St. Louis Business Journal names Olin MBA alum Ryan Harbison a ‘40 Under 40’ leader

The St. Louis Business Journal recently announced its 40 Under Forty Class of 2021, a set of young leaders the publication expects to feature in the next decade. This year’s list includes Ryan Harbison, MBA ’19, a US Marine veteran who now serves as general manager and vice president of business operations at Breeze Helicopters.

Harbison was an outstanding student at Olin. He was a Charles F. Knight Scholar and a member of the Phi Beta Kappa academic honors society. Before coming to WashU, Harbison received a Bachelor of Arts degree in History at Colgate University, where he also served as a volunteer firefighter. He then spent 10 years as a Marine pilot and flight instructor.

‘Olin bridged the knowledge gap for me’

“Olin was instrumental in preparing me for life in the ‘civilian’ business world,” Harbison said. “While the Marine Corps provided me with a set of skills that have also been beneficial, Olin bridged the knowledge gap for me between a largely liberal arts background and the hard skills I needed to feel confident entering the business world.”

Harbison is also grateful for the Olin Veterans Association, of which he served as president in 2019. “The OVA was one of the main reasons I choose Olin,” he said. “Washington University has a robust veteran network and actively engages transitioning veterans. Our cohort of students worked hard to increase the OVA’s presence in the community while also trying to bolster veteran numbers at the school.”

‘Outstanding entrepreneurship program’

Harbison also said he benefited from Olin’s “outstanding entrepreneurship program. I had the opportunity to work with several start-ups during my two years in the MBA program. Those were very enjoyable and beneficial programs, and I learned a tremendous amount from the founders of the companies that my groups partnered with.” 

The St. Louis Business Journal will host an awards ceremony for Ryan Harbison and the other 40 Under Forty nominees on Thursday, November 18, at the St. Louis Marriott Grand Hotel. Tickets are available online.

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