Posts Tagged 'Ohio State MBA'

Learning From A Patagonia Executive

Two days ago I sat in one of the most impressive patagoniapresentations I have witnessed during my time here at Fisher. I was able to learn the story of success and failures of a popular American outdoor brand, Patagonia.

Vincent Stanley, the “chief story teller” for Patagonia discussed his 41 year career with the company and how he helped in growing the brand to what it is today.

I was impressed most of all with his humility and passion for profitable sustainability. He spoke of lessons he learned during failures and successes within his tenure at the company. He noted that he nearly bankrupted the company of number of times, but was fortunate that the company’s culture pulled them through tough times.

Stanley highlighted the fact that the hiring process is crucial to the company’s success. The company makes sure that new employees understand the importance of being profitable, yet sustainable. The products that Patagonia manufacture and sell to the public are high quality and priced at a premium, because the company believes in minimal waste. The hope is that customers will use the clothing for 5-10 years and then return the product to be recycled into a new article to be sold as a different product. Stanley noted that the company believes firmly in cradle to cradle sustainability.

I enjoyed not only the stories of the success, but the on-boarding steps taken to increase morale and productivity. Patagonia makes sure its employees are passionate about the outdoors. Many employees participate in a 2 month internship with a NGO. During this experience the company provides the employee with full compensation as if they were working at corporate.

It is no surprise that a company focused on selling outdoor products invests so much time, resources, and money into keeping the outdoors sustainable and beautiful. My hat’s off to this company and its impressive leadership team full of people like Vincent Stanley.

 

 

 

 


CEO of LifeCare Alliance Visits Fisher

Chuck Gehring is passionate about his job and his company’s mission. His passion is evident in the way he talks about his company and the role he plays in leading such an organization.Chuck-Gehring-1807381 220 Having him come and speak was a special treat for students in the Leadership Legacy course.

Chuck’s organization, LifeCare Alliance, is a nonprofit that focuses on helping communities by identifying and delivering health and nutrition services to those in need. A few of the well known programs include Meals-On-Wheels, Columbus Cancer Clinic, IMPACT Safety, and many others.

Having Chuck in the classroom allowed students to ask questions and learn more about his career path and leadership style. Chuck was enthusiastic about the opportunities that recently minted MBAs have in the nonprofit sector. He stated that many nonprofits could benefit from having younger business leaders included in the board room in order to assist in  connecting with younger generations.

Chuck’s career path has been anything but traditional. He started his career with Anheusser Busch before moving on to Sanese Services. From there, Chuck moved into nonprofit and has enjoyed being in this sector.

His take on leadership was inspiring. He noted the importance of doing the right thing, not only for yourself and your company, but for the community in which one resides. It is obvious that Chuck has a great focus on making his organization successful and doing so in an ethical and professional manner. I was struck by one comment he made about his struggle sleeping at night if he feels like the company fell short in one area or another. He truly believes in creating sustainable change for the community by providing wonderful health and nutrition services to those in need.


Benefits of the Fisher Corporate Mentor Program

Last year I had the opportunity to participate in Fisher’s Corporate Mentor program. The program pairs first year MBAs with local executives from Columbus that are interested in helping mentor and develop students in their chosen career field. I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor last year and truly enjoyed the relationship we developed during the program. This year, I reached out to a first year student to gain their perspective and see if their experience was similar to mine.

Below is a question and answer session I had with Megan Tuetken, first year MBA with a focus on marketing.

 1 – Who is your corporate mentor and what is their background?
My mentor is Mary Beth Cowardin from T. Marzetti’s.  She is the Director of Marketing for the Marzetti brand.  She did her undergrad at OSU and earned her MBA from Fisher.

2 – What were you hoping to gain from participating in the corporate mentor program?
I wanted a non-student/non-professor sounding board to talk to about my internship search and seek advice. I was also looking for a professional perspective on life in the corporate world of marketing.  I was hoping for a mentor in brand management to get an additional perspective to compare to what I’d experienced working with brand managers at Kimberly-Clark over the years.

3 – What have the events been like? Have you been able to meet other students’ mentors?
I did not attend the kick-off event as my mentor was not able to attend.  Instead, I met Mary Beth for breakfast one morning for our first official introduction.  We’ve done breakfast a few times to catch up and chat, and we’ve found that this casual approach has worked well for us.  I went to the event at the Thompson Library, which was pretty informal.  There were quite a few mentor/student pairs.  Some were simply chatting as pairs while others were mingling as larger groups.  I mostly talked with Mary Beth directly as I was in the middle of some critical decisions regarding my internship opportunities.  However, the chance to meet other mentors was definitely available.  I did meet a former colleague of Mary Beth’s briefly.

The last event, which was targeted towards Marketing students/mentors, provided much more of an opportunity to meet other mentors as we were forced to switch our table arrangements throughout the event.  It was great to hear other professionals talk about their experiences regarding a host of business topics.

4 – What is the best piece of advice you have received from your mentor?
My mentor was very helpful in giving feedback regarding my resume.  She helped me expand it quite a bit and pushed me to really capture additional items that I wasn’t really considering.  She also helped me realize which direction I wanted to go with my internship.

5 – Would you recommend the corporate mentor program to other students? If so, why?
I would definitely recommend it.  I’ve had a very positive experience so far, and I plan to stay connected to Mary Beth in the future.  Even though the formally planned events through Fisher are complete, she’s going to give me a plant tour and we’re planning on doing a store walk-through so I can learn more about the categories Marzetti plays in.

To me, it’s a no-brainer to sign up for a mentor.  Fisher has so many amazing alumni and local businesspeople to tap for mentorship.  There’s absolutely no reason not to do it!  I know some students have had better connections than others, but it’s also what each person makes of it.  I found that having a goal for the relationship (for me, it was mostly about the internship search) really helped.  I’m glad to have participated and made a new connection in my network for the future.


Celebrating Holi Dinner at Fisher

The Fisher College of Business has been a great place for me to meet Holi Dinnermany students from various parts of the world. I have especially enjoyed learning more and more about the Indian culture. One way I have learned more about their culture is by participating in many of the student organizations’ activities.

Last week I was able to take my wife and son to one of my favorite activities that takes place each year – Holi Dinner. In an effort to celebrate Holi, the Indian student organization puts together a dinner with music, great food, and lots of chalk. The celebration is one focused on color and love, and welcoming in the colors of the spring and summer seasons.

1966667_10152344790519642_1435701083_nAt first, my son was a little reluctant to have some pink chalk marked on his forehead, but he eventually warmed up to the idea and enjoyed the music and food. The food was delicious and it was fun to have an activity where I could bring my family along for the fun.

I was surprised at how much chalk and color was thrown around the lounge, but hey, everyone seemed to be having a good time. I am now looking forward to the next Indian student organization activity taking place next month!


Innovation Israel Pre-Trek Meeting

Visiting Israel has been a lifelong dream of mine for quite some time. Because of this, you can imagine how excited I was to learn that Fisher was planning on offering a course this year that included a visit to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Of course, I signed up for the class.blog_telaviv

The class is centered around the economy and entrepreneurial spirit of Israel, specifically in Tel Aviv. Our instructor for the course was born and raised in Israel and has an incredible background in business and international consulting. As a student, I have really enjoyed learning about the Israeli economy and culture.

One way in which I was able to learn more about the culture was to attend a social gathering at the home of David and Bonnie Milenthal. The CEO and founder of Israel and Company attended the event, along with representatives of the Columbus Jewish Federation. We learned of their experiences and connections in Israel and had the chance to speak with them in a nice setting that allowed for a lot of learning to take place.

While in Israel, my class will visit various companies and organizations, ranging from global Fortune 500 firms to technology startups. Along with visiting businesses, the trip will include a visit to Jerusalem to see and learn more about the historic Israeli culture. I couldn’t be more excited for this amazing opportunity.


AMP Super Bowl Ad Review

One of the many enjoyable aspects of being a full-time MBA student is that so many great student organizations exist in which anyone can be a part of. Student organizations range in size from large to small, depending on the interest in the organizations subject matter and activities. One of the organizations here at Fisher that I have been a  part of is AMP – the Association of Marketing Professionals.

The last few years AMP has held an activity in conjunction with the Super Bowl. For most marketers, watching the commercials on Super Bowl Sunday is just as entertaining as watching the big game. This is also true for MBA students.

In order to take advantage of some great learning opportunities that come from viewing the Super Bowl, AMP held its annual Super Bowl Ad Review a few days ago. The event always brings in a large crowd of students interested in learning more about creative advertising and why some commercials are received well and why others fall on their face – even when spending $4 million for 30 seconds.

This year was fun because we were able to hear from two marketing professors as well as a Fisher alumnus, Jason Mlicki, who owns his own advertising agency (Rattleback) here in Columbus. Jason has worked in the advertising world for quite sometime and brought a great perspective to many of the ads that we viewed.

A few of the favorites that the professors and Jason shared with the class included Audi, Hyundai, Radio Shack, and Heinz. I personally enjoyed the Audi and Hyundai commercials. They both had different strategies and tactics used throughout their creative, but I believe they both communicated effectively to their audience. Here is the Hyundai commercial for your viewing pleasure! Go Bucks!


GE Capital CMO Visits Fisher

Ian Forrest, the current CMO of GE Capital, was on campus a few days ago as part of the 2013 Middle Market Summit. A handful of marketing students were able to sit down with Ian to learn about marketing in a global economy. Luckily for me, I was able to learn from his well of knowledge.

Not only did Ian talk about how to be a great marketer, but he highlighted the importance of being a great leader. Here are a few highlights that I took away from my hour with this fantastic business leader.

  • There are no global brands, only global marketers. Brands can be known throughout the world, but they may differentiate depending on location. A marketing manager in the Unites States will not be able to market effectively in the German market without living there and experiencing the culture. Marketers need to understand the importance of how consumer behavior and insights differ throughout the world.
  • Brands have lost the power, consumers hold the upper hand. Consumers have many options within the marketplace. Gone are the days where brands can afford to make mistakes with their consumers. Products and brand comparisons can take place instantly using smartphones, tablets, computers, and other technologies utilized by consumers. Marketing managers must consider the power of consumers when constructing the marketing mix.
  • Pricing is becoming more and more transparent. Similar to the prior point, consumers can figure out more and more if a product is priced competitively in the market. Proceed with caution when setting a pricing strategy because customers will search for the value.
  • Most insights are found in the long tail, not the majority. The insights that really matter are not found within the majority of the market. Differentiation doesn’t come through core customers, but through the incremental gains in new clients and customers.

This list is not an exhaustive list of everything he shared, just a few tidbits that stood out to me. Fisher continues to provide me with opportunities to help me develop myself as not only a good marketer, but also a great leader. This event was one of those times. It really doesn’t get much better than this.


Interview Prep

I know that preparing for interviews can seem like a waste of time sometimes.  In the basic sense, it is just having a conversation, so why not just go in with the attitude of: “I’m just gonna go in there, be myself, answer their questions with great stories, and knock the interviewer’s socks off.”  And the answer is, because that probably isn’t how it will go at all if you don’t do any prep work, like having answers for common questions prepared.

When I was up in Chicago for the MBA Veteran’s conference, I participated in a conversation with some fellow combat arms vets that probably could have been titled:  The greatest hits of terrible interview question answers.   The questions that were asked in the interviews were generally along the lines of:

“Tell me about a time you were in a seemingly impossible situation, how did you find an innovative solution?”

“Tell me about a time when you were under a lot of stress and had to make a difficult decision?”

“Describe a time when you worked as part of a team to meet a seemingly impossible goal?”

“Describe a time when you used your leadership skills in order to resolve a conflict?”

As a former infantryman who went on multiple overseas deployments, I have a fair amount of experience working in adverse situations, making difficult decisions, working as a part of a team, and using leadership skills.  But, as the mental Rolodex clicks through my life’s story, the first experience that comes to mind for any of those questions is not one that I am going to use in a job interview.  The reason I say that isn’t because I lack pride in my time as a Marine, or am ashamed of what I did overseas or anything like that.  The reason is that the interviewer is not going to be able to understand how to translate those answers into potential value for the company.   During a job/internship interview, the potential employee has to show that it would add value to the company to bring them on board.   If your answer takes the interviewer to a situation and place that they will never understand, full of acronyms and jargon that sounds like a foreign language, they are not going to be able to grasp the value that you can add to their company through your past experiences.  Instead of stories appropriate for the VFW hall, focus on positive stories, that showcase skills like the ability to work as part of a team, be a leader, use time management efficiently, make timely decisions, ect…

So, in my humble opinion, if you are in a situation where you are going to be going to interviews, taking the time to think through some answers to typical behavioral interviewing questions.  That is what I have done, and now I have alternative experiences to draw on, and don’t need to rely on the first experience that comes to mind when someone asks me about a time when everything was going wrong, and success seemed impossible.

I know this post seems rather veteran-centric, but I think it applies to everyone.  It is a good idea to think before you speak in an interview, and make sure that your story conveys a sense of added value to the company that they will be able to understand.  That generally isn’t something that is going to happen without some prep work ahead of time.


The Heart of it All

Time has still been flying by around here, and there has been lots of excitement.  Notably the end of our first terms, and our first round of exams.   Each semester at Fisher is divided into two 7 week terms, which means a new set of courses every 7 weeks, just to keep us on the bounce.  In addition to new classes, the internship search seems to be coming along, with people attending conferences out of state, second round interviews, and some starting to receive offers.  I had the chance to go to the MBA veterans conference in Chicago last week, which was a great opportunity to talk with companies specifically looking to recruit talent from top schools who are also veterans.

So, needless to say, life as an MBA student is still very busy, and requires proper time management.  That being said, life balance is still important, and students need to take time to enjoy life whenever possible.  As someone who is interested in supply chain management and operations, it hasn’t escaped my notice that there are a significant number of companies who have headquarters or distribution centers in the Columbus area, as well as Ohio in general.  Part of the reason for this is that a significant portion of the American population lives within a day’s drive of Ohio.  So while the state is not the geographic center of the country, it is in a strategic location for getting goods to customers.  In fact, I think one of the iterations of license plates the state used to have said “Ohio – the heart of it all.”

In keeping with the need for a healthy work-life balance, especially for people who haven’t traveled much within the U.S., Columbus is in a good spot for those who want to take weekend trips.  I consider about 6 hours (approx 350-400 miles) to be the most I would drive for a 2-3 day weekend trip and within that radius of Columbus are the following cities:

Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton, OH

Pittsburgh, PA

Indianapolis, IN

Chicago, IL

St Louis, MO

Detroit, MI

Buffalo, NY

Washington, DC

Lexington, Louisville, KY

Knoxville, Nashville, TN

And those are just some of the bigger cities that I can think of off the top of my head, there are many more smaller cities, national/state parks, lakes and other attractions worth visiting within that radius as well.  As you can see, Columbus, Ohio really is rather well situated to serve as a base of operations for someone who wants to have access to a large portion of the U.S., which is another attractive attribute of the Fisher MBA program.

 


Getting Involved At Fisher

Business school is a time to change career paths, meet new friends, experience greater learning, attend football games, grow your professional network, live in a new place, learn about new cultures, and so on. Clearly, there are plenty of options of what to do with your time while you are attending b-school. One important lesson I’ve learned while attending school is that school is much more fun if you get involved.

Currently, aside from the recruiting and interviewing process, I am taking a full load of courses, serving on two organizations executive teams (marketing and strategy), raising a 16 month-old child (with the help of a wonderful wife), playing intramural football and softball, and playing with my dog each day. The craziest thing about all of this is that there is so much that I’m not doing.

Ohio State MBA Fisher has so many awesome student organizations that it makes it hard to pick and choose which ones to join. For me, I try to do the most I can with the time that I have. I have found that the busier I am at school, the more fun I have. Yes, it can be very stressful, but it is also very rewarding. Looking back on business school I want to make sure that I didn’t miss out on any opportunities. Two years goes by much quicker than I would have ever imagined.

Aside from student organizations, the school is great about bringing in fantastic leaders in the community that speak on professional development. These have been some of my favorite experiences. A few of my favorite speakers have been Jeffrey Immelt (GE), Warren Buffet (Berkshire Hathaway), Les Wexner (L Brands), and John Kennedy (IBM).

Social events are also a great avenue for students to become more involved with their classmates. For example, every week a social event is hosted for students to attend and to learn more about one another. Frequently in the first few months, these are focused around tailgating and Buckeye games. Other times the first years and second years will compete in softball or other sporting activities. These examples have helped forge strong friendships that will last far longer than the two years spent here in Columbus.

 


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