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About Guest Blogger

From time to time we have professors, students, staff, alumni, or friends who are not regular contributors, but want to share something with the community. Be sure to look at the bottom of the post to see the author.


A news release from MERS/Goodwill, republished here.

Julie Zuick, St. Louis, MBA ’09, is following in her grandfather’s footsteps in serving the MERS/Goodwill board of directors.

Zuick, who was elected to serve on the 2019 board of directors, recently learned that her grandfather, Philip Isserman, acted as MERS chairman of the board of directors from the late 1960s to the early 1970s.

“As a longtime supporter of Goodwill, I’m proud to serve alongside a phenomenal group of people as we help the organization continue to grow and serve the community,” Zuick said.

MERS Goodwill changes lives through the power of work. Its vision is a community where each individual has the opportunity to learn, work, and achieve their greatest potential. Annually serving more than 40,000 individuals, the non-profit agency operates in 75 locations serving 89 counties in the bi-state area. Revenues from 42 Goodwill stores assist with funding MERS Goodwill job training and employment services.

“I’m glad Julie has joined our board,” said David Kutchback, president and CEO of MERS Goodwill. “Her high energy and strong experience will be an asset to the organization.”

As a board member, Zuick plans to use her background in marketing, strategic planning and retail to help fulfill the mission of MERS Missouri Goodwill, “Changing lives through the power of work.” MERS Missouri Goodwill provides a variety of programs and services to help support this mission.

“In both my personal and professional life, I am passionate about employing people to the top of their ability,” Zuick said. “As an executive recruiter, I help people reach their potential daily and our clients recruit the best talent.”

Zuick is a senior consultant for the Clayton-based executive search firm Grant Cooper. She joined the organization following a successful career in brand and general management for Fortune 500 companies. Zuick earned her MBA from Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis and a BS in advertising from the University of Texas at Austin.




Spencer Burke

Emma Vogel, a video intern in Olin marketing and communications, wrote this for the Olin Blog.

Spencer Burke, adjunct lecturer in family business for WashU Olin, will assume the role as Eugene F. Williams Jr. Executive in Residence for the Koch Center for Family Business, Dean Mark Taylor and Professor Bart Hamilton announced in May.

The appointment is the latest development following the spring 2018 announcement of the Koch Center for Family Business, launched with the support of the St. Louis Koch family’s gift $9 million. That center is the outgrowth of the Olin family business program, funded with a $1.09 million donation from the Kochs in 2016.

The Olin family business initiative began to “educate future business leaders on unique family business issues while providing resources for family enterprise as they grapple with these challenges.”

Prior to accepting this position, Burke served as the leader of the family business initiative and has been the organizer and moderator of Olin’s highly successful annual family business symposium. He is a principal at the St. Louis Trust Company, where he leads the firm’s family business advisory practice.

Additionally, Burke currently serves as chairman of the board of the Mallinckrodt Foundation, which seeks to fund biomedical research in St. Louis and throughout the United States.

“I have taught at Olin for eight or nine years and I am excited to no longer be the lone ranger in family business,” Burke said. He will now join a team at the Koch center—led by Hamilton, the center’s inaugural director, Olin’s Robert Brookings Smith Distinguished Professor of Economics, Management & Entrepreneurship—that will help to tackle family business education.

Burke also feels that that through the establishment of the Koch Center and the family business initiative, the subject matter is being recognized as an important part of Olin Business School. While in the position, he wants to be a part of the team that animates the important role of family business in the U.S. economy.

Much like the mission of the Olin family business initiative, Burke places importance on business sustainability. Along with the other key players in the family business center, Burke will be the resident practitioner of family business issues.

As the executive in residence, he will be available for consultation at the request of students and will also be establishing office hours for the upcoming semester. He is excited for the opportunity to have more interaction with students in the family business program. This will allow for valuable, real-time analysis and problem solving in relation to real-life family business issues that students encounter. Burke feels that through more interaction, the program will achieve even greater success.




Matthew Savage, BSBA ’19, was the student speaker at the undergraduate programs graduation recognition ceremony on May 17, 2019, selected by his peers. Here is what he had to say to his fellow graduates.

Students, faculty, friends, and family, it is an honor to stand here before you as the class speaker for the Olin Class of 2019. Little do you know that you’ve select a commencement speaker who not only failed an intro class, but was rejected from countless student groups, and even considered transferring at one point. Quite the turnaround, if I do say so myself!

Maybe you were unaware of that when you selected me, but thank you for not letting these define who I am. I’m excited to share my story with you today. Two hundred thousand dollars in an off-shore bank account and some Photoshopped track photos later, I was finally admitted into my dream school. Oh, wait sorry, this is WashU, not USC. Let’s try that again!

Upon our honest admission to WashU, we had something in store for each of our different but intertwined identities. Matt the student hoped he would find academic success here. Matt the young professional would learn what that even means. And Matt the friend would find a close-knit community of people to share the impending four years with.

Quickly, however, each of these identities would disintegrate. It began with Matt the business professional who, after rushing a business fraternity, was cut before the final round. Ouch! Come spring, Matt the “social and fun-loving guy” was put to the test in fraternity rush. Evidently, I was not that social or fun-loving since I didn’t receive a bid from any fraternities. Ouch! Fear not, however, Matt the student still stood strong. So, as I had done before, I ignored these rejections and pivoted towards the last identity of mine that had some residual value.

Matt the student, meet the QBA 120 final. When I received my exam I completely blanked, and I mean blanked. My brain was emptier than my Calc II lectures. The final dropped my grade to a D-plus—meaning I had failed the course. Ouch!

Left without any identities to pivot towards, I was defeated. My mind was whirring and extrapolating these failures to the nth degree. If I couldn’t get into a business fraternity, would I ever get a job? If I didn’t get into a social fraternity, would I ever make friends? Would I be haunted by my failure in QBA?

The answer was no, no and definitely no. Surely, failure is hard. Failure doesn’t feel good. But, failure is not permanent. How many of you actively think about the colleges that you got rejected from? Probably not many of you because, hot take, it doesn’t matter.

That being said, it’s important to have safe spaces to fail. The first time you shaved, you probably didn’t have a big interview in the morning. So, who cares if you cut yourself a little? Olin similarly provided a safe place to fail on a bigger stage. If you failed a test or slept through your Thursday morning class after a night at T’s, chances are that your life was pretty undisturbed.

However, Olin can only prepare us for so much. As we move into this next stage of our lives, we will most certainly continue to fail and fail often. Maybe you’ll get rejected from graduate school. Maybe you won’t get that promotion. Maybe you won’t have the weekly Facetimes with friends that you’ve been promising. But that doesn’t mean you’re a failure as a student, an employee, or a friend.

We will never be defined by our GPA, job titles, singular events and momentary failures. The most important thing is to not run away from these failures or turn a blind eye to our identities that are under duress.

I certainly fell into that trap, and it wasn’t until all of my identities came crashing down at once that I faced the failure head on. I retook QBA and passed. And re-rushed the business and social fraternities again and got in. And, the people I met there are now some of my closest friends. It was only after I faced my failures that I realized that you don’t actually learn anything from failing, but rather from picking yourself up and putting yourself back out there.

The moral of this story is simply that if you can muster up the courage to try again, then “it works out.” Steve Jobs was once fired by Apple. I’d say that worked out. Jack Ma, CEO of Alibaba, was once denied employment at a KFC. I’d say that worked out. And J.K Rowling was rejected by 12 publishers before someone would take a chance on Harry Potter. I’d say that worked out.

Most importantly, when we think of these people, we never think of them as failures. And that’s because they never saw themselves as such. Only you can define your identity.

So, as Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”

Thank you, Olin Class of 2019, and may success, not failure, follow you wherever you go!




Ariel Washington, MBA ’19, was the student speaker at the graduate programs graduation recognition ceremony on May 17, 2019, selected by her peers. Here is what she had to say to her fellow graduates.

Thank you Dean Taylor. And thank you to the family members and friends who have joined us today, to those family members and friends we wish could be here today, to the administrators and staff who have supported us, and the faculty who have left a permanent mark on each of us.

I would also like to take a moment to thank the catering, Bauer Café, and Starbucks staff who have kept us fed and thoroughly caffeinated these past two years, and the facilities staff who keep our campus, classrooms and study spaces pristine. Their work has certainly impacted our time here as well and is appreciated.

You guys—we did it! We made it through two years of late nights, early mornings, before class-case speed readings, and post-exam decompression sessions—aka the drinks at the Knight Pub—and it is finally graduation day!

I stand before you humbled and in disbelief; humbled to be chosen to speak for all of us today—thank you—and in disbelief of how quickly it’s all gone by. I mean, think back to our very first semester here: when you were working on the Cranberry case—didn’t this day seem so incredibly far away?! But it’s here.

Today is bittersweet—I know that we are all happy to leave case write ups and problem sets behind, this has been an amazing time. Grad school is a little different than undergrad—we arrive with more life experience, we’re more sure of ourselves and yet—we have so much to learn. What I’ve discovered during my time here is that, while I sharpened my accounting skills, delved into operations, and marinated on the finer points of economic theory, I have been equally impacted by each of you outside of the classroom.

Now, I may be a little biased, but I think that there is something distinct and unique about our class. We are 39% women, 18% minority, 38% international representing 20 countries. We are going into the private sector, non-profit, and entrepreneurship.

We have members of the military, parents, members of the LGBTQ community, bi and tri-lingual students. We have a multitude of religions and ideological beliefs, we even have people who have grown to love this weird St. Louis style pizza! And if someone were to catch a glimpse of us all together on a Thursday night at a THAC they’d see all of those differences coming together to compose the mosaic that is the Olin MBA Class of 2019.

I put off pursuing my MBA for what felt like a long time, but it turned out to be at the exact time, at the exact school, and with exactly the people it should have been—I could not have chosen a better bunch than all of you.

My mother always tells me that no matter what situation I find myself in, to soak up all the information I can. To find the good, uncover the lesson, and to leave the experience with something. As someone who is a little older than the class average age, I was a bit apprehensive about going “back to school”, but I took my mom’s advice to heart when I got here—I decided that I was going to learn all that I could at Olin—in and out of the classroom. I did my best to be fully involved and present.

Often times that entailed me fearlessly raising my hand in a class—say, strategy—only to have Professor Elfenbein pause at the whiteboard, marker in hand, and abruptly turn around and move on to the next comment without writing down anything that I’d said. Other times it was persevering through hours-long core meetings with my awesome team members—Greg Brown, Maitrayee Goswami, Junho Kim and Dave Paquette—debating the perfect way to hypothetically do a complete overhaul of the micro-loan system in India.

Whether I was in a class, a study room, a scavenger hunt, or another country with all of you, I did my best to soak it all in, apply my own body of knowledge and experience, and glean what lessons I could to take along with me on this next journey. That is what I hope to imbue in you today: to be enthusiastic and unafraid in your continued pursuit of knowledge. We have learned so much here, but we are not graduating as experts in all things business, and certainly not in all things “life”.

As we go out into the work world—some of us for the first time, some of us again—I implore you to continue to be inquisitive, open-minded, to pose informed questions, to socialize with people who are different than you, and to accept that it is just fine to be uncomfortable and unsure and imperfect at times—even with an MBA!

Today, we end this chapter of our lives, but another one begins. As we disperse across the country and around the globe, I look forward to the positive impact and contributions that each one of us will make in this world. I could not be more proud of all of us, and could not be more proud to be a member of this class. Congratulations Class of 2019!




To the WashU Olin community:

We’re announcing a change in the hospitality company at Olin Business School that supports so much of the behind-the-scenes work we do every day. Effective July 1, WashU Olin will transition from Aramark to FLIK Hospitality Group for dining services, conference support and hotel management at the Knight Center.

On a day-to-day basis, we expect to continue seeing the same hospitality associates—who have been dedicated to providing help and support—as they transition to employment with the FLIK team. You can also expect to continue getting coffee at Starbucks, lunch in the Bauer Café and a bagel at Einstein’s, as well as the other dining outlets we’re used to enjoying at Olin.

It’s in the bigger picture—with hospitality leadership committed to overall creativity, variety and a higher level of service—where we expect to see the main changes. That was the motivation for this transition. In reviewing providers, we were deliberate and careful in our evaluation, involving representatives from Executive Education, Alumni & Development, the Olin events team, faculty support and graduate programs.

After comparing a variety of potential vendors, FLIK came to the table with an exciting approach to providing healthy and international cuisine options, new and novel ways of running meetings and a strong commitment to a collaborative partnership in event and conference planning. In short, we concluded that FLIK could “up our game” in a very outward-facing, personal way.

FLIK leadership will set up shop here, working on site throughout the transition. Among their first tasks will be to speak with Aramark associates about a transition to their team. Again, we expect familiar faces to remain familiar, and for their transition to occur without affecting their pay or seniority.

For more information, please click here for a list of frequently asked questions about the transition and FLIK, a subsidiary of Compass Group PLC, the world’s sixth largest company and a leader in food and support services management. It’s also worth noting that Compass Group is also the parent of Bon Appétit, which provides similar services to other parts of WashU. More information is available here.

You’ll be hearing more about this transition over the next few months, including how to engage with the new team. We also are hosting information sessions, offering more details about hospitality upgrades and inviting feedback about what is working and where improvement opportunities lie.

Scheduled sessions include:

  • April 23, 4:15–5:15 p.m., for BSBA, MBA and SMP students, in Bauer 130.
  • May 9, 12:30–1:30 p.m., for EMBA students, in the Knight Center dining hall during lunch.
  • May 9, 9:15 p.m., for PMBA students, during happy hour, Knight Hall 301.