Part of a series of Q&As with Olin alumni. Today we hear from Brooke Hofer, BSBA ’16.
What are you doing for work now, and how did your Olin education impact your career?
I started my career in the campus sales program on the beverage side of PepsiCo after doing a summer internship with them, but around a year ago, I left to work for Waste Management. My current role is as pricing analyst for the Illinois Missouri Valley Market Area.
I am the disposal pricing lead, so the vast majority of my time is spent analyzing the current state of our pricing strategies for third-party customers who use our Waste Management-owned landfills and working with the industrial account managers to make sure new business is being sold at a profitable rate.
It is crucial for me to understand the market rates and the competitive environment so that not only do we remain profitable, but also competitive. Although the waste industry may not be the most glamorous (especially coming from somewhere like Pepsi), it has proven to be multi-faceted, ever-evolving and extremely competitive.
I graduated from Olin with degrees in Finance and Marketing, with the sole intention of going down a Sales or Marketing career path. When I was ready to make a career change, the finance courses that I took at Olin allowed me to have the confidence to step out of my comfort zone and take on a new role that was much more financial and analytically focused.
I have seen many courses that I took at Olin come to life at both Pepsi and Waste Management and that can be attributed to Olin’s emphasis on real-life examples and case studies that not only allowed us to better learn and understand the material, but also implement it in our work post-graduation.
After graduating from Olin, I felt that the classes I took, the projects I worked on and the interactions that I had with peers and professors had fully prepared me for a career in the business world, whether it was on the sales/marketing trajectory or something entirely different.
What Olin course, “defining moment” or faculty influenced your life most, and why?
Without the Woods Scholars program, I would not have been able to attend WashU or Olin and for that I am forever grateful for the Woods family for making that possible.
From the moment I stepped on campus for scholarship weekend my senior year of high school and was greeted by Paige LaRose and Dean (Steve) Malter, I knew Olin would be the best place to prepare me for a career in the business world and life post-college.
Paige ended up becoming an incredible mentor for me, guiding me through my four years on campus and even beyond when I needed help with a job search, and the Woods Scholar Program connected me to students, faculty and others I would not have otherwise had the pleasure of knowing.
Being a part of this program enhanced my time at Olin greatly and the education that it provided me continues to be a constant influence in my career and life.
How do you stay engaged with Olin or your Olin classmates and friends?
A lot of my friends, and even softball teammates, were Olin graduates as well and the best part of WashU is that it brings people together from all walks of life, so now I have friends to visit all over the country! Whether it’s just a weekend trip or a wedding with a lot of us in attendance, it’s great to stay in touch with everyone that played such a big role in my life for my four years on campus.
Throughout the job search about a year ago, I realized how beneficial it was to know someone that worked for the companies that I was looking at or even in the same industry, so I definitely plan on making sure to continue utilizing all of the connections that I made at Olin and WashU in general.
Why is business education important?
In my opinion, the most beneficial part of the business education, specifically one from Olin, is that I graduated feeling like I had a well-rounded understanding of the business world and its various functions. Although I focused on Marketing and Finance, I still was able to understand the basics behind Accounting, Operations, etc. because of the courses that a business education allowed me to take.
With this basic understanding of all different facets of a business, I feel comfortable taking on new roles or new industries throughout my career. In addition to the courses that we took, the group projects and presentations absolutely prepare you for projects, meetings and presentations that will happen often, if not weekly, throughout your career.
Olin group projects put us in great positions to learn how to work with others that may think differently than you and that’s exactly what happens in the office every single day.
Looking back, what advice would you give current Olin students?
Although Olin does require that certain beginner courses be taken in various fields of business, I would definitely recommend branching out and taking other courses at Olin that may not fall directly in line with what your career path will be or may not be required; these could end up supplementing your career very well.
When I was at Olin, I had only envisioned myself in a sales or marketing role, so I focused heavily on those types of courses, but now that my career path has taken a turn, I am glad that I took other courses in accounting, organizational behavior, etc.
Use the career center, job fairs and Meet the Firms! Now having been a part of the other side of recruiting, I have come to understand the importance of meeting applicants face to face before the interview process and the power of first impressions.
Often times we (as recruiters) made up our minds about candidates on the spot at the job fairs, so make sure to use the opportunities that Olin affords you (even though they can sometimes be nerve-racking) as a way to make a great first impression to potential employers.
Pictured above: Brooke Hofer with Mitch McMahon. A 2016 Olin Grad and fellow Woods Scholar.