‘How Did I Get Here?’

Those who know me well learn (sometimes to their dismay) that I have a soft spot for 80’s movies. From the classic to the cringe-worthy, I am unable to resist the nostalgic and synthesizer-tinged siren song of the MTV era. The genre has taken on new meaning to me recently, as I feel ever increasingly that I have been plucked from real life and dropped into the middle of a John Hughes montage:

Look at protagonist Michael go—he’s taking classes, doing homework, interviewing for jobs—working hard with his gang of friends towards their common goal! The days are flying off his Page-a-Day calendar as his Trapper Keeper fills with HBR articles! (Music fades as Michael’s car pulls into student parking lot).

Time and Change: Not even Mirror Lake is immune to the fast pace of life on campus.

This morning I had such a montage moment when through my car radio, I heard David Byrne of the Talking Heads squelch “…and you may ask yourself—‘how did I get here?’” ‘Here’ in this case, meaning week eight of the semester. It was a sobering realization that my academic MBA experience at Fisher is already 1/8 of the way done. I took a moment to reflect as the chorus chanted in the background, “Letting the days go by…”

It truly feels like yesterday that I walked into orientation. Yet somehow here I am, eight weeks in and already finished with the seven-week long Economics and Marketing courses. My only explanation (aside from the possibility that we are in fact sentient beings trapped inside the b-roll of a teen movie), is that time flies when you’re having fun. And boy, have I been having fun.

The 12-, 15-, sometimes 18-hour days that I have become accustomed to as a business student fly by more quickly than eight-hour days during some of my past endeavors. There’s no time in this fast-paced program for busy work. As such, every lecture, every assignment, every group project is intensely enriching and clearly builds towards the goal of becoming an effective business leader. This makes it so easy to stay engaged and motivated. Add to this the limitless opportunities for professional development, networking, and exposure to companies and there truly is never a dull moment. The greatest challenge is forcing yourself to go home and go to bed at the end of the day. It wouldn’t be difficult to fill 24 hours a day with MBA-related activities.

A sample time warp agenda

Sure, there is plenty to be stressed about in business school, but there’s always equally as much to be excited about. Ultimately, I think that is what separates my MBA experience thus far from my previous academic endeavors. I walk into Gerlach Hall each day excited, knowing that new lessons, new skills, and new challenges await me. I am never bored, I am never sitting still, and I am constantly challenged– and as such, the weeks quickly wash over me in a wave of intense activity. I have lots to learn and I’m far from mastering the many facets of graduate school, but I look forward to the new challenges ahead.

And so a new montage begins. Will protagonist Michael get a summer internship? Will the football team win the big game against their rivals? What misadventures and mischief await our lovable band of buddies? Cue the music—let’s find out.


My Summer Internship!

The first session (7 weeks) of my 2nd year of MHRM program has flown by almost as quickly as my summer internship at Huntington Bank HQ in downtown Columbus! The summer was a unique opportunity to not only apply the first year of the program to a more tactical learning endeavor, but also to gain new experiences to then bring back to the 2nd year of the program and share with classmates. Below is a quick recap of my summer internship and unique projects I got to be a part of! I apologize for the delay/lack of blogging; it may or may not have taken me the first 7 weeks to get back into the swing of things!

During the first stint of my summer at Huntington, I tried to quickly apply a book from Business Excellence II – The First 90 Days. The book highlights the importance of the first 90 days of any new job and new transition, and how it is important to make a good impression quickly. Really, a summer internship is just around that time frame, so the book was an easy application for tackling my projects.

Overall, I would say the first year of my MHRM curriculum trained my brain to think a certain way: what is the situation, the outcomes desired, impressions and experiences we want to provide? I loved that through the first year of my program, I had a network of resources to bounce my thoughts off of: both classmates and professors. To kick off one of my first projects at Huntington, I tried to get an understanding of the current state of the business and how I was being asked to make an impact, and then called one of our professors, Dr. Inks for his expertise and experience. There wasn’t a shiny bauble that came from the conversation, but instead a frame of mind that helped guide my project throughout the summer.

I loved my projects, team, and work environment over the summer. One of my favorite experiences from the summer was Huntington’s all-intern project. The entire class of about 60 interns was divided into groups of five cross-functional teams. I loved that I had the opportunity to work with students from different departments: IT infrastructure, Commercial Risk, Capital Markets, and Data Analytics– all extremely different departments that possessed a different perspective. The task was to pick an opportunity for improvement at Huntington and confront the problem: what is the problem, why is it a problem, and what is our solution for the problem identified? What prepared me for this project was the MHRM Case Competitions – hosted by Fisher. The problem we identified was one that most companies are facing today: how do we retain millennial talent? I had seen this trend before in the MHRM Internal Case Competition with PepsiCo. Therefore, I had a framework and mindset to build on that rallied our team behind how Huntington can improve to retain the very people giving the presentation: millennials.

My intern buddy over the summer and fellow Buckeye, Leah, after our team presented to the Huntington Executive Team!
My intern buddy over the summer and fellow Buckeye, Leah, after our team presented to the Huntington Executive Team!

I’m so excited to be returning to Huntington after graduation from the MHRM program and to be part of the talent acquisition team! I can also say that I’m excited to finish up the last 1.5 semesters in the MHRM program at Fisher, and gain further background and experience that will ultimately prepare me for taking on an HR Specialist role. Plus, I still want to live out the last of my college breaks that I might never see again 😉 Until next time. Go, Bucks!

Buckeyes that intern together, stay together
Buckeyes that intern together, stay together

The Concrete Jungle

Before you go on reading this post, I want you to open this music video in another tab and allow the song to play while you continue reading….

Now that the mood has been set, here we go. This past weekend, from the evening of Wednesday the 21st to Sunday the 25th, I took a trip to the land of Sinatra, Bobby Flay, and Tupac. A little place called New York City.

As I was flying in, listening to the song you are hopefully listening to right now, it was around 8:30pm on Wednesday night. If you fly into LaGuardia and are lucky enough to get a seat on the left-side of the aircraft, you will have that 1-million dollar view of NYC lit up like a Christmas tree. That sight always seems to give me the chills, and I was left in awe and ready to take on “the City” the next day.

Now you may be wondering: Brett, what were you doing in NYC?Good question. I ventured on the trip with three of my fellow SMF classmates and an undergraduate group targeting the investment banks in NYC. Between Thursday and Friday, we visited banks like Goldman Sachs in the Financial District and J.P. Morgan in Midtown. With my intended career path of Investment Banking, it was an awesome look into the workings of “Wall Street” and the current state of Investment Banks.

Two of my classmates and I in Times Square.
Two of my classmates and me in Times Square.

Also, I used this trip as a means to network. From our trips to the banks, we were able to speak and network with Ohio State alumni working there, as well as at a reception on Thursday night. In addition, we had free time in which we could network with other working professionals and alumni in the City– and I feel that I established some awesome new connections.

Finally, despite having been to New York City before, I let the inner tourist in me come out a bit and I stopped by some of the most famous spots like: Wall Street, Times Square, the Raging Bull, the Rockefeller Center, and Broadway. Final takeaways? I really do love NYC and can’t wait for my next trip back!


A classmate and I at the Raging Bull near Wall Street.
A classmate and I at the Raging Bull near Wall Street.




Fall at Fisher

Fall—the season for football, changing leaves, and pumpkin spice lattes.

Script Ohio
September 3rd, 2016

For Master of Accounting candidates at the Fisher College of Business, fall also means recruiting. Although many students enter the program with full-time job offers, a number are still looking for post-grad employment. I did not complete an internship this past summer, and, as a result, was eager to begin my job search once I got to Fisher. The Office of Career Management does a fantastic job of facilitating this process for its students by providing ample resources and programming for those still seeking placement.

For those who aren’t familiar with how the accounting hiring cycle works, here’s a brief breakdown:

  1. Over the summer, incoming MAcc students complete a series of “Career Modules” to begin preparing for the fall semester. Additionally, students submit an updated resume to the Office of Career Management to receive feedback prior to actually applying to jobs. This is also the time to identify service line and location preferences.
  2. A half-day of orientation is devoted to a Career Foundation Seminar. As part of this event, we had the opportunity to hear from a panel of recruiters which was incredibly informative!
  3. Networking kicks off with the “MAcc Mix & Mingle,” an event at Ohio Stadium hosted by the Office of Career Management during orientation.
  4. Classes start and firms begin to regularly visit campus, hosting a number of events and informational sessions during the first several weeks of school. This is a great time for students to learn more about all their potential employers. The Fisher Career Fair takes place at the beginning of September and is a great way to connect with companies that don’t necessarily have the same presence as some of the larger firms.
  5. Application deadlines vary, but most are due within a week or so of the Career Fair.
  6. First-round interviews are held on campus toward the end of September.
  7. Second-round interviews occur in October and include an office visit. Even within the same city, company cultures may vary drastically, so this visit can be incredibly important when determining a “best fit.”
  8. Most offer letters are out by the end of October, at which point it’s time to make a decision!

At this point, my applications are completed and I have started scheduling on-campus interviews. I will be sure to update you once I have come through on the other side!

Is it Graduation Time …already…!!!???

linkedin Didier Hirwantwari aka “SMF for life”

Graduation = Closer to reaching Personal and Professional Goals. 

I would first like to thank all my followers and fans. This has been a truly great experience and continues to become an even greater experience as I approach the finish line of this program. I have enjoyed writing these blogs and have put all my heart into them trying to share my daily musings and articles and great pictures. It is an experience that has given me much more than I have given.

I started my collegiate career here at the Ohio State University in 2010 and was granted entry into the business school as an undergraduate in Finance shortly thereafter. It was a great and challenging experience and it still is now as I finish up my graduate studies here. I think the biggest part of this school and university as a whole are the people whom I’ve met. I can honestly say with a hundred percent that it is because of the people I have met that I am here right now. I did well in my studies but it was always the people whom I would meet who would push me to even want to work harder and give an extra ounce.

Thank You to my family and friends for believing in me and carrying me when I was tired. From my stats professor Doug Evans who wrote my recommendation letter and made it possible for me to gain an internship with the FDIC; Thank You. To Professor Albert for everything, from advising to explaining the foreign exchange to listening to my worries. From my undergraduate adviser Jane Palmer who guided me throughout the halls of Schoenbaum so that I could work harder and harder to standout as a finance student and for hugging me at my undergraduate graduation and making me almost shed tears (don’t tell anyone) ; Thank You to Professor Kewei Hou for believing in me and writing a recommendation letter that I am sure helped a lot when I applied to this great SMF program. To Dr. Pinteris; Thank You for this great opportunity, it has been a blast meeting my classmates and learning from you. To Professor Lou Zhang, I would recommend your class to everyone; one of the best learning experiences I have had.  To Caroline C., Thank You for your guidance throughout the first semester, it helped me grow in so many ways. Thank You Rebecca Z. for asking me about my experiences with the program and making sure that I have everything I needed; It definitely helps me to stay centered. To Rob C., I cannot say enough thanks for the opportunity, but many thanks. To Claudel; Our talks have made me so much more confident to go out and face the world, thank you. To all my classmates, if you ever read this. I would not be the better person (I think 🙂 ) without you all. Thank You all !!!

I am sure I missed some people but if they (you) ever read this…Thank You.  So …. graduation is around the corner. I have been thinking if I will do the dab like Coach Urban Meyer did in my earlier posts. As I start approaching this date, the impact of what I am going to achieve here grows larger and larger. In such a short amount of time I have learned so much and met so many people. I never stopped learning while here and I doubt that I ever will. There are great things coming down the line for the SMF program and I am very excited. For the incoming SMFs if you read this; Welcome to what I feel is one of the top finance programs into one of the top business schools into one of the best states with the best football team, best damn band in the land, …..Welcome to your Buckeye Experience !!!

Go Bucks

Yours Truly … Didier Hirwantwari

CFA Research Challenge Global Finals in Chicago

Seven months later, we finally arrived in Chicago for what was one of the coolest and most exciting events of my life. For a recap of what the CFA Research Challenge is and what it took to get to Chicago, please read my previous blog (https://fisher.osu.edu/blogs/gradlife/2016/03/07/cfa-research-challenge-pt-2/).


When we arrived at the Hilton on Michigan Avenue, I was a little overwhelmed with excitement. Not only was the weather amazing, but the CFA Society of Chicago really rolled out the red carpet for us. The main stage was spectacular and made me a little nervous for the four teams that would be presenting up there. The structure of the week looked like this:

-Tuesday was registration and the opening ceremony

-Wednesday consisted of the semi-final round in the morning, an advancement ceremony at lunch, the national final round in the evening and dinner afterward.

-Thursday was the Engage Symposium where leaders in the finance industry talked about current topics and how students should prepare for the finance world followed by the global finals and a reception


There were over 100 teams competing in the semi-final rounds with only 26 moving on to the national final round. Of those 26, only 4 would go on to present on the main stage in the global finals on Thursday. The 4 that made it were: Italy, The University of Georgia, a team from Asia Pacific and the eventual global champions (and the team we lost to) Waterloo. Watching those 4 teams on that stage was incredible. They all did an amazing job of answering some incredibly difficult questions but Waterloo walked away the champions. After they were crowned, we all made our way to the reception area which was a giant dance floor with a live band. The entire experience was surreal.


After the Research Challenge was over, it was time to be a tourist. I packed my bags and left the Hilton for an Airbnb three blocks from Wrigley Field. Two friends from Columbus joined me as we explored Wrigleyville, downtown, Michigan Ave, Millennium Park and the business district. The weather was perfect so we walked for hours everyday and enjoyed every second. If you ever have a few days to explore and are looking for a destination, I highly recommend Chicago. It is hard to beat. IMG_5978

Internship for the Win!

As the school year comes to an end all I can think about is how fast time goes by! The MHRM Class of 2017 is about officially halfway done with the program! My classmates, including myself, are all off to start our summer internships hoping to bring back perspective, credibility, and experience. Well, I promised to keep y’all posted and I’m officially here to report my first week in Huntington Talent Acquisition was a major success! I love what I’m doing: the projects I’ll be working on over these next few weeks, being in downtown Columbus, and my TA team. Below is a short recap of my first few days (I work half days Monday, Wednesday, and Friday until the summer starts).


Fortunately, my manager had me visit Huntington HQ a couple weeks before my start date to recap with her since it had been awhile after my interview and my last time in the office. That meant when Monday came I knew where my desk was, how to maneuver through the building, and most importantly, where her office was. I also had met her manager who I’ll be partnering with for one of my main summer projects during my pre-start date visit, so I did have some familiar faces in the office. Monday I also got my official Huntington badge (so fancy). Monday was a lot of getting set up to hit the next few days running. By Wednesday, I felt like a pro! I got most of the mandatory training completed, discovered the printer, set-up my desk to my liking, and discovered where the water bottle re-fill spot is!

(Excuse the lack of office decorations - to come)
(Excuse the lack of office decorations – to come)

Friday is when the fun started! My manager took me and another one of our TA team members to lunch (so many options in downtown Columbus) and we got to chat outside on the patio in the sunshine. The big lunch geared me up for the big meeting with her manager: this meeting was to get the deliverable for one of my summer projects! Friday was exciting because it was a sneak peak into some of my summer work, but also how I’m going to get that work done. Lots of brainstorming, more set-up, and computer software ideas spun through my head for the rest of the day. My manager and I wrapped up the day with a little reflection (highly recommended) and I headed into the weekend like a giddy five year old, already ready to be back in the office!

I went into my summer internship search with the mentality that I want to love my job, because at the end of the day that’s what will keep me where I start my career after graduation. What I love about my internship with Huntington TA is that my projects are not just meaningful, but they will be sustainable past just my summer internship. I have a feeling my first few days in Huntington Talent Acquisition were only a glimpse to the great summer that’s ahead! #gobucks

But really, how can you not love that view?


The Year is Coming to an End

Technically, there are two days of class left in the semester. For the sake of this post, let’s say classes are over and all that remains between the student body and summer are those pesky exams.

Here in Gerlach Hall, there are two camps. First-year MBAs are eagerly preparing for GAP assignments and summer internships that will hopefully turn into full-time offers. Second-years are staring employment directly in the face. Try and picture the fleeting look of carefree senioritis on a 28-year-old’s face as she realizes winter break, spring break and Fridays off will forever be in the past. I fall squarely into the anxious, exhausted first-year camp. In less than two weeks, I’ll be in Tanzania working with the Global Water Institute on a water well program. In less than six weeks, I’ll be interning with The Wendy’s Company in its marketing division. Bring it on!

On one hand, I cannot wait to ditch homework for four months. No more late nights at the kitchen table with a strategy case for a company. On the other hand, I’m essentially going back to work for 13 weeks. Work stress and effort are totally different than school stress and effort. Grades and participation points are great, but real life company-related implications and a paycheck are vastly more important in the long run. A dumb answer or a half-hearted deliverable will not ultimately sink a ship here in the safe classrooms of Fisher. Not so in the real world. All the theory and case studies will finally be put to the test. I’ll let you know how it goes!


International Business Etiquette

The second semester of our program has been really enriching. I checked our Student HUB, which lists student events, and guess what I found this time? International food tasting…I mean International Business Etiquette. Anyway, we can’t live without eating as well as learning.

When I stepped into Mason Hall’s rotunda, it proved to me again that I am part of a great program that provides international experiences. The exotic food brought me to a foreign environment instantly and started good conversation.

internation food -

Looking at things like this, how can you not be curious and try it out?

international ettiquete food

Of course, we are here to learn about business etiquette all around the world. There were flyers about business etiquette in the UK, Brazil, India, and so on. Amusingly, when international students looked at the food tables, they are actually looking for the one about America. Our wonderful holders forget to tell us about themselves. We are supposed to learn about the countries, but I instinctively looked for one on China. The students sitting in front of me were also looking for one on China since one of them is traveling there. I thought I could be the “live flyer” about business etiquette in China for him, but I actually found one for Korea, which is very close to China, and gave it to him for reference. The one for Saudi Arabia is really interesting and different. “It is not uncommon to have a meeting cancelled once you arrive.” “You should arrive at meetings on time, although it is an accepted custom to keep foreigners waiting.”

saudi arabia

PowerHerFul: The 6th Annual Women’s Summit

On March 26th, I attended a very special event: The 6th Annual Women’s Summit. The event lasted for almost an entire day. Although I was a little bit tired, I really gained a lot.


Actually, it was the first time that I participated in a feminist event. The event was well-planned. When I arrived at the 4-H center I found there was a black bag on each chair, a planner, and an agenda sheet. After breakfast and a simple warm-up, we had a guest speaker, Ms. Perfect, who is a successful woman both in her career and family life. She talked about how she dealt with her most difficult time: a single mother who raised 2 young children and went through college courses as well as 3 part-time jobs. Ms. Perfect also talked about how she planned her life. According to her, once she had a vision, she just stuck to it everyday. Ms. Perfect’s speech really inspired us a lot.


Then we were provided with different workshops. I chose the professional appearance workshop. The workshop lasted about 45 minutes. It was short but I was impressed by our coach. She helped us build our confidence by stating over and over again, “You have all you need to get what you want.” She also offered some short but useful suggestions for us women to make a good professional impression.

After lunch, we had a seminar about women starting businesses, followed by 2 selective workshops. I chose “Health habits in your 20s” and “Women in Business Panel.” I received a lot of useful suggestions about how we should take care of ourselves as well as our careers.


The most exciting part was PowerHerFul Fashion Walk Show. I could see from the models’ faces that they were happy and confident. The audience was influenced by these charming ladies and they all got very excited.

The event ended at 4 p.m. It was really worthwhile to spend all day at this event because we felt more confident about ourselves, we built friendships with each other, were inspired by each other, and we gained support from each other.