Posts Tagged 'Fisher College of Business'



How I Select Classes

I have recently had a number of first years talk to me about career planning and how I select my class schedule. While I am not sure there is one sure way to pick classes, I have found a formula that has helped me enjoy my time here at Fisher. Not only have my classes been relevant to my future career in marketing, they have been fun and very beneficial.

Here’s a brief glimpse into how I decide which classes to take:

  1. Career Path – I always factor into my decision how a particular class will align with my career ambitions. As a marketer, I look into classes with strategy, marketing, innovation, leadership, and value creation. Marketers focus on adding value to organizations, products, and brands and need to be well versed in multiple business disciplines. This means that not every class I take falls under the marketing and strategy departments. It means that I try to be as knowledgeable as possible in various business functions, and see how they relate to my future decision making as a marketer.Fisher College of Business MBA
  2. Leadership – Let’s face it, leadership skills are the most important to develop as a business student. Most business students have had to manage employees in their past, but they probably all could have handled it better. Leadership classes here at Fisher are frequently taught by past c-level officers that know what it takes to lead in the real business world. They balance real world experiences with current business theory to help students learn how to effectively lead and manage.
  3. Professors – A professor can make or break the learning environment within a classroom and that is why it is important to find classes taught by professors with which you connect. Essentially, I have a short list of professors that I have really enjoyed learning from. Because of this, I try to sign up for classes taught by these professors because I know their teaching style and I know how I learn most effectively. Figuring this out early on in business school can definitely make your second year more enjoying.
  4. Scheduling – Everyone has a life outside of school and classes, and sometimes it may conflict with a class or two. So be it. It isn’t the end of the world. I make sure that my schedule is manageable and doesn’t hinder my balance. Flexibility is crucial for business school, but knowing how to prioritize is just as important. Just as in strategy, it’s as much about what your company won’t do, as it is what they will do.

Following these basic principles has allowed me to enjoy business school and the classes I take. Hopefully it can serve as a guideline for someone else trying to strike a good balance with a challenging class schedule.


P&G Marketing Case Competition

This week I had the opportunity to participate in the first big case competition of the year on campus, which was sponsored by Proctor & Gamble (a consumer brand goods company based in Cincinnati, OH).  The case was marketing based, using a real P&G brand, and interacting with members of the brand management team that actually works on the product’s marketing strategy.  About 6 hours of time were devoted on Thursday for the teams of 4 to come up with a brand marketing strategy and develop a presentation, and then 5 hours on Friday were used to give each of the 10 teams involved a chance to present their ideas to marketing professors and professionals.  So, all in all, if you include the social events associated with the competition, it was about a 12 hour commitment.

Now, in case I haven’t mentioned this before, I do not intend to major in marketing for my MBA degree, so, some people might wonder why I wanted to dedicate that much time to a competition in a field that isn’t my primary interest.  The answer to that is really quite simple, and that is because there is much more to a competition than just the main functional area.  Case competitions give MBA candidates, like myself, the opportunity to work on things like time management, team skills, leadership skills, creating presentations, innovation, and presentation/communication skills.  All of those, to me, sound like skills that are crucial in order to be successful in the business world.  A case competition gives students the opportunity to work on all of those skills in a controlled environment, it really is a practical application training exercise.

In the military, we didn’t just go into a high risk activity without a degree of training in advance.  Before we went overseas, we would spend months or years training, refining our knowledge and skills, so that we would be more successful when we went downrange.  Training is never perfect, because all elements of real world scenarios can’t be included for a number of reasons, but training is still an important part of preparing for real world application.  Most of my colleagues and myself are getting MBA degrees in order to move into management, or leadership type roles after graduation.  And while the risks for an infantryman overseas and business executive clearly have some differences, both roles have inherent risks.  So it makes sense to work on the skills required to be successful at either in a training environment, which is something that case competitions provide.  Because people revert to their previous training and experiences in a high stress situation, I don’t want the first time I have to do something stressful, like need to sell an idea I have to a board of executives to be during my internship, or in my new career.

So, that is my rather long-winded answer, as to why I thought it made perfect sense for someone who wants to major in operations & logistics to be in a marketing case competition, and why I plan to be in several more competitions in various fields.

 

Here is my awesome team (from the left: Me, Lindsey, Jeff, and John) from the competition. In case anyone is wondering, we won.


Let’s Do Lunch

Jesse Tyson (left), former Global Aviation Leader for ExxonMobil came to speak at a Cullman Luncheon in late September 2013

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a Cullman luncheon with the former President and COO of Wilson’s Leather, Dave Rogers. Earlier this fall I participated in a Cullman Luncheon that featured Jesse Tyson, Global Aviation Leader for ExxonMobil. The Cullman Executive Luncheon Series is designed to bring 10-15 graduate students and senior executives, many of whom are also graduates of Fisher, together in an informal setting. Past executives have identified their current roles, discussed work history, and have provided insights into business in general. There is also a time for Q&A at the end.

Personally, it was hugely beneficial to interact with and glean “best practices” from these executives who had 35+ year careers to draw upon. Jesse and Dave both shared things that they did well and also shared about things to avoid as a manager and an executive. The questions asked by my fellow classmates were also very informative and brought out the richness of their experiences in business.

In an age where there seems to be a lack of either good or ethical leadership, the luncheon was a great way to get face to face with an executive who led well and could share those experiences and lessons learned along the way.

Jack Detzel, Director of Supply Chain Capability & Baseline Optimization/Productivity for PepsiCo, is coming to speak at a Cullman Luncheon in October

Craig Bahner, Fisher alumnus and Wendy’s chief marketing officer came to speak at a Cullman luncheon in April 2013

 


An afternoon with Alcoa

In all the excitement last week, with the case competition, and studying for exams this week, I almost left out writing about another awesome opportunity I had last week. Last Wednesday, the aluminum manufacturer Alcoa had a function on campus relating to some of the grants they have given to the school for various research projects.  If you are interested in reading more about those grants, I am going to include a link to the Lantern (Ohio State’s student newspaper) article about it: http://thelantern.com/2013/10/aluminum-company-grant-ohio-state-250k-2014/.

As the article notes, Alcoa’s chairman & CEO, Klaus Kleinfeld, was present at the function, as were several other executives from the company.  Alcoa, in case you didn’t know, is ranked 128th on the Fortune 500 list for 2013.   I thought that it was pretty awesome to get to attend a rather small (under 100 person) function at which a CEO of that caliber was speaking, and took the time to share his honest answers to student questions on a variety of issues. After the formal presentation was over, there was a more casual networking dinner with the executives present.  Opportunities like that don’t just come along every day, but they do seem to come by much more often now that I am a MBA candidate than they did in the corporate world.

That is one of the great things about Ohio State, and Fisher College of Business, is the breadth and depth of ties to industry that the organizations have.  Just based off the sheer numbers of graduates every year, Ohio State has one of the largest bases of alumni in the country, and that can be a powerful thing when you are trying to network professionally.  The different colleges on campus also have ties to industry in their own sectors as well, either through their faculty and staff, or through collaboration on projects.   This broad network can come in handy when trying to attain better information about a target organization or industry.

As an aside, one reason that I was very excited to attend this Alcoa event, is because the corporation is active with a group called American Corporate Partners (ACP).  ACP is a mentorship program which connects qualified military veterans with mentors who are all business executives.  I am an alumni of the program, and the gentleman who was kind enough to devote time to being my mentor is an executive with Alcoa, so I have a high regard for the company.  If you are a veteran looking into business school or entering the corporate world, I highly recommend applying for ACP.


Batter Up!

Just so that no one gets the wrong impressions that it is all work and no play around here, we do get chances on a regular basis to engage in a wide variety of activities outside of class and the career search.

For example, last Friday night was the first year vs. second year slow pitch softball game, organized by the Fisher social chair.  It was a fun, semi-competitive game, and a good chance to get to know other people from the program outside of the classroom setting.  The game was held at Fred Beekman park, a large sports complex with a variety of sports fields on West campus.

Even though people who attend top ranked MBA programs generally don’t like to lose so both teams wanted to win, everyone was still encouraged to play.  I hadn’t played softball since undergrad intramural leagues, which was some time ago, and still had a lot of fun participating and helping my team out.  Even though the weather wasn’t the most co-operative, the game was followed up with a cookout at fisher commons, where both teams and the spectators could enjoy some grilled food and beverages.

 It was really more about having fun and working on team skills with each other more than anything else.  If you think about it, those are valuable business skills to have, that are needed in the real world.  No one wants to work on a team with someone who has a bad attitude and isn’t willing to work with others in order to achieve goals. Also important is being able to clearly communicate among team members, as well as being able to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of team members, and then  leverage that knowledge to make the team stronger to achieve goals. I guess that is a sign that business school and interview season have started to sink in, that I can relate everything to transferable business skills.

OUAB in the Kitchen – Graduate/Professional Student Activities

OUAB in the kitchen – BBQ

Ohio State University has many entertaining offerings beyond the Fisher campus even for the serious, and seriously busy, graduate student. One can easily become absorbed in their own program and in the rigor of recruiting and academic work or research. It is acceptable and encouraged to engage in activities on and off campus. OUAB, The Ohio Union Activities Board, arranges events specifically for graduate and professional students. These events are timed appropriately for our programs and vary in area of interest and even location. OUAB has events ranging from Kickboxing to Happy Hour. Many events are exclusive to graduate/professional students. I chose my first OUAB event as the OUAB in the Kitchen – BBQ. OUAB has arranged a series of interactive cooking classes, in a variety of topics and cuisines, which allow the busy grad student to take a break, get to know people outside of their discipline, and to just participate in a fun campus activity.

Held in the lower level of the Ohio Union on campus the OUAB in the kitchen classes are taught by a well trained staff. Not the best at–home –chef? Not a big deal, the class is very fool proof. Ingredients are measured out for you and a combination of live demonstration along with personal help from the head and sous chefs and good old fashioned team work will keep you from ruining your meal. You get to eat what you cook and take home leftovers so this is a particularly delicious event to participate in, choose wisely though! In general, you are limited to 3 OUAB Kitchen classes per semester.  I chose to go to the BBQ class where we made BBQ chicken, jalapeno corn muffins, baked beans and banana cream pie.

My group consisted of graduate students from all disciplines and we had great time. My partner and I were in charge of making the banana cream pie and if I may say so, it was delicious!

 

Chef Marc was great. He helped us out, gave great tips, and made sure we did not ruin our dinner.  The room was full of lively conversation throughout the whole class and everyone was enjoying themselves. At the end of the class tables were pushed together and arranged with real china and silverware for a family style meal to enjoy the food that we had all cooked.

I would definitely encourage anyone to try and sign up for an OUAB in the kitchen event! You are even allowed to bring a non-student or non-graduate student guest as long as you register them along with yourself. In addition to guests there are some classes which are open to families and are kid-friendly. The popularity of these classes has led to an increase in topics, class times and overall number of events. Snatch up a spot while you can before the class fills up!

Click HERE to see a list of Graduate and Professional OUAB events for Fall 2013.


Keeping Pace

There was a saying that we used in the Marine Corps: “It is easier to keep up than catch up.”

This phrase mostly applied to things like running or forced marches in that context, but it seems to me that is is quite applicable to an MBA program as well.   Time management is a crucial skill that is needed in order to thrive in this sort of environment.  In the Marines they begin training in stress inoculation and time management almost immediately.  It is not uncommon in boot camp for something simple, like making a rack (bed), to be given an impossible, or nearly impossible time restriction, and it progresses from there to more complex issues with seemingly impossible time constraints.

Important life decisions.

Time management and the ability to work under duress are two of the many valuable skills (along with leadership), that the Marines helped instill in me.   So, back to the MBA program, during the program, there are a lot of priorities that need to be balanced.  Some of the main ones are:

  • School:  Not just going to all of my classes, but doing homework assignments, studying, and working on projects.
  • Future Careers:  Especially for people like myself looking to switch careers, I need to actively work on building my professional network, attend company info sessions and events, job fairs, apply for jobs, hopefully interview for jobs, work on my resume, and meet with my career counselor.

    First Career Fair as a graduate student today!

  • Student organizations:  There are a myriad of student organizations at Fisher, and they all offer valuable opportunities to students.  There is certainly not time to join all of them, but I have joined several, but each additional one requires an additional time commitment.
  • Personal:  This is possibly the easiest to neglect, but humans need sleep, and to eat, and every once and a while to relax.  Things like going to the gym take time, but it is something that should not be neglected.  Also, having a social life within the program is important.  A big part of business school seems to be networking, so doing things like going to happy hours, and football games are important to building strong relationships with classmates.

All of these areas need to be kept in balance, and maintained, sometimes one is going to be more in focus than the rest, but that doesn’t mean the rest can be neglected.  If I neglect an area, then I am going to fall behind in it, which means that in the future, I will need to expend the same amount of energy needed for it now, plus the energy needed for it in the future, in order to catch up.  That is in addition to meeting all of the other requirements from the other sections of my life.  So, a short term sacrifice now, causes long term harm if I decide to slack in one or more areas.  So, even though it might seem overwhelming sometimes, keeping up with it all is easier than trying to catch up with it all in the future.  I should thank my Drill Instructor for the life lesson.

 

Four simultaneous Script Ohio’s is an amazing thing.


It’s Good To Be Back

As the title of my post relates, it is good to be back.

As my wife and I were making the drive back to Columbus from Minneapolis she asked me if I was ready to start my second year of business school. I hadn’t really thought if I was ready or not but I did know that I was excited to return. Some people may think that is crazy, but let me explain what I mean when I say that it is good to be back at Fisher.

Here is what I am looking forward to at Fisher this year:

  • Camaraderie – Oddly enough this reminds me of my days playing sports. When you are on a team, or in business school, you develop very close relationships with others. Why? Because you are all going through the same trials and challenges and celebrating similar successes and accomplishments. Business school is a mentally and emotionally grueling time of life and great friendships are established that will last a lifetime. To put it simply, I’m excited to see all of my friends from b-school that were off in different parts of the country (and world) completing their internships.
  • Education – I like to learn. If you are in business school and you don’t like to learn, you may as well drop out. School isn’t the only place where education and learning take place. They continue on into the workplace. If you don’t like to learn new things and stretch yourself, you probably shouldn’t be in b-school. I love the challenge and love to learn from others experience and knowledge. This year will be even more exciting as I focus my classes on my majors of strategy and marketing.
  • Buckeye Football – I have to be honest, right? I love sports and I love football. Put me in a school with one of the best teams and storied programs in the country and it makes for some excitement. Not only is it fun to gather weekly with classmates, but it is fun to feel the buzz in the air surrounding football season here in Columbus. You may not show up to Fisher as a Buckeye fan, but I can guarantee you will leave as one. It’s inevitable.
  • Exposure – Being a students here at Fisher comes hand in hand with loads of exposure to recruiters, top faculty, and great alumni. During my first year I was able to meet with numerous recruiters that were very interested in Fisher students. They have had great success with Fisher students in the past and they enjoy recruiting here and meeting more potential candidates. The faculty and alumni are beyond generous and have been a great asset to me as a student. It has been fun to see a few of them and fill them in on my experience with 3M this summer.

Like I said, it is good to be back. Good to see friends, talk with faculty, and enjoy the community feeling of Ohio State. Hopefully this year won’t fly by too quickly!

 


Start early, start often

People, perhaps now more than ever, like instant gratification.  We want answers and results right now.  We don’t want to have to wait until 6 in the evening to catch the evening news, which is why we have multiple 24 hour cable news networks.  Most of us carry more computing power in our pockets than it took to get to the moon, so that we have everything, news, weather, banking info, contacts, and whatever else there is an app for, at our fingertips.

But, if you are looking at attending an MBA program, or utilizing the GI Bill, or even planning to use the GI Bill to attend an MBA program, then an important element to achieve success is to start both processes early.   And neither one is really going to give you that instant gratification that we all crave these days, but they are worth it in the long run.

If you are thinking that attending a top MBA program sounds like a good idea, then if you haven’t already, you should be studying for and scheduling a time to take the GMAT.  It was actually about this time last year that I took mine.  That way, you will have your score when you go to recruiting events, and if you don’t score as high as you would have liked, might even be able to re-take the test before it is time to apply.

After the GMAT is done, come all the other important things, like recruiting events, campus visits, and interviews, all of which you want to get done before application deadlines, so that you can make the best informed decision possible.   Sometimes there are also scholarships and fellowships that are available only to those who apply to the earlier deadlines a school may have.

And, if you are eligible to use the GI Bill, I assume you have dealt with the VA before, so start the process of verifying your eligibility early, because that process can involve a whole lot of hurry up and wait as well.   Time management and task prioritization will be of the utmost importance when pursuing an MBA, so it is best to build those skills early, if you don’t already possess them.

Finally, here is a more current picture of Ohio Stadium, taken last Saturday vs.  Buffalo.

I think my seats are not too shabby.

 


A student once again

Saying that I am a student once again may not be completely accurate, because really, we are all constantly students in life, expanding our horizons and our knowledge.  Perhaps “back to being a professional student” is a more accurate description.  It has been a little over six years since I received my Bachelor’s degree in Ohio Stadium (a.k.a. the Horseshoe), and in those six years I learned a lot about myself and the world.  I am sure I will talk more about the journey in future posts, but here is a picture to serve as a primer.

Seeing the world, one muddy field at a time. Yes, all that stuff was quite heavy.

But coming back to Ohio State, and going to the Fisher College of Business for my MBA was the kind of offer that I just could not turn down in good conscience.  The reasons to come here at this point in my life are varied, but things like Fisher being a top rated MBA program (including in Operations, Logistics and Supply Chain Management), a world class faculty, beautiful campus in a vibrant city, and small class size for more exposure to faulty and staff certainly didn’t hurt.  But, I also get to go to one of the happiest places in the world, on a regular basis for the happiest time of year:  Ohio Stadium for Football Season.

A slightly dated, but beautiful, Horseshoe picture, I will need to take some new ones this Saturday.


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