Author: Bauer Leadership Center

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About Bauer Leadership Center

The Bauer Leadership Center educates & inspires the next generation of leaders, helping students gain the leadership values, skills, and mindset to lead. olin.wustl.edu/BLC


Most successful leaders are able to point to a handful of defining moments in their careers – instances that defined the trajectory of their career and their company. Olin’s graduate-level course Defining Moments: Lessons in Leadership and Character from the Top examines these situations by bringing in notable leaders who exemplify both business excellence and personal character.

Perri Goldberg, MBA ’18, wrote this post on behalf of the Bauer Leadership Center.


Managing change—even drastic change—happens more naturally if a company has built a strong, values-based culture, according to Alaina Macia, MBA ’02, president and CEO of Medical Transport Management.

Speaking to Olin’s “Defining Moments” class recently, Macia highlighted the fact that leading a values-driven organization helps eliminate the fear of implementing drastic changes—as long as the changes are aligned with the company strategy, culture, and values.

Macia provided unique perspective as the female leader of a private, family-owned business—particularly because most of the speakers for our “Defining Moments” class have been senior executives of large public corporations.

Macia started her career as a research engineer at the Washington University School of Medicine, following her undergraduate education at WashU focused in biomedical engineering. After a couple of years as a research engineer, Macia realized she was more attracted to business, and enrolled at Olin for her MBA.

Following her MBA, Macia worked at Maritz Inc., but joined Medical Transportation Management, her family-owned business, as an analyst, and was quickly promoted to director of corporate strategy, VP of operations, and finally to president and CEO.

Culture is a touchstone

A key to MTM’s success is its corporate culture, one that fosters successful company growth and an environment in which employees work hard but also have fun. Maintaining that culture is important in the company’s hiring practices, Macia said.

“MTM hires slow, but fires fast,” she said, stressing the importance of hiring the right individuals for the right roles to maintain the company culture and drive success.

I really enjoyed Macia’s focus on the importance of peer-to-peer learning and surrounding yourself with the appropriate individuals at all stages in your career. When she first joined Medical Transportation Management, Macia admitted she did not know everything she needed to know to be successful.

As such, she made it her mission to surround herself with those who could teach her what she didn’t know and support her through decision-making processes, company reorganizations, and dramatic growth spurts.

Finally, one of the biggest takeaways from Macia’s presentation was her emphasis on self-awareness. Understanding your strengths, weaknesses, leadership style, and values will help you understand your colleagues and guide you through your career. Whether you are self-aware or not, she mentioned that it can easily be learned and will only benefit you as a leader.

Macia’s presentation was extremely insightful and a fantastic way to kick off a great class filled with many successful senior executives across all industries.




Life as a senior executive and single mom of five young children—for many, this may be seen as impossible. But for Laura Freeman, it’s a reality she did not let hinder her career success.

Laura recently shared her story, strong work ethic, and her people-centered career with our Women and Leadership course. As the chief people officer for St. Louis-based Schnucks, she has a lot of experience working in manufacturing and service-based industries related to food and customer service.

Throughout her career, Laura has also maintained her personal values and thirst for learning. Laura passionately spoke to our class for nearly two hours and left us with a few key takeaways:

Listen more than you talk

As a business school student, it is easy to believe we can have a greater impact in contributing to a discussion rather than listening to what others have to say. Laura debunked this misconception and emphasized the importance of listening.

She has been in high-level positions at various companies with a high turnover rate. She applied her listening skills to find out what was important to employees in order to retain them. She believes that regardless of a person’s background, their input has value, and if she did not listen, she would be out of touch with how to improve the retention rate—which has a direct effect on the brand’s success.

When she was a vice president at Wendy’s, an employee told her she did not feel included in the company image. The remark made Laura look closer into making all employees feel part of the image. If Laura had not been open to listening, Wendy’s may not have focused as much on creating an inclusive environment.

Enact servant leadership

Laura said serving others is one of the most valuable traits to employ on the job. It helps those around you and creates a better work environment. She is invested in other people’s success and loves to see them succeed.

This is a clear part of her “brand statement” and it has helped her to create jobs that people enjoy. She does not focus on just helping employees extrinsically through wages or benefits, but also intrinsically.

Laura makes each employee realize the importance of their job. When speaking on this, Laura revealed how she tells store managers the great responsibility they have and the many lives they impact.

Pick a company with values matching your own

Laura has always looked at a company’s culture and values when deciding to make a transition in her career. Schnucks drew her in with its values and Wendy’s was founded on the phrase, “do the right thing.”

These aspects fit with Laura’s emphasis on serving others while also being challenged in her position to not pick the easy route, but the one that is right.

Guest Blogger: Kennedy Kelly-Hooks, BSBA ’19.




In November, our Women in Leadership course had the privilege of meeting Dr. Yemi Akande-Bartsch, the President and CEO of FOCUS St. Louis, a premier leadership organization that prepares diverse leaders to work cooperatively in the St. Louis region. Dr. Akande-Bartsch spoke candidly about her background and what she has learned about leadership, starting her presentation with the adage: “The journey of 1000 miles begins with one step.”

Her point being: Regardless of where you start, leadership is taking note of what’s happening in the world and showing up. Committing to at least one goal—to learn as much as you can—can change your perspective, and ultimately, your career path.

These beliefs are both a reflection of her upbringing and her passion for trying new things. Dr. Akande-Bartsch had an international education, attending school in Ghana and then completing her undergraduate, master’s, and doctorate in the United States. She then encouraged other undergraduate students to see the world for themselves by recruiting them to study abroad.

Not only did Dr. Akande-Bartsch share her love for travel with these students, she also shared in the adventure of learning. By being open to new possibilities and assuming positive intention, one can really develop their leadership skills through self-reflection and self-confidence.

I noticed this in Dr. Akande-Bartsch’s mastery of the art of storytelling. As she walked us through her various titles and job responsibilities, it was clear that she had a deep understanding of herself and her core values. She recognized she was a driver and an agent of change, which ultimately led her to assume her current leadership position at FOCUS St. Louis.

Problem-solving is a key component of being a leader, both in our workplaces and greater communities. It was refreshing that Dr. Akande-Bartsch pointed out the importance of recognizing your own limitations. Being willing to delegate and coach others is pivotal when aligning personal and organizational values.

Dr. Akande-Bartsch’s spirit, positivity, and commitment to being a life-long learner are all qualities I’d like to emulate. How exactly does she do it? Well, her rituals include listening to NPR, taking phone calls during her morning commute, and hiking. She described her life as not in balance, but in a constant state of movement. I believe that Dr. Akande-Bartsch is the epitome of what it means to commit to an impact-driven career.

For those of you unfamiliar with the work of FOCUS St. Louis, I highly encourage you to follow the great initiatives the organization is undertaking—with Dr. Akande-Bartsch at the helm.

Dr. Akande-Bartsch, thank you again for attending the Women and Leadership class.

Guest Blogger: Olivia Williams, MBA ’18




In October, the Women in Leadership class, taught by Professor Hillary Anger Elfenbein, welcomed Katie Fogertey, Vice President of Global Investment Research at Goldman Sachs. Katie discussed her experience as a woman in a male-dominated industry and what it takes to be a strong, successful leader and mentor.

The night began with a glimpse into Katie’s journey to Goldman Sachs. In 2004, Katie graduated from WashU, where she worked full-time during her senior year to help finance her education. Following graduation, she joined Goldman Sachs in the Global Investment Research Department, producing models to forecast industry trends and working on IPOs and secondary offerings. She spent three years in equities strategies, identifying investment opportunities and derivative strategies. In 2010, Katie was promoted to Vice President in Global Investment Research and is the lead author of “Weekly Options Watch.”

Katie was not just handed these opportunities; rather, she worked extremely hard in each and every role. Whether it was a project with a professor, an internship or a full-time job, Katie focused on learning everything she could to be the best, and utilizing data to support ideas she presented. Katie’s confidence, expertise, and focus on data-driven decisions has allowed her to succeed in the workplace. She told the class that regardless of who was in the room, data will always win.

Katie is a true inspiration and incorporates value-based leadership into her life on a daily basis. Katie’s driving force rests on her knowledge and expertise in global investment research, her integrity, focus on collaboration, and her love for mentoring other women in the financial industry.

Katie left our class with three general takeaways: be confident in your knowledge, be bold and challenge yourself every day, and follow your personal and professional goals.

Guest Blogger: Perri Goldberg, MBA ’18




It’s hard to keep the sighing, heavy-eyed students of a night class engaged. But on this Tuesday evening, I sat in a buzzing room—with classmates swapping stories of stuffing and stitches from their first Build-A-Bear experience. Taking the podium to kick off our Women in Leadership class that night was Maxine Clark, philanthropist, serial entrepreneur, and the founder and former “Chief Executive Bear” of the Build-A-Bear Workshop retail company.

Over the next two hours, Maxine took our class through her career journey, explaining some of the personal and professional decisions that she made along the way. From leaving Payless to launch her own company, to leading projects supporting education and nonprofits in St. Louis, Maxine embraces change while staying true to her core values. I left class that night with a few favorite nuggets of wisdom to carry with me:

Be open to the teachers around you.

Maxine has a very apparent appreciation for the teachers in her life, and she recognizes that they come in all forms—whether a schoolteacher, supervisor, or child (Build-a-Bear’s core customer). In being open to learning from others, Maxine has found the strength to improve from mistakes, the drive to rise to challenges and surpass expectations, and even the inspiration to build new businesses.

Passions change. Keep up.

At the heart of Maxine’s story is an unshakeable faith and courage in following her passions. With several career pivots—becoming an entrepreneur and then entering the nonprofit space—she has maintained the self-awareness to recognize that her passions are malleable, yet always worth chasing. By embracing her passions at different stages of her career, Maxine continues to feel fulfilled in her work.

Live and lead with authenticity.

You can’t help but love Maxine’s unapologetic attitude. Her words are charged with a certain fearlessness and wrapped in sincerity. Maxine’s ventures speak to her values, and she makes no excuses for conducting business in a way that is authentic to who she is and the things which are personally important to her. As her talk came to a close, she signed off: “That’s my story, and I’m sticking with it.”

Guest Blogger: Neelam Vyas, MBA ’18 & GSBA President


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