Favorite Class This Half Semester – Negotiations

Negotiations

After I finished my first semester of the SMF program, I thought to myself, I am going to take all classes that I can classify into a favorites pool. I signed up for classes from simulation and risk, entrepreneurial finance, fixed income, Negotiations, and a couple of more. I thought to myself, these are all electives, so I should elect to take the classes that I feel will get me where I need to get. I was surprised when after a couple of classes of all the aforementioned, a clear winner began to emerge. Negotiations, a clear underdog in the beginning won the upper hand. While most of my other classes are technical in nature and help me master my analytical skills, Negotiations stands on the other end of the spectrum where I have to understand where I stand as an individual. Most classes are spent with the students negotiating between themselves and seeing if they can achieve their personal and group goals. It is the most interesting class I have ever taken. I have had to think more in this class than I have in other classes because of the construct of the class.

Every day in class is setup with a goal to achieve by the end of class. One has to decide if they are going to negotiate or if they are going to step away from the table. One has to decide if they are going to share personal information with the counter-party and reach an integrative decision or if they are going to keep information hidden so as to win the negotiation and have a distributive decision. It just shows a lot about how the classmates think and who, I personally think, they are on a personal level. Are they a person who is willing to share information and win with you or a person who is willing to take advantage of the situation to win as much as possible. That might be an extreme example but it does count for something. It does open eyes to what the business atmosphere is like. It prepares us for the extreme sides as well as the non extreme sides of personalities.

The other great thing I like about the class is that there is a group negotiation component where groups get to negotiate together. I think it trains the mind to be able to accept ideas from other people and try to arrive at Pareto principled decision rather than one that is divisive. Professor Dumas as well is a great Professor who guides the class really well. She is very knowledgeable about the subject and is able to reference to the smallest details that we might miss and help us adjust accordingly.

I would definitely recommend this class to those who want to learn how to interact with people, may they be family or colleagues.

Oil Freeze – Russia and Saudi Arabia

Oil

Oil Freeze vs. Oversupply

For anyone who follows the markets, especially the energy sector, the news of Saudi Arabia and Russia coming together at the Negotiation table to limit the supply of oil in order to stabilize should come as big news. Unfortunately, the effect was not as big as expected. It was big in the fact that it is an agreement between an OPEC country and non-OPEC country in the case of Russia. A year ago Saudi Arabia kept up the supply of oil as the supply from the States kept steadily growing. This was a small struggle that saw the price of oil go from above $70 in 2014 to below $30 in 2015 and 2016. The image above grabbed from Bloomberg (https://fisher.osu.edu/blogs/gradlife/wp-admin/post.php?post=24082&action=edit) shows that oil could still go down further.

The above story is interesting for me because while I was working for an energy company I saw trends in oil prices that followed seasonality. For example as February ends prices of oil usually start to decrease as it is the peak season for demand along with summer. With the prices tumbling downwards with no outlook for appreciation in the near future, one has to wonder if this is a short term play by Russia and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia and Russia are two of the biggest exporters of oil so they have been hit the hardest with oil’s depreciation. They would not want to lose market share to U.S. producers hence their previous increased pumping of oil supply when others were supplying the oil as well.

I do wonder though if this is not a very short term fix that is not necessarily well thought out. Saudi Arabia almost certainly relies on oil for its economic growth. Russia does depend on its oil economy but not as much. Unfortunately, they both rely on oil enough to be affected when trying to change their economic make-up. All in all I thought it was interesting to see this article on Bloomberg News and to read what some of the analysts had to say about the move. It seemed that most saw this as a small insignificant act save for the fact that it was a deal between an OPEC country and non-OPEC country. For my part, back in 2014, while doing a research report on Chevron, I thought that the oil supply was going to start increasing with the development of shale gas and fracking in the U.S., causing the price of oil to move up slightly but to eventually slightly level off and decrease.

Good article for all those who love following the markets.

Finals – Term 3

How is it March already? I swear just a few days ago we were learning about basic capital structure in our “turbo-finance” course in the middle of August. All of a sudden, Christmas break had come and gone. I guess time really does fly when you are busy learning in courses that you enjoy. I knew six courses would be a great deal of work but I didn’t know they would go by so fast! May marks the turning of a new chapter in my life and I am not ready to leave this place just yet! Columbus is home.

On February 29th, I had three finals for my third term courses. As a reminder, the SMF program is split up into five separate “terms”. There is the pre-term or “turbo-finance” course in the middle of August followed by two semesters that are split into two terms each. For the most part, the SMF program offers single term classes but some full semester courses are available. My first exam was Derivatives II at 10am followed by Corporate Financial Reporting at 3pm and finally Financial Statement Analysis at 6pm. Sound like a lot to handle? It wouldn’t have been if I had prepared correctly. Let’s just say I had some distractions when I was trying to studying.

Goodale 1

The week before that Monday, I told myself I would start studying and get ready in advance for my three finals. What happened? Classic procrastination – “I can wait, I still have five days!” “No worries, Monday is three days away still” “Oh no, my finals are tomorrow!”. It also doesn’t help that there were some distractions. Saturday and Sunday just happened to be the nicest days Columbus has had in weeks. So naturally, I indulged by wasting my studying time walking around the North Market and Goodale Park. Then came Sunday night. This just happened to be the night my favorite EDM DJ, Hardwell, decided to play a show in Columbus at the Bluestone. I couldn’t and wouldn’t miss this show.

Hardwell close (1) Hardwell far

Somewhere between walking around downtown in the beautiful weather and going to the concert, I found time conceptually understand Derivatives II. I still needed to practice and start studying for the other two exams. Monday morning was a little stressful, waking up at 4am to do practice problems and start Corporate Financial Reporting. Derivatives II came and went pretty well (I believe) and then came crunch time. Would I be able to study enough to be successful on my other two exams? You bet! I even had time to grab a coffee with a friend as a study break. I guess it goes to show that when you are studying material that you truly enjoy, it sticks much easier and makes a whole lot more sense (especially when I think about the physics and chem exams I used to have to take).

Speaker Series 2 – Mike Kaufmann – CFO of Cardinal Health

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Speaker Series = Equality in the workplace & challenging the status Quo

I would first and foremost like to give a shout – out to Rebecca Kimball for making this happen. The other Thursday, I had the pleasure of attending CFO Kaufmann’s speaker event at Gerlach Hall. This has become one of the top speaker series that I have actually been to. The subject revolved around professional development in the workplace and equality of the sexes in the workplace. The latter in my view is not talked about enough. When he started outlining how he championed the initiative to encourage more women to speak out and take the international assignments and promotions as well as other positions, it hit home with me. I have had the pleasure of working with women who I thought were the best candidate for the promotions offered but whom did not put their names in the boxes for fear of not having the complete qualifications and reprisal by their workmates. I definitely have always asked myself how that issue can be tackled.

In his answer to tackling the issue, he alluded to what most of us fear doing but always imagine doing. He said just do it in short. If a workplace does not respect equality, then it behooves us as the employees to decide whether our values are aligned with the company’s. I definitely agree with that viewpoint, especially in this age where the workforce is so diverse and firms can benefit from diversifying and the different outlooks that different sides of the sexes can bring to problem solving. It definitely reinforced what I want to see in a culture at work.

He did also go over his personal professional growth which struck me as very courageous. A trained accountant, he decided that he did not want to keep going through that track and went the sales route which he had a passion for. It shows how doing the uncomfortable can often result in our utmost success. I think it hit a nerve with me because when I was working, I had those thoughts where I would see myself in the future and ask if I was challenging myself enough….if I was doing what I needed what I needed to do so that in the future, I could do what I wanted to do.

Overall it was a great speech and I learned a lot from his speech and again a big shout-out to Rebecca Kimball.

CFA Research Challenge Pt. 2

Well, after almost five months of research, writing and preparation, we were finally readyEditing to give our presentation. On Tuesday, my research team and I got up in front of a panel of CFA charter holders to give a recommendation on Owens Corning, a basic materials company headquartered in Toledo. Just to recap, every year The CFA Society puts on a research challenge open to all colleges. The challenge consists of writing a research paper (my last blog) and giving a presentation to the local CFA societies (in our case, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati). We successfully made it past the paper stage a few weeks back and have since been preparing a slide deck and presentation based on our paper. The presentation was to be 10 minutes long and broken down into a few sections: company introduction and recent events, business segment descriptions, industry overview, financial analysis, valuation (the most important part) and risks. After the presentation there was another 10 minute session but this time the panel could ask us any questions they had.

So we knew exactly what the presentation would be like, we just needed to finalize what we wanted to say and practice until we had it down. It took almost no time to put together our slide deck…memorizing what we were going to say took a bit longer. As a team, we met a few times in the week leading up to the presentation to practice. In the end, we knew that getting up in front of the panel would be a beast all on its own.

Practicing

Finally, presentation day came and what better way to bond with your team then to ride in a minivan together. We made our way down to Wilmington, Ohio (a midpoint between Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati) and signed in right around 4pm. The schedule was: Ohio University at 5:00, Capital University at 5:30, Ohio State Team Sheridan at 6:00 and Ohio State Team Wellman at 6:30 (that’s right, Ohio State sent two teams!).

whole team

While Ohio University was presenting, we decided to find another room where we could practice a few more times. Needless to say, we were a little nervous. For the life of me, I could not remember one of my lines and I was worried it wouldn’t come to me when the spotlight was on. Time was drawing near as we headed back to the waiting room. Ohio State Team Sheridan came out of the presentation room looking confident which, honestly, made me more nervous! Nonetheless, it was go time!

winners

We walked in, greeted the panel, and off we went. I think we did pretty well and apparently the panel agreed! Ohio State Team Wellman took home the victory and will be headed to Chicago in April to compete in the national level competition. Who knows, maybe we can make the Americas competition or even the global level! Look for more to come on the CFA Research Challenge, the journey isn’t over!

(Winners!)

Speaker Series 1- Charles Brandes of Charles Brandes Partners

brandesdec31

Speakers = Knowledge outside of the Classroom

In addition to all the intrinsic value we get from going to such a great school, we are often privy to great speakers who add yet more value to our education. I have had the pleasure of attending a couple of speaker series and would like to share some of these series with all of you. As I am a Finance Major and am pursuing the Investment track within the Specialized Master of Finance Program, I am always intrigued by what standards are practiced in the Industry. Mr. Brandes is a proponent of the Value Investing method made famous by Benjamin Graham and further made popular by Warren Buffet.

Mr. Brandes came to speak to the business school at the beginning of the semester last year and shared his experiences with us. To the ones who wanted to do equity research, he drove the point of value investing home. To be more specific, he imparted the importance of fundamentally valuing firms rather than speculating to the performance of a company. It takes time to truly understand what a business is doing, how it operates, and what its drivers are. When one understands that, then it makes it easier to value a company and not be part of the crowd.

More interestingly is what I just recently learned in my Trading and Markets class. Mr. Brandes was the second Investor to put money into the Investor Exchange founded by Brad Katsuyama as portrayed in Michael Lewis’s book. I definitely was able to understand why Mr. Brandes was and is such a proponent of value investing. I could not do justice to the whole subject of Mr. Lewis ‘s book  (Flash Boys) in such few words but would recommend everyone who reads this blog post to read it and read his other books as well.

Down Time!!!

down time

Finals, Midterms, Job Applications, Projects……. All those are words that have become part of my daily vocabulary. In fact I am willing to bet that it has become part of everyone’s vocabulary who is a graduate student at the Fisher College of Business. It is though what makes the school such a great place for students to develop. We are exposed to so many things and facets of life in such a short time even if it is 2 years. At the end of the day it is what brings in the big bucks or to put it better; it is what makes us better people, better members of society, people who question the status quo and push for better things.

There is a word that is missing from the afore-mentioned list though, at least in my case. I get so engrossed in all the technical aspects of what I am doing and learning here that I forget to breathe. I forget to ask a classmate how their weekend was or miss a smile from a passing friend because I am think of how I am going calculate the zero yield of a certain bond. It is not always the case because as the picture shows above, I do remember sometimes and better yet that passing friend stops me in the hallways and asks me how my weekend was. They ask me if I am free for lunch so that we can go to Diaspora (Possibly best Korean food in Town). This aspect of my graduate career so far is my favorite because I realize that as much as I am thinking about that zero yield rate, they too are thinking about it or another thing regarding classes and we discuss the subjects in a nonacademic way relating it to our lives.

Pictured above are two of my classmates Elijah li and Taylor Snare who remind me that sometimes a smile and some breathing is all one needs to get through the day. The rest, we learn as we go and ask questions so that in the future we can answer other people’s questions as well.

Ohio Weather !!!

good weather

I definitely think that I should have posted this earlier or for those not familiar with Ohio. We’re in February and I was driving back from Dayton Ohio this morning sliding ever so slightly on i-70 and I remember just how fast the weather can change in this great State of ours. I remember seeing runners two weeks ago running in shorts and even homeowners mowing their grass. That was at the beginning of February and I was amazed. I actually drove around the city with my windows down so that I could enjoy the warmth and sunshine. I even took a walk by the river but I had a sweater on because I know you Ohio and weather appearances can be deceiving.

I have to digress of course because I have lived in this state long enough to know how fast the weather can change. As mentioned above, appearances can be deceiving. I have had days where I have been wearing shorts inside the house to sweats, socks, a sweater and the heater blowing all in the same way. It in fact happened to me last week. I got caught off guard because I assumed that since we had had a mild winter so far (mild by polar vortex standards), the worst had passed. Of course I was fast reminded of that when yesterday while grabbing some groceries from Walmart I saw people people sliding all around as if there was a secret audition to “Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift ” that I did not know about. The most confusing part seeing these people driving though was that they were all going faster than me in cars that I know are not 4 wheel drive like mine and acting as if it was a regular June day. For my part, I am a fairly slow driver but even slower when there is snow, sleet, and ice involved.

bad weather

The Ohio weather though is what makes Ohio the beautiful state that it is. For its part when it is cold and it is miserable people will still smile at you. You will still see the dedicated runners with spikes on their trainers clocking their 10 milers in. And when it cannot get any colder and the clouds part ever so slightly, we are privy to a little sunshine and are reminded that its just an Ohio thing!!!

CFA Research Challenge

This year, I have had the incredible opportunity to participate in the CFA Research Challenge with three of my fellow SMF’s. The CFA is considered to be the must-have designation in the finance world and the CFA Society is represented by thousands of charter holders. Each year, local CFA Societies host and review local level research papers prepared by college students. Each region decides on a few papers they deem competitive enough to make it to the regional and global rounds. Our local level includes the CFA Societies of Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati so we are competing against the likes of University of Dayton, University of Cincinnati, Miami University and another Ohio State team. If we are chosen for the next level, we will have to prepare a presentation to give to regional and global CFA Societies who will decide on a global winner.

OC Front

We are assigned Owens Corning (OC) as our company to be researched. At the beginning of the competition, we were invited to an investor presentation put on by the Vice President of Investor Relations for OC and hosted by Ohio STRS (State Teachers Retirement System). At that point in time, we found out we had a lot of work to do. We started by splitting the paper into different sections (business segments, investment thesis, financial analysis, investment risks and industry profile) and worked individually on each section then came back together to edit for content and grammar.

JohnWill

By the time we reached a week out from the submission deadline, we knew we had to get in gear. Over that last week, my teammates and I spent anywhere from 5 to 10 hours each day working on the paper. Most of the content was done with about a day to go, we just needed to finalize our grammar and make sure it was pristine. Despite our beliefs that we were ahead, we ended up scrambling at literally the last moment to get it turned in. Who knew that trying to combine a 35-page paper would bog down a MacBook and take a few minutes to upload to the internet? In the end, the submission went through at 12:00.15 and we were safe. Check back here in a few weeks to see if we made it to the regional round!

Golfing in Naples, Florida!

After I thought all of the presents were opened this Christmas, my littlest brother (Wyatt) brought out one more envelope for me to open. I was a little nervous but extremely excited for what may be inside. After opening it, I read his 13 year old scribbling and the biggest smile came across my face. He, with the help of my mom, had put together a golf trip to Naples, Florida for me, my dad and my other younger brother (Patrick). That wasn’t the only surprise though. My mom decided to add an extra ticket for Wyatt to go with us too!

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Two days after Christmas, we were packed and ready to make our way down south. We arrived in Naples around 10pm so Patty and I ordered pizza because nothing else was open. I would say it was a great start to the trip. On the first day of the trip, we woke up at 7am to grab some breakfast and head to the golf course. We walked on the first tee box and I was just in awe at how incredible this golf course was. The greenest grass I’ve ever seen paired with some of the bluest water. Now came the hardest part of the entire trip…Trying not to embarrass myself. My first tee shot was miserable. The golf ball popped straight up in the air and fell about 20 yards in front of me; I had tee’d it up too high and walked back to the cart, red in the face.
The rest of that first round was better than the first shot but I still finished above my average score. I also lost more golf balls than ever before (thank god for Santa). After getting cleaned up, we adventured to downtown Naples to try and find a cool place to eat. We settled on an authentic Mexican restaurant that barely had enough room for 20 people. The food was incredible! After that adventure we made our way around to different shops and stores before taking off for the hotel.

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Day two was similar to the first but I shot a little better. After the round of golf, Patty and I relaxed on the beach for a few hours as the sun went down. Sitting on a beach in December is an amazing experience and I highly recommend it! On the last day of our trip, I shot the best nine holes of my life on the back. What a great way to finish the trip! Patty and my dad beat me on every round except those last nine holes and I will be proud of that for months to come!