The Final Countdown

The first 7-week session came and went, then Fall Break was a treat. Halloween was a blast and the month of November has went by so fast. Now, with Thanksgiving and a HUGE victory over The University of Michigan in the rear view mirror, we are heading into The Final Countdown. Throughout this blog post, I am going to share a few of my memories from this semester in chronological order by using a series of pictures.

First, this is a picture of my group and me in August– we go by the title of Team 6. Over the past few months, we have spent countless hours together working on projects like an Equity Research Report, Corporate Finance Team Cases, and an Economics Presentation.

Team 6
Team 6

Second, this is a picture of some classmates of mine, enjoying lunch outside while the weather was still warm in early September. However, “Winter is Coming.”

Some of the Fellas
Some of the Fellas

Third, a throwback to the New York City trip a few of us in the SMF program went on towards the end of September. It was awesome seeing the big banks and doing some of the touristy stuff.

Raging Bull
Raging Bull

Next up, the SMF class takes a class picture after delivering our Equity Research Report presentations in early October.

SMF Class of 2016-2017
SMF Class of 2016-2017

Throughout the month of October and early November, I drove back and forth from Columbus and Cleveland to watch the Cleveland Indians play in the playoffs of the World Series. Unfortunately, we lost, but I have some great memories with my family and friends.

World Series Games
World Series Games

Next up was the Fisher Follies (a charitable graduate organization that helps students in need). It was a formal auction event that was a great time with other graduate school programs during the month of November.

SMF Classmates at Fisher Follies
SMF Classmates at Fisher Follies

Finally, here is a picture of my friend and SMF classmate, Hector. He drove up to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family this past Thursday, and it was a nice little break to rejuvenate before finals.

Thanksgiving in Cleveland
Thanksgiving in Cleveland

These are just a few of the great memories that I have made as a Specialized Master in Finance student here at the Fisher College of Business. I am looking to finishing up the semester strong as we head into our final presentations, reports, and exams and looking forward to more memories after the Christmas break!

Fun in the MAcc

One of my favorite things about the MAcc program here at Ohio state is how social and friendly everyone is. While we see our classmates every day in class, it is great to get to know each other outside of class. Our MAcc Council has done a great job coordinating social events for us to go to so we can get to know our classmates better. Some of my favorite MAcc social events have been the Fisher scavenger hunt, the Fisher Graduate Programs Halloween party, and tailgating for the Michigan game.

A few weeks ago, the Fisher graduate programs put on a scavenger hunt to help students learn more about Ohio State and get to know the campus a little better. Items on the scavenger hunt ranged from finding a buckeye on the ground (A “buckeye” is a plant!), to jumping into Mirror Lake. My team was made up of several people I was already close with, but I also had a few people on my team who I was very lucky to get to know during this event and who are friends now. During the scavenger hunt, we visited places that in my four years at Ohio State I had never seen before. While the Fisher College of Business is self-sustaining and you are not required to leave this part of campus, there is much more to explore, and this scavenger hunt gave everyone the opportunity to explore campus more.

Challenge: your team must climb a tree
Challenge: your team must climb a tree

For Halloween, the Fisher Graduate Programs decided to have a Halloween party for all of the graduate students. The VIP space of Big Bar was rented out and we had about 100 graduate students at this event, including many MAcc students, SMF students, MBA students, and MHRM students.  This was a great event that allowed us to mingle with the other programs as well as getting to know our own classmates better. It was also fun to see all of the creative costumes people thought of, such as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, a Tyrannosaurus Rex costume, and several Bananas.

This past weekend, when our football team faced off with the University of Michigan (ew), one of our classmates hosted an early morning tailgate. Since the game started at noon, we began tailgating before 9 am. We had breakfast for everyone to enjoy, and drinks for those getting ready to go to the game. This event allowed some of the students who did not fully understand the rivalry with Michigan to get a feel for how important it is to most students who study here.

Some of my classmates at the Tailgate before
Some of my classmates at the Tailgate before

While classes are important and we are here most importantly for school, it is awesome that our MAcc program has gotten so close in just one semester. I’ve made more friends in this program than I ever thought I would, and the social events that the people within the MAcc are able to put on helps contribute to the closeness of the program.

Grad School – Expectations vs. Reality

Though I consider myself a relatively rational person, there are still times where I let my imagination get the best of me. Before beginning the MAcc program, I had plenty of preconceived notions about what the next year was going to look like. Now that I am about halfway through, I can safely say that things have not played out exactly how I thought they would…

Expectation: I will finally learn how to cook. Healthy, home-cooked meals will become a part of my everyday routine.

Reality: Despite having a plethora of recipes saved on Pinterest, most nights I settle on grilled cheese, pizza, or scrambled eggs for dinner.

Expectation: I will make it to the RPAC to workout at least 5 days a week. Who wouldn’t want to work out at such a nice facility?

Reality: No comment.

Expectation: I will take advantage of living in a new city. Columbus has a ton to offer (restaurants, events, etc.) and I want to explore it all.

img_2045-minReality: I have been to a few new restaurants and a couple different Metro Parks but have not done nearly as much as I planned or hoped I would. Most of my weekends involve lots of sleeping and studying.

Expectation: I will be challenged on a daily basis, learn a lot, and make new friends.

Reality: I have been challenged on a daily basis, learned a lot, and made new friends.

Though I am looking forward to having some time to rest and recharge over the Holiday Break, I am equally excited for all the adventures second semester is sure to bring!

The Game

A brilliant 10-year anniversary of “the game of the century”

Every last Saturday in November, the greatest rivalry in Unites States sports takes place. It’s Ohio State versus Michigan, in the border battle football game. This year, the teams entered the game ranked number two and number three in the country (respectively) with each team fighting for one of the four spots in the college football playoff. The stage was set for an instant classic, and like so many installments before, both teams delivered a hard-fought game of unimaginable toughness and passion. We don’t claim that this was the greatest match, because that disrespects the teams of the past; but, undoubtedly, this game rises up and joins the legendary games in the rivalry.

This game holds a special place in my hometown of Toledo, Ohio. Toledo sits on the border between Ohio and Michigan. In 1835, both states nearly came to war over each’s claim on Toledo’s strategic port. Thankfully, President Andrew Jackson stepped in to prevent war and also make the Toledo strip undoubtedly part of Ohio; but, the city’s split identity still prevails. Today, many Toledoians attended both schools and work in both states. The city’s strong industrial core draws it closely to Detroit auto manufacturing, while others honor the state boarder and unwavering support all things Ohio.

Both states claimed the territory in red, thus fueled the rivalry

Moving from this divided community to Columbus was a transition (spoiler alert: there are no Michigan supporters in Columbus!). During rivalry week, it was odd to see houses and cars decorated only in Scarlet & Grey. Cheering with my roommates in the sixth row of the south end zone student section, there was one lone Michigan fan directly behind me. He has seen Ohio State dominate the rivalry over the past decade, came to a hostile home crowd, and still represented his school well. He was a good reminder that there are much, much more, important things in life than any football game. We are rivals, but are more alike than different. Ohio State and Michigan love each other more than anyone will admit, and it is great to be a part of it – Go Bucks!

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Video footage of my roommates and I storming the field to celebrate our win! (Mazin is jumping in the bottom left, Drew is above him jumping over the rail, and I am next in the grey hat.) – Memorable last home game! O-H-I-O!

Double the Overtime, Double the Anxiety

Experiencing my first “TTUN” week (keep reading…) was and will be one of my best memories here at The Ohio State. The *ichigan rivalry is a long-standing source of angst in college football. During the week leading up to the big game, all the “Ms” are crossed out on campus and the team is referred to as “that team up north.” Being from out-of-state, I had a decision to make: fly home for Thanksgiving and miss the game, or go to the game to cheer on my Buckeyes. I chose the latter of the two. I have a flight home in three short weeks for winter break so I decided to save the money of booking two flights and stay up here for Thanksgiving to go to one of the all-time greatest college football games I have seen.

No “M’s” allowed!
Storming the field!

It was a noon game so the MAcc program decided to put on a tailgate in the morning so we could all get together before the big game. We had it at a house close to campus (shout-out to Kaitlyn) and then for those of us whot had tickets, we walked to the game together. Once we were at the game, time flew! It was so exhilarating just to be in the stands experiencing the ups and downs of the game, but mainly the ups! I have never seen a double overtime game, but once Curtis Samuel ran it in for a touchdown, the entire student section just started running for the field. People were hopping over the railings and helping each other on to the field to celebrate a breathtaking Buckeye win! I made it onto the field and listened to the band play the fight song and cheer. A 30-27 double overtime win was an amazing way to end the last home football game during my time here as a MAcc student.

Social Events at The Fisher College of Business

Some people might say that a school like Ohio State is too big and overwhelming. In my experience, this has not been the case at all. Ohio State has almost 60,000 students! However, the MAcc program has about 80. This really gives it that small campus feel, with the resources of a major university.

Because the MAcc program is comprised of about 80 students (81 to be exact this year), we are a very close-knit group. I am in classes all day with these people, eat lunch with them, and hang out with them on the weekends. It makes Ohio State feel that much smaller.

If you are shy or nervous to meet people, there are so many great img_1779opportunities to meet people! Each program has a council (MAcc, SMF, MBA, MHRM) and each of those councils have a social chair and community service event coordinator. In addition, there is the Fisher College of Business Social Chair club that encompasses students from all of the specialized programs to put on events for everyone. One example of events we have is home football tailgates at Fisher Commons. This is put on by the Fisher Social Chairs (for all programs) and they have someone grilling… and cornhole. We also recently had our Fisher Halloween Party for all programs.

The MAcc program had its own event over the weekend, as well, where we all went to a local farm and picked apples and pumpkins. Point being, there is numerous opportunities to meet people from within your program and within the Fisher College of Business as a whole. Later this month we have a MAcc toy drive! Many more fun events to come. img_1780 img_1781

5 Things I learned Moving From the South

1. Coat Closets

Coat closets exist. When I first moved up here and checked out my apartment, I was a little surprised by this random closet by my front door. I honestly assumed it was there because I live in a one-bedroom with a funky layout. Low and behold, this mysterious closet space is meant for coats! Over time, I have slowly filled it with the very few coats I own.

It is interesting because this affects the layout of Gerlach Hall (the graduate building of the Fisher College of Business). In your classroom buildings there are hooks near the door for your coats, as well as throughout the building– there are miscellaneous areas for your coats and winter gear. I think most important is the excellent use of lockers that Gerlach Hall has captured. Now, this isn’t something that you decorate and write your friends notes in. Rather, as a graduate student you will be spending a good amount of time on campus and more specifically Gerlach Hall, as all of my MAcc classes are in this building. It is extremely convenient to have a lockable space for your coats, your lunch, and your school supplies.

Fisher Lockers

2. Basements

Coming from the south, basements are a foreign concept to me. It took me the first few weeks of classes to realize that there was a whole other level below us. One of the many things that sold me on Ohio State was the Fisher College of Business tunnels. The College of Business is comprised of four main buildings: Schoenbaum, Mason, Fisher, and Gerlach Hall. Schoenbaum and Mason Hall are primarily undergraduate business buildings, Fisher is mostly faculty offices, and Gerlach is where most graduate business classes are held. There are tunnels that connect all of these buildings. When I first heard this, I imagined walking through scary, cold tunnels. However, this is not the case. The tunnels are a great resource to have on a rainy day or when you just don’t feel like dealing with the cold.

3. Soda = Pop

Columbus, Ohio, is a great city to live in. With such a diverse group of people, there is exposure to so many different cultures. One thing that the city of Columbus and more broadly, the Midwest region have in common is their usage of the word “pop.” If you ask for a pop in the south you will get some funny looks. People are much more accustomed to the word “soda” where I am from. For those of you that do not know what either of these terms are referring to, it is a sweet, carbonated beverage.

4. Humidity– or lack there of

Great hair days.

One great thing about moving north is the lack of humidity. The south is known to be extremely humid and almost like a sauna in the summertime. The great thing is that Columbus, Ohio, is pretty mild in temperature. There is way less humidity which leads to better hair days.

beyonce

On the flip side, because of this drier air, chapstick will be your best friend. Not everyone feels like this, but I think because I am used to the humidity, my skin is in shell-shock.

chapstick

5. There’s no Publix…

For those of you who have not had the pleasure of shopping at Publix, it is truly an amazing store. Publix is a grocery store found in the southeast. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of great grocery stores up here but it is definitely an adjustment. In Columbus, Ohio, within about a five-mile radius of Ohio State, you have Meijer, Kroger, and Giant Eagle grocery stores. Still, there is just no comparison to the happiness that shopping at Publix brings me. The absolute greatest thing about Publix is their chicken tender subs. Sweet and savory, yet crunchy and warm, there is no better way to eat lunch. If you don’t believe me, local newspapers even report when these subs are on sale.

publix

Case Comp – A Rite of Passage

Last weekend, first year Master of Human Resource Management (MHRM) students underwent a kind of “rite of passage”: the annual MHRM Internal Case Competition.

pepsico

The competition was sponsored by PepsiCo this year, and real executives from PepsiCo as well as other companies that recruit heavily on campus—Marathon, The Wendy’s Company, Ford, Rolls Royce to name a few—were on the judging panels. At 8 AM Friday, we were briefed on the case (a real problem that PepsiCo HR professionals were currently facing), and after a 20-minute Q&A, we broke off into respective 4-person teams to begin our work. We had until the following morning at 8 AM to conceive a solution and figure out a way to sell it to the judges in 20 minutes. If you ever participated in some sort of “lock-in” at your church or school, then that’s a good starting point for understanding. We spent 15 hours in Gerlach Hall that day—or as I like to call it now—my second home.

My team’s day consisted of some serious brainstorming, followed by changing our minds several times, and finally settling on a simple and practical solution to the problem. Was it too simple? Had we thought through all the details? What if they throw us a curveball? These were the questions rattling in my brain all day. But we were in a time crunch (yes, that’s on purpose), so we had to roll with it.

Fast forward past lunch, dinner, laughing, crying, sleeping (there was not actually any crying) to the next morning. We arrived back at Gerlach Hall the following Saturday morning at 7 AM and received our presentation room and time slot. At that point, we scurried back to our room to hammer out the last few details and practice, over and over…and over…and over………………………and over.

We had a tough room—the judges are trained to interrupt you and throw you off to challenge your ideas and assumptions. Now seems like an appropriate time to introduce the idea of Type II Fun:

“Something that is fun only after you have stopped doing it”

– Type II Fun

At the end of a nerve-wracking and intense Q&A session, we left our room to debrief how we thought it went. What was most difficult for me was not having anyone to compare ourselves to. We were not permitted to collaborate with other teams, nor see their presentations. So, it was difficult to know how competitive our idea was. Situations like this definitely challenge my discomfort with ambiguity.

At the end of deliberations and a delicious lunch provided by the Fisher College of Business, the results were in. I am proud to say that my team won our room, which is especially exciting considering we were strangers just a few days before. It is so satisfying to be able to come together and leverage our strengths as a team so quickly and effectively. And I feel lucky to have made some new friends along the way!

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That’s us! Myself, Irinka, Krista, and Katie.

What is Change?

What is Change?

This is the question Professor Jeff Ford posed to us during our first class. Most of us took a stab at answering and the usual responses surfaced–a process of making something different than it was before, an equation of addition or subtraction, a state of transformation. No single answer seemed to entirely encompass the definition of “change.” And like most philosophical questions, the concept seemed to slip through our fingers like fine sand as we tried to wrap our arms all the way around it. I knew immediately that I was going to love this class.

During the second 7-week session of the first semester, all 1st year MHRM students take Organizational Development & Change with Professor Jeff Ford. The course is structured around a series of short cases that we explore each week. We are given a simple question that we work together to answer. The first week, we defined change. This past week, we talked about how to identify–exactly– what we want to accomplish and how, specifically, we would know if we accomplished it.

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Professor Ford’s teaching style is exactly what I envisioned of a graduate-level class. He challenges us to tease out the essence of what we are saying. In undergrad, I felt it was much easier to get away with saying a bunch of pretty words and hoping my main points and ideas would materialize for my audience. But, when forced to focus on word choice and detail the way Ford urges, I find that stripping away all the excess is the best way to solve any complicated problem. He doesn’t lead you into the answer or finish your sentences; he waits for you to distill your message down to the very essence. I think it is so important to practice thinking like this in a world littered with so much information to sift through.

Another unique feature of Ford’s class is that his wife, Dr. Laurie Ford (an experienced consultant), sits in on class and contributes her insights. This is fantastic–Laurie shares real-life examples of how she has initiated change from diagnosis to implementation in organizations she has worked with. With a concept as cloudy as change, I’ve found it is tremendously helpful to have access to multiple perspectives to help us apply what we are learning to real cases that we analyze from start to finish. I also think Laurie’s involvement is such a palpable example of how Professors at Fisher (and their spouses in this case!) truly invest their heart and soul in their students.

Last week, we studied an example of a utility company struggling to complete installations accurately according to the specs provided by the engineers, leading to delays and complaints. We were asked by Professor(s) Ford to get into small groups and provide recommendations for what we would “change,” how we would change it, and how we would know if we succeeded.

Many of us fell victim to the “action imperative”–doing too much too soon and all at once. We suggested lofty ideas like streamlining the communication systems, instituting various task forces (what are those anyway?), implementing and training and project managers, relationship-building among the installers and the engineers…all of which could have worked, but they very quickly became too abstract and unmanageable. Then we started to think about how we would know if our changes worked. Increase in revenues? More timely installations? And how would we implement the changes? Company-wide training initiatives, team-building, eLearning…at a point it began to feel like we were vomiting every HR-related word or phrase we had ever heard in a desperate attempt to hit the right answer. It turns out, we were overcomplicating things.

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This case study was actually a client that Laurie had worked with. She encouraged us to think about the “lines” that represent the connections between the different players. The issue clearly became the communication that was (or wasn’t) happening between the installers and the engineers. They weren’t speaking the same language, and directives were being lost in translation and leading to mistakes and delays in the work orders. Upon further discussion, we discovered that the work order template hadn’t been updated for over a decade. The simple solution was to update the template. Brilliant.

My takeaway from this class so far is to keep it simple. Change can be an intimidating concept for many organizations that need it, and so it is best to change as little as possible that still allows you to accomplish the goal. Tread lightly, and don’t rock the boat if you don’t have to. I’m sure these will be important lessons to remember after grad school when we will be brand new HR professionals trying to make our mark on the world. It will be a tough balance to strike, but I already feel more prepared to tackle it.

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#blessed

Maybe it is because Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching, but recently I have found myself reflecting on all the things I am grateful for. I could write for days about all my reasons for giving thanks this year, but I will stick to just three highlights of my MAcc experience:

  1. I have a job! The recruiting experience was definitely stressful but I am proud to say that I made it through to the other side and have officially accepted a full-time offer with Deloitte in Columbus. I will be a part of their audit practice and I could not be more thrilled about the opportunity!
  2. I am back in the Midwest! Being in South Carolina for undergrad definitely had its perks, but it has been so nice to live within 150 miles of my hometown. The two-and-a-half-hour distance is perfect – it’s close enough to justify weekend trips while still far enough to prevent me from simply jumping in the car and making the drive just because. I love that I have so many more opportunities to stay involved with things in Perrysburg.
  3. I am almost half a Master of Accounting! It is surreal to think that I am almost halfway through the MAcc program – not sure where the time has gone. This semester has been difficult at times, but on the whole it has been beyond incredible. I feel so privileged to be surrounded by highly-motivated peers and phenomenal professors. Every day has brought a new set of challenges, which has only made these past few months that much more rewarding.
Living the "Suite Life" with Gene Smith
Living the “Suite Life” with Gene Smith