The Varsity Club – A WPMBA’s Golf Course/Boardroom

I’m a golfer and I was reading an article on *Golf Etiquette* just to brush up on making sure I was following some basic rules that I had either assumed or didn’t know but I was more intrigued on how the article talked about how the golf course had been transformed into an executive boardroom. I kind of knew this, but never really paid too much attention to it.

This should not be surprising, after all, a golf outing with friends, family, and/or colleagues can be time consuming (hopefully in a good way) and many important conversations and decisions can happen without even knowing about it. In fact, after the golf outing, actual work meetings on topics go by smoother because direction, strategy, or decision was already made. With this being said, I was thinking that the Varsity Club for WPMBA’s is similar to this golf course setting.

 Here, let me explain…

With the last class session of the week, it’s Thursday night and it’s getting late, we are all tired, we have been pushing our brains to the limit after working a full 8 hour day and sitting through 4 hours of class and yet we are all excited to meet up at this magical place called the Varsity Club. Yes, the Varsity Club, a place where projects get mapped out, homework questions get answered, tail gates and parties get planned and where WPMBA’s enjoy each other’s company with cold beverages in hand to close out another long week.

As a WPMBA it’s important to understand that our life is dominated by 40 hour work weeks, 8 hours of class time, at least 6 hours of outside the classroom prep work, family time, and leisure time. Needless to say, time spent with friends and class mates is important and we value every opportunity provided. It’s not only about hanging out with these folks but also to have each other’s backs when it comes to getting through the quarter in one piece.

For me personally, I value every chance to network with different people in the program. If you think about it, that’s one of the prime reasons why Fisher is as successful as it is with its enormous resources dedicated to student groups, seminars, career fairs, and guest speakers like Ben Bernanke and Jeffrey Immelt. It’s all about networking and that’s one of the big reasons I chose Fisher in the first place.

So, back to the Varsity Club. First off, it’s not a club per say but more of a bar setting. We usually head out of class to drop our books off in the car and cross the street to VC. Once there, we are usually in a pack. This is to say that group members from classes and previous classes combine to form this super group of individuals who know each other pretty well. Depending upon the weather, we either migrate to the patio and sit around tables or stand inside.

Our chats are typical to any other setting but will always come back to school work at some point. Here is the part that is so valuable to those that come out to VC on Thursday nights and I have listed some questions that get answered relevant to the MBA program and our course work: 

  • What did you get on homework problem 3? How did you do it?
  • You know, I’m thinking about the group project and I think if we focused more on marginal benefit to position our Economics paper it would…what do you guys think?
  • The exam is coming up next week, here is my strategy for answering questions on financial leverage and using these concepts and equations, does this make sense?
  • For our presentation next week for Marketing, who feels they can explain this topic better, do any of you guys have a preference?
  • What are you planning on taking next qtr? Oh, really? Cool, what classes are you taking first so that we can stick together again?

It shouldn’t be a surprise that these questions are brought up and get answered in other forms and in different settings like group meetings, email, and phone. But, a “free” group meeting at VC can help pave the way for the actual group meeting to go smoother. In addition, remember what I said about our strenuous lives with work, school, family, and leisure? Yeah, needless to say every opportunity we get to chat we capitalize on it.

On the flip side, I am very much aware that many of our colleagues simply don’t have the luxury to stop by at VC every Thursday night because of family commitments. After all, classes end at 10 pm and we usually are at VC till 11 pm. I also notice that the “usual” crowd are the ones that show up at VC and the majority of them do not have family commitments anyway. With this being said, I am not advocating one way or another but shedding light on how VC is our golf course and boardroom where we all have a good time and yet get some “work” done.

Power in Numbers

Whenever I tell friends outside of MLHR that the program has an emphasis on group work, the usual response is something to the effective of, “Ugggg I HATE group work.” or “I don’t know how you handle group work all the time. Isn’t that so hard to find time with your schedules?” Now, I must admit, I came into the program with a similar attitude when they told us we would be working in groups for most of our time here. However, I think I might have come to rather enjoy group work. Here are a few reasons why group work isn’t as bad as people think:

1. It’s a great opportunity to get to know people in the program. Last quarter, was the beginning of a new program with new people. Our group projects facilitated a way for us to get to know each other. As with every group project there are times when we get off topic, and it is really nice to actually have the opportunity to get to know the AMAZINGLY TALENTED people in our program.

2. Divide and conquer. I know sometimes solo projects can move a little quicker because you are not dealing with a group, but you still have to do all that work by yourself. I love being able to divide up the work for the project knowing that each person in our group will do an excellent job.

3. Meeting in different places and getting away from campus. Like many people, being in Fisher at night during the week and on many Sundays is not my idea of a good time after awhile. Don’t get me wrong, Gerlach is a beautiful, dare I say, high-tech building, but it gets old. Especially in the winter when all anyone wants to do is go outside in warm weather. This is why winter has been a great time to get out and meet at other places. Today, my group met at a Panera in Upper Arlington. New scenery and not as crowded as the one by campus. You can explore different parts of Columbus and get work done at the same time. How about that?

4. This may go along with divide and conquer, but less presenting time. It’s great having people stand up there with you when you are presenting your work. Unlike many other programs, you have to do the work by yourself and then stand up and present it on your own. Then, you have to talk for at least 20 minutes. Can you say SCARY? It give me so much more confidence when you have people with you as you present and you don’t have to speak for very long when there are 3-4 members that all need to do some of the talking. Literally, power in numbers.

Of course, there are some downsides to group work. It can be challenging finding time to meet with people, especially as more people get jobs during the school year (myself included), but it’s worth it. Now that many of us know each other’s schedules it is not that bad. One thing to do though, is be up front with your schedule at your first group meeting. This sets the tone if you will, so everyone is on the same page when it comes to meetings.

MLHR has made a believer out of me when it comes to group work. Go Team!

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

I was working with my teammate Logan this afternoon on an Accounting case study, and we both were scratching our heads over a certain problem. After some discussion, he found an important number in the case, I found a hint from our textbook, and together we were able to solve for the answer to the problem. My response, “Teamwork makes the dream work!” Logan: “You are a nerd. I wish we could take our final in groups.” Ugh… if only…

I have to admit, coming into the MBA program, one of the aspects I was most worried about was the idea of being tied to the same core team of five for an ENTIRE YEAR. In the past, I felt I always got burned with being placed on a team with free riders, or people who just lacked motivation to perform at a high level. I was dreading being “stuck” with people I didn’t get along with.

Little did I know, I had nothing to worry about! The Fisher MBA program only attracts motivated, high-achieving students. We haven’t even come close to having an issue with someone not pulling their weight. In fact, I am consistently impressed with how my teammates are always ahead of the game. We leverage each others strengths, use our time effectively, and have been successful in our group work. But for me, that hasn’t even been the most rewarding aspect…

When it comes down to it, I really, really like my team. That is not to say we always agree, but we are able to constructively challenge each other to create the best outcome for the group. I can appreciate each individual for what they bring to our team’s dynamic. Logan always has a funny story to share, Adam helps us all keep perspective, Aaron’s laugh can make me laugh any day, and Ankita is the most thorough and sweet one of us all.

So for those perspective students who are a little nervous about the group dynamic – take it from me, you have nothing to worry about! My guess is that your group experience, like mine, will be one of your favorite aspects to the MBA program. I’m excited to be “stuck” with my team for another two quarters!

Kid’s story: One For All and…?

Timeline: Saturday evening

I see: perfectly clear skies

I hear:  Beyoncé

I smell: chicken and curry (yum…)

I feel: a LOT of pain.

Let me summarize my spring quarter: I’m taking six classes (yes, SIX classes) and I have a different group for each one of them. This has been most challenging, especially given that it’s a radical change from the model that we had followed for the first two quarters, in which we worked primarily with our core team.

I haven’t spoken to many people, but the general strategy seems to be “divide and conquer”, or splitting up the groups into mini-groups. This seems to be the only viable option, as the groups face two main challenges: first, for the most part, they are large groups (e.g. nine people each in professor Kistruck’s class) and scheduling is nigh impossible more than once or twice a quarter; and second, most of us haven’t worked together before, nor was there a structured team selection process (for which I call them groups instead of teams).

Then there’s the fact that there is no consistency amongst teachers and courses either. For instance, a couple of them use Carmen to post updates and communications, others have used it once or twice, and still others don’t even activate the course therein. Also, some teachers rely solely on course packets, others focus on articles and updates, others send links to specific material every so often, and so on. There are many more differences, but the bottom line is that it’s very hard to create a studying and working routine that will work well throughout.

Now, don’t get me wrong, people: this may be whining but it is not criticism. Whichever way you take it, that’s what real life is all about, since you rarely choose the people you work with (bosses and peers alike) and you cannot please everyone. A person with an advanced degree such as an MBA will tend to occupy positions of greater responsibility and his/her decisions will tend to have a greater effect on the lives of more people. In this sense, the MBA program is doing a good job (at least in my particular case) of exposing us to less-enjoyable situations so we are better prepared to make those decisions.

My way of releasing my stress this quarter has been soccer practice and running. It’s a very effective therapy, but I think I’m overdoing it a little since I have three purple toes, a swollen shin, and my buttocks are numb, not to mention the fact I can barely walk because of the pain. I’m starting to think those eight hours a week in the gym/field are hindering my progress in other things. Oh, well…

The most important lesson is that I really miss having a secretary/assistant. I keep mixing up my groups, my subjects, and their deadlines. Add the internship search and the interviews into the mix and you’ll have a very “interesting” cocktail of a life.

Speaking of which: I’m thirsty. Cheers!

“We’ve come too far to leeeave it all behind…”  – Chicago

A case of the Mondays

Yesterday was one of the busiest days I have had so far in the program. Below is a description of how it became hectic along with how well it ended.

Sunday night

2:13 am: The Phillies have just won game 3 of the NLDS against the Rockies, a game that had me on the edge of my seat most of the time, and the rest standing with my Phillies fitted hat and Ryan Howard jersey on clapping and talking to the TV. So now that the game is over, and having no chance at falling asleep, I am able to finish the last three pages of the case study that we had to read to be prepared for our Organizational Behavior class (one of my favorite) at 8:30 am. At around 3 am I tuck myself under the sheets, leaving the blinds open so I don’t oversleep.


6:50 am: I proceed to wake up before my alarm and start to get ready for the day. I don’t plan on being back until later in the evening due to some events I am scheduled to attend so eat a hearty breakfast (raisin bran crunch), pack a snack for the time between classes, gather my books and head off to the bus at around 8.

8:14: The campuscabs_bus bus finally makes it. I walk out of my building about two blocks past the law school to a stop where the Campus Loop North bus picks students up about every 8 mins. Since I was the only one there, I must had gotten there right after the last bus came.

8:30: Organizational Behavior begins. I am wide awake but physically tired. I never drink coffee, and never had but I may need to if I keep this schedule up.

10:18: Class is over, we had a great discussion about financial incentives that had a lot of class participation. This is what makes it fun. I grab my snack and off to Accounting which starts at 10:30.

10:40: The lights are low. The power point is up. We are going over Cash flow statements. I feel my eyes getting heavy.

11:00: Nope I didn’t fall asleep, but I got a little energy boost from my yogurt and I am back to running on all fours. The topic isn’t the most interesting but I make sure to have the slides on my laptop along with a word doc open to take notes in. This makes the class a little more interactive to me.

12:18: Accounting class is over but I need to RUN to the Center of Real Estate for a meeting with my adviser (I work in the Center of Real Estate as a teaching assistant for an MBA level Real Estate class and also on projects that the Center is working on). I debate running to Subway first and bring a sandwich with me but I decide not to. Even though my adviser and I get along really well, I didn’t want to make him wait for me.

1:20: I leave my meeting and run to a small deli behind the architecture school across the street. I proceed to eat my chicken wrap as I walk back to Fisher. Very impressed I was able to eat it without getting anything on myself since it was a little messy.

1:30: I get to my Enhanced Professional Interchange Class. Although I am starting to get exhausted from all of the running around this class is not your typical MBA class. It is a class that teaches you presentation techniques. The teacher keeps the class very involved with people coming to the front often to work on techniques. Next thing you know the class is over

3:18: I head to the grad lounge to relax for a few mins. I had signed up for a discussion held by the MBA Finance Club that featured  William M. Issac, former chair of the FDIC which starts 4:oo.

5:00: For the last hour we had a discussion about the recent economic crisis and also a short history lesson about some of the factors that contributed to it. Mr. Issac was very interesting and I was surprised how informative the session was and how much I learned. But no stopping now. Off to my Fisher Professional Serves Conference call.

5:30: I meet with my group for ProjectOne, the initial project for a for profit student run consultancy program. We huddle around a phone for the next half hour and listen to a VP from a Fortune 500 organization explain the project and some of the uses of what we will be asked to help create a plan for. After the call my group decides to start thinking of some ideas over the next week and bounce them off each other via e-mail. Now I get to head home

6:07: Phillies Hat? Check! Phillies Jersey? Check! Sitting on the couch after a long day about to watch an amazing game 4 win over the Rockies to take us to the NLCS? Priceless!Phillies