2017 Best MBAs: Matthew Nordman, Ohio State (Fisher)

Matthew Nordman

The Ohio State University, Fisher College of Business

Age: 30

“Takes joy in family, community, leading others, and business partnership through a financial lens.”

Hometown: Columbus, OH

Fun fact about yourself: My wife and I are expecting our second child a week after MBA graduation day!

Undergraduate School and Degree: Washington University in St. Louis: BSBA ‘09

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? General Mills – Sr. Financial Analyst

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? Nationwide Insurance – Columbus, OH

Where will you be working after graduation? Nationwide Insurance – Finance Leadership Rotational Program

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Fisher Graduate Finance Association (President); Fisher Board Fellows (Treasurer and Director of Training); Fisher Serves (VP Pro-Bono Consulting); Lutheran Social Services of Central Ohio (Non-voting board member); 2016 Russ Klein Internal Case Competition (winning team); 2016 Big 10+ Case Competition (winning team); Helped design and launch Pro-Bono Projects module through the Fisher Leadership Initiative, which involved >10 non-profit consulting projects and >30 students (Also serve as project advisor for student teams); Curriculum Development and Training for United Way of Central Ohio’s Neighborhood Leadership Academy

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I’m most proud of leading the rebuilding of the Fisher Graduate Finance Association into an organization that equips our members to succeed in their careers. We’ve grown from 10 to 56 members, brought numerous employers to campus, promoted diversity in the finance field, and have provided resume reviews, mock interviews, and professional training to dozens of students. I am passionate about equipping finance professionals to be the best business partners they can be, and have relished the opportunity to build that at Fisher.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I’m most proud of leading the implementation of zero-based budgeting across all of General Mills. It was a daunting task that required influencing dozens of executives, creating new processes and reports, and managing a large team of analysts, all on a tight timeline. The challenges made achieving our goal all the sweeter, though, and we saved the company tens of millions of dollars.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Steffanie Wilk – She taught the best course that I’ve had here: Strategic Management of Human Assets. I learned a great deal about how a company’s business strategy should have an impact on how it sets up its org structure and HR practices. She created an atmosphere conducive to learning by guiding lectures while encouraging debates among students. It doesn’t hurt that she has a phenomenally quick wit and a great sense of humor.

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? Strategic Management of Human Assets – see preceding question.

Why did you choose this business school? A number of reasons. The primary reason is that I wanted to set down deep roots in Columbus, and Ohio State is the heart of this city, which has given me access to connect with all sorts of people. Additionally, the familial, collaborative culture was a big draw, as was the fact that the small class size meant I’d have more opportunities to develop my leadership skills through formal roles and informal peer networks. Finally, Fisher is “all-in” on developing students as leaders in business and beyond, which is exactly where I was looking to grow.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? This may sound cliché, but my favorite part of business school has been my classmates. I’ve loved sharing two transformative years with 100 talented, driven, and down-to-earth peers: learning to play cricket, driving Professor Rucci’s pristine classic cars for a fundraiser, attending a semester-long class taught by OSU’s Athletic Director, and laughing with friends so hard after a case competition that we cried. It’s been a great ride.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Cultural fit is critical at Fisher. We all hold ourselves to high standards of excellence and achievement, but we won’t step over other people to get there. Demonstrate that you’re willing to give every bit as much as you receive from others, and you’ll fit in great here.

What is the biggest myth about your school? That we’re just a football school! Sure, watching our gridiron warriors defeat Michigan for the 13th time out of the last 15 years was great, but there’s so much more to Ohio State. It’s home to some of the greatest academic programs and research in the country, and you can’t even come close to exhausting all the resources it has for students during your two years here.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I most admire my classmate Danny Greenawalt. He came into our program with a decade of non-profit work experience, two young children, and one of the most contagiously enthusiastic personalities of anyone I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. In addition to being a dedicated family man, Danny has also poured his heart into our class by bringing diverse people together for meals at his home, potlucks at school, or multicultural movie viewing/discussion parties. Our class and the culture at Fisher would not be the same without Danny.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when… [this is exposing me as a bit of a nerd, but I have a very specific answer to this] while living in Minneapolis, I was at a friend’s house watching the character Boromir in The Lord of the Rings movie and was blown away by his passion for and pride in his city of Gondor. As I drove home, I could not shake the feeling that I wanted to move back to my hometown of Columbus and invest there for the rest of my life. Going to Fisher was the perfect launching pad for that mission.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…working in a corporate finance role at a large company in Columbus, just with a less robust local network, a narrower perspective on business, and far fewer leadership experiences on which to draw.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I would double down on social entrepreneurship. Fisher has a huge asset in its location in Columbus, which is one of the 20 largest cities in the country and has a booming social entrepreneurship scene. Small firms would provide students with broad, hands-on learning experiences, Fisher would attract some of the top community-minded business students in the country, and we’d be partnering with and investing in our city for the long haul. Fisher has taken substantial steps toward this already; I’d love to see it accelerate even faster.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I would like to be a business unit CFO at a large company in Columbus, leading a team of finance professionals who provide best-in-class business partnership to the business unit we support.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I owe a deep debt of gratitude to my family. My wife is my closest friend and a wonderful source of support, not to mention amazingly talented as both a professional and a mother. My parents deserve immense credit for being intentional to teach me everything from hard work to respect, from compassion to fiscal responsibility, all with unconditional love. And finally, my parents and in-laws have lived out the adage, “It takes a village to raise a child,” beautifully, providing wonderful support to our daughter and to us during these two years.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Fisher actually has an entire class, called Leadership Legacy, dedicated to answering this very question. My legacy statement is, “He made the most of his gifts, joyfully and freely giving his all to his family, work, and community.”

Favorite book: The Bible – especially the book of Philippians

Favorite movie or television show: Les Miserables – the movie was great; the live theatre version is even better!

Favorite musical performer: Sigur Ros – an ethereal, Icelandic band. You need to hear it to believe it.

Favorite vacation spot: Cinque Terre, Italy

Hobbies? I love to run and recently completed a goal of running the length of every street in the suburb we live in. Also enjoy reading and writing poetry and playing ultimate Frisbee.

What made Matthew such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“Voted by his classmates and faculty members as the Outstanding Full Time MBA Student of the Class of 2017 and their class graduation speaker at the pre-commencement ceremony, Matthew Norman is an exemplar of all that we value in our students at Fisher – leadership in and out of the classroom, engagement, collaboration, empathy, and a stellar all-round performance. He balanced business school with being a devoted family man and dad. Not only that, he was one of the most engaged student org leaders at Fisher — as President of the Fisher Graduate Finance Association and Vice President of Fisher Board Fellows — he is the perfect example of right and left brain confluence. Having witnessed his passion for and dedication to his hometown of Columbus, I have no doubt in my mind that he will be a name to reckon with in his community and that there are many roles we will see him in, in the future. Matthew embodies the best of our MBA program – humble, unassuming, laser focused, passionate and super smart.”

Shashi Matta
Director of MBA programs and Associate Professor of Marketing – Clinical

DON’T MISS: THE COMPLETE HONOR ROLL: BEST & BRIGHTEST MBAS OF 2017