Author: Bauer Leadership Center


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.

Written by Taylor Ohman, MBA ’18, on behalf of Bauer Leadership Center

I had the distinct pleasure of being the student host for our speaker, Ward Klein, former CEO of Energizer. Prior to our meeting, I discovered he began his career in the exact position I will begin mine in four months: Marketing Associate at Nestlé (formerly Ralston) Purina.

This made the “war stories” he shared especially inspiring: I could see them being defining moments I, too, one day might encounter. Although I understand that no two individuals’ career trajectory could ever be the same, I enjoyed imagining myself following his footsteps to a meaningful, successful, and truly impactful career.

After listening to him speak, I believe there are three primary elements that define Ward Klein’s leadership style: a commitment to culture, courage against the unknown, and a sense of responsibility for those that he leads.

Klein’s commitment to culture was apparent from the start, when he described why he chose to work for Purina over other companies. He valued the environment that they worked hard to propagate throughout their organization and recognized the importance this sort of culture has in the shaping of people working within it.

This was impactful for me, as I also recognized Purina for its distinct culture of teamwork. Klein’s commitment to culture continued throughout his career as he managed the difficult task of integrating a new company—with a very different culture—into the Purina “family.”

Even when he assumed the role of CEO at Energizer, this commitment to culture did not waiver. During his speech, he said a majority of his responsibility as the leader of the  company was to define and foster the culture of the organization. By remaining loyal to his values and propagating those values throughout the company, he was able to create a culture that lended to the growth and advancement of all his employees.

Passionate for Challenges

The second element of his leadership style, courage against the unknown, manifested in his willingness to stand up to others and in his passion for taking on difficult and ambiguous projects. Klein shared a moving story about one of the first times he made his boss “turn red in the face with anger” after Klein openly opposed his idea.

The story culminated in Klein signing onto his boss’s idea with an upside-down signature, as done in Japanese culture, to signify his disagreement—but his willingness to follow his boss’s lead. This resonated with his boss, as it was he who originally shared this technique with Klein.

Not only did this show Klein’s propensity for effective communication, but also his courage for standing up for what he believed in. Another time that Klein showed such courage was when he accepted an undefined role in Energizer’s unproven flashlight market.

This effectively diverted his original career path and sent him into territories, both geographical and theoretical, that he knew nothing about. However, it was the challenge and ambiguity of this role that ultimately led Klein to learn more about himself and his company than he could have ever done in his previous role.

Servant Leadership

The final defining element of Ward Klein’s leadership philosophy was an unwavering sense of responsibility to help his employees grow and flourish as leaders themselves. As a leader, Klein said, your job is not to make yourself look good in front of your employees, but instead to be of the most assistance to them.

This servant-leadership approach, and Klein’s absolute commitment to it, has allowed him to earn the genuine and passionate loyalty of his employees. It has also allowed him to create a company that continues to grow and prosper under the legacy of his leadership.

It was these three elements—commitment to culture, courage, and responsibility for others—that I feel combined to create Klein’s unique and effective leadership philosophy. He was an incredibly inspiring speaker and I will remember his lessons for years to come as I embark on my own professional journey as a leader.

Written by Ross J. Brown, BSBA 2018, on behalf of Bauer Leadership Center.

Treat others the way you want to be treated. Do right by the organization. Stick to your values. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Last Thursday, Michael Holmes imparted his lessons of leadership during his presentation at Olin’s Defining Moments course.

Holmes is chairman and founder of Rx Outreach. This nonprofit company focuses on providing medicine to individuals who cannot afford it. Since its inception in 2010, after originally being a part of Express Scripts, the company has been able to provide 670 medication strengths, by more than 70 employees, serving more than 210,000 patients. Rx Outreach patients have saved than $320 million.

Throughout his career, Holmes has worked at variety of companies and in executive positions with Edward Jones and Express Scripts.

With his charismatic personality, Holmes’ presentation captivated the audience with his story of success—and mistakes—that allowed students to understand his underlying points of respect, values, and reflection. With consistent excellence in his career path, he was also able to demonstrate consistent and equal respect to all his coworkers—from secretaries to superiors.

This equal respect came from his religious beliefs, which he also proudly speaks about. I find this impressive. Religion can be a controversial topic, but Holmes is confident enough in himself and who he is to share this part of his background with others.

Finally, Holmes mentioned that he believes we should “enjoy every step of the journey”—enjoy every victory, learn from mistakes, and ultimately, have fun. The time spent with Michael Holmes was inspiring and enjoyable as we learned how to become better employees, better leaders, and overall better people in and out of the work place.

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