The CPA

C-P-A. The three letters that every accounting student fears. So, what does “CPA” stand for? Certified Public Accountant. In order to practice and provide opinions on accounting matters in the U.S., one needs to obtain a CPA sometime in their career. The rewards of having a CPA are great, but most students stress out about the exam and the preparation required for the exam itself.

But the fear is unnecessary; the CPA is not as bad as it sounds! The CPA exam is actually a misnomer. It should be the CPA exams. To pass the CPA, an individual is required to achieve a score of 75 (it is not 75%, but rather a weighted score of 75) on all four exams. The four exams that must be passed within 18 months of each other are Audit and Attestation, Business Environment and Concepts, Financial Accounting and Reporting, and Regulation. Each exam is four hours long.

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Preparation for the first exam should begin a few months before you actually plan to take the first exam. Reason being: you need to apply to your state board to gain permission to take the CPA exam. Each state has different requirements that it needs to review for each candidate before the candidate is granted permission to schedule for their first exam (or given an “NTS”– notice to schedule). For example, Ohio requires a student to have 150 credit hours before sitting for the first exam. Additionally, candidates must complete 30 hours of accounting and 24 hours of business courses prior to applying for the NTS. More information on other states and exceptions to the rules, you can go to the NASBA website.

Once you have received permission to take the CPA exam, the studying can begin. Most students choose to use software called “Becker” or one of  hundreds of other software programs to help prepare for the CPA. Purchasing the software itself is expensive, but most accounting firms will provide you reimbursement for the  software if you end up working for them.

A year ago, I never imagined that I would be taking and sitting for the CPA. However, here I am, one year later and I already have one exam under my belt. The exam is not as hard as people tell you it is and as long as you come prepared, I am sure you will do fine. Best of luck to all my future test-takers!

Buckeye NutHouse

Football withdrawals were a real thing for me this spring. I missed having plans on Saturday to be with friends and enjoy a game in the stadium. If this is a concern for you, don’t fret: there’s basketball! I went to my first game in the “NutHouse” (Schottenstein Center) for the Ohio State vs. Iowa game. You can buy student tickets for $14 or less per game, and occasionally, there are free student tickets! In addition to really cheap tickets, the seats are amazing! Pictured below is the view from the student section which is courtside.

view from seats at the game

Plus, the Buckeye atmosphere is amazing! All students are on their feet the entire game in suspense– cheering on the team. The staff working at the game also hand out free items such as a baton that lights up. This year, Ohio State basketball has been selling out games for the first time in years. The team is currently ranked 13th in the nation and 2nd in the Big Ten Conference (exceeding expectations). Some attribute this performance to hiring a new coach, Chris Holtmann, who previously coached at Butler University. With March approaching, it means March Madness is ahead! For those who are unfamiliar, March Madness is a NCAA Division 1 Men’s basketball single elimination tournament. There are conference tournaments first, and the winning team automatically qualiies for the March madness tournament. There will be 36 remaining spots for teams to play after the automatic qualifying teams have been accounted for; then, the NCAA selection committee will select the 36 teams to be included in the March Madness tournament. As long as Ohio State keeps performing well, we should hopefully see them there!

 

Becoming a Volunteer Income Tax Assistant

Each year, the Master of Accounting Program organizes the Volunteer Income Assistant (VITA) program to help local individuals file their Federal and state income taxes. We, as volunteers, go to a site twice a week to help individuals who have made appointments.

Most of the tax preparers are either enrolled in the MAcc program or undergraduate accounting students. In order to be certified to help file taxes, we need to pass at least four different exams.

The VITA program not only helps the public to file their taxes for free but also helps our students to apply  in-class knowledge to the real world. It prepares our MAcc students to be more comfortable communicating with the clients and to improve various “soft skills” which are necessary when we start our professional job.

It is definitely rewarding to see what you prepared then get approved– and, in some cases, result in tax refunds deposited to the clients’ accounts. It was a little more difficult when clients would have tax due, meaning that they didn’t have enough tax withheld during the year and they needed to pay the IRS out of pocket. We needED to be very careful about how to deliver the message.

Besides the VITA program, the MAcc Council also organizes other community service events to do our best helping the local organizations and to take part in fun activitiesin and around Columbus.

Power to my core team!

At Fisher, incoming MBA students are assigned to a core team that will tackle projects together. As the year comes to a close, this is a huge shout-out to my amazing core team a.k.a. Team 9! Neethi, Adam, Sangyoun (Shin) and Andrew have made the core team adventure a valuable experience from the start!

Beginning with team announcements during pre-term and into our first team-building exercises, we took time to get to know each other and have fun. During pre-term, before classes began for the semester, we had the chance to compete in a mini-case competition and take on a ropes course! Not only did we win the case across the teams presenting in our room– we also won the photo contest from the ropes course (see one of the winners below)! We spent these challenges taking time to get to know each other’s backgrounds and not taking things too seriously, resulting in effective teamwork and great times!

Throughout the year, we have worked hard to keep each other in mind outside of class projects… from having birthday celebrations to venting about the internship search to sharing favorite snacks. Most importantly, we are all very lucky to have Neethi who brings delicious snacks for our group meetings and Shin who brings some of his favorite snacks from Korea (see below).

Overall, we stay motivated, but have fun while we’re working on assignments together! This semester, we’ve discovered the power of communication and working as a virtual team. With interviews ramping up, along with group projects, we have realized the power of working together remotely.

After things die down in a few weeks, we’re looking forward to a celebration together over Korean BBQ! From case analyses to marketing plans, we have found ourselves frustrated, giggling, sweating from spicy ramen snacks, and in deep concentration to meet deadlines among all of the other activities going on at school. It’s been a challenging and rewarding experience, and I wouldn’t trade my core team for another!

Semester Number “Fore”

Seeing as it is the last semester of my MBA experience, I have taken it upon myself to ensure I am squeezing very penny’s worth out of my tuition.  In this particular case, this means branching outside of Fisher to take a class that will help me develop some important life skills not covered by the MBA curriculum.  Which class, you ask? Golf I, offered through the College of Physical Activity and Educational Services (PAES).

Individual “hitting cages” for practicing full swings.

Golf class quickly became a highlight of this semester.  We meet twice a week for a 55-minute session, led by a PGA-certified golf pro, who teaches at a golf course in Columbus during the summer.  The class runs for the full 14 weeks of the semester and there are about 15 students in each section.  Classes are conveniently held at the Recreation and Physical Activities Center (RPAC), just a few short blocks from Fisher.  This facility has an indoor putting/chipping area and a series of indoor driving “cages” where we work on full strokes.  The curriculum also covers essential rules and etiquette, and all clubs and materials are provided.

I coordinated with Fisher classmates to sign up for the same class section– and that’s made golf not only informative and relaxing, but also a fun social activity.  As the snow melts, we look forward to testing our skills on Ohio State’s two golf courses: Scarlet and Gray.

Left: interior of a hitting cage; Above: putting/chipping area–difficult to tell from the photo, but it features a variety of holes and terrain to simulate both the green and fringe

 

 

 

 

 

 

My experience with golf is emblematic of a larger theme as an Ohio State Student: you can do everything here.  Speaking just within the confines of PAES electives, this means similar courses in boxing, dance, fencing, tennis, rock climbing, and much more.  The RPAC also offers free group fitness classes daily, across disciplines such as yoga, Zumba, spinning, Pilates.  Then consider 36 varsity sports to watch, free events through the Ohio Union Activities Board, and over 1,300 Ohio State student organizations doing, well…more than 1,000 different things… and needless to say, there is a limitless amount to do here.  And nearly all of it is free after you’ve paid tuition.

The Fisher MBA experience can be anything you want it to be—and this is a major strength of the program.  It is entirely possible to spend two years just here in Gerlach Hall and have a rewarding experience.  However, as a “double Buckeye” (having attended OSU as an undergrad), I like to encourage my classmates and future students to branch out and take advantage of the entire campus at our disposal.  This can be easier said than done when the rigors of the program kick in, but when you make time for such activities, it is a rewarding way to feel that you are making the most of the “student lifestyle.”

 

HR + Brainpower + Snacks = Magic

Question

What do you get when you combine a real-life HR business problem, a room full of PepsiCo products and snacks, and brainpower from 8 of the highest-ranked HR Master’s programs in the United States?

Answer

The 2018 HR Invitational Case Competition!

The lovely Team OSU-Fisher: Adam Daniels, Ashton Preston, Whitney Flight, Billy Dunn

Every February, the Fisher College of Business invites teams from 7 of our peer schools to participate in the “External HR Case Competition,” giving students an opportunity to stretch their problem-solving muscles against students from other HR master’s programs across the country. This year, we had teams representing Cornell, University of South Carolina, Texas A&M, Rutgers, Minnesota, Illinois, and West Virginia University– and competition was fierce! (okay, friendly, but fierce)

The case competition is structured such that the business problem is presented by the sponsoring organization at 8:00am on Friday morning and teams have 24 hours to generate a solution, organize a pitch, and prepare to defend their ideas in front of a panel of judges from the sponsoring teams. This year, PepsiCo and Eaton co-sponsored the competition, providing both a challenging, real-life HR problem and a variety of Pepsi and Frito-Lay treats to keep teams sufficiently sustained over the course of the weekend.

The Case

The case is kept top-secret until the big reveal the morning of the competition to ensure no team gets an advantage. This year, the challenge turned out to focus on compensation. Specifically, Eaton wanted ideas for how to structure compensation for a new branch of the business which was home to mostly software developers and engineers. These folks did not fit into the traditional compensation structure, and they needed a compensation system to match and reward innovative product development. It was a doozy!

A variety of solid and creative ideas surfaced with the ultimate goal of driving innovation and retaining tech talent at Eaton. Some of my favorites include Hackathon, training simulations, and spot awards for extraordinary ideation. All of these were strategies to appropriately reward employees for innovation and to ensure they felt that the company invested in their success. Competition was tough and I am proud to report Ohio State took third overall.

Basking in the post-presentation glow.

Last year, I had the honor of representing Ohio State on the external team, so this year was all new for me as an observer. Although I wasn’t judging the competition, I sat through all the presentations and was able to glean some insight into what judges look for in a winning teams. A few of my takeaways are below.

Are you answering the question? But really, are you?

1. Answer the question. I recall a piece of general feedback from the judges last year. I remember it so vividly because it was both shocking and accurate. He said, “You’d be surprised how rare it is for us to see an answer that actually answers the question.” Thinking back on the day prior when we were prepping our presentation, it was so easy to lose sight of the “why.” You get caught up in wanting to be different, or creative, or edgy with your idea that you lose sight of the reason for the Ask in the first place. I cannot stress the importance of returning to “why” in every step of the ideation process, and especially when organizing your pitch.

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2. Give them a road map. If this problem made it to the case competition in the first place, you can bet it’s complex. You can also bet on the fact that the organization has likely tried most of the obvious solutions. So think about it: the last thing you would want after having pored over an issue for months is an idea you can’t wrap your head around. So, your role as a consultant is to find the intersection between simple and clever. You want the judges to walk away with a clear understanding of the idea, and an even clearer understanding of how to go about implementing it. Give them a road map.

 

3. Don’t be something you’re not. People think that in order to win, you have to have all the answers (or at least convince the judges you do). This just isn’t true–at least not anymore. It is refreshing to see a team present with humility and authenticity–to be thought partners rather than parents telling them what they should do. Offer your recommendation, and what you believe are the positive consequences that will result from it. The best consultants built trust and buy-in by solving the problem with their client.

These are just a few of my musings after reflecting on last weekend. As always, I was impressed with the respect and graciousness of all teams that attended. Not only was it a robust learning experience for students, but I think Eaton got some exceptional ideas for solving their challenge.

 

The Finance Consulting Practicum

SMF students have recently been assigned to their respective teams for the last and most exciting project of the Specialized Master in Finance, the Consulting Practicum. Per the syllabus, “the project is designed to give SMF students the opportunity to practice their analytical and soft skills by working in teams on real finance related projects with clients.” This year, students received projects from companies such as Huntington Bank, Nationwide, STRS, and Wells Fargo.

Last week, the entire SMF cohort met during lunchtime to go over the class syllabus, as well as the expectations of each student and the team as a whole. Professor Pinteris announced during this meeting that the projects would be unveiled later in the day.   The process works like this:

  • Each student was asked to rank the fourteen projects by preference criteria.
  • The projects were separated into four categories: Corporate Finance, Investment, Risk Management, and Real Estate.
  • Upon assignment, the first task will be to contact the client and set up a first meeting or a conference call (for companies located outside Columbus) to learn more about the project and the responsibilities of the team to complete the project in the best manner possible.
  • Teams will be expected to submit the final version of the project according to the client expectations and make a presentation to the client no later than April 27th.

I’m very exicted about the big event and look forward to telling you more about our hard work and final presentation!

After Submitting the Deposit, What’s Next?

Happy late Valentine’s Day & Happy Lunar New Year!

This is the time of year when many incoming MAcc students have received their acceptance letters and paid the deposit to the MAcc program— and are now wondering what should be done next.

My suggestion is to focus first on finding housing: a good apartment and roommates, if applicable. The good news is that Columbus and surrounding cities have a lot of housing options– and many options are low cost.

After you’ve paid your deposit, you’ll soon receive emails regarding housing information. You may choose either on-campus housing or off-campus housing. OSU’s on-campus housing options are all fully furnished, but limited in availability. Therefore, apply as early as possible if you’re interested.

The price range of an off-campus one-bedroom apartment varies, but I think it’s about from $650-$850, depending on the location of the apartment, whether or not it is fully furnished, and the surrounding community. OSU has put together a very helpful webpage with a list of off-campus options.

Along with the housing email, you should expect to receive several other emails regarding how to purchase Buckeye football tickets (a must-do activity at least one time while you’re here), class registration, and orientation details. You’ll be kept in the loop all spring and summer so that you can start on a high note when you begin the program.

For now, relax and take pride in your admission. See you in the fall!

 

Snow Day!

A very fun aspect about moving to Ohio from Oklahoma is that it snows a lot more here than it does back home.  Some people might strongly disagree with the sentiment that this is fun, but coming from a place that doesn’t receive much snow annually makes it really exciting to live in Columbus where it snows regularly!  Growing up, I always loved snow days, and they happened so rarely that I still get excited for snow– even if it doesn’t mean that school is cancelled.

Fisher Hall in the snow

Columbus receives 22 inches of snow per year.  This really is not that much in the grand scheme of things, and is actually even less than the average U.S. city, but it is still more than twice as much as the amount that my hometown annually receives.  Extra snowfall obviously comes with some additional perils in terms of getting to campus, but if you drive with caution and give yourself extra time, you shouldn’t have too many problems (barring any issues with other reckless drivers). Last week, we received about 4 inches of snow overnight and that meant when I arrived on campus early the next day, there was a beautiful scene of untouched snow all over campus.

Feeling a little cold after doing a snow angel on the oval

A fellow ambassador for the MAcc program, Rachel Cox, wanted to go outside and explore the campus in the snow, so I tagged along with her.  As I mentioned, I really love snow, so I got a little caught up in the moment and decided to do a snow angel– business casual clothes and all.  If any future students are worried about the weather in Ohio, just remember: it still snows less than the average U.S. city, and when it does snow, it can actually be pretty fun!

Chat with Katharine Garrett

Recently, I had the opportunity to catch up with one of Ohio State’s finest MAcc students, Katharine Garrett. She is a very energetic, smart, and authentic individual. We were able to talk for a little bit about her MAcc experience earlier this week.

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Chehade: Why did you decide to get a MAcc degree?

Garrett: I chose to get a MAcc degree because I wanted more of a challenge and the combined degree gave me an opportunity to get a master’s degree without extending my education (Fisher offers select undergrad BSBA students concurrent admission into the MAcc program). I also believe that a MAcc degree will give me a starting advantage in my career.

Chehade: And why did you choose Ohio State?

Garrett: Ohio State’s MAcc degree is nationally ranked and I was excited about the opportunity to learn more about accounting from both an academic and practical perspective. Additionally, a unique thing about Ohio State’s MAcc program is that you are given the opportunity to take other graduate-level business courses such as HR and finance while you are a MAcc student.

Chehade: Almost being ¾ done with your MAcc, what so far has been your favorite experience and memory?

Garrett: Presenting and watching other student’s presentation for Professor Zach’s final project. Professor Zach provided us the opportunity create and build our own project to investigate anything we found interesting. This led to some of the most interesting and educational presentations I have ever seen.  I most enjoyed watching other presentations and seeing what amazing projects and analyses my classmates were able to put together. Truly inspirational!

Chehade: Now I am going to ask you some quick questions: What’s been your favorite course so far?

Garrett: Pat Turner’s Professional Research

Chehade: Funniest professor?

Garrett: Professor Arya. He was quick and witty!

Chehade: Favorite Place to eat in Columbus?

Garrett: Harvest in Clintonville. They have delicious pizza!

Chehade: Best thing to do on the weekend?

Garrett: I like to explore Columbus restaurants and neighborhoods.