Posts filed under 'Professional Development'

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.


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!




Top 10 Most Memorable Experiences from the 1st Semester:


1: Tepper Case Competition – This past weekend I traveled to Pittsburgh to participate in an international supply chain case competition with three others from Fisher. While our team didn’t advance to the finals, we learned a TON, networked with executives from a handful of companies, spent 30 hours working on a LIVE company problem and experienced a first-class wine and dine experience. #istillneedtocatchuponsleep


2: Football games – I used to think OSU was the evil powerhouse team that wins too much. Now, I’ve drunk the scarlet Kool-Aid. #punintended #O-H…

3: CEO of Cardinal Health – About every other week a C-suite speaker comes in for a lunch seminar. My favorite has been George Barrett from Cardinal Health. Here is the article (I was even quoted in the article!) #freepaneralunch #greatopportunity

4: Fisher prayer – every other week between 3 and 10 of us gather to talk about how life in Fisher is impacting our lives. Then we pray for 20 minutes. Great memories reflecting and opening up to classmates.

5: Winning the MBA poker tourney. We are a competitive bunch! #thisblogpostinnowaysupportsgamblingbutdangitsfun


6: Urban Meyer spoke on leadership to the College of Business just 24 hours before JT Barrett was arrested for a DUI. I snapped this picture from my seat!

Red Lobster

7: Red Lobster – Our marketing final involved a 24-hour deep-dive into a case about Red Lobster’s effort to re-position itself in the market. This required some memorable late night studying sessions and the obligatory trip with my family and classmates to Red Lobster for ‘market research’. #thebestcheesybiscuitsontheplanet

8: Diwali celebration – Learning about Indian culture from dozens of my classmates and professors. A true highlight and such a fantastic cultural exchange. #deliciousfood

9: This coming weekend…. There are still a few weeks left in the semester, but I’ve been looking forward to the coming weekend. Fisher Follies, MSU vs. OSU, and a families of Fisher parent gathering!

10: I love classes. Seriously, I am SO grateful for a number of my classes this semester. Honorable mentions also go to Data Analysis and Econ and Leadership. The personal development and challenge we have been given to grow our emotional intelligence in leadership is invaluable!

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!

case comp 1

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.

case comp 3

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

Live Career Fair is Here


I would like to take more time to savor the past, but things are changing so fast here. I just want to quickly go over the wonderful first quarter of this semester. Before I arrived here, some people told me I was going to be in a village with a lot of Chinese people. When I walked into Columbus, I did see Chinese people frequently, but when school really got started, it completely changed my impression.

The international student orientation was taken up by Chinese students and I was expecting the same situation in the MHRM program. However,  that orientation really surprised me! There are 57 students in our program, and except for Americans, there are some students from India, Pakistan, Germany, and Dubai. The welcome video with the professor and director was more funny than serious, although we didn’t get the American jokes well. We switched tables every few minutes so that we could get to know more classmates. One of the professors mentioned that we were going to have a lot of info sessions which provides food, and we should go. Why not. But then another professor said to eat before you go there, because you are there to network. This word appears frequently here. People used to think that Chinese count on “guanxi” to do business, but it seems it’s even more common here. And in the following weeks, we really get involved with all kind of info sessions and food…Rolls Royce, Procter & Gamble, Shell, and KPMG. At first I was not quite familiar with some of the names, but when I knew the Chinese translation, I am really shocked. As customers, we see some of them as luxury and when thinking about working for them, it feels incredible.


Dressed in business professional, standing in the queue of the dream company, I felt like lingering between really being in HR and wandering into fantasy. A formal career fair which happens so soon really makes me anxious. But one thing I learned in the roundtable discussion for international students with our career consultant helped a lot. The recruiters in the ballroom could be as nervous as us. They really want to know us and we just need to help them know us. The practice of an elevator pitch with classmates is also helpful. The moment you start to do something, you may know its not that bad.

As an international student, all the recruiters seem nice. Some companies “Generally can’t offer sponsorship, but who knows what will happen.” Actually, we understand why the employer don’t want to bear the trouble and we study abroad to learn the American style, and then help them run better in our country and contribute to our own country in the future. Although I failed to get any interviews from these career fairs, I still benefited from it and see some hope. There are good resources for us to learn what to expect in the real work and form further relationships with them. One interesting thing is that most of the professors or recruiters will tell us to make ourselves uncomfortable, so that we can make some breakthrough, but Gallup actually told me that people were hard to change and they would give the best performance when they were doing the things they were good at. Actually, these 2 theories don’t always contradict to each other. Sometimes, only when we try out something can we know if we are really good or bad at it. I’m grateful for all these possibilities around this place. Like the professor said, “soak in as much as you can”.

“Free” Education

Information sessions are presented by various companies on campus to talk about human resources in their respective industries.  These sessions are typically presented by previous students from the MHRM program and how they have excelled in their careers.

I have attended quite a few sessions and believe that there are many benefits to attend.  Gaining knowledge about the company, learning more about the respective industry, interacting with MHRM professionals, understanding more about the perspective of HR through different lenses, and developing your ability to talk with recruiters. A lot of the info sessions also provide a free dinner!

One time, I was sitting in the grad lounge studying when a couple of my classmates invited me to go up to an information session that wasn’t advertised.  I did and got some experience analyzing a case.

Most recently, I attended an information session with Pepsi and managed to squeeze into the last interview spot that they had.  The following day, I went in for my interview, and they called me that same afternoon to offer me an internship!  I was shocked, but extremely excited for the opportunity.  Over the next week or two, my wife and I talked about it constantly and accepted the internship.  We knew that it was going to be different, but a crucial step in my professional development.

Information sessions are a great way of gaining a more comprehensive understanding of the business culture and learning the language to become a better professional.

The benefits of working and going to school

The more I participate in the program as a full time parent, worker and a full time student, I realize that I am absolutely foolish. It is very difficult managing all of these tasks and doing them well. My boss is an amazing mentor, so I have begun to utilize techniques and theories that I learn in school in my full time job. At first, I felt weird incorporating these concepts after just learning them, but as it turns out, they were really great and my bosses couldn’t be happier. In a very short time, I have made observable contributions to the company and have been given more autonomy to incorporate more ideas. Unexpectedly, I truly believe that it has helped me in school. It is almost like a perpetual motion machine. The more I study and apply my education to my job, the more that I understand the information better. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but it seems like it is working so far…

What’s the plan?

I met with Jill Westerfeld to explore some questions regarding internships, career development strategies and baseline assessments.  It was great to talk to somebody with such deep experience in the field and so willing to help.  It began with a very brief overview of my background, where I am currently working, and my goals.  Through the discussion we were able to identify some methods I can utilize in order to help focus my career search.  One of the things that helped the most during the session was that I came ready to talk about points that were bothering me and keeping open to opportunities.

New Beginnings

Life is full of transitions.

As a married military veteran with a family, I view transitions as endeavors to personally and professionally grow while taking advantage of new opportunities.  Leaving the private sector for full-time graduate school is a long-term investment.  The Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University has so much to offer.  I’m proud to be a Buckeye.

FullSizeRender[1]Dedication to lifelong learning seems to be a theme in our household.  I began a graduate degree program, my wife completed hers (while working), and my daughter started Kindergarten – all in the same week!  As a father and a husband, I am so proud of them both.

As the fall semester begins to pick up momentum, we must remember who we are in order to prioritize what is most important in our lives.  I, like most of my classmates, am attracted to pretty much everything that the Fisher College of Business has to offer.  There are so many clubs, organizations, employer info sessions, events, and activities competing over our most precious resource – time.  If we view time as a resource, how do we allocate it?

FullSizeRenderOne place to start is to identify who we are in relation to others (I am a father, husband, son, brother, student, uncle, employee, job-seeker, club member, mentor, mentee, veteran, coach, blogger, etc.).  The list is long for many of us.  Prioritizing this list can also be difficult with so many competing factors taking place simultaneously.  We realize that we cannot be everything to everyone all the time, but we can deliberately plan those aspects that are most important into our lives if we choose to do so.  This process becomes critically important during major transitions when we are faced with new situations, changing conditions, and increasing obligations. It can be difficult deciding what not to do, at least temporarily, during transitions.  Ultimately, our decisions are about trade-offs intended to maximize value.

What we choose to do with our time is ultimately what we value most.  Many of us have roles and responsibilities within our personal, professional, and even spiritual lives.  Intellectual curiosity, respect for diversity of thought, and continual growth and development are important to me in a professional context.  This is why I chose to invest my time at The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business.FullSizeRender[2]






A day in my life

The day started, as usual, around 4:40 am in the morning.  I played a kung fu form, watched a little bit of the news as I grabbed a quick bite to eat.  I had prepared my lunch and dinner to be ready to go.  By 5:10 am I was on my way to work with my mug full of coffee.  I read over the articles that we were going to discuss in class before I prepared to do a check in for work.  The client that I manage has appreciated the time that I have spent on site at their company and increased their order from our company.  My boss was pretty happy, but I confess it was a little overwhelming, because it also means my responsibilities were growing.  Just in time for the beginning of classes!  The day quickly flew by staying consistently busy and my break around 2 pm was a welcome relief.  I sat at my desk eating my lunch and my thoughts drifted to how my kids and wife were.  I knew it was nap time, so I didn’t want to wake them up.  The rest of the day flew by and I barely had time to finish my work.

I traveled to OSU and as I was parking the car, I got a call from our client and we had an informal chat about the ongoing partnership.  I met up with some friends from class and had a nice time listening to their perspectives on careers and more background.  The professor for the class tonight had a much different style and seemed to be able to engage everyone in the room without much effort.

The professor ended class early so that we could go to a networking event with Marathon Oil company.  I spoke to some folks from the MHRM council and learned a couple of things about the case competition that we will be participating in.  The next group that I floated to included Jill Westerfeld (career development) and an HR representative from Marathon.  I asked questions about his experiences and enjoyed hearing not only about his experiences, but the fact I was asking the questions in front of Jill.  I have a meeting planned with her next week, so it will be interesting to hear her impressions about the type of questions I asked and the manner with which I asked them.  I spent about an hour at the event and said goodbye to a couple of classmates as I left.

I drove home, hoping that I would get the chance to see my kids before they went to sleep.  Luckily, I got to hug my little girl.  My little boy was a little tired, but I got to see him too.  I finished off the night typing up this blog and then preparing for tomorrow.

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