Every year, the St. Louis Business Journal names its 40 Under 40, recognizing emerging leaders in the local business community. In November, the newspaper honored Olin MBA alumni Evan Waldman, EMBA 2009, Colleen Mettler, PMBA 2011, Matt Drinen, MBA 2017, and Ryan Harbison, MBA 2019. Another almuna and previous winner, Amelia Bond, PMBA 1992, was inducted into the 40 Under 40 Hall of Fame for her continued accomplishments.
Waldman is the CEO of Essex, an aerospace and defense manufacturer. He is also a board member for the nonprofit St. Louis Makes and for the St. Louis chapter of the ALS Association. “My dear grandma had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and honoring her while helping others is fulfilling,” Waldman told the Business Journal.
Drinen co-founded Emerald Capital in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. He has closed $70 million in financing and sourced $60 million in new market allocations, tapping programs like federal Opportunity Zones to bring development to low-income communities, according to the Business Journal. Drinen also joined Green Street Development in 2020 as vice president of development and closed $18 million in financing for the company’s new headquarters in The Grove neighborhood.
Harbison is a former Marine pilot who launched Breeze Helicopters, a helicopter tour and charter agency. Outside of work, he is active in supporting the large veteran community in St. Louis. “I enjoy working with that community and our local universities,” Harbison told the newspaper, “particularly my graduate school alma mater Washington University (which does a great job with its veterans programs), to assist service members with their military to civilian transition and integration.”
Mettler is the vice president of investor relations at Emerson Electric Co., a multinational Fortune 500 company. On top of managing communication for the company’s 17,200 shareholders, she helped establish the company’s Latin America headquarters and redesigned the financial planning process for the Automation Solutions platform, all while raising a family. “Being a working mom is a constant push and pull,” Mettler said, “and I’ve had to make sacrifices on both sides of the table to make it work–but successfully driving my career while tackling the important roles of wife and mother is something I take pride in.”
Bond was vice president and assistant director of A.G. Edwards’ public finance department when the Business Journal named her a 40 Under 40 honoree in 2000. She is now the president and CEO of the St. Louis Community Foundation, the region’s largest charitable trust and foundation ranked by grant volume. Under her leadership, the foundation has increased the amount of grant money it has awarded each year from $19 million in 2012 to $117 million in 2021, distributed to 2,300 nonprofits.
When the newspaper asked what advice she would give to this year’s 40 Under 40 class, she said: “Time is fleeting and should be treasured. Be intentional by building a career that also includes finding ways to engage and invest in our community. In doing so, you will experience far greater long-term personal fulfillment.”
This lesson of focusing on your connections to other people is already embodied in this year’s winners. Each of the three alumni said that their proudest accomplishment is not this award nor any other professional distinction, but rather the families they are raising.