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.

Case Competitions

As you may know, a big part of getting an MBA is competing in case competitions. There are numerous case competitions focusing on different subjects – “Marketing, Finance, Venture Capital, Supply Chain, Strategy, Operations, Data Analytics, Marketing Analytics, etc.” – across the country and even the globe. Ohio State prides itself by competing in and performing well in all of these case competitions. Recently Ohio State took first place in the ACG case competition in Cleveland and second place in the Strategy case competition at the University of Illinois.

Teams from Ohio State have competed or plan to compete in the below competitions.

  • Procter & Gamble Marketing Case Competition
  • The Lincoln Challenge
  • Macy’s Marketing Case Competition
  • Venture Capital Investment Competition “VCIC”
  • The Big Ten Case Competition
  • ACG Case Competition
  • International Supply Chain Case Competition
  • Deloitte Supply Chain Case Competition
  • The GE Case Competition
  • And many more

What are the prizes you ask? They range from a cool trophy to $40,000 CASH!!!!

I have competed in three case competitions and plan to complete in more. They are a great learning experience, fun, tiring, stressful and a fantastic networking opportunity. Many students end up with internships and full-time jobs from competing in case competitions.

Uncovering the World of Career Conferences

It was my first year in the MBA, and school had started just a couple of weeks ago. I received an email from the president of the Fisher Graduate Latino Association (FGLA) telling us about this conference happening in Philadelphia: NSHMBA Career Expo (National Society of Hispanic MBAs). It was a 3-day career conference hosted by NSHMBA, an organization dedicated to “increasing the number of Hispanics graduating with MBAs; and to assist in networking by helping secure leadership positions and enhance professional development.” I had only been in the MBA program for a couple of weeks, and I had no idea what this event was, or the great opportunities it provided.

After talking to the president of FGLA and my advisor, I decided to attend, along with 5 other first years and a couple of second years. We arrived in Philadelphia Thursday night, and would be attending the Conference first thing Friday morning. The night before at the hotel, we all researched the companies we were interested in, and took a look at the conference map. There would be so many companies attending! The map, however, only conveyed the scale of the conference to a small degree. When we arrived there Friday morning before the conference started, it was a busy, crazy scene of hundreds of MBAs in suits and with portfolios, eagerly waiting to go talk to the company they were interested in.

The doors to the conference finally opened. I decided to walk around the conference and get a feel for the environment before I talked to any recruiter.  It was an overwhelming experience, since it was my first time in a conference such as that one, but it was also so energizing and thriving. So much talent and opportunities everywhere. I walked around the floor and observed the layout of the conference. Once I felt comfortable and ready to take part of this experience, I put down my coffee and looked at the first company name in my list. It would be a great, long day ahead of me – and I felt as ready as ever to start!

Touring Philly the day we arrived
Touring Philly the day we arrived
Right before starting the conference
Right before starting the conference

 

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

Studio 35: Dudethon 2016

I know I have already made a habit of writing about all of the wonderful, exciting things to do around Columbus. However, I just recently attended a brand new event that is a must share for those who have never heard of it.

Studio 35 is a cinema/draft house in the neighborhood of Clintonville, which is one of my favorite areas in Columbus. Fun fact that I didn’t know until writing this blog is that Studio 35 is Columbus’ oldest independent movie theater and draft house. This is an awesome establishment because they show so many different types of movies and have a full bar out front! You can catch anything from a new release to classic cinema to a special event built around a movie.

This is where Dudethon comes into the picture. Dudethon is an annual event that sells out every year at Studio 35. This year, there were three different nights. Each night, a different brewery brought in staff and did a sampling event of all of their beers. The night I chose to attend (Friday) was Columbus Brewing Company’s (CBC) night and we sampled around 10 different (DELICIOUS) beers from them. Each night was sold out, so it was a lively crowd in the theater. In between beer samples, Studio 35 showed funny Youtube videos (grandmas trying Fireball, anyone?), auctioned off prizes and told us about the beers we were drinking.

After sampling was over, everyone took a quick break before the main event: the screening of The Big Lebowski (hence the name Dudethon). It was super fun because everyone in the crowd loved the movie and you could hear people quoting their favorite lines throughout the evening. There were even a couple of super fans that dressed up like characters. The great thing about Dudethon is they were completely fine with people coming in and out to grab a beer at the bar, order pizza from the nearby pizza place or just run out to grab a snack of popcorn.

Studio 35 does events like these periodically throughout the year and this was my first time attending. It was a great time and I was even lucky enough to win a raffle that included two free movie tickets and a free popcorn. Looks like I will be returning soon…maybe for Bad Movie Night (BMN) in the future!

To learn more about Studio 35 and plan your own visit, visit their website below. Trust me, you will be going back again and again for the movies, beer and all around amazing atmosphere.

http://studio35.com/

Dudethon 2

How to Make the Most of Your Last Break

This December, I was faced with the realization that I was approaching my final “break.”  I have no additional grad school in my future, and I don’t know when I will take more than 2 consecutive weeks of vacation during my career. Moreover, future vacations will always be at least a bit overshadowed by thoughts of work left undone. It is a unique (and wonderful) feeling of freedom to finish final exams and presentations and “check out” for 4 weeks.

I am normally one to over-schedule my time off (as well as my time on), but I took a rewarding step out of my comfort zone this year and planned nothing over my break. By “nothing,” I mean that I had a couple of weekends set aside for my wife and me to go visit family over the holidays, but nothing in the way of a big trip or project. I was worried I would end the break with regret that I hadn’t taken full advantage of it, but having a more relaxing, spontaneous schedule was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Instead of having an epic, 4-week adventure, I scattered a number of “micro-adventures” throughout the break. My wife and I have a 1-year-old pup, an American Brittany Spaniel named “Gus,” that we have trained for hunting. I used the break to take him out about a dozen times to different bird preserves and local conservation land I hadn’t yet visited for both hunting and trail runs. In the afternoons/evenings, I worked through a long list of to-dos that have been accumulating over the year. Fortunately, these were much less chores and much more projects I have been hoping to accomplish with this much-needed free time. Lastly, I took the opportunity to make a small trip down to North Carolina to visit my favorite professor from undergrad, a much overdue trip.

Capture - Copy 2

Most importantly, I ended the break feeling two things: first, despite not having a big trip/adventure, I felt the excitement and satisfaction of nevertheless having an adventurous break. Secondly, I felt relieved – normally I come to the end of a vacation or break to the realization that I have to get caught up with the things I missed, but by spreading out activities and projects alike, it made for a great blend of spontaneity and accomplishment.

For those who still have the luxury of 4-week breaks or who are looking forward to them in future plans of grad school, I encourage you to do a few things:

  • Change your routine: Whether that means waking up earlier or later, take the opportunity to “buck” the routine – it will be a relief in its own right
  • Manage your to-dos: Find the right amount of things that actually need to get done and will feel good to accomplish, and make sure not to overload your time with chores that you won’t enjoy
  • Have Adventures: Even if you can’t travel, find places close-by that you haven’t visited, go for runs in new neighborhoods, and do whatever else you can to make sure your eyes fall on new scenery
  • See Friends: I love staying connected with my friends, and it is hard when they are spread across the country. Time spent face-to-face with old friends is easily the most rewarding use of my time.

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Global Marketing Lab – Singapore Style

I wanted to write about my amazing week in Singapore now that I’ve been back in the States for over a week and I’ve finally conquered jet lag (enough) to organize my thoughts.

Naturally, I’m talking about this year’s Global Marketing Lab, Fisher’s winter break course that pairs teams of undergraduate business students with MBA mentors to create boardroom-ready presentations for multinational companies and their Asia Pacific leadership teams. During our week abroad, our undergraduates presented to Johnson & Johnson’s Acuvue team, two divisions of Deutsche Post DHL and Wendy’s EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Asia) leadership team.

During each visit, the youngsters would present their projects and the respective leadership teams would educate our entire group about their business, and more specifically, illuminate the reality of doing business in Southeast Asia. Perhaps the most enlightening portions of each get-together were the informal Q&A sessions and networking opportunities. After all, these individuals already held the reins for three established, influential global companies. The best we could do was to simply soak in as much information as possible: every insight and industry tidbit that would inevitably help us in the future.

Lotus

While we donned our business professional finest each morning to fulfill our educational duties, each afternoon held a different kind of education. Our days included cultural tours, tourist attractions and some of the most delicious food a human being could ever venture to ask for. Within 48 hours of touching down in the tropical city-state, we had all experienced:

  • The Singapore Flyer: one of the world’s largest Ferris wheels
  • The Marina Bay Sands: imagine a Las Vegas resort containing three massive towers with a boat-like structure spanning all three (complete with a pool, a bar and an incredible view)
  • Gardens by the Bay: a man-made cloud forest and nature conservatory
  • The Colonial District Tour: which can only be completed on a ubiquitous bumboat
  • Jumbo Seafood feast
  • Singapore City Gallery: picture an architectural tour by way of an intricate model of the entire city (down to the unique shape of our hotel’s roof)
  • Asian Civilizations Museum: exactly as it sounds

Our first 48 hours were, in my mind, the busiest and most tour-heavy days of the trip. That’s not to say we didn’t resume our tourist roles again throughout the trip, but bedtime could not come soon enough on Sunday and Monday.

Temple

Throughout the week we toured and spent hours exploring Chinatown, Little India and the Malay District, experiencing the separate cultures that make Singapore such a distinctive place. It was very interesting as a novice Singaporean historian to learn about the cultural make-up of the nation that grew from a small fishing village and nautical crossroads to a British trade hub and, eventually, a free nation leading the Asian tigers to become one of the most developed and prosperous countries in the world.

The growth and prosperity of Singapore is easily seen throughout the city, as well as the strict regulations that govern its people. The public transportation system is immaculately clean. There truly is such a small amount of litter that it becomes rare to even see an empty bottle or cigarette butt in the gutter. As for jaywalking, chewing gum and the other strange laws that we hear about Stateside, I couldn’t tell you. I was too nervous to try.
Singapore is a marvelous entry point for travelers’ first Asian trip. It’s largely English-speaking, safe and compact. The small country, about the size of all five boroughs of New York City, has five million people. You can experience as much traditional culture as you please. Or, if you so choose, the shopping centers are (apparently) amazing. And I’ll say it again, the food is fantastic. Try everything. Find the stall in the hawker center with the longest line and have at it.

Fish head

This goes without saying, but the trip went so well because of our esteemed leaders Professor Shashi Matta and Heidi Eldred, Director, Graduate Global Experiential Education Program. These two know the territory and show the students a great time.

Oh, and one last thing, it’s extremely hot and humid. Pack extra shirts.

Hands-On Learning at Fisher

One of the more common themes of recent podcasts and books I have listened to/read is how the classroom format of most educational programs favor certain types of learning, and thus favor some students over others. In a nutshell, lecture-based education is largely based on verbal and logical/mathematical learning styles, and rarely physical/kinesthetic or social formats. All styles have their own place, but one thing I did not expect and have been ecstatic to experience here at OSU is the extent to which hands-on learning is woven into the curriculum. Lecture-based classes are still the norm, as they should be, but my classes this semester in particular have featured heavily interactive components as opposed to the traditional reading-lecture-exam format I expected prior to the program.

One such class is Professor Camp’s Technology, Commercialization, Entrepreneurship class. While a Fisher class, a good portion of the students are PhD or masters students in engineering, biomedical sciences, or other related fields. In the class, we have been split into groups and paired with technologies and patents developed here at Ohio State. We have spent the semester tasked with exploring, studying, and validating markets for these technologies.  The class typically opens with a lecture where we learn the next step in the framework for bringing new technologies to market, and the rest of class is spent in groups with our technology inventors putting together strategies and actually reaching out to potential customers.

Another heavily interactive class is Professor Lount’s Negotiations course. For those at Fisher, I highly recommend taking the full 14-week course. Former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Vernon Law once said, “Experience is a hard teacher – she gives the test first, and the lesson after.” In this course, we spend about half of our class sessions in pairs or groups conducting simulated negotiations, all of which feature their own host of challenges and complexities. Only after the negotiations do we learn the underlying sources of conflict as well as the strategies to use going forward. While it may seem counter-intuitive, it has been an extremely effective way to experience and learn both these concepts and related strategies.

To students and professors alike, I would highly encourage more opportunities to complement lectures and concepts with simulations, projects, and other opportunities for hands-on learning.

Marketing For A Better World

This year the Association of Marketing Professionals and Fisher Board Fellows joined forces to put on the first ever Marketing For A Better World event. The event kicked off with small-group break-out sessions with local non-profit organizations. Six of Fisher Board Fellows’ partner organizations participated, including Catholic Social Services, Kaleidoscope House, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio, A Kid Again, the Ohio Psychological Association, and the Mid-Ohio Foodbank. Each break-out session group included one representative from one of these non-profit organizations, and these representatives posed a current marketing problem their organization is facing to the group. Participants then explored ways to solve these marketing problems and had discussions about the best solutions.

Catholic Social Services' CEO, Rachel Lustig, with students after the break-out session.
Catholic Social Services’ CEO, Rachel Lustig, with students after the break-out session.

I was the moderator for the break-out session with Catholic Social Services. The CEO of Catholic Social Services, Rachel Lustig, attended the session and brought with her a brief case study for students to read and then comment on the strengths and weaknesses of the case. Rachel explained some of the strategic and marketing changes that Catholic Social Services is going through, and she asked for student feedback on the case study and how CSS might better reach out to donors. I was impressed by how thoughtful student responses were, and by how passionate everyone was about helping the organization. The experience was a good one for students because it gave them a chance to work on a true marketing issue, and it allowed them to better understand some of the problems that non-profit organizations deal with.

After the break-out sessions, everyone converged downstairs in the U.S Bank Theatre and heard from three keynote speakers: John Rush, CEO of CleanTurn, Liz Geraghty, VP of Wendy’s, and Dianne Radigan, VP of Cardinal Health. The speakers had wonderful things to say about the ways that marketing and business can impact the world for good. John Rush discussed the importance of social entrepreneurship, and how profits are often not the ultimate goal – the goal is to help others. Liz Geraghty discussed what it was like to work for an organization that is closely aligned with its partner non-profit. She explained the ways that Wendy’s uses marketing to spread the word about the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and help get more children out of foster care and into their forever homes. And finally, Dianne Radigan discussed the importance of working for an organization that aligns itself so strongly with helping the community and making a difference.

Liz Geraghty speaking to students about the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.
Liz Geraghty speaking to students about the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.

The event was a huge success, and I think everyone – myself included – learned something. It was wonderful to see undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, staff, and business professionals, come together to discuss ways to help our local non-profit organizations and ways that marketing can make a positive difference in the community. I hope this event continues in coming years, and I hope that Fisher continues to explore ways to get students involved with giving back and focuses on the ways that marketing and business can be a force for good in the world.

Gimme a Break, Gimme a Break

Earlier this semester, I wrote about the astonishing speed of the first term (seven weeks). Even though I have the exact same feelings about this second term, I won’t bore you with my flabbergasted view of time during this program (but seriously, didn’t we just start Leadership and Operations a couple of weeks ago?).

Amid the flurry of classes, exams, group projects and meetings, there is time to breathe. Trust me. Breaks are such an important part of this program. Luckily, they’re almost perfectly spaced apart.

Academic Calendar

Like any school schedule, the breaks can be short (Labor Day, Veterans’ Day), a little more substantial (fall break, Thanksgiving weekend) or massive (winter break a.k.a. four weeks of brain-resting bliss). Whether it’s a Wednesday off or a five-day weekend, each and every one of us can appreciate a break because we get a much needed taste of normalcy. Some choose to take the extra time to focus on catching up in Data Analysis. Others take time to catch up on Netflix. Anything and everything that has been neglected throughout the preceding weeks receives much needed attention.

Personally, my favorite break activities are sleeping in, reading (for pleasure, not to learn more about value stream mapping) and mini-marathons of beloved TV shows or movies with my girlfriend. Before Fisher, I used to finish a book every one to two weeks. This has drastically changed. I can say, with a twinge of sadness, it took me about twelve weeks to finish the last book I started (it was a terrible book, but still). Nonetheless, I will not be deterred. I have a stack of 10-15 books waiting to be read over winter break, next semester, spring break and beyond.

As for shows, wonderful creations like On Demand, DVR, Netflix and Hulu enable all of us to catch up on our favorite shows in one day (if you’re feeling up to it). I’m partial to travel shows, namely “Parts Unknown” with Anthony Bourdain, but anything will work. I’m sure I have a few classmates who can’t wait to finish the latest season of “Pretty Little Liars” or “UFO Hunters.” I’m not here to judge anyone’s preferred method for fully exploiting a day with no schedules and no deliverables. I think we should all revel in our days off and do just that, take the day off. Do what you want to clear your mind, relax and get re-centered.

Like all great things, breaks come to an end. The hectic schedule awaits on the other side, but that doesn’t mean we can’t put our brains on cruise control and get lost in something other than regressions for a day.