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.

Omoluyi Adesanya, MPH/MBA

In 2017, two organizations joined forces to launch what has now become an annual event: the First-Generation College Celebration. The Council for Opportunity in Education and the Center for First-generation Student Success created the annual commemoration to “celebrate the success of first-generation college students, faculty, and staff on (our) campus in any and every way possible.”

For our commemoration of first-generation college student day, WashU Olin introduces you to two members of our community: Omoluyi Adesanya, MPH/MBA ’20, and David Leon, BSBA ’20. Both speak of overcoming obstacles and their desire to capitalize on the sacrifices their families have made.

What does it mean to you to be the first in your family to go to college?

Adesanya: To me, being a part of the first generation in my family to go to college (after my elder brother) means overcoming the obstacles and challenges that have penetrated my family for generations.

Leon: Being the first in my family to go to college means making sure all the sacrifices my parents and family made to get me here don’t go to waste.

Adesanya: My mother’s family German heritage and immigrated to the USA from Germany. In the USA, they live in rural America as generational farmers in southern Illinois. At the age of 23, my father immigrated to the USA from Nigeria in pursuit of a more promising future filled with opportunity. My father was not familiar of the pathways of higher education in the US. My paternal grandmother, whom I am named after, was an illiterate, she never had the opportunity to attend school due to the fact that in Nigeria females did not have the right to obtain an education during her era.

Leon: I want to be an example for all the students who come after me, especially my siblings. It means paving a path and continuing to strive for change that will allow others the opportunity to be successful.

Adesanya: Being from a family of immigrants and having lived in both rural and urban America, I have seen first-hand the value of education from my own family’s lack of opportunity to obtain an education. Through these various setbacks, I do not look at the negative aspects; instead I see these disadvantages as a positive part of my life—times to make sure I accomplish my future aspirations. To me, having obtained a college degree and continuing my academic journey in a graduate program allows me to realize that knowledge truly is power. Throughout my educational pursuits and knowing my family’s humble beginnings, I have been inspired to build my personal resilience and determined to obtain an education, which much of my family did not have the opportunity to pursue. This is what being the first in my family to attend college means to me.

How do you envision using your education going forward?

Leon: I will use my education to continue to foster positive change in the communities I belong to, while exploring my passions and allowing my curiosity to lead me to new opportunities.

Adesanya: I am a dual-degree student doing the MPH/MBA program at the Brown School and Olin Business School. Based off of my past experiences, I have endured various circumstances which have inspired me to obtain an MPH/MBA degree. Having lived in both urban and rural areas of America, I have witnessed disparities particularly in the healthcare sector.

Leon: WashU has provided me with an education and skills that will continually allow me to make an impact throughout my career.

Adesanya: Throughout my education, I came to realize that the regions of which I grew up were very economically disadvantaged and medically underserved. Medically, there is a county hospital in my hometown, however the nearest academic healthcare center is over one hour away. The county hospital provides primary care but does not have on-staff specialists available for people in our hometown.

In personally experiencing these hardships, I have been and continue to be inspired to keep pushing across my own academic hurdles and challenges to one day serve society through the integration of public health and business by changing the accessibility, affordability, and delivery of healthcare services. Looking at my future education pursuits, right now, I do not have any concrete plans if I will pursue further education after my MBA/MPH program, but I do know I want to provide a positive impact and actively engage with communities.

Having grown in a disadvantaged background and having personally experienced both income and health inequities, I aspire to use my knowledge gained in my MPH/MBA program to help the communities of which I represent and come from.

Briefly describe your academic journey.

Adesanya: During my formative years, my family lived in a small rural town of 5,000 people. This town is close to my mother’s family, therefore, it was great to grow up near extended family and know the importance of family especially while a child. Through the national A Better Chance foundation, I was provided the opportunity to attend a boarding school for my high school education at The Hockaday School in Dallas, Texas.

Leon: My academic journey has been filled with figuring out the intricacies of this country’s education system. My parents moved me across many different schools in an effort to provide me the education they never had.

Adesanya: While at Hockaday, the transition to an all-girls, urban, boarding school from a small rural, co-educational, public school was not easy. At times, I had to teach myself how to re-analyze certain topics in the classroom, and I had to constantly push myself to re-learn certain material with the help of tutors and professors at Hockaday, but with my constant perseverance and will, I graduated from a top-tier high school and matriculated into The University of Chicago for my undergraduate studies.

Leon: I attended an elite Chicago high school and eventually arrived at WashU as someone who continued to defy the societal expectations set before them.

Adesanya: At UChicago, I was presented with a rigorous and humbling collegiate experience. During college, I worked part-time in a laboratory doing research for not only the better learning of science and healthcare, but also, as part of my student work-study to pay for some of my fees to attend college. Working, being a campus leader, and going to school at the same time allowed me to prioritize my time effectively while remaining engaged in the campus community. Through my tested will and work ethic, I majored in the Biological Sciences with a specialization in Endocrinology, and I minored in Human Rights.

After college, I was accepted to the National Institutes of Health Intramural Research Training Award Fellowship Program in Bethesda, Maryland. Being at the NIH allowed me to have a three-year work-experience while growing both as a student and as a professional. After the NIH, I became motivated to apply to graduate school and pursue a career focused around population and preventative healthcare, therefore, I matriculated to WashU for my MPH program. After the first semester of my MPH program, I was exposed to a wide variety of course topics and began to realize the importance of business concepts in the healthcare industry; therefore, I became motivated to apply to the dual-degree MPH/MBA program.

As a second-year in the three-year program, I am able to see the vital importance of integrating the healthcare and business fields together as it provides me with the enriching opportunity for trans-disciplinary learning.

When looking at the past disadvantages that I have endured, though at times it was challenging to overcome these hurdles, they continue to leave a positive impact on my academic performance and personal outlook on my future goals. From my family’s lack of education, I ensured that I will be resilient throughout my academic journey, so that I can best be equipped to represent and serve the underserved communities that I call home.

Why WashU?

Leon: I chose to come to WashU because of the opportunity to make a difference on campus. The ability to change the campus as a member of many marginalized communities as well as the prestige of Olin Business School made my decision very easy.

Adesanya: After working in DC, I knew I wanted to relocate to the mid-west region of the states as it is closer to home and to my family. Knowing WashU’s strong reputation for equipping students with a well-rounded and strong academic experience, I became inspired to apply to WashU for my graduate school studies. Moreover, at WashU I had the opportunity and flexibility to obtain a dual-degree, MPH/MBA, and with my interest in both fields, I knew that WashU would provide me a unique, enriching graduate school experience.

Not only did the academic reputation and positive student experience motivate me to apply to WashU, but also the city of St. Louis. As a student, I firmly believe the importance of civic engagement on campus and within the surrounding St. Louis community. In many ways St. Louis represents a microcosm of many other American cities, it is a growing and thriving city with opportunity, especially for students.

Being interested in public health and improving the healthcare industry, the cities’ urban environment allows me to learn from the current health disparities and inequities which persist in the city. Thus given my personal ambitions at improving community health, the city of St. Louis also influenced my decision.

As a second-year graduate student, at WashU, I continue to find that not only do I have a well-rounded educational experience in the classrooms, but also, I am able to be active in civic engagement within the metropolitan St. Louis community.

Andrew Glantz, BSBA

Jacob Mohrmann, BSBA’16, chief marketing officer of GiftAMeal, provided this update to the Olin Blog. The company was founded by Andrew Glantz, BSBA ’17.

A St. Louis startup that is revolutionizing restaurant marketing while feeding the hungry has successfully raised its second round of seed funding. The company has raised $165,000 from various angel investors, including a restaurant owner, multiple entrepreneurs, and high-level executives.

GiftAMeal is a mobile application that helps provide a meal to someone in need each time a user takes a photo on its app at a partner restaurant. If a user then shares that photo to Facebook or Instagram, a second meal is given.

Over 150 restaurants are participating in GiftAMeal’s program and over 175,000 meals have been provided so far. GiftAMeal is based in St. Louis and provides the meals through a partnership with local food bank Operation Food Search.

GiftAMeal’s founder, Andrew Glantz, explained, “With GiftAMeal, we saw an opportunity to both help the community, and help provide restaurants with a unique method of engaging customers. After our initial success, we are excited to use this funding to take GiftAMeal to the next level.”

Nine individuals participated in this second round of funding.

  • Michael Staenberg, owner of multiple restaurant brands including: Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh, La Boulangerie, Lion’s Choice, Granite City Food & Brewery, The Shack.
  • Stuart Zimmerman, co-founder of Buckingham, Founder of Audubon Associates.
  • Scott Richert, chief technology officer at Mercy.
  • Thomas M. Smith, co-owner of Special Solutions.
  • Ed Gustin II, former director at LORD Corporation.
  • Bryan Tramont, managing partner at Wilkinson Barker Knauer, LLP.
  • Dale N. Hatfield, senior fellow, Silicon Flatirons Center.
  • Bruce Shapiro, CEO of Shapiro Metals.
  • Joshua Greenman, founder of Mercury Development.

Glantz, a Los Angeles native, came to St. Louis to attend Washington University in St. Louis in 2013. He founded GiftAMeal as a 21-year-old undergraduate student and was the youngest founder and only undergraduate ever to receive an investment from the Capital Innovators accelerator in St. Louis. He now works on GiftAMeal full-time and was recently the youngest person named to the St. Louis Business Journal’s 30 Under 30 List.

GiftAMeal is already primed for growth. In the last four months, they have rapidly expanded their restaurant base, doubled their monthly recurring revenue, and even hired their first full-time employee. Glantz explained, “With this funding round, we will be able to reach new heights to further expand our reach and make an even bigger impact on our community.”

Join the movement to fight hunger in your local community. Download GiftAMeal for free today and start snapping photos at favorites such as Pastaria, Three Kings, Garbanzo, and more.

Pictured above: Andrew Glantz, BSBA ’17, founder of GiftAMeal.

Rik Nemanick

Rik Nemanick

Rik Nemanick, a Washington University adjunct instructor, wrote this for the Olin Blog. He is the author of The Mentor’s Way: Eight Rules for Bringing Out the Best in Others and is leading an upcoming daylong workshop on mentoring and leader development at Olin. This is the third in a series of Olin Blog posts on mentoring. Check out part one and part two if you missed them.

This blog post concludes my discussion about mentoring as a vehicle to extend and enhance learning. The series of posts is based on interviews with seven alumni from the School of Engineering and Olin Business School who have been mentors for students at Washington University. In my prior blog posts on mentoring, I brought together their ideas to build a definition of what a mentor was and explored what mentors do to help bring out the best in others.

In this post, I wanted to know what they suggest people do to get the most out of having a mentor.

It is important for protégés to feel empowered to “take the lead” with their mentors. Recognize that leaders around you are willing to help. “Don’t hesitate to reach out to people,” said Dante Cannarozzi, BSAS ‘01/MSCS ‘03. “I think you’ll discover most people are very receptive to being asked for advice.”

Sally Roth, EMBA ‘95, added to that advice, encouraging protégés to “be prepared to own the relationship. That is, it is incumbent upon the protégé, not the mentor, to build and maintain a trusting relationship.”

Mike Ferman, BSBA ’68, suggested protégés “set expectations with your mentor upfront. Identify how you should both communicate with each other and how frequently. Do not expect them to do things for you.” Haroon Taqi, BSCS ’90/MSCS ’95, encouraged protégés to “reach out to them and follow through to make sure that the meetings happened.”

Of course, you should also “know what you want to optimize” about yourself, observed Mark Pydynowski, BSBA ’04. He added that “the best mentors have expensive time; do not waste it by being unprepared.” That is why it is important for protégés to “chart a course” for their development journey. Think about where you see yourself in three years and get your mentor’s help in identifying what you want to learn or improve to get there.

Once you figure out what you want to learn, it helps to “open your mind” to learning. David Murphy, EMBA ’18, said that “you need to listen for your internal biases and turn them off. You’re actively seeking out growth, which may require you to learn to identify and focus on your weaknesses.”

Ferman added that protégés need to be “open to change and listening to new ideas. Being open and transparent with them about your goals and objectives, and my fears and concerns.” Finally, to truly grow and learn when working with a mentor, it helps to “stretch yourself” and take some risks. Murphy suggested that “getting out of your comfort zone and out of your own way are crucial steps in true growth.”

One thing to make sure you do is thank your mentors and let them know the impact they had on you. Taqi said that “in the end, I made sure I thanked them for their time.” Mentoring is a gift that you cannot repay. What you can do is make sure that the time the mentor invested in you made a difference. And, you can look for someone you can mentor and “pay it forward.”

“Mentorship & Leader Development,” a workshop presented by Olin Business School Executive Education, will be Nov. 6 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Get more details and register. Nemanick is author of The Mentor’s Way.

Shaun Koiner speaking at the dedication of WashU

As part of our ongoing partnership with, we highlight the career path insights from another Olin alumnus, Shaun Koiner. MondayKarma publishes in-depth interviews with WashU alumni to learn about and share advice as they forged their career path after graduation. Olin Blog publishes the tl;dr version and links to the full story.

Shaun Koiner

Shaun Koiner

Shaun Koiner, BSBA ’04, credits his parents for instilling a sense of perseverance and discipline in him as he pursued varied interests growing up in martial arts, sports, and music.

Though he describes his upbringing as, at various times, middle- or lower-middle class, he did well in school and was driven to try different things — including a WashU education after being raised in “the DMV” — the DC/Maryland/Virginia region of his upbringing.

Today, he’s chief product and content officer at Perform Media, the world’s leading digital sports media and content group.

CORE CURRICULUM: Addressed in every interview

ON CHOOSING WASHU OLIN BUSINESS SCHOOL: “There was someone who paid attention, took a vested interest, thought I would be a great fit for the school and actually picked up on that small talking point that I probably thought was a throwaway thing. In my acceptance packet was the newspaper, which was going above and beyond. That’s something that, with all due respect to other schools, you just don’t see at other places. I felt like some of the attitudes at other schools were ‘We’re going to get top students anyway, so you can be one of them or not be one of them,’ while WashU showed me that they wanted me to come.”

ON FINDING THE RIGHT JOB: “My involvement with (Sponsors for Educational Opportunities) is probably responsible for what I’m doing right now. I took part after my sophomore year. It was at a bank, but they had a media program. I wanted to do something completely different because I already knew what banking was like, so I ended up working at Time Magazine, which led to my interview with Sports Illustrated. The dots started connecting to get me to where I am now.”

ON GETTING THE INTERVIEW: “I remember more of my finance interviews, where I didn’t ask enough questions. I should have asked who I was going to meet with and what specific teams I would be talking to. In those interviews, you did a rotation and talked with different people and groups. I think if I had done a little bit more fact-finding I could have been more prepared overall. Of course I’m not going to know everything, but I could have been a little bit more prepared and had something to pull down.”

ELECTIVES: Freestyle responses from each interviewee

NEGOTIATING THE OFFER: “So even though I didn’t negotiate, I know now that it would not have gone up. I should have mentioned that I could take a job in finance that would pay me $13,000 more and tried to negotiate, but you learn that from experience…I think it’s a good skill to work on. I think it’s a lot easier when you have a leg to stand on and you have some other leverage, like a competing offer or if you’ve done the research on what other similar organizations are paying.”

ON DIFFERENTIATING YOURSELF: “I think you should actually go do the jobs you think you might be interested in to the extent that you can. Try to see what people do day-to-day in that job. I think that’s paramount, because what you learn in the classroom and the actual execution of it are entirely different things. Seeing a job in action and actually doing it will tell you how much you enjoy it.”

ON THOSE THANK YOU NOTES: “I took the time to email each person I had connected with, mentioning something that would have come up in the discussion that I think might have differentiated me from another candidate or conversation. I made sure to tell them that I appreciated their time, because you do get a significant amount of their time.”

Pictured above: Shaun Koiner speaking at the dedication of WashU’s ‘McLeod’s Way,’ a newly landscaped gathering place, just south of the Forsyth Underpass in memory of the late Dean James E. McLeod.

Visit to learn more about Shaun’s path out of banking into sports media. You can also explore the career path for other WashU alumni.

Net Impact graduate chapter at Olin Business School - Washington University in St. Louis has achieved Gold chapter standing

The Net Impact graduate chapter at Olin Business School has been awarded gold standing, an achievement reserved for Net Impact’s top chapters. With more than 375 chapters worldwide, Net Impact seeks to inspire and empower leaders as they work toward a more sustainable world. Congratulations to the team, led by chapter President Ricardo Mexia and chapter adviser Dan Elfenbein, for their outstanding work.

Chapters achieve gold standing by going “above and beyond basic requirements, offering their local members a wide variety of unique opportunities to drive transformational change in the workplace and the world,” according to the organization’s website.

“Chapters achieve gold status by meeting a rigorous set of requirements based on their activities, programming, membership, and community contributions,” wrote Net Impact CEO Liz Maw in her recognition letter. “The leader of the Olin Business School, Washington University in St. Louis Net Impact graduate chapter and their advisor have done outstanding work on campus and beyond.”

Rik Nemanick

Rik Nemanick

Rik Nemanick, a Washington University adjunct instructor, wrote this for the Olin Blog. He is the author of The Mentor’s Way: Eight Rules for Bringing Out the Best in Others and is leading an upcoming daylong workshop on mentoring and leader development at Olin. This is the second in a series of Olin Blog posts on mentoring. Check out part one if you missed it.

This blog post continues my discussion about mentoring as a vehicle to extend and enhance learning. The series of posts is based on interviews with six alumni from the School of Engineering and Olin Business School who have been mentors for students at Washington University. In my prior blog post on mentoring, I brought together their ideas to build a definition of what a mentor was. In this post, I explore what mentors do to help bring out the best in others.

One of the reasons mentors are so powerful is because they are adaptable. A good mentor can adapt to the goals and learning styles of the protégé by pulling the right tool out of the mentor’s toolkit (a point I make in the seventh rule of mentoring, Fill the Toolkit). I was reminded of this point in several of the interviews.

For example, Scarlett Lee Foster, EMBA ‘00, said her “most powerful experiences as a mentor came after I retired, working with students at Washington University in the business school. My role was to listen, advise, assist, connect, and support.” But, she added that her own mentor, a vice chairman of her company, “was a sounding board, and a voice of experience and reason in times good and bad.”

Dante Cannarozzi, BSAS ‘01/MSCS ‘03, noted how he flexes his mentoring style based on his protégé’s needs: “For those people in a similar technical background, I’ve discussed technical issues (usual architecture related). For those who are managers or friends, I’ve generally discussed office politics or career growth opportunities. In either case, I’ve often discussed current issues to get their opinion as to my best move strategically.”

As mentoring relationships grow, many mentors take on additional roles with their protégés to have a larger impact. Beyond “active listening and providing guidance to help me perform more effectively,” Sally Roth, EMBA ‘95, said her mentors “also served as advocates. One mentor supported my candidacy for the EMBA program at Washington University.” The roles of advocate and sponsor can be powerful. But those roles depend on building sufficient trust between a mentor and protégé because the relationship represents reputational risk on a mentor’s part.

Of course, most of what I have described so far has been in traditional one-to-one, senior-to-junior mentoring partnerships. Many mentoring theorists suggest we expand our notion of mentoring to include both developmental networks (essentially, having multiple mentors who give you multiple perspectives) as well as peer-to-peer mentoring.

Haroon Taqi, BSCS ’90/MSCS ’95, says he capitalizes on the latter idea by exposing “my team members to learning situations where they can learn from each other’s experiences rather than just have to struggle through it all themselves.”

“Mentorship & Leader Development,” a workshop presented by Olin Business School Executive Education, will be Nov. 6 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Get more details and register. Nemanick is author of The Mentor’s Way.