Misappropriation of Assets


This session I am enrolled in ACCMIS 7520 Misappropriation of Assets, which is an accounting elective course. The course is taught by Douglas Huffner, who is the Chief Risk Officer for The Ohio State University.

Topics covered in the class so far have covered everything from identifying fraud to common fraud schemes. We have also discussed various misappropriations of cash, such as larceny, fraudulent disbursements, and skimming. The course also covers how companies can prevent fraud. Inherently, if you can understand how fraudulent schemes are developed, you can design a company’s internal controls in such a way to deter or completely eliminate fraudulent behavior by employees.

The class topics are all incredibly interesting, but by far, my favorite portion of the class is hearing real-life examples of fraud that Professor Huffner can cite in his past experiences. Since he is the Chief Risk Officer, he works on problem-solving the most sensitive situation on campus and in the Ohio State community (such as campus emergencies and internal fraud investigations). His experiences help to break up the materials and leads to great class discussion!


Something I really enjoyed this year was volunteering for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. This program exists in cities throughout the country, and this was my first time ever volunteering with this program. We had the opportunity to file federal and state tax returns for local residents in the Columbus area so they were able to receive the maximum amount of their refunds at no cost. About 60 students volunteered, many of which were fellow MAcc students. The rest were undergraduate students at the Fisher College of Business. Therefore, this was a great opportunity to meet more students at Ohio State as well as get to know other students in my MAcc class better.

Some of the VITA volunteers
Some of the VITA volunteers

Since I will be starting a career in tax after graduation, I was given the opportunity to be a VITA site manager. This was a great leadership opportunity and was very educational for me because I was able to help others work through issues they came across while preparing tax returns. It was rewarding getting to actually interact with the people we were helping and know that we were saving local Columbus residents a great deal of money by preparing their tax returns for free. It was also satisfying to see that we obtained thousands of dollars in refunds for residents each volunteer session. I would highly recommend that future MAcc students (or undergraduate students), whether they plan to work in tax or not, volunteer for the VITA program!


Accounting Policy and Research

During spring semester, all MAcc students take Accounting Policy and Research with Professor Zach. In addition to learning about accounting research methods, the efficient-market hypothesis, and Chipotle Mexican Grill (you’ll see when you take it), we worked in small groups on topics of our choice for session-long research projects that we presented during the final week of classes.

The words “accounting research” might not get your blood pumping right off the bat, but the projects were really interesting and much more entertaining to put together than I initially expected. My group worked on Petróleo Brasileiro (“PBR”), a Brazilian state-owned oil company that is currently embroiled in a massive corruption scandal. Using techniques that we learned from articles we covered in Professor Zach’s class, we ran regressions on the changes in PBR’s stock price during particularly important timeframes of the corruption probe, demonstrating that much of the loss in stock value could be attributed to the fall in the price of oil rather than the corruption investigation.

Not only did this give us the chance to show off our newly developed Excel skills (side note: make sure to take the Financial Modeling elective with Oglevee if at all possible), it gave us experience using accounting research as we would in a real-world scenario. We set up our project as though we were working with the PBR legal defense team against a shareholder class-action lawsuit, and used our research to argue that shareholder damages should be significantly reduced due to the impact of oil price changes.

This was interesting not just because of the dramatic background reading on the situation in which Petrobras currently finds itself, but because the techniques we were using could (and likely will) be used in actual litigation between PBR and shareholders. Instead of simply plugging in numbers, we had to strategically pick our event windows and market indexes, anticipate questions and counter arguments, and frame our data in the most persuasive manner possible.

I don’t want to get into technical details, as I certainly wouldn’t have understood them prior to joining the MAcc program, but I will include a few pictures of the more interesting charts we created as part of the project. We used our regressions to determine the abnormal returns during several specific event windows (the difference between the actual returns and the returns that would have been expected absent the relevant corruption event): 

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 7.28.30 PM

As you can see, the returns during these windows were actually better than would be expected given the drop in oil prices. We also created charts to show stock returns of PBR and several other oil companies during the period as compared with the price of oil:

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 7.28.06 PM

We concluded that while the corruption probe had increased stock volatility, the declines were much more correlated to oil prices than to developments in the corruption probe. And although we had a few classmates who seemed skeptical of our results during the presentation, it was a lot of fun to apply what we learned in a way that could actually be used in our future careers.

Fisher MAcc Intramurals

This session a group of MAcc students (myself included) decided to form an Intramural Co-Ed Basketball Team. Since The Ohio State University is a large university there is a huge number of intramural sports offered for several different groups of people. We were able to enter a co-ed graduate, professional, and faculty league for basketball that plays on Tuesday evenings.

Through three games, The Embezzlers are sporting a powerful 3-0 record entering the second half of the season. With two more games before the beginning of the playoffs, we are hopeful for a high playoff seed and maybe even a championship.

All joking aside, playing intramural basketball has been a terrific addition to my MAcc experience. It has provided an opportunity for me to interact with my friends in the MAcc program in a way that has absolutely nothing to do with accounting or schoolwork. More importantly, the exercise serves as a healthy outlet of stress from classes or looming finals!

Stay tuned for more updates on the progress of The Embezzlers!

MAcc Breakfast

If I haven’t learned anything else from the MAcc program so far, I have learned two things: 1. MAcc students get a lot of free Panera and 2. The professors here love getting to know their students.

Recently I attended something called “The MAcc Meet & Greet Breakfast.” This is a casual gathering where a small group of MAcc students are invited to attend breakfast with MAcc faculty. Only about 10 students are invited at a time and there were 5 faculty members at the breakfast I attended. I think this event is an excellent example of what a personal level of attention students in the MAcc program here at Fisher receive. The faculty truly want to get to know you and are genuinely concerned about what is going on in the students’ lives – as far as classes, jobs after graduation, hobbies, spring break plans, etc.

panera bagel

Many students are invited to a MAcc Breakfast session during first semester, and this is a nice way for students to get to know professors even if they had not them in class yet. Since I went during second semester, I already knew the professors from having them in class, but breakfast was a fantastic way to catch up and get to know these professors in a context outside of class.

Coming from a small undergraduate school, I can truly say that the MAcc program here at Fisher offers the unique personal connections and attention one would typically get at a smaller university, but still has so many of the benefits and opportunities that come with attending such a large university with so many resources!

EY MAcc Speaker Series—Susan Blasik-Miller

This past week Susan Blasik-Miller from the law firm Freund, Freeze & Arnold came to talk to our class. As a lawyer, most of her daily work is spent either training doctors how to avoid malpractice suits or defending them in court. However, unlike many of our other speakers, she chose not to talk about her work. Instead, Mrs. Blasik-Miller talked about things she has learned over her career that she wished someone had told her in college.
Some of her main points were:

Email vs. Personal Communication:

While it is often times easier to just simply send emails to a colleague, it is very beneficial to pick up the phone or stop by their office. By having live or face-to-face communication, you will be able to develop strong connections and strengthen your personal network.

Remember Who Owns Your Work Computer:

What you do or what you send from your work computer can probably be recovered by the IT department of your company. Never post anything from your work computer that you wouldn’t want your boss to see!

Own your Mistakes:

When you do something wrong, own up to it. It is much better for you to admit your mistake to your boss rather than having your boss find the mistake later on when it cannot be fixed. Be open with your communication and don’t try and cover anything up.

Find a Mentor:

Having someone who is experienced in the work you will be pursuing to bounce questions and ideas off of will help maximize your talent. These relationships develop over time so do not fret if you don’t have a mentor within the first 6 months of work.

Mrs. Blasik-Miller touched on many other topics related to career development. It was a terrific experience receiving advice from someone so successful!

MAcc Speaker Series: Susan Blasik-Miller

One of the many great aspects of the MAcc Program (and Ohio State in general) is the abundance of fascinating speakers that are brought in to present to us. We have something called the “MAcc Speakers Series” and this goes on throughout the entire year. We have several speakers from all different professional and personal backgrounds come in to present on a topic of their choosing, and we also get to ask them questions. Recently, we had a speaker who has an extensive background in law. She also happened to be a current MAcc student’s mom!

For Susan’s presentation, she chose to share some of the insights and knowledge she has acquired throughout the years of being a lawyer, an employer, and a mother. Here are some of the things she shared with us:

  1. Email vs. Personal Communication: There are many positive and negative aspects that come with email and constant communication. She stressed the importance of building relationships, and how this is difficult to do from email communication alone. Also, never deliver bad news over email or ask for special consideration over email.
  2. Remember who owns your business computer: Susan shared horror stories of people losing jobs, being sued, and suffering severe embarrassment from things they have done on their business computers. Overall, it is best to keep emails free of jokes or innuendos and to not use your business computer for something that you wouldn’t want others to see.
  3. Own mistakes: We should always admit to our mistakes. Although we might get punished for admitting our mistakes, companies have professional liability insurance in case mistakes happen. The insurance no longer applies if we try to cover up our mistakes, and thus it is important to never try and cover anything up.
  4. Don’t isolate yourself: Get your work done, but also build relationships within the firm and try to meet as many people as possible. This could include doing things such as joining work intramural teams, volunteering, and going to other social events with coworkers.
  5. Find a mentor: It is important to find a mentor at any stage in your career. You are never too old to have a mentor!
  6. Broaden your horizons: Join organizations that you are interested in joining. You never know what people you may meet that will one day be future clients or a future contact for a business opportunity or favor.

I really enjoyed Susan’s presentation and she shared some very good things to think about as we begin our future careers. I also like that many of the speakers, such as Susan, do not have a background in accounting, but they are still able to share very relevant and interesting topics with us.

Graduate Assistantships: Part 2

The other week I wrote a blog post about my Graduate Assistantship (GA) position of being a graduate student ambassador for the MAcc program. This week I will write about being a Teaching Assistant, the other GA position offered. To do this I interviewed two current students in the MAcc Program, Jeremy Cranmer and Kevin Slone, who are both TA’s.

1.What classes do you teach?

  • Jeremy: ACCMIS 2200 – Intro to Accounting 1 (Financial Statements) and ACCMIS 2300 – Intro Accounting 2 (Managerial).
  • Kevin: 2200 Intro to Accounting 1 Lab, 2300 Intro to Accounting 2, and an online version of 2200 Lab to the 4 OSU regional campuses.

2. How many classes are you required to teach each session? 

  • Jeremy: 3 semester long classes.
  • Kevin: 6 classes for the entire year.

3. How long does it typically take for you to prepare for a class? 

  • Jeremy: 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Kevin: It generally takes me about an hour to familiarize myself with the problems we are covering in class and know how to work the solutions cold.

4. How long are the classes you teach?

  • Jeremy: 1 hour 20 minutes, but the classes often end early.
  • Kevin: 1 hour 20 minutes, but I generally get done 10-15 minutes early depending on student participation.

5. What goes on in a typical class you teach?

  • Jeremy: We get a sheet of problems before class so we can prepare. Then during class we walk through those problems on the board with the students and attempt to get the students to participate.
  • Kevin: In a typical class we have 3 long story problems. Generally, I start class by going through the first problem on the board leading the students through the solution. The next two problems the students usually get 10-15 minutes to work in groups while I walk around and check on their progress. Then I’ll walk through the problem on the board. The students typically do not have many questions, about 5 during a class and they’re generally very simple.

6. What additional duties do you have besides teaching?

  • Jeremy: We also proctor the exams for ACCMIS 2200 and ACCMIS 2300 at night. We get to sit there and work on homework during this time. We also help grade the exams.
  • Kevin: Proctor exams, grade exams, and occasionally handle the intro email account. We proctor exams about 3-4 times per semester. Each TA usually grades about 80 exams. 1 out of every 4 weeks I handle the email account where students ask homework questions.

7. Would you recommend this position to a prospective MAcc student? 

  • Jeremy: I would recommend it because it’s a good refresher for our harder MAcc courses and really helps with fears of public speaking if you’re like me and hate it. You get used to standing up there quickly.
  • Kevin: I would highly highly highly recommend accepting this position if it is offered to you. You will be scared at the idea of standing in front of a room of kids and having to explain your way through basic accounting, but you will get over that fear within the first 2 weeks. You will instantly notice the improvement in your public speaking and presentation abilities. I was a timid public speaker coming into the program and now have no problem being the lead speaker for a team project presentation in class. It will deeply enhance your knowledge of basic accounting because as you prepare for your classes, you will try to anticipate student questions and then re-affirm to yourself the reasoning behind why we do things in accounting. It will also refresh your basic knowledge and help you in your path to becoming a CPA. You’ll find that the job is actually pretty easy once you get the hang of working the problems. I enjoy it.

8. Additional comments? 

  • Kevin: The supervisor, Marc Smith, is a very fun supervisor for which to work. He always buys decent food for all meetings, gets to know you very well personally, and will always stand behind your decisions in any disputes with students. You are expected to spend about 10 hours per week in your GA duties. Sometimes it ends up being more and sometimes less. It will keep you busy and is definitely a good investment of your time.

International Ethics

One great benefit of the Fisher MAcc Program is the ability to take elective courses in the business school outside of the Accounting Curriculum. This provides students the opportunity to take courses offered to Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Human Resource Management (MHRM), as well as Specialized Master of Finance (SMF) students.

This session I am enrolled in a Master of Human Resource Management course titled International Ethics that is taught by Professor David Freel. Professor Freel has a wide set of experiences from being a trial lawyer as well as traveling to Europe to help companies and governments solve ethical disputes. Throughout his career, Professor Freel has met several influential people abroad. Because of these connections, a component of our International Ethics course includes hearing from various professionals involved in compliance related roles abroad.

This past week the class was able to have Drago Kos speak to us over skype. Drago Kos is the current Bribery Chairman for the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OCED). In his presentation to the class, he discussed his daily responsibilities, recent projects he has been working on, as well as how we can continue to improve economic fairness through the banishment of bribes and other forms of corruption.

I am looking forward to an exciting session of classes and learning more about ethical practices overseas!

Graduate Assistantships: Part 1

99-749-35 Fisher College pillar 9-14-99 Photo: Jo McCulty

As a graduate ambassador for the MAcc program here at Fisher, I often get a lot of questions from prospective students about financial aid. Aside from fellowships, merit-based scholarships, and scholarships from external organizations, there are also several Graduate Assistantships (GA’s) given out to students in the MAcc program.

In this post I will describe what having a GA position is like for me (a graduate ambassador). In my next post I will discuss what other MAcc students, who are Teaching Assistants, say their GA position is like.

All admitted applicants to the MAcc program are considered for a GA position. Applicants do not have to complete any additional essays or interviews in order to receive a GA position. These positions are merit-based and provide a 50% fee and tuition waiver in addition to a monthly stipend. Students with a GA position typically work about 10 hours a week.

For my position, I work in the Graduate Programs Office in Gerlach Hall. This is very convenient because it is the same building as all of my classes so I can work directly before or after class. I work about 10 hours a week and this is typically split into several hours a day about 3 days a week. The nice thing about being a graduate ambassador is the flexibility of this position. The hours I work are set based on my class schedule, and if there is an important speaker/career related event/etc. I would usually be able to attend these events and make up my hours at another time.

On a typical day, I come into work and set up at a desk in the Graduate Programs Office. Most of the time I am answering emails/phone calls from students interested in applying for the MAcc program. I also sometimes have prospective students who already attend Ohio State for their undergraduate degree come in and ask me questions about the MAcc program in person.

Another aspect of my position is assisting with prospective students visiting campus. After communicating with a prospective student interested in coming to campus, I setup and plan their visit to Fisher. The day of the actual visit usually involves taking the prospective student to one of my classes, meeting with faculty/staff, eating lunch with the prospective student and another current MAcc student, and going on a tour of Fisher/campus.