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VITA

Something I really enjoyed this year was volunteering for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. This program exists in cities throughout the country, and this was my first time ever volunteering with this program. We had the opportunity to file federal and state tax returns for local residents in the Columbus area so they were able to receive the maximum amount of their refunds at no cost. About 60 students volunteered, many of which were fellow MAcc students. The rest were undergraduate students at the Fisher College of Business. Therefore, this was a great opportunity to meet more students at Ohio State as well as get to know other students in my MAcc class better.

Some of the VITA volunteers

Some of the VITA volunteers

Since I will be starting a career in tax after graduation, I was given the opportunity to be a VITA site manager. This was a great leadership opportunity and was very educational for me because I was able to help others work through issues they came across while preparing tax returns. It was rewarding getting to actually interact with the people we were helping and know that we were saving local Columbus residents a great deal of money by preparing their tax returns for free. It was also satisfying to see that we obtained thousands of dollars in refunds for residents each volunteer session. I would highly recommend that future MAcc students (or undergraduate students), whether they plan to work in tax or not, volunteer for the VITA program!

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Hocking Hill Trip

During spring break, my friends and I went on a trip to Hocking Hill.

In order to enjoy the wonderful weather and the first day of the spring break, my roommates and I made a quick decision to have a picnic. But where to go? My roommate recommended Hocking Hill. After calling some neighbors and friends and simple preparation, we headed to Hocking Hill.

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After about one-hour drive, we arrived at the Hocking Hill. Probably because it is a sunny Saturday, many people had the same idea as us. As a result, we spent a lot of time parking our cars. As planned, we had a picnic: we brought some snacks, soda and fruit. It was a good time: we could enjoy the food as well as the view, and talk with each other.

After the picnic, we went hiking. Because many people recommended the Old Man Cave, we first took a visit to the cave. The road was muddy, but the beautiful scene made this little difficulty worthwhile. We took many pictures. There was also a waterfall. I have to say, compared to waterfalls in China, the waterfall is quite small. But I really liked the shallow river (probably it is not suitable to call it a “river” as it is so shallow). I saw children play near the water. I also saw some family brought their dogs. I touched the water, it was so cold, but cool.

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We spent almost all the afternoon at Hocking Hill. It was a wonderful experience and I definitely recommend the Hocking Hill for picnic and hiking.


Fisher Follies Variety Show 2016

Fisher Follies is honestly one of my favorite organizations here on campus, even though I am unfortunately not directly involved with it. Follies was set up with the purpose of raising money for students who may come across an unexpected need during their time here at Fisher. The major fundraiser put on by the organization is our Follies auction, which is held each year in November. The auction features items to bid on in both a silent and live auction.  Everyone from faculty and staff to students can donate items to auction off and there are always such great items (think an all-expenses paid trip to California, the chance to drive a classic car or a signed OSU jersey). While I love the auction and especially love the cause we are raising money for, I couldn’t possibly forget to mention another recent major event Follies puts on: Fisher Follies Variety Show 2016!

On Friday, March 4th, we had our variety show, which is essentially our year-end celebration for the successful auction put on back in November. The variety show is a mix of filmed and live skits/performances, which are 100% produced and run by our students. I am sure that many of you participated in variety shows in high school or at other times, but I have to say, Follies put on quite the production this year.

We had two hours of skits, many of which tied together with a great overarching plot line and were produced with some ‘real deal’ video equipment. There was a 007 spoof, a Pure Barre class taken by some lovely gentleman at Fisher, a live serenade of songs about our faculty director and many more amazing videos. The great thing about Follies is that every graduate program can, and does, get involved. Most of our skits had actors/actresses from all of the Masters programs and featured jokes and story lines that everyone in the audience could relate to. Quite a few of our professors and staff members also participated and it was amazing to see the culture and friendships here at Fisher come to life on the “big screen”.

The variety show was hosted at our student union in its U.S. Bank Theater by two “MCs” from our second year class. Students and their friends/family, faculty and staff all came to watch and we had quite a large turnout. There were even a few awards handed out for things like best Facebook post and the acceptance speeches for these were just as entertaining as some of the skits. While the variety show really is just an opportunity for everyone to have fun and sometimes, poke fun at our life as grad students, it always reminds me how great life is here at Fisher. We all become such great friends during our time here and these student-run skits truly bring that to life. Now that I am a mere 6 weeks from graduating, events like this really make me appreciate my two years at Fisher and everything I have gotten to experience. Here come the graduation tears….


Rounding Third

It’s hard to believe that we only have five weeks left of our time at Fisher, which is both exciting and sad. This is my second graduate degree, so I knew it would be fast, but somehow, I’m still surprised to find myself this close to graduation. So here is my advice to the current first year class and the incoming class of Fisher MBA’s, as the Class of 2016 rounds third base and heads towards home:

1) Do you. I said this in a post I wrote last year, and I stand by it. You will be in class with people who are brilliant, people who already have established careers, people who have started successful businesses, and people who already have graduate degrees. There won’t be anyone who is exactly like you or who wants the same things, and if you find that you’re on a more non-traditional career-path like I was (non-profits) that’s perfectly okay. Don’t compare yourself to others. Twirl down your own road. There are opportunities at Fisher and ways you can network to get yourself where you want to go. I joined Fisher Board Fellows simply because it was something I loved, and that’s how I got my job.

2) Find kindred spirits. They will advocate for you harder than anyone else. I doubt I would have made it through my program without Dr. Shashi Matta, Michelle Petrel, and Professor John Barker. They are wonderful human beings and I am so grateful for them. If you aren’t finding help through what seems like the more traditional pathways, start knocking on office doors and see who will sit down and talk with you.

3) Never stop asking for help. Ask for help from your teammates, from your friends, from professors, from staff, and from alumni. People are much more willing to help than you think they are, because everyone had someone to help them (or several someones). So ask. And make sure to follow through with a thank you and maybe some chocolate. Everyone likes chocolate.

4) Learn how to be a team player. Work hard to learn how to work with other people. This doesn’t mean be a pushover or a people-pleaser, it means learn how to work together to accomplish a goal. Be a leader when you need to be, but know that the best leaders know how to step back and let others lead, too.

5) Network. Look at everything as a networking opportunity, and a way you can meet new people. Don’t think of it as work. Don’t think of it as asking someone for a job. Think of it as making friends. And you can never have enough friends.

6) Take a leadership position in a student organization. My time on a leadership team pushed me in ways I didn’t expect it to, and it taught me how to adapt to the very different needs of the people on my team. I learned the most about leadership by being on that team, and I’ve seen the most growth in myself because of it.

7) And last, but not least, try not to stress out too much. Two years goes fast, folks. So go to follies, go to girls’ night, and hit all the happy hours. Because the work will be there, whether or not you panic. So try not to panic, and enjoy the time you have at Fisher.


Ohio Union: D-tix

One of the many perks of being a student at The Ohio State University is the Ohio Union’s d-tix program. Enjoy Columbus-area attractions, concerts, sporting events and more at an exclusive rate.

Attractions:
SegAway Tours: Ride a Segway i2 around the city of Columbus, exploring different areas such as the Scioto River, Short North district, Arena district and downtown. The tour also provides fun and historical facts about the history of Columbus.

COSI: Center of Science and Industry (COSI) makes science fun and enjoyable. Here, you can enjoy learning about several different topics, including Energy & Environment, Health & Medicine, Technology & Innovation, and Early Childhood Education. Lots of events, exhibits and activities available for people of all ages.

Sky Zone: You’re never too old to jump on trampolines at a trampoline park!

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens: This place is a wonderful escape with its breath-taking scenery. Enjoy exhibitions, gardens & plant collections, art collections, events and more.

Columbus Food Adventures: Take your pick from multiple options of food tours across Columbus! There’s the tasty Taco Truck Tour, Short North Tour, Alternative Eats Tour, Dessert Tour, and Grandview Food Tours. Yummy!
Others: Columbus Museum of Art, Lazer Kraze (lazer tag), Columbus Zoo, Funny Bone (comedy club), and Restaurant gift cards.

Events:
Sports: Enjoy a Columbus Crew soccer game, Columbus Blue Jackets hockey game, Columbus Clippers baseball game or take advantage of the discount tickets for our Cleveland sports!

Arts: There is a wide range of offerings for different art events around the area, such as Broadway shows, symphony orchestras, Cirque Du Soleil and more!

Concerts: Where to begin. Between OSU’s Schottenstein Center, Nationwide Arena and the LC Pavilion…you have multiple venues nearby where your favorite band or artist could be performing!

To find more information about the great offers, you can check out the site: https://ohiounion.osu.edu/things_to_do/dtix


It’s about life not money

When talking about business schools, it seems people automatically link it with making money. But here, I learn to be yourself and money will follow.

“Leadership” is the buzz word in business school. The course Advance Leadership is recommended by a lot of students. I do not consider myself a leader type of person, but after taking this class, I now feel every one is obligated to take the lead. Not everyone can become a CEO, but every one of us is the leader of our own life. I wrote my assignment not for the score, but how I can be an authentic leader, who I am and want to be, and how I want to be remembered after I die. In class, we listened to stories of CEOs, for example, one who gave every employee a milkshake because he didn’t get one when he started to work at a restaurant and another who committed himself to people’s dignity because he was looked down upon by a rich teenager when working at a car wash. We also heard stories from our classmates, such as one who is determined to be a successful woman in business despite disdain from a Catholic family and one who always gives credit to other people’s devotion because of his own bad experiences.

Any business or profession is just part of our life. What really matters is to live our life, have a positive impact on others, and make a difference.

CEO Milkshake


Favorite Class This Half Semester – Negotiations

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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

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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.

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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.


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