Author: Dean Mark Taylor

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About Dean Mark Taylor

Dean Mark Taylor joined Olin Business School on Dec. 1, 2016. He is one of the most frequently cited researchers in the areas of international finance and monetary economics in the world. He has served as an economist at the IMF and Bank of England; and as an investment fund manager for Barclays (now BlackRock). Previously, he was Dean at Warwick Business School, UK, and a professor of economics at Oxford among other European universities and a visiting professor at NYU. He is enjoying getting to know St. Louis (and its great restaurants). Follow Mark on Twitter at @DeanTaylorWashU.


Dick Mahoney, Jake Feldman, Dennis Zhang and Dean Mark Taylor at the announcement of the two professors

Dear Olin community,

It is my pleasure to announce that the recipient of the 2019 Olin Award is Taking Assortment Optimization from Theory to Practice: Evidence from Large Field Experiments on Alibaba by Jake Feldman, assistant professor of operations and manufacturing management, and Dennis Zhang, assistant professor of operations and manufacturing management.

In its 12th year, the Olin Award was established to recognize scholarly research that has timely, practical applications. This year’s winning entry uses data from the Chinese online retail giant Alibaba to test the benefits—and recommend a solution—for presenting buyers the optimum variety of products available for purchase with individual online retail stores. Of the 16 papers submitted this year, six went on to the second round, rated by our corporate judges as research with potential impact to business.

Some of those papers will be presented in the coming months in the Olin Business Research Series. The winning paper will be presented at a luncheon on May 22, 2019, from noon till 1:30 p.m. Please allow this email to serve as a save-the-date for this luncheon. We will send out a formal invite in the near future.

Special thanks to Olin Distinguished Executive in Residence Richard Mahoney and all of the judges for their ongoing support. We look forward to all of next year’s faculty submissions. Please join me in congratulating Jake Feldman and Dennis Zhang.

Pictured above: Richard Mahoney, Jake Feldman, Dennis Zhang and Dean Mark Taylor.




Almost exactly five years ago, some of the most spectacular facilities of the Olin campus opened for their first day of classes: students, faculty, staff and WashU leaders gathered in Frick Forum for free coffee and doughnuts and to celebrate the debut of Bauer Hall and Knight Hall.

In fact, exactly five years ago tomorrow, my predecessor, Dean Mahendra Gupta, drafted a blog post announcing the opening ceremony—noting that the new buildings would double WashU Olin’s footprint on the Danforth campus—and heralding a dramatic renovation to Simon Hall, which had opened as Olin’s headquarters under Dean Bob Virgil’s leadership.

On that St. Patrick’s Day in 2014, under a crisp blue sky that shone down through the atrium, WashU officials made their remarks before a banner announcing “Four Buildings, One Olin,” a sign of pride and, perhaps—in its explicit mention of Olin’s split campus—an acknowledgement of the challenge ahead.

That challenge was this: maintaining a sense of unity and esprit de corps among the faculty and staff of our extraordinary business school. With Olin employees spread among Knight Center and Knight, Bauer and Simon halls, a special commitment is required to foster collaboration among faculty, teamwork among staff members and a sense of camaraderie among everyone who passes through our hallways, our common spaces and our classrooms.

I wasn’t here for the grand opening, but I’m delighted now by what I see among my colleagues as they have taken on the challenge, with admirable results.

This academic year, for example, Hillary Anger Elfenbein has kicked off a series of “across the field” luncheons for full-time faculty. The idea was to convene on either side of Mudd Field one Friday a month. So far, the faculty has met for three such gatherings.

“The idea is for faculty to interact on an informal basis—particularly those who work in separate buildings,” Hillary said. “Ever since we moved to separate buildings, it’s been harder to have informal interchange. This initiative is meant to address that. The faculty appreciate it greatly.”

Since my arrival at Olin, I’ve also had the pleasure to meet and engage with many of the faculty and staff at a series of events the Olin Staff and Faculty Advisory Committee has arranged. Though I could only participate in the recent doughnut party through Twitter, I have enjoyed mixers in the courtyard, an ice cream social and our holiday ornament exchange in December—an extremely exuberant (and surprisingly competitive!) event indeed.

I am equally gratified by the work Sandy Vaughn has put forth in organizing a series of lunch-and-learn events that have bounced back and forth between Simon and Bauer halls.

So far, staff and faculty have had the chance to attend four such events, two of which relied on the expertise of our faculty: most recently, Hillary Elfenbein focused on negotiating and, before that, Sergio Chayet hosted a lunch-and-learn on project management.

Earlier sessions drew on WashU HR experts sharing resources for career development and wellness initiatives on campus.

Of course, none of this replaces the one-on-one interactions that happen every day, or the team-oriented projects that advance our school’s work for students, alumni, and the community at large, or the work of our faculty that advances our international reputation for path-breaking research and educational excellence. In fact, our “across-the-field” initiatives are a reflection of the fact that we indeed think and act as “one Olin.”

Pictured above: Olin Professor Sergio Chayet, director of the master of science in supply chain management program, hosts a lunch-and-learn for Olin staff and faculty on project management on January 25, 2019.




Kelly Bean

Please join me in welcoming Kelly Bean as our director of executive education and professor of practice in leadership.

Kelly is president and CEO of executive education at UVA Darden and has more than 20 years’ experience in executive education at UVA, Emory, UCLA and USC, before which she worked in industry.

I have charged Kelly with unifying and expanding our St. Louis and Washington, DC, exec ed operations, and she will be based primarily in our Brookings Institution office in DC with significant time in St. Louis.

This position was endowed by a major supporter, benefactor and friend of Olin, the late Charles Knight, so Kelly will be the inaugural Charles F. Knight Distinguished Director of Executive Education. She will also become a senior associate dean and join my senior leadership team, reflecting the importance I attach to exec ed and, in particular, to building the Brookings partnership.

Kelly joins us May 1.

I would also like to announce the promotion of Ian Dubin to associate dean and managing director of the WashU Brookings Partnership. Please also join me in congratulating Ian. Ian has been instrumental in building our Brookings partnership and he will work alongside Mary Ellen Joyce, associate dean and executive director of the partnership.

In terms of organizational structure, Ian and Mary Ellen will report to Kelly, as will Sam Chun, assistant dean for executive education. Ian and Mary Ellen will also have a dotted line to Lamar Pierce, professor of organization and strategy and associate dean for the WashU Brookings Partnership, who overseas the academic development of our DC programmes, working alongside Kelly.

We have a world-class executive education team in both DC and St. Louis and are poised to take Olin to the next level in this important and impactful area of our activity.




Seethu Seetharaman teaches business analytics courses and is director of the master of science in business analytics. He is also director of the Center for Analytics and Business Insights.

Half a century ago, London Business School launched a new programme that created a global trend among business schools: a 12-month master’s degree in leadership and strategy. After its success, companies urged the school to develop programmes with specialized academic and technical knowledge—like a first-of-its-kind master of finance degree that LBS debuted in 1993.

Since that early beginning, specialized master’s programmes have grown in popularity, first across Europe and more recently in North America, attracting tens of thousands of students fresh from undergraduate business schools seeking specific skills to launch their careers. These programmes also draw students from other disciplines—engineering, the arts, science—seeking to broaden their marketability and apply their skills in a business context.

WashU Olin Business School has been a leader in creating innovative specialized master’s programmes that meet the market’s needs and attract students. We were very early to market with a master of science degree in customer analytics, for example, which expanded last year into three additional analytics tracks focused on healthcare, supply chain and financial technology.

Our strategic plan calls for continuing that expansion, adding to our existing suite of SMPs with more programmes that anticipate demand in the marketplace and attract new students to a quality business education.

“There is huge demand for this. It’s one of the areas where we see the most growth,” said Ohad Kadan, vice dean for education and globalization at Olin, who is spearheading our expansion efforts. “If you look at our mission to provide world-changing business education, this fills a void. It’s developing and we have robust demand.”

In the near term, we are adding two tracks this fall—accounting and talent analytics—to our business analytics programme. Both are already drawing very robust application numbers that are, frankly, exceeding expectations.

The success of our business analytics programme—and our intention to expand that area—is a tribute to the work Seethu Seetharaman, director of the programme, has done in creating a rigorous curriculum, preparing students and attracting practicum projects from partner businesses.

Looking out a little further, we also plan to introduce a new master of science degree in administration, MSB, expected to launch in fall 2020. While the MBA is largely designed for students with several years of career experience, this new MSB degree fits the mould of other specialized master’s degrees, targeting students before they begin or early in their career journeys.

We expect this new degree to be highly attractive to arts and science students who want to get the basics of a business education in order to apply their skills and launch their careers.

I’m also excited by the opportunity this degree may present for the terrific students who already attend other schools at WashU. This is an opportunity for undergraduates to build on their achievements by gaining a background in economics, finance, accounting and other aspects of business management.

It will also allow some degree of specialism in areas like marketing, finance, and so on, so that, for example, a student with an arts background might graduate with an MSB with marketing, giving them an edge in gaining employment in that field.

These are only the innovations we have in the active planning stages right now. Expect more to come—including an expansion of the global master of finance programme that will offer students the opportunity to get a joint degree from more international business schools beyond the five partners we already have.

As Ohad noted earlier, I consider these additions to Olin’s curriculum an important service to the marketplace for highly trained, thoughtful business leaders. When I think about our vision and mission to provide world-changing education and research, this is the sort of thing I’m proud we’re working on at WashU Olin.

Pictured above: Seethu Seetharaman teaches business analytics courses and is director of the master of science in business analytics. He is also director of the Center for Analytics and Business Insights.


Copy of Robert S. Brookings portrait that hangs in the lobby of the Alumni House.

The Robert S. Brookings portrait hangs
in the lobby of the Alumni House.

For more than a century, the histories of WashU business education and the Brookings Institution in Washington DC have been intertwined. Robert S. Brookings, the St. Louis businessman, philanthropist, and WashU board president who built the Danforth campus and elevated the university to the world stage, was also passionate about the intersection of business and government policy education.

That passion, in fact, led to the establishment in 1916 of the precursor to today’s Brookings Institution, which was for a time a part of Washington University.

President John F. Kennedy recognized the need to bridge policy and business when, in 1962, he greeted Brookings attendees to the White House: “My experience has been that those businessmen who have worked in Washington, who have held positions of responsibility, who know something about the public responsibilities of those who hold executive office, are a good deal more understanding and a good deal more successful in their business work later on.”

Today, we begin the process of taking the Brookings-WashU partnership to another level. Construction begins this month to expand Olin’s space at Brookings from 2,000 to 12,000 square feet—a significant undertaking with implications for what we can offer. The new space bears the iconic street address of 1776 Massachusetts Avenue NW, overlooking the main Brookings building across the street.

Space is tough to come by in Washington and a larger footprint means we can serve more students who are waitlisted for our master of science in leadership, our certificate programmes in public leadership and policy strategy, and our executive education courses.

In fact, if this space had been available last year, every waitlisted student would have been able to participate in a Brookings programme, according to Ian Dubin, assistant dean and director for Brookings Executive Education. And while that will help us expand our offerings to DC-based students, it will also bring us closer to another goal of mine: making sure every Olin student has a Brookings experience.

“This space is going to allow us to really grow what is the real advantage we have, which is this opportunity for immersion,” Ian said recently. “The global MBA program will soon begin, Olin’s Mumbai students will be coming, BSBA students will be coming.”

In addition to the construction work, I’ve also recently elevated the role that Lamar Pierce, Olin professor of organization and strategy, plays at Brookings. He now adds Associate Dean for the Brookings-WashU partnership.

“We believe this new space better reflects the important and lasting partnership between Brookings and Washington University,” Lamar said recently. “The new classrooms, which look out over Brookings and Dupont Circle, will provide state of the art instructional spaces for both our executive education and for the many Olin programs with Washington residencies.”

Optimistically, we expect to complete the expansion around late April or early May, but definitely in time for the arrival of more than 115 full-time MBA students in July, when they begin their round-the-world global immersion in Olin’s revamped two-year programme.

As we approach Robert S. Brookings’ 169th birthday on January 22, it’s fitting that we take note of this important milestone in the partnership between Olin and his namesake institution, the world’s premier think tank in arguably the world’s most important global capital.