Posts filed under 'Professional Development'

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.


Lunch With Jim Allen, CEO of Hilliard Lyons

This past Thursday a group of 10-15 students had the opportunity to enjoy an intimate lunch with Jim Allen, the CEO of Hilliard Lyons.  As the CEO of one of the oldest brokerage firms in America, Jim brought fantastic perspective on the financial industry. His perspective on the last 10 – 15 tumultuous years was especially compelling. During his tenure Hilliard Lyons was acquired by PNC and  eventually regained its independence several years later as employees purchased the company with the assistance of a private equity firm. During his talk we discussed the impact of economic downturns, as well the impact of the following regulatory changes.

My favorite part of the lunch was Jim’s personal advice for us as students. He offered two pieces of advice. First, be sure to follow your passion. As cliché as it sounds – it really is an important piece of advice to understand. Jim has spent his entire career with Hilliard Lyons and he emphasized that it was his passion for the industry and relationships with clients that has kept him motivated throughout his career. His second piece of advice for us was to take advantage of our time at Ohio State as students and specifically to hear as many different speakers from industry as possible. Mr. Allen emphasized that even if you don’t intend to work in the speaker’s industry, listening to their perspective will let you paint a clearer picture of where you want to steer your career. This was one of the coolest experiences I’ve had at Fisher. How many MBA programs out there offer the chance to have such an intimate lunch with the CEO of a major wealth management firm? Not many – this just another reason why I’m so happy I decided on Fisher.


Fisher Works for Students

As an economics undergrad with no formal finance background, Fisher College of Business’ course structure has been highly valuable to me. Fisher splits the semesters into terms, and students take five courses each term. This allows me to take many courses and broaden my finance background very quickly and comprehensively. Thus, I’ve been able to take such electives as financial modeling and international finance, and for next term, private equity, enterprise risk management, and accounting for M&A, on top of core courses.

One invaluable elective I took last term was Financial Institutions with Dr. Isil Erel. Professor Erel is an expert on banking and capital requirements, and is heavily involved in research on corporate governance and M&A. This course focused heavily on the development of the financial services industry after the deregulation of the banking industry in the 1980s or 1990s, modeling the impact of interest rate changed on banks’ balance sheets, hedging interest rate risk, modeling credit risk, accounting for off-balance sheet items, the logistics of securitization of loans, and applying capital requirements. We also discussed the root causes and impacts of the financial crisis in 2008 and the responses of the regulators. Cases for the class focused on hedging interest rate risk with swaps and analyzing exchange rate ratios for bank mergers. While the final exam was quite difficult, I am now equipped with the tools to analyze more rigorously the risks facing financial institutions.

Huntington Bank, based in Columbus, OH

Huntington Bank, based in Columbus, OH

To supplement our course, Dr. Erel invited two bank executives, Don Kimble, Chief Financial Officer of KeyCorp, and Helga Houston, Chief Risk Officer of Huntington Bank, to speak to our class. During these sessions, these executives fielded questions about all of the topics we were learning in our course and covered additional topics, such as the importance of information technology innovation in the sector and reputational risk.

KeyCorp, based in Cleveland, OH

KeyCorp, based in Cleveland, OH

Dr. Erel and Financial Institutions are just one example of how students gain from Fisher’s programs—in many other courses, professors are providing us valuable real-world skills, putting us in situations where we need to perform, and introducing us to executives and alumni who can help us in the job search. Time and time again, Fisher is working for its students.


FISHER BOARD FELLOWS

As you may be aware, we at Fisher, have loads of student organizations at Fisher( 22 to be precise). If you think you want to learn more about analytics, you have the FBAA(Fisher Business Analytics Association). If you want to explore Operations and Logistics, you have OLMA. You get the drift. One such organization which is close to my heart is Fisher Board Fellows. FBF gives you an opportunity to sit on the board( non voting member) for a local non profit here in Columbus, Ohio for one whole year.In addition to attending the board meetings, you are also given a stand alone project with clear set of deliverables. Non-profits expect the FBF to contribute their part in running the organization and helping the community. Hence, you are not just a fly on the wall. You are going to be rubbing shoulders with the Sr VP’s and the CEO’s of for-profit businesses who happen to be on the board of these organizations. I applied for becoming a FBF for the myriad opportunities which you can leverage with your background and strengths. You can network, provide business perspective to existing social problems, learn more about non-profit way of doing business, so on and so forth. This is truly a one of a kind experience which I truly recommend for everyone( even if you think you are the hard core for-profit kind of person). Of course, if these are not enough to convince you to give this opportunity a shot, did I also mention that it looks fabulous on your resume and that nowhere else can you hope to become a board member in your 20s( unless its your family business of course)?


Discover MBA fairs and Conferences

MBA job search is all about Networking! Networking! Networking! Dammit what is Netwoooooooooorking :) and how do I do this? Well, MBA fairs and conferences are a big part of it. My dear potential MBA students who are looking to join a program this year and current students who are not too sure what the MBA conferences are all about, I hope to give you guys a little bit of insight today (Especially the ones who are tight on the budget and seeking to maximize their bang for the buck)

So should you or should you not attend?? that is the question…

Before coming to Fisher, I had heard a lot about the MBA conferences and several MBA students whom I talked to, had attended a conference and suggested that it’s a great experience! It seemed like quite an investment in terms of time and money and I wasn’t so sure if I should attend.

There were mainly 2 conferences being held in the month of September: The National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) and The National Society of Hispanic MBA’s (NSHMBA). There was the Fisher Graduate career fair coming up on the 9 th Sep,2014  and I decided to attend this fair first and see how it goes.

Suggestion no. 1: As a Fisher MBA, you would have the opportunity to attend the Fisher graduate fair, A nice opportunity to get started and test out your networking skills. You may also discover the real value of such conferences and fairs.

While at the Fisher fair, I discovered that the recruiters want to hear how well you know their company and what made you approach them. There has to be link, it could be your past experience in that particular companies industry, a set of skill set that matches the job profile well, or a passion that you share which the product or service provided by the company. You MUST have a story to tell!

The other thing were the interesting and insightful conversations that I had at the fair with company representatives. It is a learning opportunity and some of them told me about strategies that the company is following or problems faced by them and the industry as a whole.

I started to enjoy this process of getting to know different industries, firms and work profiles. That same day I decided to attend the Hispanic conference and landed in Philadelphia on Sep 26th with my suit on :)

 

Beautiful company at NSHMBA! Kirti Barry (R), Natalie Megrbyan(L) and myself(Middle).

Suggestion no 2: Its not just about looking for a job or internship at such fairs\conferences but also getting to know the companies, researching and analyzing your best fit. This helps you increase your knowledge  base, broaden your network and target your targets(companies) much more precisely. Come across as someone who is not just looking for a job or an internship, but as someone who can utilize his or her skills and experience effectively to solve the companies problem or provide them with a strategic asset.

 

City Hall Station at Philly

City Hall Station at Philly

Downtown View

Downtown View

The Hispanic conference was a blast and I ended up talking to several companies over those 2 days. After the conference got over, I decided to take a short walk around the downtown area and get a bite to eat. Do I think it was worth it? Absolutely and I am glad I went to the Hispanic conference. I made some strong connections and come across to recruiters as having a genuine interest in their companies. I was able to connect with some of the recruiters the following week over email and LinkedIn, especially the ones who do not visit Fisher on campus as one of their MBA recruiting schools.

Suggestion no. 3: While tons of companies visit fisher, The conferences are a great way for you to connect with companies which don’t recruit at Fisher. Remember – the more you network with companies, recruiters and their employees, the better chances you have…

Lets talk about the internship search strategy in the next blog –  What is it all about? How to go about starting your internship search and challenges you may face especially as an international student. Coming up soon!!!

 


Resources at Your Fingertips

If you are pursuing a career in finance, it is important not just to have a conceptual understanding of the discipline, but also to keep up on the news and to know how to use different software programs. The Specialized Masters in Finance (SMF) program at the Fisher College of Business places a premium on just these two things.

With respect to software training, the program has adopted a curriculum that forces students to learn how to use Excel in their sleep, use certain Excel add-ons like Crystal Ball (which includes Monte Carlo analysis), CapitalIQ, and the ins and outs of Bloomberg terminals, the industry standard for gaining corporate information. In order to teach these software programs, Fisher has retained a former institutional investor, Professor Matt Sheridan. In addition to these software programs, Fisher students have free access to a plethora of other resources, such as IBISWorld Industry Reports, Thomson Research Reports, and LexisNexis, all of which are very helpful in researching companies, sectors, and markets for class projects. Knowledge of these programs is often prerequisite for many of the positions to which finance students will apply. In my interviews, I haven’t gotten brownie points for having these programs on my résumé—but I doubt I would have gotten an interview without some of them.

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This is a typical screenshot of a Bloomberg terminal. Look confusing? Trust me, it won’t be after a few weeks in the program.

Dr. George Pinteris, the director of the SMF Program, likes to tell students that when finance professionals get together, they don’t talk about the risk premium over a risk-free asset that they use in the Capital Asset Pricing Model or whether they use the current portion of long-term debt when calculating the cost of debt. Instead, they discuss current events. Dr. Pinteris and other professors expect (but do not require) that students read the Wall Street Journal., Financial Times, and/or The Economist. Personally, I like to supplement my reading of WSJ and FT with American Banker. Whether students access these resources through online university library resources or through special discounts Dr. Pinteris distributes to students, students have access to very valuable resources. A full year’s subscription to American Banker costs about $1,400, while full year subscriptions to WSJ and FT cost a little over $300 each. During some of my interviews, mentioning a recent relevant article I read in FT or AB has often been a catalyst that made a good interview a phenomenal one.

The SMF Program not only gives students a solid academic background in finance, but also an excellent technical and professional background as well.


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