Students in Fisher’s Full-Time MBA program had the opportunity to experience firsthand the reach of the Ohio State alumni network as part of a Tech Hop to San Francisco.
The Full-Time MBA students received behind-the-scenes looks at the operations of a number of the world’s most recognized tech companies, including Google, Airbnb, Uber, Microsoft, Cisco and Western Digital. The trip, first-year MBA student Brandon Dornier said, was a unique way to experience how the tech culture operates, as well as to see how Fisher and Ohio State alumni are exceling in the industry.
“The alumni network was one crucial piece of the MBA decision to come to Ohio State and Fisher,” he said. “As a student and professional, access to fellow Buckeyes provides an ‘ice breaker’ to start the right conversations and to help in career development. Without the Buckeye network, this trek and other forms of industry engagement would be much more difficult. What better way to engage alumni than with student passion?”
Organized and executed solely by the MBA students, the Tech Hop included opportunities to meet and engage with leaders at the tech companies. Students heard from Bill Lo, director of Global Infrastructure at Google; Katy Brown, regional vice president of sales at Microsoft; and Rick Butler, senior director of sales compensation at Cisco, among others. The students also heard from Ohio State alumni at nearly every one of their company visits.
“My favorite speaker was Katy Brown from Microsoft. It was really exciting to hear about a woman’s experience in a male-dominated industry,” first-year MBA student Ali Johnson said. “And she had some great insights to share about being a supportive but effective leader. All of the speakers and alumni we met with really illustrated that if you work hard enough and are dedicated in your pursuit of success — whatever that means to you — you can achieve your goals.”
The trip, which was led by Ken Boyer, the Fisher Designated Professorship in Management Sciences, was capped by a 30-minute conversation with Steve Milligan (BSBA ’85), CEO of Western Digital.
"Not only were we able to shake hands with the CEO of Western Digital, Mr. Stephen D. Milligan, but the whole group also got an opportunity to ask him questions about his leadership style and what he wants his leadership legacy to be," said second-year MBA student Rajat Gugnani. "One fascinating fact that I took away from our session was that half of the world’s digital data is on WD devices."
“While learning concepts in the classroom is important, getting to see and experience the real world using and implementing the material really helps contextualize what we learn,” Johnson said. “I think it helps make more sense of the material and emphasizes how important it is. It also helps students visualize themselves in the business world after graduation; it’s one thing to say you enjoyed this class or that class the most, but knowing what careers make use of that material is something else entirely, and I think it helps students better understand if that’s really something they want to pursue.”