Buckeye Basketball

Over the past couple of months, the blog posts I wrote have centered around class, class activities, and life in the SMF program from an academic point of view. As a result, for those who’ve been reading or following my posts, it may  seem as if I don’t do anything much outside homework, projects, assignments and attend class- which is somewhat true but not entirely.

Aerial view of the basketball arena

One of my hobbies is basketball, both playing and watching it. And if you are wondering, my favorite players are Lebron James (hopefully I don’t lose any readers) and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

 

What I love about basketball is the intensity of the gram. For 40-48 minutes, pretty much every ounce of muscle in the human body is tested. And on top of that, players need the mental resilience to ignore the body’s plea to give up before the game is over.

About a month, ago I got the opportunity to see our men’s basketball team

Getting some love from Brutus

in action vs. Rutgers. Certainly, the intensity which I love to see in a basketball game did not lack as both teams were hungry to get that W. Despite Rutgers’ sincere attempt to overthrow the Buckeyes in the third and fourth quarter, our boys proved equal to the challenge and managed to maintain the lead and win the game.

Overall, I had a wonderful experience at the Schottenstein Center, especially because this was my first men’s basketball game. I totally recommend this as a leisure activity, but before you leave the arena, be sure to get some love from our mascot, Brutus the Buckeye.

Cupcakes and Canvases at Fisher!

Besides professional events (career fairs, networking sessions, case competition, alumni visits) and cultural events (Noche de Muertos- Mexican, Diwali – Indian, etc.), Ohio State and Fisher are always organizing a plethora of miscellaneous events that help students find relaxation amid demanding school time schedule.

This semester, the Graduate Programs Office in coordination with the Ohio Union Activities Board organized “Cupcakes and Canvases,” an event where students could have fun painting in canvases while enjoying delicious cupcakes!

I’m certainly not an experienced artist, rather I’m quite the beginner. However, the instructor made the painting process run very smoothly for all of us. In fact, it left me wanting to do even more canvas painting in the future.

Students from different programs (I got to meet some MHRM students and saw many MBAs) came together and enjoyed this fun activity that was honestly a brain-relaxer. After talking to some friends, they also shared a similar point of view that the activity in general was really helpful on getting our minds to think something else besides financial models, capital structures, and M&A transactions.

If you are a fan of canvas painting, want to do something fun for yourself or for a friend, or simply you just want to explore your artistic side, the process to complete this sunset was quite straightforward.

We used 5 different colors: white, black, red, yellow and blue. We started by paining the sky red and then mixing with yellow to fill out the rest of the sky down until we reach the sea level. (It also helps to have a template picture printed next to you).

Final piece of art result!

Then, you want to do the ocean starting with blue and again, mixing with white this time to choose your preferred tone of blue. You can paint all the way or just leave a narrow space at the end, it doesn’t really matter because afterwards you will be covering the bottom of the canvas with black. Next, you could move to the sky by mixing red and blue that you just used for the ocean and painting the top of the canvas.

It is pretty much up to you and your imagination on how much red/blue you want to use. My personal preference is not trying to look at what the others are doing because you could get distracted by their style, and your painting will not look as original as you would want it to be.

Once you have covered the whole canvas, you can use a new brush to paint the moon. Again, for the moon it is up to you how big you want to draw the moon, small, large, etc. Finally, it is time to use the black brush and paint the little hill surface as well as the trees and some people did birds if you are into that.

I did it! I explained how to paint a canvas without having any previous knowledge before this Cupcakes and Canvas session. See, that is what activities like this do to you–they make you expand your creativity!

Tips for Virtual Interviews

Part of the application process for the Master of Finance, Master of Accounting, and Master of Human Resource Management programs involves completing an online video interview.  Here are some of my tips to help you ace our virtual interviews.

  • Look into the camera.  If you were in an in-person interview, you would look the person you are speaking with in the eye, right? Why not do the same for a virtual interview?
  • Pick the perfect spot.  Try to find a place that is clean, quiet, and comfortable.  We do not want to be distracted by people walking by you in the background or background noises.
  • Don’t drag it out.  If your response is shorter than the amount of time allocated for it, there is nothing wrong with ending the video! Don’t throw yourself off track by making the story longer than it needs to be.
  • Dress for success.  Dress as if you were going to an in-person interview.  Looking your best conveys the message that you are interested and prepared.
  • Test your technology beforehand.  Make sure that your browser is compatible with the interview platform.  Check to see that your voice is not too loud or too quiet.
  • Practice – Before you start the interview, make sure you have different ideas of talking points you would like to bring up to generic interview questions you may get.  Get the nerves out early!
  • BE HONEST & YOURSELF – This could be our only chance to get to know you before making a decision on whether or not to admit you into our program.  Be honest and genuine with your answers.  Let us know what you are passionate about and what makes you unique!

Best of luck with your application to Ohio State!

*Disclaimer : This is my personal advice to you and may not reflect the opinions of The Ohio State University as a whole.

All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy

As many of you know, the Specialized Master of Finance is a 9 month program that allows students to take on a heavy load of elective courses, which is a good thing because as students our main goal is to learn and grow our professional competencies. The danger though, is that one can easily get too wrapped up in the demands of the program, causing one to forget or pay very little attention to other aspects of student life. And without a balanced student life, one’s performance may be negatively affected.

One thing I have truly enjoyed  here at OSU, is the extent to which the campus is endowed with facilities and opportunities to have fun. That is, to develop a balanced student life. As much as I work hard to get stuff done, I also make sure I play hard because all work and no play makes jack a dull boy. One way I do this is by utilizing the recreational facilities here OSU. Six Rec Sports facilities are located conveniently throughout our campus with a wide range of operating hours and amenities. Also, over 90 acres of outdoor facility space stretch across campus.

RPAC Aquatic Center

 

ARC soccer

One thing I love about the recreational facilities on campus is that most sports and activities are catered for. For those who like squash, there are many courts to play squash, for those who like to run- you can do so indoor or outdoor, and even for those who like adventure activities such as wall climbing- there is a facility for that as well. My personal favorites are basketball and soccer. I played both sports in high schools and have had the opportunity to compete in intramural competitions here at OSU.

Finally, I’ve had the opportunity to meet and interact with various people from other colleges and departments through recreational activities, which has helped enhance my experience here at OSU. With this in mind, I highly encourage all current and future OSU students to get out and have some fun at the rec centers we have on campus- it’s worth it!

Tips for Admitted Students

As the application season goes on, many students wait for the results of their applications (and some were already admitted, if that is you, congrats rockstar! ) Either if you are on the fence about multiple admission from different schools or trying to decide whether OSU is the right choice for you, I wanted to share some tips for students as they make their final admissions decisions.

Location
For me location was very important in a sense that I wanted to stay in the Midwest after completing my undergraduate degree. I also knew that I wanted to be close to major financial hubs such as Chicago (6hr drive) or New York (8hr). Random reason is that I also wanted to experience the four weather seasons, I have to admit fall is short but beautiful at OSU, and coming from warm weather in my home country I wanted to live through a real winter with snow since I have never seen snow before. My advice is to at least have a general idea of where you would like to work post-graduation and don’t forget to factor cost of living into your list.

My friend and classmate Jeff Chiu won a snowman contest in his resident complex as best snowman this January. Go bucks!

Alumni Network
One of the biggest factors for me in choosing the SMF program was the extensive and global OSU alumni network . This can be particularly helpful when job searching as there is a high likelihood to find an OSU graduate working for a particular company of interest, and Buckeye alums are certainly willing to connect you with other people. TIP: After my graduation once I become officially a Buckeye alum, if you are connecting with me just don’t forget to mention the ‘Go bucks’ at the end of your email 😉

Faculty and Program Curriculum
If you are intellectually curious, I’m very certain that you care about which professors will be teaching you in the future. When deciding programs don’t forget to review the school’s websites and learn more about the faculty at that school. I believe the OSU SMF program has excellent faculty including industry wide well-known professors due to their academic research and publications as well as professor with corporate work experience. Personally, I found the mixture between both intellectually stimulating as in some classes I was able to learn the theory, frameworks and technical concepts while other will allow me to practice these concepts such as in the Core Capstone class. I have heard about this from previous SMF students, so don’t hesitate to reach out to GAs to ask them about their experiences in the program.

Cost
Most of us as graduate students are trying to save up as much as possible during school, therefore the cost of the program (and the amount of scholarship received) ends up being a determinant factor to our commitment to a program. Personally, Columbus Ohio is one of the cities where you would get the most bang for your buck with cost of living being considerably lower than many big cities while still experiencing the vibe of a metropolis and having exposure to Fortune 500 companies HQs.

Opportunities
One of my favorite sections! As the number one/two largest university in the country, Ohio State has SO many extracurricular opportunities tailored for everyone! Some of them include:

Career Fairs

• Networking Events: with SMF/Fisher/OSU alums and corporations

Case Competitions: CFA Research Challenge, ACG Cup, NBIC Investment  Banking, Real Estate Case Competition

• SMF Educational Visit: Chicago Companies Visit, Venture Capital Tour

• Getting involved with a Student Organization

• Leadership roles in the SMF Student Council

Speakers at Fisher, and much more!

International Reach
OSU graduates are literally in every part of the world, I can tell from experience. If you are walking in an airport and someone sees you wearing OSU clothing, they would yell at you ‘Go Bucks!’ or ‘OH’. One time, I was in Peru and a couple of men, saw me wearing an Ohio State pullover and said you go to Ohio State? Oh great, go bucks! I was truly amazed by how many Buckeyes we have abroad including in far away places such as Peru.

 

FUN
After all that hard work studying, you also want to have some time to distress de-stress and bond with your fellow classmates. Columbus is a vibrant community with many enjoyable things to do across the board. Besides all the fun activities within Ohio State and Fisher, we have the Short North, Easton Mall and Polaris, Columbus Downtown, many local restaurants, breweries, and coffee chops, activities such as skiing, snowboarding,  snow tubing, zip lining, The Columbus Zoo, and so many other!

Short North

Regardless of what school you decide, I hope this blog helps you consider important factors when making your decision besides from ranking or school reputation. All for all, I wish you the best in your future endeavors.

Ferny

Financial Software Training

One of the unique aspects of the SMF program is the extent we utilize various software applications to advance our professional competencies. With the rise of artificial intelligence and data analytics, being proficient  with different software applications has become a must in the corporate world.

For example, I had an interview with three different people from the same company, and each of them emphasized that their company is seeking students who have had a significant amount of exposure to software applications other than Microsoft Excel. Luckily for me, my time in the SMF had provided me enough exposure to unique software applications that I could confidently bring up in the interview.

Two of the software applications that I have enjoyed learning and using the most are Statistical Analysis System (SAS) and the Bloomberg Terminal.

The Bloomberg Terminal is used extensively in investment management firms, in sales and trading and in financial markets. It provides access to more than 15,000 indices and 100+ metrics, coverage of 45,000+ companies in 108 countries, as well as 2,800 fundamental data items and financial ratios. Bloomberg news offers more than 5,000 original news stories each day from 30,000+ aggregated news sources with coverage from 146 bureaus in 72 countries.

At Fisher, we use the Terminal throughout the duration of the program to conduct research on investment funds, stock performance, bond prices and many more.

Bloomberg-Terminal

SAS is a widely used tool for data management and business analytics, including statistical and econometric analysis, and has strong capabilities with large data sets, such as those used in quantitative investments and risk management.

This program affords students the opportunity to develop coding skills in a relatively easy to understand environment. We use SAS in our Data Analysis class offered during the autumn semester, with the opportunity to dive deeper into the program by registering for the Financial Statement Analysis course offered during the spring semester.

SAS Log & Editor windows
SAS results window

In conclusion, with the trend toward heavy use of artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics, the Fisher SMF curriculum offers students ample exposure to some of the leading and most widely used software platforms, which allows students to be better prepared for post graduation roles.

Participating in the ACG Case Competition

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to participate in the ACG Case Competition. ACG is the global community for middle market M&A as well as broader corporate finance dealmakers and business leaders. The organization represents a variety of financial sectors including private equity, investment banking, family wealth management, lending institutions, accounting, among others. The Association for Corporate Growth hosted around 10 teams in this annual investment banking and private equity competition.

The ACG Cup provides a unique opportunity for MBA and graduate students in the finance field to get real-world experience while interacting and networking with leading financial professionals and companies. My team was tasked with solving an M&A case that involved valuation of an LBO, M&A synergies and valuation of a stand-alone company through different valuation techniques. The event is a highly valuable experience for those interested in pursuing a career in investment banking/private equity/wealth & asset management.

For those of you interested in participating in a case competition, ACG is a great opportunity to get involved in a competition related to the finance field. Besides the opportunity to develop your own valuation model with your team and practice presenting in front of an audience of final professionals, there is also opportunity to network after the competition. I found this opportunity extremely valuable if you are looking for a job or looking to join a professional organization. Regardless of the outcome, ACG members which ranged from managing directors, associates, and analysts were very welcoming and willing to connect you with other professionals in the field that you were interested.


Details

  • Valuation techniques involved: LBOs, Exit Multiples, Precedent, Comparables, DCF, Synergies valuation
  • Location: Cleveland, OH
  • First, second and third place receive cash prize and the first-place team was invited to join InterGrowth – ACG’s yearly conference for private capital professionals in the middle-market – this year taking place in Orlando, Florida.

Winter Break Road Trip Adventure

Hello, everyone! I hope you all had great, relaxing and recharging holidays!

One of the great things about being in Ohio is how close we are to many cities that are easy to visit in a road trip. After I was done with my exams, a couple of friends from the program and I decided to take a three-day road trip to Nashville, Tennessee. I have heard great things from several people about that city so I was excited. I had the chance to visit Nashville very briefly when I was for a tennis tournament around three years ago but we did not get to explore much of the city.

My friend and I planned the road trip and we decided to stop at different cities along the way:

  • Yellow Springs, OH
  • Louisville, KY
  • Bowling Green, KY
  • Nashville, TN
  • Cincinnati,OH

The whole road trip was a blast, strongly recommended if you have three free days and a group of friends you want to have a good time with.

Part of the Road Trip – Parthenon in Nashville, a full-scale replica of the Parthenon in Athens

Our fun little trip started by visiting Yellow Springs, which is a very colorful, chill and cute small town close to Dayton. We ate breakfast there and walked around the streets exploring different shops. The town had such a happy vibe (see below picture of the colorful trash cans) that we stayed exploring for around two hours.  Unfortunately, it was getting dark and we needed to make it to Louisville on time if we also wanted to explore the city there.

We left Yellow Springs around 3 p.m. and arrived at Louisville around 7 p.m. We were starving at that point so we stopped by a Vietnamese pho place to grad dinner. It was delicious! After dinner, we headed back to our Airbnb, which, by the way, had the best hosts we could imagine!

For day two of our trip, our hosts had some coffee and cookies available for breakfast before we took the road to head out to Bowling Green. One of our friends who was initially coming with us is a big car lover, why is why we decided to include the National Corvette Museum as one of our stops. Once we arrived, the place was not too fabulous thus we were a little bored and one man at the museum suggested us to go visit the Mammoth Cave.

The Mammoth Cave turned out to be a blast!

Mammoth Cave – part of the longest cave system known in the world

After our tour at the Mammoth Cave, we headed over to Nashville! We arrived quite late that day around 6 p.m. and were exhausted and almost decided to go back to our Airbnb and go to bed. But we were at Nashville, and Nashville is known besides its food for its fabulous nightlife so we pushed through it and ended up having the best time.

Nashville!

On our way back from Nashville, we stopped by Cincinnati, which is less than two hours from Columbus, and we regretted not having planned more time to visit. The city was so beautiful, especially at night. Cincinnati was our last stop before we returned home.

I came back to Columbus, Ohio recharged for this last semester of studies.

O-H!

Class Dinner Time!

One of the things I love most about the SMF program is the diversity of our students. Last Friday, the SMF Council organized a dinner to celebrate the culmination of our capstone class. During the capstone class, all the teams were able to develop an equity research report about a company of our choosing. Two Fridays ago, all teams presented their final report to a panel of professors and the entire class.

SMF Capstone Presentation

That same Friday, the Fisher Indian Association was celebrating Diwali Night. One of the SMF students, Sowmya Mikkilineni, introduced me to this beautiful dress (see picture below).

Kurti dresses!

Our initial plan was to attend the SMF dinner and then head over to Diwali night at Fisher. The SMF dinner end up taking longer than planned—it had been a long day presenting our equity research reports. However, we were able to take a group picture with everyone before they headed home!

Group Picture at Tadka

Big shoutout to Sowmya and Jayaprabha for being kind enough to introduce us to all the exotic dishes. We ordered so much food but I’m really glad we did!  The food was truly delicious.

I look forward to our next group dinner soon!

Ferny

Chicago, Snow, and Final

I’m finally back and done with my finals. Hooray!

With no intention of bothering you with grueling details of assignments, projects and exams, here are some important updates on the bright side of my life:

Snow

Columbus welcomed bona fide snow that successfully accumulated overnight at the end of November. It was something like this… isn’t it beautiful?

First decent snow

Chicago

Over Thanksgiving break, my friend Rizvi (who is also from the SMF program) and I took an awesome road trip to Chicago. We visited the famous Millenium Park, strolled alongside Lake Michigan and experienced Black Friday vibes at Macy’s.

The Bean at night
The Loop at a glance

While wind chill was real in the Windy City, we managed to stay warm by eating a lot! We slept in and gobbled down cheesy deep dish pizza in our Airbnb, enjoyed all-you-can-eat hot pot in Chinatown on Thanksgiving and wrapped up our last night in the city with some warm pho soup. Trying new food is the best part of traveling, don’t you all agree?

Giordano’s
Little Lamb Hot Pot
Pho Cafe

Oh and before we hit the road on Saturday, November 24, 2018, we witnessed Ohio State’s seventh consecutive victory over Michigan in our car. What a life!

Go Bucks!