Author: Guest Blogger


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.

Angel An, BSBA

Angel An, BSBA ’16, works for Morgan Stanley’s Multicultural Innovation Lab, where she supports and invests in early stage tech and tech-enabled startups led by women and multicultural entrepreneurs. She wrote this for the Olin Blog.

 “All talents deserve to be seen.”

That was the life belief of my dearest mentor, Susan Stanton, who spent her entire life educating and mentoring underrepresented students and young professionals like myself—despite having no child of her own.

Unfortunately, she passed away last year. Because there is nothing I could do for her but pay it forward, my co-founders and I created ACE Women’s Collective to honor Susan and many selfless mentors like her to help our peers the way Susan helped me: by supporting all talents, connecting growth-oriented people and sharing knowledge and resources.

ACE is an online community where junior women in finance talk candidly and empower one another. We crowdsource mentorship and make the advice that is usually only shared behind closed doors accessible to all.

Specifically, we host intimate speaker sessions, provide a forum for peer mentorship and encourage our community members to strategize to win.

A rewarding start to ACE

ACE launched on September 1, 2020. Merely after the first month, we were thrilled to have connected with more than 500 ACE members. We successfully hosted the first fireside chat with about 100 attendees.

Looking at a virtual room of diverse audience members who took an hour off on a Thursday night to attend our event, I felt moved by their commitment to personal development and shocked by the overwhelming desire to find the right mentors (see event Instagram recap).

As a Chinese lady and foreign worker in the United States in the banking industry, I learned the hard way that hard work alone is definitely not enough. Without the right mentors to help us navigate through office politics, we would pretty much be in the dark.

However, finding a right mentor is primarily based on luck, given the serious pipeline issue with successful female leaders. Hectic work schedules, competitive personalities and conflicts of interest can make it even more challenging.

Another event on tap

I am grateful for having met mentors like Susan who guided me to understand the unspoken rules and eventually land a work opportunity at Morgan Stanley’s Multicultural Innovation Lab, where my job perfectly aligns with my personal mission.

I am hoping that ACE—my side hustle—could help solve this mentorship problem by making knowledge sharing accessible to all and be the true champion of every junior woman in finance.

My team and I cordially invite you to join our ACE community by subscribing to our distribution list and following us on Instagram. You can also sign up to join our next event, “Maximize Impact through Passion Projects & Mindfulness, on October 27, 2020, 8–9 p.m. ET.

The speakers include Cate Luzio, the founder and CEO of Luminary, and Alice Kim, an executive director and head of investor relations and business development for Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners.

Pictured at top: Angel An, BSBA ’16, on Wall Street.

Claire Vogt

Claire Vogt, MBA ’21, writes today about her supply chain internship at Anheuser-Busch over the summer. She was invited to return to AB full-time after graduation. Her contribution is part of a series by students sharing their summer internship experiences on the Olin Blog.

As an intern at Anheuser-Busch, you are given ownership of real projects with real impact—an aspect of my internship that really set my summer experience apart. With my previous experience in business process consulting and accounting, I was given a challenging project: Creating a universal budget simulator for distributors across North America, incorporating KPI metrics, savings challenges and the different complex pay structures at each distributor.

Ultimately I was able to successfully create the first prototype of the universal budget simulator. The plan is to continue improvements and roll it out across distributors in North America for the next budgeting cycle.

With the switch from an in-person internship to virtual, I knew I’d have to tackle this past summer differently from any of my previous work experience. Without the ability to make an impression in person, it was imperative to be “on my game” when I had the opportunity to present deliverables, meet with team members and join Zoom calls.

A new way of networking

I also made a deliberate effort to reach out to other members of the AB family in order to meet more people and set up Zoom calls to learn more about different roles within the company. Networking was different, but not impossible.

One class that prepared me particularly well for the summer was the CEL Entrepreneurial Consulting class with Doug Villhard, professor of practice in entrepreneurship and academic director for entrepreneurship. Because COVID-19 interrupted our semester halfway through, we transitioned to a virtual setting for class, meeting with our client and delivering final presentations.

My role as team lead (with responsibilities of meeting and communicating with the client virtually and delivering the final presentation via Zoom) was great preparation for owning a project completely remotely at Anheuser-Busch and delivering an impactful final presentation.

Making the most of experiential learning

I also believe that any sort of experiential learning is incredibly valuable as you work through real-world business problems and gain skills to be used further along in your career.

I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to work at Anheuser-Busch this summer and work with such an incredible team. It was especially exciting to work in such an innovative and fast-paced environment during a time when the pandemic was having rapid and constantly changing effects on supply chains worldwide.

Anheuser-Busch is a network of owners with a “challenge accepted” mentality, which became evident as the company was constantly overcoming pandemic-induced hurdles.

For example, distributors now had to be cognizant of pandemic safety protocols that affected their monthly spend and KPIs. Additionally, aluminum shortages, demand forecast fluctuations and increases in off-premises sales made the past summer at AB anything but “business as usual.”

I am incredibly excited to join the AB family full-time after graduation and fully embrace this “challenge accepted” mentality.

Sam Chun teaching an Olin executive education course and showing off his work-from-home teaching setup.

Samuel Chun is assistant dean, director of executive education and a professor of management practice for WashU Olin Business School. In his role, he’s collaborating with colleagues from the business school and the Brookings Institution to transform how executive education is delivered during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond. He responded to questions for the Olin Blog.

How has the pandemic affected the way your team thinks about executive education?

Well, it’s been a transformation. First of all, the core of our activity until February 2020 was the face-to-face executive education offering that’s been every school’s standard—emphasis on “was.” Obviously, that’s not possible for probably another year or so.

So, everything we’ve managed to save has been converted to some kind of electronic delivery. A few years ago, Professor Tom Fields and I experimented with virtual programming. While it worked well enough, I think the assessment was that without face-to-face, the networking aspect really fell off. Really, until seven months ago, no one actually thought executive education could, or should, be done electronically.

Now there’s no choice: we are all learning how to teach, learn and network in novel ways.

How do you see your offerings evolving over the next few years?

What we’re mostly doing right now is what we call “virtual education.” In essence, that means taking our standard classroom materials and piping it through a platform, like Zoom, or Teams. Once we can get back to face-to-face, I think most of that will go away.

Someday, executive education may offer purely online, asynchronous programming that people can take whenever they want, but that’s a pretty full and competitive space.

So, “online” is probably a longer-term proposition. What we’ll probably develop and keep are “digital executive education” programs, which combine our live [electronic] connections with asynchronous online content. I think that’s a viable—and value-adding—proposition for several of our clients. Digital education will be here to stay.

In a recent Olin town hall, you mentioned that the Center for Digital Education has developed a learning management system for use with outside clients. Tell us more.

Ray Irving and his CDE team have been developing a Canvas-like platform (Learn.Washu) we can use for non-WashU affiliates such as corporate clients. It’s phenomenal, and they’ve made incredible progress since we piloted it during the MBA program’s global immersion experience last year.

It’s got course material storage and delivery, interactive communication features, video capabilities, announcements and a lot more. It helps us integrate our clients into the Olin community, which is something our Washington University systems don’t allow.

On top of that, it will have an alumni/lifelong learning area that will also be accessible to our clients. That’s a kind of continuity that we’re really looking forward to being able to offer.

So where does executive education go from here?

Well, the first priority is to re-engage clients who’ve elected to postpone until the pandemic is over. Basically, I’ve heard our physician community suggest this is not going away anytime soon, so “waiting for this to end” isn’t an acceptable option for any company that wants to keep up with executive development.

The next thing would be to continue expanding our offerings in the digital space. Finally, broadening our geographical (and client) reach is definitely something we’re already pursuing. I think digital education and Learn.Washu will take us a long way towards those goals.

Pictured above: Sam on a break from teaching an executive education course from his home teaching studio.

Allison Barudin, MBA ’21, is the co-coordinator of the 2020 Impact Investing Symposium, sponsored by WashU Olin’s chapter of Net Impact and organized by students from Olin and the Brown School. She wrote this for the Olin Blog.

“We’re at a tipping point, and investment capital is only part of the formula. We need businesses to be responsible and collaborative. We need you, as a next-gen community, to get out and vote to assert your civic obligations. Asserting your interest through how you allocate your money for consumption, how you allocate your money to banks, and how you invest. This really matters.”

Peter Lupoff, CEO, Net Impact

Peter Lupoff, CEO of Net Impact, opened the fifth annual Impact Investing Symposium on Friday, October 2, to an audience of more than 100 attendees.

The Annual Impact Investing Symposium (IIS), an initiative of Olin’s Graduate Net Impact chapter, is led by a cohort of Olin and Brown School students dedicated to transforming the business sector into a space for actionable and positive social change.

Impact investments are financial investments intentionally made to generate positive, measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. IIS is proud to be the largest impact investing conference in the Midwest.

Our programming seeks to challenge traditional views on the role of capital. What if there was a way to use our economic engine to solve our world’s most pressing social challenges—to create a more equitable, sustainable and just world?

This year, our traditional one-day in-person symposium shifted to an online four-part series, attracting leading experts from sectors including financial services, asset management, government, nonprofits and philanthropy to a diverse audience now able to tune in from across the country.

Friday’s kick-off session began with Lupoff’s Impact Investing 101 presentation. Lupoff shared key terminology, trends, investment vehicles and frameworks in impact investing.

Next, Jake Barnett, manager, sustainable investment services at Wespath, led a panel entitled “Building an Impact Portfolio” featuring portfolio managers from Kennedy Capital, Nuveen and Aperio Group, discussing the practical (and sometimes challenging) application of different impact investing strategies.

Does putting solar panels on an oil rig makes it a green investment? Jessica Zarzycki of Nuveen declares adamantly: “No.”

But Liz Michaels of Aperio Group challenged that perspective: “Thinking of ‘impact portfolios’ is like a big tent. Every toe matters, even if the impact is small. We need all the different types of toes in the tent.” To her, solar panels on an oil rig is a step toward incremental change. 

There are three upcoming opportunities to learn more about the industry’s most relevant topics. Attendees will leave the sessions armed with the skills to be a critical consumer, understand the power of intentionality and collective impact, and empowered to advocate within their own sphere of influence to make positive change.

Join the next three sessions:

  • October 23: Investing with a racial equity lens and innovative financing solutions
  • November 13: Impact investing in emerging markets and local investing for impact
  • December 11: COVID-19 and impact investing

Learn more about the symposium’s speakers and register.

Elise Miller Hoffman, AB

Cultivation Capital’s Elise Miller Hoffman, AB ’11/MBA ’16, has been promoted to general partner after serving as a principal in the firm since receiving her MBA. Hoffman started with Cultivation Capital in 2015 while earning her MBA from WashU Olin. 

While a student, Hoffman took classes from Cultivation cofounder Cliff Holekamp, MBA ’01, who was also an Olin entrepreneurship professor at the time.

Cliff Holekamp
Cliff Holekamp

“Elise was one of the most motivated and accomplished students I had the pleasure to teach at Olin,” said Holekamp. “She came into Olin and embraced and excelled at everything entrepreneurship. Elise founded an entrepreneurial fellowship program, interned at a St. Louis startup, won a venture capital competition, and led just about every student project team—always earning the A.”

Hoffman interned with Cultivation Capital before accepting a full-time offer as a principal focusing on the firm’s life science investments upon graduating in 2016.

“It has been an honor to work alongside innovators and entrepreneurs who are advancing groundbreaking technologies, creating jobs and building our economy,” Hoffman said. “I have learned a great deal from my mentors and colleagues at Cultivation Capital, who—driven by our mission of ‘thriving enterprises, vibrant communities’—are working to infuse capital into our startup ecosystem.”

As a principal, Hoffman ran weekly partner meetings, helped with capital formation and managed relationships with portfolio companies including serving on the board of Healthy Bytes and as a board observer at ImageMover and NarrativeDx.

In her new role, Hoffman will serve as manager of a venture capital fund and as an equity partner in a fund, raising capital, making all the investment decisions and managing the portfolio companies.

“It is highly unusual for someone to make GP at Elise’s age and it is a major accomplishment,” Holekamp said, noting that only 11% of venture capital partners are women.

Hoffman is the second employee in the firm’s history to be elevated to general partner, following Kyle Welborn, who became a general partner in the Yield Lab in 2016.  She is the first female general partner at Cultivation Capital focused on health tech and the life sciences.   

“Elise has done a fantastic job managing her duties with investors, with the portfolio and collaborating with the partners. She has developed all the skills necessary to now succeed as a general partner,” said Bill Schmidt, Cultivation Capital leader for life sciences. 

Outside of work, Elise is active in the entrepreneurship community as well as at WashU, where she serves as a director of the Holekamp Seed Fund as well as an investor in residence with the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“As a general partner, I look forward to investing in promising healthcare companies, particularly those that are solving pressing problems that have been exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hoffman said.