One Term Down, Seven To Go

Although the Full-Time MBA program technically includes four semesters and one summer internship, those semesters are truthfully split into two terms each. Eight fast-paced, blurred seven week terms that take novice economists, marketers and businesspeople and fill them with enough information to make the most brilliant minds ache. (Full disclosure, some of our core courses do cover the full 14 week period, but not all.) I have no doubt that Term 1 is the tip of the educational iceberg here at Fisher. The mere fact that some courses are called “Marketing Management 1” and “Operations Management 1” plainly shows us that we’re nowhere near finished. Not yet.

As I mentioned, we’re 1/8 done (not that I’m counting). I couldn’t tell you what we covered in each class period or which exams were what week. All I know is that I’ve learned more in seven/eight weeks than ever before. Completely foreign concepts like analyzing accounting statements and corporate finance (or, let’s be honest, finance in general) are now familiar tools I use each week. Maybe I don’t use these tools perfectly, but still.

Before the program started, I had serious reservations about my ability to pick up the business concepts I knew we’d cover in our core courses. I majored in the humanities in college and graduate school, worked in PR and corporate communications and hadn’t touched math since 2009. Luckily for me, the courses are structured in a way that allows non-business background students to keep up and even flourish. That’s not to say that someone with a weak finance background won’t have to work harder than a former financial analyst in our corporate finance course, but the opportunity to do well is there. As Dr. Gray (data analysis guru) loves to tell us, you need to do the problems and practice outside of class. With my more than seven weeks of expertise in the field, I can tell you he’s right. Do the problems. All the problems.

I’m excited to see where these next 49 weeks of class take me. I don’t know where I’ll end up but I do know that I’ll be ten times as prepared as I was before entering Gerlach Hall for that first day of school.


MId-Terms Round 1

It has been many years since I was sitting in a classroom as an undergrad student taking mid-terms. That changed last week as the first wave of Mid-Terms were here. Five over the course of two weeks to be exact. The majority of the first year MBA students were nervous about our first mid-terms, myself included. First was Marketing, then Finance, and economics followed by Accounting and Data Analysis.

As I walked through Fisher this past week, I have seen nothing but groups of my fellow students helping one another out with mid-term prep. Students who were strong in one subject were helping other students who were not as strong. Then the next day the same students that were doing the helping were now being helped by others. It was amazing to see the help and support that was offered by my fellow classmates. I can personally speak to the group of 7-8 individuals I have been studying with. Each one of us leading a different study session that we were particularly strong in.

As test day arrived we were anxious to take our first mid-term and get it over with. After the test there were multiple opinions on how we did ranging from: great to horrible. Once we got our mid-terms back, many people did better than they thought and non-to our surprise our study groups paid off.

Everyone you talk to says the culture in the Fisher MBA program is like no other. Mid-term week proved that to be accurate. Although we are competing for the highest grade and some of the same jobs, everyone wants to see everyone else be successful.

My first month at Fisher

It’s been almost a month since our MBA classes began. I thought this would be a nice time to highlight some of the activities I was involved with in the last month to help you better understand student life in the Fisher MBA Program.

  • Pre-Term: In the 2 weeks before our MBA officially started, we had our pre-term where we got to learn more about the program structure, professors, resources, and fellow classmates among many other things. Over many creative team bonding exercises, we were able to understand our key strengths (and weaknesses) and make new friends along the way! We also had a few career foundation seminars that helped us get a better picture of the different career paths ahead of us. The pre-term ended with the ’Fisher Challenge’ where each team had to present a case analysis with their core team, which was extremely exciting primarily because it is your first group exercise with your team. As an International student, we also had an additional 3 days of orientation that helped us in our transition. My favorite part was a workshop on American Football 101, conducted by a couple of ex NFL players (and Fisher Alums)! In a nut shell, the pre-term helped the students understand what it means to be a part of the larger Fisher community.
My Core team: Team 22 (that should explain the hand signs) From Left: Lucy Liu, Sarang Nampoothiri, Andrew Wolff, Adriana Castro and Rob Harrison.
My Core team: Team 22 (that should explain the hand signs) From Left: Lucy Liu, Sarang Nampoothiri, Andrew Wolff, Adriana Castro, and Rob Harrison.
  • Career Management – The career management team at Fisher is one of our strongest assets. Within the last month, I have attended multiple career fairs and got to meet and network with many potential recruiters. We have Information Sessions conducted by companies on a daily basis. This is a great way to learn more about a company and meet their representatives in a bit more relaxed setting. Apart from these, we also have individual meetings with our career counselors. They help you streamline your job search and refine your approach.
Fisher College of Busines
Fisher College of Business
  • Student organizations – I think I might have gone a bit over the top here. I have signed up for 5 student organizations for the upcoming year even though I was advised to restrict it to 3 by many second year students! But in my defense, I found value in all 5 of these organizations! Career specific student organizations help conduct some of the company information sessions. They also help their members prepare for interviews and can be a great resource for networking.
  • The Ohio State University – I joined Fisher because it was a small program within a very large university. There is always something amazing happening around you. I have signed up with the Buckeye Leadership Fellows program for some of their Luncheon Sessions, where they invite outstanding community leaders to interact with a group of students in a small and intimate environment. As a fan of music, I also volunteered for a Music experiment conducted at the School of Music!
  • Mid Terms – Here at Fisher, we have our semesters divided into two terms. One month into the program and I have already finished most of my Mid-terms! In a way, this is good as it always keeps you on your toes. 🙂
  • Calendar App – I think this point sums up my first month at Fisher perfectly. A few days into the program and you will soon realize the true value of the mobile calendar app! This one app is going to be a life saver here as it helps you keep a track of all the events every day.

If my next two years are as exciting as my first month at Fisher, I am sure this is going to be my most rewarding and enriching journey!

Jumping into the Full Time MBA World!

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A picture of my kitchen table on the first day of pre-term MBA program

I’m a 33-year-old (balding) dad of two young kids with 10 years of non-profit work experience.  How do I fit in at business school?

That was the gut-wrenching question in the back of my head as I entered into Fisher’s 1st year MBA pre-term program just one month ago. Little did I know that most of my peers were asking similar questions about their own identity and status.062515Greenawalt-18

It’s no secret that leaving your job as a budding young professional to pursue a degree will cause you to evaluate your identity.  We have left behind our previous jobs, social networks, and, in many cases, even family to live in Columbus and immerse ourselves in a world of academic, career, and personal growth.  While my first day jitters have subsided, it’s that very process of wrestling with issues of identity that I believe contributes to such a powerful experience here at Fisher.  When else in my adult life will I have another opportunity to jump a different direction in my career trajectory, and remove myself from my comfort zone for 20 months in order to learn, grow, and develop as a person and a professional.

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My CORE team of 5 along with some other 1st year MBAs

From my experience so far at Fisher and Ohio State, I’m so grateful for how our resources are pointed towards my personal (and our communal) growth, development, learning, and future career placement.  This university is vast and it’s set up to help many thrive.  From working with career management to tell my story and clarify my career direction, to networking among other MBAs and learning how they are wrestling with their identities, to reading case studies and engaging in class content that relates to my previous work experience and challenges my paradigms, it is nothing short of awesome to be a part of this program!  I’m one of many students here who is utilizing the MBA experience to shift career directions, know myself better, and have a great time doing it.

In the end, I’m thankful to be a 33-year-old balding dad with unique experience to bring to the table here.  Besides, balding gives you wisdom, right?

Round #2: The Good, The Bad, and The Awesome

They told us second year would be easy. They told us that the workload would be lighter and the classes much less difficult. They said we would learn how to balance grad school with a social life, and they promised we would have more free time. They lied.

At this stage of the game, survival feels like winning. But I will do all the things, and I will do them to the best of my ability, even if it means I won’t be sleeping much. There may be days when I don’t eat until dinner, and days I spend twelve straight hours in Gerlach. There may be times when I clean my apartment at 9:30pm on a Sunday night, because it’s the only free time I have. But there are also days when, as a Fisher Board Fellow, I get to go to board meetings and learn about how a non-profit organization is run. Those days are my shining star of hope in the chaos that is my life.

I wrote a lot last year about my first year experiences with Fisher Board Fellows. Most of last year was spent preparing for this year, because this year, I am actually serving on the board of Catholic Social Services. And I love it. I love it even more than I thought I would. I cannot tell you how much fun I am having. Although my life is a zoo, no matter how busy I am, the board meetings I attend are always the best part of my day.

Since April, I have been to a strategic retreat, Breakfast with the Bishop fundraising event, several full board meetings, and numerous external relations committee meetings. Every meeting I go to is a new learning experience, and I even feel like I’m starting to contribute to the team. Another board member and our CEO complimented me on my marketing and advertising insights at our last meeting. I’m sure Dr. Matta would be proud of me.

Over the last several months, I have been able to learn about what it takes to run a non-profit organization. I have learned about the strategic and branding and financial concerns of Catholic Social Services, and I have learned much about leadership from the CEO, Rachel Lustig. Catholic Social Services is going through some big changes, and I have been lucky enough to be present and to learn about these strategic changes and processes over the summer. I’m actually seeing the concepts we learned in class last year be implemented in a real business situation, and the experience has been invaluable for me.

Overall, this term has been challenging and overwhelming, but it has also been weirdly wonderful. If I survive and make it to fall break, I’ll let you know how the rest of my year and experiences as a board fellow go!

New Beginnings

Life is full of transitions.

As a married military veteran with a family, I view transitions as endeavors to personally and professionally grow while taking advantage of new opportunities.  Leaving the private sector for full-time graduate school is a long-term investment.  The Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University has so much to offer.  I’m proud to be a Buckeye.

FullSizeRender[1]Dedication to lifelong learning seems to be a theme in our household.  I began a graduate degree program, my wife completed hers (while working), and my daughter started Kindergarten – all in the same week!  As a father and a husband, I am so proud of them both.

As the fall semester begins to pick up momentum, we must remember who we are in order to prioritize what is most important in our lives.  I, like most of my classmates, am attracted to pretty much everything that the Fisher College of Business has to offer.  There are so many clubs, organizations, employer info sessions, events, and activities competing over our most precious resource – time.  If we view time as a resource, how do we allocate it?

FullSizeRenderOne place to start is to identify who we are in relation to others (I am a father, husband, son, brother, student, uncle, employee, job-seeker, club member, mentor, mentee, veteran, coach, blogger, etc.).  The list is long for many of us.  Prioritizing this list can also be difficult with so many competing factors taking place simultaneously.  We realize that we cannot be everything to everyone all the time, but we can deliberately plan those aspects that are most important into our lives if we choose to do so.  This process becomes critically important during major transitions when we are faced with new situations, changing conditions, and increasing obligations. It can be difficult deciding what not to do, at least temporarily, during transitions.  Ultimately, our decisions are about trade-offs intended to maximize value.

What we choose to do with our time is ultimately what we value most.  Many of us have roles and responsibilities within our personal, professional, and even spiritual lives.  Intellectual curiosity, respect for diversity of thought, and continual growth and development are important to me in a professional context.  This is why I chose to invest my time at The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business.FullSizeRender[2]






Concerts In Columbus!

This past Labor Day, I assumed there would be some type of music event around the city. When I started to do my research, I was surprised by how MANY music options there were in one weekend. From the Fashion Meets Music Festival to Country Jam 2015 to the concert I ended up choosing at the LC, I could have filled my whole weekend and then some. I ended up going to see Citizen Cope and Counting Crows at the LC, which was amazing. The concert took place in their outdoor venue (they also have an indoor space) and while it was hot, the atmosphere was great. Both Citizen Cope and Counting Crows put on great shows.  What was even more exciting was the LC actually started the concert in the afternoon so they could show the Ohio State game at the venue. Everyone at the concert was able to stay on the lawn and watch the game projected on a big screen, which we all know is important here in Columbus!


(Citizen Cope performance)

Overall, all of the concert options last weekend reminded me how lucky we are with the music scene in Columbus. From well-known artists like Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift and Tim McGraw to local bars hosting open mic nights or karaoke, the options are endless. What makes this even better is the plethora of venue options. If you like the big feel of an arena, Nationwide Arena or the Schottenstein Center will have concerts throughout the year. On the other hand, if you are like me and prefer smaller venues where you can get super close to the stage, there are places like the Newport, the LC Pavilion or even bars like A&R bar that host small scale concerts.

As a student, I have seen a ton of concerts that offer a student discount option, either through the venue itself or through the Ohio Union. Ohio State also puts on an annual “Free Concert” which is amazing to experience as a student. No matter what genre, artist or atmosphere you are interested in, I can almost guarantee that Columbus will have a concert for you this year!

Beyond the Classroom – Real Estate Development Site Tours

One great aspect of the MBA program here at Fisher (and of OSU in general) is the extent to which the university is connected with the city’s local businesses. Student groups and faculty have hosted local business leaders from small startups to CEOs and CMOs from the city’s array of Fortune 500 companies.

Last semester I took a Real Estate Principles class which basically focuses on the real estate development process from cradle to grave. Taking advantage of the great connections between the university and local business leaders, the class featured 5 site visits to local development projects.  At each visit, we had the chance to meet with the real estate developers, project managers, and other key players involved with projects to learn the nuances of their developments and get a bit of first-hand knowledge to accompany our classroom discussions.

The central project for the class was a team-based development project where we were assigned several blocks in a downtown environment and were challenged to put together an investment proposal for the development site. Our class site visits were scheduled such that we had the opportunity to meet with industry professionals, get questions answered, and see live projects to keep our own projects moving.

With an increasing number of online programs and online education in general, a unique and valuable benefit of an on-campus program is the ability to have experiences such as these. Having site visits with local professionals to compliment in-class lectures and readings provides a learning environment that neither format accomplishes on its own. This is just one more way OSU’s strong network provides rare, valuable opportunities for its students.

Looking Back and Looking Forward

fisher college


I am a second year full time MBA student and am set to graduate in about a month.  There is a mix of reflection and excitement (even more so from my wife who has endured having her spouse in a full time graduate program).

The Past

When reflecting on the past two years and what I’ve gained from them, I’ve thought of the relationships I’ve made and how walking out of this experience confirmed the things that brought me here in the first place.  When talking about Fisher, we talk a lot about the small class size being a key component of the overall experience.  The small class size lends itself to more intimate settings which, in turn, lend itself to more opportunities to connect with classmates, faculty and career management.  This all made logical sense, but I’ve been able to now have the experience of living it out and I can say it’s all true.  Friendships-I have been able to get to know several classmates in a deep way over this relatively short period of time, and I fully expect to continue those relationships even after the program is finished. Professors-even having gone to Ohio State for undergrad, I’ve seen a world of difference in the depth of relationships I have with my professors at Fisher.  Most of them are in the Ops/Logistics field (my focus in the program) and I have been able to cultivate these relationships and to lean on them for better understanding a concept and also for career advice.

Another area that sticks out to me is the Corporate Mentor Program.  As a student, you fill out an “application.”  It’s more of an info sheet on what you’re looking for in a mentor, and they pair you with an executive in the Columbus area.  The program is only supposed to last for a year, but often the relationships extend for more, and that was the case for me.  My mentor has been a great source of advice and has graciously connected me to others in the supply chain profession.

The FutureFuture path

Looking now to the future.  Currently, I am searching for a supply chain position in the Columbus area, but am hopeful that something will come through soon.  Coming to an MBA program is somewhat of a gamble, albeit a calculated and relatively low risk gamble (92% of graduates last year had jobs within 3 months of graduation).  You’re essentially putting all of your chips in and hoping the investment pays off.  Thankfully it almost always does, but at certain times tries your resolve.  I’ve found in those times it’s been helpful to focus on the good things in your life and to know that life is more than just what job you have.  For example, my wife and I just welcomed our daughter to the world a couple weeks ago (see picture below).  What a blessing!


The MBA program has been a great re-calibration experience for my career and I’m looking forward to a brighter future than when I entered.

A Day with Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett Trip_ Group Picture

It was exciting to learn that a group of Fisher MBA students would travel to Omaha, NE for a Q&A session with Warren Buffett… just another opportunity Fisher provides. We were each asked to draft a question to ask Mr. Buffett if given the opportunity. Throughout the 2.5 hours visit, Mr. Buffett graciously answered questions from each of the participant schools. Topics of discussion were wide-ranging and very candid. My question was chosen to be Fisher’s first, specifically:

As an Orthopedic Surgeon in training, I’m very concerned about the sustainability of health care in America. The need to provide better medicine at less cost is more evident than ever. Of the many business principles you have mastered, which one is the most vital to the future of healthcare in America?

As a physician I was interested in asking Mr. Buffett about healthcare in America.

As with all of his answers, Mr. Buffett’s optimism was contagious. He was certain that we would solve the healthcare challenges given our country’s history of overcoming challenges. He mentioned that we have been focused on solving problems at any cost, but that our generation’s great minds would innovate world-class care that could be provided at a sustainable cost.

Mr. Buffett emphasized the ingenuity that has been employed in the U.S. over an impressive track record of productivity and problem solving. He was particularly encouraged by trends in the increasing involvement of women in leadership, seeing this as a largely untapped potential for even more productivity moving forward. He also elaborated on the important difference between equal opportunity (which he is a big fan of) and equal outcomes, pointing out that those who do a better job should be rewarded accordingly. He also pointed out that a society should be structured so that no single segment is “left behind” and that opportunity is distributed as widely as possible.

Mr. Buffett provided much food for thought. With his impressive philanthropic spirit he encouraged each of us to prosper our own communities and to be a force for good. I came away from the Q&A session bullish on America and personally enlightened. Thank you Fisher!

Warren Buffett Trip_ Furniture Mart_Group Picture


Special Thanks to trip sponsor:

Sander A. Flaum
Founder and Managing Partner, Flaum Idea Group (FIG)

Sander Flaum has been a long-time champion of the big idea, both in business and in his role as Adjunct Professor of Management at the Fordham Graduate School of Business, where he founded and chairs the Fordham University Leadership Forum. He was also the school’s commencement speaker in 2011. Prior to launching FIG, Sander was Chairman of Euro RSCG Life, a worldwide network of 43 healthcare agencies. In addition, Sander presided over the growth of Robert A. Becker Inc. as it became the number two healthcare agency in the US. Med Ad News named Becker “Agency of the Year” and Sander “Man of the Year” in 2002. Perhaps most importantly, Sander worked for 18 years at Lederle Laboratories where he became Marketing Director and honed his vision of the company he dreamed of finding as a client — the result of which is the Flaum Idea Group. Sander has his BA from The Ohio State University and his MBA (cum laude) from Fairleigh Dickinson University.