Free Time

Outside of the classroom, there’s a lot going on at Fisher.  As I’ve mentioned in prior posts, I’ve been busy busy busy.  Technically, I can only speak for myself . . . but, in this case, I’ll confidently go on record to say it’s not just me . . . we’re all extremely busy.  Busy in a good way.

Group projects have started: we just finished our second group case in Accounting, we’ve chosen our group project topic for Econ, Fisher Professional Services’ Project One has officially kicked off (I’m not participating in that one but my roommate is), and some of us have assembled for the upcoming P&G case competition (marketing majors).  All tasks involving small groups also involve small group meetings.  Happily, I report: so far so good.

Most student organizations have kick off meetings this week and next.  So far I’ve joined Fisher Graduate Women in Business and Fisher Association of Marketing Professionals.  Also this week: I apply for Fisher Board Fellows and attend an information session on the Initiative for Managing Services.  Unfortunately, I am double-booked and can’t attend the first meeting of Innovation Fisher (hopefully I’ll be able to connect with them sooner than later).  Honestly, there are so many fantastic organizations to join and get involved with . . . it’s really difficult to choose between them.  My opinion: Choosing is a must.  Without focus, I’ll be in many groups unable to fully contribute.  I’d rather choose a few and really make a difference.

Final free time topic: travel.  I’ve been lucky enough to spend time away from my apartment and from campus lately.

Nice to see you again Cleveland

A couple of weeks ago, I took a roadtrip to Cleveland with my roommate.  Our purpose was two-fold: visit an outlet mall and see Lake Erie.  Lake Erie is the closest largest body of water (for anyone that’s used to the sea, Columbus is a tad land-locked).  Last weekend, I attended the NAWMBA conference in Louisville, KY with approximately 72 other fabulous Fisher females.  REPRESENT!  Today, I visited The Columbus Zoo & Aquarium as a guest (I work there part-time and have spent quality time there prior to starting the full-time MBA program).  I brought my roommate along; while there, we ran into a fellow classmate.  What can I say?  Great minds think alike!

I could do this in my sleep

Side-note: Being from Parma, Ohio and of Polish heritage, I have an affinity for flamingos.  Inspired by this flamingo, I will remember the importance of balance.  I plan to balance life within the program with life outside the program.

perspective enhances appreciation

Don’t Search, Find it! [part 2]

Finally I have time to continue the story of case competition, which indeed happened two weeks ago!

After 5 hours reading and searching, we decided to recommend Microsoft to initiate a brand new search engine,

First, we found that currently customers often associate “search” to “Google”. We say “Let’s Google it!” rather than “Let’s MSN it!” As a result, we are going to reposition Microsoft search engine’s brand to let customers “find it” but not “Google it”. is a revolutionary search engine that will target at customers who seek for far better search experiences. provides customers with simple and colorful design, comprehensive services and continuously improved algorithm. To encourage customers to use, we offer Microsoft dollars which are the reward points for every time an MSN-registered user. The points can be used on Microsoft network sites, or donated to a favorite charity – such as Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

On Saturday, we presented our idea to four judges who are professionals from various industries. We demonstrated to the judges how we are going to grab the market share by increasing users’ awareness of and develop the system globally. Although at last we didn’t win the competition, it was a great opportunity to hone our presentation skills and be much comfortable to speak up in a stressful environment. We were not sure whether the judges like our idea, but we truly had fun!

By the way, we didn’t have the room winner’s advantage to give the 2 minutes demo to all participants, but we truly want to show our one page executive summary. It’s designed by Erik and it’s nice : D

A Weekend to Remember

This weekend I went to Winston-Salem with a group of six other second year MBA students to compete in the Wake Forest Marketing Summit Case Competition. It was an incredible experience, here’s a breakdown of the weekend’s events.

I woke up at 4:30am to meet up with the team at Fisher Commons at 5:00am. We had a 7:20 flight and we wanted to make sure that we had ample time to get to the airport just in case. We flew to Greensboro, NC and then rented a car to get to the hotel. Some of my teammates were dying to get some North Carolina BBQ, so we went to Little Richards Bar-B-Que for lunch (who’s website is, not making this up). I’m still on my vegan, no sugar, no alcohol, no caffeine diet for the month of February, so I just had some coleslaw and almonds (See: The Monastic Challenge).

We got back to the hotel and then relaxed for a little until 3:00pm, when we met with our student hosts for the weekend. Brian and John were assigned to take care of us throughout the weekend and they did a great job of making our stay comfortable.

Thursday night was the kickoff event at the football stadium. In the past, they had teams run out onto the field and break through a banner, but with a snow covered field, this wasn’t possible this year. They brought the introductions inside, which was done in a very nice suite. We came out dressed in full Ohio State gear, jerseys and hoodies. We actually brought eye black, but then we decided against wearing them since we weren’t running onto the field anymore. After our introductions and some mingling, we went back to campus to receive the case at 8:00pm.

Upon receiving the case, we all read it individually and then started to strategize as a group. We worked only four hours that night, calling it a night at midnight, but those four hours were intense! I’ve never worked with a group as efficient before, we didn’t waste a single second that night and filled up pages and pages of notes on the whiteboard and giant post-it notes.

One disadvantage to having seven people was the fact that we only had one full sized car. Our coach, Marc Ankerman, had the other car but we weren’t allowed to have any contact with him during the case. Needless to say, I did a lot of driving back and forth from the hotel and school.

We got back to the hotel around 12:30 and most of us went to bed around 1 or 2am.

I woke up at 5:45 to meet in the lobby at 6:00am. We drove down to school (in two trips) and got back to work. We put in some more amazing work and had most of our ideas done by 2pm. We then split the work up and started working on our individual parts. We were feeling pretty good about where we were at the moment, but I think we lost a little momentum in the mid afternoon. We worked through to 6pm, where we had to attend a mandatory program on diversity.

The speakers that they brought in were dynamic, high-ranking executives at major corporations, but I think all of us were so tired it was hard to get much out of it. I definitely saw many case competitors catching a nap during the program.

We finally got back to the school at around 8:30pm, and worked straight through until the wee hours of the morning. After working 20 hours straight, things started to get a little weird as our brains started to suffer from the sleep deprivation. Vandana definitely had a lot of patience putting up with six loopy boys in a 6 foot by 12 foot breakout room for two days straight.

By around 2am, we had most of the presentation done, so everyone went to the presentation room to practice while I finished the slides. As I was working on the slides, Microsoft PowerPoint crashed twice, which made me almost throw my laptop through the window. I met back with the group at around 3am and we worked on the deck together for another hour. I think sometime around 4am, I dropped off the four presenters (Chad, Jeremy, Vandana and Ryan) at the hotel to get a little bit of sleep. Seth, Ed and I stayed behind for another hour or so, and then I dropped them off at the hotel to get an hour or two of sleep. I then made a trip to Kinko’s to print out all of our color material for the judges. The drive there felt like a dream. I was blasting gangsta rap and driving with the windows open a little to stay awake. By the time everything was done and ready to be turned in, it was around 6:30am. I slept on the hardwood floor in our breakout room for 20 minutes and then turned in our presentation materials by the 7am deadline.

I went back to the hotel to shower and shave and then drove the presenters to campus to get a couple more practice rounds in. I went back to get Seth and Ed and then drove back to campus where we waited until our 9:40am time slot.

At 9:20 we went to the waiting room and gave each other some last minute words of encouragement. At 9:40 they came and got us, and we delivered our presentation. Seth, Ed and I waited in the back of the room until the question and answer session, at which we joined the group. Our presentation was good, but I think we won it when Ed “The Mighty Moldovan” Lapteanu absolutely crushed the Q&A session. After leaving the room, we met up with Professor Ankerman and went to Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits, which Ed had been craving all weekend. After a hearty meal, we went back to the hotel and took a much needed nap.

At 5:30pm my alarm went off and I felt like one of the guys in The Hangover. I had no idea where I was and I tripped and fell getting out of bed. I woke up Seth and we stumbled around the room like a couple of tranquilized bears. We got ready in our best cocktail attire and jumped on a bus to the gala.

We pulled up to a huge historical building. The venue was gorgeous and there were a couple hundred people there. After several rounds of speakers and a great dinner, it was time for the awards. They announced the undergraduate awards first and then the MBA awards. It’s a little fuzzy in my head still, but it went something like this:

Announcer: “And now for the MBA awards. Third Place goes to Dartmouth!”

(heart beating faster, on the edge of my seat literally, Ankerman tells me to relax and that I’m making him nervous)

“This second place team had a fantastic presentation. Their creative was so good, we thought they outsourced it to an ad agency.”

(My stomach sinks, I look at Vandana, in our heads we prepare for another second place trophy, flashback to the Big 10 Case Competition last year and Mathcounts Competition in middle school, I HATE second place…)

“Second Place goes to Wake Forest University!”

(The crowd goes wild, standing ovation for the home team, I almost cry a little, heart is now beating a couple hundred beats a minute, we all link arms, we know it’s us. All the hard work, the meetings early in the morning and on the weekends, the other three case competitions I’ve done, it all comes down to this single moment…)

“And the First place team and winner of $50,000 goes to The Ohio State University!!!”

(I let out a guttural yell of triumph, we jump out of our seats like kids on the last day of school)

We walk onto stage to accept our trophies, a giant $50,000 check and the Cheerwine Cup. Ed is presented the cup and he holds it over his head like the Stanley Cup.

From here it gets blurry, I give Ankerman a bear hug, there are some tears of joy, high fives are flying around, and we receive a flood of congratulations from judges, other teams, and the Wake Forest volunteers.  We mingle for a couple hours, high off of adrenaline and sleep deprivation.

The adrenaline high lasts through the night, and after some celebrating with some new friends Seth and I make it to bed at around 4am.

And that’s the end of this story.

The next mission on my list is the Duke MBA Games. Please support the Fisher College team by donating to the Special Olympics at our fundraising page.

Mike ^_^

“Hopped up out tha bed, Turn ma swag on, Took a look in tha mirror said wassup, Yeeeeea im gettin money, ohh.” – Soulja Boy

Unique Experiences

Hello there!

I know it has been a while since my last post… I feel like I say that every post, unfortunately. Since my last update, several wonderful things have happened at Fisher!

The first event was the Internal Case Competition for 1st Year MBA’s last Friday and Saturday. It was amazing how many first-year students participated – 28 teams x 4 students per team = 128 students, out of about 150 students total. Each team was given the same business case to analyze and present a future strategy to the company’s executives. Other bloggers have described the competition in much greater detail in their posts, so I will refrain from re-hashing it.

I had never participated in a case competition before – it was really exciting to be charged with creating and presenting a viable business plan in such a compressed time period. The members of my team: Andrew Boyd, Anthony Cayce and Fan Liu, bring a strong and diverse set of skills and experiences, which I think gave our team an edge (and the judges agreed). After a long day of analyzing the case and creating a strategy, we came in early Saturday morning to practice the presentation a  few more times. I’ll admit I was nervous! Our team presented really well, and the judges gave us very clear and direct critiques, which I am very thankful for. It was refreshing to get third-party opinions on my presentation style; I realize that working on moving around the room, and showing a little more emotion will definitely enhance my presentation skills. Our team won “best team” for our room – so the next step is individual interviews next week, for a chance to be on the CIBER or Big Ten Case Competition Teams for Fisher! I am very, very excited for this opportunity – I never imagined how exhilarating a case competition could be!

The fun social event of this weekend was the “End of the Week” (EOTW) event at OSU’s Ice Rink. For $5, students could rent skates for two hours! As a special bonus, a second-year MBA student skated in a black tutu with orange ribbons (he auctioned off this event at last year’s Fisher Follies Auction)! Thank goodness he was a good skater – he had to make a lot of quick maneuvers around skaters that were rather… confused… about his outfit. He  tried to skate with the young ladies in spandex and tutus, but they obviously had had a little more training than him!

This afternoon, the Black MBA association hosted the first luncheon in the Black Leader’s Series. This year’s theme is “Revering the Past, Embracing the Present and Uplifting the Future” from an economic empowerment perspective. The speaker today was Margot James Copeland; the Executive Vice President – Director, Corporate Diversity & Philanthropy and an Executive Council member at KeyCorp. I really enjoyed her presentation because she is a very engaging speaker who presents her ideas and opinions very clearly. The part I found most interesting was her discussion of “diversity” versus “inclusion.” She defines diversity fairly broadly – every person is complex and complete, not only because of their gender, race, age, and nationality, but because of their life and work experiences. Every single person is unique. As an example, she said a room full of white men IS diverse, because each man brings different experiences and perspectives. However, the room would not be inclusive. To determine inclusion, one needs to look around the room, and see who is missing. This means that a room that is inclusive will have men and women of different races, ages and nationalities, with different life experiences. She also talked about many other topics – the purpose of affinity groups in corporations, the history of diversity, where it’s going in the future, and her personal thoughts on how to ensure future generations are prepared for the realities of a diverse working environment. I really enjoyed this talk, and I am looking forward to the next three speakers this month.

The rest of this week will be devoted to studying – we have three midterms coming up in our core classes, and I also have a take-home midterm for my elective. Good luck to all the other students in their preparations for exams!

Take care!


It’s Go Time!

It’s less than 24 hours until we get on that plane to Wake Forest. I hope my body can handle two straight days with no sleep on nuts, berries, vegetables, protein bars and water. There’s a feeling of anticipation and excitement that I haven’t had since the day before last year’s Put-In-Bay trip.

I think we’ve done a good job getting ready for the competition. We’ve all participated and placed well in several case competitions in the past. We’ve been meeting as a team every week for the past four or five weeks. We’ve conducted countless interviews with professors, IBM employees, and past case competition participants. We have super-coach Marc “tell them what you’re going to tell them” Ankerman helping us prepare. And we’ve planned for every minute of the weekend, every change of dress, and every possible scenario.

As we get ready to leave for Wake Forest tomorrow, I wanted to give you some links that you can use to follow our progress online.

Tomorrow night, Wake Forest will be launching the new website: Student bloggers will be posting updates throughout the competition as well as interviews with the teams.

Also, you can follow the action on Twitter or join their Facebook group. That way, you’ll be the first to know the topic for our case and whether we win the $50,000 prize.

Have a great weekend everyone. As you lay your head down to sleep on Thursday and Friday night, keep us in mind as we’ll likely be working frantically into the night. And if we win on Saturday, that might just have to turn into a third sleepless night.

Mike ^_^

Don’t Search, Find it! [part 1]

Last Friday (January 29th) and Saturday we had the 1st year MBA case competition. We had a lot of fun and it was a great opportunity for us to apply the presentation and case analysis skills that we have been learning in class.

First, let me introduce my team. My team was created last quarter when we registered for the case competition. Strategically, it is best for the four team members to have a balanced background. I contacted a few of my classmates with different concentrations and formed a team with Sharon Hsu, Erik-Ray Palomar, and Bharat Deore.

We each had different experiences to share:

  • I worked in the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ as a project assistant where I gained experience with project management, corporate banking and maintaining relationships with clients.
  • Sharon worked at an insurance company in Taiwan and has a strong background in finance.
  • Bharat worked in the financial services industry as an IT consultant. Since he spent 4 years in Canada, he has some familiarity with North American companies; however, at the competition, our research will be critical.
  • Erik worked in the communications and promotions department of a government research agency in the Philippines. His experience includes project management, video production, informational campaigns, writing, and graphic design.
1001301st MBA case competition
From left to right: Bharat, Sharon, Tandy, Erik

At 8:00 on Friday morning, we received a case from January 2009 about Microsoft’s strategy for providing a better search engine in order to seize the market share from Google. In May 2009, Microsoft released its new search engine, Bing; however, we need to analyze the case and present recommendations as if it is the time of the case. Therefore, we were not able to take Bing’s release into account. It was truly a challenge because we need to keep ourselves from being affected by the concept of Bing and brainstormed for a totally new idea. (to be continued …)

Note: I try to tell the story of our case competition as comprehensive as possible because my team made lots of effort on it and it’s truly an exciting experience. However it looks like I will have a very long article… so I break it to part I and part II  : )



1st Year Case Competition

Last Friday was the Internal Case Competition for the 2011 MBA class.  Since I am trying to broaden my MBA experience and hone my public speaking skills, I decided to take part in the competition.  My team was comprised of three other first year students: Emily Bae, Joseph Lopez, and Chris Kessler.  The case was on Microsoft (circa November 2008.)  At the time their search engine,, was a distant third to Yahoo! and the behemoth Google.  We were asked to conduct analysis on Microsoft’s current search engine and to produce recommendations accordingly.  After extensive research on both the market composition and the existing client experience, our recommendation was for Microsoft to pioneer a brand new experience called, Microsoft MiLife (patent pending).

MiLife is an all-inclusive system where a user sets up a personal profile and comprehensive data is collected and maintained for each person.  This would be a person’s Internet identity and a portal to everything they need online.  For example, MiLife would be an for the entire Internet, not just for things placed on Amazon.  Our goal was to avoid regurgitating, but to make better.

The project took us the entire day to complete and we presented to four judges (one of which was Dean Wruck) the next morning.   Although we were uncertain that the judges would like our idea, we pitched our idea with as much passion and energy as possible.  Later in the day we learned that we had won the case competition for our room and we received Barnes & Noble gift cards.  This also means that my team is eligible to represent Ohio State in the Big Ten case competition.

Overall, the case competition was worthwhile.  Although it took up a lot of time (all day Friday and half a day on Saturday), the pros certainly outweigh the cons.


MiLife - Emily Bae, Joe Fahrendorf, Joseph Lopez, Chris Kessler
MiLife - Emily Bae, Joe Fahrendorf, Joseph Lopez, Chris Kessler