March 9, 2017
Honors Cohort connects students with Fisher alumni, tech leaders
Part of the educational experience for undergraduate students at Fisher is making connections with leaders at some of the most recognizable companies in the world.
During a recent four-day trip to San Francisco, members of the Honors Cohort program engaged with Fisher alumni throughout the Bay Area and corporate leaders at technology giants including Google, Tesla, Pinterest, Hewlett Packard and LinkedIn.
The students connected with a number of alumni, including:
Jim Terranova (BSBA ’75) and Shauna Bracher (BSBA ’07), of Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati
Stephanie Tan (BSBA ’08), of Johnson & Johnson’s Innovation Lab
Ken Coleman (BSBA ’65, MBA ’72), of Samaa Technologies
Udit Sekhri (BSBA ’12), of Google
Jeff Kessler (BSBA ’14), of Goldman Sachs
Ray Rike (BSBA ’85), of Simplilearn
Cohort students Aleks Tomic, Carolina Tovar Fuentes and Mouniratou Nikiema shared their experiences about the San Francisco trip.
Aleks: My favorite visit was to the online learning platform, Simplilearn. Prior to the trip, I certainly thought this would be my least favorite visit, as I did not have the brand recognition with Simplilearn that I did with some of the other companies we visited like Google and Tesla. What I liked about Simplilearn is how Ray Rike, the Fisher alumnus there, brought in Julie Hanna, who is a board member at Kiva and was also elected by President Obama to be lead ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship.
Julie was one of the most insightful speakers I have had the chance to listen to in my collegiate experience. She started out by sharing her refugee background and how she viewed the world because of it. She then transitioned into social entrepreneurship in less developed countries and gave her perspective on just how grateful some entrepreneurs can be if you simply trust them and make some sort of connection with them. Because Kiva has very unique lending practices, it was great to hear from Julie how highly she thought of humanity and the work she was doing.
Not only was it my favorite presentation because of how passionate she was about her work, but it was also my favorite presentation because we have a select few individuals in our 20th Honors Cohort who are so incredibly passionate about social entrepreneurship, and just seeing their sense of excitement during that kind of presentation was fulfilling for myself. Having the opportunity to go to San Francisco and gain this insight as undergrads was unparalleled.
Carolina: My favorite visit was Pinterest. Ben Silbermann, the CEO, displayed an incredible humbleness that blew me away. We have been studying leadership in our Honors Organizational Behavior class, and Ben’s view on it was my favorite by far. He told us that people did not want to be told what to do, but they wanted to be led. This was very refreshing, as we had previously heard from a lot of strong-willed leaders throughout the week. In addition, getting to sit in front of the founder of Pinterest, a website I use on a daily basis, was unreal.
Mouniratou: I truly enjoyed all the visits but if I have to pick one, it will be our visit to Simplilearn. At this meeting, I had the opportunity to meet Julie Hanna who is the presidential ambassador for global entrepreneurship and the chairwoman of Kiva. Ms. Hanna was an inspiration because we share a somewhat similar history. She came to the United States as a refugee from Egypt and was able to be successful. As an immigrant myself, I hope to make an impact in the world the way she did and is currently doing.
Aleks: A common takeaway I shared with many of my peers is that there’s a very unique mindset toward failure in Silicon Valley. Visit after visit, regardless of the company or speaker, the common theme from their presentations was that in Silicon Valley, it’s not frowned upon when an idea you’re pursuing fails. Failure is encouraged because failure isn’t seen as failure. It’s seen as a stepping stone to a successful idea. I learned how important it is to learn from failures and build from them. I don’t think a trip to anywhere else in the country could have embodied this mindset as well as Silicon Valley did.
Another takeaway I had was something the CEO of Pinterest said to our cohort. He shared that "hard work at a young age is like compounded interest." Meaning, if you work hard as an undergrad, that hard work builds on itself and you can be "wealthier" because of it. After hearing Ben Silbermann share his life story and motivation behind creating Pinterest, a saying could not have resonated with me better than this one. I left this meeting motivated to find my passion, my long-term goal, and work hard toward achieving that while I am young so that hard work can compound as I get older.
Carolina: One of my biggest takeaways was to keep an open mind. I have always thought that if I was well-prepared and had a plan, I would reach happiness and success. However, we heard form Shauna (Bracher) at Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati, about the unexpected twists and turns her life has taken. Whenever an opportunity presented itself, she would deliberate on it and most likely take it.
Later, Sean Worthington at TIBCO warned us about long-term strategy. He said we would be tempted to follow it whether it ended up being good or not. This really resonated with what Shauna said about keeping an open mind and being flexible. I think in a group of high achieving students, such as an honors program, it is easy to want to cling to a rigid schedule, set goals and achieve them no matter what. However, after this trip I learned that having a direction is important, but being able to adjust is even more important.
Mouniratou: One major takeaway from the trip was the value of taking risks and following your passion. A lot of the individuals we interacted with during the trip emphasized living my dreams and not settling for anything less.
Aleks: This business trip is an unparalleled experience for most millennials, much less an undergraduate student and will help us take seriously our goal to be the best undergraduate program in the country. The trip leveraged the scale of The Ohio State University and vast network of Honors Cohort alumni to provide takeaways that cannot be experienced in the Midwest.
This trip and every other day spent in the Honors Cohort program has made the program easily the best thing I have been a part of since coming to Ohio State, and I look forward to seeing how the program progresses in the coming years. This trip opened my eyes to an alternative career path that I may be willing to take upon graduation. While I do not know specifically how I am going to pursue this newfound interest in entrepreneurship and innovation, I do know that I am comfortable taking a risk and even failing if that brings me one step closer towards my goal.
Carolina: After this trip I learned that I want to be with a company that allows me to travel. It was truly an unparalleled experience in which I learned about myself and the world around me. I learned about different career choices, and about people’s passions and how they chose to pursue them. I got to hear advice from successful entrepreneurs regarding failure, grit and success. I got to see a different culture — and a different mindset — from what I have ever been exposed to. Going on this trip made me feel extreme gratitude at being a part of Fisher.
Mouniratou: This experience will allow me to be aware of all the opportunities that exist for business students. Coming into college, all I knew about was the "Big Four" in accounting. Now, I have a better understanding of the various functions across various industries. This Fisher experience allowed me to hear from inspiring individuals, and it made me a better leader and person.