What Winter?

Thus far the weather since returning to school has been fair to say the least.   However, for those non-Ohio natives, Columbus traditionally has sometimes-unpredictable weather patterns that not even local meteorologists understand (in my opinion).    For example, last weekend, temperatures hit 65 degrees in Columbus by mid Saturday afternoon.   People were dressing like it was the middle of May, forgetting that next week, things could easily drop 40-50 degrees.   But to this point, Columbus hasn’t seen much snow.   Most snow fall, occurred over break, when most of the SMF students were already away back at home, or as many foreign students did, traveled to other cities in the USA (mostly warmer, tropical places).

While winter has been fair to students thus far, we are in for a twist. Monday (MLK Day) and the day after, flurries are in the forecast.   Sure flurries are a normal part of winter weather, which accounts for an easy meteorologist pick to settle any indifference as to if precipitation will actually fall or not.  The part that is alarming however is the low temperatures in the next few days will be in the single digits.   With the wind that will be accompanying the colder weather will actually make the temperatures feel like below zero.    The winds traditionally in Columbus can be nasty, almost making that snow we haven’t had yet, seem better than arctic blasts of cold air.

Last Weekend

Hocking Hills: A Great Autumn Escape

Having spent practically my whole life in San Francisco, temperatures rarely fluctuate out of the 50 – 70 degrees Fahrenheit range. The mild climate along with an abundance of evergreen trees creates the same landscape throughout all four seasons. It could as easily be raining in July as it could be sunny and warm in January. Thus, if you are visiting SF for the first time, make sure you pack an extra jacket regardless of the season. One of the many reasons why I chose to come to Columbus is to experience the different seasons of the year.

If you asked me about the beauty of autumn before I moved out to Ohio to start the SMF program, I would have told you that fall colors are a figment of some genius artist’s imagination and only appear on jigsaw puzzles. Earlier in November, after a grueling week of preparing for and taking two midterm exams and putting the final touches on a 10 week long group project, I was looking forward to taking a much needed break from studying my eyes out. I was ready to explore Ohio.  While asking around for suggestions, my hairstylist suggested a place about an hour drive southeast of Columbus.

My better half was visiting that weekend, so we decided to take the short road trip out there. We were so glad we did. We stopped by the Old Man’s Cave in the Hocking Hills State Park. The trail was about a mile and half long and connected to a shorter path that led to some falls. The falls were just a slow trickle, which was most likely due to the hot and dry summer. The park was littered with fallen leaves of all different colors and we could not have asked for a more beautiful place to hike through. Hocking Hills has several other trails that range from a quarter mile through the George Trail in the Ash Cave, to two and a half miles through the Conkle’s Hollow Rim Trail. When the weather gets better, we definitely plan on going back to check out what else the park has to offer.

Trekking through the Old Man’s Cave

From teammates to friends

Love these guys!

As everyone in the current SMF class has learned over the past few months, the program is heavily focused on group work. I personally have found this attribute of the program to be particularly rewarding. First, most of us will enter the workforce in roles that require a high level of team cooperation; we have certainly been presented with the opportunity to hone those skills over the past semester. Second (and more importantly), working with my team over the past 14 weeks gave me the opportunity to build three great friendships.

You never know what the dynamic of any team will be, but I was fortunate enough to be paired up with individuals that were not only analytically strong but, more importantly, great people to be around. These two attributes fostered an extremely enjoyable work environment. Working through long nights on difficult reports could have been a painful process (and sometimes it was), but we always found a way to make some fun out of it (whether it be learning about Hawaiian music, trying “real” Chinese food, or discussing the latest showing at the Gateway Film Center).

After wrapping up our final analyst report at the end of last semester, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit sad. I won’t get to share the intense, and sometimes frantic, push to get through the final leg of a project with them anymore. Fortunately, we have an entire semester of time left in the program. From now on when we hang out, there will be less talk about WACC and EBITDA and more talk about the score of the game last night or which firm we will be running in 30 years. Regardless, I am just thankful I was lucky enough to work with these three great people.

Breakfast in Columbus: Sweet and Spicy Goodness

When I came across this article about the expected bacon price increase due to droughts that led to shortages of corn last harvesting season, I have to admit, I panicked a little. I was on a mission to consume as much of this pork belly goodness as possible before it became too expensive for my meager student budget. As I was searching for places in Columbus that serve the traditional bacon, eggs, and pancakes for breakfast one day, I came across reviews of a place that serves crispy bacon that is both sweet and spicy. Intrigued, I knew I had to make my way to Katalina’s to taste the creation for myself.

Mmm…Sweet and spicy bacon!

Katalina’s Café Corner is a small mom and pop restaurant on the corner of Pennsylvania Ave and W 3rd Ave, which is a short COTA bus ride south of campus.  I ordered the Nutella filled pancake balls with a side of their mouthwatering crispy bacon.  I’m usually a wimp when it comes to spicy foods, but to my surprise, the sweet glaze coating on the bacon turned back the dial on the heat and prevented total annihilation of my poor taste buds.  The pancake balls were lightly dusted with powdered sugar and definitely a nice deviation from the usual pancakes served for breakfast. You may want to think twice about popping the whole pancake ball into your mouth.  I found out the hard way that the Nutella filling takes a bit more time to cool down than the outer pancake shell.

On the corner of Pennsylvania Ave & W 3rd Ave.

Freak out for Finals? Never!

It’s a fact.  My SMF finals are done!

With that being said I did a few things different this time versus what I used to do in undergrad preparing for finals.

1.  Start Studying a Week Ahead – This works great, especially if you end up with the flu the day before your exams begin.   I felt comfortable and not as anxious as in the past because I was able to review the material instead of learn it the evening before the exam.

2. Sleep – Sounds crazy during finals week, but I actually managed 7-8 hours of sleep the night before exams this semester.  Helped a lot.

3. Relax – It pays to take time out of your day from studying.  Whether its going out to eat with a few buddies, or popping in a movie or catching a game on TV.   We aren’t wired for constant studying – especially for grad school.

Sounds too easy doesn’t it?   Depends.  It took some getting used to, but in the end, they benefits were great!   Cramming doesn’t work anymore, especially at a higher (and more demanding) level of education.   This practice is proof, after our 17 page exam today for investment finance, the word “relax” had to have run through my mind at least a dozen times!


While it may be easy to follow the advice of this sign… it doesn’t need to be mandatory during exams!

Anil Makhija – one of the best profs I’ve ever had

Makhija in Action


The Specialized Master in Finance program wrapped up its first-term, finals week on October 13th (one down, three to go!).  It’s always good to get that first one under your belt, but our attention was quickly turned to round two as we prepared for new courses, professors, etc.

Four weeks into our new courses, we’ve finally fought off our “post-finals week hangovers,” and settled into our new schedules.  As we have felt-out our new surroundings, one course in particular has jumped out for me and piqued my interest. That course is Corporate Financial Management with Anil Makhija. The material is focused on advanced valuation techniques, capital budgeting, and security issuance.  These are topics that will be relevant in almost any field of finance. However, there is another draw to this class—the man at the wheel, Anil Makhija.

Every class session, I find myself walking away impressed. Never have I seen a teacher who can lecture for an hour and a half with no prompts—zero, zilch, nada. He simply works off his general knowledge of the material. Not only that, but he manages to present the material in a way that “just makes sense.” It’s a unique teaching style that I have come to really enjoy because of his ability to adapt on the fly to students’ questions and concerns. Not only that, but it enables him to exude his passion for the topic more clearly to the class.

Maybe I am biased because of a developing interest in corporate finance in general, but I have heard similar sentiments from fellow students. To fellow graduate students and prospective future students: A course with Professor Makhija is a can’t-miss opportunity.

Becoming a Buckeye – A Transformation

Two worlds collide – A great problem to have!

As was pointed out by a previous poster (Thanks Dan), football is king in Columbus; and by football, I mean The Ohio State Buckeyes. In my first season of exposure to the OSU football experience, I can assure anyone who questions this notion: It is true! This fact has presented me with an interesting situation (or predicament, if you will).

You see, I was born 200 miles east of Columbus in the town of Morgantown, West Virginia.  Not only is it my hometown though, it also happens to be the home of the West Virginia University Mountaineers. To add fuel to the fire, I also spent five wonderful years studying finance at WVU during my undergraduate education. As most would assume, I am a big Mountaineer fan.

Prior to enrolling in the Fisher College of Business, I had no preconceived ill feelings toward the Buckeyes. I had never gone out of my way to cheer for them either, though. In fact, I never went out of my way to cheer particularly hard for anyone but my beloved Mountaineers. So as I accepted my offer to attend the Ohio State University in early 2012, I realized a transformation was necessary. I was going to have to adopt a second team, and I was going to become a Buckeye. Some diehards may scoff at me, and say there is no way I can be a true fan after passing only one football season in Columbus (Is that you again, Dan?), but I am giving it a go.

I began by adding a few articles of red to my wardrobe, and upon arrival in Columbus invested in a “Block O” doormat. I even bought an Ohio State chair for my apartment (okay maybe that was a bit over the top).  Living on the 9th floor of River Watch Tower and having a perfect view of the new scoreboard at the Horseshoe (which played old OSU football games for three weeks straight) helped too. But there was still one BIG piece of the puzzle missing: my first game. So after doing some research on current players and the 2012-2013 team, I bought my first ticket OSU football ticket. The Buckeyes would be squaring off against the mighty Knights of Central Florida (maybe a slight exaggeration).

In hindsight, the game was an amazing experience; from the tailgates to the in-game experience. The Fisher MBAs always put together a tailgate at Fisher Commons that is open to Fisher graduate students (food and “beverages” for $5). The tailgate is also a short walk from The Horseshoe (stadium) that leads you through a sea of tailgates (perfect pre-game build-up for my first game).

After all of the hype and all of the build-up, The Ohio State Buckeyes did not disappoint. Watching from Block “O” (the south side student section), I was wowed by Braxton Miller & Co. as they stuck it to an overmatched UCF. There was an atmosphere worthy of the team it surrounded too. The student section stayed enthusiastic throughout the game (letting UCF know exactly how they felt about them) and the rest of the crowd managed to remain interactive, even as OSU pulled away from their lesser opponent. It was an experience I will not forget.

All in all, I am excited about having a second team. Call me BuckEer? A MountainBuck? Maybe not, but I do know red and blue look just fine together, and I can’t help but let  a new personal motto run through my head: The more football, the merrier!

Annie Leibovitz at the Wexner Center

As an SMF graduate student with limited funds, I love to maximize the utility I can get with every single bill that leaves my wallet, or rather, with every swipe of the plastic these days. From plotting all the happy hour spots around campus (check out James’ blog post on $3.50 burgers on Wednesday at Brazenhead), to scoring deeply discounted tickets to events (check out Jessica’s blog post on d-tix), there’s nothing more exciting than discovering fun things to do on a tight student budget.

One of the activities I would love to spend more of my free time on is visiting museums. Luckily for OSU students, we have the Wexner Center for the Arts on campus. Not only is the museum conveniently located, but admission is also free for all college students with ID. Do not worry if you are not a college student. The Wexner Center takes care of the general public as well by offering free admissions on the first Sunday of each month and every Thursday after 4 PM.

Currently, the masterpieces of Annie Leibovitz are on display through the end of the year. Annie started her career in the early 70s as a photographer for the Rolling Stone magazine and has amassed a huge collection of well-known celebrities she has worked with over the years. The works of art are not limited to musicians. The exhibit also includes iconic athletes like Muhammad Ali, actresses like Angelina Jolie, and political figures like Condoleezza Rice.

If you are on campus, you should definitely swing by the Wexner Center for the Arts and check out the exhibition! I promise you will not be disappointed.


SEGA Breaks

Everyone needs a break from the routine of studying, group projects and homework.  SMF students are no exception. Some people play sports (I enjoy tennis – be sure to check out RPAC), some work out, others turn to art (playing instruments, painting, etc…).  In addition to playing tennis on OSU’s campus, I also enjoy playing retro video game systems.   My particular favorite is the Sega Genesis.

Sega Genesis was undoubtedly one of the most memorable video game systems of the early to mid 1990s, and will be always remembered for its deep rivalry with Nintendo and Super Nintendo.   While the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) was slowly fading out by the middle part of the early 1990s, Super Nintendo had to compete fiercely with Sega.   Sega Genesis system had 915 games that were made compared to Super Nintendo’s 784, although the Super Nintendo did cannibalize some of its NES system games as well.

Perhaps the most notable character of Sega is Sonic the Hedgehog.  He appeared in many games, however his most notable are in the classic Sonic the Hedgehog series’ games of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, and Sonic and Knuckles. Both Sonic and Sonic 2 were respectively the top 2 grossing games of the franchise with Disney’s Aladdin at number 3.   The system has sports, action, fighting, racing, strategy and many other categories.   The beauty of the system was perhaps its limitations.   The games involved memorizing enemy attacks and mastering precision at times. For me, its also a visit to the joys of my childhood.

If you are in Columbus and are in need of obtaining this retro system, there is a local store, Super Game Team on Northwest Ave that sells Sega Genesis systems and other used games for your enjoyment.

Any child of the 1990s should recognize this logo and immediately associate it to Sonic the Hedgehog
A scene from the classic first level of Sonic the Hedgehog, Green Hill Zone

The Ultimate Hunt: Finding a Job

Fisher students in action – winning over recruiters.

The academic year is young, but that did not hinder The Fisher College of Business from kicking off the job hunt full-force for its students. Not one, but two, career fairs took place within the first month of the semester here at The Ohio State University, and they were both focused toward students pursuing business-related studies. In addition to the career fairs, the SMF program has had the privilege of numerous information sessions with prominent financial figures.

On September 5, the Fisher College of Business career fair took place in the Ohio Union. The magnitude of the fair was so great that it required the first AND second floor of the student union. An impressive list of companies was present. A student’s worry wasn’t about finding a company of interest, but more about finding time to talk to all of his/her companies of interest. Here is the Student Career Fair Guide. A quick skim will show you what I mean.

Five days later, the Fisher College of Business Graduate Career Fair rolled into town. Conveniently set up in the Blackwell Hotel, this recruiting event was geared toward graduate students only. It offered a more focused, intimate setting to build relationships with potential employers. Needless to say, there was yet another impressive list of companies in attendance.

The most exciting part of it all (for me at least) is the chance to make immediate use of the connections you developed at these fairs. The Fisher College of Business brings many of these recruiters on-campus to do the initial round of interviews. On top of that , all available job listings are posted in an organized, searchable fashion on Fisher Connect for you to apply through. This gives students a significant advantage over non-recruited schools because you have the opportunity to apply twice (Fisher Connect and company website), and we all know how important getting your name seen is!

Since the career fairs, many other recognized individuals have visited our campus to connect with the Fisher College of Business student body. This past Tuesday, the CFO of GE Capital gave a riveting, private presentation to the Specialized Master in Finance class. Other campus visitors include Diamond Hill Investments, Tres Knippa (a registered trader on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange), a previous president of The CFA Society of Columbus, and Greece’s Minister of Tourism just to name a few. Not only were these prominent individuals, but they exposed us to a wide array of financial arenas.

I have been TREMENDOUSLY pleased with the amount of resources Ohio State University and the Fisher College of Business has been able to offer me thus far. However, a word of advice to future students is necessary: be prepared to work your tail off! Even with all this help at your disposal, landing that coveted offer is a full-time job. It requires a tremendous amount of preparation, research, and networking to become the student that your “star” firm is looking for. So be ready: no one said the ultimate hunt would be easy!