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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
This past week has given me some time to reflect on this past year at Fisher and everything that I have learned. I have had the opportunity to meet and speak with many friends and family members that have asked me to tell them the most important lesson I have learned thus far through b-school. To be honest, I tell them that learning how to balance every aspect of life and business school has been the greatest lesson. I’ll go into specifics below.
Family – When you move your wife and 2 month old son across the country you realize that you are not the only person involved in the decision making process. For me, coming back to school to obtain an MBA was not a personal choice, it was a family choice. They have been more than supportive. With that being said, they always have been and always will be my first priority. I personally feel that in business today, too many people put dollars above family. Spending time with them and having time to play with my little boy each night helps me to focus better on my studies than I normally would. They help me realize what the purpose of returning to b-school was all about. My advice to any b-school student with a family – put your family first and everything else will take care of itself.
School -Let’s face it, grades and school are important. The costs of returning to b-school from working full time are extremely high. Knowing that, I do my best to allocate my time at school as efficiently as possible. I have also learned to prioritize my time to certain subjects and responsibilities that I have. Because of the heavy work load and demands on my time while I am at school, I have become better at managing my time. It also helps being on such a great core team that works well together.
Networking – Almost equally important as the education and knowledge that one receives at b-school is the important aspect of networking. When I talk of networking I don’t mean the cheesy guy at the bar with a beer in his hand trying to chum it up with every person that enters. Those guys annoy. I am talking about learning from those with expertise in areas that interest you. It should be a learning experience, not just another business card or email address. Learning how to network and speak with people about industries that I have no experience with has helped balance my understanding of many interesting business industries and meet many great people.
Social – If all you worry about at business school is getting straight A’s and your interviews you might go crazy. I have been able to balance my schooling with many social events and activities that help me stay sane. From hanging out with classmates at a happy hour to tailgating for a buckeye game there is always a way to take a step back and breathe. A few weeks back I was able to participate in a dodge ball event that helped raised $500 for a local charity. I have also been able to play intramural basketball with a few of the other first year MBA’s. Each week their is an event of the week that is hosted by the Fisher Social Chairs that give students the chance to meet one another and relax from studying for a few hours. These social opportunities help with mental and physical health and have been great for me.
The message of my post today is to work hard and play hard. Business school can be a very demanding time, just like any worthwhile accomplishment … but if you don’t find a balance you may get burned out. By balancing my life here at Fisher College of Business, I am hopeful that it will carry over to my career for many years to come.
I recently had the chance to sit in on a Q&A session here at Fisher with a successful entrepreneur who was willing to spend time discussing the challenges and rewards of starting and running your own business. Tom has a lot of experience in entrepreneurial ventures and continues to work with start-ups and other companies in need of capital.
Tom is currently a partner at KCP Capital which specializes in investing and consulting with digital media clients. He is also currently working as the Chief Product Officer at DashBid, a video advertising private exchange company. His past is full of great experiences within the digital and technological business field and he was nice enough to give us some of these key points of insight for entrepreneurs.
Working With Friends – He is definitely a proponent of working with friends. He said that it makes work more fun and that it is an environment that can really harness the strengths of all parties involved due to the level of comfort you have with your colleagues.
Understand the Finances – Tom mentioned that one of the most important steps of being an entrepreneur is making sure that you understand how the financing aspect of your venture will take place.
Effort -Starting a company takes a lot of effort and time. He mentioned that it is hard to focus a lot of time anywhere else than a start-up. He made sure to emphasize the importance of time management and the effort and work that is required to get a new venture off the ground.
Passion and Fun – The more you care about the product, the more passionate you will be in helping the business be successful. Tom mentioned that he enjoys working in IT and Tech industries and it helps motivate him to work more efficiently and diligently.
Dress the Part – This goes without saying but Tom made sure that we all understood that we need to dress and act the part. Early in his career he didn’t grasp the importance of his personal brand. He has since changed and emphasized his wife’s help in that category.
The Chinese Business Club at Fisher College of Business hosted its annual celebration for Chinese New Year. This year, students from around the world helped ring in the new year with food, fun, and great performances throughout the night.
For me, being from the United States, this was a great opportunity to learn more about a culture that I know so little about. I was able to watch traditional dances from many Asian countries. A handful of performers sang some of their favorite songs and played traditional Chinese instruments.
One of the highlights of the night was when a number of students, families, and professors joined together to play a traditional game. The game not only kept the participants on their toes, but it also gave the audience a great deal of quality entertainment.
Next year I will definitely be attending the Chinese New Year celebration here at Fisher. If you are around next year, this is an opportunity you don’t want to miss. Check out more photos of the event on the Fisher Flickr Page.
When I was looking into business schools, I had a list of specific attributes that my target school needed to possess. The size of the class and the number of students attending the program was high on that list. I wanted to be sure that I would be able to know my peers and my professors. I also wanted them to know me. At Fisher, that isn’t a problem. Let me tell you why:
My class size is approximately 130 students in the full-time MBA program. This allows for the school to divide the students into four cohorts all consisting of roughly 30 students. During the first year, classes are assigned by cohort which enables students to have classes with every one of their peers, on multiple occasions.
Fisher is full of student organizations that help students meet others that have similar interests and hobbies. The organizations can range from the marketing or finance club, to the golf or Fisher 5k club. Anyone that is interested in starting a student organization is given that opportunity. These clubs and organizations have enabled me to meet many other students and get to know them on a more personal basis.
The classroom environment at Fisher breeds participation and collaboration. Students are expected to participate and share their knowledge with the class. Professors frequently cold call their students to make sure they are prepared and to keep them on their toes. Attending class and hearing from my fellow students has been one of the best ways I have learned more about them. They share details of their past jobs and what management principles they were able to apply or learn during those years. Not only do I learn about business, but I learn more about my friends.
I wish I had enough time to write about all of the social opportunities that exist at Fisher. Every week our Social Chairs make everyone aware of “the event of the week.” This is usually an evening at a bar or a sporting event that allows students to relax outside of the classroom and have a good time. Aside from those events I know a number of students that play intramurals, go to the gym, attend concerts, try new restaurants, and many other activities together. The possibilities really are endless.
These are a few of the areas that have allowed me to meet many of my fellow classmates at Fisher. Because of Fisher, not only will I have learned a great deal from my classmates, I will leave knowing every one of them and viewing them all as my friends.