Author: Graduate Business Student Association


About Graduate Business Student Association

GBSA is the governing body which serves students of the full-time MBA program at Olin Business School. We are dedicated to facilitating the planning and implementation of student activities (including educational, cultural, and social programs) to enhance the Olin experience. GBSA is divided into three branches, with an 8-person elected Executive Committee, 10 elected Senators, and 3 appointed justices.

Angela Lu, MBA ’19, is president of the Graduate Business Student Association and wrote this for the Olin Blog.

One hundred and fifty-three days left in office.

We’re past the midway point of our term “in office.” I know because I laid out the timeline for the academic year over my summer, and installed a countdown timer on my web browser. It’s not that I can’t wait to graduate and move on from Olin; quite the contrary, I wanted to make sure that my team and I do not lose sight of how many days left we have to make an impact while still on campus.

So as the fall semester draws near its end, what have we been working on? How have we been doing?

We kicked off this year with three lofty goals: first, to increase Olin pride; second, to increase connectivity; and third, to increase accountability. The first, in many ways, we deem a natural derivative of the second two. In particular, we’ve really focused on increasing accountability.

I noted from the start that it wasn’t going to be easy. Holding others accountable for their actions sounds reasonable in theory, but few if any of us really enjoy starting a conversation, “Hey, you didn’t deliver on your promises and that was uncool.”

I am immensely proud of and grateful to my colleagues—the vice presidents of social programs, club presidents, etc.—who have boldly stepped up to the plate and enforced stricter RSVP policies for social as well as professional events. Together, we’ve turned away classmates without tickets at the door of Pin-Up Bowl (for our Welcome Back Party) and withheld food and beverage from walk-in event participants until the registered attendees had had their fill.

We’ve heard lots of grumblings. We’ve been questioned: Is this really necessary?

Here’s why we’re fundamentally trying to build a culture of heightened accountability: no one likes a flake. And while some events are more “informal” than others (such as social get-togethers), I firmly believe that they too are occasions for decorum. Since our integrity is built upon the sum of our consistent actions, we are behooved by our shared values to honor our commitments—and proactively communicate if we no longer are able to.

After all, it is exceedingly simple to change an RSVP response—it costs nothing save a few seconds. However, an accurate headcount for any event makes life much easier for an event organizer. It is an invaluable piece of data, but only if it is reliable. True professionalism stems from our ability to consider and be sensitive to the needs of others we interact with.

We fully acknowledge that the status quo—in companies, among friends, at school—may be less than ideal. Calendar invitations may be accepted and disregarded. Event registrations may frequently result in no-shows.

What is “normal” isn’t desirable—and here at Olin, we’re pushing ourselves to do better, and to be better. That’s why we’re tackling these tough conversations head on in building a culture of accountability and professionalism. We painstakingly seek to hold ourselves to higher standards so that we can all become our best possible selves. That is the growth and development we came to Olin for.

Pictured above: About 112 Olin graduate students at the GBSA club officers’ bootcamp in early October 2018.

Yukti Malhotra

Angela Lu, MBA ’19, is president of the Graduate Business Student Association and collaborated with Yukti Malhotra, MBA’19, on this blog post.

It’s not uncommon for us “business types” to get pegged into a rather inaccurate and narrow role. Outside of the business school, I encounter many scholars on campus who have dedicated their focus in other ways to improving the human experience and the world we live in.

Sometimes, I almost feel apologetic when I introduce myself as an MBA candidate; I can see in their eyes some shade of instinctive contempt, assuming I am just “money-minded.” Well, what’s wrong with that?

Yukti Malhotra proves that a graduate business education is just as applicable to nonprofit organizations and their missions as degrees in social work or public policy. How has she applied her skills to make real impact on a city in Minnesota? Let’s find out!

Summer Series No. 6: Give us 30 seconds on what you’ve been doing this summer.

Yukti Malhotra

Yukti Malhotra

I spent the summer as an Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps fellow for the city of Rochester in Minnesota. This fellowship recruits graduate students—30 percent of whom are MBAs—to promote the ways in which organizations spearhead sustainability.

Rochester was a particularly interesting placement. It’s on the cusp of immense change. The city is home to the Mayo Clinic and is making strides toward its development objectives to become the world’s leader in healthcare. The city is also expected to double in size and generate more than 30,000 new jobs over the next 20 years.

Sustainability practices and infrastructure have grown important to support this influx. I helped craft Rochester’s sustainability strategy and examined the business case for green initiatives, which I presented to Mayor Ardell Brede and the city council.

I’ve always wanted to advance organizations that care about their social and global impact, especially since I’ve worked in international development for six years. The fellowship was a great opportunity to explore this interest while bringing to bear the finance, strategy, and project management skills I’ve gained at Olin.

I was also excited that Rochester offered access to a whole new part of the Midwest. I was able to make multiple trips to Minneapolis and to charming little towns in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Have you put your “business school skills” to use in any unexpected ways?

Yukti Malhotra, Mississippi overlook in Rochester.

A shot of the Mississippi overlook near Rochester.

Absolutely! Going into the fellowship, I was unsure about the degree to which I could flex my business school skills in the public sector. I was heartened to discover that all my projects dealt directly with finance and strategy.

A major takeaway was that regardless of the project or the industry, money matters. Building a compelling business case is key to gaining buy-in for any initiative—from investment to implementation. I was tasked with studying the financial viability of replacing municipal fleet and transit infrastructure with sustainable options, of upgrading streetlights to LEDs, and of reducing unnecessary lighting in city hall—efforts that could save Rochester more than $1 million annually.

Beyond finance, I also created a framework for Rochester’s official sustainability strategy. I developed guidance on the amount of greenhouse gas emissions reduction and number of energy efficiency projects the city should pursue to meet its goals. In addition, I benchmarked comparable cities that are ahead of the sustainability curve to identify and prioritize sustainability targets for Rochester.

What lessons do you think your colleagues at the city of Rochester learned from you? What lessons do you think your classmates can learn?

The biggest lesson for my colleagues was that over time, sustainability investments can pay for themselves in more ways than one. They can help Rochester become an environmentally friendly beacon of well-being, in line with its development plan, but do so in a financially feasible way.

I was encouraged to see the mayor and city council enthusiastically welcome these positive payoffs during my final presentation.

I also want my classmates to know that social good is not confined to the public and nonprofit sectors. There are many opportunities in business to do well by doing good. Across all industries and functional areas, companies are looking for talent to improve their triple bottom line.

If you want to learn more about the confluence of people, planet, and profit, make sure to get involved with Net Impact this year. You can register for the upcoming career conference here.

Angela Lu, MBA ’19, collaborated with Ridhima Kaushal, MBA ’19, on this post on behalf of the Graduate Business Student Association. Lu is president of the organization.

Class of 2019: Summer Catch-up Series No. 5

Ridhima Kaushal, MBA ’19

Ridhima Kaushal, MBA ’19

Olin’s full-time MBA program boasts 30 to 40 percent international students each cohort—and I’m one of them! For those who didn’t grow up in the States or with experience in US corporations, what’s it like to work in an American business environment for the first time? Ridhima Kaushal, who has worked both at home in India and in France, adds a new chapter to her cultural experiences this summer.

Where were you this summer?

Over the summer, I worked for the supply chain strategy department at Express Scripts. Contrary to general belief, supply chain at Express Scripts has less to do with logistics and drug fulfillment and more with the contracts that are set up for their clients—health insurance providers, corporations, etc.). These contracts are a part of the networks, also known as products at Express Scripts. Confused already?

One of the first challenges as an intern at Express Scripts was to understand the complicated business structure of the pharmacy benefit managers and the way the US healthcare industry functions.

So, what did you have to do?

Express Scripts has grown exponentially over the years and thus the processes can get complex and confusing very easily at this $53 billion firm. This is why my team charged me with the task of streamlining some of their processes and implementing efficiencies. I was a part of the product team and devised a SharePoint solution that integrated more than 2.5 million data points in a single place.

My project had an effect on three teams directly and gave the product owners an opportunity to gain a high-level picture on one front while being able to access the details on the other. During those 12 weeks, I worked with a wide variety of people from product owners to communication managers to IT experts, but one thing was common among all of them: their willingness to help and be approachable!

And how was it, aside from all the cool deliverables you just described?

My internship was an amazing way to discover what the American business culture is like. Apart from the kaffeeklatsches and the water-cooler clans, I got to experience the openness to authority that this culture encourages.

During the executive speaker series organized for the intern batch, I got a 30-minute one-on-one meeting with Everett Neville, the executive vice president of the supply chain department. The internship program also exposed us to a host of community efforts that the company engages in. From making cards for children in hospitals to volunteering at a nearby forest for clean-up, I’ve really experienced it all now with Express Scripts!

Angela Lu, MBA ’19, is president of the Graduate Business Student Association and collaborated with Naveh Malihi, MBA’19, on this blog post.

We’re almost back in classes, those of us who are called second-year MBA students. The first year’s certainly flown by! There’s still time for a fourth entry in our summer series though! I asked Naveh Malihi to recount his entire internship journey and share a bit about what motivated him to earn an MBA. Naveh, who calls Israel home, found himself in Idaho this summer.

Class of 2019: Summer Catch-up Series No. 4

Naveh Malihi

Naveh Malihi

[incoming call, unrecognized number]

“Hi, am I speaking with Naveh?”

“Hi, yes.”

“Great, my name is Jordan, I’m from HR in Micron Technology. I wanted to tell you we decided to extent you an offer for a summer intern product manager in our headquarters in Boise, Idaho.”

Product management? In tech? Hell yeah, that’s exactly what I want to do – possibly the main reason I went to get an MBA. I also remember interviewing for Micron and I felt “the click” with my potential boss.

“Hi, Jordan, sounds great! Could you please email me the offer then?”


The second I hung up, I googled “Boise, Idaho.” You might say I should’ve done this before, but I interviewed like crazy during recruiting season. As far as my internship was concerned, the role was way more important than the location.

A couple of weeks later, my partner and I started our 32-hour drive to Boise. We drove 13 hours on the first day to get to Denver. The NBA finals were on, so we went to watch the game at a local sports bar. The next day, we drove through beautiful Colorado and Utah, stopping at Arches National Park and for the night at Salt Lake City.

The next day, it was time. After around five hours in a complete desert, we arrived in Boise. Downtown looked amazing and vibrant. After a couple of beers, we called it a night and started our summer in Boise.

After going through the desert

The internship experience in Micron was outstanding. The project I led was approved through a feasibility study and hopefully will generate revenue for Micron soon.  The opportunity I got was incredible. My supervisors were super supportive along the way. They let me think big and creatively, but also let me deal with all the obstacles and challenges that inevitably arise when trying to drive big initiatives.

One of the main reasons I am pursuing an MBA is to move to the business side of tech and lead complex cross-functional processes. Knowing my desire and excitement about technology, I knew I couldn’t stay too far from the bits and bytes.

The product management role is exactly that. I was required to develop a deep understanding of the technologies I was working on within a very short time, and then collaborate with cross-functional team members to execute initiatives we believe are critical for the current semi-conductor market. Project management is a lot of communication, a lot of selling, and tons of learning as you go.

I also had the opportunity to meet many fellow interns and hike throughout the summer. I’m into the outdoors big time and Idaho is among the most beautiful states I have traveled to.

Now it’s definitely time to go back to school and finish up this MBA. Yo, Olin 2019, here I come!

Angela Lu and Meredith Owen, MBA ’19, co-wrote this post on behalf of the Graduate Business Student Association. Lu is president of the organization; Owen is vice president of social programs.

Angela Lu, MBA '19, president of GBSA.

Angela Lu, MBA ’19

What’s student government for, anyway? What’s the fun in introducing pseudo-political squabbles and contextually overrated power grabs?

The Graduate Business Student Association exists to improve the MBA student experience. Our guiding mission is to continuously improve the two-year journey so each cohort discovers more value than the one before. Well, what better way to do so than to start from the very beginning—and redesign new student orientation?

Meredith Owen led a team to completely revamp the Gateway Olin (GO!) experience for the Class of 2020 over the course of the summer. Let’s catch up with how that process went!

Your team had less than four months to completely overhaul GO! Week as we—the Class of 2019—experienced it. Can you walk us through this intensive project?

Meredith Owen, MBA ’19

Along with two members of GBSA senate—Jin Hwang and Ony Mgbeahurike—and vice president of international student affairs, Ashish Joy, I started by collecting feedback on past GO! Weeks from our peers. Instead of sending out yet another electronic survey, we set up a table with coffee and doughnuts and spent a week gathering in-depth responses from our passionate Class of 2019 classmates. (We had a 60 percent participation rate!)

We then pored over the feedback and formed six main categories of GO! Week activities: academic courses, professional development, celebrating culture, social activities, team-building exercises, and education around diversity and inclusion. We individually researched strategies on how best to improve the experience in each category based on the student feedback. It was a priority for us to weave GBSA’s strategic goals—Increasing Olin Pride, Connectivity, and Accountability—as well as the five Olin values into each activity of the two-week official orientation.

Over the course of the summer months, we worked closely with different administrative bodies on campus, including the Olin dean’s office, graduate programs office, the Center for Diversity & Inclusion, and the Olin Partners Association.

Brief us on some of the cool new aspects the team introduced to GO! Week.

Some of the core updates from the past GO! Programming include:

  • A history-themed bus tour of St. Louis;
  • A series of “diversity in the workforce” sessions hosted by Mastercard;
  • An “unconscious bias” session hosted by the Center for Diversity and Inclusion;
  • Cultural agility sessions orchestrated by Judy Shen-Filerman;
  • Culturally themed lunches (one for each day).

    Students enjoy team-building activities as part of MBA GO! Week. ©Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr.

We also made a special effort to more proactively involve students’ partners as part of orientation. We added a family-friendly meet-and-greet, and invited international students’ partners to the first day to become more acquainted with St. Louis and its resources.

Let’s hear from everyone on the team! What are your thoughts on this GO! Week project now?

Jin Hwang: “I wanted to find a way to welcome our first-year classmates and the GO! Week Initiative was a good way to do that. Also, I found more school spirit within myself by doing this. I am thankful to have been part of the team to have an opportunity to welcome the Class of 2020!”

Students enjoy a culturally themed lunch.

Ony Mgbeahurike: “It was truly gratifying to have the freedom to introduce new activities, such as culturally themed days with lunches showcasing cuisines from different regions, and a diversity and inclusion panel with Mastercard employees that highlights the importance of diversity within business. Getting such extensive support from administration for these changes really topped the experience for me.”

Ashish Joy: “The best part for me was getting the opportunity to showcase the cultural diversity at Olin through the GO! Program.”

Meredith Owen: “Working on the GO! Week Initiative has been one of the most rewarding experiences for me thus far in the MBA program. We were able to truly shape the GO! experience for our incoming classmates thanks to the receptive Olin administration team. Our ability to offer input and work on such a personal level with the administration at Olin is extremely rewarding.”