Posts filed under 'MHRM'



What is a cohort?

A quick search on the internet reveals that it is a group of people who have something in common. Being in the MHRM program for only three months, I emphatically declare that this is a pale definition of my experiences.

About a month ago, one of my classmates included me in the group text that is shared by most everyone in the class. I am still grateful to her for inviting me to participate in it. It is primarily used as a social network for us to contact each other and ask questions. Lately, we have received many texts regarding an onslaught of birthday wishes to classmates. Each birthday wish submitted becomes more and more amusing. This also supports my earlier claim that there is definitely a culture of support and encouragement within our class. It is truly wonderful to be immersed in that enthusiasm.

Recently I posted a text stating that I am thankful to be a part of such an amazing group. There are certain people that I absolutely love listening to, when they present, because I learn so much.   also find it fascinating to observe the improvements that many of my classmates have made with respect to their presentation style. Coming from a performance background (in music), I feel comfortable presenting. The difficulty for me lies in translating a performance ability into a presentation ability. The distinction is important and I have slowly been working on adjusting it. I have not been entirely successful, but I will get there! The classroom is a superb proofing ground for the business world. It is meant as a place to refine skills, if you allow it to be. I am not the best presenter, but I acknowledge the feedback from my peers, teachers, and experiences to be better. Ultimately, my cohort is there to help make me better and has always supported me in my development.

Finally, the cohort structure provides access to a wealth of experiences on which to learn and share. Recently, I asked one of my peers, who hosted a conference, to help me with a proposal that I have to spearhead a conference with my company. His input was well received and extremely helpful.  My classmates will become my professional colleagues after we graduate, so it is crucial to also develop your professional network through interactions with your peers. Take the time to get to know your cohort!


Taking the GRE/GMAT

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Most graduate programs require some form of standardized test as part of their application process. Fisher’s MHRM program allows applicants to complete either the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). Most MHRM students complete the GRE, however, I would encourage people to investigate each exam and select the one that is more aligned with their strengths.

Make sure to schedule for the exam well in advance because there are times where you may have to wait a few weeks before getting an appointment. Once you have scheduled your appointment, I would recommend giving yourself 4-6 weeks of preparation time to study and review. There are a lot of great resources available, so I would highly recommend visiting your local or school library, bookstore(s), and the test website. Each of these offer different tools that can help prepare for the exam, whether it’s a prep book, flash cards, or practice exams.

I would also recommend looking at the class profile of the program of interest to gauge what is considered a competitive score. If you choose to take the exam more than once, the highest score will be taken into consideration and should be the score recorded on your application.

No matter what though, be confident in your abilities. Also, be mindful that applications are reviewed holistically, so I would recommend ensuring you put forth the time and effort to write essays that showcase who you are, your strengths and abilities, and why you are interested in Fisher. Furthermore, choose references that will be able to speak about you, personally, and your ability to excel in graduate school.

I do not consider myself a strong standardized test taker. Nonetheless, at the end of the day, all one can ask from themselves is to do their best. Prepare, relax, and be confident!


It’s difficult to just shut off HR

Harkening back to the working full time / school full time model, I have encountered another interesting phenomenon; I can’t just turn off the training easily. Many of my books from classes are on my desk at home and my wife has taken up reading a few of them. She said that she noticed me using some of the verbal techniques with her and she told me to stop using them. I never really thought about it, until she mentioned it, but she was right! Thinking about it more in depth, I realize that on class days (with a full time job), I spend close to 16 hours practicing HR thought and speech, 12 plus hours on non class days, and apparently some time at home practicing it. It is an excellent testament to the effectiveness of the potency of education to have such long lasting effects!

Another fact is that at heart, I am an analytical thinker. I like to take my time being thoughtful and considering my answer. During my Thanksgiving break, my head was whirling with respect to thinking about the time I would be spending with my family, projects and proposals that I am managing at work, assignments and tests that I have for the end of the semester. Going back to my EMT days, I realized that I was experiencing a type of emotional shock. This led me to discover that I need a decompression period between work, school, and home life. Especially when a break is approaching. The other clarity is being able to express the need for this decompression to my family, so that they understand the process and can help me to adjust.

It’s not to be critical, but more aware that this behavior is a “side effect” of the MHRM program. Taking a step back from the program, I realize that the whole process is quite elegant. In the grand scheme, I am slowly being acclimated to the experiences of business culture. Of course, in the everyday, I sometimes feel like it is moving a mile a minute. I may not be able to shut off my HR training completely, but I can recognize what is happening and perhaps minimize it’s presence when I am at home.


Business Excellence 2: My Favorite Course

It has been 3 months since I arrived in the U.S. and started my graduate life. It is hard to believe that the first semester is almost coming to an end. In this semester, I learned a lot from different courses, but my favorite course is MHRM 7321: Business Excellence 2, taught by Professor Schaffner.

Every class began with Professor Schaffner’s question: “What is in your mind or what did you find interesting about HR this week?” Then students brought their different topics and discussed. We might spend half of the class in these topics. In these discussions, we can talk about the problems we met in HR work and then classmates offer opinions and suggestions. Overall, we are free to voice our opinions and Professor Schaffner always pushes us to think deeply by asking thoughtful questions.

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The exams of MHRM 7321 are different, too. Instead of concluding and remembering authors’ opinions, we analyze a certain case with what we have learned in the course. There are two principles of these exams. First is “show off what you have learned.” I think applying the theories, models, and approaches we learned in the class to a case maybe is the best way to link theory to practice. And the professor really encourages us to think beyond the case to our work experience. Second is “creative,” in which we can use different materials and our own experience to support our opinions. As Professor Schaffner says, “Surprise me. Teach me something.”

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Last class was even more interesting. We spent almost one and half hours to “design a wallet for your partner.” It was not an activity but a process in which we learned how a design process works. What surprised me most is the result of design process: some really cool or even amazing designs! It is not just a process to design something different, but is a process to think differently.

I was not very used to the course at first because it was so different from classes I had before (both in China and in America). Actually, I never had a course as creative and thoughtful as MHRM 7321. After three months, I found that my mind was changed: now when I analyze cases or read an article from other courses, I tend to use the thoughts I learned from 7321. Some said this course will affect them in 5 years, while I think maybe this course will affect me in my whole lifetime.


What is the case competition like?

We finally got to experience the long awaited case competition! What an exhausting, but exhilarating process.  It is amazing how quickly the time passed by. The morning began with coffee, OJ, and bagels as we sat down in a classroom waiting for the information. Once they started talking about the case, there is a palpable air of competition that I have not previously felt from my classmates. Everyone wanted to win.

We broke off into our groups and found our way to our assigned rooms and we spent the next 16 hours preparing our solution and presentation to the case. The time actually passed relatively quickly. Looking back on the experience, it was fascinating to interact with my peers in a “serious” working context. The context was real enough to motivate us to do well in preparing and practicing for a board room context. Although their were moments when we become anxious and felt pressure by the looming deadline.

The people who organized this event did an amazing job from day one. The informational sessions, the visit to a plant, the food during the case competition, and the persistent and sincere help in all the logistics was amazing. Thank you to everyone who helped us to participate in this opportunity.

We stayed until around 11 pm and because I have a parking pass for the Lane Garage (next to Fisher) I was able to drop my group members off at their homes or their cars relatively easily. On a quick tangent, for any working student who is debating whether or not to get a pass for the Lane Avenue garage. Do it! It is very exhausting working full time and going to school full time. The pass has been so convenient. I have thanked my wife, so many times for encouraging me to make the investment.

I got home around 12 midnight and immediately fell asleep. I woke up about 3 hours later to get back to Fisher and practice for the presentation.  Thank goodness we arrived back early! We managed to get through a good rehearsal and finish up some last minute details.

We were one of the last groups to present, so we had about 2 hours to get nervous for the actual presentation. We presented the case and afterwards felt good about what we had done.

Of course, the judges evaluation was a little different than our expectations.  We were disappointed that we hadn’t won, but all of us were grateful for the experience.  There were moments when we experienced pressure by the looming deadline, but when it came down to presenting, I was thoroughly impressed by the abilities of our group. We didn’t win the competition, but we still received some irreplaceable takeaways: feedback (both wonderful and humbling), experience in presenting to executives, and a new set of friends with a unique shared experience.


MHRM Case Competition

One of the MHRM program requirements is to participate in the annual internal case competition during the first or second year in the program. Each student is placed on a team with 3 others, and teams are typically comprised of both first and second years. During the event, a company presents an HR-related problem they are currently facing, then the teams deliberate to create a strategy and solution to address the problem.

PepsiCo

This year’s case competition was hosted by PepsiCo. Teams arrived at Fisher by 7:30am on Friday, and once PepsiCo shared the background of their situation, teams had from roughly 9AM on Friday through 8am on Saturday to develop a solution and create a presentation that would assist in pitching the solution to PepsiCo. Each team presented to 3-4 judges, who were either Pepsico HR professionals or local HR professionals. At the conclusion of individual group presentations, all participants gathered together to provide 1 minute executive summaries on their group’s proposal, and then awards were presented to Best Speaker, Best Question & Answer, and Overall Best.

Participation in the case competition allows students to analyze real HR problems and provide thoughtful solutions. It also provides students an opportunity to practice their communication, problem-solving, and presentation skills. Lastly, it is a great networking event. It not only helps connect students with HR professionals, but also connects them with their peers in the MHRM program. I was very fortunate to have been paired with 3 first year MHRM students, and we were able to speak openly and honestly with one another, challenge one another, and support one another throughout the process. We walked away from the case competition having both laughed and learned a lot!


Thanksgiving: Eat, Pray and Love

This week is of course about Thanksgiving! I had 3 Thanksgiving dinners and 3 stories about Thanksgiving.

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The first is in the demo Kitchen in the RPAC. The Indian professor has been offering free vegetarian cooking classes and Thanksgiving dinners there for five years. Every Monday, he will teach the students how to cook while giving lectures. And then all the people will have dinner together and take extra food home. From his experience, I learned that I can choose to be a vegetarian for even one day. This professor is making a change to the world day by day through his words and the food.

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The second dinner is provided by Isaac, a young man from the International Friendship Institute (IFI). He has so much enthusiasm about work and about people. He invited as many people as he could, trying to give the international students as much warmth as he can. He also invited his boss, who he has a good relationship with because of his loyalty and hard work. He thanked us for attending the first Thanksgiving he held and invited us to hotpot next time.

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The third Thanksgiving dinner was hosted by my host family. They have given me a lot of help since I connected to them through IFI. And a couple from my home church was also there. My host family gives a lot to people who are far away from their own home.

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MHRM Case Competition: Sponsored by PepsiCo

The MHRM Case Competition: I remember learning about it during my visit at Fisher and Day 1 of Orientation we were given the date (November 6th and 7th, 2015). As a graduation requirement, this is has been one of my favorite experiences thus far at Fisher!

The MHRM Case Competition at Fisher College of Business is a unique opportunity most other programs and schools cannot offer. Due to the fact Fisher houses the MHRM program in the business school, we are afforded unique opportunities and partnerships with companies like PepsiCo. PepsiCo sponsors our event and in exchange, our program is broken up into teams to work in a “hackathon”-like scenario to provide our best recommendations to the company’s latest HR issues they have not been able to find a resolution for. Professor Ankerman spearheads the competition with training, aid, food, and inspiration!

Step 1: Pick your team. This is a key step that doesn’t involve picking your friends (although the best players might be your friends like in my situation). Professor Ankerman taught us training day 1, if you want to win, you need to strategize by picking a team with a variety of strengths. GroupThink can be one of the biggest downfalls in any team, so it’s important to pick a team with diverse perspectives. It’s also equally important to pick a team you’re comfortable with. During the case competition you present to your teammates what you think are your best ideas, and you have to be okay with telling someone their idea may suck, while also receiving feedback that your idea may suck. Get cozy because you’re with your team for nearly a straight 24-hour period!

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Step 2: Attend all opportunities presented by Professor Ankerman. Not only did he hold two info sessions for the MHRM students participating in the case comp, but we also took a “field trip” to the PepsiCo plant in Wooster, Ohio. This was a unique learning opportunity to take our best guesses at what the case could be about (you don’t get the case until Friday morning at 7:30am and teams present starting Saturday at 8:30am). We got to tour the Frito Lay plant, ask plant managers questions, taste Lays and Fritos right off the belt, and explore with eyes and ears open. I think having two of my four team members (myself included) go to the plant was a key factor in us winning in the case comp!

Step 3: Caffeinate, eat, laugh, and work hard. Friday and Saturday morning of the case comp weekend I was a regular at Starbucks. Although Panera is catered for breakfast with donuts, bagels, fruit, and coffee, I’m a firm believer that a cappuccino is my own secret weapon to get me on my A game. I’m fortunate my team consisted of my friends, so the entire experience could not have been more fun and rewarding for me. The first 45 minutes we individually put together a plan, so that we could avoid conforming to GroupThink. Then we put together what we felt like was our best plan (a hybrid of the best aspects from our individual plans), refined, practiced, refined some more, practiced some more, and presented Saturday morning as one of the first teams in room 305.

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What I found as our key to winning: By the time dinner came around (7pm-ish Friday) we were growing weary. Our brains had been going endlessly on 110% all day. We took some time to play with a furry friend, practiced some more, felt extra defeated after seeing all the areas for improvement, and jammed to Hey ya Ignition remix, Sweet Caroline, and Its Gonna Be Me, and practiced one final time. We were determined to put together a top-notch presentation for PepsiCo and Fisher College of Business MHRM program, so we didn’t leave Gerlach Hall until 11:40pm Friday night. Truly, I believe what set us apart from other presentations, though, was our thought process. We went with a plan that was risky, different, and slightly unheard of. But I think that’s what PepsiCo needed and was open to hearing about. The case comp was an opportunity to have free reign with whatever ideas we had! The judges interrupted, criticized, but ultimately complimented by naming Team D (our team) the winners of room 305.

case comp 2


Fisher Impact Day

On Nov. 11th, I participated in a volunteer activity held by Fisher: Fisher Impact Day.

My friends and I arrived at Fisher Hall at 8:30 a.m. It was cold in the morning but I found many people already arrived, with immense zeal. After I signed in, we went to Mason Hall for breakfast: doughnuts and coffee were provided.

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At 9:00 a.m. we went outside Mason Hall for Kick-off featuring the OSU Color Guard. From the speech, I knew it was the first time that Fisher held Fisher Impact Day. It was an honor to take part in the first Fisher Impact Day! But I really hope speakers could make their speech shorter as it was so cold standing outside.

Because my friends and I signed up for an off-campus location, we then got on bus and headed to our destination: Harmon Kitchen. After a brief welcome, the leader told us that Harmon Kitchen was set up for providing people who need food. To my surprise, they also provide food to their pets. The leader explained that because pets are these people’s families and friends, they deserved to be treated well. It was really thoughtful. We were assigned for different work: 6 of our group members worked in the kitchen and my friends and I (4 people) helped to pack tableware.

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There were a set of requirements on packing tableware. For example, the knife must to the left, the fork must be above the knife and the spoon must be on the top. There were also requirements on napkins, too. Because I was not good at folding napkins, we followed the leader’s suggestion and decided that I place the tableware while my friend folded the napkins. As time passed by, we worked faster and better. Look at what we packed, they looked nice, right?

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Time flied by fast. At 12:30pm, the bus picked us up and back to Fisher. Although I was hungry and tired, I felt a sense of satisfaction and achievement. My friends were also excited about our Fisher Impact Day. In my opinion, Fisher Impact Day provided an opportunity for us to do something meaningful for society, gain a sense of responsibility, and meet different people.

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Case Competition – the Day Belongs to US

We formed our team and came up with a 5-step strategy about big data to address the case. Honestly, we knew the judges may not like our idea, but we seriously believed it was a strong case.

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The presentation actually turned out as we expected and we lingered in the Q&A section for 15 minutes. We didn’t win the competition. However, we had a great team and a case we all agreed with. At the end of the competition, we learned how we could do better in the future. They also taught us that we should be able to deal with ambiguity and take risks sometimes. In addition, the ideas from the other teams gave us some new thoughts.

There’s one more thing I liked about the case competition. Working with students in our program in a small room was fantastic. It really helped us learn more about each other. Li’s a liberal art student and really good at numbers. Craig is clever and playful. Ruth is a senior student and professional. The meaning of life is experience. Life is a journey, and we are so lucky to have walked together.

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Working in the department office, I see how much the faculty and students devoted to run the case competition. The competition is over, but that’s not the end of the story. There is more to take away. Best wishes to MHRM, to Fisher, and to OSU!


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