Decisions, Decisions

Even though it feels like classes just started, second term is only weeks away, and it is already almost time to schedule for spring semester. That means I need to start thinking about which track I will be specializing in: corporate finance, investment management, risk management, or real estate. Right now, my SMF classmates seem pretty evenly divided between corporate finance and investment management, with a handful of others pursuing risk management and real estate. I personally am still torn between the corporate and investment tracks. Not having a finance background, I think it will take me a bit longer to determine what jobs interest me, and into what categories those jobs fall.

Luckily for me and other students in a similar position, the SMF program is designed to help you find the right path. During the second term, which runs from mid-October until Winter Break, all of the SMF students are required to take Corporate I and Investments I, along with Leadership, Derivatives I, and Data Analysis II. This allows everyone to get a taste for the two main tracks and, from what I hear, I should know pretty quickly in which direction I am leaning.

However, if I still cannot make up my mind, I am sure the SMF faculty and staff will continue to be a great source of guidance. One piece of advice I have heard from several of our professors is to read—read the textbooks, read newspapers like The Wall Street Journal, and read magazines like The Economist. Then think back on what topics, industries, and companies caught my attention, what was I naturally drawn to, even if seems like a far-fetched career path. That could help point me towards not only a track within the SMF program, but also possible employers for the future. Because, after all, shouldn’t the end goal be to get not just any job, but a job I actually love?

Check out the full list of spring semester electives here!


Electing Electives in the Fisher MAcc Program

I’ve said this previously, but one of the coolest aspects of the MAcc program is the option to take electives … lots of electives.  Under the new semester requirements, you’ll take 31 semester hours of courses.  Of those, only 10 semester hours are core requirements!  You do the math…okay, okay I’ll do it for you…that leaves 21 semester hours of electives!!  Sarah asked what some of my favorite electives have been, and I’m more than happy to elaborate on my experience!

Last quarter, I took a course on Entrepreneurial Finance.  This was an awesome course that combined both the soft and hard aspects of starting a company.  We looked at valuations…how to determine appropriate cash flows, how to select a discount rate, what assumptions are valid for future growth, etc.  However, we also spent a lot of time discussing whether or not a given entrepreneur was the right person for the business – did they have an appropriate background and education, were they plugged in to the right circles, and was their personality and motivation matched to the task at hand?  The course was case based, so each of the scenarios we looked at involved real companies.  And Professor Berk Sensoy was excellent – I’d highly recommend this class (and Professor Sensoy).

This quarter, I’m taking all electives.  While it’s early, I’ve enjoyed each of them and will tell you what I can…I can give you an update on these courses later on in the quarter though!  I’ve got Accounting for Mergers and Acquisitions, Real Estate Finance, and Logistics Management on my plate for the quarter.  I’m trying to be well balanced here!

Accounting for Mergers and Acquisitions:  First of all, Professor Dave Williams is teaching this course.  He was our professor for a core course taken in the fall, so I knew before signing up that this course would be awesome.  Dave does a great job teaching the concepts, and makes going to class fun by analyzing transactions and firms using phrases such as “hey in the hall” (satisfactory performance) and “kick in the butt” (poor performance).  Back to the class though – we’ve had some interesting discussions on why mergers and acquisitions might be attractive for both parent and target companies.  We’ve looked at goodwill and goodwill impairment, as well as how this touchy subject has evolved over time.  The best part of the course?  If a merger/acquisition is happening real time, we talk about it in class!

Real Estate Finance:  This course is taught by Professor Izhak Ben-David, who is clearly passionate about real estate.  He’s discussed his research with us, which proved his interest and dedication to the topic.  So far we’ve just talked about valuation of real estate.  I’m a little bit biased because I have always been fascinated with real estate, and it’s an area I plan to invest in (specifically the residential rental market).  We’ve looked at valuations in the rental markets – both commercial and residential.

Logistics Management:  I am taking logistics management with Professor Michael Knemeyer.  I feel like a broken record here, but wow is this dude is passionate about logistics!  You know that UPS commercial “We Love Logistics”?  I’m thinking UPS just followed Professor Knemeyer around for inspiration.  Anyways, on to the course.  We’re going to learn about logistics, but Professor Knemeyer is setting up the course in some very interesting ways to help us really understand logistics management.  There is a simulation called LINKS that puts you in charge of making decisions for an imaginary firm.  You analyze all aspects of the firm, but it boils down to managing your supply chain in a competitive, dynamic environment that pits your firm against your peer’s firm.  He’s also set up an “Individualized Learning Project”, which gives me the opportunity to study the logistics (current and future trends, best practices, etc) of THE COFFEE INDUSTRY!!!  This project gives you a lot of freedom to learn about specific industries you’re interested in.

So – I hope I’ve helped, Sarah!  I’ll answer your question about leadership opportunities in another post.  Good luck picking your electives!  There is a lot to choose from, but I can assure you – you can’t make a wrong decision.

The Fisher MAcc program has a LOT of electives. Be ready to make some choices!

So You Like Accounting – and Finance, and HR, and Logistics, and…

So far, I have only one complaint with Fisher and the MAcc Program:  There are far too many interesting classes that I want to take, and I know I won’t have time to take them all!

One of the best things about the MAcc program is the flexibility it gives you.  You need 23 credit hours in accounting (which is about 50% of the total degree credit hours minimum), but after that you can take classes in any discipline you want … finance, management, HR, logistics, marketing, economics, and if you really want to, even math.  Out of the 45 total required hours, that’s a lot of freedom and flexibility!


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You can probably guess that I love accounting, since I’m in the MAcc program and all.  I mentioned deciding on classes is tough because of how many disciplines you can take, but its also tough because there are so many fantastic accounting classes offered!  Luckily, the GPO (Graduate Programs Office) hosted the MAcc Winter Quarter Electives Session for us.  Any interested MAcc student was able to meet for pizza during our lunch break and listen to a few of the professors that are teaching classes next quarter talk about their class.  It really helped me get a feel for which courses I would find most interesting, and gave me a chance to meet my future professors before sitting in on their class.

In the end, I was able to pick some classes.  I’ll be taking a few accounting classes, but will also take a course on Entrepreneurial Finance.  It sounds really interesting, and the GPO was actually able to put me in contact with a student that took the course last year.  This allowed me to ask any questions I had, and I was able to make sure that the course will have everything I want in it!

I Saw Elephants Rolling Down the Road!

No Joke! Ok, well maybe they weren’t real elephants, but they were elephants to me! So when you move into the dorm, there are these people, OWLs, who help you move in. OWLs are Ohio state Welcome Leaders. And, to get all of your stuff up to your new room, there are these large wooden boxes on wheels with doors called elephants. My freshman and sophomore years, I was an OWL (you get to move in early for free, don’t judge) and became very well acquainted with said elephants. The looming question I’ve had for years is where do they keep the elephants! Seriously — there are 40 some dorms, and each one had close to 50 elephants, and these things are huge! Where do they keep them? I should really ask my Aunt Christy. She’s the assistant director of housing, but that would be too easy. Anyway, this morning, I was driving to work and I saw an OSU box truck with elephants in the back of it. If not for the fact that it was turning the opposite way of my work and I was already late, I would have followed it to see where they’re stored. Oh well, another time.

I suppose that has nothing to do with OSU or Fisher, so I’ll get back to business. Today is our econ final. Be impressed. I went from being majorly confused to understanding most of it! I still have some more studying to do, but it’s just from last week’s class and it’s math formulas which come pretty easily to me. Hopefully it stays that way for tonight’s exam. The worst part of it all has been figuring out when to move along a curve and when to shift a curve. But I’m fairly convinced I have it figured out – movement along a curve is due to a change in price which affects the quantity supplied or demanded; a shift of the curve comes from a change in the demand or supply, more suppliers entering the market, etc. Hopefully that’s all right. Thank goodness for online resources – not that the book is written poorly, but because it’s a custom textbook and a collaboration of 3, you there’s no index in the back and not all of the chapter have key terms, so you never really know where to look to find something.

I finally scheduled for classes. Word to the wise – make sure you have no holds on your account BEFORE you try to schedule. I went to schedule the other night and to my surprise, I had a hold on my account due to someone’s error other than mine. After 3 hours of waiting to talk to someone, the hold was lifted! I’m excited about the fall. I’m taking 2 electives in addition to the 2 required courses: MHR 870 – The Business of College Sports with Mr. Gene Smith himself, and MHR 869 – Strategic Management of Human Assets. I might drop one of the two, but for now, I’m going to try and stick with it. Both look to be very interesting, and 869 has no exams, just papers and a presentation, which I’m good at.

At Summit Vision, I was talking about my blog to some of my classmates, and they mentioned that I should be the Perez Hilton of the MLHR program. As much as I love gossip and knowing what’s going on, I think I’ll steer clear of that one. But a shout out to Jim for the idea. I’m finding that lately my blogs have become very lengthy. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad for the readership, but I’ll end this one here. Have a great Thursday! It’s almost the weekend!

Managerial Negotiations

As I mentioned in an earlier blog entry, I am taking an elective called Managerial Negotiations. First year MBA students who have a GPA above 3.25 are allowed to take one elective during their second quarter. I figured Managerial Negotiations was a great choice because it is not only applicable to business, but also to everyday life.

The class is designed to allow us to practice different negotiation tactics each day in small groups. This safe environment allows us to get out of our comfort zone and really test different theories and strategies. Today’s class involved a negotiation between two companies: one interested in selling a manufacturing plant and the other interested in buying a manufacturing plant. The buyer and seller each knew several common facts such as the appraisal value of the plant and the selling price of a slightly newer manufacturing plant in the same area.  Although this common knowledge allowed us to get the conversation started, there were other areas that we had to consider such as: the building’s depreciation, falling land value, synergies between the companies manufacturing process, and the time it would take to build a new plant if an agreement couldn’t be reached.

I left my negotiation very happy with the deal I made.  I purchased the plant in the lower part of my target range which I developed before entering the discussion.  As it turned out, my price was right in the middle of the class’ purchasing prices: five individuals bought the plant for less, six individuals bought the plant for more, and two groups were unable to reach a deal.  Not too bad.