Dean Mark Taylor addressing the Century Club on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018.
Taylor to Century Club: ‘Biggest risk is not taking risks’

Dean Mark Taylor gave members of the Century Club a sweeping overview of WashU Olin Business School’s progress on its strategic plan—progress that includes updates on a major renovation of the flagship MBA program, newly introduced cross-disciplinary business programs, a unified branding program for the school, and the drive to create a global experience for every Olin undergraduate.

But perhaps the biggest moment was in response to the final question on Thursday morning: What’s the biggest risk in the plan?

Dean Taylor speaking to attendees at his Century Club presentation on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018.

Dean Taylor speaking to attendees at
his Century Club presentation on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018.

To that, Taylor recalled his experience as finance manager in the industry. “The biggest risk to being a finance manager in the finance industry was to not take risks. Like any ambitious, bold, strategic plan, we take some risks. We have designed the strategic plan so there are key performance indicators and if we’re not meeting our challenges, we’ll change the plan. But the biggest risk is not taking risks. That’s how we move forward.”

Taylor also noted that Olin’s strategy includes a statement to produce “world-changing” impact—rather than “world-leading.”

“We don’t want to define ourselves with respect to others, but to create a new path,” he said.

Other highlights from his presentation:

  • Dean Taylor noted that the undergraduate program has introduced a number of new cross-disciplinary minors, including a business of the arts minor and a social impact minor conceived and presented by students. Meanwhile, the school has become extremely competitive, with an admissions rate of 10 percent in the most recent intake.
  • Graduate programs has introduced new initiatives to welcome international students and orient all students before the corporate recruiting season launches in the early part of the fall semester. They include the Passport and Career Stamp programs as well as a student-driven redesign of GO! Week.
  • The Weston Career Center is in the midst of a physical and structural transformation with the introduction of a new director and staffing that focuses more deeply on building relationships with corporate recruiters and providing arrival-to-departure (and beyond) support for Olin students as they forge their career path. The career center offices are being remodeled to accommodate new and additional staff.
  • Olin’s efforts to boost its standing among academics and in the media have yielded a 55 percent year-over-year increase in the number of research papers accepted during the academic year—including a cover story in Harvard Business Review by Anjan Thakor—and double the media hits this year over 2016.
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