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.

 

The hunt for a Job/Internship

The biggest part of coming back to get my MBA was to pursue a different career than the one I was in. I knew the MBA program would help me make the switch but I was unsure what the process would look like. When would I start interviewing for Internships, what kinds of internships would be available, where would they be located and how much would I make?

The easy answer for all of these questions is: it depends. Marketing, logistics and most finance internships/jobs begin interviewing pretty early in the fall. Investment banks begin interviewing in December and consulting firms start the hunt for candidates in the spring. The experience for each and every one of my classmates has been very different. Most of my classmates have interviewed for multiple internships/jobs. Some have 4-5 offers from various companies, some received offers for their “dream” position and accepted right away and others are still on the hunt.

As for where are the internships and jobs located. I would ask you, where do you want to live? Odds are you will be able to find an internship/job in that location. A perk of coming to one of the largest universities in the United States is a HUGE alumni network.

Career switchers, it is possible. 90% of my experience prior to my MBA was in sales and I currently have multiple offers related to finance in multiple locations – exactly what I wanted.

As for how much you will make. I’ll leave that one to the office of Career Management.

The hunt for an internship/job is time consuming, fun, stressful and ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT!!!

 

On Fisher’s Difference – A Reflection

Reflecting on my first three semesters here in the Fisher FTMBA program, I find the question that I’m most often asked by family, friends, and applicants to the program is: “What differentiates Fisher from other MBA programs?” Over time, I’ve realized that my best answer is not really my answer; it’s Dr. Tony Rucci’s.

Dr. Rucci is a clinical professor of management here at Fisher, and all first year students in the full time MBA program take his Leadership course as a part of the core curriculum. His impressive resume contains stints in the C-suites of Cardinal Health and Sears Roebuck and Co, and Dr. Rucci is actively involved in the community through several advisory roles and multiple philanthropic ventures.

Dr. Rucci could have continued his successful career in the private sector, but he chose to teach at Fisher.

Dr. Rucci could have gone and taught at any business school of his choosing around the country, but he chose to teach at Fisher.

During the first week of Dr. Rucci’s core leadership course, while leading a class conversation on a project concerning the development of our team’s purpose and values statements for Fisher, I recall asking him, “Why Fisher? What makes this program special to you?” After a contemplative pause, Dr. Rucci replied:

At many other MBA programs, students go to class against their competition, fighting to take their next step in life over the fallen body of their vanquished foe. Here at Fisher, students go to class with their friends, and everyone works to take their next steps in life together, arm-in-arm.”

Three semesters later, I can still remember Dr. Rucci answer my question as if it had just happened yesterday. I think part of the reason why this memory has remained so fresh is that I see this message in practice every single day in the interactions among Fisher students. “How firm thy friendship” from Ohio State’s alma mater Carmen Ohio and “Go Beyond” from Fisher’s branding campaign seem like nice sentiments on a page, pamphlet, or computer screen. But seeing them lived out in person packs a potent, palpable punch so powerful that even previously cynical me has become a believer in Dr. Rucci’s words.

Top 10 Most Memorable Experiences from the 1st Semester:

Tepper

1: Tepper Case Competition – This past weekend I traveled to Pittsburgh to participate in an international supply chain case competition with three others from Fisher. While our team didn’t advance to the finals, we learned a TON, networked with executives from a handful of companies, spent 30 hours working on a LIVE company problem and experienced a first-class wine and dine experience. #istillneedtocatchuponsleep

OHIO

2: Football games – I used to think OSU was the evil powerhouse team that wins too much. Now, I’ve drunk the scarlet Kool-Aid. #punintended #O-H…

3: CEO of Cardinal Health – About every other week a C-suite speaker comes in for a lunch seminar. My favorite has been George Barrett from Cardinal Health. Here is the article (I was even quoted in the article!) #freepaneralunch #greatopportunity

4: Fisher prayer – every other week between 3 and 10 of us gather to talk about how life in Fisher is impacting our lives. Then we pray for 20 minutes. Great memories reflecting and opening up to classmates.

5: Winning the MBA poker tourney. We are a competitive bunch! #thisblogpostinnowaysupportsgamblingbutdangitsfun

Urban

6: Urban Meyer spoke on leadership to the College of Business just 24 hours before JT Barrett was arrested for a DUI. I snapped this picture from my seat!

Red Lobster

7: Red Lobster – Our marketing final involved a 24-hour deep-dive into a case about Red Lobster’s effort to re-position itself in the market. This required some memorable late night studying sessions and the obligatory trip with my family and classmates to Red Lobster for ‘market research’. #thebestcheesybiscuitsontheplanet

8: Diwali celebration – Learning about Indian culture from dozens of my classmates and professors. A true highlight and such a fantastic cultural exchange. #deliciousfood

9: This coming weekend…. There are still a few weeks left in the semester, but I’ve been looking forward to the coming weekend. Fisher Follies, MSU vs. OSU, and a families of Fisher parent gathering!

10: I love classes. Seriously, I am SO grateful for a number of my classes this semester. Honorable mentions also go to Data Analysis and Econ and Leadership. The personal development and challenge we have been given to grow our emotional intelligence in leadership is invaluable!

Fisher Impact Day: Our Lady of Guadalupe Center

Fisher faculty and students with volunteers and staff of the Guadalupe Center.

Fisher faculty and students with volunteers and staff of the Guadalupe Center.

“There are green peppers under here! Everyone loves these!” I could see the joy on Megan’s face as she lifted up the last box of cucumbers to reveal the green peppers beneath. She paused to say something in Spanish to the two other regular volunteers. I smiled because everyone else was so happy, but I was also a little surprised to see such excitement over a vegetable. I can’t say that I’ve ever been excited to see a vegetable, but that is probably because I have always had enough to eat. For those that come to the Our Lady of Guadalupe Center, hunger is something that is all too familiar.

Megan is a senior Spanish major at The Ohio State University and regularly volunteers with the Our Lady of Guadalupe Center. She did the training for our work at the center on Fisher Impact Day. November 11th was Fisher’s very first Fisher Impact Day, and hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff, volunteered at non-profit organizations around Columbus. As the Chair of Fisher Board Fellows, I was asked to sit on the committee and help recruit organizations to participate. Some of Fisher Board Fellows’ partner organizations that participated were: Catholic Social Services, Ronald McDonald House, Local Matters, Mid-Ohio Foodbank, LifeCare Alliance, and the Columbus Zoo. In addition to these organizations, we had students helping out with the Red Cross and Goodwill, as well as students who made blankets for foster children, and students who helped create packages of food with The Pack Shack. I chose to volunteer with the Guadalupe Center because it is run by Catholic Social Services, which is the board I currently sit on as a fellow.

At the Guadalupe Center, myself and two other Fisher volunteers helped sort through and bag produce. While we worked, Megan taught us what each vegetable and fruit was in Spanish, and she explained to us how the center functioned. As a business student, I was impressed by the organization and efficiency of the center. Clients called in to make an appointment, and then each family was allotted a certain number of playing cards (dependent on the number of family members and the individual needs of each family), and each card was worth one point. Families were able to spend their points on whatever food they wanted, but produce didn’t cost any points – everyone got fresh fruit and vegetables. Volunteers were on-hand to help push shopping carts and keep the center organized and everything running smoothly.

For me, the green pepper moment was the most memorable of the day, because the volunteers were so genuinely excited. It showed how much the volunteers and staff at the Guadalupe Center care about those they serve. Their kindness and their dedication are invaluable because the clients at the Guadalupe Center come at their most vulnerable and in need of help. Compassion and respect are two of Catholic Social Services’ core values, and these values permeated throughout our entire volunteer experience.

Even though I was a Fisher Impact Day committee member and have been present through each step of the planning process, I am still impressed by how well it went, and by what a wonderful experience students had. I truly hope that Fisher Impact Day continues, and I hope the committee continues to partner with Fisher Board Fellows. Giving back to the community is so important for students, but it is especially important for business students. We spend our days in class learning about shareholders equity and market share and profit margins, but in the real world, where people are hungry and struggling to make it through the next day, those things don’t really matter all that much. Sometimes what matters most is a green pepper. And sometimes we need a reminder of that.

Columbus Christmas

It’s essentially like a whole season of Christmas when fall rolls around and football begins here in Columbus. The Buckeyes are our hometown version of both a college and NFL team rolled into one due to the fact that you have to go either north or south two hours to get to the closest NFL stadium. Our Ohio State Buckeyes don’t need to worry though, as the fans support the team to the fullest. On game day, you can find tailgates virtually everywhere and if you yell O-H, you’ll definitely hear an I-O coming from multiple directions.

I was extremely excited to hear that Fisher wouldn’t be lacking in the tailgate area during my two years in the MBA program. Every Saturday, our program hosts a tailgate at Fisher Commons, which is the apartment complex many of our students live in. Everyone pitches in or brings a dish to share and no matter the time of day, we feast and celebrate. For noon games, we will typically host a breakfast tailgate with pancakes, bacon and more, while afternoon and night games bring your standard tailgate grill foods. Fisher Commons has a central grassy area which makes for the perfect space to eat, drink and hang out before making the short walk over to the Shoe. Once we get to the Shoe, our class sits together in a seating block we form prior to the season. As a former graduate of Ohio State, I am so glad to be in a program where I can continue my fandom with a group of friends.

However, while football is king, I have also begun to appreciate the other sports options we have in the fall here in Columbus. Within Ohio State alone, you can visit any of our fall sport matchups depending on what interests you most. It’s also not too late to catch a Clippers game in August and early September and you may even time it up to catch one of the famous “Dime-A-Dog” nights. If baseball isn’t your sport, you also have the option to catch a Crew game and this year the soccer team has made it through to the playoffs, extending the season for us fans. Overall, no matter what your sport is, you can find a game to go cheer at during the fall months here in Columbus. With that, as always, GO BUCKS!

The People at Fisher

When starting the MBA program, I never expected the people here to be so nice. You hear the business school stereotypes about the intense competition, too many Type-A personalities vying for the same jobs, everyone stuffy and perpetually be-suited, etc. but I’ve felt something completely different here at Fisher.

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I was attracted to the small class size at Fisher and liked the thought of getting to know my fellow classmates, but I had no idea how quickly and how deeply those connections would be forged.

Walking down the hallway after about a month here, I knew most of the first years by name and a surprising number of the second years too, and I’ve met even more people since then. The faculty and staff ask about how a test went and I’m halfway through my answer before I realize how extraordinary it is that they know and care about us to even keep track of something as mundane as our testing schedule.

When the administration introduced the concept of the “Fisher family,” I thought it was mostly rhetoric and didn’t take it too seriously. But then I got here and realized that the faculty, staff and my fellow students live up to that promise every day. People are beyond supportive; they cheer for you, care about you, and want the best for you.

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Before our last Data Analysis test (yikes!), a lot of students met at Fisher on a Sunday night to study. There was a very collaborative atmosphere with some people who understood the material teaching the rest of us who struggled with the material a little more. I was blown away when I realized that there were a couple of students going from study room to study room offering to answer any questions and checking to make sure we were feeling alright about the test. They weren’t TAs, they didn’t need to be there, and it was 10:00 on a Sunday night! I was really touched by their genuine concern, especially after the test when they asked me how I felt about it and assured me that I did fine.

I’m only 9 weeks in, but I can tell you that there’s definitely a feeling of “we’re all in this together,” and I think that’s what sets Fisher apart during the program and as alumni.

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Experiencing culinary delights in Columbus