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.

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.

Lawrence E. Thomas, honored on April 5 as the 2019 Dean’s Medalist, first came to Washington University in the early 1970s, and he’s maintained a strong connection to the university community ever since.

He began his undergraduate study in science, but soon discovered he was attracted to the business school. He switched his major to finance and a summer internship opened doors to a life-long career with Edward Jones.

That internship in 1977 lead to a position in the company’s corporate bond trading department after graduation, where Thomas located corporate bond investments to fit the needs of individual investors. He became a principal of Edward Jones in 1983, and two years later, established its government bond department. Thomas oversaw mortgage-backed trading through 1995 and then joined the financial adviser development. He later became the area leader for the northeast, where he was responsible for the growth and performance of the financial advisors in 13 states.

In January 2000, Thomas assumed responsibility for the syndicate and unit investment trusts groups. Four years later, he rejoined the corporate bond department with responsibility for distributing the group’s newly issued corporate notes. From 2009 through 2011, he oversaw the firm’s financial adviser minority recruiting efforts. In 2013, he assumed his current responsibilities co-leading the university channel for financial adviser career development in talent acquisition.

Thomas has actively supported Washington University and Olin Business School serving as chair of his 10th reunion class and as a leader in the national Black Alumni Council. He is a past president of Olin’s Alumni Association Executive Committee, a past chair of the Alumni Board of Governors, and currently serves on Olin’s National Council. He received a Distinguished Alumni Award at Founders Day in 1997 and Olin’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2009. He has completed three terms on the Board of Trustees.

A scholarship recipient himself, Thomas began supporting scholarships in 1986. He has established the Lawrence E. Thomas Scholarship, the Wesley Thomas Scholarship and the Lawrence E. Thomas/Edward Jones and Company Scholarship. As Thomas has noted, it was a scholarship that made attending Washington University possible.

“The scholarship was certainly important for me, because I wouldn’t have been able to attend a private university otherwise.”

He expressed his passion about scholarships by saying, “We must continue to make sure that we enroll students here from all economic levels, including those who don’t have the financial means to attend. Washington University gave us something we could walk away with, other than just a degree, and we should all give as much back as we possibly can.”

Thomas also serves on the executive committees of the United Way of Greater St. Louis, Barnes-Jewish Hospital Foundation, the St. Louis Zoo and the executive committee of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) Foundation. He also serves as the past board chair for Provident Inc. and Forest Park Forever.

In addition to his undergraduate degree, Thomas earned MBAs from Lindenwood University and Northwestern University. He also is a graduate of the Securities Industry Institute at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.

“The university belongs to all of us, especially those of us who are alums, and the university has done a good job trying to serve its alumni. It’s because of the university that many of us have grown up to be contributing citizens, and grown in our professions.”

Sharon Mazimba at the Yu Garden in Shanghai.

Sharon Mazimba, MBA ’19, wrote this for the Olin Blog.

After what seemed like months of preparation, two flight delays, and the longest 16-hour flight later, we landed in Shanghai, China, a group of about 70 first- and second-year MBAs, exhausted but intact and ready for the intense week ahead. They were all part of a spring break overseas intensive designed to provide globally based education for the students and pilot the expanded global MBA experience for the incoming class of 2021 MBA students.

The next morning, we dove straight into our operations course, eager to understand how strategy is implemented through operations, specifically looking at the retail industry. The course would occur over the week, a mix of talks from retail industry experts, practical excursions—including visits to Zara, Uniqlo and H&M stores in the busy Pudong shopping area—a factory visit to Mudoo (a sports apparel factory) and the newly built Adidas distribution center in Suzhou.

Both the talks and excursions were an eye-opening look into the retail process from end to end, as well as the nature of business in China and how different it is from the US or other western countries. There is a highly relational and perception-based approach in the Chinese market, aspects of which I observed throughout the week. Two experiences in particular drive this home for me.

Me at the Yu Gardens
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The first was a talk by Olin EMBA student Salem Cibani, who attends the program in Shanghai’s Fudan University, who shared key insights about the fashion industry. He spoke about Ports 1961, a luxury brand launched in Canada, which then moved to China to take advantage of opportunities there.

The move required the brand to completely shift their strategy in China; their products were priced significantly higher in the Chinese market because of the perception that a higher price and a distinctly Chinese aesthetic equated higher quality.

The second was how long it took to plan and build the Adidas distribution center—a three-year endeavor that involved significant pre-planning and relationship building to accomplish. This was the example most salient to me; other speakers and our Shanghai located mentors also gave a number of anecdotes about how you had to know people and be well-connected to truly establish yourself in the Chinese market and get things done.

While we learned a lot, we also had a chance to explore small but extremely cool areas of Shanghai. The city is vast and one week is not nearly enough to see it all. The Bund had amazing views of Shanghai Tower, the Yu Garden was a beautiful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, and the Tianzifang area had amazing souvenirs, quaint tea shops, and my favorite—lots of street food!

Looking back on this trip, one of my most significant takeaways (and something I will be carrying into my career moving forward) was how critical it is to tailor your strategy to different cultures; especially if you are looking to be a global player. Most businesses fail at this. The second was how incredibly unique China is. The country’s manufacturing capabilities have allowed the country to become a hotspot for major retailers to go for their apparel needs while still maintaining a distinctly Chinese way of conducting business. It was a fascinating phenomenon to observe and be a part of.

These Olin Business School emerging leaders will be honored at a luncheon on April 5. They’re innovators, dedicated entrepreneurs, and benefactors.

Harsh Agarwal, BSBA ’06
Director, EQT Partners, Inc.

Harsh Agarwal

Harsh Agarwal arrived at Washington University as the first in his family to study outside India. He is remembered by his professors and classmates as the “finance junkie” who would spend hours talking about companies, working with classmates to build financial models or pitching his class to invest in Apple in 2003.

Fresh out of Olin, Agarwal landed an investment banking job at Goldman Sachs in New York City, advising on M&A transactions aggregating more than $55 billion in value. In 2008, Agarwal moved to TPG Capital in San Francisco to begin his investing career. Over the next eight years, he pursued his MBA at Stanford University and advanced at TPG, investing in early-stage and mature technology companies. Agarwal next pursued a more entrepreneurial path by moving to the Swedish private equity firm, EQT Partners, to help build EQT’s US technology sector investing efforts, and where he continues to pursue his passion for investing in his role as a director in New York City.

Agarwal is grateful for the generous support of scholarship donors who made his Olin education possible as well as the alumni community that helped him launch his career. He currently sponsors an Olin undergraduate scholarship and is an active participant in Olin’s treks and mentorship programs.

SiSi Beltrán Martí, BSBA ’04
Director, marketing, Build-A-Bear Workshop

SiSi Beltrán Martí

SiSi Beltrán Martí grew up in Puerto Rico and came to St. Louis in 2000 to attend Washington University. In 2004, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Olin Business School with majors in International Business, Marketing and Romance Languages. Upon graduation, Beltrán Martí joined Build-A-Bear Workshop, where she is currently the director of marketing.

Beltrán Martí is an avid community volunteer. She is the current president of the Olin Alumni Board at Washington University and also serves on the boards of Forest Park Forever, Casa de Salud and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. In addition, Beltrán Martí is the immediate past chair of the Multicultural Leadership Society for the United Way of Greater St. Louis and has been a mentor for college students through Washington University and the Regional Business Council. In 2007, the St. Louis Business Journal named her one of St Louis’ Top 30 under 30, and in 2014, the publication honored her as a Diverse Business Leader. This past year, Beltrán Martí was named the Kathryn Nelson Keeper of the Park by the City of St. Louis and Forest Park Forever.

Alexander D. Borchert, BSBA ’06
Managing director of investments, Altus Properties

Alexander D. Borchert

Alex Borchert’s passion for entrepreneurial real estate investment was sparked in his junior year at Olin. He tapped into the Olin network by reaching out to alumni to investigate career paths in real estate development and investment—leading to an internship that launched his career.

Today, Borchert leads the investment division at Altus Properties, one of the Midwest’s most active private equity real estate investment and development firms. At Altus Properties, Borchert is responsible for the leadership of its equity investments, acquisitions, dispositions and project capitalizations. While there, he has been instrumental in nearly tripling the firm’s assets under management, leading its expansion into new markets and developing its ground-up development platform.

Borchert continues to actively invest in his relationship with Washington University. He sits on the university’s Alumni Board of Governors and Olin’s Alumni Board, where he serves as past president. Not only did Borchert deliver the keynote address at Olin’s 2017 undergraduate commencement ceremony, he and his wife, Dana, have supported an Olin undergraduate scholarship since 2011. He also serves on the Board of the United Way of Greater Saint Louis and the Alumni Board of St. Louis Priory and spends his free time enjoying his hobbies of downhill skiing and aviation with his wife, three-year-old Wyatt and four-month-old Willow.

Atima Lui, BSBA ’12
Founder and CEO, NUDEST

Atima Lui, Photo source: The Prevail Project

Atima Lui was born to a Sudanese refugee father and black activist mother in Topeka, Kansas, where her dark skin tone never quite fit in with the standard of beauty in her community. Today, as founder and CEO of fashion and beauty tech startup NUDEST, Lui licenses patent-pending skin tone matching AI technology to help fashion and beauty brands produce and sell products for women of all skin tones.

Before graduating from Harvard Business School in 2016 with her MBA, Lui led digital brand marketing initiatives at Walmart US. She was named one of’s Top 20 Female Entrepreneur’s to Watch and has been featured in Forbes, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, the Huffington Post, and SELF and on CBS. Lui has experience working for Google, YouTube and Apple in online ad sales, product marketing and media roles. She earned her BSBA from Washington University in St. Louis, where she started a full-service hair, nail and tanning salon targeted toward multicultural customers while triple majoring in International Business, Marketing and Spanish. Lui is also a graduate of Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts.

Teresa Teodori, BSBA ’09, MSF ’09
Head of strategy and chief of staff, Gerson Lehrman Group

Teresa Teodori

After graduating from Olin, Teresa Teodori joined McKinsey & Company in Dallas, focusing on serving private equity clients on both due diligences and portfolio company work. She moved to New York City in 2011 to join New Mountain Capital, a middle-market private equity firm with over $15 billion in AUM, where she led two private equity investments, multiple debt investments and several add-on acquisitions. While there, she became the first female vice president on the private equity team.

Teodori then took on a new challenge at Platform Specialty Products, a highly acquisitive public company in the specialty chemicals space. She ran the integration of the three agricultural chemicals businesses Platform acquired, and then ran R&D strategy, driving the investment process for and management of $100 million in annual spend. Last year, Teodori joined Gerson Lehrman Group, a leading B2B platform business that connects clients with insights to power better decisions, as head of strategy and chief of staff to the CEO. She has worked closely with the CEO articulating a new strategy, vision and purpose statement for GLG, as well as with the broader leadership team to drive execution.

Teodori currently serves on the Olin Alumni Board, as an executive chair on her WashU reunion committee and in Olin’s mentorship programs. She also sponsors a scholarship in loving memory of her late grandmothers, Myra Buonocore and Philomena Teodori.

Olin Business School will honor these distinguished alumni at a dinner and gala on April 5 and a symposium that morning. They’re innovators, corporate leaders, and benefactors.

For more than 31 years, Olin Business School has recognized and presented Distinguished Alumni Awards honoring alumni who have attained distinction in their careers. Those being honored share the characteristics of leadership: progressive thinking, high standards, uncompromising integrity, commitment, courage, and confidence. Their careers serve as models for all Washington University students and alumni.

They are recognized at a gala dinner celebration with family and friends, as well as past recipients, staff, and faculty of the business school.

Gene Austin, MBA ’87
President and chief executive officer, Quorum Software

Gene Austin

Gene Austin has more than 30 years of experience leading high-growth technology businesses. His current position as CEO of Quorum Software, a leading provider of financial and operations software for the oil and gas industry, is one of many tech businesses that he has helmed.

Austin’s career began in 1982 as a sales representative for HP and has spanned many large hardware and software companies such as Compaq, HP and BMC Software. In 1996, he made a career change to venture-backed software companies that began as employee 10 at where he served as SVP of sales and marketing, helping lead the company to an IPO in 1999.

As part of the startup space, Austin spent 15 years as CEO for two software companies: Convio and Bazaarvoice. Convio was a leading provider of online fundraising tools for nonprofits. He joined the company at only $5 million in revenue and led it to a successful IPO in 2010 and a sale in 2012 to Blackbaud. Bazaarvoice is the leading provider of online ratings and reviews where Austin assumed the CEO role in 2013 and led the company to a successful sale to private equity in 2018.

In January 2019, Austin assumed the role of president and CEO of Quorum Software, the preferred software provider to more than 75 percent of the largest oil and gas producers in the United States.

Austin serves on the board of two emerging growth software companies: FastSpring and OutboundEngine. His involvement in philanthropy is centered on his passion for education: he serves as vice chair for KIPP Texas, a charter school network serving 25,000 disadvantaged students throughout Texas. Additionally, Austin served on the board of the Austin Chamber of Commerce for more than 10 years and was board president in 2015.

Gene and his wife, Shar, have two adult children, Kathryn (Ben) and Jay (Sarah), and all reside in Austin, Texas.

Steven Cohen, BSBA ’89
Partner, Elliott Management Corporation

Steven Cohen

Steven Cohen is a partner and member of the management, risk and operation risk committees at Elliott Management. Cohen oversees global risk and trading with an additional focus on cross-asset derivative products. Since his arrival in 2003, assets under the firm’s management increased from $2 billion to $35 billion, making Elliott one of the largest and oldest hedge funds under continuous management.

Prior to joining Elliott, Cohen was a partner at Cathay Financial, an asset management firm with offices in New York and London. He also worked as an equity and commodity volatility trader at Spear, Leeds & Kellogg, a firm since acquired by Goldman Sachs, from 1989 to 1993.

Cohen earned his bachelor of science in business administration from Olin Business School in 1989. He and his wife Jocelyn are generous supporters of the Scholars in Business Scholarship Program and Steve is a member of Washington University’s New York City Regional Cabinet.

Elliott Management regularly hires interns from Olin Business School and Cohen hosts an annual dinner at Elliott Management for Olin students during the New York Finance Trek.

Steve and Jocelyn have two children, Garrett and Ethan. Garrett is a junior at Washington University and Ethan is a senior in high school. Ethan will attend Syracuse University in the fall, where he will major in sports management at Falk College.  The Cohens reside in Chappaqua, New York.

Teri McClure, BSBA ’85
Chief human resources officer and senior vice president, labor, United Parcel Service

Teri McClure

Teri Plummer McClure is responsible for human resources, employee communications and labor relations for the company’s more than 481,000 employees worldwide. Prior to this role, McClure served as general counsel and corporate secretary for the company. McClure is also a member of the company’s management committee, responsible for setting strategy, profit and operating plans for the company’s worldwide operations.

A native of Kansas City, Kansas, McClure earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing and economics from Washington University’s Olin Business School and a juris doctorate degree from Emory University’s School of Law. She began her legal career in private practice, focusing on labor-and employment-related civil litigation. Before joining UPS, she practiced with the Troutman Sanders firm in Atlanta.

McClure joined the UPS corporate legal department in 1995 and was promoted into various legal roles. In 2003, she assumed an operational role as president of the central Florida district. Before returning to the legal department, she held special assignments in UPS logistics and distribution and served as UPS compliance manager.

McClure was appointed general counsel and corporate secretary in 2006. She assumed the role of chief human resources officer in 2013.

In addition to her corporate responsibilities, she is a member of various bar associations and serves on the board of trustees of The UPS Foundation. She also serves on the board of directors for Lennar Corporation, Heart for Africa, the Task Force for Global Health, City of Refuge and the board of trustees for United Way Worldwide.

Teri and her husband Roderick reside in Atlanta and are the proud parents of two daughters, Kristin and Morgan McClure.

John P. Wareham, MBA ’68
Chairman and chief executive officer, Beckman Coulter, Inc.

John Wareham

John (Jack) P. Wareham became CEO of Beckman Coulter in September 1998 and was named chairman in February 1999. Prior to these changes, he had served as president and chief operating officer since 1993. He retired in April 2005 and was named non-executive chairman of Steris Corporation in May of that year.

During his tenure as CEO and president of Beckman Coulter, Wareham successfully managed a corporate restructuring plan that resulted in significantly improved margins for the corporation and led an aggressive acquisition strategy that ultimately resulted in the union of Beckman and Coulter as a new industry leader in diagnostics.

Wareham joined Beckman Instruments, Inc. in 1984 as vice president of the Diagnostics Systems Group. In this capacity, he propelled the company’s diagnostic business to a leadership position in the clinical laboratory. Before moving to Beckman, he had a 15-year career with SmithKline Corporation. While there, he held positions of increasing responsibility, ultimately serving as director of business planning at SmithKline & French Laboratories-Worldwide, and finally, president of Norden Laboratories, an animal health subsidiary.

Wareham was chairman of the board for Steris plc, Leicester, United Kingdom, until July 31, 2018, and serves on the board of ResMed Corporation in San Diego, California.

Wareham is a former director and chairman of AdvaMed (Advanced Medical Technology Association); a former member of the board of governors of the Bowers Museum; former member of the board of directors of the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI and National Association of Manufacturers (NAM); and former member of the advisory council the Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences; a former member of the board of Greatbatch, Inc. in Buffalo, New York and Accuray, Inc. in Sunnyvale, California.

Jack and his wife, Lois, have two grown children and three grandchildren. The Warehams reside in California.

Kurt Dirks and Kevin Xu

The annual China alumni dinner was March 9, 2019, in Shanghai, featuring about 400 alumni—incoming students, parents and friends of Washington University for the forum and meal.

The annual event aims to increase the visibility of Washington University overseas and to reconnect international alumni in China.

Kevin Xu, chair of the China Alumni Club and International Alumni, Michael Shen and EMOF Class 16 co-organized the event.

Kurt Dirks, vice chancellor for international affairs and Bank of America Professor of Leadership, attended the dinner and shared updates of Washington University with the attendees. He also thanked Kevin Xu for his outstanding leadership of China Alumni Club.

Faculty, staff and guest attendees included:

  • Ohad Kadan, H. Frederick Hagemann, Jr. Professor of Finance and Vice Dean for Education and Globalization at Olin Business School.
  • Steve Malter, senior associate dean of undergraduate and graduate programs at Olin Business School.
  • David Konig, professor of history and professor of law at Washington University School of Law.
  • Bill Xu, head of China office, Washington University in St. Louis.
  • Emma Zhao, international alumni and development programs.
  • Paul Shao, managing director for the Washington University–Fudan University joint Executive MBA program in Shanghai.
  • Roy Li, investment associate at Washington University in St. Louis.
  • Dean Xiongwen Lu, School of Management, Fudan University