Posts filed under 'Professional Development'

Looking Back and Looking Forward

fisher college

graduation

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!

Evie

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.

 


Tackling the CPA Exam

We only have about a month left in the MAcc program, and so many of my peers are studying for the CPA Exam. Some students have even started taking sections of the exam. We get a lot of questions about the CPA Exam in our admissions inbox, so here are some Q&As that will hopefully clear up some things:

1.  What’s on the CPA Exam?
The CPA Exam is a computer-based test that has four sections:

  • Auditing and Attestation (AUD): 4 hours (90 questions & seven task-based simulations)
  • Business Environment and Concepts (BEC): 3 hours (72 questions and three written communication tasks)
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR): 4 hours (90 questions and seven task-based simulations)
  • Regulation (REG): 3 hours (72 questions and six tasked-based simulations)

You can take the sections in any order you choose, and you must complete all four sections within 18 months.

2.  Am I eligible to sit for the CPA Exam?
It depends! The requirements vary by state, so I will use Ohio as an example. Please look up the state you intend to practice in on NASBA’s website to find that state’s specific requirements. For Ohio, you must:

  • be at least 18 years old
  • have completed 150 semester hours of college education and meet one of four educational requirements. (For more information, click here)

After completing the MAcc program, you are eligible to sit in Ohio.

3.  Does the MAcc program help prepare you for the CPA Exam?
While the MAcc program does not teach towards the CPA Exam, a lot of the topics covered in MAcc classes are on the exam.

4.  How much does the CPA Exam cost?
The application fee and examination fees for all four sections total $869.08 for first-time applicants. You can apply for one or more sections at a time, and you are advised to only apply for a section if you are ready to take it within the next six months. If you need to retake any section, there are additional fees.The other cost of taking the CPA Exam is the cost of a preparatory course, but a lot employers, especially public accounting firms, will help subsidize the cost of a CPA review course. Some also cover the fees to take the four sections the first time.

5.  When do most MAcc students take the CPA Exam?
With the credits that they have earned thus far, some of my peers are already eligible to take the CPA Exam. On the other hand, some students, including myself, have to wait until the end of the program before they can start taking sections of the Exam. Most of my peers who will be working for public accounting firms have start dates in the late summer or early autumn. Therefore, many intend on taking all four sections of the exam (or as many as they can) during the summer.

To learn more about the accounting profession and the CPA Exam, check out this website by the AICPA. Oh, and remember:

CRUSH-THE-EXAM


Daymond John Comes to OSU

One perk of being part of Ohio State is being able to take advantage of all the events the Ohio Union Activities Board (OUAB) puts on.  Last month they welcomed Daymond John to the Union.  For those of you who don’t know, Daymond John is one of the judges on ABC’s Shark Tank, as well as founder, president, and CEO of FUBU.  They set up his presentation into two separate sections.  First, they allowed four individuals/groups to present a pitch for their product to the “sharks”.  The “sharks” consisted of three professors and John.  All of the product pitches were very interesting and John provided great constructive feedback to the students.

After the pitches were over they started a moderated Q&A.  John shared with the audience his story of starting his own business to his experiences on Shark Tank.  John was able to provide a lot of solid advice for future entrepreneurs and businessmen and women.  One major piece of advice he gave was to learn how to be financially responsible. It doesn’t matter whether you learn this “on the job” or through formal education, just as long as you become financially educated.  He stressed too many times startups fail due to poor financial decisions or poor financial structuring.  He also talked a lot about his perseverance and how it is important to set goals and attain those goals.  His strategy was to set long-term goals and short-term goals to gradually achieve the long-term goal.  Through his perseverance and his dedication to completing his goals he became a successful entrepreneur and investor.


Guess Who Came to Speak at Fisher?

So, I’m not name dropping or anything…

BUT….

Jamie Dimon came to The Ohio State University.

This is Jamie Dimon talking to the OSU football team

This is Jamie Dimon talking to the OSU football team

 

Due to the stature of Jamie Dimon, this event could not be released before his visit. Jamie Dimon came to address our SMF Corporate Finance 3 class taught by Karen Wruck. (Other students were allowed to attend if seats were available.) It was very interesting to listen to all that Mr. Dimon had to say. He reads about 5 different newspapers every morning and is constantly reading everything else and just soaking in knowledge. He spoke to not only working hard, but working smart. He also noted that he likes to talk to an expert in whatever he is interested in learning more about, because listening to him/her for 10 minutes is worth more than hours of reading.

Fisher tends to bring in quite a few of amazing speakers, such as the CEO of L Brands, Les Wexner, and the CEO of Cardinal Health, George Barrett. Last year students even flew to meet with Warren Buffet. Who wouldn’t want to play guess who and see who will be here when you come next year?!


Things to Consider When Considering the Fisher MHRM Program

Thinking Monkey

I received my acceptance letter to the MHRM program about a year ago. So I thought I would share some of the things I considered when making my decision to apply to the Fisher MHRM program and also accept my admission.

•At the time of my acceptance I was working full-time, and I appreciated that the courses were designed for the working professional. Classes are scheduled Monday-Thursday 6:00-9:15pm, so they compliment the working professional’s work schedule very well. Most students in the program utilize this flexibility because most work in some capacity, whether part-time or full-time. For those thinking classes seem late, don’t worry. It may take some time, but your body adjusts.

•I really appreciated the program’s Core Human Resource Skills curriculum that provides a generalist’s perspective, as well as the Business Context curriculum. I think being able to speak the language of business is critical to being a strategic partner. Effective Human Resource professionals must be able to explain how Human Resources impacts the bottom line and contributes to the organization, and the program is well-designed in providing a breadth of knowledge so that individuals acquire business acumen and exposure to different areas within the field of Human Resources. In addition, I liked that the program required either a thesis or internship experience (majority of students select the internship) during the summer between their first and second year in the program. This allows students to apply and connect what they learned in the classroom to practical experience.

•The active and supportive Office of Career Management (OCM) was also something that distinguished Fisher’s MHRM program. They provide ongoing counseling, support and preparation. More importantly though, they sincerely care about each individual they work with. The OCM goes out of their way to ensure students feel ready and confident to secure and pursue internships and jobs. It was also comforting to know that the internship placement was 100% and the job placement was 93%.

• I was also impressed by the faculty and their areas of expertise. Fisher has a great mix of faculty who primarily have experience in academia, and others who have more experience in the corporate world. Again though, similar to OCM, the faculty are incredibly passionate about the field of Human Resources and take an interest in their students as individuals. Many of them are more than happy to meet with students outside of office hours to serve as mentors or advisers. Additionally, because the class size is typically around 50 students, this allows for more discussion during class and more individualized attention.

•I also liked that the program is diverse. Students come from different previous fields of study, different work experiences and years of prior work experience, and some work full-time while pursuing the program while others work part-time or not at all. Furthermore, there is a strong presence of international students in the program who add a lot of value to the program and class discussions.

•Lastly, location, location, location. I was born and raised in Northeast, Ohio. However, Columbus is something completely different than any other part of Ohio. It is such a thriving city with so much to do and see. There are several small communities/areas within Columbus that all have their own unique cultures and characteristics, which I absolutely love!


Merger Simulations!

Dr. George Pinteris, academic director for the Specialized Masters in Business Finance program at Fisher College of Business, wanted to try out a merger simulation with his Corporate Finance II classes. He assigned us the Wrigley-Mars merger cases to analyze. Half the class read the information to which Mars was privy, the other half Wrigley. My team and I were assigned to Mars (the buye), in the transaction. Dr. Pinteris used one lecture period as an initial discussion of the information to which both parties had access and to emphasize that there was more to this transaction than the price Mars paid to acquire Wrigley.

Source: http://store.darden.virginia.edu/

Source: http://store.darden.virginia.edu/

My group based our negotiation strategy on five factors, in addition to the price: the placement of the current target’s CEO; the plans for one of the target’s most treasured and iconic assets (Wrigley Headquarters in Chicago); the naming of the merged company; the independence of the target’s management post-merger; and the extent to which the acquirer can impose efficiency measures on the target after the merger. As the buyer, we packaged three deals with varying premia over the current share price and over the intrinsic value—an initial offer, a target offer, and a walkaway offer.

When we began negotiations, because we were the buyer, we made the first offer: a meager control premium over current market value, with a number of conditions that granted the target substantial operational independence. The target’s counteroffer was revealing: they mentioned that they wanted a more equitable share of the synergies from the merger and countered with a very high offer outside our acceptable range. We came back with a larger control premium, with a number of more restrictive terms than the initial offer. For example, we did not place the target’s CEO in as important a position and we insisted on greater efficiency measures. The target countered with $79, still intent on capturing larger portions of the synergies in the transaction, but this time they disapproved of our demotion of the target CEO. We offered to increase our price to $75 and place the target CEO on the Board of Directors. They offered to go down to $77 with the same conditions. My group did not want to increase our price, but we had reached a set of conditions with which we were very pleased. When we offered an additional board seat, the other team acted utterly taken by surprise. After about five minutes of hushed discussion in their group hunched over their own valuations in Excel, they accepted. It was a term that neither of our groups had seriously considered, but it was something that ultimately allowed us to close the deal at a price more amenable to us, the buyer.

We had begun the negotiations with the goal of getting the lowest price with terms that would preserve Wrigley’s independence. Instead, we walked away by paying $3 over our target, but the counterparty had practically given us as much as we needed to achieve synergies by ceding decision-making authority over its Chicago headquarters, over its management and employees, and general operational aspects of the business—Wrigley had practically handed us all the synergies we needed to make the deal worth it.

In Dr. Pinteris’ next lecture, we discussed our experiences in the merger. All of our negotiation experiences had been quite different, and Dr. Pinteris used this lecture to illustrate the different scenarios that play out with different zones of agreement on price and to illustrate the importance of qualitative factors in the negotiations. I thoroughly enjoyed this simulation that Dr. Pinteris set up for us—it was hands-on and engaging, and I think I learned more about M&A negotiations than if I had simply read the case and participated in the class discussion.


MHRM Internal Case Competition

I recently participated in the MHRM Internal Case Competition here at Fisher. Before going into this experience I had no idea what to expect. The competition started early Friday morning and the entire class was presented with a “real world” HR problem from the judges (The judges are current HR professionals from companies around the region). We were then assigned break-out rooms with our group, and given 24 hours to come up with a solution and form a presentation for the judges for the following day.

I was on a team of all first-years and none of us had any previous HR work experience. My team worked really well together, though, because we were able to communicate effectively and collaborate as a group. Once we got to our break-out rooms, we spent a lot of time brainstorming ideas, organizing our thoughts, and figuring out which ideas we wanted to focus on. If I could give one piece of advice, it would be to focus in great detail on a few of your ideas or solutions, but don’t try to tackle everything. There’s simply not enough time to address everything. My group ended up staying at school pretty late into the evening (or should I say, morning) because we had so much content to fit into our short, 15-minute presentation.

We arrived back at school early Saturday morning to finish up printing our materials and slides, but actually ended up cutting it so close that we didn’t have any time to practice our presentation before we went in to present to the judges. Our presentation went really well, though, for having not ever rehearsed, and in fact, one of our group members, Erin, won an award for best speaker overall. Looking back on this experience, I am really proud of my group for jumping in with no expectations and working really hard to produce an overall great presentation. It was definitely a memorable two days and I look forward next year’s competition.

My awesome case competition team

My awesome case competition team                                (Brennan, Chip, Erin, Me)

 


If You’ve Ever Wanted to Sleepover at School…

You’ll have the chance at the Fisher College of Business. Not just once – but TWICE!

Kidding. Sort of.

The Annual Fisher MHRM Internal Case Competition was held the previous weekend (November 7 and 8) and I’m 100% certain I’ve never spent that much time at school in my undergrad – or ever. While this might not sound like the party you’d expect to have during your weekend, it was an absolute blast.

The case competition goes like this: you wake up at an ungodly hour, attempt to make yourself look like a normal person, and arrive at school by 7:30am (how on earth did I do this on the regular when I was in high school?) Don’t worry; coffee and breakfast are supplied. Shortly after, you’ll be given case rules and then be presented with a live case*. Once the case has been introduced, you break into your (previously determined) teams and begin to come up with a viable solution for the company which presented the case. Some teams may finish quickly…others may not finish until well after midnight. My experience was the latter.

Despite being in the same room on campus for more than 15 hours, the time flew by because our team was coming up with great ideas as well as having a great time (pretty sure we played Taylor Swift’s new album at least three times).

The next day we had to be on campus again at 7:30am. More coffee – more breakfast. We were then given our presentation times and set out into our team rooms to practice our pitch. We definitely played T. Swift a few more times to harness some positive juju.

Nerves were high until we were in front of the judges ready to present. Rather than a lecture-like presentation which we’ve all experienced when presenting a project for class, the presentation is very conversational. The judges ask questions, you answer. Generally, your classmates don’t have a ton of questions for you regarding your presentation. But many of the judges are from the company which presented the case or a company facing a similar problem. They want to know why you came up with the solutions you came up with. Everyone in the room is very engaged. You’re allotted 25 minutes to present your solution and most people still have plenty they want to say when the time is up.

My suggestions for anyone interested in participating in the case competition: bring a pillow and blanket (kidding – sort of); get up and walk around when you’ve been sitting for too long; make sure you’re well-fed and hydrated (food and beverages are provided the whole day. Take advantage of that); you’re not given enough time to present all of your ideas – pick two to three of your best ideas and prepare to go into detail about them; have proof about why your ideas will work – while businesses generally value creativity, they also value results. Prove that your solutions will give them what they want.

Most importantly – HAVE FUN.

*Case details are omitted for confidentiality.


Valuing Public Companies

Sometimes you do assignments for classes or complete classes without realizing just how valuable that assignment or class was. One such assignment for me was a comprehensive valuation report on a publicly-traded company in our introductory finance course in the SMF program. Our professor and the academic director of the program, Dr. George Pinteris, gave us certain parameters for the projects—such as no companies in the industrials or financials industry verticals. He also restricted us from valuing certain companies that other students had done before, such as Nordstrom, L Brands, and Coca-Cola. Professor Pinteris segmented our class into groups. My group chose The Boeing Company. For the report, we had to use Capital IQ, Bloomberg, IBIS World Industry Reports, and several other sources of information. For example, in understanding the operating margins for Boeing, one must understand the price directions for key inputs, such as steel, composites, titanium, and aluminum. To understand which way those prices are moving, one must understand key economic assumptions and inputs for the prices of those commodities.

Capital IQ allows users to generate fast tables of comparable companies

Capital IQ allows users to generate fast tables of comparable companies

I especially enjoyed this project because it drew on the strengths of my team members. One member has a background in energy investments and so had keen insights into oil and natural gas commodity markets. My own background in public policy and politics informed the analysis of Boeing’s strategic direction as the United States Congress wrestles with the issue of how to stimulate exports (Boeing earns half its revenues by exporting goods). All of us were proficient at financial modeling, but one team member was especially adept and provided the team with reams of data and analysis on Boeing’s historical and projected financials. Her analysis includes several valuation methods, such as dividend discount model, discounted cash flow using multiples, transaction multiples, and market multiples. Dr. Pinteris stressed the need to produce a professional report, with an accompanying Powerpoint and presentation. In short, Dr. Pinteris’ project stressed a number of skills needed in the financial industry: teamwork, professionalism, modeling skills, and strategic thinking.


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