal experiences from across the globe.

Our second SMF dinner took place about a month later at Melt Bar and Grill in Short North. Attendance for this dinner was slightly lower but we had the chance to share the meal with two additional guests: Professor Pirim, who taught us statistics in the first quarter of the program, and Professor Schneider, who is currently teaching us Investments. The food was more traditional American food and the atmosphere was great! It was also really nice to see the faculty in a different setting than a lecture hall!

Dinner at the Melt Bar and Grill
With professor Pirim!

I definitely look forward to the next one!

Stay tuned!

Tip: Join Student Government

This year, in the spirit of involvement, I decided to join the Master of Human Resource Management (MHRM) student council. Every graduate program here at the Fisher College of Business (including MBA, MHRM, MAcc, SMF) has its own council representation that is responsible for being the collective “voice” for the students in the program.

Each council is comprised of students who are elected by their classmates. For 2-year programs like MHRM and MBA, the council is primarily 2nd-year students. For 1-year programs like MAcc and SMF, obviously all council members are in their first year. Each council decides how to delegate responsibilities amongst members and establishes the scope of what they hope to accomplish as a team over the course of the year.

Meet the MHRM Council

“Chief of Everything”

Kate Clausen – President

“Comedic Relief”

Jen Marchese – VP, Professional Development

“Queen of Funds”

Megan Condon – Treasurer

“The Details”

Kelly Mayer – Case Comp. Co-chair

“Stubborn Negotiator”

Irinka Toidze – Case Comp. Co-chair

“The Height”

Matt Shaffer – Social Chair

Obviously, we have a good time. But we also take our jobs very seriously. I view the role of MHRM Council as the heartbeat of the MHRM program. We are the eyes and the ears of the students, and it’s our responsibility to keep the pulse of what Fisher students are experiencing, saying, and feeling about the MHRM program. Then, the most important part: what we do with that information.

I think our most noble duty is to represent the interests of the students by passing along feedback to faculty and staff with regard to possible additions or revisions to the program. In a field where technology advancements are affecting nearly every aspect of what HR professionals do—recruiting, talent planning, compensation, training, you name it—it is critical that our curriculum is agile enough to keep up with current best practices. And I feel fortunate to belong to a school that respects its students and actively listens to our suggestions.

Beyond being a bridge between students and faculty, the MHRM council also puts on additional events to engage outside of class and keep the Fisher MHRM community alive. This year, we’ve had football tailgates, pumpkin picking, bar crawls– and this week, we went to a comedy show.

For professional development, we just had our first event of the year. It was a TED Talk-inspired event (no surprise for those of you who know my obsession). The idea was inspired by some feedback we had heard from last year—students want more opportunities to engage with smaller companies that may not have a presence on campus, and they want to do it in ways other than traditional networking. So we brought in HR Professionals from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, Marathon Petroleum, CoverMyMeds, and Cardinal Health to talk about innovative things they are doing in the HR space. It was really exciting to be able to interact with some folks we don’t normally get exposure to and the event was a great success.

On the whole, it is really rewarding to be able to give back to a program that has served me well in my time here. It also gives me a chance to stretch my leadership muscles in preparation for future roles I may have.

My Favorite Class at Fisher

My favorite class this semester, and thus far in the MBA Program, has been Organizational Coaching with instructor John Schaffner.  This course not only provides the opportunity to learn more about yourself as a leader and how you can improve, but also how to bring out the best in others to help them achieve their personal goals. As an added bonus, Professor Schaffner is hilarious and makes the class very engaging.

I spent seven weeks in this course with about 25 other students.  The class began with each student personally reflecting, and included an exercise where we had to create our “Life Map.” This map looks like an EKG reading, where the peaks and lows are representative of the best and worst moments of your life over the years.  While this exercise is very personal, it allows you to be introspective, and by going through a coaching session with a partner in the class, you gain additional insight into how some of your life experiences translate into your style of leadership.  After completing our life maps, we spent the remainder of the course completing additional exercises to learn more about ourselves and then practicing different strategies for developing and maintaining a coaching relationship.

Sample EKG Reading to give an example of what the Life Map looks like!

Coaching is a co-active relationship, and as the coach, you work through the process of deepening the client’s self-awareness by asking the right questions to help them realize they truly are capable of solving any challenge they are experiencing, whether personal or professional.  Through practicing effective listening, awareness, and communication, you are able to develop skills that are critical to success in any leadership position.

Fisher just recently introduced a course called LEAP+TC (Leadership Effectiveness through Applied Projects + Team Coaching) where students gain hands-on experience managing a project with a non-profit organization in Columbus to further develop leadership competencies, practice team building skills and apply the skills they’ve learned in the classroom.  I’m glad to have the opportunity to learn more about coaching to better prepare me for my career post-MBA!

 

Endless Possibilities at Fisher

While sitting down with a prospective candidate of the SMF program and Nicholas Denker at lunch the other day, I had time to reflect on what Ohio State has to offer students. You should know the vast amount of resources you have at your disposal here at Fisher College of Business, although I can’t name them all within this short blog post!

Just within the first half of the year, I have learned from professors who have very recent work experience, professors who hail from other nations and give new perspectives on issues, and even a professor who was in the armed forces. All have been excellent and helpful. Just because this is a large school does not mean professors are not able to meet with students. Professors always encourage us to stop into office hours to see them.

Also, the wide variety of working professional and academic professors is a huge benefit to students. Their experience and connections give students more knowledge than we know what to do with. They expect the best out of the class and, in time, the transformation from student to professional takes place.

This is Professor Kewei Hou during an interview explaining his research. Professor Hou is currently teaching the Derivatives Markets course.

The SMF program brings in speakers from all different types of industries, as well. On most Friday mornings, there are presentations (set up by Fisher faculty and staff) featuring a variety of leaders. You can come in and listen to industry experts who are actively working. Not only will you be able to gain insight from their presentations, but a select number of students each week can have lunch with the speakers to ask any questions that come to mind. This perk is not limited to just the business college. The entire university brings in highly-regarded speakers. Just this past week, OSU  hosted J.D. Vance to talk about his work, The Hillbilly Elegy.

Fisher College of Business has a vast alumni network, as well. The success of past graduates helps us as future graduates achieve even more. To be able to go on LinkedIn and see that alumni of Fisher are working at almost every company I look up is reassuring that I can do great like my colleagues before me. These alumni know all too well the difficulties that may lie ahead for students. From my experience, these alumni have responded when I reach out to them and provided great advice for me to move forward with. Put in the work and Fisher will reward you with the knowledge you need to succeed.

Friendsgiving and Preparation for Finals

One of my favorite holidays is Thanksgiving and Friendsgiving.” This year, I was able to spend quality time with many friends from the MAcc program and various other programs at Ohio State University. It was a great time with friends to talk and share stories since we started this journey in August. Pictured below is the big feast we had– along with guests who were able to take part in “Friendsgiving.”

After “Friendsgiving,” I was able to go home to the mountains of North Carolina for a much needed break before finals start. Now that I’m back, classes are in full swing with project deadlines and finals preparation. As a way of sharing a little background on the second seven weeks of the MAcc program, I’ll briefly talk about the four classes I’m currently in.

I have two core classes that all MAcc students are required to take: Corporate Financial Reporting I and Accounting Policy and Research. The corporate Financial Reporting I class consists of lectures with cases of public companies and analyzing their financials. Accounting Policy and Research consists of projects throughout the semester and readings and discussions for class. In addition, I’m taking two electives, Assurance Services and Information Quality and Professional Research in Accounting. Both classes consist of group work and case assignments due in class. Overall, the key to success is time management and staying organized. In a short two weeks, the first semester will be completed– and I’ll be thankful for all the learning I’ve done!

Revisiting my favorite childhood sport at the RPAC

I love having the flexibility to work out whenever I want– and to do whatever activity I want. And you can take advantage, too! As an OSU student, you get to maximize the full value of our RPAC (Recreation and Physical Activity Center). It’s located at the heart of campus and attracts hundreds of students and faculty every single day. Autumn hours are from 5:30 AM to midnight. You can also enjoy the view of the Ohio Stadium (you know, it’s only the 3rd-largest college football stadium in the U.S., with 104,944 seats). Here are some other fun facts about the RPAC and sports on campus:

  1. At nearly 600,000 square feet, it is one of six recreational facilities on campus.
  2. It has two swimming pools with spectator seating of up to 1,400 people

3) Speaking of teams, there are 36 varsity sports teams in total- and free admission for students to all events except football and men’s basketball.

4) Back to RPAC… there’s a wellness center, kids zone, kitchen, fitness suite, laundry and locker rooms, cafe and juice bar.

4) Free group fitness classes! You can also play basketball, volleyball, tennis, racquetball, squash, golf, billiards, foosball, or even use the indoor walking/jogging track.

What I love most about the RPAC, is that I get to revisit my favorite childhood sport: badminton. If you’re not familiar with this sport, it’s a racquet sport that’s played with racquets hitting a shuttlecock across a net. It’s most commonly played in singles or doubles. It’s a technical sport that requires aerobic stamina, agility, strength, speed, and precision, and is most popularly played in Asia. If you have never played it before, I encourage you to try it sometime!

As a child growing up in Singapore, I used to play badminton at least twice a week with my siblings, neighbors, or friends. I mastered the sport fairly quickly, so I used these sessions to catch up and hang out with my friends. It was an excellent way to stay fit and have fun.

When I was first told that there were badminton courts at the RPAC, I could not believe it. They’re located at the far south end of the RPAC, close to the squash, and indoor volleyball courts. You can rent the racquets for free, and you can purchase the shuttlecocks or bring your own. The RPAC has 6 badminton courts! What started out as a small group of classmates has now evolved into something larger. We have people who are masters at badminton, and we have others who are interested in learning this sport. We’ve also established a “Badminton” WhatsApp group. It’s only been about four months of school for me, but I feel that these badminton sessions will be good bonding sessions for us all!

Real-Life Stuff

Tick tock, tick tock…

What’s that sound?

It’s the real world—you know, that thing you put on pause almost two years ago.  It won’t stay paused forever!

Those of us in the MBA Class of 2018 have learned that the second year is a huge departure from the first year of the program—sometimes it truly feels like an entirely different program altogether.

Where the first-year core curriculum is highly structured, the second year brings autonomy and flexibility with both class times and subject matter.

Where the first year is defined by the demanding academic workload, the second year offers more time for introspection and hands-on growth through leadership roles in student organizations.

Many of these changes are welcome, though I don’t mean to speak ill of my first-year experience.  I do miss the close camaraderie of seeing all my classmates in lecture every single day and spending time with my core team.  I’m proud to know that I navigated the first year successfully, but let’s just say that I’m glad a younger Michael was there to tackle it.

The 11th floor of Thompson Library—a great spot to ponder life’s big questions.

The second year, however, is not without its own unique challenges—and while the stresses of the first year were anticipated, the stresses of second year can catch you off guard. This is because during the second year, you start to feel the real world encroaching.

Where will you work?  Where will you live?  Have you picked the right career path?  Will you relocate?  Will you be uprooting a significant other, spouse, or child in the process?

These are some of the questions you must find final answers for during your second year.  No doubt, these are fortunate problems to have and part of the great growth of the MBA experience—but their permanence and weight can make them rather slippery.

Stop to smell the roses…or watch them change color (?).

The good news is that you are never alone.  Every day, I’m surrounded by 91 friends going through the same process, asking the same questions, thinking the same thoughts.  Then, of course there are the other resources all around us—career counselors, professors, staff.  The key is to remember to enjoy the ride; with patience, the right answers have a way of finding you.

Our time here may be winding down but it is far from over, which means our task is to make the most of what is left.  The real world will have to wait… for now.

Team Core Capstone Project

One of the coolest aspects of the first semester in the Specialized Master in Finance program here at Fisher College of Business is the Core Capstone Project (Equity Research).

The curriculum is designed to allow students to apply what they have learned throughout the first semester of the program in that Capstone project. The “objective of the course is to apply the concepts and techniques we have learned in core coursework in a real-life setting by performing a financial analysis and valuation of a publicly-traded company” (syllabus).

In this report, each team is supposed to include the following sections:

  • Overview of the company.
  • Discussion of business model and identification of key value drivers.
  • Discussion of business risk factors.
  • Discussion of DCF valuation.
  • Conclusion and recommendation.

Throughout the first semester, we’ve taken core classes in Economics, Statistics, Financial Software Application, Corporate Finance, and Investments. We’ve also developed our teamwork skills through various group projects and presentations, as well as through our core Leadership class. All of these knowledge and skills that we’ve been developing for the past three months at Fisher are put into practice in this capstone project.

The first rough draft deadline is approaching and my team and I have been working hard to come up with a strong report. I am definitely excited to have the final product on hand!

Hotpot on A Cold Day

As an international student who has been studying abroad for almost five years, homesickness is not an issue anymore. However, I still miss the food from back home. One dish that my family usually has is “Hotpot,” a traditional Chinese dish which is usually eaten on a cold day. Similar to the Korean BBQ, you need to “cook” it yourself, but it’s worth the time and effort.

Homemade Hotpot

As you can see in the picture, Hotpot is literately a HOT POT. It’s very easy to make it. I usually buy the pre-made soup paste from an Asian grocery store. You can include whatever you want to eat: meat, vegetables, or noodles. No matter your choice(s), you boil the ingredients into the soup paste. I also make my own dipping sauce which is sesame sauce mixed with a little bit soy sauce and oyster sauce.

Here are the ingredients that I have for your reference if you want to replicate a Hotpot as above:

  1. Hotpot paste (available at any Asian Store)
  2. Slide beef
  3. Fish ball & fish tofu
  4. Bacon
  5. Shrimp
  6. Frozen tofu
  7. Napa cabbage
  8. Cilantro
  9. Fried tofu
  10. Mushrooms
  11. Lotus root
  12. Noodles (tips: put the noodles in last, otherwise your stew will be very thick.)

Hope you have some good homemade Hotpot!