What was I thinking?

Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with a prospective Fisher applicant.  It made me stop and reflect on my own decision to apply to the Fisher MBA program and how I almost convinced myself not to apply to Fisher at all!  Sure – now it sounds crazy but I was convinced that I didn’t want to be a student at OSU.

When I began researching Full Time MBA programs, I discovered a multitude of criteria to consider: What kind of learning environment would I prefer? What kinds of student organizations would I like? The one thing I knew for certain was that I was NOT under any circumstances going to apply to the Fisher College of Business at the Ohio State University! I live in the Central Ohio area and I have lived in some part of Ohio for my entire life. When it came time to tell friends and family that I was going to pursue an MBA, I knew they would all assume that I would apply to Fisher. Naturally, I wanted to go against the grain and apply anywhere other than Fisher.

But as I researched potential schools based on my preferences, Fisher kept coming back as one of the top choices. Small class size? Check! Fisher only admits 150 FTMBA students/year. Sustainability focus? Check! Fisher offers an Enterprise Sustainability career track and has an award-winning Net Impact Chapter. Family-friendly location? Check! Columbus has everything you could ever want in a big city but with the feel of a small community. We even have the nation’s number one zoo for families! Add to that the beautiful Ohio State campus and all of the amazingly friendly and helpful faculty and staff in the Fisher College of Business and I was hooked.

I can honestly say that I am glad I didn’t let my stubborn-nature get in the way of this great opportunity.  All of the people at Fisher are genuinely interested in each students’ success and in helping each student reach their personal goals.   I can’t imagine getting my MBA anywhere else!

I took a trip to Ann Arbor, MI… and liked it!

Last weekend, I had the pleasure to travel to Ann Arbor (home of OSU’s arch rival) for the 2010 Net Impact Conference.  For those of you who do not know, Net Impact is a global organization that focuses on changing the world through business.  Fisher College of Business is home to a two-time award winning local graduate chapter of Net Impact of which I am proud to be a member – VP of Marketing and Communications, actually.  That’s right!  Not only do I get to follow my passion (I have a previously underutilized BS in Environmental Health) and be a part of this wonderful group of like-minded students, but I also get to hold a leadership position as a first-year MBA!  Yet another perk of the small, close-knit Fisher community.

Perhaps the most simplistic, yet most profound quote of the weekend came from Chet Gesechickter of GTM Research during the Future of Smart Grid Communities panel discussion: 

Things aren’t smart.  People are.  We need to give people the information [they need] to make the right choices and force the changes to the system.

It really can be that simple.  Get the information to the people so they can make informed decisions that will ultimately help us all.

In addition to great panel discussions and amazing keynote speakers – like Gary Hirshberg of Stonyfield Farm –  the conference offered us a break from midterms and some time to recharge.  Often, the most important part of any conference is the extra time that you get to spend with your fellow classmates.  The Net Impact Conference was no exception.  We debated sustainable topics, we brainstormed sustainable ideas and we taught one of our International classmates some American nuance and slang.  We had so much fun together!  And now we are back in Columbus fully charged and ready to make a Net Impact at Fisher!

Envisioning 2020

We are the ones who are defining the future- we are one who are leading us there.”

As you may have read from other posts, this past weekend, the Fisher Net Impact club attended the Net Impact Conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan. During the keynote speech, we were asked to envision what we, as MBA students from around the country will do next- what our vision for a sustainable future is, and we were charged with asking ourselves three very provocative questions.

Envision it is October 2020:

1. What do you want to be doing?
2. What will the world look like?
3. What will you do to help us get there?

The power of the conference in my mind was that it was made up of individuals who closed their eyes ten years ago, asked themselves those same questions, answered those questions bravely, and then found ways to turn their blue sky hopes into reality. Over the course of the next two days, we had the chance to interact with a lot of individuals who were not just dreamers but doers – people who made their vision of the world real by their actions- and who found ways to be sustainable, passionate and profitable, without compromising- who found ways to take care of people and planet while still turning a pretty penny.

On the final day, I attended a session called “Conscious Capitalism” and I took away the following thought- A great business does not just maximize profit- it maximizes “total value” created on a sustained basis and it distributes that value across both shareholders and stakeholders. A great business does not just build wealth, but it enhances the health and wealth of human beings overall.

As I reflected on the students from Fisher who attended the conference, I realized that each of them have big dreams and hopes for the future.  I was inspired by their passions and their ideas, and I know, without a doubt, that a decade from now many of my classmates will turn their blue sky dreams into a new reality.

Come join the fun…..

Everthing about Sustainability.. Net Impact Conf – Part 1

Long before this month started, I had marked this past weekend as ‘forced break time’ as the midterms had just ended and this weekend was just mine to relax a bit and unwind. This was the plan till I got to know about the NetImpact conference that was scheduled at Ann Arbor, MI from Oct 28-30. We started at around 5 am on Oct 29th and were in time for the sessions at Ross. It was a  pleasant 3.5 hrs drive, with wonderful classmates to keep me company. I have this strange habit – I fall asleep within 30 mins of being in any closed moving vehicle. When I was a kid, my parents had a tough time keeping me awake in any trip – rail or road didn’t matter – and then they gave up. I sometimes fall asleep on my way home from college, which takes about 25 mins :-P. But on this trip, I wasn’t even a wee bit sleepy in spite of starting early or on my way back after a long day, thanks to my amazing classmates. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I carefully picked my sessions after a ‘could-have-been-better’ start of the day- I had forgotten my wallet in Columbus, my handbag’s handle broke and I had forgotten to take my business cards from the handbag when I went back to the car to dump my bag. I could not attend a session on sustainability and product innovation in spite of being at the venue 5 mins early. The two main subjects of my interest….my sadness was exacerbated when I heard from my classmates on that session’s ‘awesomeness’ :- (. Anyway, I attended another session on gridlines and sustainability and learned quite something.

The highlight of the day was the “Walmart Better Living Business Plan – Quick Pitch Challenge” where one of our classmates, Christine Deye had participated. She was one of the 12 that were selected from the vast pool to present their ideas in front of a panel of 3 judges. She was amazing in her confidence and presentation style and moved on to the second round, which had the top 5 ideas. The judges loved her idea but were of the opinion that a lot of unknowns needed to be explored. Look  here for the video of her presentation. Though she did not win the competition, she got a lot of appreciation from the crowd and many came forward to talk to her about her idea. That was something! She made several very good contacts, one of which was with the CEO of Stonyfield. She was on a roll! 🙂 She is now working on her idea to participate in the bigger ‘Walmart Business Plan Competition’, later this year. We wish her good luck with that. 🙂

Did I mention Stonyfield? 🙂 yes, he was a key-note speaker on Saturday. he was truly amazing.. More on that in the next part of this blog..

That evening we all hit a bar somewhere in Ann Arbor. Met a lot of interesting people from all over the world. We shouted our trademark “O-H-I-O” right in the basement bar in front of the locals and were greeted with “I will bounce you all out..” by the bartender.. we laughed. “I am not joking, see I am not smiling”, he said and played the traditional MI music till he was sure that we were done with our O-H-I-O. I was always curious about this MI-OH relationship. I amused myself with people’s reactions after I told I was from the OSU 🙂 and my appetite was well fed. I was greeted with ‘oh’s and ‘ah’s and knowing smiles.

I was looking forward to the next day and made sure that if I wanted to attend a session badly, I was there at least 15 mins before the start.

– to be cont’d…