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!

Lessons From the Second Session

At the end of the first session, I wrote a post about two things that I learned during the first session. I shared them with you because I believe they are important for you to learn and expect if you are admitted into the program. In this post, I want to share one more important lesson from the second session.

The Importance of Teamwork

The importance of teamwork cannot be overemphasized for many reasons. One big reason being the fact that every organization relies on teams and groups of people collaborating together to accomplish goals and drive results. As a result, the SMF program is structured in a way that simulates real life experiences as most of our assignments are team-based assignments.

For this reason, it is important for current and future SMF students to develop teamwork skills. That is, the ability to effectively cooperate with others in a manner that leads to the actualization of the desired goal. There are many teamwork skills that team members can employ to be effective teammates. These include communicating well with others, contributing equally to discussions, completing agreed upon tasks e.t.c. But, there’s one skill I would like to focus on in this post: the importance of striking a healthy balance between virtual meetings and in-person meetings.

In my own experiences in this program, our team has achieved success by striking a healthy balance between meeting virtually and meeting in person. I believe as tech savvy as our generation is, we are susceptible to overly relying on virtual platforms to plan how we will conduct and finish projects.  But  we ignore the adverse effects of relying on virtual platforms, such as misunderstanding each other and failure to promote the development of deep interpersonal relationships. Therefore, my biggest encouragement to future SMF students is to strive to balance between meeting in person and meeting virtually. This will enhance team performance because it promotes clearer communication between team members and promotes the development of deep interpersonal relationships between team members.

Our team before the core capstone project presentation #greatestteammatesever

Planning and CFA

Hey everyone!

I am back to blogging again! I mentioned I would talk about how planning helps us in grad school. Developing time management and planning skills is particularly useful especially during the holidays. This year many of my peers traveled back home to spend Thanksgiving with their families. Thus many teams had to plan ahead how our schedules would look like, what times would be best to meet, before or after the holidays, dividing up the work, etc.

One thing that was particularly helpful in our planning process was the development of a project management plan. I was given the opportunity to develop a project management plan following a template that we were provided after one of our speaker’s presentations. In this project management plan, we assigned tasks to each member of our group would be responsible for and set deadlines to complete each milestone of our projects.

CFA Planning

I have been amazed by the level of effort, skills and diversity of knowledge that peers bring to class every day. I asked a couple of my peers preparing for the CFA and CFA Research Challenge to share about their experiences. This is what they said.


Joey Nguyen, Interested in Investments Track

How has your experience been getting ready for the CFA exam?

Since I’m taking it in December, while we are overloaded with a lot of projects and I also have to work on the CFA research challenge, I just think I would try my best for the exam. Everything you learn in the exam materials is what you need if you want to work as an equity analyst or break into investment management.

What are some takeaways of studying for the CFA?

Two things I learned from the preparation for the exam: first is stick to your schedule because it’s a big commitment, and second is being patient because you might have to take one level more than one. So just do it when you are really interested in asset management. One good thing is that 70% of the materials for level one will be covered from all courses in Fisher.

How has your experience been preparing for the CFA Research Challenge?

I have applied what I learned from class to a real investments project, also to work and to think as a real analyst. Bloomberg and modeling are two big key skills you can leverage from the classes while working. You also have to read a lot and try to find the key points (conceptualize it), learn where to start while reading a 10K and spot out the company’s problems. The CFA society also asks the company selected for the challenge to give a presentation about their company to all the participant teams so we need to know which questions we should ask to make them disclose some unique information.


Rizvi Bari, Interested in Investments Track

What are some takeaways of studying for the CFA?

I would say start as early as you can and do a lot of practice questions. I’m still trying to find more sources, but I think the professors are good resources. Working closely with the CFA institute helps a lot as well.


Jayaprabha Dhavale, Interested in Investments Track

What advice do you have for someone who is thinking about taking the CFA?

Personally, as I was already working, I studied on weekends only. Many of the topics were not as hard but some topics were new. Topics covered in the Financial Analysis Valuation class are covered in the exam. Regarding planning, I’d say you have to have a time line such as finish studying equity by this date, derivatives by this date.


Thank you to my peers who collaborated on this 😊

Cheers and Go Bucks!

What is Association of Marketing Professionals (AMP)

The Association of Marketing Professionals (AMP) is one of the largest graduate student organizations at the Fisher College of Business. While we hold events and activities primarily geared toward those focused in marketing, we have had opportunities to network with non-marketing professionals. Below are some highlights of our annual traditions, as well as new events that we as a leadership committee have implemented. I would say that we have been pretty successful so far! I am proud to be the Director of Professional Development of such a wonderful organization.

Annual events

Columbus Hop – Takes place every fall break. This year’s companies included IBM iX, Root Insurance, Orange Barrel Media, and Watershed Distillery. It gives students an opportunity to network and go behind the scenes to see how each company works.

Fisher MBA students at the Watershed Distillery as part of Columbus Hop

Chicago Hop (upcoming) – We celebrate the end of the fall semester and final exams by hopping on a bus to Chicago! This year’s companies include PepsiCo, BlueCross BlueShield, Tyson Foods, and Ogilvy. If you are not yet an AMP member, you should become one just to be a part of this awesome event!

Attendees at Chicago Hop last year

Marketing For A Better World (upcoming) – Our theme this year is Marketing Ethical & Sustainable Consumer Goods. Agenda includes keynote presentations by Levi Strauss & Co., and Fairtrade America, and a marketing panel moderated by ethics professor David Freel. We are still accepting registrations, and we are raffling off some autographed Columbus Blue Jacket items! You can’t miss this event!

Columbus Advertising & Marketing Practicum, CAMP (upcoming) – This will be our 10th annual CAMP! More details to come, but we will bring students, business professionals, and faculty together to discuss pertinent marketing topics.

CAMP last year

New events this year

Nail the Interview series – a two-part session where different marketing frameworks were introduced that helped with interview questions. We listened to feedback from the first-year FTMBA students and provided them with resources that they needed.

Brand Management series (ongoing) – Over lunch, students get to learn more about brand management from different companies. We have had former Fisher alumni from T.Marzetti (Lucy Liu) and Wendy’s (Emily Jacobson), and we hope to bring in a few more in the spring.

Other events

Happy hours & Panels

2nd-year FTMBA students sharing their marketing internship experiences

Tips On the Video Interview

As an applicant to the Fisher College of Business, the final piece you will submit is the video interview. To complete the interview, the platform will require you to submit three or four video responses and one written response. Also, the platform affords students the opportunity to respond to some practice questions before starting the recorded interview.

The best way to approach the video interview is to view it as an excellent opportunity for you to add character to your application. By this, I mean try your best not to be nervous or feel overwhelmed by this process because this is an area were you can really shine and create a lasting impression. Two tips for you to remember as you tackle this task are to practice and to express yourself with confidence.

Practicing allows you to familiarize yourself with the types of questions you will encounter in the actual interview. As you practice, assess your rate of speech. You want to make sure you can get your main point across within the allotted time, while avoiding the pitfall of speaking too fast so that you only use, for example, 10 seconds out of the 45 seconds available for you. Also, check were you look as the video is being recorded. This is important because you don’t want to appear as someone who is reading a response. Rather, you want to appear engaged and interested in the task at hand.

Another element that will help you excel in this interview is confidence. When it comes to confidence, I encourage you to imagine yourself as the reviewer of your interview. Would you trust or believe a candidate who is shy and seems unsure about the responses the candidate is giving? The answer is probably “No.” So it’s important to be confident and passionate about your responses. The response you are giving is yours so express yourself in a way that causes the reviewer to experience the emotions you feel about the subject in question.

Good luck as you complete your applications! And remember, practice before your interviews and deliver your responses with confidence. You’ll do great!

How to Become a Time Management Ninja

Happy Fall, everyone! The temperature is dropping here in Columbus but some beautiful fall colors were seen these past few weeks!

Fall at Ohio State campus

I was recently advised to blog about how my experience as a student-athlete has helped me as a finance graduate student. That gave me the idea to write a post on what skills will help you be successful in grad school and detail along some specific examples where these skills are put into play in the SMF program. So here it goes!

In my first post, I mentioned used to be part of the Ohio State University tennis team when I was an undergraduate. During my time as a student-athlete, I found myself juggling school, academics and life in general. Life as a student-athlete is very busy, especially during the season when you are playing two matches per week, sometimes even either at home or away, or when there is a tournament happening out of town and you have to miss class for a whole week. Also, the more your team wins, the more days you will need to take off school to play matches if you are playing a tournament. Therefore, you learn to use every minute of your time productively.

I was thankfully able to begin to develop my time management skills back when I was younger, as I used to juggle tennis, school and life since I was 11 years old when I started traveling for tennis tournaments and would come back home to catch up with school.

Time management skills developed in my earlier years are definitely helping me with my responsibilities between school and being a graduate assistant. I would share to anyone applying to graduate school that time management is something you will need to master during your years as a graduate student.

In graduate school, you are taking around fifteen credit hours per semester but most of your time will be spent working on group projects outside the classroom. For example, I am currently part of two teams for three different classes. One of my teams is working on an R (coding) project, my other team is working on our core capstone equity research project and several Excel presentations. I would say at least five hours each week are out put into group work, and that is keeping it short. Another SMF team was meeting for six hours straight one of these days. Kudos to them, seriously!

Either you run the day or the day runs you. — Jim Rohn

I was not familiar with Jim Rohn’s background as a motivational speaker but found this quote on the Internet and decided to include it in this post because it could not be more true.

Either you start working on that long assignment today or the length of the assignment will seem more daunting tomorrow. Either you read that one more chapter of the book today or are lost in class and have to read two more chapters tomorrow. Time is so valuable in the life of a business student and professional in general, that either you control it or it starts controlling you.

But what is the best way to control time, you may ask? Some might have different answers for this one but this leads me to another topic for my next blog: planning! No pun intended, but I’m planning to ask some SMF students who are currently preparing for the CFA about their experiences studying for the exam and how they are dealing with time management. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!