“Fisher is family.”
You’ll hear that a lot around Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business. On a campus with nearly 60,000 students, Fisher is an MBA peanut with just 91 full-time students in the Class of 2019. That’s exactly how these first-years want it.
The Fisher MBA is kept purposely small–and that is a primary attraction of the experience. That way, students receive personal attention, with a curriculum that is often customized to their individual needs. Such size also demands that every student becomes involved in the program outside the classroom…often in leadership roles. “There’s no back rows in the classroom,” says Prodpran Nontasuwan, a first year from Thailand who channels a common axiom at the school. “It shows that this program emphasizes the importance of students and can focus each student more thoroughly. As an international student, this is meaningful for my concentration and class participation opportunity.”
Matthew Rosebaugh, a helicopter instructor pilot in the U.S. Army, experienced this difference first-hand at last year’s Fall Preview Day. He admits that he was “blown away” by the admissions team’s “professionalism, warmth and care.” Even more, Rosebaugh identified with the nurturing nature of the program. “I chose the Fisher College of Business that afternoon, because I knew that it was a school that not only cared for me and my growth, but focusing on how each student could make an impact as they graduated from the program.”
“THE PRESENT IS VERY BRIGHT AND THE FUTURE IS BRILLIANT”
Ohio State is associated with red – symbolic considering the passion and heart of the Fisher MBAs. The program is defined by a spirit of collaboration and connection, where the network boasts depth as much as breadth. Two weeks in, the Fisher framework had already made an impression on Keelyn Green, a Columbus native. For her, “teamwork” has really stood out so far, adding that the class size is already fostering “close-knit relationships.” However, Andrew Body is even more bullish on the prospects of the class – and the school in general.
“I like to think of myself as an early adopter, and I enjoy building things,” he admits. “There are only 91 of us in the class of 2019, and I absolutely love that we have such a small, intimate class. Fisher is going nowhere but up, and so few of us are responsible for the future prestige of the program. I can honestly and confidently say that I would be thrilled to start a company with any of those other 90 (and just two weeks in, I already know all of them by name!). The present is very bright and the future is brilliant.”
Julee Conrad, the senior assistant director of MBA admissions, is fond of saying that Fisher “is as big or small as students want it to be.” Indeed, Fisher is part of one of the world’s largest and most revered research universities – home to over a half million living alumni worldwide. As a result, Fisher MBAs can take courses or partner with peers in various fields across the university. While the full-time MBA program may be small, the Class of 2019 is just a fraction of the school’s graduate business population observes Tada Yamamoto, a 2017 Best & Brightest MBA.
“While it is true that the class size hovers around the 100 mark, the full time MBAs share elective classes with the working professional MBA program, the Masters of Human Resources Management, Specialized Masters in Finance, Masters of Accounting, and Masters of Business Logistics Engineering programs at Fisher as well,” he explains. “Considering the many Socratic style classes we have, having multiple programs definitely increases the diversity of thought that one might have had in a full-time MBA program alone…and also expands the pool of individuals that one might get to meet.”
OBSESSIONS LEAD TO SERVICE AND BREAKTHROUGHS
Then again, these 91 are quite a remarkable bunch. Take Alisha Kamboj, a black belt and medical student at Ohio State whose “passion for service” has led her to volunteer across Latin America. “Recently, I derived immense fulfillment upon traveling to El Progreso, Honduras, where I was able to aid in the delivery of free medical care to over 800 individuals as a member of a multidisciplinary team,” she shares. “It is my aspiration that this purposeful practice will allow me to make a positive difference in the lives of others over the course of my academic journey.”
Across the spectrum, you’ll find Ibukunoluwa Oni, who started her business, Omege, with “an obsession with making people feel amazing about themselves.” Like Kamboj, this obsession eventually translated into a purpose. “With makeup and hair, features are enhanced and imperfections are blurred, but on the base level every feature was already there,” she points out. “One of the biggest accomplishment of my career so far would have to be the opportunity to partner with The Elizabeth Ministry, a D.C based non-profit, to develop and lead an intimate beauty workshop for a group of young mothers.”
A molecular genetics lecture may have sparked Huy Dang Nguyen’s interest in cancer, but it became an obsession when his father was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. He would spend his spare time unraveling its mysteries, whether he was a chemical engineering major at Ohio State or working 16 hour days on a drilling rig. This passion eventually led him to commercializing a prototype solution. “I took this prototype, all the translatable skills I had acquired, and the capital I had built up to execute my solution,” he details. “I left my company and went directly to the source; I moved to Vietnam and spent several months learning about and studying the risks. At the end of those several months, I left with a successful working prototype.”
THE “HUMAN CALCULATOR” IMPRESSES ON NATIONAL TV
Yes, the class features its share of doers and dreamers. Beyond their resumes, you’ll find some big personalities occupying a small school. Body, for one, describes himself as a “juxtaposition of Appalachian humility and transcendent dreams.” And he has a memorable nickname: “The Human Calculator.” In fact, he went head-to-head with a real calculator’s on a FOX game show called Superhuman – and won! However, his brush with fame came with a tinge of disappointment. “Mike Tyson was a panelist on the show, and we networked some on air, but our professional communication has since come to a standstill; alas, Mr. Tyson lacks a strong LinkedIn presence.”
That’s just the beginning. Neha Gupta is an “adventurous vegetarian and extreme extrovert invested in the power of human connection.” Her claim to fame? She spent four years singing in an all-female barbershop choir. Oh…and it gets worse. “We had an incredibly memorable uniform: sparkly red shirts, palazzo pants, and black top hats!”
Beats a race suit and a helmet. That’s Ankit Malik, a motorsports enthusiast, would say. “I participated in “Desert Storm 2016”, one of the toughest car rally held in India, navigating 1400 miles through Thar Desert of state Rajasthan in 7 days and my team finished 2nd out of 20 teams in our category. This was a true test of coordination and perseverance as even a single conflict between the team would have lowered our rank significantly.”
TAKING THE REINS AND NOTCHING BIG WINS
Nontasuwan knows all about the importance of precision. In the Thai government, she was the nation’s youngest secretary among all secretaries in the Department of Revenue. Here, she developed the nation’s account standard for e-payment policy in 2016. Impressed? Check out Chuck Tyler, Ohio’s answer to Zig Ziglar, who “created, negotiated, and closed the largest new corporate partnership for the NHL Blue Jackets during the 2014-2015 season, which led to all revenue goals, individual and team, being achieved.” How is this for content marketing? Hargav Ram Dharnikota co-authored an industry report on speech recognition that hit leading media outlets like Yahoo Finance. The upshot? His employer, iRunway, generated $500K in new client contracts from his work.
Many MBA candidates return to campus seeking the tools needed to take on real responsibility. That’s exactly what Body faced at BWS, an educational consulting firm. The second hire of a startup, he was quickly elevated to vice president, where he shouldered perhaps the most critical element of a startup’s survival: employee hiring. Thanks to his disciplined vetting, the 15-member firm “hit the tipping point” and generated favorable client reviews. And he even authored a standardized test preparation book for Barron’s Educational Series too.
Teaching is in Rosebaugh’s blood too. He headed up the U.S. Army’s graduate-level Chinook helicopter training operation. The expectation: Increase student by nearly 50% without any additional resources granted. You can probably guess how this story ended. “Despite sometimes insurmountable odds, this led to a 100% graduation success rate, all while reducing average training time 11% and saving $1.3M in the budget,” he states. Not bad for a guy who is afraid of heights!
Go to page 2 to see in-depth profiles of incoming Fisher MBA students.